Ryan Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season for his role in the Biogenesis fiasco. The knives are finally out and The League Of Baseball Justice is all set to carve Braun up for...besmirching the name of the sample collector at the center of his 2012 appeal. Zuh?
Almost immediately following the announcement, this sentiment began to spread across Twitter. I first saw it with Buster Olney, but others shortly joined in.
The most offending quote that "smeared" his name?
"There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked, that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened."
What Ryan Braun and his team learned was that the collector hung on to his jar of piss over the weekend and, in their reading of the policy, did not ship it as soon as possible as was required. An arbitrator, Shyam Das, agreed and Braun became the first player ever to successfully defend himself against an MLB suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
MLB was so incensed it eventually fired Das and overhauled the collections policy. Just like these subsequent remedial measures shouldn't be taken as MLB's implicit admission to Braun's version of the events, neither should Braun's perfectly valid defense be construed as some kind of character assassination.
Braun referred to "things we learned about the collector...and about the way that the entire thing worked, that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened." All these management stooges crying for an apology have interpreted this sentiment as Ryan Braun and his legal team calling the sample collector a liar. If you took the time to think for just one second about how this works and what Braun's team was trying to do you'd realize that it has absolutely nothing to do with the character of the collector and everything to do with the process.
If a failed test is worth anything it's because it is undoubtedly accurate. In the eyes of the arbitrator, Ryan Braun's failed test was not undoubtedly accurate and that is because Braun argued that the process designed to ensure accuracy was not followed. Ryan Braun didn't argue that the guy was a liar and untrustworthy—charges which are so incredibly easily defended that they are a waste of time to make in the first place—he argued that this particular sample was invalid because the procedures required to ensure a proper chain of custody—and therefore entitling it to a presumption of legitimacy—were not adhered to.
These arguments are so much less ambiguous than whatever perceived slights were made against the collector. There are rules. They are spelled out in the drug agreement. They are either followed or they are not. Your neighbor the nun can't come in to swear up and down what a good guy you are in response to calling them into question.
No, Ryan Braun did not assassinate anyone's character; he defended himself on procedural grounds. Why anyone would speculate about apologizing to a guy who failed to follow protocol is simply baffling. After all, no one wondered aloud if MLB would be apologizing to Shyam Das when the collection rules in the drug agreement were amended to mirror his ruling a month after firing him.
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