Lyle Overbay has to fight each day to remain a Major League Baseball player. At age 37 he needed every ounce of his .240/.295/.393 triple slash line in 2013 to be a replacement-level player and find work again in 2014. And frankly, if not for the utter desperation the Milwaukee Brewers faced at the first base position, he might still be looking for a team.
Overbay is a member of baseball’s middle class and precisely the type of player most affected by PED use in baseball. It’s not surprising, then, that Overbay took a somewhat hard stance when asked about what teammate Ryan Braun can expect this season (quotes from the New York Daily News):
He’s going to go through some tough times…Honestly, it’s going to be deserved. As a teammate, I’m not going to be the one to judge him, but there are fans who want to get their opinions out.”
That’s a nice little piece of interview jujitsu from Overbay there, hitting Braun with a little bit of a shot but then deflecting it to the fans’ perspective. Asked about Braun’s teammates and colleagues, Overbay said the following:
I think he needs to right the ship with his teammates. Maybe not necessarily other guys in the league. Guys are going to have their opinion on him, and they’re going to hate him, because he did something that we’re trying to get rid of. It’s unfortunate.
It’s going to be a while before he gets that ‘welcome back,’ but I think he knows that. As a teammate — we all make mistakes. Maybe some are bigger than others, but I’m not going to judge him.”
Overbay had lots of practice dealing with the PED circus last with the New York Yankees and Alex Rodiguez. Ultimately his comments reflect the growing sentiment among players these days: they won’t banish their colleagues who plead guilty, but they don’t have their backs either. They want each player who tests positive to face stiff consequences.