The reigning National League MVP and Milwaukee Brewers left fielder is the first player to successfully challenge a drug-related suspension and appeal it. Das, who has been baseball’s arbitrator since 1999, sided with Braun in the case due to sample collector Dino Laurenzi violation of MLB’s drug agreement.
This written agreement states “absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected.” Since Laurenzi did not do this and took the sample home with him instead Das had no choice but to rule in Braun’s favor.
MLB had already informed Das and the players’ association of their decision sometime last week.
“Shyam is the longest-tenured panel chair in our bargaining relationship,” union head Michael Weiner said. “For 13 years, from the beginning to the end of his tenure, he served the parties with professionalism and distinction.”
MLB and the players union will have to agree on an independent arbitrator to replace Das. If they are unable to do so they will have to rely on the American Arbitration Association recommendations for a proper arbitrator.
Das is also the arbitrator for the National Football League. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello has already stated the firing “does not impact his role at an arbitrator for our CBA.”
Several people in and around the sport believed Das’ termination was imminent considering MLB requested him to not reveal his written decision officially explaining why he overturned Braun’s suspension. MLB and the player’s union did this because they were negotiating changes on how test samples will be collected in the future in order to avoid this kind of mishap again.
What exactly does this mean for Braun? Well, it gives all the doubters in baseball more reason to believe he was guilty. MLB officials were upset with Das’ ruling and made it perfectly clear they did not agree with it. They also went on to indirectly state they believed Braun’s 50-game suspension should have gone through as scheduled. Since Braun did not have the support of MLB, players and fans felt even stronger about their opinions.
Braun has not been affected by the public humiliation he endured in the offseason as expected. There was a point early in the season where he struggled at the plate but since then he has not slumped. Several people believed he would not be able to put up the same numbers he has in the past, but that could not be farther from the truth. The reality is Braun is on pace to do what he has done his entire career, which is more reason to believe he was not doping.
The next biggest test Braun will endure will be the All-Star voting. He was the league’s leading vote-getter last season, but that certainly will not be the case this year. If he is still elected to start in left field for the National League (assuming his statistics are where they need to be) then he will have passed the ultimate test, which means he will be back in the public’s good graces. Obviously, the firing of Das is not good for Braun’s image but it is still something he can overcome if he plays well.
In 121 plate appearances this season Braun is batting .306 with 10 home runs, 21 RBI, 23 runs, 13 walks, six doubles, two triples and five stolen bases.
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