Ryan Braun will be coming to the Baseball Writers dinner Jan. 21 to pick up his National League MVP award. At least that’s what we hear. His position is that he did nothing wrong, and thus, has nothing to hide.
We hope that’s right. And maybe it is. Everyone should be presumed innocent. And in this case, we’re talking about a player who has been seen for a while as one of the brightest lights in the game, both on and off the field. Additionally, it shouldn’t even be known yet that he failed a test for a banned substance.
The Brewers star is the first major league player to have his confidentiality breached. So maybe he becomes the first to win a hearing and save himself the 50 games suspension (although, that part won’t be easy).
Braun certainly has expressed a lot of belief in his own innocence in the brief comments he’s made publicly, including one in which he said, “It’s BS.’’ It’s too bad that’s about all we’ve heard from Braun, as he is one of the most articulate players in the game. We will assume that he’s probably saving his best material for the hearing.
But what will he say then? Word around the game is that he will press “multiple issues,’’ including the testing process itself. That’s good. Because to win the case, he has to point out a flaw in the system.
One thing he is expected to point to is the test claim of a bizarrely high spike in testosterone, which was apparently something like three times what’s been seen before; it will likely to be argued that it must therefore be caused by testing error. Braun obviously passed all the tests before this one, and he passed a subsequent test he ordered upon learning about the failed one a couple weeks after taking the original sometime in early October when his Brewers team was just embarking on the playoffs.
No one has done it at the major league level yet, but one minor leaguer won enough benefit of doubt in a hearing to win his case. (We don’t know who that is because his confidentiality wasn’t breached.) Braun will try to become the first at a hearing that ix expected to be just after that BBWAA dinner, Jan. 23 or 24, according to Lance Allen of WTMJ-4 in Milwaukee.
It sounds like Braun may try a number of avenues here, including the possibility that a medication to combat a private medical issue is to blame, as TMZ initially reported. But while that argument could win some points with the public, that isn’t going to win the day, or the hearing.
Baseball deserves credit for giving players a chance at a hearing (unlike the NFL). But it’s still considered a “strict liability’’ situation, which means it’s up to Braun to prove he’s been somehow wronged. He’s enlisted top people (both for p.r. and legal help), and that’s a good thing because everyone deserves their day in court. Braun should get his.