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Are future awards out of the question for Ryan Braun?

Jan 5, 2012, 10:38 AM EDT

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Buster Olney posed an interesting question on Twitter and then in his column this morning:

If Ryan Braun is suspended for his positive drug test, will writers never again consider Braun for any award during his playing career? In other words, if he’s suspended 50 games this year, then passes all subsequent tests and hits 60 homers in 2015, would they leave him off their MVP ballot because of what transpired in 2011/2012?

To be clear: Olney has come out staunchly against the BBWAA reconsidering Braun’s award and is on record opposed to Hall of Fame voters turning themselves into the morality police. So in this I take that Olney would be decidedly against anyone treating Braun differently in the future for awards purposes.

But would they do such a thing?

My gut on this is no, Braun would not face some sort of defacto discipline from awards voters as a result of what looks like it will be a 50-game drug suspension in 2012.  The biggest reason: the different voting pools for the Hall of Fame and the postseason awards.

Awards voters are active, working baseball writers. Primarily beat reporters who skew younger, smarter and more open-minded than the Hall of Fame electorate as a whole. As I’ve said before, I wish these men and women had the Hall of Fame vote to themselves too, but alas they don’t.  Maybe I’m wrong about that. The awards electorate does not strike me as a body that would mete out some sort of moralistic justice against Braun. If he put up another MVP-worthy season I presume, absent any future PED questions, he’d get his plaque just like he did this year.

Bonus Braun stuff:  There have been rumors floating around about what may have caused Braun’s positive test. It has been said by some that got a false-positive caused by a treatment he’s receiving for a “private medical issue.”  A rumor has started to spread about what the private medical issue is.  I don’t like to get into fanning the flames on such rumors, but if there is some scientific or medical fact that we can throw into the mix to at least make such rumors more informed, that can’t be a bad thing.

To that end, I direct you to a blog post by long, long long-time reader Paul Sax — who is a doctor and who is the Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital — in which he talks about what could have led to Braun’s positive test and what it means for those rumors that are floating around.  Upshot: if the rumors are right, Braun has a right to be pretty mad at his doctor.

  1. wendell7 - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Herpes for the Hebrew Hammer ?!?!

    • pjmarn6 - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      We are not dealing with kids off the sandlot. These men are adults with business managers, agents and can read and write. They know about steroids and performance enhancing drugs. It is not a teenager who decides to go for a joy ride or cheats on a test.
      The usage of these drugs is common and Braun knew about it and defied baseball to catch him. Why is there “A CHANCE”? He got millions out of using the drugs and planned to get millions more. The HOF is now a joke. I was just looking at the site for all time Yankee greats, except for Jeter and the relief pitcher, Ramirez every other great named was well before the drug scandal. Baseball’s HOF is dead and all the stats including Aaron’s are suspect.
      Lock the doors and put everything in mothballs. To clean up the sport, every player, minor league player, too has to be checked every month and during the off season. Then record keeping can be started again.

      • paperlions - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        They don’t know that much….many will use supplements that are shown to convey no benefit…such as creatine or HGH…and they will use them for years because they know other people that use them based on the “everyone wouldn’t use it if it didn’t work” principle, and all of them will ignore published work showing that they don’t do what they claim they do.

        It isn’t like these guys go up to anyone that is informed and say…so…I’m thinking about using steroids, what do you thing? They may ask each other…but one uniformed person asking other such people isn’t the most reliable way to gather information.

        Just because people are adults doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to suggestion and won’t continually use things that don’t do what they are told they do…there has never been more snake oil sold in history than is sold right now…all to “adults” that should know better….diet pills, vitamins, natural supplements, etc….most of that crap doesn’t do a damned thing…and they are billion dollar industries.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        I was just looking at the site for all time Yankee greats, except for Jeter and the relief pitcher, Ramirez every other great named was well before the drug scandal.

        Holy crap, you’ve said a ton of insane things lately, but do you really not know the name of the closer for the Yankees?

      • pjmarn6 - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:23 AM

        @churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged you are the official apologist for the drug era of Baseball. Maybe you want to apologize for the 200 students who cheated on their final exams in Virginia at the same time. Or maybe you want to apologize for the Vice President plagerism in college.
        Tell me something, when you get sick, do you want a real doctor or someone who cheated his way through med school? When you go to court, do you want a real lawyer or someone who bought a diploma.
        I really have to laugh at the contributors who want to legitimize the drug era of baseball. You just sat back and accepted all these wild, crazy, completely incomprehensible statistics ……….WHY? You wanted to be fooled? You wanted to see drugged players make a mockery of the game and now when it has been proven and the writers who are more honest than the players, managers and owners say………wait! We can’t legitimize what went on! You want to cry and berate what has to be done. Cut out the whole rotten mess.
        You people are pathetic.

