Thursday, February 23, 2012

Breaking News: Ryan Braun

Incredibly, Ryan Braun has just won his grievance case against Major League Baseball regarding his 50-game PED suspension. This is uncharted territory, as all of the previous 13 cases that had been appealed resulted in a confirmed conviction. So what does this mean for the 3 major parties involved?

First of all, Ryan Braun is ecstatic. He feels that he's been fairly cleared and he is, in his words, proven "innocent." Coming off his NL MVP season, Braun needed this to clear his name. His image had previously been sparkling and flawless, only to be significantly tinged by his positive test. He will report to camp on time, tomorrow morning, looking to keep up his production for the Brew Crew. His appeal was supposedly upheld because of "technicality," meaning Braun isn't necessarily innocent, but there was a flaw that jeopardized the credibility of the test. How his peers, especially pitchers in the NL Central, view him in the future is unclear.

The Brewers, and their fans, have to be popping some bottles right now. After losing Prince to the Tigers, they really couldn't afford to lose Braun for 50 games. With Ryan in place, the complexion of the whole NL Central changes. The Brewers become legit contenders and probably the preseason favorites, followed closely by the Cardinals, Reds and Pirates. Without Braun, the Brewers might have found themselves on the outside looking in, rather than in the driver's seat.

Where this gets really, really interesting is from the perspective of Major League Baseball. First of all, they've just lost their first PED appeal against a player. The institution never loses to the individual, ever. So, this becomes some sort of precedent. Next time someone tests positive, you can definitely expect them to call MLB's process for reviewing the case into question. Just what is being done behind the scenes? How much does this reversal call MLB's judgement and integrity on this matter into question? Can we trust MLB to police it's sport? For the record, Major League Baseball has publicly stated that they are very "disappointed" with the 3rd party ruling overturning Braun's case.

Don't forget, Ryan Braun's positive test was never supposed to become public knowledge. It was leaked by an unknown source, and that is the only reason we've ever learned about the positive test and it's subsequent repeal. The only people who were supposed to have any knowledge of this saga were MLB, Ryan Braun and the Brewers front office. No public, no MLB Network, nobody outside of that exclusive circle. Instead, the baseball world is abuzz with this recent happening. Perhaps the real question is whether or not Major League Baseball are able to tighten up workings so the rest of the public doesn't catch wind of these things in the future.

So, what can we take away from this? First of all, you can start drafting Ryan Braun in the first round of your fantasy draft again. He's excited and he'll be in the lineup on Opening Day. The Brewers are way better off today than they were yesterday. They just added 50 games of Ryan Braun to their lineup, which should put them in a fight for first all season long in their division. Major League Baseball will be facing some serious questions of integrity regarding their PED review process in the future. In other words, we've just seen Pandora's Box opened and it will be hard to trust the next suspension. Also, their ability to keep this type of information under wraps is in jeopardy. An upheld appeal, however, doesn't mean Braun is innocent, but rather the way his test was handled was considered compromised.

He cannot remove this asterisk from his name and image will take a small hit. Just how much of a hit is yet to be seen, and the rest of his career will have a lot to say about that.

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