Ryan Braun Got Off Easy

Yesterday, MLB suspended Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun for the remainder of the 2013 season for violating MLB’s drug policy. He’s not contesting the penalty so it’ll go into effect immediately. The suspension stems from a list provided by Anthony Bosch, the founder of Biogenesis Lab, that had the names of MLB players who the company sold performance enhancing drugs to. The list also included Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz and other big leaguers. For months now, MLB has been investigating the connection between the players and the lab and rumors have heated up in recent weeks that the players on the list would be facing lengthy suspensions. Braun, like most other players on the list, was not cooperative with the league and refused to comment on the investigation.

This all comes just a couple years after Braun tested positive for a banned substance, but had his suspension overturned thanks to a mistake in the chain of custody in processing his urine sample. He got off on a technicality.

Braun is very lucky.
Braun is very lucky.

Now, Braun is finally suspended, but the punishment is much more lenient than fits the crime. Of the 65 games he’s suspended for, 50 are for him purchasing PEDs from the Biogenesis Lab and the other 15 are for his actions during the appeal process of his previous failed test.

Braun has lied repeatedly about using PEDs. He tested positive for steroids and then stood in front of the cameras and declared that he never ingested a banned substance. After he got off, he released a statement saying, “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.” What a bunch of BS.

So after all of this, what’s his punishment? A lousy 65 games, the $3.25 million in salary that goes with it and nothing else. He’ll be back for spring training and Opening Day next year, ready to go on as if none of this every happened. Of course, his legacy and career will always be significantly tainted. Buster Olney called him the Lance Armstrong of baseball, a fitting title. But the actual punishment is weak.

The Brewers are terrible this year – so Braun won’t miss out on a pennant race or the playoffs. He’s just taking a long offseason. And the punishment only goes down as his first violation – if it had been his second, it would’ve come with a 100-game ban and a third failed test is a lifetime ban. His decision not to appeal the ban also means that MLB Players Association won’t get involved, which could’ve been really ugly for Braun as the MLBPA was considering not supporting him in his case.

In addition, both MLB and the Players Association released statements commending Braun for taking responsibility for his actions. Taking responsibility?! He cheated, lied and is escaping with missing less than half a season! And his statement on the suspension? He spends more time looking for sympathy than apologizing.

I know MLB wants to get these suspensions over with and move past Biogenesis. It wants to put stories about performance enhancing drugs behind it and focus on the game. I bet A-Rod will work out a deal with the league in the next few days as well. But this isn’t enough. The punishment against Braun is weak.

And it’s not just fans who want a clean league, the players are sick of it as well. They wanted Braun to go down hard, but will surely be disappointed by this outcome. This wasn’t a tough punishment. It was a weak deal to put this episode in the past. And once again, Ryan Braun got off easy.

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The List

There is nothing more damaging for Major League Baseball, its players, and fans than The List. The List contains the names of the 104 players who tested positive for steroids in the 2003 season when anonymous testing was done by MLB officials to see if the sport needed real testing. Of course, everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows how the samples were supposed to be destroyed, but weren’t and then were seized by the federal government and now the names on that list are slowly trickling out.

One MLB analyst compared it to Chinese Water Torture. As soon as the league recovers from the devastationof learning about one name, another name is revealed. First, it was A-Rod. Then Sammy Sosa. Now, it’s Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Who is it going to be in October when one obnoxious lawyer decides to overshadow the World Series and drop the name of another superstar? The List almost seems mythical, but in fact, it is very real. It has been seen by hundreds of people, from the actual testers to MLB officials, to MLBPA officials, to dozens of lawyers. There are plenty of people with access to The List. What doesn’t make sense to me is how a reporter is able to get one or two individual names every couple of months, but the leak won’t reveal anymore. Does the guy wake up and just decide to drop a bombshell on the sport? Continue reading “The List”

Manny Shouldn’t Be Allowed A Rehab Stint

manny rehabManny Ramirez is in the midst of a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. He can return to the Dodgers on July 3rd when his suspension is done. In the meantime, Manny has been working out and keeping in shape for his return. However, he is now planning on going to Los Angeles’s Triple-A club Albuquerque to play some ball there before returning to the Dodgers’ lineup. How is this fair??

Ramirez is suspended from Major League Baseball. but he can go play in the minors? This makes no sense to me. Manny is suspended from the majors. He shouldn’t be allowed to play. Period. There isn’t any wiggle room there yet mysteriously, he can go play at Triple-A all he wants. That’s not a suspension from baseball. It’s a suspension from MLB. Why didn’t he just spend the whole 50 games down there, playing regular baseball and keeping himself in peak condition? He could have broken every Triple-A record, come back to Dodgers fresh, and have missed nothing. He’d be completely in rhythm.

This rule needs to be fixed immediately. A suspended player is suspended from professional baseball. He can’t go rehab and get himself ready to play. It doesn’t work like that. Manny should have had to work his way back AFTER the suspension ended. It’s common sense yet MLB managed to screw it up. Well done, Bud Selig. Continue reading “Manny Shouldn’t Be Allowed A Rehab Stint”