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Holy Ryan Braun precedent, Batman! Another PED suspension is overturned

May 14, 2012, 8:22 AM EDT

Colorado Rockies v San Diego Padres Getty Images

As I said several times, Ryan Braun didn’t get off on a “technicality.” The arbitrator felt that the flaw in his testing procedure was significant. So significant that a positive test result could not be trusted and his suspension had to be thrown out.

But can we say that Eliezer Alfonso got off on a “Braunicality?”  Yes, let’s make that a thing:

Major League Baseball dropped its 100-game suspension of Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo for a positive drug test because of the same procedural issues that came up in the Ryan Braun case.

Alfonzo is eligible to play immediately, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday night because no announcement had been made.

He had already missed 48 games from the suspension handed down last September, so this is more of a reduction of a suspension. It’s unclear if he’ll get back pay for the time he missed.

This was not done following a hearing. Apparently the decision was just made, suggesting that the union or the league or player’s lawyers or someone is going back and reviewing old suspensions for violations of the testing procedure.

That and the fact that the league and the union have, according to the article, already changed those old procedures, puts lie to the notion that Braun’s case turned on something unimportant and petty. Everyone — with the exception of people who like to scream about how Braun unfairly benefited from slick lawyering — thinks it was significant. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have this result.

  1. Walk - May 14, 2012 at 8:31 AM

    I can see why the arbitrator has not issued a report. This appears to be a big can of worms being opened if they are reviewing past cases.

    • cur68 - May 14, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Precisely what I was going to say. Something significant has been turned up. O wonder if this will go on to affect Olympic testing?

      • somekat - May 14, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        Why would it? MLB doesn’t use anything close to Olympic standards

        Funny how the union refuses olympic standard drug testing, then complains that the procudure has problems. If you want the cheaper tests (so you can get away with the designer drugs), they tend to have draw backs

      • The Baseball Idiot - May 14, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        They refuse Olympic testing because WADA is just the IOC’s (and FIFA’s) bitch, and does whatever they want.

        WADA demanded, not asked, but demanded, that MLB give up all testing to them. Not just for the Olympics, but permanently, to include the regular season and playoffs, if they wanted to compete in the Olympics. MLB said no, and all of a sudden, there is no baseball in the Olympics anymore.

        As much as I detest Bud, he got this one right.

        Olympic (re: WADA) testing standards are draconian, and they test for substance that MLB doesn’t, but would have made baseball players fail their drum tests.

        Oh yeah, WADA also demanded, again demanded and not asked, that they be the governing body and determine the punishment given out to ball players. Considering most of the punishement given out by WADA are two-year bans, MLB had no reason to agree to any of it.

        As much as I would like to see baseball in the Olympics, and as much as I hate to give credit to Bud for anything, he made the right choice on this one.

        I’m pretty sure you’ll find the union agreed to it also.

      • cur68 - May 14, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        I didn’t know any of that. Thanks TBI.

  2. deanmoriarity - May 14, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    From what I’ve seen on HBT on the subject, the issue isn’t so much that people think Braun got off on a technicality; rather, it’s that he was not exonerated from all suspicion of PED use simply because of the procedural hiccup that resulted in his successful appeal.

    • Old Gator - May 14, 2012 at 8:56 AM

      Dean, I cannot but love your cyberhandle – especially with the film coming out in a few more weeks. Good timing. Viggo as Bull (Burroughs for the uninitiated)? Intriguing as hell….now there’s the guy you wanted presiding over a testing program….

    • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      Exactly. The issue I have with Braun is that there is zero evidence of tampering, and from what I have read, his sample could not have degraded from the time it was collected to the time it was tested.

      Could not have degraded + was not tampered with = used PED. This is bad for baseball, period. That is why people get ticked about the situation

      • paperlions - May 14, 2012 at 10:23 AM

        Except, of course, we don’t have the necessary information to draw those conclusions because that information has not been released. MLB must have really NOT wanted it to be released to make the deal to keep it under wraps and to not have mysteriously have it “leaked”, which happens so often.

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        @paperlions We do have proof that the samples were not tampered with – even Brauns team concedes that. The seals were in tact when the testing was done.

        And as I said as I undrestand it, the sample could not have degraded. And that is why I have a serious problem with the guy.

  3. thekingdave - May 14, 2012 at 8:43 AM

    Craig post titles so funny lmao #dropahashtagonthat

  4. mybrunoblog - May 14, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Ryan Braun = technicality

    • jjschiller - May 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      What does this mean? Are you saying that Ryan Braun has no substantial existence? Is he merely a concept now?

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        lol, good one. And yes, we all need to lighten up on that topic.

