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Ryan Braun is “MLB’s Public Enemy No.1″

Mar 20, 2013, 8:47 AM EST

Ryan Braun AP AP

Bob Nightengale reports in USA Today about Major League Baseball’s efforts to investigate players named in the Biogenesis documents. Of somewhat surprising note: Nightengale says some 90 players appear in the records. Of less surprising note: it’s the big fish that MLB is clearly focusing on: Alex Rodriguez and, even more so, Ryan Braun:

There might be plenty of minor leaguers to go down before this is over, maybe a few major league players, too, but there are really two players who captivate MLB’s interest. New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and Braun. And Braun happens to be MLB’s Public Enemy No.1.

His successful appeal of a positive testosterone test led to major revisions in baseball’s sample collection process last year. Baseball officials, from the top executives in New York to their field investigators, refuse to let it go. They want Braun — badly. They have been relentless in their pursuit, trying to make life as miserable as possible for him.

Nightengale describes MLB investigators “talking to his friends … talking to his peers … talking to his associates. They are scouring through paperwork. They keep digging.”

Which, hey, that’s what you do when you investigate. And with all due respect to Braun and the players under the microscope, kudos to Major League Baseball if it is, in fact, trying to actually build cases against these guys rather than do the instantaneous judge/jury/executioner thing that so many in the media decided to do a day after the Miami New Times story came out.

But there is a troubling element to it. The biggest mistake of the Mitchell Report was how it was hellbent to get a list of names and make examples/token victims out of some while failing, almost entirely, to grasp what was really going on with PEDs in baseball in such a way as to actually combat their proliferation and use.  If, in this case, baseball has a monomaniacal focus on carrying out some vendetta against Braun and, because of it, fails to undertake a systematic investigation of the Biogenesis matter, it is once again going down the road of the Mitchell Report.

If Nightengale is right and there are 90 players named, there should be interviews and investigations of 90 players. Or, at the very least, investigations of enough of them to get a full picture of what’s going on down in Miami. The point should not be to settle some score with Ryan Braun. He should be meted out justice, if justice is so justified, in the same manner and measure as any other player involved.

  1. jarathen - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Baseball should pursue each case as the evidence warrants. A vendetta against any player is unprofessional. They can secretly want to nail repeat offenders as much as they like, but the process should be the same from Braun and A-Rod to the lowest of minor league depth.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      Baseball officials didn’t have a problem handing Braun the MVP trophy, if they
      really wanted to make a statement they should have stripped him. I have no interest
      in steroids investigation because MLB could have put a end to all of the talk a
      long time ago and they ignored everything to make gazillion dollars.

      • bravojawja - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        “Baseball officials” don’t hand out the MVP award. Baseball writers do. I doubt MLB has any authority to do anything about it one way or another.

      • djpostl - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        It’s a BBWAA award rocket scientist. “baseball officials” have nothing to do with it in the end.

  2. bgrillz - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    If I were the MLB, I’d want both too. Because they have been skirting the system. First A-Roid throws on a sweater vest and says he was young and stupid, and made a mistake and that he hasn’t touched it since, even though we all know he’s full of it. And then Braun beats the suspension for a positive test because the guy held the sample too long. I don’t know about you, but if i leave things in the fridge past when it’s supposed to, it sprouts mold, not testosterone. Braun is a fraud, just like Alex, and let’s hope this goes somewhere, and they have their punishment, like the other cheats had to.

    • genericcommenter - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      If you want rules to be taken seriously and have legitimacy, then you have to follow professional guidelines. MLB screwed up the process. The blame is on them. I understand it’s a high standard, especially considering that prosecutors are allowed to use junk-science and manufactured evidence in criminals courts. But that doesn’t excuse their sloppy work.

      • zacksdad - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        Actually they followed the process that was laid out for them. Braun’s team claimed the current process was bad and had it thrown out. I do not understand how junk-science can magically make testosterone show up in his urine.

    • Old Gator - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      That’s strange. A small container of leftover guacamole disappeared behind some milk cartons in my fridge, and when I found it a week later, it just reeked of testosterone.

      • wlschneider09 - Mar 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

        You must have bought the guacamole with extra nuts.

        God, that’s a horrible joke, but I just can’t help it.

