Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was headed towards a completely normal offseason—unlike last winter when he was forced to defend himself against a positive test for illegal synthetic testosterone.
However, Braun's normal and quiet offseason came to a crashing halt on Tuesday.
In records obtained by Yahoo! Sports, Braun's name appeared in documents connected with the Miami-based anti-aging clinic that made news last week.
Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch allegedly dispersed PEDs to several MLB stars, including Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and others.
The original documents released in the Miami New Times article published last week spoke of monies owed, amounts of dosages of PEDs and other information linked to the original players listed in the documents.
Yahoo! Sports revealed on Tuesday that Braun's name appeared on three different documents as well.
Is Braun guilty or innocent?
Many officials within baseball believe that Braun got off on a technicality. In fact, MLB "vehemently disagreed" with the arbitration panel ruling in which arbitrator Shyam Das cast the deciding vote.
Baseball fans, however, seem to reserving judgement—for now.
Here is a breakdown of events and fans' comments associated with the latest news concerning Braun and his alleged link to PEDs.
After Yahoo! Sports revealed that Ryan Braun's name was listed on documents related to Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch, Braun was swift in his response.
“During the course of preparing for my successful appeal last year, my attorneys, who were previously familiar with Tony Bosch, used him as a consultant. More specifically, he answered questions about T/E ratio and possibilities of tampering with samples.
"There was a dispute over compensation for Bosch’s work, which is why my lawyer and I are listed under ‘moneys owed’ and not on any other list.
"I have nothing to hide and have never had any other relationship with Bosch.
I will fully cooperate with any inquiry into this matter.”
Chris Lyons was the attorney referred to by Braun whose name was mentioned in the documents.
As previously mentioned, MLB was not happy to have their 50-game suspension handed down to Ryan Braun overturned.
In fact, Shyam Das, the arbiter whose decision swung the vote in Braun's favor, was fired by MLB three months after the Braun appeal.
On Tuesday night, Sporting News writer Anthony Witrado tweeted that sources told him that MLB commissioner Bud Selig is still reeling over the decision a year later.
I've been told by MLB people that Ryan Braun's overturned suspension sticks in Bud Selig's side.
— Anthony Witrado (@WitradoSN) February 6, 2013
Witrado also tweeted that MLB would absolutely welcome another chance to go after Braun.
And if MLB ever got another chance to pin down Braun, they would "go after him hard and make sure what they had would stick."
— Anthony Witrado (@WitradoSN) February 6, 2013
Witrado obviously doesn't say it outright, but he is in essence saying that MLB won't ever hesitate to bring down Braun if given the chance.
On Wednesday morning, Buster Olney of ESPN chimed in with a message to fellow media members.
Olney urged his brethren to stop playing judge, jury and executioner with regard to their thoughts about the guilt or innocence of Ryan Braun.
Any columnist who wants to write about how open Braun seems and how he might be the innocent victim, again -- or for that matter, how bad this all looks -- please, go play a round of Angry Birds or go pack for spring training. Because you don't know what you're talking about.
An investigation is ongoing. There are many more questions to be answered. And there is so much we don't know, and a whole lot that nobody with a column or a radio show should say, about whether Braun is being truthful.
A cautionary tale, indeed.
As expected, Twitter exploded with the news that Ryan Braun's name was linked to Biogenesis owner Anthony Bosch and to possible PED use once again.
One particular tweeter referenced Braun's successful defense strategy.
Ryan Braun linked to PEDs again. Uh oh!! Let's see what technicality he can use this time.— Steve Kubitz (@Munkie91087) February 6, 2013
Another tweeter referenced Braun's apparent acting skills.
Can't wait for Ryan Braun's next performance, I mean press conference. Boy is that guy unlucky.— Bob Vorwald (@BobVorwald) February 6, 2013
One tweeter suggested that Braun's luck may be a bit on the bad side.
Ryan Braun’s name was on a piece of paper outside a strip club. Ergo, he probably killed a stripper.— Aaron Wells (@a_double) February 6, 2013
Yet another tweeter chimed in on Braun's inability to choose a more-respected consultant.
Ryan Braun says he was using Biogenesis as consultants? Right: if I was picking a consultant, I'd use the least reputable one around.— Ben Greenman (@bengreenman) February 6, 2013
Here's a tweeter who referenced Lance Armstrong's public admission of guilt.