        I believe it was Voltaire who said “If Ryan Braun didn’t exist, he would have to be invented”

        And Descartes noted “Ryan Braun appealed his suspension, therefore he is”

      • bigleagues - May 14, 2012 at 3:51 PM

        I am sensing that mybrunoblog is an existential moralist.

  5. larryhockett - May 14, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Discussions like this underscore the brilliance of “innocent until proven guilty.” Because mobs and their reasoning haven’t evolved much over the course of human history.

    • cur68 - May 14, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      Which is what’s so sad about the whole business with Braun: we didn’t have any of the facts of the case and so very many people were convinced, and remain so to this day, that he was guilty.

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        His sample tested positive. Either it was tampered, degraded, or he used PED. You are free to believe what you want

      • larryhockett - May 14, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        Yes, we are free to believe what we want. I believe that there are many topics in this world about which I do not know more than the people who actually study and work with it. Such as “scientists” and their crazy “chain of custody” requirements that they, for some reason, seem to think are important.

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 11:05 AM

        So I guess you are going with tampered?

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - May 14, 2012 at 11:05 AM

        I find it interesting that many who profess to care so much about the “integrity of the game” care so little about the integrity of the testing/disciplinary process.

      • cur68 - May 14, 2012 at 11:16 AM

        I think, delaware, that what we are going with is “we do not have any of the facts, evidence, or actual, first hand knowledge of what happened with that sample”. The people who DO have that knowledge judged “Not Guilty”. They’ve now gone so far as to use that same reasoning to overturn another case that fit that criteria. “Looks Guilty” does NOT = “Guilty”: and, no matter how you argue it, ever will be.

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 11:31 AM

        Cur – we say we don’t have “any” of the facts, but that is not the case. Read Brauns own defense. Plenty is known.

        Again, take Braun at his word, You still have a sample that came in positive. So if he is innocent it comes down to tampering (perhaps by neglect) or degrading of the sample.

        I am looking out my window right now. The ground is soaked and the skies are cloudy. I never saw it rain. According to you, it is impossible to know if it rained.

        You want to believe he is innocent, fine. But you can’t say there are no facts. There are plenty

      • larryhockett - May 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM

        No, delaware, not “innocent.” Just “not guilty.” And that means more than you give it credit for. We cannot say he is guilty.

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 12:17 PM

        @larry – I am not a judge, and neither are you, and hence our opinions do not have this “Constitutional Burden” you are trying to ascribe them.

        If you don’t have an opinion on whether he in fact took PED’s, that is your choice. But don’t tell me you are not entitled to an opinion, you are

      • larryhockett - May 14, 2012 at 12:43 PM
      • cur68 - May 14, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        Interesting analogy deleware. Hoist on its own petard, but interesting. You are not actually seeing it rain, but the ground is wet: assuming rain, while likely, does NOT rule out other possibilities. Given that the assumption of rain remains merely an assumption, what you are omitting to mention in your analogy, but fits the Braun/Alfonso question, is that the Delaware City Water & Utilities people are on the curb, not wearing rain gear, and are preparing to dig up your lawn. Given that another home in the area had burst a water main (the Bruan case), do you still cling to the “it rained” assumption? In my return analogy, the Delaware City Water & Utilities people = MLB’s drug testing agency. The digging up of your lawn to get to your water pipe = overturning another case using the criteria for overturning Bruan’s. Hence, is the “The ground is soaked and the skies are cloudy” assumption of rain AS likely as “something’s wrong with my water pipe” (SWIDT)? If you still cling to “it rained”, we have nothing further to exchange, since you do not process logic the same way I do.

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        @cur – yes, exactly. Something made the ground outside my window get wet – what was it?

        Something caused Brauns sample to be positive – what was it?

        “We don’t know” did not cause the sample to be positive. Either his sample was tampered with, it degraded, or he used PED’s

      • protius - May 14, 2012 at 6:42 PM


        You are the victim of a very poorly thought out, and meaningless analogy.

        Simply telling you that the “the Delaware City Water & Utilities people are on the curb, not wearing rain gear, and are preparing to dig up your lawn” is absurd, because it begs the question. It assumes that the anecdote “another home in the area had burst a water main” is valid.

        If the water main burst in “ANOTHER home in the area” (My emphasis), then why is the water company preparing to dig up YOUR lawn? Why does the water company need to get to your pipe?

        Doesn’t it seem reasonable to believe that if the water main burst in front of your house, that your front yard would be soaked? You didn’t say it was your property that was soaked, in fact you were rather generic, “the ground is soaked and the skies are cloudy.” It is the author of the meaningless analogy that assumed you were referring to your property.

        Therefore, if the burst water main is analogous to the Bruan case, and The Delaware City Water & Utilities people are analogous to MLB’s drug testing agency, and the digging up of your lawn to get to your water pipe is analogous to overturning another case using the criteria for overturning Braun’s, then two out of three premises of your argument fail, and your conclusion does not follow.

