By now we’ve all heard the news that Ryan Braun was exonerated and will not serve any suspension at all. What had been in question was what exactly went on and today we finally got a chance to hear from Braun himself for the first time since this whole issue broke and boy did we get details.
Some may have wondered why we hadn’t heard from him before his press release yesterday and press conference today at Maryvale Baseball Park, but it’s because he followed the protocol of the appeal process under the terms of the CBA and the drug testing policy, apparently something the testing service MLB hired and some yet to be named employee within the offices of MLB couldn’t do.
In his press release yesterday Braun stated “I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.”
The press conference he had earlier this afternoon continued that trend as he answered a lot of questions and didn’t hide anything about what happened.
I come out of the past 24 hours or so with a three major conclusions. First and foremost is that Major League Baseball should be ashamed of itself. You agreed to this process for drug testing and appeal along with the players in collective bargaining and what do you do when the 1st player wins an appeal? You threaten to sue to overturn?
What makes that all the worse is that the leak of Braun’s initial failed test came directly from someone in your offices at Major League Baseball and you have the gaul, the nerve, and the stones to threaten to sue? You and your employees are going to be very lucky they don’t get sued for breach of confidentiality in the process.
That breach showed a major flaw in this process to be exposed because all it takes is a leak of this information to the public, creating a sense of guilty until proven innocent that goes against the very fiber of our legal system and any sense of fairness. The player has to follow the terms of the appeals process and that means staying silent and keeping it “confidential” even though the failed test was out there for everyone to hear about. Hopefully this shines a light on this major flaw in the policy of Major League Baseball and something is done to correct that, because having to stay silent for four months and being totally unable to defend yourself is just plain wrong.
Secondly, it’s clear that the issue isn’t whether or not the sample was tainted. It’s that MLB and no one else can prove that this sample was even HIS to begin with. It’s something that was hinted at through the press conference and we won’t know much more because Braun made it clear that there may be pending litigation against people not named specifically by him.
What I find interesting about this issue is that Braun was willing to take any and every test available and yet MLB said no. It really puts into question whether MLB was worried about showing that it’s system of testing could have flaws and thus opening it up to more scrutiny from the Players Association and lawyers or if they were scared of something else? All I know is that if you are guilty of taking drugs it’s not to often you see that person request a DNA test to prove if it is or isn’t theirs to begin with.
The final conclusion I have after watching the press conference is that this was the most in depth and forthright I’ve ever seen a player be and it sure as hell wasn’t scripted. For me the biggest question was was he “innocent” or just “not guilty” of taking performance enhancing drugs? After hearing the details about the issue at hand there is no doubt in my mind that something strange happened during the 44 hours that the sample was in the custody of the one person who knew who it belonged to without documentation and ultimately you can’t go by a test that has questions that major surrounding it.
In the end he’s been nothing but class in handling this situation and given more than one opportunity to hammer Major League Baseball and others today he didn’t. This was also a huge example for how you handle a press conference, being open and honest, staying above the muck that others have tried to throw you into, and laying out a detailed and factual case as to what exactly was at issue. Congrats to Ryan on the way he handled this situation and I have no doubt that he’ll take this issue as motivation and be able to put all the junk he’s about to take in 2012 from places outside of Milwaukee behind him.
Now it’s time to put this issue to rest and move on to the game on the field and we’ve got plenty to talk about there!