Braun Better Watch His Back
Major League Baseball vice president Rob Manfred says that MLB hasn't specifically targeted Brewers all-star outfielder Ryan Braun in its investigation of the use of performance-enhancing drugs and/or banned substances.
Sure . ... And I'll be the Opening Day pitcher at Miller Park next Monday.
Last week, USA Today ran a front page story alleging that MLB has declared Braun to be "Public Enemy Number 1". According to the story, "Baseball officials, from the top executives in New York to their field investigators, refuse to let [the Braun case] go. They want Braun - badly. They have been relentless in their pursuit, trying to make life as miserable as possible for Braun."
Way to stay classy, Bud Selig.
Let me be clear: I believe the USA Today story and am skeptical of Manfred's denials that Braun isn't being singled out for special treatment.
After all, in beating MLB's efforts to suspend him last season, Braun made MLB look foolish. And, as immortalized in "The Godfather", some important men just don't think they can be made to look foolish.
Keep in mind, Manfred is the same guy who, after Braun's 50-game suspension was overturned last season, said he "vehemently" disagreed with the decision. In what appears to have been an extremely heavy-handed way of proving this point, the arbitrator who issued the ruling was subsequently canned by the Lords of Baseball (despite never having ruled for a player before). Clearly, MLB is not an entity that likes losing.
I don't know whether Ryan Braun was truly guilty of using a performance-enhancing drug (or prohibited substance or whatever he supposedly did) on one occasion in 2011? The fact that he performed so well in 2012 (while under such increased scrutiny) does however make me wonder whether there were problems with the 2011 test beyond "chain of custody".
Regardless, MLB in general - and Ron Manfred in particular - needs to let it go.
If Ryan Braun is really a cheater, he'll be caught. In the meantime MLB, which (in conjunction with the Player's Union) for so long turned a blind eye to steroid abuse in the 90's, does itself a disservice by pursuing a vendetta against any particular player.
MLB has apparently filed a lawsuit against a defunct clinic in Miami that is believed to be at the center of yet another potential doping scandal. If this leads to evidence that implicates Ryan Braun - so be it. Unless and until we reach that point though, MLB should play fair.
That said, my advice to Ryan Braun would be "watch your back and be prepared to duck". I think a couple of high hard ones might be coming your way sometime soon.