      • nbjays - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:03 AM

        Just hit it with a 98 MPH Verlander heater. THAT will get rid of any extra testosterone.

  3. kevinleaptrot - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    I’m no Brewers fan, nor a fan of Ryan Braun, but I do think that MLB has major egg on it’s face after they way they mishandled his case from 2011. The results of his drug test should have been confidential until a suspension was issued, which would have been at the completion of the much publicized arbitration hearing. If things had gone as they should have, the general public would never have known anything about the failed test or Braun’s successful appeal on seemingly dubious grounds. Now MLB has been embarrased by their own ineptitude and they’re trying to get another crack at Braun, and they’re apparently going to try to take down others as well towards that end. Hopefully they’ll come to their senses and realize that they probably won’t win this fight (unless there’s a lot more there than has benn reported) and back off, but that may be wishful thinking on my part.

    • terryott - Mar 21, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      An aspect of this case seems to be under-reported. Correct me if wrong, but I believe Braun’s sample set some kind of record for being “off the charts” high. Was it 3 times as high as the next highest ever? Something like that.

      “Twenty-to-one is off the radar screen,” Wadler said. “There is no way that sitting around for 44 hours would have resulted in elevated testosterone (or synthetic testosterone).”

      So there you have it. Braun is supposed to say WHY it was off the charts (for his own defense), which he probably has no way of knowing. He is, essentially, guilty unless he proves himself innocent. With MLB apparently not interested in the fact that he never before failed a test, has no physical changes to his body, to his speed, to his strength or power, to his “numbers” before or since — what is he supposed to do? You challenge the matter on the one thing that you CAN prove, namely that there was a procedural screw up.

      The arbitrator may have been weighing all of this, at least we can assume he had it in mind. In Das’ head: “We do not have a repeat offender, we don’t have any statistical evidence of a deviation in performance or physique, we have a result that is astoundingly “high” (off the radar screen) with no precedent and no explanation of how that may have come to pass, we have a leak in the supposedly confidential handling of the whole matter — in which no names are to be released until the entire process, including appeal, is complete. AND we have a deviation from the exacting process that was bargained by the union, supposedly in exchange for forfeiting the “innocent until proven guilty” principle that applies in courts.

      I’m sorry, but MLB is to blame for (a) the leaked information that essentially smeared Braun before the case was decided, and (b) for accepting a test result wherein the process was breached. Ryan Braun is to blame for, I guess, getting the case thrown out on the one thing he could prove and MLB could not disprove.

  4. sdemp - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    As I have said before MLB does more harm to themselves and the overall game by taking extreme measures to “bust” players. Holding a vendetta against a player is simply ridiculous.

    • manchestermiracle - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      While being no fan of heavy-handed tactics, I think “holding a vendetta against a player” isn’t as accurate as “paying lots more attention to a player that escaped justice on a technicality.” Braun wasn’t (isn’t) innocent, he was merely found not guilty. Huge difference.

      • padraighansen - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM

        Maybe not. Until MLB discloses the Das written opinion, we will never know for sure why Das ruled the way he did.

      • nightman13 - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        What evidence do you have that shows he got off on a technicality? Do you have all the documentation? Do you have the arbitrator’s notes? Do you have anything other than what was leaked to the media? No you don’t. Nobody outside of a small group of people actually knows what happened and all your “knowledge” of the topic came from ESPN leaking confidential information and surely their motivation was pure, not ratings driven…

        Braun very well could be a PED user, and he could also very well be telling the truth. There isn’t any real evidence that proves it one way or another yet so why doesn’t everybody just relax and wait until there is actual information to validate one side or the other.

      • macjacmccoy - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        nightman so just because I have never seen documents on the Holocaust I should believe it never happened? Is that what your saying?

      • nightman13 - Mar 20, 2013 at 3:08 PM

        macjacmccoy-

        Wow, that might be the dumbest thing I have ever seen and way to trivialize a human tragedy. So mountains of corpses, video, sworn testimony, A WORLD WAR, etc aren’t evidence of the Holocaust?

        If you have never seen any of that evidence your education failed you greatly.

      • workn4daman - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        Uh no, he wasn’t found not guilty, it was dismissed because MLB screwed up, period. He is innocent until proven otherwise and by screwing up a well established process, MLB has unfairly cast a shadow on him. He should sue for defamation and general MLB ineptitude under Sewage, er Selig.

