Last night, I was at work when I received a text message. It was from a friend and said simply, "Your boys on roids". I originally thought he meant the "your boy" part facetiously and perhaps someone I disliked had tested positive. I asked my friend who he was referring to but, when he didn't get back to me for a bit I checked ESPN really quick on my phone.
And that's when I saw the headline. "Breaking: Ryan Braun Tests Positive for PEDs, Could Face 50 Game Suspension" in that big red bar that signifies only the most important sports news.
If someone had looked over at me in that instant, I'm pretty sure they would have assumed that I had a family member pass away. I could feel the blood rush from my face, and I became a little lightheaded. Since I was bartending, I didn't really have any chance to look for more information. Not being able to find out what was happening was extremely frustrating. The man whom the Brewers had tagged as the face of the franchise was on the verge of potentially having his entire reputation destroyed, and I still had another six hours left in a shift that afforded me no possibility of checking the news.
Once I was finally done, I tried to get as much information on the news as I could. Reading through everything, I started to feel sick. What's funny, though, is that despite trying to find as much information as possible, and despite reading through everything that was posted in this morning's impromptu mug, I still feel just as in the dark as I was when I first found out and was stuck at work.
We know that the MLB has been looking into this since October. We know that Braun demanded a second test after testing positive in his first. We know that the results came back negative in the second test. We know that other players have tested positive only to successfully fight a conviction/suspension, however those players had never had their names released to the media. Outside of all that, is there anything else important that we need to know, though? Two important things are how long synthetic testosterone stays in one's body. I believe that has been answered to be around 4-5 weeks.
With that information, knowing how far apart the two tests were taken would be extremely important. If it's within those 4-5 weeks, Braun's case is looking fairly good. Braun appears to be very confident in his innocence, even reaching out to Brewers beat reporter Tom Haudricourt to proclaim his innocence. Numerous people close to the situation seem to think that Braun will be absolved of any wrongdoing. Braun himself can't speak out with his side of the story while he is appealing the first test, though he seems eager to discuss the matter.
It's agonizing not being able to know more information than we do, and it will probably continue to be frustrating as I'm not sure that we'll ever learn the full story to any degree of certainty. That may also make things difficult, as I have no idea what I'm going to think of Ryan Braun, whether he's innocent or guilty. If he's guilty, I don't know if I'm going to hate the guy for tarnishing the team like this, if my level of respect for him will just drop, or if my feelings won't really change at all.
If Braun is found innocent, my feelings might actually be even more conflicted. I wish that I could honestly say right now that, if Ryan Braun is indeed found innocent by the MLB, my feelings towards him won't change at all. But the truth is that I'm not sure. I can't say how I'll feel until I have to start showing some reaction towards him. There might always be that shred of doubt in my mind that maybe Ryan Braun isn't actually clean. I want to say that I won't think that, but the truth is that I just won't know until we get to that point.
And if I feel that way, I can only imagine how people who aren't fans of the Brewers will look at him. We, as Brewers fans, will be devouring any information we can get about the situation. Most fans of other teams won't. Well we may eventually see information showing that Ryan Braun is, without question, innocent, many other baseball fans might not see that information. Instead, they will only remember that he tested positive. Some might say that he cheated the system by being found innocent. And if Braun is actually suspended...well, let's just remember how most people felt about Barry Bonds.
If Ryan Braun is innocent, we could have gone this whole time without knowing he had a positive test at all. Instead, a journalist eager to break a big story decided to leak that Braun had tested positive before any decisions from the MLB had been handed down. That's bad journalism during a bad situation. Ryan Braun isn't the first player to be put in this spot, and other players have successfully defended themselves without their names getting out to the public. Ryan Braun hasn't been afforded that luxury, unfortunately. We can only hope that he is found innocent, and that his innocence is as widely reported as his positive test.
Maybe it was a mistake, and Ryan Zachary Braun was the one who tested positive.