Opening Day - 42 Days Away
Well folks, it's not quite Greinke-mas, but despite all the hullaballoo and questions that were raised by yesterday's decision that Braun does not have to serve a 50-game suspension, all Brewers fans have to be relieved that the team will not be without it's number one offensive threat and everyday left-fielder. Todd Rosiak points out that this is a best-case scenario for the Brewers.
Let's just jump right in here, there's plenty to cover:
We'll start with all the official statements, since there are kind of a lot of them:
- In case you missed it, here's Braun's.
- Here's the official Players Association Statement. Short and sweet and giving us the information that both sides agreed to forgo confidentiality and make the decision public.
- MLB Executive Vice President for Labor Relations Rob Manfred is the one that used the now famous "vehemently disagree" phrasing in condemnation of the results.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio also had a short, sweet statement that makes a not-so-subtle jab about the confidentiality breach.
Braun will be meeting the press in Maryvale at noon CST. No word yet on if that will be carried live on local TV or radio. Check back with the site for more Braun coverage at that point.
And here's a list of the basic, initial stories from the major sites reporting the news that the suspension had been overturned.
Braun's teammates were obviously very excited about this turn of events:
- Corey Hart went on WTMJ radio in Milwaukee to discuss the decision. Mostly it's just supportive statements about Braun and a weird comment that he did shirtless cartwheels to celebrate the ruling.
- John Axford and Nyjer Morgan took to Twitter to celebrate and express support, as did multiple other players in the league.
- McCalvy had some quotes from teammates in support of Braun
- but the most interesting bit in that piece is from new team union rep Chris Narveson (it was Craig Counsell) who said "Put it this way: This isn’t the first time we’ve had issues with the people [in charge of testing] in Milwaukee. There have been other issues with timing." I certainly hope McCalvy or another local reporter follows up on that dig.
I wasn't sure where to put this one because it makes a pretty bold statement about MLB and the results. This column from a Giants writer on NBCSports.com points out how off base MLB is in their handling of the verdict. He points out that these are MLB's own protocols and procedures they're now decrying, that Braun "played by baseball’s rules, he followed baseball’s procedures, he went through baseball’s process, and he was found not guilty" and that "MLB’s reaction, though, shows that for it, testing isn’t about determining a player’s guilt or innocence, it’s about nailing guys."
- The Braun camp, obviously, isn't happy with that summation of the events.
- Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball gives you some scenarios to consider and points out that the chain of custody failure means the whole sample was compromised.
- Craig Calcaterra calls the notion "bull" and points out that the chain of custody procedure is there to protect "integrity and efficacy of the drug testing process."
- On the flip side, however, South Side Sox calls it "The Ryan Braun Loophole" and takes a look at the MLB-MLBPA joint drug agreement, which just happens to be available online. According to their findings in the JDA, correct procedure WAS followed, leaving you to wonder what exactly the arbitrator heard to make him rule otherwise. So what's the correct answer? Unless Das chooses to speak to the media or issue a statement, we may never know.
- Jeff Passan does a similar breakdown
- as does Drew Silva at Hardball Talk.
- Discples of Uecker point out that the failed chain of custody made the situation incredibly uncertain and therefore Das couldn't "ruin a player’s career and reputation" when he couldn't be sure of the integrity of the sample. They also call the victory bittersweet for Braun.
- Will Caroll tweeted that Braun's team showed " Not just WHY it happened, but HOW." Let's hope we get some more information on this.
- It's All About the Money, Stupid points out that a player who tests positive can't call it a technicality, so doing so in the other direction probably isn't valid and points out that drug testing has just two results: atheletes who are caught and those who aren't. So those looking for further resolution are asking too much of the system.
There's plenty more to be found on this topic, including some interesting Twitter conversations, but if I posted everything said on this yesterday, the Mug would be longer than a novel. Suffice to say, one side thinks that this is akin to a murderer getting off because he wasn't read his Miranda rights while the other side points out that Braun's lawyers job wasn't to prove him innocent, but rather to ensure that he wasn't suspended and he argued the course that was most likely to gain him that goal - which isn't an admission of guilt.
The question of where this leaves Braun in terms of public perception was bandied about quite a bit yesterday. It seems like folks should at least wait to see what Braun himself has to say in today's presser.
