Ryan Braun PED Suspension Overturned: 6 Reasons MLB Should Celebrate
MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred released a statement via CBSSports.com that shows their displeasure for Braun's successful appeal. You would think they would be happy that their reigning NL MVP had actually not cheated by taking PEDs because it keeps the integrity of the game intact.
Here is the official statement.
Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.
As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.
Obviously, Major League Baseball is not happy with the third-party arbitrator's—Shyam Das—decision, but they should be. Why? Let's find out.
Huge, Young Star Proven Innocent
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At only 28 years old Ryan Braun is already a superstar. Not only has he won a NL MVP Award, Braun has also won four Silver Sluggers, was NL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and is a member of the 30-30 club.
Over his first five major league seasons Braun has averaged a .312/.371/.563 slash line to go with 32 HR, 106 RBI and 19 SB.
If Braun was proven guilty not only would he have been suspended for 50 games, but nobody would ever look at him in the same way.
Fans might have thrown syringes at him during games, fans would have chanted things like "cheater" and "juicer" during games and most importantly he would have almost no chance of making the MLB Hall of Fame.
Limits Questions on What Other Superstars Are Still Using
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Jeff Bagwell is a prime example of the new idea of "guilty until proven innocent" when it comes to PEDs in the major leagues.
There is no evidence or proof that Bagwell took any form of PEDs at anytime during his career, but he has been accused nonetheless. These unwarranted accusations may cost Bagwell a bust in Cooperstown after missing out for the second straight year, despite having a .297/.408/.540 stat line with 449 career home runs, a Gold Glove, three Silver Sluggers and an MVP Award to his name.
Bagwell is not the only one harmed by this new idea, Jose Bautista has reportedly been tested 16 times for PEDs since his breakout 2010 campaign but is still being accused of taking PEDs.
Accusing players such as Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco and Barry Bonds is fine because they have tested positive, but why are players who have never tested positive implicated and treated as if they were guilty?
MVP Award Is Not Vacated
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Nobody wants an asterisk or an empty slot next to "2011 NL MVP."
When Reggie Bush gave back his Heisman Trophy due to receiving improper benefits the trophy itself lost a little prestige. The MLB MVP Trophy did not need or want that kind of controversy hanging over its head.
Yes, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa combine for 11 MVP Awards, but those players are either retired or in their mid-30s. None of them are in their prime or elite players anymore, so it can be easier to forget about them.
If arguably the best player in the majors had been suspended 50 games for testing positive for PEDs it would be a non-stop story and a PR nightmare for Major League Baseball.
Just imagine if LeBron James or Aaron Rodgers had tested positive for PEDs and been suspended by their respective leagues, league-wide chaos would ensue.
MLB Does Not Need Another Alex Rodriguez
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Alex Rodriguez was near the top of his game in February 2009 when news broke that he tested positive for steroids in 2003, he later admitted to the allegations.
Rodriguez had won the AL MVP just a year prior and two others the four years before that. He also was on an 11-year streak of at least 35 HR and 100 RBI.
Rodriguez was a rock star and one of them best players in the game before everything came tumbling down.
He quickly repaired his image as much as possible by leading the Yankees to a World Series Championship in 2009 but the damage had been done. A member of the 600-HR club, an eventual 3,000-hit club member and the possible home run king before he retires may not be voted into Cooperstown because of that positive test.
Ryan Braun may never be the player Alex Rodriguez was, but he is a MVP and had yet to hit his prime, Major League Baseball does not need another A-Rod fiasco.
NL Central Race Just Got Interesting
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The St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series and immediately became the favorite to win the NL Central in 2012. Then Albert Pujols left for Los Angeles and Tony LaRussa retired, leaving the Milwaukee Brewers as the new favorite.
The Brewers then lost Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers and Ryan Braun to a likely suspension.
Could the Cincinnati Reds be the new favorite? They traded for San Diego Padres' ace Mat Latos and reliever Sean Marshall, signed closer Ryan Madson, have the best first baseman in the NL in Joey Votto and have rising stars, such as Jay Bruce.
It looked like the Reds and Cardinals were neck-and-neck as the favorite in the NL Central until Ryan Braun won his appeal.
With Braun back in the lineup, along with a great rotation and bullpen, the Brewers are back in the NL Central race.
This should be a close race that could have three teams in contention all the way to the final days of September 2012.
Is the "Steroid Era" Finally Over?
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This is not naivety, MLB players will continue to use steroids and other PEDs in order to succeed, but is the age of baseball's elite players using PEDs finally over?
The days of exciting home run races of over 60 and 70 home run in a single season may be over, but that is what is best for Major League Baseball.
Gone are the days of Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Barry Bonds leading the league in home runs. New younger, clean players, such as Jose Bautista, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Mike Stanton and Curtis Granderson now have a chance to be the new wave of home run hitters.