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SBD/July 23, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
Brewers LF Ryan Braun was suspended for the remaining 65 games of the '13 season "without pay as punishment for evidence uncovered against him in the investigation of the scandal-plagued Biogenesis clinic in Florida," according to a front-page piece by Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. MLB did not announce "what violations Braun committed." However, a source said that the evidence was "'so overwhelming' that [Braun] had no choice but to accept the 65-game penalty or face a much longer suspension." Braun requested a clubhouse meeting to "inform his teammates -- who had strongly supported him during his ongoing drug saga -- of his suspension." He then left Miller Park "without speaking to the media." Haudricourt notes while Braun "will forfeit" about $3.3M while under suspension for the remainder of this season, his salary "jumps from" $8.5M to $10M in '14. Braun, who signed a five-year, $105M extension in '11 that runs through '20 with a "mutual option for 2021, is owed a total" of $133M by the Brewers. The MLB drug agreement "prevents teams from voiding contracts because of violations." Players who fail drug tests and do not win appeals are "suspended for 50 games for a first offense, 100 games for a second and face a lifetime ban for a third." But because the Biogenesis investigation involved "non-analytical" evidence, the commissioner's office did not have to "follow those guidelines" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/23).
NEGOTIATIONS OF A DEAL: In N.Y., Thompson, Red, Madden & Vinton report Braun's advisers "worked quietly behind the scenes to negotiate a deal after MLB presented doping evidence gathered in its probe of Biogenesis." MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner "commended Braun for taking responsibility, while players across the league applauded MLB’s efforts to clean up the game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/23). In N.Y., Steve Eder in a front-page piece notes Braun "decided to forgo his appeal, accepting what would appear to be baseball’s version of a plea bargain." Braun’s decision to accept the suspension is "not necessarily an indication that other players would choose that course." A league statement and Braun’s comments did not "reveal what Braun had done to violate the drug program." MLB is not expected to make its evidence against Braun public (N.Y. TIMES, 7/23). MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal said of the length of the suspension, "We don’t know what they were originally looking for, but I suspect it was significantly higher" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 7/22).
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE: In Milwaukee, Michael Hunt writes Braun, the MLBPA and MLB "made a very wise decision." Braun was "right for accepting responsibility, the union was right for not challenging Bud Selig's power to suspend without a positive drug test, and Selig's hard-line drug policy showed its sharp, earnest teeth by taking down an MVP" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/23). In Wisconsin, Tom Oates writes it is a "good thing that Braun finally came clean and admitted his guilt." It also is a "good thing that the Brewers have closure on an unflattering situation that has hung over the franchise" since late '11. It is "clear that MLB presented Braun with overwhelming evidence, and he decided his only option was to cut a deal on a suspension and hope to work his way back into the good graces of Wisconsin baseball fans" (WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL, 7/23).
OPPORTUNITY MISSED: In Miami, Greg Cote writes Braun could have been the "needed face of baseball surviving its Steroids Era and moving on -- an example of doing things right." But "instead he’s just dirty, like anybody else who is" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/23). FOXSPORTS.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes Braun "even after this suspension" has more than $100M left on his contract. Morosi: "That is guaranteed cash, folks. He cheated, he was caught. He wins, anyway" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/23).
WHO'S NEXT? ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote MLB has "snagged one of its two big fish on the Biogenesis docket," and now "you have to wonder how long it will be until the ... shoe drops" on Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (ESPN.com, 7/22). CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman cited sources as saying that Rodriguez is "all but assured of a Biogenesis-related MLB ban being levied against him -- quite possibly more than the usual 50 games for first-time offenders." Rodriguez is "expected to be one of up to 15 or so players to receive suspensions by MLB when they are announced, possibly within a couple weeks" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/22). In N.Y., Mark Feinsand writes the "talk began immediately" about Rodriguez' future yesterday following Braun's suspension. While Rodriguez' teammates said that they would "support" him, they also "made it clear that if A-Rod is guilty of using PEDs he deserves to be punished." Yankees P Mariano Rivera: “If he’s admitted that he did something wrong, he knows what the league is going to do. It’s not rocket science here" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/23). Also in N.Y., Ken Davidoff cites sources as saying that MLB's evidence against Rodriguez will "dwarf the information obtained on Braun" (N.Y. POST, 7/23). But on Long Island, David Lennon cites a source who "cautioned that Braun's announcement did not necessarily mean more would be coming right away" (NEWSDAY, 7/23).
MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM: In Chicago, Phil Rogers reports the Braun suspension is the "first of an estimated 15 to 20 that will come down in the next month from the Biogenesis investigation." It shows that each case will be "handled as its own plea arrangement, with players presented with the case against them (both testimony and documentation, such as phone records and delivery receipts) and given a choice between accepting a deal or risking more severe punishment by appealing the suspension." These will be "handled on a case-by-case basis but handed down at one time, not one by one." Rogers: "Don't expect many players to appeal." The fact that Braun "didn't appeal suggests how strong these cases have been made by MLB's investigators" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/23). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan writes the question for Rangers RF Nelson Cruz and Tigers SS Jhonny Peralta is whether they "accept a suspension now, serve the 50 games (or whatever they bargain to) and return in time for the playoffs?" Or do they "appeal any penalty, go to arbitration, likely play out the season and head into free agency with a long suspension and neutered market hanging over them?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/23).
MLB yesterday suspended Brewers LF Ryan Braun for the remainder of the '13 season and it was "a great day for the commissioner's office, a great day for the players' union, a great day for the Joint Drug Agreement and, yes, a great day for all of those players who want the sport cleaned up once and for all," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSPORTS.com. MLB demonstrated that it will "not be bound solely by the testing program in its pursuit of PED users." The MLBPA demonstrated that it "no longer will be obstructionist in baseball's efforts to eliminate PEDs, but a willing and effective partner, even at the expense of a highly paid star." Instead of "mounting a vigorous defense of Braun, the union reacted not only to the evidence against him, but also the wishes of its members -- the silent majority turned vocal, the players who are tired of being cheated by people like Ryan Braun" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/23). ESPN's Buster Olney said people in MLB "in general are very complimentary tonight of the strides" the league has taken in the PED issue. Olney: "This is a home run for them and it looks like there's more home runs to come" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 7/22). USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes this is "a great day for baseball." The suspension of Braun is "just the beginning of a drug bust of significant magnitude, a painful yet encouraging sign that someday -- perhaps in the distant future, but someday -- Major League Baseball will be able to say it is clean, or almost clean" (USA TODAY, 7/23).
THIS IS HOW IT ALL BEGINS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has "taken a huge step toward erasing what he considered to be a blight on his reign and on baseball’s drug-testing plan; he landed the one that got away" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/23). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan writes with Braun, MLB had its "proof that even the boy next door can run afoul of the league's drug program -- and that MLB, for so many years having profited on the backs of PED users, had grown enough spine to spend millions of dollars in pursuing and punishing those who violate it" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/22). USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale writes it "might be an awful day for Braun, his family and the Brewers, but it's a day MLB will celebrate, knowing it just sent a message that will reverberate forever" (USA TODAY, 7/23). SportsNet N.Y.'s Sal Licata said, "It's one good thing that Major League Baseball has the gumption to be able to do this and take down one of their superstars like Ryan Braun" ("Loud Mouths," SportsNet N.Y., 7/22). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote the Braun suspension "should silence anybody who thinks this investigation is a P.R. game" by MLB (SI.com, 7/22). In Illinois, Mike Imrem writes the "impression is that MLB really is trying to catch and punish cheaters as opposed to when McGwire and Sosa chased Roger Maris" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 7/23).
