Ryan Braun: Why the Milwaukee Brewers Outfielder Has Proven He's a Leader

Zayne GranthamContributor IIIFebruary 24, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers talks to the media prior to spring workouts at Maryvale Baseball Park on February 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Ryan Braun, the most recent National League Most Valuable Player, also recently became the first player in MLB history to have a successful appeal of a suspension.

Braun had a great 2011 season, leading his Milwaukee Brewers to a National League Central title and the NL Championship Series. He won the NL MVP and had one of the best years of any Brewer in a long time.

However, he has been unable to enjoy any of that recently, because of the drama that has surrounded his 50-game suspension over the last few months.

Braun submitted a urine sample on October 1, 2011, the same day that he and the Brewers opened up the postseason against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

However, there was a delay in the delivery of Braun’s sample to Federal Express. The MLB requires that samples be delivered the same day of the testing so that nothing can happen to the samples in between.

Braun learned on October 19, 2011, that his sample tested positive for higher testosterone levels. The Washington Post reported Braun's positive test was at a ratio that was the highest recorded in MLB history.

Obviously, there was a problem with Braun’s sample. The MLB originally suspended Braun for 50 games, but he immediately appealed that decision.

After a waiting period for the appeal process, Braun found out a few days ago that his appeal was granted...for the first time in Major League Baseball history.

Braun has dealt with the entire situation as a class act. From Braun’s point of view, he took a standard urine test and later found out that it took over 40 hours to be delivered. Not only is that against Major League Baseball’s rules, but it also has to be upsetting that it came back positive for increased testosterone.

The 2011 NL MVP failed a drug test back in October.
The 2011 NL MVP failed a drug test back in October.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Braun makes the point that anything could have been done to that sample in a 44-hour period. This case has proven that there is a problem with MLB’s drug testing system and with the way the public treats players.

In the past few months, Braun’s name has been trashed over and over again. The public fully believed that Braun was guilty and many wanted to strip him of his awards.

The entire process of this case has shown that the way Major League Baseball deals with these types of cases is flawed. It is completely backwards from what it should be.

America was built upon the whole “innocent until proven guilty” standard, but in recent memory it has been exactly the opposite. Braun was definitely considered guilty until he was proven innocent a few days ago.

The way that Braun has dealt with this entire issue has shown his maturity and ability to deal with controversy.

Braun, as any other player would have, defended his name throughout the entire process and showed nothing but professionalism.

After the news came out that Braun’s appeal was approved, he went to the Brewers facility and had a meeting with his teammates to explain everything. The leadership and intangibles shown through, proving how much Braun has grown has a player.

He undoubtedly answered some questions that his peers had, and proved to his ownership that he is a leader for the entire Brewers organization.

Braun has apologized to his teammates, coaches and organization numerous times since the end of this ordeal came, and has shown nothing but maturity the past couple of days.

However, the countrywide perspective of Braun is still somewhat skeptical—it's hard not to be after everything that was reported about this player over the last few weeks. Braun’s reputation and everything that he has worked for his entire life came into jeopardy with this case, and it is a shame that his integrity is still in question.

The fact is that Braun was proven innocent through his appeal, and everyone should act as though he was never accused. If Braun’s appeal had been declined, then everyone would have been satisfied, believing that he was guilty and moving on.

Since Braun was indeed proven innocent, many cannot accept that, and who can blame them?

Baseball has been known for substance abuse in recent years, and I don't think anyone believes that players like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire are innocent. The precedent has been set that a lot of Major League Baseball’s stars have taken illegal substances in the past, and therefore any one player accused of it now is guilty.

Braun, sadly, falls into that category and, despite the case going his way, will likely always be questioned for that October urine sample.

Braun will likely go on to have a fantastic 2012 season and probably lead the Brewers to a competitive campaign. He will continue to have success in his MLB career and could go down as one of the best players in history.

However, the MLB has to work out a better way of handling this type of situation so that, in the future, a superstar is not questioned for something he never did.