        I suggest you stick with your “it rained” analogy, and count your blessings that you process information the way you do and not like a pseudo-intellect (No one processes logic. Logic is a mechanism; it is used to reason with information).

        I’ll paraphrase an old Texas adage for the author of the meaningless analogy: Just because you pissed on your leg, doesn’t mean it isn’t raining.

    • larryhockett - May 14, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      . . . bangs head on wall repeatedly . . .

      • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        Don’t give Bryce Harper any ideas 😉

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 14, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    MLBPA: If this happened once, and the collector said he was following his company’s standard procedure, it probably happened more than once.

    MLB: OK, OK, if you find more we won’t make a big stink about it because we don’t need more bad press.

    MLBPA: Good , because it is our job to protect steroid users rights, even though that really harms the clean players.

    MLB: It is as it always has been. So let it be written, so let it be done.

  7. shaggytoodle - May 14, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Maybe there isn’t a techincallity. Maybe the procedure does have a flaw. Thats why this is happening.

    • jimbo1949 - May 14, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      Sure, now you want to introduce logic into an internet argument. Lots of luck with that.

  8. muskyhunter2542 - May 14, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    All of this is ESPN and Mark Fainaru-Wada fault. The Ryan Braun issue should never been known by us outside MLB.

    • jeffrp - May 14, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      It’s not the responsibility of the media to maintain the confidentiality of the MLB testing program.

      • sabatimus - May 14, 2012 at 2:30 PM

        True. But, that said, the media are VULTURES who will stop at nothing to get (and hopefully break) a story.

  9. recoveringcubsfan - May 14, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    This is really amazing. First, that so many people care about a game and the judgments made by people inside and outside the game, and that we’re all referring to those non-legal, subjective judgments as though they are constitutional arguments made before the Supreme Court that have social implications and we’re all going to be bound by them henceforth; and second, that people want to interpret Braun’s successful defense (which, come on, was a technicality since the collector didn’t, as I understand it, actually fail to do his job, i.e., he met existing standards at his company) as some kind of proof that MLB is the bad guy here. Braun getting off doesn’t mean that Alfonso was framed or this is a conspiracy of silence by MLB. It’s nothing. MLB has no problem with steroids, historically, and neither do the players, so I’m not sure who the adversaries are supposed to be in this epic struggle that you guys are talking about. I will say this: the amount of ipso-facto reasoning in this conversation – by Craig, too – is staggering. I think even first-year law students know that an outcome does not always presuppose a significant finding – sometimes it’s just a preponderance of evidence, which is a far cry from certainty. That level of proof (or non-proof as the case may be) doesn’t merit the to-the-wall vehemence Braun’s defenders are bringing over their guy’s pee test (which, embarrassingly, was uh, still positive and somehow refuses to have the grace to change into something else even after the union got involved. The gall.).

    Anyone being reasonable would acknowledge that Braun’s case absolutely made this a no-win situation for MLB’s testing program and thus Alfonso and probably others will have their suspensions overturned now, not because they are innocent or even “not guilty” (a technicality that for some reason Braun’s proponents seem to be fascinated by), nor because it’s a big MLB conspiracy, but because it’s a political non-starter as an issue with traction for MLB’s drug testing program at this point. Again, though: this ain’t a courtroom. This is about appearance, marketing, the player’s union, and most of all what can actually be done at this point.

    Can we get an “Absence of Malice” quote?

    • delawarephilliesfan - May 14, 2012 at 4:01 PM

      Mr. Selig….I seem to wanna ask if you set this whole thing up, but if I do, you ain’t gonna answer me, are ya?

      • protius - May 15, 2012 at 1:49 AM

        delaware, I have a unique point of view that I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, and all of the Calcaterra elite just turned up their conceited, self-important noses and said pish posh, we have no time for trifles.

        My question to you is: Do you have the castangias to debate the issue with me to it’s logical conclusion? si o no?

    • dexterismyhero - May 14, 2012 at 4:43 PM

      Mr Selig: i think we have a leak?

      You had a leak? You call what’s goin’ on around here a leak? Boy, the last time there was a leak like this, Noah built hisself a boat.

  10. larryboodry - May 14, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    And now I see where MLB fired the arbiter…Their new Help Wanted sign will read: ‘Arbiter Wanted – Must Be Totally Impartial When Voting in Our Favor.’

  11. stew48 - May 14, 2012 at 9:15 PM

    Have some of you guys been reading Plato?

    • shaggytoodle - May 15, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      More like eating it

      • protius - May 15, 2012 at 1:35 AM

        No shag, it’s Plato not playdough.

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