Like a Broken Record, MLB Goes After Ryan Braun — Again
Folks, some things get more ridiculous the longer I study them.
Take the Ryan Braun situation, for example. Braun is currently under suspicion, again, for illegal PED use due to his name being mentioned on a list from the Biogenesis Clinic. This has been known for quite some time (please see my earlier blog on the subject from March of this year for further details, and a quick update at the end of this blog).
However, the powers that be at Major League Baseball have now managed to come up with a potential “star witness” — the guy who owned the Biogenesis Clinic, Tony Bosch, to be exact. But as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports pointed out earlier today (spelling mistake left in situ):
Baseball has been “seeking” suspensions of Rodriguez, Braun and others for months. Bosch certainly is a critical piece to the sport’s puzzle. But he is not a licensed physican, his anti-aging clinic is out of business and he previously told ESPN, “I don’t know anything about performance-enhancing drugs.”
His credibility is about on par with that of Roger Clemens’ former trainer, Brian McNamee, who became the government’s chief witness against the pitcher.
Which is to say, his credibility is in doubt.
And because Bosch’s credibility is so poor, Rosenthal believes major league baseball has a weak case. So the reports of MLB asking for potential 100-game suspensions — supposedly 50 games for using, and 50 games for lying — don’t hold a whole lot of water with Rosenthal as any evidence Bosch may have looks quite weak.
As Rosenthal says toward the end of his column:
Slips of paper listing . . . names, a sworn affidavit from Bosch admitting that they were customers — heck, I’m not a lawyer, but I’d take my chances tearing baseball’s case apart.
Oh, I can hear those on the players’ side now.
“Bosch agreed to cooperate with baseball only to save his own rear. He’s broke. He’s talking in order to get baseball to drop its lawsuit against him. He needs the various forms of protection that baseball offered him, according to ESPN.
“What does baseball have? Nothing.”
Jeff Passan, columnist at Yahoo Sports, takes a different tack, saying tonight that baseball has come up with a “Pyrrhic victory” in their pursuit against supposed performance-enhancing drug (PED) users. Passan states that while PED use can be “mitigated and controlled,” it’s also sure to enrage the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA):
Think about the union’s perspective: For all this time, MLB has painted Tony Bosch as a low-life, a pissant faux doctor who was nothing more than a sleazeball. And now it wants to trust him, of all people, and mete out perhaps 1,000 games of punishment?
Worst of all from a fan’s perspective, MLB being willing to go heavily against the players’ association — which believes as many people that any player accused of using PEDs has and should have a presumption of innocence until proven guilty — means, as Passan puts it, that MLB seems to want to “wage all-out war against the union.”
At any rate, my overall beliefs remain unchanged. Braun has been convicted of nothing, and I’m tired of MLB going after him. Braun has passed at least six drug tests since the disputed one in 2011 (that never should’ve been made public). He’s as clean as anyone in baseball, and it’s time that MLB admitted that and moved on already.
That being said, Passan has a point that MLB going after PED users will never work, because sports is all about getting and maintaining an edge. Players make such big money that the temptation to use performance-enhancers must be quite high.
But as I’ve said before (from my initial blog about Braun in December of 2011):
. . . as baseball Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt (a third baseman, and a power hitter, for the Philadelphia Phillies) said in his book CLEARING THE BASES, baseball players have been trying to “gain an edge” since the beginning of time. Trying to legislate that away will never work (not that I think Braun did anything wrong here, but if he was trying to gain an edge, so what?). And if the players are harming themselves down the line to gain big bucks now, that should be their prerogative — all I ask is that if someone is taking something like that, they watch what happened to Oakland Raiders’ star Lyle Alzado (who died young, and horribly, from cancer that may have been prevented if Alzado hadn’t admittedly taken many, many steroids over time).
In this, particular case, my view is that Braun’s statistical performance was well within his own normals. So it’s very hard for me to believe that Braun actually did take anything illegal of the PED variety; because of that, and because of my admittedly laissez-faire attitude toward baseball players and legal drugs, I believe Braun should be considered innocent until and unless he is proven guilty.
Pay attention to the words I’ve bolded, folks. Because they’re the most important ones to remember.
And whether MLB likes it or not, the fact remains that Braun was exonerated under MLB’s own rules back in 2012. As I said in this March 2013 blog post:
Since Braun has been proven to not have taken PEDs under binding arbitration, MLB should really let it go. Because the longer they pursue this mindless vendetta, the more they look like Inspector Javert — and with far less reason than that fictional French bureaucrat of old.
My final take? Well, Braun’s lawyers are incredibly competent, and should be able to tear MLB’s supposed “case” as built by the incomparable Tony Bosch to shreds.
Of course, it remains MLB’s prerogative to be as stupid, silly and spiteful as it wishes (just as I said in March of this year). But it’s also my prerogative as a sports fan to think that MLB is wasting its time. And I wonder, exactly, just when MLB decided that it wanted to model itself on the fictional Inspector Javert — because really, that look is incredibly unbecoming.
As promised, here’s a quick update via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy:
After the Brewers’ 10-inning, 4-3 victory, Braun was greeted by a crowd of cameras and microphones at his locker.
“A lot of people here,” he said. “I assume I know why everybody is here. I’ve already addressed everything related to the Miami situation. I addressed it in Spring Training. I will not make any further statements about it. The truth has not changed. I don’t know the specifics of the story that came out today, but I’ve already addressed it, I’ve already commented on it, and I’ll say nothing further about it.”
My take on this? Well, it’s obvious Braun’s tired of this nonsense. He’s a smart man, has a very good lawyer, and seems prepared to deal with whatever MLB throws at him.
I just wish MLB would knock this crap off, that’s all. Because really and truly, it’s not necessary — especially as MLB hardly has a slam-dunk case.