Opening with a joke seems really inappropriate on a day like this, so let's just skip ahead to the news.
As you've likely heard by now, ESPN's Outside The Lines and others are reporting that Ryan Braun failed a test for performance enhancing drugs in October and faces a 50 game suspension to open the 2012 season (FanShot). Mark Attanasio has issued a statement supporting the league's drug policy, but also Braun.
Braun is currently appealing the suspension via arbitration and it's worth noting that the volume of things we don't actually know at this point is significant. Braun and representatives are claiming that a second test came back negative, although there is some question about what exactly that reflects. Will Carroll of Sports Illustrated has the most thorough look I've seen at the process that led us to this point and the questions that remain. Jon Heyman says the appeal could take weeks and we probably won't hear much from either side while it's ongoing.
Meanwhile, I would guess the most frustrating part of this for Braun is the inability to publicly defend himself. Braun says he's eager to tell his side of the story but can't comment publicly while the appeal process is still ongoing.
Here's some reaction from around the web:
- High Heat Stats says Braun is "MLB's greatest fallen hero."
- Babes Love Baseball is taking back the positive things they've said about Braun recently.
- Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk notes that this is a PR disaster for MLB.
- Jon Heyman called it "a very sad day for baseball."
- Ken Rosenthal says that even if Braun isn't guilty, baseball will never be completely clean.
- There are people out there pointing out that no one has ever successfully appealed an MLB drug suspension, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes that these tests are supposed to be confidential so there's no way to actually know that.
- Jason Brannon of Baseball Nation has a look at what happens when a false positive test is more likely than an actual positive.
- Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar appears to have struggled to write about this as much last night as I did today.
- Richard Justice of MLB.com says Braun deserves the benefit of the doubt.
- Braun's offseason neighbor, longtime NBA player Reggie Miller, says Braun told him the test was "bogus" and says you "can only believe a man for his word" and "truth will always come out."
- Peter Gammons seems to be playing the "innocent until proven guilty" card too.
- David Pinto wonders what would have motivated Braun to use PEDs.
- The BBWAA does not plan to strip Braun of the 2011 NL MVP.
- morineko noted that Logan Schafer's chances of making the opening day roster just jumped significantly.
- Try as I might, I can't imagine a more positive outlook on this than Toby Harrmann's.
In the end, if the positive test holds, has to rank among the most disappointing Wisconsin-centric sports stories, ever.
And if, in the end, Braun is exonerated, somebody should get sued for enough money to give Fielder a 20-year contract. #Brewers
We don't know what's going to come of this. At the moment we don't know what's true and not true. If the accusations at hand are correct then Braun and the Brewers have a lot of explaining to do and a demolished reputation that's going to take a long time to rebuild. Braun's reputation, however, has already been soiled simply by the accusation. Even if it turns out that the test was simply a false positive, these reports (and the endless amount of speculation out there despite everything we don't know) are going to haunt Braun for the rest of his life.
That brings me to another point: Yesterday's reporting removed nearly every shred of anonymity and confidentiality from a process that is anonymous and confidential for very good reason. Tom Haudricourt talked to a source yesterday that is confident the suspension will be overturned and Braun will be vindicated. Braun deserved an opportunity to be cleared of charges without being punished in the court of public opinion. He's no longer going to get one.
Most of it seems small and insignificant at this point, but as long as I'm here I guess I might as well tell you about some of the other stuff going on this weekend.
The Brewers and Aramis Ramirez are taking a weekend break from their negotiations regarding a possible contract. The two sides are expected to talk again early next week, although the Brewers might be a little distracted now.
Mike Rivera is back in the organization on a minor league deal (FanShot). He played in one major league game last season but spent most of the year backing up Martin Maldonado in AAA, and unless something changes in the coming weeks that's probably what he'll be doing again in 2012.
Here are today's Prince Fielder notes:
- Tom Haudricourt passed along a report saying the Rangers are interested in either Prince Fielder or Casey McGehee to play first base next season. No offense to McGehee, but that's a weird pairing. It's like saying you're hungry and are interested in either a steak or a hot dog.
Lookout Landing has a look at Fielder's baserunning and defense.
In the minors:
- Baseball America is reporting the Brewers have signed pitcher Brian Baker to a minor league deal. He's spent the last seven years pitching in the Rays organization (including 2010 and 2011 in AAA) but posted a 6.62 ERA in 25 outings in 2011.
- Mike Rivera celebrated his new contract with the Brewers by hitting a two run hoer in Aguilas' 3-1 win over Gigantes last night. You can read about that and more in today's Winter League Notes.
Matthew Stucko of MiLB.com has an interview with Scooter Gennett.
Cardinals: Signed shortstop Rafael Furcal to a two year, $14 million deal.
Cubs: Claimed infielder Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Royals.
Diamondbacks: Acquired pitchers Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow from the Athletics for pitchers Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook and outfielder Collin Cowgill and signed pitcher/outfielder Jason Lane to a minor league deal.
Mariners: Signed pitchers Guillermo Quiroz and Scott Patterson to minor league deals.
Marlins: Designated pitcher Clay Hensley for assignment.
Pirates: Designated pitcher Jeremy Hefner for assignment.
Rangers: Signed infielder Alberto Gonzalez to a minor league deal.
Rays: Signed pitcher Matt Moore to a five year, $14 million deal to buy out his first two arbitration seasons.
Reds: Signed pitchers Sean Gallagher and Luis Atilano to minor league deals.
Tigers: Acquired pitcher Ryan Perry from the Nationals for pitcher Collin Balester.
Jason Lane has been an outfielder for all of his 13 professional seasons (including six as an Astro) but the Diamondbacks apparently intend to move him to the mound in 2012. I remember Lane having a strong arm, so it'll be an interesting experiment for the 35 year old.
Today in baseball economics: After signing Albert Pujols, the Angels made the headlines again this week when it was reported that they've signed a new TV contract worth $150 million annually over the next 20 years. For comparison purposes, the Twins' current TV deal is worth $12 million over eight years. The Brewers' deal is probably similar.