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Mike Lupica seems to think the Braun arbitration was rigged

Feb 24, 2012, 1:13 PM EDT


Mike Lupica has a pretty Mike Lupica column up about the Ryan Braun arbitration today.  The upshot: who cares what some arbitrator says, we all know Braun is dirty and blah, blah, blah.  Lots of people are actually writing that column today, of course. I’m sure it makes them feel good.

But more notable to me is that Lupica has two passages in his piece — as well as the sub-headline to the story that someone else likely wrote — which suggest that he thinks this is more than a lucky ballplayer gaming the system. Rather, it suggests that he thinks the system was rigged to begin with.

The sub-headline reads: “Commissioner’s connection to Brewers raises questions.”  Which is interesting, because the only people I’ve seen raising that as a question are conspiracy theorists on message boards. MLB’s official statement, which comes from the Commissioner’s Office, is very clear in voicing the league’s and thus Bud Selig’s dissatisfaction with the ruling, and if you’re going to take that at less than face value you should probably offer some evidence up to substantiate what is a very serious charge.

But here’s Lupica:

And by the way? Nobody was looking to get Ryan Braun here from the start, get him good or pin a drug rap on him, or take down one of the sport’s golden boys. Braun does play for the Milwaukee Brewers, a team once owned by the current commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig, a commissioner who still has his office in Milwaukee and a statue outside Miller Park.  You better believe Braun has been part of a wonderful baseball resurgence in Milwaukee, one that had the Brewers in the playoffs last October against the Cardinals, eventual World Series champs.

So Selig is apparently in on the fix.  As is, it seems, the arbitrator:

A three-man panel heard Braun’s appeal. Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president was on that panel, so was Michael Weiner, head of the Major League Baseball Players Association. The third man was arbitrator Shyam Das, the tiebreaker who saved Braun the way Braun saves the Brewers with big hits in the late innings … But you know what, however you weigh in on this? Floyd Landis probably wishes he could have found a legal loophole like this through which to ride his bike. Or found himself an arbitrator like Das.

That suggests to me that Lupica thinks that Das was in the bag for Braun somehow and that no other arbitrator — like the one Floyd Landis got — would have ruled the same way.  I’d love to see Lupica’s reasoning for this and whether it extends beyond “I didn’t like the outcome, so the arbitrator must have been out to save Braun’s bacon.”

Das, of course, is a well-respected arbitrator with decades of experience who was chosen by and serves at the pleasure of Major League Baseball and the MLBPA. Jointly.  If MLB thought Das was somehow less-than-qualified and able to handle baseball arbitration cases fairly, he wouldn’t be handling baseball arbitration cases. Someone else would.

Lupica can dislike the ruling here. He’s probably in the majority in that regard.  But his suggestions that that Selig’s history with the Brewers or Das’ ruling meant that the deck was somehow stacked in Braun’s favor is preposterous and irresponsible.

  1. dowhatifeellike - Feb 24, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Here’s a question that hasn’t been asked: since the test was invalidated on a technicality, why can’t they just test him again?

    • jimbo1949 - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      They have, probably several times.

    • jwbiii - Feb 24, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      He requested it immediately after he was informed he failed. He passed.

  2. losangelasbasketball - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    The fact that were currently in the steroid era and an MVP is able to walk on a “technicallity” leads me to think…. Who cares…

  3. jjpileggi - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    As a New Yorker who has been reading Lupica for about 30 years, I can say from vast experience that the quality of his work is consistently poor, and shows no signs of improving. Why, in Heaven’s name, would the Braun test have leaked out and been pursued by MLB if Selig were out top protect his boy? Lupica is a theory in search of a conspiracy. The truth is that this episode reflects poorly on Selig’s already tarnished legacy. He has stated that baseball has an air tight drug testing regime which was implemented under his administration. The fact that the process relies on the service hours of Federal Express, and that vials can sit next to someone Diet Coke over a weekend points to the weaknesses of the system. Selig needed an affirmation of the test results, not a smack in the head, which is what he got.

    • jimbo1949 - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      30 years? Sorry man, was somebody holding a gun to your head? Are you a masochist? Was it such a disastrous car wreck you couldn’t look away? 30 years! When he started turning into the reincarnation of Dick(head) Young I walked away and never looked back.

      • jjpileggi - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:47 PM

        You are right! Thanks for the intervention. No more Lupica reading! You are right about him becoming Dick (Young Ideas) Young as well. Older should not mean bitter, but sometimes it does.

  4. losangelasbasketball - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Do you think the governments legal system really gives a damn about whether some ball player puts a needle in his arm? They are thinking, “what do you want us to do here MLB?”. The MLB wanted to let braun walk because it lets the fans focus on the less dubious topic of the legal process instead of cheaters and their lies.

  5. ufullpj - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:42 PM

    On the Sports Reporters back in December, Lupica also asserted – and stated – that the Braun camp leaked the positive result to ESPN.

    This guy is just plain lazy. He’s confusing the size of his checks with both his journalistic integrity and ability.

  6. chip56 - Feb 24, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    I don’t think Lupica was saying Das was in on some fix – I think Lupica was saying that Landis probably wishes he had an arbiter like Das who would let him slide on a technicality.

  7. bigleagues - Feb 24, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    Here’s what Tracy Millman has to say about Mike Lucifer: “Douche”.

  8. jleo78 - Feb 25, 2012 at 1:53 AM

    he would have been gravely ill had the levels of testosterone been in his system. That is, what i think was a deal breaker for mlb. Why were his levels “laughable” on monday and then non existant 12 hours later? He won the appeal b/c hes innocent. Not b/c selig lives in milwaukee. Also mlb is mad at braun b/c he is going to sue them for letting the story leak. I hope he gets everything hes going for.

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