Brendan Donnelly was a 30-year-old rookie. It was only a matter of time before we found out he was juicing.
There’s something sort of sad about Brendan Donnelly. “Sad” might not be the right word—as a fan, you understand why.
As a 30-year-old rookie, he had a starring role in an Angels pen that dominated throughout the regular season. Together with veteran closer Troy Percival, Scot Shields, and his bespectacled counterparts, rookie Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez and Ben Weber, Donnelly was part of a group that had a collective 2.98 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Donnelly had a nice little season himself: in 49.2 innings pitched, he only allowed 12 runs—good for a 2.17 ERA—while striking out 54. Pretty impressive for a guy who, only three years before, at the age of 27, had been pitching for the Nashua Pride in the independent Atlantic League.
The 2002 Angels went on to win the World Series; it was icing on the cake for a pitcher who had done more than his time: up until that season, he had pitched for 15 teams in seven organizations, including two stints in the independent leagues.
Sometimes, a man must swallow his pride and do something that goes against his conscience when he’s so close, he can taste it—after years of long bus rides, fast food, and spending so many nights in crappy motels away from his family. When everyone around him is cheating, while the alluring lights of the big stage are beginning to fade, his time running out (rarely are players in their 30s even afforded a spot on a minor league roster) and, suddenly, he sees the writing on the wall: all he has ever known, the only thing he has ever loved to do, is about to be taken away from him. Forever.
Unless he does something about it.
With a bulging neck and tree-trunk forearms—never mind having been a career minor leaguer two years before playing in the 2003 All-Star game—it wasn’t a matter of if Donnelly had done steroids, but when he would be exposed.
So in 2007, when he was named in the Mitchell Report, there was never any indignation or outrage. He never did anything to you, or me. Never tainted any records, took home any hardware, or strapped any team with a financially-crippling contract.
Like most ‘roiders, Donnelly ripped off a couple of dominant seasons, before his arm started to crumble. After his All-Star season in 2003, his ERA steadily rose—3.00, 3.72, 3.94; then, in 2007, midway through his first season with the Boston Red Sox, he underwent Tommy John surgery.
A testament to his love of the game, he returned from surgery with a desire to continue pitching, but, aside from a brief stint of success with the Florida Marlins, Donnelly hasn’t been the same. This past season, with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 38-year-old righty posted an ugly 5.58 ERA.
Brendan Donnelly may be at the end of his career. But steroids finally gave him his shot—earning him a couple of World Series rings along the way—and, for what it’s worth, a spot on our team.
More From the All-Steroids Team:
- C: Todd Hundley
- 1B: Phil Nevin
- 2B: Bret Boone
- SS: Rich Aurilia
- 3B: Ken Caminiti
- OF: Gary Matthews, Jr.
- OF: Brady Anderson
- OF: Jay Gibbons
- UTIL: Jay Bell
- DH: David Ortiz
- SP: Edinson Volquez
- SU: John Rocker
- CL: Eric Gagne