Ryan Braun: Best, Worst and Strangest Takes on Brewers Star from Around the Web
Milwaukee Brewers star left fielder and reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun won his appeal of a pending 50-game suspension for a positive PED test on Thursday. Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was the first to break the news on Twitter.
And then, as they are known to do on the Internet, people reacted.
The news of Braun's successful appeal stirred up one heck of a storm. Braun's name was a trending topic on Twitter seemingly for hours, with people of all professions and from all walks of life chiming in on the news. Before long, the columns started coming. They are still coming.
There's a lot of Ryan Braun reaction out there if you venture to look. But if you want a sampler of all of it, you've come to the right place.
All you have to do is start the show...
Twitter Makes Light of the News
If you're on Twitter, you know how hard it is for people on Twitter to take things seriously. The president could get shot tomorrow, and I guarantee you there would be trolls on Twitter joking about it.
People didn't mind making light of the Braun situation. Just to give you an idea, this is a collection of the most notable tweets about Thursday's news.
The fake Buster Olney account chimed in with a Tony La Russa joke:
TONY LARUSSA, TRYING TO EXPEDITE THE RYAN BRAUN TEST PROCESS, CALLED FEDEX AND GOT JIMMY JOHN'S INSTEAD.
The fake John Madden account took the news as a chance to jab at ESPN:
Coming up on SportsCenter.. Ryan Braun beats his suspension, but how good would Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow be on steroids?
Ryan Braun has won his appeal after providing evidence of "Just look at the size of LaRon Landry."
SportsPickle.com urged Braun to try another sport:
Keep your good luck going, Ryan Braun. Sign up for the 2012 Tour de France.
Deadspin's headline pretty much hit the nail on the head:
Why did Ryan Braun win his appeal? A drug tester thought FedEx was closed and put Braun's pee in his fridge overnight. deadspin.com/5887840/
Go ahead and laugh all you want. Go ahead and not laugh all you want. On Twitter, you can do whatever the hell you want.
Aaron Rodgers Calls out MLB and the Media
Braun and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, easily the two most popular athletes in Wisconsin, happen to be good buddies.
When news of Braun's appeal first broke, Rodgers wasted no time at all coming to his buddy's defense. He said on his weekly radio show (h/t ESPNMilwaukee.com) that Braun had his full support. He also said that he was not at all happy with the way in which the appeal had been leaked to the media.
“You would think that there would be some sort of confidentiality surrounding the situation, because he is appealing it," he said.
When it was announced that Braun had won his appeal, Rodgers went directly to Twitter to follow up that comment:
Rodgers didn't stop there. He added this:
I'll let my buddy take it from here. All u idiots talking about technicality open up for some crow too.See if Espn gets pressured not to..
As you can tell, he was fired up. The Rodgers we heard from on Tuesday is not a Rodgers we're used to hearing from.
Rodgers' comments caused a storm all on their own. If you care to Google his name, you'll find quite the assortment of stories about his Braun tweets.
Because, you know, they matter. Apparently.
Young Brewers Blogger Gets the Props He Deserves
Want to know something weird? Word came out that Braun's test was mishandled well before the news became official on Thursday, and the scoop was revealed by a 16-year-old blogger.
Nope. This is not a joke.
Curt Hogg writes for MLBlogs.com, and he reported nine days before the big news broke that Braun's test "was mishandled, thus likely altering the results of the test."
Hogg had this on good authority from an anonymous source who is familiar with a former college teammate of Braun's.
Had I read it at the time, I probably would have rolled my eyes. Reading it now, I want to reach through my computer screen and give Hogg a high-five. He did good.
Ken Rosenthal and the Triumph of Due Process
There was a lot of uproar over how Ryan Braun managed to beat MLB's suspension. It wasn't clear initially how he managed to beat it, but once word got out that Braun had beaten the MLB with a protocol argument and not scientific argument, a lot of people cried foul.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com chose to take a level-headed look at the way in which Braun achieved victory. People can whine and complain all they want about how Braun fought his suspension, but Rosenthal points out that Braun was entitled to fight it in his own way:
It’s called due process, folks. You might not like or even trust the result. But the rules were collectively bargained. And management and the players’ union jointly appointed the independent arbitrator, Shyam Das.
Rosenthal went on to ask a very simple question of his readers: "What if it was you?"
There's only one answer to that question. Nobody would have laid back and accepted their fate; they would have fought back too.
