I put the term in quotes because that’s the way a lot of the stories I’ve read and heard seem to be leaning.
Braun’s appeal was upheld, making him the first one to succeed at overturning a suspension for PED use. Seems there were technical issues involved in terms of the way the sample was handle that caused two of the three judges to vote in Braun’s favor. That’s the angle the folks at the MLB Network seem to have gone, which I find dissatisfying.
Their attitude seems to be, if the people in charge had followed the proper protocol, Braun’s suspension would have been upheld. As such, he cannot be totally cleared of the “charges.” Was that ever really an issue? I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that he never denied taking whatever it was that caused the positive result, but that one all the information came out, he would be exonerated. The headline of Tyler Kepner’s column in today’s New York Times — “Braun’s Name is cleared but questions linger” — reflect this attitude. You know this was an important story because it was on the front page and jumped not to the sports section, but to page A3. (Needless to say it made for a banner headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.)
The news broke just in time to make it the lead story on yesterday’s Pardon the Interruption.
Tony Kornheiser: Ryan Braun is off the hook. The reigning National league MVP has won his appeal over a reported positive test for performance enhancers. Two of the three arbitrators sided with the Brewers’ star but [Major League Baseball] has released a statement saying it vehemently disagrees with the ruling. Mike, does this mean Braun is officially cleared but still implicated?
Michael Wilbon: Yeah, Tony. You can be conflicted over your feelings, I guess, unless you’re a big Ryan Braun fan personally or the Milwaukee Brewers and that’s your team. But I would think most of the rest of us would think, wait a minute, there was still a person who voted against this which means he or she must have thought there was come evidence that pointed in the exact opposite direction. Tony, I got to admit, I don’t know what it means.
Kornheiser: I think Ryan Braun can say, as he has said, “I am innocent.” I mean, I understand it’s a split decision. The Supreme Court has nine justices; a lot of times it’s 5-4, 7-2, or 6-3. I don’t think you have to win unanimously on that. I haven’t heard from Ryan Braun yet; none of us has. he says he’s been an open book but I don’t think the public knows what his case was. I think I understand why Baseball is angry, ’cause it calls their test into question…
Wilbon: Yes, it does.
Kornheiser: …They spent so much time establishing good relationships by great testing and now everybody is free to appeal.
Wilbon: Tony, that’s true, but what’s also true is that baseball has this mechanism set up to appeal.
Kornheiser: That’s right, and that’s fair.
Wilbon: And that appeal can be heard. That seems to me to be as essential to the system as the drug test or the authenticity of that. So again, I am left not knowing what to believe. I’m confused.
Kornheiser: I think all of us are confused. Do you think there’s a permanent stain on Ryan Braun?
Wilbon: [pause] Not now. But you know what,Tony, he may say “I’m not going to talk about this,” but don’t these things usually find a way of coming out?
Kornheiser: Down the road, down the road.
(I don’t know what rumors you have heard, but I’m holding back (lashon hara and all) until I see Braun’s own comments.)
There are also those in the media who hint at some ulterior motives for the decision: Braun’s loss for 50 games would do major damage to a Brewers team that had already seen lost Prince Fielder sign with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent. Albert Pujols also left the NL Central, so that might cause problems for the Cardinals.
Not to mention what this does to the MLB drug testing policy. Management hates precedents. Former MLB players Eric Byrnes came on very strong (IMO) in his opinion that a lot of players would be unhappy about the decision, as if Braun had done something wrong.
The MLB Network posted this clip. Bear in mind, it’s a 24-hour station, so they repeat segments several times during the day. However, when I watched the program late last night, Burnes seemed to have a totally different perspective from what he says here:
This brings up the legal questions, where I am no expert by any means. If Braun took something — anything — that caused a positive result for a substance banned by MLB, should it matter the reason? If I am correct MLB rules state it doesn’t matter if they player didn’t know there was anything untoward in their supplement; “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” This is a question for people more learned than I.
Braun will speak to the media at noon, Arizona time. Whether he will go into detail about his situation, rather than just say how happy he was to be vindicated and how he was right, remains to be seen.
More on this later, of course.