The Latest On Ryan Braun

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Since the positive test has been reported to not have been a performance enhancing substance, it’s a process of elimination to determine what Brewers outfielder and National League MVP Ryan Braun supposedly took to prompt the failed test.

The LA Times provided a list of the banned substances in the baseball’s collective bargaining agreement here.

If the PEDs are off the table, what could Braun have taken and was it inadvertent? If it wasn’t a PED, could it have been a recreational drug? Could have have drunk a couple of energy drinks and his testosterone levels were spiked unknowingly?

The source in this Tom Haudricourt piece says that there was never a result like this in all the years of testing and MLB Trade Rumors links multiple stories on this subject with varying reports on whether it was a PED or not.

If Braun’s telling the truth, that indicates an anomaly somewhere.

Would Braun have taken an amphetamine? I would presume that recreational drugs wouldn’t be subject to a suspension, so what was it?

On the other hand, was this something Braun has taken before and had yet to fail a test? Would he be stupid enough to take something during the playoffs he’d never taken without knowing what the ingredients were? Or did he run the risk in the interests of helping his team advance in the playoffs?

When a player gets caught doing something he shouldn’t do and is publicly shamed, his denials aren’t worth very much—unless he’s telling the truth.

With all the rumors being leaked, there’s no conclusion to be reached until the appeal is heard and it’s revealed exactly what happened.

The words “never”, “ever” and “nearly impossible” are used in the stories again and again.

But everything is a “never” until it happens. Judging from the way the Braun camp is insisting that he didn’t do anything wrong, I think it’s a possibility that there’s a reasonable explanation. 

Then things will probably get even messier because if the first big name player who failed a test after the new CBA was signed is able to win on appeal, it sabotages everything the MLB testing system is designed to do in the first place.

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Ryan Braun’s MVP is Suddenly Not Kosher

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Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, AKA the Hebrew Hammer, saw the Kosher status of his Most Valuable Player award called into question when it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned substance.

Braun may not be the Chosen One of 2011 for much longer.

You can read the details here from the New York Times.

Braun is proclaiming his innocence, but that matters little in the world of rapid judgments and suggested punishments before an allegation has been proven to be accurate.

As long as the case is hovering over Braun, it diminishes the MVP award in terms of perception; but we don’t know what the other players were using—nor what Braun used to test positive. It might’ve been an over-the-counter supplement that had an ingredient that he wasn’t aware was banned.

Like the “war on drugs”, it’s pure cherry-picking of what’s okay and what’s not. MLB players can’t use amphetamines anymore, but until the new collective bargaining agreement, there wasn’t an attempt to test players for human growth hormone so players switched from anabolic steroids to HGH.

Chemists and performance specialists have little interest in the rules and regulations of a sport when it comes to drugs; their mandate is to help their clients play better; they do this by formulating the substances based on what works and how best to mask them to prevent a positive test. With the new testing procedures, these same chemists are trying (and presumably succeeding) in coming up with something new to stickhandle their way around the tests.

Some are saying that once his appeal is denied, Braun should be stripped of the MVP award.

Much like the instantaneous reaction to the Armando Galarraga perfect/imperfect game where, in the aftermath of umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call, there was consideration given to an overturn and awarding Galarraga an after-the-fact perfect game, there are other factors to gauge.

Since there was video evidence as to the gaffe, giving Galarraga a perfect game wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world, but where would it end?

If there was a call in a game that was judged to be wrong and it cost a team a victory, how would that be handled? Would the win be taken away from one team and given to another? Would they replay the game from the time of the mistake?

And what about the gamblers who were already paid upon the game’s result? (That’s the big one whether baseball admits it or not.)

People bet on the MVP as well. Would the winnings for those who selected Braun be demanded back? Would anyone give it back? I wouldn’t. Would the new winner—presumably the player who came in second, Matt Kemp—be tested and scrutinized as well?

These things have to be considered before automatically saying, “take away his MVP”.

Braun’s production wasn’t appreciably better in 2011 than it had been in previous seasons—he didn’t hit 73 home runs after a career-high of 49 as Barry Bonds did in 2001 at an age where players decline, not set records; he wasn’t injury-prone and possibly facing the end of his career as Mark McGwire was. There’s no glaring statistical anomaly to say Braun just started using whatever it was he’s said to have used that may or may not have helped him along.

Of course, he might’ve been using various substances throughout his playing career.

We don’t and won’t know.

He also might be innocent.

The fallout from this will be more scarring than the Hebrew ritual of circumcision; more annoying than performing a Bar Mitzvah like a moderately house-trained monkey in front of a group of people one doesn’t know, singing songs in a language he doesn’t understand.

Those things pass into memory.

If Braun is found guilty and stripped of his MVP, that will endure forever.

And there won’t be a catered affair in celebration of his downfall.

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