Yesterday evening, ESPN News reported that Ryan Braun became the first professional baseball player to ever successful overturn an MLB suspension for a positive drug test.
Evidently, the MLB is furious over Braun's successful appeal and vehemently disagrees with the arbitration panel's decision. But why?
I understand that this whole process has brought some formerly confidential information to light, and for that they're entitled to being a little upset. But to turn this into a finger-pointing contest is childish and makes them look petty. Braun even offered to give a DNA test that could potentially link him to the positive test, but the MLB refused to accept it.
Braun has been the epitome of class throughout this drama, keeping to himself throughout the ordeal and taking the high road. He's shown respect for the game, respect for the league and respect for the entire appeal process. Major League Baseball, on the other hand, has come across as petulant and childish about not getting their way, as they continue to pout and try to shift the blame.
In my opinion, MLB should breathe a sigh of relief over this decision. Sure, they've been embarrassed by failing to carefully follow their own drug testing procedure, but humiliation aside, this is terrific for the game. They should have swallowed the bitter pill, apologized to Braun for forcing him into this degrading process, and looked at what they can do to improve drug testing.
But more importantly than that, the integrity of the game managed do dodge a significant blow.
Ryan Braun headlines a new generation of superstars, one that has managed to avoid the PED cloud that shrouded the previous generation. Alex Rodriguez, Rodger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palermo...the list of players who've been linked to performance enhancing drugs goes on and on.
But the new crop of stars has the opportunity to bring back the game's purity. Braun, Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, Robinson Cano and dozens of other young stars have given the league new hope, and Braun has as much potential as any of them.
For one of the game's ambassadors to be slapped with a PED tag, just when fans were hoping to finally be rid of the "Steroid Era", would be a travesty. No other sport has had the same kind of issues with performance enhancing drugs as baseball, and the sport has a much brighter future if it manages to shake that stigma. Braun's successful appeal helps in doing just that.
And this is why I can't quite wrap my head around why the MLB is handling the successful appeal the way they are. If they want to avoid further embarrassment, and want to avoid their image becoming even worse in the minds of fans like myself and countless others, they need to turn around their attitudes and mitigate the situation before it becomes an ugly PR battle.
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