  2. ss - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    This is what I don’t understand – BBWAA voters are going to stomp their feet and hold their breath when ARod comes up to be elected to the HOF. Angry old men in fedoras will write about how he besmirched the game and made a mockery of us all. But in 2009 he came in 10th place for the MVP award – 9 months after he sat down and talked about how he used steroids. Someone who voted that he should be considered for the MVP award will undoubtedly leave him off of their HOF ballot. Mental gymnastics is the P90X of the BBWAA.

    • pjmarn6 - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      A-rod admitted using drugs and to get that huge contract. I don’t hear any yelling and shouting to get him banned and to return the money. Baseball is now a joke. Every single player from this “DRUG ERROR” has to be removed and all the stats and records removed. Yes a lot of non drug users are going to be hurt, but they didn’t turn in the druggies, even anonymously. They kept their mouths shut and held up the “HONOR AND FRATERNITY” of baseball. WHAT A FUCKING JOKE! We were all watching a bunch of hyped up and drugged out chipmunks running on a hampster wheel.

      • pjmarn6 - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        ERROR was a play on words ALSO MEANS ERA

      • bravojawja - Jan 5, 2012 at 2:20 PM

        Yeah, we GOT IT.

      • pjmarn6 - Jan 6, 2012 at 3:35 AM

        Great to see so many of you are so hyped or maybe drugged out on your own blend that you refuse to acknowledge what is put in front of your noses and pushed into your faces. YEAH put up your negative replies. Show your acceptance of cheats, thieves and liars. Your replies all give legitimacy to the drug era. They show you wanted a shyster game. You wanted a WWW baseball era when you paid your money to see a mockery of the real game. You fools paid through the nose for your cable tv subscription and satellite tv channels and sat your asses in the seats and believed it was all real. Now that you know you were fooled, you want to lie to yourselves and show your hatred to the person who rubs your nose in it.
        ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!
        About 55 years ago, I bought an end of the year baseball statistic book. A wonderful book, I now cherish more than ever. Those statistics are real.
        What happened after that………….is just make believe. I remember how I looked forward to spring training and the start of the season and reading my father’s newspapers, looking at the box scores and stats and imagining how the games went according to the reports of the sports writers and it was so true and honest then.
        Now all of you got memories of lies and cheats. All smoke and mirrors. There is absolutely nothing you can say is real. You will never know, there will always be doubts and lies.

  3. manute - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Way to backdoor an unfounded, damaging allegation. Why not just like to that scumbag Terez? Hope you enjoyed that long ride on the high horse while it lasted.

    • alfreddigs - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      Do you really think the suggestion that Braun might have herpes is more damaging than the allegation that he knowingly took performance enhancing drugs in order to cheat?

      • manute - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:51 AM

        Um, no. Did I say I do?

        Do you really think it’s OK to say he has herpes because others have said worse things about him?

    • Kyle - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      If you read the post by the good Doctor, I think you’d have noticed his massive use of qualifications and statements on how his conclusion is purely speculative.

  4. baseballisboring - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    I definitely don’t think future awards are out of the question, but I think it’s entirely possible he puts up an MVP caliber season in say, 2013 and doesn’t get the award because a few PED-detectives are suspicious of him. I mean, the MVP/CY voters do tend to be smarter than the HoF electorate, but they’re far from perfect. Wouldn’t surprise me to see him lose some potential MVP votes, but not a huge amount.

  5. brewcitybummer - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    If we assume for the sake of argument that Braun is caught dead to rights for a true PED can the Brewers realistically move forward with him? That’s the real question. The brewers are in baseballs middle class where they realistically can afford one elite player past their club control years. Everyone else on that team is a role player built around him. I don’t think its prisoner of the moment to suggest blowing the whole thing up and starting over. Lesson here is be careful who you tag as your franchise cornerstone player.

    • paperlions - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      If the Brewers ship off Braun because of this…they deserve all the losing that will come after. He’s a great player with a team-friendly (albeit very long) contract….his production will nearly impossible to replace for that price.

      • brewcitybummer - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        His contract averages about 8 mil a year while hes in his 20s and 20 mil a year in his 30s. Hes a 6’1″ power hitter. How team friendly is that?

      • paperlions - Jan 5, 2012 at 2:32 PM

        Very.

      • vivabear - Jan 5, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        Depending on how much PEDs improved his power numbers, it could be a very team un-friendly contract.

  6. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    No, future awards are not out of the question for Braun. But he’ll never be as respected again outside of Milwaukee, and even some of those folks are likely permanently turned off by him.

    For several years now we’ve heard constant chatter and arguing about MLB players cheating. Most of us know that players have done so for a long time, but every time we still hear about it, it’s a little depressing, and it’s a heavy blow to an already very soft spot on our fandom.

