National League MVP, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won his appeal on Thursday, and avoided what would’ve been a 50-game suspension to start the 2012 season. After much speculation, a unique case with no shortage of twists, turns, and thickenings of plots (is that a phrase?) came to a close. Mostly. There is still a little dust that has yet to settle, like Braun addressing the media live (scheduled for 11am Friday from Brewers camp), to compliment a statement he released.
Personally, I found it interesting, and frankly a bit offensive that Braun’s statement included terms like “innocent”, and phrases like “The process worked” (clearly a reference to the appeal process, not the other process being discussed here). My personal favorite is probably the portion of his statement that reads, “I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I’ve done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.”
Here’s the problem with that: According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and numerous other credible sources, Braun won his appeal case based on a flaw in the process (presumably not the one that “worked”). He challenged the integrity of the chain of custody of his urine sample, and it turns out he had a point–a point legitimate enough to have the suspension thrown out. So, it’s not that Braun’s positive test results didn’t result in a level of synthetic testosterone-to-epitestosterone level of nearly 30:1, because according to at least one source, they did. (A ratio of 4:1 is the threshold for a positive test result) It’s because some dude didn’t follow protocol when handling Braun’s urine sample. Braun didn’t argue the evidence, the results, or the science. He argued that protocol wasn’t followed.
That’s “innocence”? That’s “love and respect for the game of baseball”?
Early on, there were talks that Braun should be stripped of his NL MVP honors. Some folks still believe it should be taken from him, and given to Matt Kemp (who went on record saying he doesn’t want it–he’d rather earn it outright. Good for him.). I couldn’t disagree more. The voters voted, and awarded him the Most Valuable Player award. If his testosterone was more than that of the entire outfield of the team the Brewers were playing on any given day, so be it. (As it turns out “any given day” just happened to come along in the postseason.) But the logistics are pretty complicated, and it’s a very slippery slope–if you take Braun’s MVP from him, you’ve got to take a couple MVPs from Bonds, take this from Clemens, take that from A-Rod, and take something from Palmeiro. Period.
It’s worth noting that MLB released a statement in which Rob Manfred says Major League Baseball “vehemently disagrees” with the decision that was rendered by third-party arbitrator, Shyam Das. If you weren’t aware, there was a neutral, third-party arbitrator who heard the case, and handed down a decision–a neutral party that MLB and the MLBPA agreed upon.
I’m very interested in this whole “vehemently disagrees” language. I want to know exactly why MLB feels so strongly about this judgement. The way I see it, “letting Braun off” (if you want to call it that) isn’t good, but having said that, there’s a process in place, and rules to follow. There’s a system, and from what we’ve seen so far, it’s a pretty good system. There’s a lot of hype about how this is the first time in professional sports an appeal has been upheld, I’m not necessarily buying that. Is it the first time that the general public has been aware of? Yes. Does that necessarily make it the first time in history? Doubtful.
Nonetheless, there is a protocol to follow. A right way to go about things, and when Ryan Braun’s pee pee sat over the weekend, that broke protocol, invalidating the process, and by proxy, the results and subsequent suspension. Consider it an error significant enough to leave some “reasonable doubt”.
i70 Baseball Quiz
What will Ryan Braun use as his inspiration for comments to reporters on Friday?
- “I was young, and stupid.”
- “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
- “I have never used steriods. Period.”
- Perjery/Obstruction of Justice/Clear cream
- McNamee’s needle
Humor me for a minute.
Let’s say police find the dead body of a person who’d been missing for 67 years in the basement of a house somewhere in Oklahoma. We’ll say the victim’s name is Adolf Hitler, and the house belonged to a guy named Chuck Norris. (Total hypothetical here) If they find the body without proper authorization, such as a search warrant, then the evidence was obtained improperly, and wouldn’t be admissible in court*–because protocol was not followed. That’s gonna make it awfully tough to pin the crime on (and convict) Norris of the crime! That’s pretty much what happened here. But, while people could and would assume that Norris was guilty of killing the person, the system in place dictates that such a conclusion would have to be reached without the aid of the evidence found by inappropriate means…whether he actually did or didn’t.
I can’t help but wonder: Would that mean Norris would be “innocent”, and have “love and respect for the life of Hitler”?
I digress. One question I’d have for MLB would be, “Can you please explain to me why you vehemently disagree with this decision, but were willing to bend the rules for Manny, and reduce his 2nd offense, which by CBA, should be 100 games, down to 50?” I understand that he missed time, but to me, that’s different–it’s not time served as punishment for a 2nd failed PED test. To me, the latter is far more harmful to the game’s reputation and integrity than the former.
As a fan of the game of baseball, I’m disappointed.
I’m disappointed in Ryan Braun, whose talents I’m now skeptical of. I’m also disappointed in the jackwagon who fouled up the chain of custody, and cost the game some (more) integrity. I’m further disappointed that “being exonerated” has nothing to do with the amount of synthetic testosterone in Braun’s system found that October 1st test following a 3-for-4 day at the plate in the playoffs.
Bottom line for me? Ryan Braun’s exoneration proves that he’s just as innocent as O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony – in the court of public opinion, at the very least. So, yeah, maybe I’d be pissed off too, if I were Major League Baseball. Here’s a guy who did the crime (failed a test), but won’t do the time. When the story first broke several weeks ago, the Braun camp assured everyone that the truth would come out, and everyone would see that he is, in fact, innocent of the allegations against him. Well, the truth is out it seems, and I’ve drawn a different conclusion.
…And I love and respect this game.
*I’m totally not an attorney, and that statement may lean a little more to the “What I saw on Law & Order SVU” side of things than the actual, you know, “legal” side of things. Just saying.