To the casual fan, Ryan Braun’s positive test for a performance-enhancing substance may sound like a broken record. But the magnitude of this particular case could not be greater for Major League Baseball and its players — two parties still trying to shed the stigma of the so-called “steroid era.”
The odds are stacked against the newly-crowned National League MVP. No player who has appealed a positive test has ever had their case overturned. But players association leader Michael Weiner is urging fans to pause before declaring one of the game’s bright young stars a cheater.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Weiner said the drug agreement with MLB is in place to protect a player from “a rush to judgment,” and that “fairness dictates that Ryan Braun be treated no differently.”
If Braun’s positive test is not overturned and he is handed a 50-game suspension, the questions that follow will be numerous. Should a re-vote be cast for NL MVP? Should it matter, since Braun’s positive test reportedly came in October, after most of the ballots were already submitted? Should he retain the award, since previous admitted steroid users were allowed to keep theirs?
The answers will be interesting to watch. Because as Dirk Hayhurst (a major league pitcher most recently with the Tampa Bay Rays) writes, it still pays to use performance-enhancing drugs.
“No, I’m not saying to do steroids. I’m saying I understand why guys do it. Because the teeth to really punish players isn’t there, and it never will be. If you can get over making yourself an outcast and a villain, what do you really lose? Your reputation? A HOF bid? An agreement with the players union and the MLB that lets teams go after a players wallet for a positive test wont happen. ... Steroid use is a financial decision nearly every time. It’s a player saying, “I want to be the best so I can capitalize on being the best—now. If I don’t get caught, then I’ll worry about my longterm status. In the meantime, there is money to be made.”
And as the Post’s Dave Sheinin writes, everyone in and around baseball will be watching how this situation unfolds.
“MLB could have dropped the Braun case if the league felt there were extenuating circumstances that exonerated him — and if ever there was a player to whom you might give the benefit of the doubt, it was Braun. But the league didn’t drop the case. Perhaps it is trying to make an example of Braun. Whatever the case may be, there is a lot riding on the process.”
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