Score one for Rosenthal for perfectly capturing the reality of the situation.
Mike Lupica Argues Braun Has Not Been Exonerated
Soon after the word of his positive test had leaked, Braun made it quite clear to the public that he was going to maintain his innocence throughout the process.
In a statement issued shortly after the news of his triumphant appeal had broke, Braun said (via MLBlogs.com) that he and his reps "were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side."
Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News wrote that he was not convinced. He did not see the decision for what many took it to be.
Understand something: The overturning of Braun’s 50-game suspension doesn’t mean Braun is clean, no matter what he says or how many times he says it or what he expects reasonable people to believe.
He wasn’t exonerated. He was acquitted. There’s a difference.
Lupica is in the right with these comments. Braun won his case because, essentially, it was ruled that Major League Baseball screwed up its own case. This wasn't so much a declaration of guilt or innocence so much as it was a no contest.
Bob Nightengale Writes That It Wasn't All About Protocol
You're probably getting the idea that the perception among baseball fans—and, well, everyone—is that Braun beat MLB because of a loophole. You and I both would have done the same if in his shoes, but that doesn't mean Braun is going to be forgiven. That's just how it is.
However, it's not that simple. Bob Nightengale of the USA Today had a significant scoop:
Two people close to Braun and familiar with his appeal, but unauthorized to speak publicly about the process, acknowledge the sample collection was flawed. But they contend there were several factors in Braun's succesful [sic] grievance. There was no other proof that he took an illegal substance, and his 20/1 TE ratio [hormone testosterone to the hormone epitestosterone], they said, was impossibly elevated for an acceptable sample. A TE ratio of less than 4/1 is considered normal.
Braun told USA TODAY in December that the result was "B.S." and never relented in his innocence.
So despite the fact Braun's camp won because of a protocol loophole, Braun had a legit gripe that there was something fishy about his positive test.
Alas, exactly what led to it being fishy is something we'll never know. Because of that, the perception that is already in place will likely remain in place.
Jeff Passan Writes About the Blow to Major League Baseball
If you want truly great commentary on Major League Baseball, the first person you should turn to is Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. When something big happens, he doesn't disappoint.
Naturally, Passan didn't disappoint with his take on the Braun ruling. Like Rosenthal, Passan took care to point out that Braun beat Major League Baseball fair and square. He beat the league because of a loophole, sure, but that's what "brilliant lawyering" will do for you.
The meat of Passan's column is about what Thursday's ruling means for MLB. He pulled no punches:
[The Braun case] was supposed to prove testing works. Instead, it exposed the program’s fallibility.
No longer is there any incentive for Braun to explain away his T:E ratio or the testosterone in his urine, not when he can claim innocence. He won Thursday, though that’s not the real shame of the Braun case.
It’s that for almost seven years, ever since Congress fricasseed Selig and embarrassed the sport, baseball has tried to clean itself up. And that no matter how hard it tries, no matter how noble its intentions, no matter how much it cares, baseball’s War on Drugs may be just as futile as America’s.
Bud Selig said he wanted the toughest. He got it. And it still wasn’t tough enough.
Passan said what a lot of people were thinking: The ruling was a win for Braun, but a crushing defeat for Major League Baseball.
Tom Verducci Writes That It's Not All Doom and Gloom
Passan isn't wrong in saying that Thursday's ruling is a huge wake-up call and a setback for Major League Baseball, but Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated chose to look at the situation in a slightly more positive light.
Verducci admits that MLB's drug-testing program took a hit, but he pointed out that it's not like the whole thing needs to be blown to smithereens and rebuilt from scratch.
Baseball's drug policy is, in fact, an industry leader in many ways. But Selig and [MLB union chief Rob Manfred] know that in the theatre of drug testing—and yes, like airport screening, the theatre of the process is integral to its effectiveness—the policy took a broadside hit. The public sentiment is either that a player can do an end-run around the system if he lawyers up well enough or that even 10 years after the owners and players agreed to drug testing they can't even get the collection part of it right.
The entire drug policy and all past suspensions, despite the knee-jerk hysteria, are not blown to bits by this ruling. This was one case, argued very narrowly. Braun found the smallest of loopholes and slipped through it.
Though MLB took a bad blow, making sure it never happens again should be simple enough. In fact, Braun's victory did MLB a favor in that it showed the league where its loopholes are.
Not exactly ideal, but MLB has no choice but to make the best of a bad situation.
