Jumping to conclusions is an easy thing to do. It's human nature to have an opinion about something immediately. That opinion might change later on, but even if it's only slight, a person will have an opinion on something.
That was evident on twitter last night where many Brewers fans immediately reached out and said Ryan Braun was innocent. He beat the appeal, and there is no way that he could be guilty anymore. Other baseball fans were even quicker to declare Braun absolutely guilty, a cheat, the worst thing to happen to baseball. One even compared Braun to Hitler, sort of. It is Eva Braun's birthday today. There's got to be a connection there, right?
Braun, if you only just now got your internet back after a day long outage and don't subscribe to a newspaper and haven't left the house and haven't noticed frogs and locusts and water turning into blood, was listed on records from the Biogenesis clinic in Miami that has been in the news the past week for reportedly supplying performance enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, and others. The report was broken by The Miami New Times and picked up by national organizations almost immediately. At the time, Ryan Braun's name did not appear in any records.
I won't go into a ton of detail on the facts of the case. If you want those, Kyle has done a phenomenal job of compiling the latest news in our story stream on the topic. In essence, though, here is what we know. Or, at least, what has been reported:
- Ryan Braun's name, along with his lawyer's, appeared on a document saying that he owed the clinic a large sum of money. Between $20-30 thousand.
- Braun is not listed on any documents that connect him to PEDs. Only that he owes money.
- Braun claims that his name appears because he used Anthony Bosch, the founder of the clinic, as a consultant in his appeal case last offseason when Braun's test sample came back positive for a banned substance.
- A successful appeal case, Braun would like to point out.
- Braun believes the "RB 20-30K" line is in reference to a dispute over how much money Bosch is owed for his consulting
- Consulting which, apparently, was fruitless as Braun's attorney found Bosch useless.
- Braun's attorney normally uses Aegis Science Corporation in Nashville, and went back to them after finding Bosch's contributions "negligible".
Braun's reason for being on the document is kind of weird, but does make sense. In a case as important as Braun's was, why wouldn't he go to as many people that might have expert knowledge in the field as possible. Anthony Bosch is the founder of a clinic that sold PEDs, a clinic right in the middle of what ESPN and others have called "ground zero" for PEDs still in sports. Bosch should have a great deal of knowledge on what exactly his products should do to testosterone levels. He should know PEDs front and back. He should know exactly what they do to testosterone, which is exactly what Braun and his attorneys said they consulted him for.
Of course, they also say that Bosch was near useless. While Bosch should know his product, he reportedly has no license to practice medicine in Florida. He might not actually have any idea how PEDs work, only that he can make money selling them. Let's face it, the profiles of Bosch we've seen don't necessarily make him out to be a smart guy. If I were Braun, though, I wouldn't have been opposed to taking my chances that Bosch did know more than he actually does. If I were handling that appeal case, I would have wanted to consult as many people as possible who might be considered an expert. That's likely exactly what Braun and his attorney's did.
It also explains the "RB 20-30K" line. It seems oddly non-specific to have such a broad range of money that Braun would owe to Bosch. If Braun did owe money for drugs, one would think there would be a more specific number attached to the value of what he purchased. It also seems odd that Braun--who is in the middle of a contract that will pay him $150 million--would not pay any debts immediately. It makes sense that there might be a dispute between how much money is owed from consulting that was deemed worthless by Braun's attorneys. It fits perfectly.
Braun's explanation makes sense. It fills in some holes. And there is still nothing specifically implicating him in performance enhancing drugs. That doesn't mean that Braun is absolutely telling the truth, or that he is for sure innocent. We still have absolutely no idea about that. After the last year, Braun's name is pretty much forever tainted. There probably isn't any way that he could be definitively declared innocent of all performance enhancers. The only absolutely definitive outcome that could happen is for Braun to be undeniably found guilty. I'm sure no Brewers fan wants that to happen.
Here's the thing about this whole Braun affair that sticks out to me, though: One year ago, MLB was publicly embarrassed by the failings of their drug testing system. Braun, whose results came back positive, never missed a single game because he won an appeal. In fact, MLB was so pissed about Braun winning that they fired the arbitrator who ruled in Braun's favor. They fired someone who was supposed to be an "independent arbitrator", and who had been in that post with the MLB for 13 years, all because he ruled against them.
If Major League Baseball was that vindictive towards the arbitrator in the case, how do you think they feel about Braun? I'm guessing they didn't treat him like one of the other players last year. He probably had to pee in a cup before just about every game. (OK, maybe not quite that often).
And he hasn't had another positive test reported since December 2011. Not one. Not even a rumor of one. No reports of him hiring a ballboy to "accidentally" run into a Fed-Ex employee and spill the sample. Nothing. And he still put up MVP numbers. Almost the exact same numbers as the year before, except with 124% the home runs.
That either says that Braun was never on PEDs, that he is on some sort of super PED that is as of yet undetectable (and that even Alex Rodriguez didn't have available to him, apparently [and that don't change appearance at all, because Braun still looks the same as he did in college]), or that PEDs don't do diddly-squat to aid in production.
Whatever the case, that f***s with MLB's whole narrative on performance enhancing drugs and/or their "most thorough testing system in sports" or whatever they claim.
I'm not immune to jumping to conclusions. I'm also a Brewers fan. I'm predisposed to think that Braun is innocent. And I do. I will until he is found guilty. Most of the baseball world won't wait for that, however, and will condemn him. It's unfortunate, and perhaps unfair, but Braun will never be able to fully leave this behind him.
It helps that the facts can certainly be worked in such a way to make it seem like he's innocent and that his story checks out fully. But that doesn't mean that there aren't still a ton of questions. Braun certainly has links to the area, having played for the University of Miami. He has also had college teammates who were found using PEDs. His road roommate was named in the Miami New Times report as having received PEDs. There are plenty of questions yet. Then there's answers to those questions. But those answers breed new questions. It just continues on and on and on and on.
We'll never get full answers to all of this. Still, the best way for Braun to prove any innocence is to do what he did last year all over again. Go out and hit like a future Hall of Famer. Baseball is going to drug test the hell out of Ryan Braun the rest of his career. If he never comes up positive again and continues to be an MVP player, that will be all the proof I need.