Two and a half months ago, I had to write this a day after it was reported that Ryan Braun had failed a drug test and would likely be suspended for 50 games. Two and a half months ago. The failed test reportedly came in October, over four months ago. A little over one month ago, Ryan Braun had his official appeal hearing.The wait continued as arbitrator Shyam Das requested and received more time past the reported deadline for a decision.
Now, finally, after that long of a wait, the Brewers, Brewers fans, the MLB, and Ryan Braun have their decision and, for three of those parties, the news couldn't be any better.
Ryan Braun is not suspended. He has been exonerated. He won't miss any games. We have no idea why, yet. It will likely take a while for the full report to come out on the reasons that Braun won his appeal. But what matters right now is that Braun is not missing any time in 2012 due to suspension.
MLB, apparently, is upset with the decision. Here are two tweets from beat reporter Tom Haudricourt:
MLB has put out a statement saying it "vehemently disagrees" with arbitrator's decision on Braun. That would be Shyam Das.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say Shyam Das has conducted his last arbitration drug hearing. MLB officials not happy with him.
I don't know why MLB is being so petty about this. Again, we don't know the full story yet. We just know the (great) end result. But right now, Major League Baseball is, apparently, a little more than upset. Perhaps they don't like their decision being overturned. Maybe they don't like the precedence this may set, in regards to a superstar player publicly beating the system and successfully appealing a positive drug test. The MLB has been working very hard since the 1990s to eliminate steroids from the game. I'm sure they don't like the publicity of a player overturning their decision. Or, maybe they just plain think (very strongly) that Ryan Braun was truly guilty.
Either way, it's surprising that the MLB would be so strongly worded with regards to their disagreement with Das' decision. One would assume that they would accept the decision and not say much about it. But that's not what we got. Which means that we will likely be hearing so, so much more about this over the coming weeks.
Theoretically, we were never supposed to hear about this at all. If the system worked the way it should have, we wouldn't have heard about Braun's failed test in December. We wouldn't know that he and the Brewers were starting spring training with that much uncertainty.
It's unfortunate that it did leak. In Ryan Braun's statement, he says, "It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation."
That's a really good point. It is just the first step. Ryan Braun is not guilty. But there will be a large portion of baseball fans who will still claim that he is, and got off on a fluke. When we learn more information, it may change or strengthen those opinions. Ryan Braun has a lot to do to clear his name completely. It's unlikely that he will ever be looked at as the same player again.
Now that he has been accused of using steroids once, those accusations are going to follow him the rest of his career. When the full report comes out, if it comes out, there might be very good evidence that Braun is innocent. Unfortunately, because this news leaked, Braun has this shadow hanging over him the rest of his career.
But you know what? Today is a great day. Ryan Braun is not suspended. I can't really stop saying that. Ryan Braun not guilty, Ryan Braun not suspended, Ryan Braun exonerated. It all sounds so good.
It's incredible. And as elated as we, as fans, are, imagine how Ryan Braun feels right now. Imagine how his teammates and the rest of the Brewers organization are feeling? It's just a flood of relief all around.
We have no idea how the Brewers would have performed for those fifty games had Braun been suspended. Thankfully we never will. I don't think Braun's exoneration makes the Brewers the clear favorites in the NL Central. I still think the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers are all right pretty equal right now.
What this might do is provide Milwaukee with a whole lot of extra motivation. It provides Ryan Braun who so, so much motivation. He is now going out with a whole lot of reason to show that he is just as good as he has been the last few years. Or better. Certainly, Ryan Braun is going to be tested for drugs often this year. He's going to be watched. If he struggles for even a small time, he'll be heckled as a steroid-user.
But right now, it's just full scale relief and glee. Ryan Braun is playing all year in 2012. Next season is right around the corner. Spring training has started.
It's a good day, today.