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Common sense prevails: the BBWAA will not be stripping Ryan Braun’s 2011 MVP award

Jul 24, 2013, 8:55 AM EDT

Matt Kemp AP AP

There was a time in late 2011-early 2012 when several baseball writers were arguing that the Baseball Writers Association of America should re-vote the NL MVP award in light of Ryan Braun‘s positive drug test. That idea was fraught will all manner of problems and was never seriously considered by the BBWAA.

But the meme is back again in light of the Ryan Braun suspension. Some reporters asked Matt Kemp — the 2011 NL MVP runner up — about it yesterday. Several people on Twitter are chatting about it. Talk radio.  It’s apparently the topic du jour over at that awful Skip Bayless-Stephen A. Smith yakfest on ESPN:


Thankfully, however, the BBWAA itself is not going to entertain it. Yesterday the organization’s secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell put the kibosh on it, saying ”the decision was already made. He won it.” Which makes sense, because you simply can’t undo history like that.

Stripping awards after the fact is idiotic. Mostly because, in most cases, you have no better idea that the man you would give the award to the second time around was clean himself. We went through this four years ago when Rick Reilly wrote a really dumb column in which he argued for re-awarding of MVP and Cy Young awards from the 1990s and early 2000s to whom he felt was more deserving. He argued that Mike Piazza should now be the 1996 NL MVP instead of Ken Caminiti. I wonder what the Hall of Fame voters who kept Piazza out on unwarranted drug suspicions think of that now. The AL was even more ridiculous. The winner: Juan Gonzalez. Yes, he’s out of course. The runner up: Alex Rodriguez. Third place: Albert Belle. Hurm.

But if you are re-awarding people, you kind of have to go all the way, don’t you? Strip Barry Bonds of his MVPs and Roger Clemens of his Cy Youngs? I presume many would say not to go back that far because it was a different era with greater uncertainty and a more fluid ethical code in the game. Never mind that these issues don’t stand in the way of people strongly opposing Bonds and Clemens’ Hall of Fame candidacies.

The upshot: history is history. We live in the present and plan for the future. But we can’t change the past and shouldn’t try. It’s too hard and accomplishes nothing. Well, apart from a giving the one doing the re-awarding a momentary sense of self-righteousness.

  1. aceshigh11 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    As Craig demonstrates, trying to re-award MVPs and Cy Youngs to runners-up is just WAY too much of a ball of twine to untangle.

    It would be an absurd and, ultimately, a patently unfair undertaking.

  2. babyfarkmcgeezax - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Hey Craig, how does it feel to know that despite your daily attempts to paint him as a slime ball whose word can’t be trusted, Anthony Bosch’s credibility has been verified?

    • ditto65 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      The dreaded “V” transition!

      From Vilified to Verified!

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      By most reports it wasn’t his “word” that nabbed Braun. It was emails, texts, etc. And Bosch was never put to any sort of cross-examination. My reservations were of Bosch’s credibility in an arbitration setting where his credibility would be tested in a he-said, he-said situation.

      There always were and still are risks inherent with anything MLB does with Bosch. This does not change that.

      • mornelithe - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:23 AM

        Yeah um, Craig, who do you think provided those emails, texts etc..? Braun?

      • Kevin S. - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        The point was he needed corroboration.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:11 PM

        As part of MLB’s suit against Bosch, MLB also requested subpoenas of phone records and other potential corroborating evidence from phone companies, etc–ie, sources besides Bosch. This is why the suit has not yet been dropped as well even though there is no intent to actually take him to court now.

  3. heyblueyoustink - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    “Will you not understand? Baseball’s core is collapsing! We may only have a matter of weeks! I warned you, BBWWAA, harvesting the core was suicide! It has accelerated the process of implosion!”

    • aceshigh11 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Isn’t this exact dialogue in EVERY bad sci-fi film that’s ever been made?