Buster Olney Writes About Players Who Are for and Against Braun
So how do other MLB players feel about Braun's appeal victory?
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, there are two different camps.
On the one hand, there are those who are on Braun's side:
Some players have viewed the past appeal results—no player had ever won an appeal before Braun—as a weakness of the system, rather than a strength. From their perspective, the fact that a player won an appeal is a good thing, a sign that the system works.
On the other hand, there are players who are not on Braun's side, and these players are pretty ticked off:
I spoke with veteran players on Thursday night who were angry with how this played out. They want a strong, unyielding testing system, a protocol and appeal process that will be definitive in the aftermath of a positive test. "It's B.S.," one player said...
So Braun has friends among his peers, and there are also those who apparently feel cheated.
This is not a surprise. The hard part will be finding a way to meet those who think the system works and those who think the system failed halfway. That's up to Major League Baseball.
Ray Ratto Wags His Finger at Major League Baseball
Exactly where MLB goes from here remains to be seen, but one thing that got a lot of people's attention was MLB's reaction to the ruling.
Specifically, what a lot of people took issue with was MLB's admission that it "vehemently" disagreed with the arbitrator's ruling. The league simply did not approve. In fact, it was ticked.
For that, Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com was ticked at MLB.
As he always does, Ratto told it like it was:
Rather than announce that Braun had won his appeal and had been found not guilty according to the procedures and protocols set up and approved BY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, it chose instead to swine-slap Das’ ruling, deciding that when they say guilty, they mean guilty.
Now we don’t know whether Braun hornswoggled the arbitrator, the system or nobody at all. We won’t call him innocent or guilty. We will say, though, that he played by baseball’s rules, he followed baseball’s procedures, he went through baseball’s process, and he was found not guilty.
Thus, it is inconceivably bad form for baseball to scream about the result just because they wanted it to be something else. The process is supposed to be about finding the truth, not getting the desired result. The desired result IS the truth, and baseball’s system says Braun didn’t do what he was accused of doing. MLB’s reaction, though, shows that for it, testing isn’t about determining a player’s guilt or innocence, it’s about nailing guys.
He's right, you know. Major League Baseball could have taken its beating in stride. Instead, the league chose to kick and scream.
Bad form, indeed.
Craig Calcaterra Wags His Finger at Fans
Ratto chose to wag his finger at MLB, and Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk chose to wag his finger at fans who are upset with the Braun ruling.
Calcaterra writes that he is "dumbfounded at the cynicism and intellectual dishonesty" shown by those who are taking this as an opportunity to cast Braun as a "PED-using villain."
His argument is simple: The same people who are calling Braun a user are the same people who were pleading for MLB to install a rigorous testing program. It did, and that program failed in the Braun case.
Those who argue that Braun is a user are pining for the result they wanted, totally ignoring the result itself. We don't have a result because protocol wasn't followed.
"It’s the entire process that lends drug testing its legitimacy, not just part of it," writes Calcaterra.
And then this:
But hey, if you still want to crap on Braun—if you still want to say 'but his testosterone levels were high, so he’s suspect' or 'MLB has egg on its face because the testing failed'— fine. Do so. It’s a free country. But if you do so, admit that you do it because you simply don’t like the results here. And spare me any whining about the past, and about how Major League Baseball was so lax in testing for so many years before now. Because as is evidenced by your Ryan Braun reactions, you wouldn’t have cared regardless.
Skeptical fans, you've been told.
Ryan Braun Speaks
So what does the man himself think of all this?
Well, he pretty much spelled it all out in a news conference on Friday. He held nothing back.
"The simple truth is that I'm innocent," said Braun, a not-so-subtle comeback aimed at his various doubters.
"If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say I did it," he said. "I would bet my life this substance never entered my body."
To his credit, Braun also realized that he played the role of a canary in a coal mine throughout this whole process. He wants his situation to make a lasting difference.
"We need to make sure that we get it right," he said. "Today is about making sure this never happens to anybody else who plays this game."
He added: "Are there changes that should be made? I believe yes."
As a whole, Braun's message was simple: "The truth is on my side."
Doubt Is Already Setting In
Ryan Braun has maintained his innocence, he was cleared of any wrongdoing, and he says the truth is on his side.
Nevertheless, he'll never be able to convince everyone. At least one of his peers has already fired a shot at him.
“Ryan Braun is out there saying this shows he is innocent,” one Met said. “Does that mean O.J. Simpson is innocent, too?"
So it goes.