    While we’re sick of cheating, and although we had many blind eyes watching the games in the 90’s and early 2000’s, and although many of us know cheating will never be entirely erased, it’s just such a damn bummer to hear about another star falling to the temptation of PED’s.

    In my world, I’d love to have clean players, nice guys, and faithful husbands all playing the game. But not every MLB player is Sean Casey. I know this was taking my point to another place, but that’s just my two cents.

  7. shawndc04 - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    If he tests clean from here on out, why shouldn’t he be considered for the awards? Whatever he took, or, more likely, was prescribed, obviously will not affect him for the rest of his career. Additionally, if he took something that was prescribed for a specific condition by a reputable physician, I’ve got to give him some slack after he serves whatever punishment MLB gives him.

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Weren’t some current awards voters asking for a re-vote after the PED thing? There will always be someone else with numbers that are at least close to Braun’s, but without the stain on his record, and just enough voters who won’t give it up for Braun. If we need to rely on the reasonableness of the BBWAA, that MVP trophy is going to get awfully lonely on Braun’s shelf.

  9. lovesmesomeme - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    Does anyone actually think he gives a s**t if he wins another award? The thing that pi$$e$ him off the most is that he got caught! He will have nine figures in the bank when all is said and done. That will buy lots and lots of matzo balls and brisket.

    • baseballisboring - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      Is that a Jew joke?

      • lovesmesomeme - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:53 PM

        Nope

    • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      Hate to burst your bubble, but throwing around sophomoric ethnic references doesn’t make you sound worldly or relevant; just pathetic, hardup, and lame.

      • lovesmesomeme - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:58 PM

        I am not trying to sound worldly or relevant in fact if I was, sophomoric ethnic references would be the last place I would go. As far as being pathetic or lame, I celebrated Hanukkah with the same brisket and latkes your family did. And what does being hard up have to do with anything?

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:06 PM

        And here I thought you were some goyishe, internet tough guy tossing Jooish references upon the mere mention of controversy with Ryan Braun. Hey, here’s an idea…. If you don’t want to be seen as a quacking, waddling duck, don’t quack and waddle like one.

        For a guy who wants to toss around stereotypes, you sure don’t like being poked back. Time for a new day job, bro.

  10. ricofoy - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Moot point. Without the juice Braun won’t be coming close to being considered for any awards anyway.

    • baseballisboring - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      Wrong.

    • nightman13 - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      @Rico

      Yeah cause Braun just came out of nowhere and put up ridiculous stats. It’s not like he won Rookie of the Year or has consistently been great up til now.

  11. a125125125 - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    So….Ryan Braun has herpes because he is displaying the OPPOSITE symptoms of someone receiving herpes treatment? What if he were displaying the symptoms of the side effects of herpes treatment?

    What I’m saying is….following that blog’s logic…..there is NO scenario where Ryan Braun could not be accused of receiving treatment for herpes. Publishing this (or linking to it) seems a little irresponsible to me…..even if there is a “rumor floating around.”

    • Francisco (FC) - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Ryan Braun has herpes because he is displaying the OPPOSITE symptoms of someone receiving herpes treatment?

      The argument goes: that because the levels were expected to be lower, his Doctor BOOSTED them anticipating the drop-off.

      • a125125125 - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:29 PM

        I understand his argument….but it’s non-sense. Braun is displaying the OPPOSITE of the anticipated side effect of herpes treatment. So the argument plays out that….no matter whether his testosterone level is high or low…..an irregular testosterone level is evidence of herpes. Even though the author admits that he’s reaching and that it’s just a rumor.

        Just not a responsible decision to promote this kind of thinking….especially with an accusation involving such a personal matter.

  12. sdelmonte - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    I thought that once you’re caught, you’re tested more often. If he plays well going forward, isn’t it fair to say that if he was caught once and not caught again, he’s more than likely clean?

  13. koufaxmitzvah - Jan 5, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Nice to see privacy taking a back seat to witch hunts. Ain’t nothing I like more than living the Puritan life.

  14. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I think the guy is just saying that there are medical conditions for which synthetic testosterone is a legitimate treatment. If I was a ballplayer with multi-million dollar contracts in the balance, I would damn sure clear any treatment with MLB or the player’s union before going through with it, and if I was a baseball team handing out one of those contracts, I would damned well want my players to clear treatments with the medical staff first. The Brewers were already hurting without Fielder, now they are losing half a season of Braun as well. Sayonara NL central title…

  15. cur68 - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Interesting article by Dr. Sax. He doesn’t point out that Acyclovir cream, that Braun might have been smearing on his groin, is commonly an emulsion in a fat based lotion. That fat is commonly soy. Soy is what synthetic testosterone can be made of.

    I did some research: the soy cream is called Estrasorb. If you have that stuff on your groin when you “produce” a sample of urine it wouldn’t be hard to get acyclovir in the sample. The presence of soy carbon in the urine is what the synthetic testosterone test is looking for.