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        Not all, I mean, there’s the whole Sharknado thing.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        nonsensical scientific babble aside Man of Steel was a pretty good film.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        I could have done without the half hour long final battle, after 20 minutes I didn’t care who died, as long as it was over with. But I was impressed with everything else, they did a great job.

      • aceshigh11 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        I haven’t seen it yet, but I heard it the final battle was horribly tedious, with the exact same thing happening over and over (Superman and Zod crash into buildings and knock them over).

        Some civil engineering firm did a cocktail napkin analysis and estimated that Metropolis would have suffered $2 trillion in damage and at least 130,000 people would have died in real life.

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:21 AM

        Tedious is the perfect word.

      • daveitsgood - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        Blue – so what you are saying is, that you liked Superman Returns better?

      • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:27 AM

        I preferred “You spawrtsrighters are stupid“!

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:53 PM

        When it comes to the Superman canon, color me totally impressed only when we can get the whole Doomsday storyline ( not the animated version ) going.

  4. magicrat13 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    methinks if the situation was reversed (kemp was mvp and found guilty of doping and braun came in second) craig would be posting his 100+ daily posts screaming for kemp to be stripped of the award and given to his idol braun….

    • Kevin S. - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      Pretty sure at the time HBT felt Kemp was the more valuable player and that Braun won because of the playoff narrative.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:47 AM

      Craig is a Braves fan. Why would Braun be his idol?

      • magicrat13 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        don’t know who his favorite team is nor do i personally think it matter…anyway, while “idol” may have been a poor word to use, my point is all anyone has to do is read the numerous posts by craig defending braun…

      • 18thstreet - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:21 AM

        Craig is a grown man. Why would a baseball player be his idol?

      • heyblueyoustink - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:24 AM

        I always thought Rueben Studdard was his Idol.

      • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        magicrat: What posts has Craig written “defending Braun”? I see a lot of posts defending due process. Since you already claimed in your first post above “me thinks” (at the literacy level of Alley Oop, I see), perhaps u thinking about the fine distinction between Braun and due process is a bit of a stretch for you. Don’t worry, though. Your tribe in its wanderings will encounter some cro-magnons soon enough and the next generation will have larger brains capable of thusly discriminating between unrelated memes.

      • magicrat13 - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

        ah, i see how it is old gator…the protocol around here is to use proper english and grammar….i did not realize that….can you please send me a list of all the rules around here i am supposed to follow?…fanks! (or should i say thank you kind sir)….

        oh and the insults?….typical from an anonymous person on an internet board…


      • raysfan1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        Yesterday Craig referred to Braun as a sociopath whose every word must be disbelieved. He’s made it very clear he does not like Braun, let alone idolize him.

        He has also over the years been very consistent with his actual point–that what happened happened. Stripping awards or placing asterisks next to the name of who hit the most home runs, etc, does not change what happened.

      • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        In all fairness, magicrat, it wasn’t the language that gave you away as an idiot – it was your reflexive accusation that Craig “defended” Braun when he has never done any such thing, which also exposed you as just another mindless sheeple on this site.

        As far as the insults, you’re welcome.

      • magicrat13 - Jul 25, 2013 at 6:22 AM

        old gator….hmmmmm….anonymously insulting others on the internet….seems you get a kick out of it…maybe you are compensating for inadequacies elsewhere in your life?…just wondering…

  5. countduku - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Much more importantly, he has already been stripped of his respect and trust by his peers, the fans, and the media. That he may never get back. That trophy he has can sit and remind him everyday of the fraud he has become to be referred as. If I were him, I’d return the trophy for starters.

    • mogogo1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      That’s the fascinating difference between baseball and football. This is a huge story because it’s MLB and this guy will never be viewed the same way again. If it were the NFL, he’d get suspended for a few games, hardly anybody would mention it after the suspension was over, and he’d play in the Pro Bowl the very same season.

