Braun against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE)

Braun Wins Appeal, But...


I like Ryan Braun. There. I said it and not afraid to admit such.

On one hand, I am happy that Braun found the means to have his 50-game suspension overturned. On the other, I’m not.

I’ll address that last part first. The “I’m not” part is easy to ascertain. With the potential of Braun missing 50 games, the road for the Reds in order to claim the National League Central was simpler. Now, it’s not. I do like that the Brewers will be able to put their best team on the field in an attempt to defend their 2011 division title.

But how can I be happy? The answers are many, but the main reason is this decision forces MLB to look at the testing program as a whole. It should. It better.

By now we’ve read and/or heard of the means in which a three-man panel voted 2-1 to overturn the result. It was due to the procedure, not the player. It is the process here that needs to be examined. Every angle needs to be scrutinized and all loopholes tightened.

Side note here. MLB, why vent your frustration at one person? The testing process as a whole failed here, not one person. Sure, Shyam Das was the “deciding vote” among the panel (which also included MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred and MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner), but it cannot be placed solely on him. In fact, none of it should be on Das. You’re having a fit because the one person that needed convincing that the process was all hunky-dory concluded that is was not. Releasing a statement pointing a finger at Das is hardly credible let alone proper.

I have a question and it may have already been asked. If the individual that was collecting Braun’s sample knew there could be difficulties in sending the sample to the lab, why collect a sample at all? Yes, we’ve now heard there were outlets (reportedly FedEx is denoted as the “courier”) available, but if the collector was not aware of such locations being at his disposal (or the collector being unaware of this fact), should he have ceased in collection for that evening? And that person could not look at Braun as he was testifying?

What we are witnessing potentially opens a Pandora’s box. Lawsuits are already reportedly being considered…and they needn’t be. Players, if they weren’t before, are surely now more aware of the testing process. There could be someone, somewhere that is likely to pursue this route with this exact defense as Braun. The spines from this decision may prove endless.

There is another aspect to consider here, too.

Yes, the process needs a stress test of itself, but what about how this all became public? Someone let this information about Braun and the failed test become public. That placed Braun in a bad position. The person that inappropriately handled Braun’s sample was, too (which is actually a good thing). The “leaker” (no pun intended, but hard to avoid) or as some might say, the whistle blower?

Regarding Braun, some say and believe that Braun got off due to a technicality. In a straight forward sense, that is correct. The method, not the player, was deemed as “dirty”. I would say I’m shocked that a second sample also showing elevated levels of testosterone was not brought into play, but with Braun’s people “busting” the chain of custody of one sample, who’s to say that second sample collected used proper procedure as well?

One of my Twitter follows is Adam McCalvy, Brewers beat writer for MLB.com. I have linked to some of his work in the past and he is simply a good follow. In his article from yesterday, he quotes Braun as the decision being the “first step in restoring my good name and reputation”. While Brewers fans and Braun would like that to be the case, we know it won’t be so easy. We know that may never happen.

Why? The answers are simple.

For one, Braun was one of the players that former Brewers owner and now MLB commish Bud Selig pointed to as being a good guy. That image is tarnished despite yesterday’s decision. Some of that tarnish may go away over time. To some, it never will due to their perceived notions of how the decision was rendered and the whole technicality deal. That is something Braun cannot avoid. It’s a stigma Braun will forever carry.

Braun will forever be linked as the first player to “beat the system”. A system we now know is not perfect. A system we now may question. Whether you believe his innocence or not, Braun will also be linked by the “what if” questions. What if he truly did have elevated levels of synthetic testosterone in the sample that was brought into question? That question has no answer.

2012 may well evolve into a sideshow as Braun will undoubtedly face the onslaught of media whenever the Brewers go on the road. That opinion could spring to a whole new level if Braun does not perform this season as he did in 2011. The skeptics will be hollering. You can bet on that.

Well, until the next sample Braun submits, that is. Even then, can we be sure the testing results are legit?

MLB, you are now under the microscope.

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Tags: Baseball Milwaukee Brewers MLB PED Ryan Braun