  5. heyblueyoustink - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    I think it’s a typical reaction of any upper management, when an employee works around the rules that management has put into place, and gets away with it to the knowledge of both parties. Management at that point will begin to knit pick and try to find anything they can to nail the unruly employee’s proverbial ass to the wall, pubically if possible.

    • savvybynature - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      I’ve had some petty, mean-spirited bosses in my time, but thankfully none have ever tried to pubically nail my butt to the wall!

      Not that there is anything wrong with that of course, as long as all parties are consenting adults :)

      • heyblueyoustink - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        Glad you caught that, it was a homage of sorts.

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      Management at that point will begin to knit …

      Watch out for company knit sweaters and shirts, you will likely choke on them!

      • heyblueyoustink - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        They gave us fanny packs one year, a few years to follow the department I work with had a Christmas party where the polyanna was useless junk from your house. One guess as to what my offering was……

  6. brewcitybummer - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    This is just so wearisome as a Brewers fan. I have no interest in being a Braun truther. Nor do I care to go around making principled arguments about the process. As much as I enjoy following the minors and reading about scouting and player development, I still want to be an MLB “fanboy” and talk about how awesome my team’s best player is. At this point, a part of me is quietly hoping Boston will trade Boegarts, Bradley and Barnes to the Brewers midseason for Braun so I can just move on. But a Braun trade is almost certainly too far fetched for me to have mentioned even on a blog.

    • jarathen - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      “Boston barters Bradley, Boegarts, Barnes, bringing Brewers’ Braun by Beantown.”

      • Francisco (FC) - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        I regret that I have but 1 thumb to give to this post.

    • wmg8383 - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      Well said, BCB. If it were my guy on my team, I think I’d feel the same way.

    • nightman13 - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:50 AM

      Braun has tested clean his entire career except for one test. His performance hasn’t spiked or dropped off dramatically and he’s been the same weight for his whole career as well. There isn’t a ton of physical evidence to show he was using. However, if he is using something that is currently undetectable he could have been using for years and nobody would have known except for one slip up on one test.

      I just have a feeling this won’t be going away for a long time, kind of like the Lance Armstrong thing where they tested old blood years later with new tests and found he was using undetectable (at that time) stuff.

      Sadly, for Brewer fans, this saga is nowhere near being complete.

      • kopy - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        It’s also worth noting that players participating in the WBC are willingly subjecting themselves to additional testing.

  7. manchestermiracle - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    It sounds like MLB has the same “advisors” as the NCAA. Or is at least using the same playbook.

  8. js20011041 - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Why is it that every day, we have a story come out in which the owners and those who run MLB show how mind numbingly stupid and petty they are? At the owners meetings, do these fucking idiots sit around discussing ways to hurt their own product? I surely can’t believe that holding a vendetta against one of the games stars and most marketable players would be a good business decision.

  9. jm91rs - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    I have a feeling there are 10 or more places just like that biogenesis clinic down in Miami. Hopefully the investigation does more than just bust a-rod and braun and leads to more info about places like this.

    I’m just curious about how 90 players find out about a place like that before MLB gets word?

    • jarathen - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      Bud tried to, but his AOL connection kept getting interrupted by phone calls on his landline from Joe Torre. Talking about bunting.

  10. unlost1 - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    that’s Selig’s hometown boy

    • muskyhunter2542 - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM

      That is a stupid comment being that Selig is spearheading the Braun hunt!!!

      • unlost1 - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        sure he is…..
        Selig spearheading anything is a great joke

  11. conwell2549 - Mar 20, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Braun and his team of attorney’s made MLB look Bush League and they want to settle the score anyway they can. Let it go Bush Leaguers you will only make yourself look more pitiful

  12. jdvalk - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Maybe use your brain trust to seal your specimens next time with a modicum of professionalism, MLB…

  13. michaeljacksonisback - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    He can cheat all he wants. The brewers will never over take the St. Louis cardinals!!! He cheated and they still get whipped. Cardinal nation forever!

    • kroenkesucks - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Absolutely. And the damned Brewers should be back in the AL where they belong. It’s only because of Selig they were added to a division that already had five teams so they could be “rivals” with the Cubs. Some rivalry. Rivalry for last place if anything.

