Ryan Braun Biogenesis Scandal: Trying to Make Reason out of Chaos

Matt Goldberg@@tipofgoldbergCorrespondent IFebruary 7, 2013

Is Ryan Braun unfairly carrying extra wieght again?
Is Ryan Braun unfairly carrying extra wieght again?Marc Serota/Getty Images

The headline splashed across the Yahoo! Sports blogs highlighting a story by baseball writers Tim Brown and Jeff Passan.

Ryan Braun listed in records of alleged PED clinic; says he used Anthony Bosch as consultant

The piece posted and went viral about 36 hours ago, which to some of us more old-school guys feels like 36 days or maybe 36 years ago. The news has since been digested, analyzed (to use the word loosely) and spun a million ways, and some of those doing the analysis have even read the story.

And so it was that at a time when most of us baseball lovers were counting down the days till pitchers and catchers arrive, our beloved pastime was bathed in yet another scandal.

And not so incidentally, Ryan Braun, arguably the best player in the National League (with five straight All-Star appearances, a couple 30-30 seasons, a 2011 MVP and an even more impressive season last year that earned him a runner-up), was in the news againfor all the wrong reasons.

Admittedly, it is hard to know what to believe in this era of HGH, PEDs and all of these annoying acronyms that have destroyed the integrity of our beloved national pastime as the so-called Steroid Era seems to drag on and on. More to the point, it is even harder to know who to believe.

Didn't we just revisit the Steroid Era yesterday when the Baseball Writers Association of America collectively rejected every one of the (modern) candidates to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

And so it is that we try to put the various pieces of the latest puzzle together, and some people—including members of the media who have prominent platformsseem to do this with much more certainty than the rest of us.

There are some interesting pieces here that seem to connect Ryan Braun to PED (performance-enhancing drug) use.

  • Anthony (call me Tony) Bosch
  • Biogenesis
  • RB20-30K (Consultants' Fees...really?)
  • Jimmy Goins
  • University of Miami
  • A-Rod

Hmmm...A-Rod yet again?

And yes, Ryan Braun, yet again. Wasn't he the guy who got off on a technicality the last time around? Well, yes...technically, he did. But, more on that in a paragraph or three.

To some, there is not only smoke here, but a raging conflagration. Understandably, baseball fans have had enough of all of this, and I do count myself in that number. But, I also feel the responsibility to put some thought into my opinions, even the ones that I type in the comments section of other articles. I value accountability and integrity.

Admittedly, this whole era, and everything that surrounds it, is confounding to me. And depressing. Sure, part of me would love to eradicate all the cheaters from the game, for a variety of reasons. Quaint as it sounds, I'd like to believe in the sanctity of the game.

And even if there is very little of it nowadays, how about all of the players who are doing things the right way? And how about all of the kids who are watching and trying to make sense of it all, and to some, trying to find their own path to sports excellence?

For all of those reasons, I can't arrive at the viewpoint that players should just use whatever illegal supplements they want, as all of this is impossible to sort out or police adequately. Of course, many is the day when I do throw my hands and feet up in frustration and kind of believe this. At the other end of the spectrum, I'm also not ready to crucify any player that shows up on whichever list.

It certainly appears that Major League Baseball should, and will, investigate this latest scandal, and hopefully they will do so with integrity. In the meantime, and tough as it is to not join the chorus of self-appointed pontificators who already see a raging fire in this latest scandal involving Ryan Braun, I will reserve my judgment.

Sure, I'd like to hear more about why, per Braun's own explanation, his attorneys consulted the somewhat disreputable Bosch as a consultant for his successful appeal of what would have been a 50-game suspension at the start of the 2012 season. But as of now, it's still very early in this whole investigation.

It would be nice to write a snarky piece like Rob Neyer did yesterday for SBNation. Despite the sarcastic headline, "Ryan Braun: Poor guy just can't seem to catch a break", and abundant innuendo within the piece, Neyer also claims to be fair. "As always, I'm keeping an open mind," he writes.

Put it this way: I would not consider his column to be an open-minded, let's-wait-and-sort-it-all-out piece. Far from it, but I don't want to dwell further on Neyer, who is a skilled writer (even if his sarcasm and innuendo comes off as amateurish here).

Admittedly, it is hard to sit back and advocate for patience and reason. It's much easier to shoot from the lip. ESPN senior baseball writer Buster Olney, in his blog yesterday, cautioned his fellow writers to slow down and think things through before bloviating further:

Now, as we venture down a second round of questions about Braun, some advice for brethren in the media: Stop pretending you are human lie detectors.

Stop lending your credibility to his-dog-ate-his-homework stories, spoon-fed by lawyers or agents who won't go on the record. If you get the urge to write about how authentic Braun's response was, or how it makes sense, take a deep breath and step away from your iPad. But the same also is true if you are dead certain he's guilty. Because you're not.

By now, the great lesson that we should have all learned over the past 25 years is that unless you happen to be attached to the hip of the athlete every minute of every hour of every day, you don't know. You don't know whether he's guilty, you don't know whether he's innocent.

There's a lot to agree with here, even if Buster Olney (just last January), was/is the same writer who advocated that Braun should offer to give back his 2011 NL MVP Award while his suspension was still under appeal. To me, that sounds just as ridiculous now as it did 13 months ago.

And what about the court of public opinion and how the standards are different here than in a regular courtroom? Yes, the standards are different, but shouldn't we try to be fair and responsible here in this wide-open courtroom as well. In that light, wouldn't it be fair to point out what happened when Ryan Braun got off on that technicality last year.

What so many are missing is that regardless of what happened the last time around (and none of us here know what he has or hasn't taken) Braun was done a great injustice when that story was leaked.

None of us should have even known that he was facing a 50-game suspension, as that information was not allowed to be released until/unless his appeal was overturnedand of course, his appeal was upheld. It was MLB that acted like spoiled brats when his appeal was overturned, and I wouldn't doubt that they have a bit of a vendetta against him.

As for the technicality (chain of custody), itself, if you were fighting for your baseball life and reputation, wouldn't you expose the weakest link in MLB"s case against you? If you were tried in a real courtroom for a real crime, wouldn't you care that the evidence was both obtained and maintained according to the relevant laws? Did those two questions even require question marks? I didn't think so, either.

Having said all of this, of course I haven't been attached to Braun's hip, and don't know if he's trained and even made statements with integrity. I do know that he has performed at a Hall of Fame level since his remarkable Rookie of the Year partial season of 2007.

Other than the 2011/2012 scandal that we shouldn't have even known about, he has, ostensibly, done everything the right way in working his way into the conversation as one of the three or so best all-around players in the game.

Still, what's fair is fair, and it appears that this whole Bosch/Biogenesis connection should be probed further. Let's hope that it is investigated with integrity and even in the court of public opinion, that reasonable voices will prevail.

Despite our outrage over this latest scandal that is putting another stain on the game, and just as Spring Training is coming, don't we owe himand the game we loveat least that much?


Matt Goldberg is a diehard all-around sports fan and Philly sports fan, and co-author of the brand new book, A Snowball's Chance: Philly Fires Back Against the National Media.


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