Ryan Braun...what a cheater. He will probably have an apologetic interview with Oprah— Logan Walker (@lnwalker23) February 6, 2013
And finally, this tweeter is angry at Braun for simply assuming his fans aren't all that intelligent.
I really dislike Ryan Braun. Not so much for being a cheater but for being an arrogant liar. How dumb does he think we are?— Andrew (@cip23) February 6, 2013
Since the Ryan Braun story was just revealed by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday night, the full weight of the public's opinion is still in its infancy stage.
No doubt that will change in the coming days.
However, thus far the comments attached to several articles have completely run the gamut concerning Braun's guilt or innocence.
NBC Sports columnist Craig Calcaterra wrote on Wednesday about the backlash of Braun's name being revealed.
One commenter was quick to jump to Braun's defense:
Wow. Exhibit A of the moronic Internet heroes leading this Ryan Braun witch hunt. When Braun and his lawyers meet with the MLB to show their consultation reports with Bosch, and when Braun is in the midst of another MVP caliber season, we’ll see who will be eating the crow. And just like last year, all these Braun haters will disappear and have nothing to say.
Another commenter was even quicker in describing his incredulity:
So Braun just happened to consult with a hole in the wall, little known fraud of a “Doctor” who was supplying PED’s to Miami based ball players? Yea, and his piss sample tested positive because it wasn’t delivered to the lab right away. Not because he took PED’s. It all makes sense now. So who’s the idiot in this equation? Braun? His lawyers? His agents? Or all of them?
In the original article written by Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports that revealed Braun's tie to Biogenesis, over 2,650 comments had already been written as of noon on Wednesday.
One commenter wrote about how people outside of the Milwaukee area feel about Braun:
And this is news? Everybody outside of Milwaukee knew he was a fraud and only got off on a technicality...
Another commenter referenced another sport and the issues it faces with PED use:
There are no clean superstars in baseball. It's the same thing as Cycling. If you're good, you're dirty.
Some comments even trended toward the ridiculous:
It looks like Braun's eyes are about to pop out of his head all the time. I wonder if this can be linked to PED's?
Finally, this commenter discusses honesty:
Negative Negative Negative, Mr Braun...when MLB has taken the steps that MLB has taken to rid the players of ANY performance enhancing drug, the last thing an honest player does is consult a consultant. The first thing an honest player does should he have any ties with any enhancer (legal or illegal) is run as far away from that stuff as he can get so he has absolutely no ties to anything other than what the trainer in the clubhouse at the ball park should prescribe for him which should not be too much. An honest player does his best to keep his good name out of that environment and the only thing he uses to play baseball with his his God-given ability. End of Story. You are a cheater.
In all, comments attached to the original article were overwhelmingly against Braun.
The use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports has certainly cast an ugly shadow in terms of how fans view its participants.
Throughout Twitter, Facebook and various media outlets currently discussing Ryan Braun and his presumed guilt or innocence in alleged ties to PEDs, fans were vociferous in their response.
They loudly proclaimed that Braun got off in a technicality in his defense of a 50-game suspension handed down by MLB last February. The mention of his name on documents obtained by Yahoo! Sports in connection with Biogenesis was indeed not a coincidence.
The court of public opinion, however, is not a representation of the facts. Facts are being gathered in a current MLB investigation, and whether or not those facts conclusively prove Braun's guilt or innocence remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, we have certainly seen how the court of public opinion weighs heavily against the reputation of a player. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were both denied entry into the baseball Hall of Fame even though no evidence definitively proved either was guilty of using PEDs.
Because of the court of public opinion, these sure-time first ballot Hall of Fame players may never gain entry.
Lance Armstrong had seven Tour de France titles taken away and has been banned from cycling for life. The USADA published a report in October alleging that Armstrong "ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
The court of public opinion certainly weighed in on how it felt about Armstrong as well.
Jaded would be the word that best describes how people feel about Ryan Braun right now. They appear to be weary and tired of hearing denials. They're apathetic in their belief in Braun's latest defense to allegations.
And who can really blame them?
Braun could well come out on top again after MLB completes its investigation. He could go on to play another 10 years at the level he's competing at right now. He could continue winning awards and continue striving to help his Milwaukee Brewers remain in playoff contention year after year.
But the damage is clearly already done, and Braun can never change that.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.