Friday, February 24, 2012

Ryan Braun pulls the Reverse Al Capone

Thanks to Ryan Braun pulling the Reverse Al Capone, yesterday might be the highlight of the season for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. I obviously don't want to throw dirt on the season just yet but Braun avoiding a 50-game suspension on a technicality could go down as the high point for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. For those that don't understand what I mean by the Reverse Al Capone, the government incarcerated Al Capone on tax evasion as opposed to the hundreds of much more brutal crimes Capone most likely committed. Braun got his positive test for performance enhancing drugs reversed on a chain-of-custody technicality as opposed to proving he did not in fact test positive, which is why I will always refer to it as the Reverse Al Capone.

Saturday, October 1, 2011 will now go down as one of the most famous days in Cheesehead sports history. Following the Brewers winning an afternoon home game to open their 2011 post-season campaign over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dino I. Laurenzi Jr. collected samples from Braun and two other unnamed players. Laurenzi left Miller Park at 5 pm but did not deliver the samples to FedEx for 44 hours despite the fact that he could have taken the sample to a number of FedEx locations that Saturday night.

As we all know by now, Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone based on the sample collected by Laurenzi. Positive test results are supposed to remain private until after a decision on the player's appeal is rendered. ESPN found out about Braun's positive test result and reported the test result.

An arbitration panel comprised of three individuals (Shyam Das, Robert Manfred, and Michael Weiner) heard Braun's appeal. Although the opinion has not become public record, it is thought that Das ruled in favor of Braun because he felt that Laurenzi didn't follow the proper protocol and thus there was a breakdown in the chain-of-custody.

I am absolutely stunned that Braun became the first major league baseball player to actually get a positive test result overturned under MLB's new testing program. As a Brewer fan I am happy with the result but I honestly think the set-up of the arbitration panel needs to be reformed. MLB would be much better off having three neutral arbitrators instead of putting the decision solely it in the hands of Shyam Das, the one true neutral arbitrator on the panel. The other two members of the panel are an MLB rep (Robert Manfred) that is always going to vote against overturning a drug suspension suspension and an MLBPA rep (Michael Weiner) that is always going to vote for overturning the suspension. For those that follow the United States Supreme Court, Shyam Das is Justice Kennedy.

During Braun's speech today he said: "If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say 'I did it'."

I wish Braun wouldn't get so high and mighty about this. I respect that Braun has always been consistent with his message. In fact I give Braun a ton of credit for shooting down the STD treatment rumors but for Braun to say that if he unintentionally did this he would just accept the punishment is disingenuous at best.

Apparently every time a Brewer is on the base paths they are timed. Braun claims that his speed did not increase throughout the season. When you compare these numbers, I guess Braun's numbers were virtually identical throughout the entire season. I am not sure if that includes Braun falling on his face on his inside-the-park HR attempt though. Oddly that tumble happened exactly one month before the fateful drug test.

If that doesn't convince you, Braun claims he did not gain or lose a pound throughout the entire 2011 season. Apparently the Brewers administer a weekly weigh-in and Braun's consistency on the base paths was matched by his consistency on the scale.

I am sure there are various explanations for why Laurenzi didn't take the sample FedEx. Braun claims that he tested negative at least 25 times throughout his career. Unfortunately for Braun that has nothing to do with the next test, just ask Rafael Palmeiro. Also no one is talking about the fact that two other Brewers were tested. Those other player's samples were presumably treated just like Braun's sample so how come their samples didn't test positive?

Did Braun get off on a technicality? For sure.

Did Braun take PEDs? Obviously we will never know but if I had a gun to my head I would have to say yes.

As I highlighted in my spring training preview of the Milwaukee Brewers, barring a catastrophic injury to one of their franchise guys (Braun, Gallardo, Greinke, or Ramirez) I actually think the team is in pretty good shape to contend for the lackluster N.L. Central. Throw in that MLB is considering adding another playoff team for each league and the Brewer could feast on the basement dwellers of the N.L Central (Astros, Cubs, & Pirates) to spring board them into the playoffs in 2012.

No matter what happens this year or even through the next decade that Ryan Braun plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, fans of the Brewers need to send Das and Lorenxo a huge thank you because Braun would have been a decade long drag on the organization if he didn't pull the Reverse Al Capone.

No comments:

Post a Comment