With Byrd: Witch-Hunt Is The Word

An article by posted on July 25, 2013

Steroids, and all PED’s have become such a staple in sports that now headlines are made less on accomplishments but more on accusations.

Jeff Pearlman, who I will preface by saying is very open in terms of his communication and is never one to shy away from his opinion, wrote a piece recently about his trip to Citi Field.

In his blog, Pearlman writes the following:

“Here’s the thing: Why isn’t anyone questioning Byrd’s season? Why are we all so accepting of a slugger who’s so clearly full of (expletive)? Is it really believable that a guy goes through a pretty mediocre career, then gets caught using drugs, then gets suspended, then returns (presumably clean—though I’m uncertain why we presume such things) and … is better than ever?”

He goes on to say:

“I don’t know, for a fact, that Marlon Byrd is cheating. I suspect (strongly) he is, but I don’t know. But where, oh where, are the questions? We in the media are so quick to jump all over Ryan Braun, because it’s easy and most of the heavy lifting has been done on our behalf. Yet, simultaneously, we speak of Bartolo Colon’s Oakland rebirth—one year after he, too, was suspended. We hail Byrd as a Comeback Player of the Year frontrunner … when he was coming back from being a fraud.”

Here’s the thing about Marlon Byrd that isn’t said in his piece.

When Byrd was suspended last year for using PED, his performance was at an all-time low in his career. He had 0 power, he was barely maintaining a big league job. Maybe Byrd should get his money back for whatever he took in 2012? After his suspension, Byrd went to play in the Mexican League to work on getting back into the big leagues.

Pearlman also says,

“Now, however, with the decline of print and the mass layoffs at papers nationwide, the guy covering the Mets or Orioles or Padres or Cubs or Blue Jays is (generally) 24 and fresh out of college. He can turn a quick phrase, and is filled with ambition, but doesn’t know how to ask the tough questions; how to dig beneath the surface.”

He must have missed MMO’s own Daniel Nelson’s piece when he interviewed Byrd, and Byrd responded about his current numbers by saying,

“I remember after last year and my positive test, any numbers that I put up now or anything good, people are going to be skeptical. People are going to make comments. It’s part of the game. There’s nothing I can do. I made my mistake last year so I try to move on because I lived through it. It’s one of those things where I continue to work and try to get better and hopefully put together good seasons.”

Question asked, and answered.

The problem with the steroid era to me is less about MVP awards being tainted, and more about how we the fans, and the media evaluate performance. It’s impossible for Marlon Byrd to just be having a career power year in your 30’s without PED’s being a factor right?

Remember that time in 1973 when a 30 year old Davey Johnson had 66 career HR in 995 games and then hit 43 HR in 157 games for Atlanta and everybody asked the “tough questions” about whether he was taking something?

Yeah, neither do I (okay fine, I wasn’t born yet).

Nobody ever finds HR power later in their life without the help of illegal drugs right? Right Raul Ibanez? Right?

Look, nobody will surprise me with regards to PED usage. It could be true about Byrd, I think it should be up to Major League Baseball to police the usage and enforce strong penalties to those who get caught.

It shouldn’t be my job as a fan to doubt every ball that gets hit or every pitch that gets thrown. What’s the point in watching if you’re going to sit and doubt everything?

I’m sorry but I am not going to do that. I’m not going to doubt Chris Davis, Jose Bautista, Raul Ibanez or Marlon Byrd unless their current performance is proven to be enhanced by drugs.

So Byrd got caught last year, that doesn’t mean he’s doing anything in 2013. I don’t see anybody pounding the pavement accusing guys like Andy Pettitte or David Ortiz based on their connections to scandals.

Pearlman wouldn’t believe Byrd if he provided test samples anyway, so how can Byrd defend himself fairly? He can’t. That’s a witch hunt.

Byrd is right, there is nothing he can do but hopefully stay clean and perform. It’s a shame what sports have become, it’s turned more into a witch hunt rather than a celebration of performance.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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