  14. padraighansen - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    Rob Manfred is a very high-ego individual, and there is zero doubt in my mind that this is personal to him. Additionally, keep in mind that ESPN has a role in this, as well. TJ Quinn NEEDS Braun to be guilty – it’s very, very difficult to employ an “investigative reporter” who gets high profile “exclusives” wrong.

    None of us posting on here knows all the facts – and the fact that MLB is not disclosing Shyam Das’ written decision explaining his ruling – is extremely concerning. There is a reason MLB is not making all the facts of the appeal, and the matter itself, known.

    It’s amazing to me that ESPN can get all of the information against players, but somehow cannot find a way to get the exculpatory evidence & information, like the Das opinion.

    I have no idea if Braun cheated or didn’t. If he’s guilty, punish him. But the person who knew all the facts and was entrusted to make the decision on guilt vs. innocence ruled in Braun’s favor, and the fact that we still do not definitively know why is problematic.

  15. echech88 - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Ironic because Braun probably has the best chance of getting away with it of those 90 guys.

    MLB comes out looking bad if this is true they are focusing on individual stars over the PROBLEM. So 2 guys are more important than the fact 90 guys are allegedly not afraid of your drug testing program?

    But yeah, go for revenge. What a joke.

  16. tfbuckfutter - Mar 20, 2013 at 11:30 AM

    I see two options with regards to Ryan Braun….

    He is either an unrepentant cheater…..or such an enormous butthole that he inspires everyone around him to conspire to make him LOOK like an unrepentant cheater.

    Which one is better?

  17. braunliesandcheats - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Everybody knows Braun got off on a technicality. I have no problem with MLB going after a liar and cheater!

  18. frank35sox - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Craig, your kumbaya shtick is wearisome.

  19. frank35sox - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Further, it is not a legal matter–it is an employee/employer relationship. The employer have every right to focus its investigation on an employee with a jaded past.

    If you get caught stealing office supplies at work, and are lucky enough not to get fired, you better bet someone is watching the tapes every time to are in the stock room. And no, that is not an apples and oranges comparison. It is a case of infringing on the rules and the repercussions that go along with it.

  20. bh192012 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    I think it’s interesting that when a newspaper reports that some players probably did something wrong and details actual evidence (photos of hand written notes) along with multiple quoted anonymous sources, we get back all kinds of articles about how we should hold our opinions until the facts come out. Some other article comes out based entirely on anonymous, non-quoted sources, and we’re supposed to get all bent out of shape at MLB for their witch hunt.

    In fact, re-reading the article, Nightengale doesn’t even attribute that acusation to the anonymous sources. It looks to be entirely his opinion.

    Sure, the article above says “if” but clearly frames it to make MLB look bad. Nevermind, just saw your next article that doesn’t seem to bother with “if.” It starts off with a declaritive statement that “Major League Baseball is laser-focused on Ryan Braun” How do you know they’re laser focused on Ryan Braun? How do you know they’re not just getting people to turn wherever they can, or where their current or previous investigations have shown there to be likely PED use? More importantly why do you think they’re focused on Ryan Braun unfairly? They probably have investigative reasons to be focused on him. Just like the original Biogenesis reports, you don’t know!

    It’s funny as hell how authors can turn opinions into facts by just talking enough about something, then citing each others opinions and their own. Make the story, fight the man, tell a tale, entertain us!

  21. suckit619 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    Braun is a proven cheater. He can’t get off on a technicality again. Suspend him!

    • la222 - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      Braun is a PROVEN cheater? Just curious – where did you get your proof? Is the fact that you don’t like him your proof? Because he plays for an opposing team? Or maybe you just have a hunch? Or is it you believe only the things that you read that you WANT to believe? Did YOU supply him with the PEDs? Maybe you’re just a shitty athlete whose dreams didn’t come true… yeah, that would for sure mean he’s guilty. OR…Perhaps you were actually present at the arbitration hearings!!! Wait a minute – even that didn’t prove he was guilty. Well, whatever the case, you should share your absolute proof with MLB – I’m sure they would appreciate all that firsthand, undeniable and completely unbiased knowledge you have on the matter.

  22. iamjimmyjack - Mar 21, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Get these cheaters and after u have aid evidence strip them of all their stats and accomplishments. Braun wasn’t the MVP. He’s a cheater.

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