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MLB denies that it’s specifically targeting Braun, but the denial rings hollow

Mar 21, 2013, 7:05 AM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Five Getty Images

Yesterday Bob Nightengale reported that Major League Baseball was targeting Ryan Braun in the Biogenesis investigation, to the point where it was willing to grant other players immunity — and sacrifice most of its drug enforcement principles — in order to take Braun down.

Later in the day, however, MLB’s Rob Manfred denied that. From Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journel-Sentinel:

Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred denied that MLB has targeted Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun specifically in its investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, as suggested by a USA Today article.

“Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor,” Manfred said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.

Which would be great if now other reporters, also well-connected ones like Nightengale, weren’t continuing to hear otherwise. Here’s Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan from last night:

Major League Baseball is honing in on Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun as two main targets for potential discipline as it prepares to interview players about the Biogenesis clinic … Multiple sources said the league has discussed offers of immunity to major league players, though none has been officially offered … The league has interviewed players not on 40-man rosters, and one such player told Yahoo! Sports he was offered immunity in exchange for information about Biogenesis. [emphasis added]

Passan’s report backs Nightengale’s account way more than it backs a situation in which MLB’s claim that everyone is being investigated with “equal vigor.”

As I said yesterday, baseball can do whatever it wants. But if it is granting immunity to some players it is abandoning its zero tolerance policies and turning the drug enforcement program into a totally different animal than they have long claimed it to be.

  1. redguy12588 - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:15 AM

    PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE TORCHES AND PITCHFORKS. BE ON YOUR WAY PLEASE.

    • heyblueyoustink - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      That’s a lot of capital letters first thing in the morning. “Ow, my freakin’ eyes.”

      • vivabear - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:55 AM

        Craig – let’s wait until we have actual facts, and all those actual facts before we accuse the MLB of these types of things.

      • chacochicken - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        I know, that right now, we should all be shocked to hear that Ryan Braun’s name was in the Biogenesis “notes” because we should have never heard that he won his appeal of a potential suspension if MLB could adhere to the confidentially of testing.

      • chacochicken - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:32 AM

        yes, confidentiality* damn it.

    • umrguy42 - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      “A riot is an ungly thing… undt, I tink, that it is chust about time ve had vun.”

      • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        It’s Brooks. He spells it oondt.

    • shaggytoodle - Mar 21, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Craig – let’s wait until we have actual facts, and all those actual facts before we accuse the MLB of these types of things.

      Why? People didn’t want to wait for Braun’s appeal to be heard, they just wanted to scream failed drug test.

  2. lardin - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:31 AM

    Just out of curiosity, how do we know that nightingale and passan don’t have the exact same sources. Is it coincidence they used almost identical phrases? Personally I think MLB should go after the big fish, instead of the token I or leaguer.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:41 AM

      What does targeting a big named player do specifically to help get PED’s out? Melky Cabrerra while was leading the league in hitting and last years All Star game MVp was suspended for them and it wasn’t any more of a deterrent for players than if some bench scrub was pinched.

      • lardin - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:37 AM

        Melky aint A-Rod

      • nbjays - Mar 22, 2013 at 8:01 AM

        No, because Melky is actually an asset on the field and at bat, unlike A-Rod.

  3. Francisco (FC) - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:36 AM

    It makes me wonder why have an appeal process if you’re going to get pissed by someone successfully using it. It’s almost like MLB expected that nobody would ever win an appeal and now they’re throwing a tantrum.

    • bleedgreen - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      I think they’re more pissed at HOW he won, not that he won. He didn’t win by proving he wasn’t using. He won by saying that there was a 1 in 100000000 that his sample was tainted.

  4. sdemp - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    One word. . . STRIKE

  5. saints97 - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    Geez, can’t a man cheat in peace anymore?

  6. chacochicken - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    If the piss sits, you must acquit. MLB broke its collective neck to leak info about every aspect of the original Braun investigation but wouldn’t leak Das’ statement on the reason he overturned the suspension.

  7. jm91rs - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Seems possible that they may be focused on getting A-rod and Braun because they’ll be the hardest to get. And if you get those 2, the rest of the league will take notice and possibly stop doping.

    I can’t see too many situations where there would even be anyone that had info to give up on Braun and Arod. Those guys strike me as too careful with their egos to let some little piss-on fringe-MLB player in on the secret. I don’t think the whole “grant immunity” thing is going to be an issue.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      The rest of the league will stop using when they don’t think they can get away with it anymore and right now players seem to feel they still can. That has nothing to do with their identity it has to do with the testing process itself.

      • jm91rs - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:11 AM

        So when two of the biggest names in the sport get busted, it won’t be a sign to the rest of the league that they won’t get away with it anymore?

        You don’t believe these guys are saying “well just because some minor leaguer got caught doesn’t mean it can happen to me.”?

      • brewcrewfan54 - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:49 AM

        No it wont stop players especially if MLB gives other players immunity just to get these guys. I forget what player it was who was caught last year but he recently said he was dumb for getting caught. He didn’t say he was dumb for using them. Obviously the players know something about the testing that we do not. If the players know their way around the system what would stop them? Braun and Arod getting caught wont stop the majority of them because the money involved is still worth the risk.

