Major League Baseball announced the suspension of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun today and, of course, I have my opinions about the situation.
The details are as follows, according to MLB.com: Ryan Braun has admitted to violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. His suspension is immediate and is without pay, meaning Braun will miss the remainder of the 2013 regular season (65 games), any potential post-season games (it’s the Brewers, so most likely none), and lose somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.2 million for those games.
But that’s about where the clear details end and the path to trying to understand everything gets twisted and tough to plot out, but let’s give it a try.
What Violations Did He Admit To?
According to the statement by MLB, Braun was suspended for “violations”, not just “a violation”, but didn’t detail any of them. It’s easy to assume that his violations included the steroid use highlighted by the Biogenesis clinic in Florida, which also implicates almost two-dozen other players, but where do they end? Has Ryan Braun admitted that his positive test in 2011 that was successfully appealed was actually a legitimate positive test?
65 Games Is An Odd Number For A Suspension
First time offenders, which Braun would “technically” be since his positive test in 2011 was thrown out, receive a 50 game suspension. Second time offenders get 100 games. Braun landed with 65 games. Revisiting the question of what Braun admitted to, if it was JUST his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic, he should’ve received 50 games. Accepting a higher number leads me to form an uneducated and mostly-uninformed assumption that he admitted to more than this current scare, and the only thing that comes to mind is his 2011 positive test.
Does The Punishment Fit?
I think this what doesn’t sit well with me. Just so we understand each other, I’m somewhat of a baseball purest. I don’t like the designated hitter, I still believe Hank Aaron has the All-Time home run record and the best players on the field should be in the Hall of Fame regardless of how many off the field mistakes they make. That being said, I see a lot more “book” that should’ve been thrown at Ryan Braun for his admitted violationS of MLB’s steroid policy. For starters, if the assumption that Braun admitted to using in 2011 are accurate, then it should be an obvious decision to take Braun’s 2011 MVP award away, despite precedent set after Ken Caminiti admitted to steroid use during his MVP season. The difference is that Caminiti freely admitted his steroid use in 2002 – six years after his 1996 MVP award and three years after his retirement from baseball. Braun will return to play in 2014 and only admitted his use after being non-cooperative with an investigation last month and finally being painted into a corner by his SECOND exposure as a steroid user.
On his path to this suspension, Braun has sworn his innocence and fought to beat the rap as a cheater and a fraud. To do so, he trampled on the career of the sample handler who, by most accounts, did everything as he should according to the policies and procedures in place.
For most of us, $3.2 million is a lot of money. Ryan Braun is due to make $120 million over the next seven seasons, which makes that $3.2 million seem like small fries. On top of that, Braun has been battling hand injuries for most of the 2013 season, playing in less than 2/3rds of the Brewers games during a disappointing season. Giving Braun the remaining 60ish games to heal during a season where the Brewers are going nowhere is akin to taking Joey Votto out of a 10-0 game in the 6th inning (as done tonight in SF).
In other words, the penalty dealt to Braun for being a cheater amounts to very little unless they take away his claim to fame for his post-career years – his steroid helped MVP award.
What To Look For Now
As far as Braun is concerned, I would watch to see if he has surgery to correct his hand ailment. It will be interesting to see if it is noted that Braun would most likely have had the same season-ending surgery (if it happens), thus nullifying the suspension Braun has been given. If ever a person has gotten off easier after admitting to multiple steroid policy violations, I have yet to see it.
I would also watch to see what happens when the other steroid needle drops. With almost two dozen names involved with the Biogenesis clinic, including Alex Rodriguez, something is sure to happen. I guess it is the benefit of admitting your faults first, but when the other names drop, I wonder how much attention Braun will keep as time passes for his infractions. Probably not much.
How Does This All Make YOU Feel As A Baseball Fan?
I asked this question before starting this post and the overall theme of the answers revolved around anger towards Braun. One response asked if any of us with “normal” jobs would still be employed if we violated our contract or employer’s substance policy. Another believes the sample handler should file a civil suit if Braun did, in fact, admit that the test in 2011 was a correct positive. Brewer-fan respondents expressed their disappointment and sadness that the player that they had believed in and trusted was a liar and a cheat.
All-in-all, @CaughtOffBase nailed it when she said that the biggest loser in this situation is baseball. Unfortunately, with all the other names involved with this latest exposure, I think baseball stands to lose even more if they don’t bring the hammer down hard.
As always, thanks for reading. I can assure you that no performance-enhancing drugs of any kind were used in the typing of this blog post. If anything, this 11-0 shellacking of the Giants is a performance-hindering situation, so thanks for making it through this babble. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or Tweeting to @GeoffreyHoman. And remember, don’t do steroids and don’t Woo!