Major League Baseball announced today that Marlon Byrd has been suspended for 50 games as a result of a positive test for Tamoxifen. In reality, this probably ends Byrd’s career in the Majors, as he’s already been released twice this season and he turns 35 in August.
It’s worth noting that Byrd is in the midst of the worst year of his career and has been one of the least effective players in baseball this year. In 153 trips to the plate, he hit .210/.243/.245 with three extra base hits, good for -1.0 WAR in about a quarter of a season’s worth of playing time. Obviously, we can’t know when or what Byrd has taken in the past, and it’s possible that he was also using PEDs when he performed better in prior seasons, but hopefully people will notice that a guy can be using performance enhancing drugs and still be absolutely awful. They are not a miracle cure that can make up for a lack of talent.
Odds are good that we haven’t heard the last of this story, either. Byrd was the only player still publicly affiliated with Victor Conte, who ran the BALCO clinic that was investigated and eventually shut down for providing steroids to several prominent athletes, most notably Barry Bonds. In spring training, Byrd was quoted as saying:
“I’m always going to watch what I take. I’m not going to say I have a bull’s-eye on my back, but I think a lot of people are waiting for me to get my first positive test and miss 50 games. They’d like that just so they can say, ‘We told you so.’ I know that won’t happen. I know I’m clean. I know the supplements I take are clean. I’m going to make sure of that.”
Those don’t sound like words that come from a guy who is just going to take his suspension and go quietly into the night. If you like public spatting about drug testing, grab some popcorn, because I’d imagine you’re probably in for a show.