Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for December 22nd, 2011

Ryan Braun Knows the One, Confirmed Minor-Leaguer Who Successfully Fought 50 Game Ban

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Have any of you heard of Brendan Katin?

I hadn’t, at least not for years; he was a prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system.  But Brendan Katin is the one and only person that anyone is aware of who’s actually successfully appealed a 50-game suspension — that is, he cleared his name after he’d falsely tested positive for an elevated level of testosterone.

Well, Ryan Braun knows Katin, something Katin confirms in this article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel by Todd Rosiak on December 19, 2011.   Here’s what Katin had to say about his own ordeal:

“We were playing the Smokies in Tennessee this one morning and I wake up to a call from our employee assistance program guy,” Katin recounted in a recent phone interview.

“He just asked me, ‘Is there any reason why you would have tested positive for steroids?’ I answered, ‘Absolutely not. I have absolutely no idea.’ Then he said, ‘Well, you did, and they’re going to suspend you for 50 games.’ ”

Katin wasted no time in contacting his agent and filing an appeal. But from everything he knew, it would be an exercise in futility. A suspension seemed inevitable.

“They’d tell you every time in those meetings in spring training that nobody’s ever won an appeal,” Katin said.

At this point, Rosiak states what little is known about the Ryan Braun situation — something I blogged about here a few weeks ago — and the parallels are eerily similar.

Katin goes on to say this:

Katin, to this day, is believed to be the only player at any level in professional baseball to have won such an appeal. In the major leagues, 12 players on 40-man rosters have taken their cases to arbitration, and all 12 have lost.

Katin was allowed to play as the process dragged on for about two months, but he struggled mightily as he tried to figure out what might have triggered the positive test and what he’d do if the suspension was upheld.

“It was the worst start I had gotten off to in my career. I was hitting .200, if not sub-.200,” he said. “How could I have taken anything that possibly could have caused this? I couldn’t think of anything. At that point in my career, I didn’t even drink protein shakes or anything. Absolutely nothing.”

Katin finally learned he was cleared when he was handed a letter by Huntsville’s trainer as he boarded the bus in Chattanooga, Tenn., for a game. He’d beaten the odds, but the process had taken its toll.

“Pretty much you wake up every day and you tell yourself, ‘I could be suspended tomorrow for 50 games,’ “he said. “I knew that I did nothing wrong, but you’ve got to know that there’s still that chance.”

Katin also said that it was quite difficult for him to deal with the fact that to most, he was guilty until proven innocent — and as Rosiak’s article shows, Katin also suffered greatly in the short-term from the mere perception that he was a cheater.

Aside from that, Katin had only kind words for Braun:

“Completely shocked,” Katin said when asked of his reaction to the news that his friend and former teammate had reportedly tested positive. “He’s as clean-cut a guy as it gets and as classy a guy as it gets.”

In other words, Braun’s test could be a false positive of the sort Katin had happen to him; just because it hadn’t yet happened as far as anyone’s aware in the majors yet, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  Tests are handled by humans, thus are inherently flawed, and it is possible that a completely innocent man could be caught in the cross-hairs, just like Katin was back in 2007.

My view remains that Braun is innocent until and unless he is proven guilty, not the reverse — and that I fully expect that Braun will be exonerated.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Politics, US and Wisconsin-style — A Big, Fat Mess

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Tonight’s post is about what’s been going on in politics — but as time is of a premium, let me sum it up for you in four words: a big, fat mess.

Look at the national political scene, for example.  Yesterday Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said that the House “would not pass” the two-month extension to the payroll tax holiday (something that saves the average worker $40 per paycheck, as was Tweeted ad nauseum with the hash-tag #40bucks).  Boehner stood firm after this Wall Street Journal staff editorial saying the deal was a no-brainer; as the editorial said:

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.

The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.

As the editorial goes on to state, the House had voted to kill the payroll tax “holiday” on Tuesday — the exact, same bill that the Senate had passed on a bipartisan basis with an 89-10 vote — by a 229-193 highly partisan vote (meaning the Rs were mostly against; the Dems were largely for it).  Speaker Boehner was standing firm, so he said, because he felt the Democrats hadn’t negotiated in good faith, but the Republican leadership (at least, anyone who isn’t currently sitting in the United States House of Representatives) en masse told Boehner he was wrong.

For example, here’s what George W. Bush’s main advisor, Karl Rove, had to say last evening (via this TalkingPointsMemo article, which quotes Rove from an appearance on the Fox News Channel yesterday — that is, Wednesday, December 21, 2011):

“I think the Wall Street journal editorial today hit it on the nail,” Rove said Wednesday on Fox News.

