Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thoughts on Ryan Braun

I'm only 22 years old.  I can almost remember life before the internet.  I don't ever remember my family not owning a computer.  As such, I barely take notice of the rapidly changing landscape of the internet and social media.  I need to actually step back, and imagine seeing the landscape through the eyes of my grandparents to  understand how absolutely insane the times we live in actually are. 

In fact, that might be the most mind-blowing fact to me about the entire Ryan Braun saga; that it took over a month for the story to be leaked.  In October, Ryan Braun apparently failed a performance-enhancing drugs test.  However, that, along with the fact that Braun is appealing the impending 50-game suspension, seems to be the only set-in-stone facts that the public knows. 

To me, that is concerning.  As a law student, I firmly idealize, as I believe most Americans do, our concept of justice that presumes innocence until guilt is proven.  The same here should apply for Braun.  Unfortunately, at this point, there is no way it can.  Media influence has gotten so massive, that even if Braun successfully wins his appeal, he will be unable to reverse the verdict that has already been found in the court of public opinion.  This will tarnish Braun's legacy, which could very well end up being the greatest crime committed here.  That's a shame, because he's one heck of a baseball player, even if it makes me sick to admit that as Braun plays for a NL Central rival of my Pirates.

The reactions have been wild to say the least.  Calls for Matt Kemp to win the MVP have become boisterous.  Cries of conspiracy before Braun has even won an appeal because if Braun is cleared, baseball is covering up yet another scandal in attempt to maintain an image that was improving in the wake of its decimation during the Steroid Era.

I for one, will hold off judgment, as I would hope others would if I were in the same situation.  If Braun is cleared in the appropriate manner, his legacy will not change in my eyes.  I will still dislike him every time he hits a home run off of my Pirates, but it will be with begrudging respect of his immense talent.  On the other hand, if Braun is found guilty after vehemently maintaining that he is innocent vehemently, manifest in his acceptance of an MVP award that would not rightfully be his, then shame on Ryan Braun.  Shame on him for making me sad about humanity and sad about baseball once again.


  1. i can spot guilty people. he is guilty. a positive for a banned substance is still wrong. synthetic testostrone in your 2 vials is unexplainable.the fact that he passed weeks later means nothing.

  2. I agree. I'm not saying that he's innocent because he passed later.

    My point simply is lets make sure he's guilty before we jump to any conclusions. That's what I want others to do for me.

  3. The way I see it, innocent until proven guilty only applies when it comes to crime and punishment. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if newspapers were only allowed to publish details of a crime after the conviction? All accusations provide the individual with an opportunity to judge for themselves whether to believe the report. The constitution does not govern thought, and this statute only addresses the court system. As we all know, public opinion is a totally different animal, just ask OJ. Our justice system has become, for good or bad, not only the place to discern absolute guilt or innocence, but a check and balance for the process that one goes through during the entire process, from investigation to arrest to arraignment to trial. We all know of stories of evidence that is damning being left out of a case for a rules violation that has nothing (or little) to do with the actual guild of the defendant. Because of this shift in the duties of the justice system, a guilty or not guilty verdict can only be viewed through strictly legal eyes, and not through whatever moral code each person uses to discern guilt or innocence. For example, I don't say that Bernie Fine is innocent because the statute of limitations has expired on his accusations, yet legally, he is as innocent of these crimes as you and I. So, guilty until proven innocent is a strictly legal concept, and, when it comes to public opinion, there is no obligation to follow this statute and often it is wise not to. Then again, you are the law student, so I am happy to hear a counter to this.

  4. Your point is a good one. A legal ruling does not prove morality.

    I think my point more is as follows. Since everything points to Braun not being able to outrun this if he is, in fact, guilty, there is no chance of a "wrongful" finding of innocence.

    As such, I'd like to just show a bit of patience before we start casting too many stones.

    For example, putting out a hypothetical, it'd be a shame if (it won't happen) Braun's MVP was stripped as soon as the report came out, and then a month later a lab member admits to tainting the results out of a personal vendetta.

    1. The only thing I want to point out is that there's a difference between being not guilty and being innocent. If there really was a violation of the chain of command here, then there's nothing that the arbitrator could have done and Braun had to be let off.

      However, there's nothing in any of the reports that I've seen that lead me to believe Braun did nothing wrong or that there was a problem with his sample. The tester followed protocol, the sample was still sealed when it arrived at the lab and there was nothing about the circumstances that would have created the spike in testosterone.

      Maybe Braun can't be punished by the league but I see no reason for the court of public opinion to give him a free pass.

  5. I'm not a fan of guilty until proven innocent. But I am also not a fan of the innocent being affected by the guilty needlessly. What I am referring to here are games Ryan Braun played after this test.

    I believe he and his team should not get screwed because he is immediately banned for a test only to be later found innocent.

    Conversely, I do not think the opposing team should be forced to play a team with a guy whose cheating may directly affect them.

    So, what does this sound like:

    Player A is found to have taken PED's (or anything else that violates the CBA). These results are immediately given to the player and the team (also given to opposing teams in the playoffs, reasoning below). The player must immediately decide if they wish to appeal or not.

    If Player A does not appeal, the 50 games (or whatever it would be for this specific player) begins immediately.

    If Player A wishes to appeal, the tests are run on the same collections taken for the first drug test to a second firm. Also, any reasons for appeal stating why something may be in the player's system are heard and ruled on within 2 weeks by an independent arbitrator.

    If Player A's appeal is successful, life goes on (if a leak, MLB offers an apology and maybe a pre-determined settlement for damage to player's reputation).

    If Player A's appeal is denied, the player will skip the 50 game ban and go directly to the 100 game ban. Any subsequent positive tests that are unsuccessfully appealed will result in a lifetime ban.

    Meanwhile, the team of Player A is offered a decision. And games played with Player A, where Player A has been through an unsuccessful appeal are forfeited to the opposing team. In the case of playoffs, the results remain the same with an exception of the World Series.

    For the World Series, if it is within 2 weeks could either be played over (assuming the offending team won the World Series) with the offending team's CS series' losing team being promoted or the series forfeited to the other team. This is why I said opposing playoff teams should be informed. Neither are ideal, but this is one piece I can't find a good solution to.

    The team is given the option to not play this player or to continue on with the player. Basically, do you believe your guy can win an appeal or not?

    I really think this system could pretty well wipe out senseless appeals, and maybe get some guys to more or less admit that they knowingly took PED's. It may hurt someone who is innocent because they are too scared to appeal and lose, but my thoughts here are basically: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

  6. I really like that Chris. Thanks for the input. The extra penalty for appealing unsuccessfully will get rid of red tape just for the sake of red tape, which is always good.

  7. There is NO WAY they would ever replay the WS. Some of your other ideas are interesting, though.

  8. Yeah, the replaying of the WS would never happen, hence the whole "Neither are ideal, but this is one piece I can't find a good solution to"