This past weekend was jam packed full of drama with Kobe Bryant suffering a broken nose in the NBA All-Star game, the Daytona 500 getting rained out for the first time ever and The Artist taking home best director, best actor, and best picture at the Academy Awards. All of these dramatic events were kicked off by Ryan Braun successfully appealing his 50-game suspension.
In this great country of ours we have the luxury of being innocent until proven guilty and it is no different in the case of Braun. Major League Baseball can call it a technicality all they want but the fact of the matter is there is no way to trust a sample that sat on an desk at an employee’s home for 44 hours before being tested. To compare Braun with former confirmed steroid users such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others is an absolute disgrace to a player who was wrongfully accused.
Braun has no reason to use a performance enhancing drug because of the raw talent he already possesses. His statistics have been virtually the same since he entered the professional level and there has been no spike in his numbers which is a good indication that he has never used PEDs.
Braun signed a career-contract with the Brewers and even left money on the table so Milwaukee could remain competitive over the years. It is one thing if he was trying to get a big contract like Prince Fielder was trying to do last season but if he already signed one then there is no point to try and improve his numbers. Braun has established himself as the face of the Brewers as well as one of the faces of baseball so it does not make sense why he would tarnish his reputation.
If you look at video of Braun last season and compare it to footage from 2010, you will see there is no physical difference in the way he plays the game. Video footage proves he hit doubles in the exact same location of Miller Park and his home runs did not gain any noticeable distance. Braun also did not gain any speed on the base paths as it took him roughly the exact same time to run from the batter’s box to second base on a double in both seasons.
Braun passed 25 drug tests over his career including three in 2011. It is no wonder the one he supposedly failed was the test that went mysteriously missing for almost two days. People can say all they want that there was no way the test was tampered with, but how could we possibly know for sure? How could we have known Sosa’s bat was corked unless he broke it? MLB said the packaging was never tampered with but there is no such evidence to prove that.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, independent arbitrator Shyam Das sided with Braun for a reason. To sit here and call him a cheater is an incredible mistake considering we have yet to see the official report released by Das. There may be other reasons in his investigation than just the fact the test sample was unaccounted for.
ESPN’s Baseball Tonight crew member John Kruk was the first person to talk about Braun after the press conference Friday. He stated he believes Braun is innocent and the way he has gone about the entire ordeal should prove that.
Now that Braun has established his innocence it is time to look at ahead. His next step will be to continue preparing himself for the upcoming season as he will be out to prove his doubters wrong. I truly believe we have yet to see the best of Braun at the plate and in the field. If he has a similar statistical season this year as he did in 2011 when he won the National League MVP, there is no doubt his innocence will prevail. If he has an even better season than last year, especially with MLB drug testing him on a regular basis, even the naysayers will have to eat their words.
Braun will also have to decide what he will do about the person who leaked the story last December. ESPN’s Outside the Lines were the first to report that Braun “tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.” Someone violated his confidentiality and the confidentiality of MLB. There is no excuse on the behalf of ESPN for airing a story that was never confirmed or denied by MLB. They had no right to tarnish the livelihood of a man before an official ruling came out. Braun will have the option to take whoever is responsible to court, but whether or not he does is a different story.
As for now, Braun’s best interest will be preparing for the season opener on April 6 when the Milwaukee Brewers defend their NL Central division title against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park.