So today, Thursday, December 22, 2011, Speaker Boehner had to give in.  He did so as graciously as he possibly could, but facts are facts; Boehner got his hat handed to him, and he’s likely to end up resigning as Speaker soon because he’s totally lost control of his caucus.  And in so doing, he’s hurt his party, he’s hurt his party’s chances for winning the 2012 elections (from the Presidency on down), and he’s definitely hurt himself; these things are what tends to make a current Speaker a former Speaker, in short order, one way or another — and it’s far easier to resign than to be removed in disgrace.  (And if you resign, you get the lovely “perks” that come with being a former Speaker — I’m not sure if you do if you are replaced, though it’s likely you still would.  But it would still look better for Boehner if he just got out ASAP, and it probably would be a great deal better for his physical health.  He truly did not look well today in his press conference.)

Tomorrow, the House will meet and attempt to pass the two-month extension of the payroll tax “holiday” by unanimous acclamation.  If that doesn’t happen, I haven’t a clue what will happen next.

But I do know that the American public doesn’t like stalemates like this when political theatre threatens to interfere with real people’s lives, and they tend to hold the party who instigated such a thing responsible.  In 2009, the Dems had several highly partisan fights, mostly over health care, and in 2010, they paid for it at the ballot box; now, it’s 2011, and the Rs have had several highly partisan fights, mostly over the payroll tax and the debt ceiling issues . . . my guess is that unless they get their collective house in order, fast, they, too, are likely to pay for it at the ballot box.

Now to Wisconsin’s recent political news.  We continue the fight to recall our Governor, Scott Walker (R), our Lieutenant Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch (R), and four state Senators, including my very own Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).   It was reported about a week ago that there are nearly enough signatures to recall Scott Walker, as 507,000 valid signatures (by real Wisconsin voters, no signatures of “Mickey Mouse” or “Adolf Hitler” as has been alleged by some Republican leaders, including state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), himself a target of a well-funded recall election).  

Note that 507,000 valid signatures have been gathered in one month; those of us working on the recall effort (including me) have another full month left in which to get signatures.  And the efforts to recall Kleefisch, Wanggaard, and Fitzgerald (among others) continue unabated; it looks good that all six Republicans targeted for recall will indeed have to face the voters in 2012 for this option: will they be retained, or will they instead be replaced?

Tempers remain high in Wisconsin.  We’re frustrated by a weak economy, months of negative job “growth” (in other words, we have big, big job losses here and little actual growth going on), five or six people going for every one job, and more.  Then, we have a Governor who’d rather cause trouble than govern — which is why he’s going to be recalled and replaced — we have Senators who didn’t have the sense they were born with (including my own, Van Wanggaard), and voted for something they should’ve stayed far, far away from (the whole vote on Senate Bill 10 — that is, when they voted to repeal collective bargaining for most public employees, which has caused all sorts of trouble in the state, economically and otherwise).  And we have a Lieutenant Governor in Kleefisch who is either too weak to affect policy in any way so she has to parrot whatever Scott Walker tells her to say, or really, honestly believes what she’s saying — and I’m not sure which is worse.

Look.  I have friends of all political stripes and I am in agreement with some of my R friends in other states when they say spending is out of control and the government should make absolutely certain every nickel is spent wisely and well.  But I am against nonsensical stuff like what Walker, Kleefisch, Fitzgerald and his brother, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (also an R), my Senator, Van Wanggaard, etc., have said and done because there was no reason for it except to do one thing: bust unions, and make it harder to get Walker, et. al., on out of there.

But I have news; we will oust Scott Walker.  We will oust Rebecca Kleefisch.  We will oust Senators Fitzgerald and Wanggaard, all by our quite legal recall method — by getting 1/4 of the total voters in the last, highly-charged election.  We must oust these people in order to restore some sense of fairness and bipartisanship to Wisconsin.  

Wisconsin is not a red state, nor is it a blue state; instead, it is a truly purple state.  That’s why what the radical Rs, led by Scott Walker, have done here is so blatantly offensive to the vast majority of Wisconsinites I’ve talked with — including many, many Rs and Indys — and it’s why I fully expect to see Scott Walker and Van Wanggaard, among others, hitting the unemployment line ASAP.

Just Reviewed Lackey/Edghill’s “Legacies” and “Conspiracies” at SBR

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Folks, if you love urban fantasy as much as I do, you really need to grab hold of these novels and don’t let ’em go until you’ve read ’em.

Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill have created a magical academy out in the middle of Montana called Oakhurst that’s both familiar and terrifying.  They get all the “teen stuff” right — the “teen speak,” all the emphasis on technology, wanting to eat junk food (and hating healthy food, for the most part), “teen angst,” etc. — and they also manage to get in there a great many hints at mysteries that go back to the Morte d’Arthur . . . really nice work, and I enjoyed both Legacies (book one) and Conspiracies (book two) immensely.

http://shinybookreview.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/sbr-2-for-1-special-lackey-and-edghills-shadow-grail-series-off-to-a-rousing-start/

So go read my review already, then go grab the books!

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2011 at 12:17 am