Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Hallelujah! Brewers OF Ryan Braun Wins Appeal; Will Not be Suspended (UPDATED)

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Folks, I told you this would happen, and it did.

Today, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun won his appeal and will not be suspended 50 games for performance-enhancing drugs (read: steroids).  Apparently, he was able to prove a problem with the “chain of custody” (that is, how the urine sample was handled before it got to the lab); Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Tom Haudricourt said, in essence, that the Brewers breathed a big sigh of relief after hearing this.

Apparently MLB itself isn’t happy that Braun won his appeal, but that’s just too bad about them; the fact is, arbitrator Shyam Das agreed with the Major League Players Association and with Braun himself, and that’s what matters.  (Anything else is just a fig leaf for MLB, and should be discounted.)

Here’s a link to Haudricourt’s story:

http://m.jsonline.com/140213003.htm?ua=iphone&dc=smart

UPDATE FOLLOWS:

Ryan Braun has released a statement, which the Journal-Sentinel has at this link:

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/140218803.html

Here’s an excerpt from that statement:

I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision.

It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.

I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.

Later in the statement, after Braun thanked the many people (including the Brewers organization) he felt he should, he said this:

This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked.

Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the Panel Chair and the Office of the Commissioner.

As I said before, 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.

I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title.

And friends and teammates of Braun have not been shy saying they’re very pleased to hear this, either.

Brewers closer John Axford, on Twitter, said this regarding Braun:

All I can say is that Braun has exemplary character is continuing to handle this in an unbelievable manner. #ThereBetterBeSomeApologies

And Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who is a good friend of Ryan Braun’s, said this via Twitter:

MLB and cable sports tried to sully the reputation of an innocent man. Picked the wrong guy to mess with. Truth will set u free #exonerated

My own take, as you know, is that back in December, I said that I believed Braun would be found innocent or at minimum be vindicated and this suspension would not hold up.  Here’s a bit from that blog, written on December 10, 2011:

Braun has been an outstanding player from the time the Brewers brought him up.  He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2007.  His lifetime numbers are comparable to his MVP numbers; over his last five seasons, he’s averaged 36 HRs and 118 RBIs a season, and has hit over .300 every year except 2008 (when he “only” hit .285); his lifetime batting average, over five complete seasons, is .312.

So I don’t really see where Braun could’ve been taking anything that was of an enhancing nature, especially if he’s never tested positive before (and indeed, he hasn’t).

Then on December 22, 2011, I pointed out that Braun knew the one minor leaguer, Brendan Katin, who’d successfully fought his appeal, and that maybe this meant something for him.  And Katin said that he didn’t believe Braun was dirty; he said he was “shocked” to hear of an impending suspension, as it didn’t really make any sense.  My conclusion was as follows:

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.  (emphasis added)

So as I said before, I fully believed Braun would be vindicated.  I was right, and I’m not afraid to tell you all “I told you so,” either.

Now, the Brewers, their fans, and Braun himself can breathe a sigh of relief; as for MLB, they should realize that tests can be messed up and not every player who tests positive initially is a dirty player.  Rather than being mad at arbitrator Shyam Das, they should be grateful that Das is an independent person and used his head for more than a hatrack.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

February 23, 2012 at 5:29 pm

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