Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, a five-time all-star and former National League MVP and rookie of the year, was handed a 65-game suspension Monday for unspecified “violations” of the collective bargaining and joint drug agreement. The 29-year-old will miss the rest of the season without pay and is the first major league player to be disciplined as a result of Major League Baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis, a South Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs.
“I realize now that I have made some mistakes,” Braun said in a statement released by MLB. “I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”
Braun avoided a 50-game suspension last year when an arbitrator overturned his positive drug test for elevated testosterone levels because he and his legal team successfully argued that his urine sample was incorrectly handled. But Braun and other major leaguers, including Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera, were subsequently linked to Biogenesis, a now-defunct clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., in a January report by the Miami New Times.
“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions,” said Rob Manfred, an executive vice president for MLB who has overseen the investigation. “We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter.”
Some players in the majors are angry with and dissapointed in Braun and believe the punishment is too lenient.
“I think everybody’s frustrated, especially the players. I think we all feel a little bit cheated,” Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders said.
Los Angeles Dodgers utility man Skip Schumaker thinks Braun should hand over his MVP award to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who finished second in the 2011 balloting.
“Watching him talk right now makes me sick,” Schumaker said. “I can’t stand it. It needs to be eliminated from the game. I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I’ll be taking down. I don’t want my son identifying what I’ve worked so hard to get to and work so hard to have, I don’t want him comparing Braun to me.
“In my opinion, he should be suspended — lifetime ban. One strike, you’re out. It’s enough. It’s ridiculous,” Schumaker added. “He lied to a lot of people. I was convinced, after that MVP, that he didn’t do it.”. . .
“I talked to a lot of the guys and we think the penalties aren’t harsh enough,” Saunders said. “They should step up the penalties even more. That will really set the tell-tale sign that if you cheat and do get caught, you’re going to lose a lot of money.
“I think it should have been a year’s suspension, at least. Just my take on it. I don’t get why guys have to do that stuff.”
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been a staunch supporter of Braun and even tweeted in February that he would put next year’s salary on Braun’s innoncence.
Throughout the initial suspension in late 2011 and Braun’s successful appeal, Rodgers was in Braun’s corner, even as Braun delivered the verbal equivalent of Rafael Palmiero’s wagging finger.
“MLB and cable sports tried to sully the reputation of an innocent man,” Rodgers tweeted at the time. “Picked the wrong guy to mess with. Truth will set u free #exonerated … When its guilty until proven innocent, all u need are the facts. #howsthecrowmlb #exonerated …
“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 ..let the people hear the truth. Should get interesting. #exonerated #shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”
Rodgers didn’t stop there — and that was drawing attention Monday night after Braun accepted a 65-game suspension from baseball in the wake of the Biogenesis investigation. Back in February, Todd Sutton, a fan, tweeted Rodgers to ask if he really believed Braun didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs on Twitter.
“I’d put my salary next year on it,” Rodgers tweeted back, along with “#ponyup #exonerated.”