    So, on the one hand he falls victim to a little known side effect of acyclovir: altering the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. Fails the first test. Then he gets nailed by the soy carbon in his sample. Failing the second test for plant carbon.

    Plausible.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2012 at 2:31 PM

      Would the acyclovir be enough to produce the insane level of testosterone in his system that triggered the [false] positive? Statements have been made that the level Braun was at was double the highest ever recorded. Would that be enough?

      • cur68 - Jan 5, 2012 at 3:02 PM

        I don’t know for sure if acycolvir causes this effect. Dr. Sax isn’t sure either, but it seems likely that it does in rats.

        The important thing to keep in mind that its not a level as such. Its a ratio. The amount of testosterone to epitestosterone. Its not so much that anything is “off the chart high” so much as that there is more of one thing than the other. So if he is underproducing epitestosterone (the inactive form of the hormone testosterone) and still has normal testosterone levels (which shouldn’t be naturally possible with the precursor suppressed) the ratio goes beyond the threshold for which the 2nd test (for soy-plant carbon isotope) is administered (4:1 testosterone to epitestosterone). That’s how WADA decides if there is a need for the 2nd test. If he gets soy emulsion in his urine (not unlikely given how a herpes lesion can turn up anywhere on your, er, groin: smearing acyclovir cream on a lesion right at the end of the, um, groinal area could see some transported along with the urine) he’ll likely fail the 2nd test.

        In theory, soy itself can alter naturally produced hormones, never mind the acyclovir. Its one the reasons you have to be cautious about giving soy based formulas to infants. We’ve had cases of severe “feminization” from parents doing this. Yeah, that does mean what you think it means.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2012 at 3:12 PM

        I understand about the ratio. In fact, it was one of the things BALCO used to their advantage since MLB only seemed to care about the 4:1, and not how high testosterone was. For instance, they could boost your testosterone level 40 times, but if they boosted your epi-testosterone 10x you’d still have the same 4:1 ratio, but far exceeding your normal levels of testosterone.

        However, there were some reports when the info first came out about how absurdly high the tested level of testosterone was in Braun’s system. They weren’t referring to the ratio, just the general amount, weren’t they? It’s not entirely clear.

      • cur68 - Jan 5, 2012 at 3:31 PM

        True, I think they were talking about the testosterone itself, now that you mention it. Hence the soy comes back in the picture. Synthetic testosterone is made of soy (or sweet potato, to be perfectly accurate).

        One way or another, I’m going to say that it is plausible for a guy smearing soy based cream on his mucous membranes that are directly adjacent to where he naturally produces testosterone, could indeed screw up his testosterone levels. If acyclovir itself has this effect, then you could, in theory, get an abnormally high testosterone level.

        For all we know the acyclovir interacts with the soy in the body to produce a chemical that looks very much like testosterone. Soy based creams are what are known as “GRAS” products: Generally Regarded As Safe. This doesn’t mean they are safe, its just that we’ve grown so used to them in our lives that we treat them as such. These are products that if they were developed today might be more strictly regulated than they currently are. Aspirin fits this bill.

      • cur68 - Jan 5, 2012 at 3:59 PM

        y’know COPO I’ve been giving this some thought. Suppression of natural testosterone is what soy is known for. If acyclovir also does that, then I HAVE NO IDEA how his testosterone levels are elevated. They should be low. He should have a low libido and no energy.

        I can think of 1 really good reason for the elevation: taking testosterone.

        Another really good reason: the report of “insanely high testosterone levels” is little more than slander. Given how this story has been leaked all over the place, that’s as least as likely as the first scenario.

        I think we’ll need some accurate details first to have any idea wtf is going on here.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2012 at 4:03 PM

        Another really good reason: the report of “insanely high testosterone levels” is little more than slander. Given how this story has been leaked all over the place, that’s as least as likely as the first scenario.

        I think this was Braun’s agent or PR person saying this. Although that still could be true.

        You’re probably right in that he probably had low levels of testosterone and was taking something to boost those levels to normal. Is it possible a doctor did so and Braun didn’t put 2 and 2 together? Highly unlikely. But i think it’s more unlikely than his doctor prescribing testosterone and Braun not knowing it at all. As has been mentioned, this could be a legitimate argument as to why he had elevated levels.

        It doesn’t excuse him from getting a TUE though.

  16. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 5, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Something else to consider is that the BBWAA awards’ voters are picked at random. So the 30 that picked last year’s NL MVP may get stuck picking ROY or AL CY and not picking NL MVP for years. It’s not a rotating system, so unless someone games the randomness, those who were outraged this year may not even be in play in the next few.

  17. mute617 - Jan 5, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I’ve heard the same about soy, that it feminizes. Learned it from a barista who advised a young boy to not get the soy based drink. Sure it’s not a doctor but she was right none the less

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