      • raysfan1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:27 PM

        True, 4 games for a first offense to be precise.

      • nategearhart - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM

        That’s because most baseball writers hate baseball, so they’ll keep the narrative alive by bitching about it incessantly. Football writers, meanwhile, seem to love both football and football players, and therefore stay pretty optimistic and agreeable about the whole enterprise.

      • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        mogogo – it’s also a much, much older narrative in football. I remember a hilarious series of Doonesbury strips from maybe twenty five or thirty years ago – or more – when Uncle Duke became head coach of the Washington Redskins. There was one daily strip wherein Duke had slipped some PEDs into the Gatorade and two Redskin players were staring down into their styrofoam cups; one said “Hey – my muscles are swelling up,” and the other replies, “Hmmm, must be some kind of anabolic steroid.”

        It was already matter-of-fact way back then. Give baseball riters and spawrtsblaggers time. Soon enough, this lunacy will become quotidian for baseball and designatedhitterball too.

    • raysfan1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      All good points. Bet he keeps the trophy though.

      • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        Unless Fred Goldman sues him for it.

    • magicrat13 - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      awww…you insulted me…..i am so hurt…..

      you don’t like me or my post…..sniff, sniff

      usually i find that when someone doesn’t have anything intelligent to say they resort to name calling….remind you of anyone?

      just another internet tough guy….join the club….seems to be a lot of you these days…


      • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        It’s true that you don’t resort to name calling yourself – you just come on here and say flat out indefensibly dishonest and stupid things.

  6. tbutler704 - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    Don’t diminish self-righteousness. This is the meat upon which all sports media lives on.

  7. sawxalicious - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Lance Armstrong totally agrees with this article….

  8. charlutes - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:56 AM


    • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      Smack! Wake up! This is topical!

  9. El Bravo - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Wait, what happened to Ryan Braun?

    • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM


  10. largebill - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    Every time someone proposes this kind of thing or someone claims Maris is the single season HR champ or Aaron is the all time one my response is the same:”What happened – happened.” The past should left alone. I don’t care if someone “cheated” in the past. Whether we are talking throwing a doctored ball, a 3B tripping or holding a runner, or today’s players taking really good vitamins (PEDs) if they were allowed to play in major league games then what they accomplished in those games is part of the record book. Writers and fans are welcome to view those accomplishments in whatever light they choose. We look at the offensive numbers from the early 30’s much differently than we do those from the late 60’s. We are able to see that Yaz batting .301 in 1968 is more impressive than someone hitting .301 in in 1930.

    • suprsquirrel - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      I gave you a thumbs up because I agree with you in at least some degree….say when it comes to the HOF. If you exclude the Sosas and Bonds and McWires etc from the HOF then there will be a 15 to 20 year gap and it will be a bit odd. But if you create a ‘steroids era’ section that everyone 100 years from now can look at and go ‘THAT’S why their numbers are what they are’ I think electing those guys becomes a lot easier.

      Having said that vacating an award that someone clearly doesn’t deserve isn’t giving it to someone else. It’s punishing a cheater. And as I said in my other comment there is precedent for doing so.

      Just my .02.

  11. suprsquirrel - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Apparently I’m in the minority here, but why not just vacate the award for that year? Then there are no ‘was the next guy down the list deserving’ arguments, the cheater doesn’t get to keep the award and doing so doesn’t let a cheater/liar keep hardware he doesn’t deserve.

    It worked for the Heisman.

    • 18thstreet - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      Yes, let’s hold up college football as the standard for dealing with labor-management issues fairly.

      • suprsquirrel - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:31 AM

        Well you’re a bundle of joy, aren’t you?

        Where did I say that college football was the be all, end all standard that every other sport should strive to be? Oh, that’s right, I didn’t. My comment was simply that an award has been vacated in the past (and in this instance it was the Heisman) and asshats like you didn’t go on a five year screaming rant about it, so therefore there had been a precedent set in the past.

