Make This Caged Byrd Sing.

Now, maybe with the World Series not due to start until Wednesday, maybe, just maybe, the media can break down and process that Paul Byrd is the latest name to be added to those of Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, and Scott Schoeneweis in the Signature Pharmacy/Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center mess that has emanated out of Florida and been picked up by the Albany (NY) district attorney’s office. Because what is being floated in the initial report by the SF Chronicle’s Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada doesn’t exactly mesh with Byrd’s response:

Williams/Fainaru-Wada: “Two of Byrd’s prescriptions for growth hormones were not written by a physician, according to a law enforcement source. Instead, the prescriptions were written by a Florida dentist, said the source, who asked not to be quoted by name because he was not authorized to comment. The dentist’s license was suspended in 2003 for fraud and incompetence, state records show.”

Byrd, as told to Fox Sports’ Joe Rosenthal: “I have not taken any hormone apart from a doctor’s care and supervision. The Indians, my coaches and MLB have known that I have had a pituitary gland issue for some time and have assisted me in getting blood tests in different states. I am currently working with an endocrinologist and will have another MRI on my head after the season to make sure that the tumor hasn’t grown…At the insistence of a close friend, I went and had my hormones checked . . . To my surprise, the doctor told me that I was producing very little growth hormone and prescribed a dosage to help me out. I didn’t like sticking a needle in my inner thigh each night but I sure did enjoy the sleep that occurred afterwards. My life changed during that time and I was able to work out more, experience less fatigue and recover quicker from pitching.”

LW/MFW: “Human growth hormone is a powerful medicine used to treat dwarfism in children and AIDS wasting disease. It is illegal to use the drug without a valid prescription and a doctor’s supervision. It also is illegal for doctors to prescribe growth hormone for uses not specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Performance enhancement is not an approved use.”

It defies credibility that the shipments Byrd received stopped around January of 2005, when baseball forbade the use of HGH, and it further deflates his case that regardless of whether or not he had legitimate prescriptions from a doctor at any point, he also obtained prescriptions from a dentist (who likely had no business prescribing for the condition Byrd describes), which would be considered illegal.

He is the latest to proffer an excuse for recovery or a deficiency; Scott Schoenweis’ supporters inherently tie his use to recovery from cancer more than a decade ago. Rick Ankiel offered up recovery from Tommy John surgery. But the inconsistencies between Byrd’s account and the Chronicle report suggest someone must be wrong. Given the current climate, I’m not putting my faith in Byrd.

Let us see how his excuse is taken across the landscape, see how it is compared to Ankiel and Glaus, and — dare I say — Barry Bonds, who has always flat-out denied knowingly taking any steroid or performance enhancer. Because now, the media may find itself in the untenable position of explaining away the HGH excuses even though if these came from Bonds’ mouth, he would be vilified.

Now, I don’t necessarily care if these athletes take HGH or PEDs. The wear and tear from playing a grueling game for a living probably drives so many more than we would like to admit to performance enhancers, and as D-Wil often notes, there needs to be an honest discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of PEDs. But, until we acknowledge that it’s time to have that discussion, then make Byrd keep talking. Ask him the tough questions. Give him about as much quarter as you did Bonds. It’s the least you can do in being fair.

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Photo: AP/Charles Krupa


4 Responses

  1. As a Clevelander, I’m still torn as to what to think about this whole situation. My main question at this point is in the timing. Seems pretty fishy to me. The ramifications will be up to the major leagues, but if Colorado goes up 3-1, it wouldn’t surprise me if something came out about Todd Helton et al.

  2. Definitely a tough story to break on the day of Game 7. Not to accuse the Chronicle of trying to give the Red Sox an edge, but I’m sure the adverse publicity didn’t help their concentration heading into the game.

    As for Byrd himself, it’s hard to know what to believe. The guy has always been more of a finesse pitcher, so it’s hard to imagine him trying to ramp up his game with PEDs. But I guess these days, no one is beyond suspicion, or for that matter, guilt.

  3. Let’s not forget that the guy in charge of the “investigation” (George Mitchell) IS PART OWNER OF THE RED SOX.


    If that ain’t fishy, I don’t know what is.

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