Early in the season, the sure way to hear a chorus of boo’s was during the introduction of #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers coming to the plate. Some cities gave him the raspberries more than others. In Los Angeles, the fans would boo in between bites of sushi. In Phoenix the fans continued to boo him because he was the friend of the dreaded enemy, Prince Fielder who did the unforgivable sin of naming Rickie Weeks to the Home Run Derby held at Chase Field last year rather than local favorite, Upton. In Chicago, well they saved their boo’s to test out their lungs on the dreaded enemy left fielder. In other cities the Brewer’s left fielder was booed because his name was tainted during the off-season by an unauthorized leak and a badly executed proclamation by Major League Baseball not admitting they were at fault in not chastising their method of drug testing.
Ryan Braun will be named to the National League All-Star team this week. But his position as a starter through fan voting, something he has led during the past few years as the game’s biggest vote getter, is questionable. All because somebody whispered something to somebody that Braun had failed his routine urine test in October, 2011.
After mediation, an arbitrator found that Braun’s case should be thrown out because the transferring of the urine by a Northern Illinois resident was not properly sent to the labs and was placed in his house over a weekend. But the word was made public. Braun failed his urine test. One of the most admired players in the game was now about to tumble off his star pedestal if Major League Baseball didn’t come to his rescue.
Many medical people, including every medical doctor (that’s with an MD after their name) that I spoke with said that urine samples can become very unstable and contaminated if they are not properly handled, processed and/or stored properly in a timely fashion, like over night. To wait over a weekend is NOT the way to handle a sample. It has to be thrown out. Yet the word was out that Braun had failed his urine test. Somebody didn’t like Braun.
After the announcement by the mediator became official, the factions of those who believed in Braun’s innocence or guilt were vocal. It was a split decision in the court of public opinion. Then the pronouncement of Major League Baseball came down. It basically stated that their testing procedures were excellent and that they were disappointed in the decision of the mediator. What? Why in the world would they make such a statement?
MLB doesn’t say anything without the express approval of the Commissioner. A Milwaukee Commissioner in his Milwaukee office lambasted one of the game’s bright young stars, a Milwaukee Brewer. He use to own this team. He was the guy who begged Ben Barkin the famed PR man from Milwaukee to get his client, Robert Uhlein (then the owner of Schlitz Brewing Co.) to pony up the money, for the benefit of the community, to buy the Seattle Pilots out of bankruptcy court and move them to Milwaukee. Does he now have soar grapes for selling the team? The word was out that Braun had failed his urine test; proven by a mediator that the testing procedure was not adequate; and now Major League Baseball was denying any responsibility for a failed system indicating that Braun was indeed guilty until proven innocent.
Would it hurt his performance on the field? This is the kind of meat conspiracy theorists chew on. This past week gave an indication to that answer. Last season, through Saturday, Braun was hitting .320. This season Braun was hitting .313. Last season Braun hit 16 Home Runs. This year he has hit 22, leading the National League. Last year he had 62 RBI while this season he drove in 55. This year his OPS is an amazing 1.005 while his slugging percentage is .611. Last year he was the National League’s Most Valuable Player. Last year he drew move votes than any other National Leaguer. This year he has proven that he can play through all the boo’s and the controversy by having as great a year as he did last season. Now he is desperately trying to win a starting position by receiving the top three votes for the outfield position by the fans. Braun had failed his urine test in the minds of the public and they may be withholding his starting All Star selection.
This is not about a great young ball player being tainted by running with a rough crowd, or going out drinking and having a DUI. He hasn’t been accused of hurting anyone or being a bad character. He hasn’t been proven to take any drugs. Yet he is as tainted as has Clemens, McGuire and Sosa, Bonds and Palmeiro. The chances of any of these players getting a first ballot Hall of Fame announcement are nil. The chances of any of these players ever getting into the Hall during their careers are slim. No they didn’t bet on games like Rose. No they didn’t take money like Jackson. But they have been linked to the drug infested era that has tainted them. Someone said that Braun had failed his urine test.
It’s time for the Commissioner of Baseball to state unequivocally that Ryan Braun did NOT fail his urine test. It has never been proven. He in fact DID NOT fail a urine test. Someone came up with a four or five day old sample, that was not stored the way it should have been nor shipped to the lab immediately, and said it reflected a positive result. However, any and all testing, under the agreement of Major League Baseball and the Player’s Union, was to remain confidential. That means nobody knew of any testing nor of any results. But the word was let out….Ryan Braun failed his urine test.
Come on, Commish. Did MLB leak the information to the press? Stop talking in circles. Bud loves to do that. He talks and talks and talks and talks and the circles soon become bigger and bigger until they don’t even look like circles any more. Did you ever notice that any difficult question that is asked the Commish, never gets a straight answer? Go ahead. Ask him how good Major League Baseball’s drug testing program is?
It’s time for the Commish to come out and state that there was a flaw in the system and that baseball has addressed that issue and fixed it. All testing will be done at random and immediately be sent to the testing labs without delay. No over night in the basement of somebody’s home. No over the weekend in someone’s house. Immediate sending is the answer. And then he has to say that baseball did something it should never have done: it should never have placed one of its brightest young stars in a position to fail.
That’s not what Commissioners do.
Say it ain’t so, Commish! Say it ain’t so.