        But based on your response to me perhaps you did get your panties in a bunch about it, who knows, right?

      • sdelmonte - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        Yeah, that whole “vacating wins/titles” thing in the colleges is just silly. If I am not mistaken, one of Duke’s titles is now on the books as against no one, since the runner up – the Fab Five Michigan, maybe? – was forced to vacate that entire season.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        Vacated wins are awesome and hilarious. I especially like those Penn State-Ohio State games that never happened because both sides vacated the wins.

      • sdelmonte - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        Does the NCAA travel back in time and prevent the games? Or merely go around the country erasing news reports like Winston Smith?

      • 18thstreet - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:23 AM

        The important thing is, they give all the money made in the vacated games to widows, orphans and firefighters. That’s why NCAA coaches are so underpaid.

      • suprsquirrel - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM

        I can see now that me posting here is a waste of time. Obviously you all having the reading comprehension of a five year old. Where did I say to vacate wins? I compared it to vacating ONE AWARD. One. And you asshats want to go on and on and on about vacating wins and coaches salaries and the moons orbit around the earth and your penis size.

        I mean, really, was what I posted that freaking hard to comprehend? Vacate the award. Once. Because they know he cheated. End of story. Simply stated it has been done once before and cited and example and I get these responses.

        Which is great. Because it tells me it’s not worth my time to post here. Out of the three sites I’ve posted on here (PFT, here, and PHT) the only one that is worth a damn is PHT. Every other site is full of argumentative dolts who can’t have a constructive discussion without posting asinine responses. So congrats, you’ve run off another person who just wanted to talk baseball with other fans. I swear to God if I didn’t know any better I’d swear that 99% of you were the trolls that post on the MLB message boards.

      • 18thstreet - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:58 AM


        To answer your question more directly, I don’t see how it’s a reasonable solution to vacate just one award, and I largely agree with Craig’s reasoning on why –much like Lays potato chips — you can’t just stop at one.

        It also happens that don’t care a great deal who is actually awarded the MVP, because the writers get it “wrong” (my opinion) often enough. That Ryan Braun won an MVP award is one of those things that makes the history of baseball interesting, much like the fact that the Cincinnati Reds won the 1919 World Series. It really happened.

    • raysfan1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      Actually I disagree that it worked for the Heisman. Every college football fan old enough to remember 2004 knows very well that Reggie Bush was awarded the trophy. The fact it was later stripped does not change that he won it. In the future if people look at the history of the Heisman, 2004 will stick out, and little effort will be required to recall why. If anything, Bush and the 2004 Heisman the he “didn’t” win will be better remembered than if the powers that be had left well enough alone.

  12. sfm073 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Why do you continue give dumb stuff like this attention?

  13. joshtown81 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    Honest question, Craig. Pete Rose was banned from the game for not just betting on games, but betting on games he was in fact involved in as Manager. The argument was that he could be benefiting financially from games he had control over, thus jeopardizing the game itself, correct?

    With Braun, A-Rod, etc, arn’t they doing the same thing? By taking illegal substances, then lying about it/hiding it, and inflating their numbers based on a chemical and signing big contracts, endorsements, etc, arn’t they benefitting financially by altering the course of a game knowingly, and hurting the integrity of the game?

    The circumstances leading up to the action may be different, but the end result is still the same. So why is it so far out of the realm of possibility that one illegal action deserves a lifetime ban, but not another?

    • Walk - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      So why is it so far out of the realm of possibility that one illegal action deserves a lifetime ban, but not another?

