Marlon Byrd’s PED Suspension Showed Us The Harsh Reality Of An Old Man Trying To Stay In The League


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Marlon Byrd is a 38-year-old one-time All-Star and a middling slugger (who inexplicably got better with age) with 159 home runs spread across a 15-year career spent with 10 teams. He isn’t on your fantasy team, and he isn’t going to get a Hall of Fame vote. Especially now. Marlon Byrd’s career all but officially died Wednesday as he tested positive for PEDs (specifically, human growth hormone that he says came from using uncertified supplements) for the second time, earning a 162-game suspension that may as well be for an eternity at this point in his career.

Unsurprisingly, there are fellow players who don’t feel compassion for Byrd in this moment, but while we shouldn’t condone PED use, sometimes you have to understand a pro athlete’s motives.

@Ken_Rosenthal can I get back all the home runs he hit off me please? Thanks

— dan haren (@ithrow88) June 1, 2016

David Murphy was a teammate of Marlon Byrd’s with the Texas Rangers from 2007-2009. Both have had similarly productive careers, both were free agents this season, and both signed minor league contracts late in the off-season (on March 17, halfway through spring training, in Byrd’s case) in the hopes of making it back to the majors after steadily productive careers (and decent performances in 2015). Both are also almost certainly done with baseball.

Murphy retired at age 34 on April 23 after signing a minor league deal with the Minnesota Twins (his second team of the season following his release by the Boston Red Sox, who had signed him to a minor league deal at the end of the off-season). He was hitting .194 in AAA. He played 10 games. Murphy didn’t want to play in the minors (or spend time away from his family) and clearly felt like he didn’t deserve to after the career he had had. He also didn’t want to ride the bench for the Twins or get shuttled back to AAA at some point. The same can be said for former Red Sox World Series hero, Jonny Gomes, a useful veteran outfielder and platoon bat who wound up playing in Japan for a spell before returning to the US to look for a job in early May — he’s still looking.

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