Braun, Biogenesis, Show Need for MLB Transparency


Add Bob Nightengale to the ever-growing list of people blowing the innumerable lids off of the Biogenesis leak.

His article in USA Today brought to light the possibility – by way of his sources – of an over-zealous investigatory process regarding the leaks in Anthony Bosch’s ‘paperwork’, especially in the case of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.

According to Nightengale and others, Ryan Braun is “Public Enemy Number One.” Of course this claim was roundly refuted by Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice President Rob Manfred.

It should be obvious to everyone that we might never know exactly what’s going on in terms of how baseball executives plan to fix this, but it does beg the question:

Don’t we deserve to?

Ryan Braun is staring down the barrel of an MLB investigation again. (Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports)

Major League Baseball has made it abundantly clear that rooting out the steroid problem in America’s Pastime is of the utmost importance. It might be just as important for Major League Baseball to get its own house in order before anything else.

This isn’t an issue roundly discussed by the Players Association, the media, or Major League Baseball itself – but it is one I believe that requires at minimum a conversation.

It began in the 2011 off season, when news broke to ESPN that Ryan Braun would face a 50-game suspension or failing a urine test with elevated levels of testosterone. The entire process is supposed to be confidential but that flew out the window right away, as did the disagreement and eventual dismissal of long time arbiter Shyam Das.

Basically the only thing that has remained confidential is the written decision that Das was supposed to submit to Major League Baseball. I assume it was submitted. I assume that it would have been incredibly enlightening to the Court of Public Opinion. We can only assume the reasoning behind keeping it from the public.

It should have been obvious that there were problems as soon as the results leaked. There was a short investigation of the leak and it turned out that NOBODY DID IT. Not the testing center, not MLB, not the MLBPA, and no one in Braun’s camp. Maybe it was a busboy at Graffito.

Now, after the Miami New Times leaked the papers from Bosch’s Biogenesis Clinic, Major League Baseball is on the warpath again. We all knew from the get-go that Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun were going to be the focus of the investigation from the media’s side. I don’t think anyone could have imagined how much focus Major League Baseball was going to put on them.

Braun’s former teammate, Cesar Carrillo, was recently brought in by Major League officials to discuss his involvement with the Biogenesis reports – and for his testimony he was granted a 100 game suspension, despite the fact that he never tested positive. Oh, and he was promised the league would go easy on him if he helped out.

While it’s not shocking, as Craig Calcaterra points out, that MLB investigators are taking cues from The Wire in rooting out the problems of steroids in baseball – it does reek of some strange new-fangled breed of McCarthyism. Abandoning the zero tolerance ideals in order to catch the “big fish” may seem like a good idea, but what does it help?

If Ryan Braun is guilty, he will be punished. And he deserves to be. But it ought to be conducted the

If you believe the reports, the MLB is looking to get back at Ryan Braun – but what is the cost? (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

right way – because at the end of the day if he gets caught, what does it change if four or five or 12 other users get a free pass? It doesn’t change the fact that those guys also cheated, it doesn’t change the past and it certainly doesn’t stop the use and proliferation of performance enhancing drugs.

This situation is not quite like taking out a crime boss to dismantle the mob. There’s no head to chop of in order to kill the body. If Braun is guilty, he’s one of hundreds in a long line of people doing the same thing. It doesn’t make it right, but following the MLB’s reasoning, the ends will justify the means.

And most people seem willing to take it in stride for the sake of cleaning up the game.

The only thing Major League Baseball can do at this point is lean on unprotected players. They can’t subpoena players and doctors. They can’t get the federal government involved at this point. They can’t even get all the documents from Bosch or his former employees.  Maybe that will change, but considering the fiascoes that ensued the last time the government got involved and the fact that this is still an issue, I would assume that the government would just as soon wash its hands of another botched PR process.

And that’s exactly what this has become. Major League Baseball, for all the good it has done in this process, is losing sight of how to handle it. They can’t get their ducks in a row for a statement and they can’t control the variables of a situation that obviously rubs a lot of its own employees the wrong way.

It took the league days to admit what plenty of people already knew in regards to pensions.

It took them years to try to fix the situation with steroids – a situation that almost everyone simply ignored in favor of the game’s popularity following labor unrest.

Now, it seems. that by pushing the boundaries of their investigation the league can erase a history of willful ignorance and feet-dragging. They’re willing to bet that if they catch the big fish, we won’t mind that they stepped over ethical guidelines. They’re willing to bet that they got it right the first time when it came to Braun – and they don’t seem to care what it does to the league’s image or any number of reputations in the process.

But I believe anything worth doing is worth doing well, and worth doing right. I don’t believe Major League Baseball is doing either. I believe that Major League Baseball should not have carte blanche in this investigation process. I’m not even sure if the league should be in control of it at all considering what we’re seeing from it.

I understand that it’s easy to say this from sidelines. I understand that I don’t have the full picture of the situation. But I don’t think it’s crazy to demand a clearer picture. As a writer, as well as a fan, I think it’s imperative that Major League Baseball conducts itself with the same sense of honesty and integrity that it expects from its players. I think it’s important that when they impose a decision on the matter, they give the fullest explanation of the process. I think that if they want to stop PED usage in the game, they deal out fair and equal punishment regardless of whether you’re an All-Star or in the Bus Leagues.

The issue here for baseball is whether they want the steroid problem to be done quickly or to be done right. Based on what we’re seeing now, I think we know which way Major League Baseball is leaning.