      Gambling is illegal, as in you may wind up in jail, except in certain regulated sportsbooks. Depending on what ped was used they are merely banned by baseballs jda and not always illegal. For example McGwire is reviled for Androstenedione and it was available over the counter until 2004. There was even a study done on that particular one that showed it had no effect on muscle strength. Try telling someone that and you get comments that start with “they would not take it if it did not work” and runs through the range of comments all the way to personal insults. Yes most of the substances banned as peds are not available as legal supplements, but it is important to distinguish them if we are ever to understand some players place in the history of the game. That banned if they took a banned substance I have little to no sympathy for them and hope they get what they deserve under the joint drug agreement. The players reps and the league both agreed to their terms and it is too late now to change the details. The labor agreement will come up again and I truly hope we see some changes that gives the league a bit more leeway in punishments. For example, I would not mind them storing the samples for future testing but I would cap it at a decade or so.

      • Kevin S. - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        McGwire used more than andro.

      • Walk - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM

        I know he also admitted to hgh and I also know he used over parts of ten seasons by his own admission. Other than cansecos allegations I am unaware of any other substance but it was the green andro drinks in his locker that reporters and other players saw that really got him in hot water. The he in this instance being mark McGwire, just in case this gets dumped way below the comment I am replying.

    • raysfan1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      The difference is PED cheats do so in an effort to improve performance and make it more likely to win. Betting on baseball brings up the potential of throwing games if betting against one’s own team, or if always betting for one’s own team of not trying as hard when not betting or not betting as much. The integrity of the game is based on everyone always trying their best to win. Gambling undermines that whereas using PEDs does not.

  14. florida727 - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    1) Did Braun’s performance benefit from his use of PEDs?
    2) Did Kemp use PEDs?

    If they don’t want to give the award to Kemp, fine. That’s their call and/or Kemp apparently doesn’t want it. But at least have the dignity to strip it from the cheater, for your own credibility’s sake. By allowing him to keep it, the BBWAA is essentially saying it’s okay to cheat and we don’t mind recognizing you any way. How stupid is that?

    • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      Globalize the question to ask “how stupid is the BBWAA” in general and you may have more options for a meaningful answer. Of course, we’d be here parsing it out until spring training.

  15. mjbabiak - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Braun took the PED’s in a time where they were ILLEGAL… A-Rod, Juan, and Barry did not. They were frowned upon. Can’t draw any comparisons to these guys.

    It’s time to set a precedent for any future occurrences regarding MVP’s and Cy Young’s that are caught taking these PED’s. I guarantee this will happen again and we need to make some slight adjustments to the MLB legal system to avoid it from happening again.

    Enough is Enough.. getting tired of all this PED talk, baseball shouldn’t be like this.

    • jwbiii - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      In 1991, Commissioner Fay Vincent sent a memo to all teams stating that steroid use was against the rules. While there was no testing program until many years later, steroid use was against the rules.


      • Kevin S. - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        The memo was meaningless. Even Vincent has admitted as much. Baseball’s actions spoke much louder than a scrap of paper.

      • mjbabiak - Jul 24, 2013 at 4:07 PM

        Exactly, no testing. AKA no physical proof anyone took anything during those years (other than here say). That’s like saying driving under the influence is illegal but cops can’t test you nor prove that you are indeed intoxicated.

        On the contrary, I give you, Ryan Braun.

  16. HitsDingers - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM


    • Old Gator - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      In what utopia?

      • raysfan1 - Jul 24, 2013 at 8:37 PM


  17. Stiller43 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:58 PM

    “Stripping awards after the fact is idiotic. Mostly because, in most cases, you have no better idea that the man you would give the award to the second time around was clean himself.”

    Umm Kemp actually passed those tests that Braun failed…

  18. eightyraw - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Thanks ESPN for the hot takes! #EmbraceDebate

  19. jollyjoker2 - Jul 24, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Its nice to that this guy is keeping his MVP award when he likely can’t hit passed the infield without being juiced. Jose Canseco was right about MLB, but of overpaid drug addicts that only want to cheat someone else out of a job.

  20. crackersnap - Jul 24, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    It’s pretty messed up that the default line of reasoning is that you can’t go back and change an opinion based on new facts. And that’s all an “MVP Award” is: an opinion.

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