Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun has had a front-row seat to one of Major League Baseball’s craziest performance-
enhancing drug roller coasters ever.
From the highest of highs–accepting the National League Most Valuable Player award following the 2011 season–to the lowest of lows–facing a 50-game suspension for high levels of testosterone–Braun has withstood the attention and the pressure, all the while maintaining the same story of innocence, summarized aptly by one statement:
“I have nothing to hide.”
Nearly every bit of news surrounding or pertaining to Braun since his well-document successful appeal of a 50-game suspension in February 2012 has been speculation over his alleged PED use; this even despite his MVP-caliber .319/.391/.595, 41 homer season following the appeal. Seemingly, we’ve reached the point where there is no middle ground; either you believe Braun’s assertion last February at a press conference during Spring Training that he has never taken a PED, or believe the five-time All Star has lied throughout the entire process.
But what does either side actually know, biases and assumptions aside? We know that Ryan Braun failed a drug test following Game 1 of the 2011 NLDS, the test sample was mishandled, he successfully appealed the impending suspension, and Biogenesis clinic founder Tony Bosch wrote his name on a piece of paper.
Is Braun guilty? Is he innocent?
Truthfully, the thing is that the public doesn’t know the truth. Not me. Not you. Not the elitist national writers. Nobody.
However, what is very visible is Major League Baseball and the media relentlessly pursuing Braun as a liar, a cheater, a threat to the integrity of the game. He has been prime target number one of the latest PED hunt pursued by the league–a hunt that they seemingly won’t put to rest until justice has been served. Or something like that.
The latest news surfacing involves Braun refusing to answer questions in a recent meeting with Major League Baseball regarding to the BioGenesis saga. For this, MLB is reportedly planning to hand down a 100-game suspension for Braun’s alleged refusal to answer questions (this also breaks their own protocol by breaking news of suspensions before any appeal process could begin).
Last season, Melky Cabrera, received (only) 50 games for creating a cover-up website after failing a drug test; Braun is facing 100 games for non-compliance? For not admitting to use a banned substance they can’t prove he took?
Mind you, the one drug test that Braun failed (that the public is aware of, at least) was overturned and essentially declared void due to a mishandling of the sample. Call it luck. Call it a technicality. Call it whatever the hell you want, really, because it made the holy-art-thou heads Major League Baseball look bad. They released this statement that made them look even more like 14-year-olds enraged over a backyard wiffle ball game, articulating that they “vehemently disagree” with the decision made by a neutral arbitrator.
Then, as if the first successful appeal of a 50-game suspension in history wasn’t already enough of an ego bruise for Major League Baseball, Braun followed up what many view as a PED-laced MVP season with, statistically, an even better 2012 campaign under the watchful eye of Big Brother.
Braun was on top. He was winning against Major League Baseball, against the media, against every fan base located outside the state of Wisconsin.
Then Bosch came into the picture and the MLB ran with their new information. What information, to be exact? The ever-so-villainizing piece of paper with Braun’s name scribbled down by Bosch, of course. Braun’s rebuttal was simply that he used Bosch, an expert on steroids and other PED’s, during his appeal process.
Now, Major League Baseball has reached an agreement with Bosch to receive information on 20 players named in BioGenesis records that were reportedly affiliated with the clinic. They are essentially paying off Bosch for information on the players, though a judge ruled that the league couldn’t drop their lawsuit against Bosch after the two sides made up and reconciled and found their inner love for each other.
Is Ryan Braun really the one playing dirty here, as he has been portrayed by the national media and the MLB?
He was criticized for “hiding everything” after saying he has nothing to hide following Tuesday’s news.Braun, however, owes me, owes you, owes the media nothing. He doesn’t owe us the truth until the truth comes out. Was he guilty the first time and simply got off on a technicality? Before anyone declares him a cheat or the worst thing to happen to baseball or, closed-minded, confuses his natural charisma for defiant arrogance, realize that Braun and only very, very few other people know the actual truth.
Time and time again, various media outlets have reported a group of twenty players are facing “imminent” suspensions for illegal PED use. Braun and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez have served as the headliners of each and every report. While Rodriguez has already admitted to steroid use earlier in his career with the Texas Rangers and has been in the cross-hairs with Bronx faithful for a large portion of his tenure there, Braun is the media darling and center of adulation from the city of Milwaukee.
Ryan Braun is not Alex Rodriguez. Plain and simple. Braun refusing to give information about a drug that MLB can’t prove he used doesn’t make him a liar. It doesn’t declare him guilty. It doesn’t make him innocent, either. We seem to forget that, during his suspension appeal process, Braun and his camp disclosed little to no information. He didn’t talk then, either, until it came time.
But Major League Baseball and the powers that be seem to have (or at least believe they have) enough evidence to suspend the career .315 hitter for the 100 games given to a player for a second PED offense.
Remind me when that first offense was, please?
Back to the evidence lined up against Braun. Through all the reports of looming suspensions for Braun and 20 other players, nearly nothing new has emerged. It appears Major League Baseball will be relying on the purchased information from Bosch, which, in their mind, may be enough to catch Braun; however, will it hold up as enough when Braun and the other players inevitably appeal their suspensions? Remember, they paid a former dealer of illegal drugs for information after he refused to talk for free. How does the sound of that resound?
In the very end, the truth will emerge. Major League Baseball will either end their manhunt of Braun and 20 other players with a monsoon of suspensions or, once again, the evidence won’t be enough, the players will be vindicated, an the league will release another angry statement about how they vehemently disagree with the decision.
Until then, Ryan Braun owes absolutely none of us the truth.