  8. heyblueyoustink - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Baseball offering immunity brings this to mind:

    “Tell me, Karl, have you ever heard the term “involuntary servitude”?
    ” No.”
    “Unconscionable contract”?
    ” Uh, nope “.
    ” Great! “

  9. Charles Gates - Mar 21, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    It’s cute how Craig doesn’t think that MLB’s drug enforcement program wasn’t euphemistic for a PR campaign all along.

    • paperlions - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      Bullseye!

      • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM

        Uh-uh. Paperlions with the drone strike.

  10. thekcubrats - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Every move Selig makes and has ever made is designed to tar the union, to cast players as the enemy of the good, to weaken it in any way possible. Ever hear of any team or its mgmt being investigated for encouraging or willfully ignoring rampant PED use? You never will. Selig rose to power from his shabby little club on the promise to the owners (his fellow racketeers) to break the union. Understand that, and you understand just why the Mitchell Report was what it was, what the Barry jihad was all about, what this is all about (and obtw, what the ’94 lockout was all about, Bud’s first major initiative). Laying blame on emblematic players, not the scrubs (Grimsley anyone?), is Bud’s way of, like a termite, undermining the house of the players. And of course deflect from the public consciousness that ALL of this happened on Bud’s watch, eyes wide open and hand over his mouth.

  11. unclemosesgreen - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:20 AM

    I can’t even believe you’re giving these “stories” this kind of legitimacy. Ryan Braun and his agents are complaining to reporters. So? Why do you care, why should anyone care how MLB is running its investigation if they aren’t breaking any laws?

    One baseball player that we know of has been offered immunity from MLB sanction in exchange for testimony. Wow. That happens … ummm … all the time. In all walks of life. Ideally they find someone with less culpability and flip them. Totally standard.

    Are they not supposed to investigate? What exactly would you have them do? This is just preposterous. When you collectively bargain for and agree to the league drug-testing regimen, that’s what you get. They can test him and investigate him until he retires, and then they can keep investigating him. If he’s clean, he has nothing to worry about, and he should take the $150 million and shut up. Pee in a cup, and stop planting “stories” in the media. What a bunch of bullshit.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:19 AM

      Actually, it is not “totally standard” in MLB’s drug testing program. It is the exact opposite of what happens in a zero tolerance regime. This is a fundamental shift. Maybe it’s a smart shift. I don’t know. But it is a change.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:10 AM

        My assumption is that all of the “new” activities being referred to are being carried out by MLB’s in-house investigating wing, established per the Mitchell Report, staffed by heavy hitters from the FBI and other law-enforcement types. This is how it has been done for five-plus years now.

        http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3192208

      • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        MLB’s own Quds Force. Great. It kinda reminds me of that midlevel executive in The China Syndrome yelling at Jack Lemmon as he drove away to warn everyone of the design flaws in the reactor system, “They have their own security force! Do you understand me? Their own security force!”

    • b453841l - Mar 22, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      “Why do you care, why should anyone care how MLB is running its investigation if they aren’t breaking any laws?”

      Great Point! The only time the public or media should question corporations’ actions, tactics, methods of interacting with their employees is when such methods clearly violate a law. If there are ethical or moral issues in play–perhaps management ignoring an explicit protocol agreed to by both sides for drug testing–that don’t violate the law, it’s nobody’s business but the employers. You are like the pesky federal government of 150 years ago trying to implement your morals on the law-abiding plantation owners’ business by turning their legal property, slaves, into people. Outrageous!

  12. unclemosesgreen - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Damn if the noise from Ryan Braun’s camp doesn’t echo the noise from Lance Armstrong’s camp right up until January of this year. Y’all are persecutin’ me …. y’all are persecutin me.

  13. Old Gator - Mar 21, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    What we need is a thorough Gowachin legal analysis by a registered Legum to put all of these limping attempts at analyzing an insoluble dilemma using Earth logic to rest once and for all.

    Craig? Have you taken the LSAT (Legum Strategic Aptitude Test) yet?

    • Old Gator - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      (Note: I did send Craig the Gowachin LSAT study guide some months back. Yes, it’s complex stuff, but he’s had more than enough time.)

  14. echech88 - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    This will get really funny when Braun’s lawyers find a way to sue the league and, knowing the league’s propensity for epic failure, win.

  15. tuftsb - Mar 21, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    does Bud selig get denied HOF status due to the prevalence of steroids?

  16. dparker713 - Mar 21, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I’m not even sure that the MLB can grant immunity. This is a joint program that has been collectively bargained. Unless the agreement specifically grants MLB the option to withhold punishment, I see no reason why they would be able to ignore the drug policy or why the Union couldn’t turn around and set forth the accusations to those granted ‘immunity’. The league office seems to be overstepping once again.

  17. yousuxxors - Mar 21, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    i think this entire thing shows PEDs dont enhance performance all that well. people all over the league, from minors to majors are on them and they are not doing that good. you have to be good vefore to ve good on them. why barry bonds is still special to me. its like those assholes that think drugs make them good musicans. you gotta be talented before to be good after.

  18. scoocha - Mar 22, 2013 at 12:47 AM

    Maybe MLB is targeting them because they’ve both failed tests before? Target those who have already been found guilty once – makes sense to me.

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