Well, it’s awfully disappointing that one of the league’s brightest young stars has tested positive for steroids. At least, it shows that the testing regime really works, and there’s no one who won’t be held accountable if they test positive.
According to ESPN, Ryan had a 4 to 1 or higher ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, and a further test on the same sample showed that the extra testosterone was artificial. Ryan requested a second test, which came up negative, but the second test was probably taken some weeks after the first one.
Ryan isn’t going to be railroaded. He has already filed to challenge the positive test, which will apparently be decided by an arbitrator.
It’s a tough blow for the Brewers and their fans, but I can’t say I’m entirely surprised. Not that I ever suspected Braun in particular, but I have always assumed that players are still taking substances they shouldn’t be, only in smaller quantities and with an eye to outsmarting the testing regime in place. Any little edge can mean millions of dollars at this level, and in Braun’s case, it may have helped him win his recently awarded MVP, assuming that he did, in fact, cheat.
My suspicion is that the players now most likely to test positive for steroids are the marginal major leaguers and the biggest stars. Obviously, the guys on the cusp of having major league careers and making the real money have a big incentive to do anything it takes to get an edge.
Among the top players, the egos are big, and the incentive to put up the biggest numbers is probably as much about being recognized as the best and getting the most glory, as it’s about making the extra millions.
For what it’s worth, Ryan Braun doesn’t have a ‘roids body, although he’s always had a noticeably thick neck, which to me always seemed like what you’d see in a football player rather than a baseball player. Of course, some of the guys who test positive really look the part, and others don’t.
Now for some completely unrelated topics — my most devoted reader has asked me what I think of the Angels signing Albert Pujols and the Giants trading for Angel Pagan from the Mets.
The Angels obviously gave Pujols too much money over too many years, but the signing makes a certain amount of sense as far as the Angels are concerned. They are a big market team that hasn’t been to the World Series since they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the Giants in 2002 (Ha! Ha! Ha! – it doesn’t hurt anymore thanks to 2010). Prince Albert obviously gives them a better chance of doing so in the next five years.
I’m interested to see how Pujols adjusts to American League ball. He’s great, but his career is almost certainly on a downward trajectory, and the AL is the better of the two leagues.
My guess is that Albert tops his 2011 .906 OPS four or five times over the ten years of the contract, but that he tops 1.000 only one more time. To me, Pujols is the modern day Jimmie Foxx, and the Beast did not age well. At least, Pujols isn’t a heavy drinker. [I was tempted to end the post here, because the 534 word count matched Foxx's career homerun total.]
I just can’t get excited about the Angel Pagan trade. Pagan is a better bet than Andres Torres in 2012, and even more so in the year or two afterward before he becomes a free agent, mainly because Pagan is younger. Otherwise, they look pretty similar.
The way I see it, the Giants gave up a little more than they got in order to improve in the outfield. Ramon Ramirez was really very good last year, and I think there’s a good chance he’ll end up as the Mets’ top set-up man in 2012.
I wonder if it was tough for the Mets to give up a Puerto Rican starter in Pagan. There are a lot of Puerto Ricans in New York, so Pagan must have had some box office appeal.
There was a time when teams definitely took ethnicity into account. Italian stars playing for the Yankees, the Giants looking for a Jewish star for years, the New York teams being the first to integrate. Nowadays, it probably comes down a lot more to simply winning and finding the players who can help a team win.
Andres Torres is also from Puerto Rico, and although I expect him to be role player for the Mets in 2012, I also expect the New York fans will like him. He was one of my favorite players during his time as a Giant. I liked the story of his late-found success, and he was just a class act and real professional. That kind of player is popular wherever he goes.