- Danny Knobler at CBSSports says the system worked and Braun deserves the benefit of the doubt.
- While Jayson Stark at ESPN says the verdict cleared nothing at all.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times says it was a legal fight and Braun "found a way to win."
- Kevin Baxter at the LA Times does the best job and simply says that Braun still has to face the court of public opinion and is the only one I read that points out that Das has 30 days to provide a written opinion based on his findings. He also has quotes form Braun's HS coach.
I'd seen folks on Twitter and in comment sections raise the theory that Bug Selig's connection to the Brewers meant that Braun wouldn't serve a suspension, but Mike Lupica of the NY York Daily News is the first journalist I've seen make that accusation. He also makes it clear that he thinks Braun was acquitted, not exonerated and that Braun "beat the game."
I'm a little shocked by this and surprised I didn't see more chatter of this elsewhere, but the MLBlogs Network Plushdamentals blog actually had this story on Valentine's Day - so nine days prior to Das' ruling. Clearly a case of MORE leaks in this story. I can't imagine that blogger won't get more attention as the smoke clears.
MLB.com columnist Richard Justice says Braun has one chance to truly clear his name and really needs to take the opportunity during his press conference this morning to lay it all out there - his reputation depends on it.
Craig Calcaterra makes the important point that the appeal process went through "isn't designed or even able to determine absolute innocence."
Reviewing the Brew has a list of lessons learned from this whole process.
Monte Poole of the Contra Costa Times points out that regardless of the outcome, both MLB and Braun come out as losers here
I'm not sure how, but this Blue Jays columnist for the Toronto Star comes to the conclusion that "The result is great news for Commissioner Bud Selig and the game's harshly critiqued drug-testing program." Pretty sure that's the only place you'll read those words today.
Believe it or not, there was some other Brewers news yesterday:
Poor Norichika Aoki started off his day so well, but it went pretty downhill from there. Not only did he lost pretty much any chance he had of being a starter, if only for 50 game, but his introductory press conference is a distant memory, despite happening yesterday morning.
- Here are some quotes from his presser. The highlight was that his dad is happy he's in Milwaukee because he likes beer.
- Photos from the presser
- In what might be the most exciting offensive thing he does all season, Aoki hit a homer on just his fourth BP pitch faced.
- Aoki & Weeks might be forming a mutual admiration society. Aoki admitted they don't make second baseman as muscular as Weeks in Japan while Weeks praised Aoki for his quick-handed swing.
- In what was probably a pretty hectic, overwhelming day, a comforting moment for Aoki was probably reuniting with Frankie De La Cruz - the two played together in Japan in 2010.
Rickie Weeks unequivocally doesn't want to hit in the five-hole.
You can ignore the stuff about waiting on a Braun verdict, but there's a few quotes here from Ron Roenicke about K-Rod not yet being in camp. via McCalvy
FS Wisconsin announced they'll be broadcasting 150 of the Brewers 162 regular-season games this year. The full schedule of broadcasts can be found here.
While he nailed the Braun coverage, if you wanted a reason to dislike John Heyman, here you go: he says the Brewers are the third least improved team
The Arctic Tailgate is tomorrow and fans are already lining up and camping out.
Brian Anderson seems to have written a song. I'll leave it at that.
Since reading all of today's Braun back and forth it enough to make your head explode, here's your laugh of the day. How many of these do you think we'll see at Miller Park. Besides the inherent ridiculousness of wearing a 5" heel to a baseball game, there's also the fact that they're suede. I await Miller Park Drunk's thoughts on these.
And in random other news:
Since we're talking drug testing, it might be a good time to point out that the MLB started testing for HGH this year. Apparently the players' union only agreed to testing during Spring Training and the off-season and we may be learning why. Multiple players who have been tested are saying the blood draw left them weak and sick because the draw is six to eight vials of blood. The article goes on to quote a past chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency saying only one vial is needed, but doesn't actually ask or answer the question why MLB is then drawing so many more. Either way, the players are correctly pointing out that losing that much blood would leave them incapable of playing in a game that day.
Dodgers: Claimed Matt Angle off of waivers from Baltimore.
MLB Network's is going to mic up some teams for a Spring Training Game.
One of the two Brewers representatives has advanced in the group of final 30 for the MLB Fancave.