CHANGING TIDES: CBSSPORTS.com's Scott Miller wrote the "most significant change in the players' union over the past decade is this: Today's players are fully behind a comprehensive performance-enhancing drug testing program." The players a decade ago "sat silent as Don Fehr refused to even think about consenting to testing." So today's "enlightened players deserve a lot of credit for attempting to root out the cheats and clean up the game" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/22). MLB Network’s Tom Verducci said that the “evidence that the MLB investigators obtained” in the Biogenesis investigation is “the game changer here.” That helped facilitate a "sea change in position from the union in just the last couple of weeks.” Verducci: “When presented with that evidence now you have the union saying, ‘You know, it’s a good thing for the game. If you're caught you should pay a penalty. That justifies the agreement that we have with the owners to keep the game clean.'” MLB Net's Harold Reynolds: “We have a different conversation now with the ownership and the union and this, tonight, is a mark of how far that has come to be able to clean the game up” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 7/22).
DOMINO EFFECT? In L.A., Bill Shaikin writes what MLB "really got out of this deal" is a "warning shot fired at all the other players -- more than a dozen, probably -- implicated in the Biogenesis scandal." That should tell Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez "something, and that is not 'deny and fight'" (L.A. TIMES, 7/23). CBSSPORTS.com's Danny Knobler wrote MLB officials were "no doubt thrilled that Braun was willing to go down with so little fight this time." MLB likely is hoping that Braun's deal "will help push other players to do the same, avoiding a lengthy appeals process and the possibility of any suspensions being overturned" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/22). ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick wrote, "Credit baseball for assembling a strong enough case to make him cave without a fight, and possibly setting the dominoes in motion for further deals" (ESPN.com, 7/22). However, the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay wrote MLB "cannot make sweeping statements about its juicing era sliding into the past, or get too overconfident about its testing regimen or its aggression in cases like Biogenesis." Corners have "been cut and will continue to be cut; it's the nature of business" (WSJ.com, 7/22).
PLAYERS, MANAGERS REACT: Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Braun's deal is "another black eye for our game." Girardi: "He's guilty. You don't accept a deal unless you're guilty. And it's disappointing." Mariners P Joe Saunders: "It should have been a year's suspension, at least. ... I don't get why guys have to do that stuff. It's almost like, really just a slap on the wrist." Marlins manager Mike Redmond: "It baffles me that this continues to be a black cloud over the game. I know Major League Baseball's done a great job of cleaning up the game and the testing policy and all that. And it's working. But at the same time, too, it seems like we'll go through a lull and then, bam, here comes another guy that gets suspended. It's got to stop." Marlins P Kevin Slowey: "Guys I think are glad to know that the process we have in place and the policy we have in place is working" (JSONLINE.com, 7/23). Dodgers CF Skip Schumaker: “He should be suspended -- a lifetime ban. One strike, you’re out. It’s enough. It’s ridiculous.” Angels manager Mike Scioscia: “It’s a black eye when something like this happens” (MIAMI HERALD, 7/23). Rangers P Joe Nathan: “We want this game clean. We want this game played on a level playing field and the process is working. This definitely lets guys know that if you’re going to do something you’re going to get caught. The program is working” (ESPN.com, 7/22). Mets 3B David Wright: “It just proves that the system that we have in place is working. It shows that guys are going to be punished to the fullest extent if you get caught” (NEWSDAY, 7/23). D'Backs P J.J. Putz: “All we can do is look to the future and hopefully have a cleaner, better brand of baseball for the fans” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/23).
The NFL and NFLPA have "made progress toward implementing testing for human growth hormone" and the "hope is to have testing in place" for the '13 season, according to sources cited by Albert Breer of NFL.com. The sides, who have "agreed to conduct a population study, will have another negotiating session this week." An e-mail from the union to players states that the sides "jointly have hired a doctor to conduct a study on players to determine the threshold for a positive HGH test." The e-mail said that the "blood samples will be used solely for the study." A separate memo sent yesterday from the NFLPA to players stated: "In preparation for training camp, you should be prepared to provide a sample of blood for your routine and required training camp physical" (NFL.com, 7/22). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted players were told via e-mail "roughly 10 days ago about the training-camp blood draw." But the information "amazingly ... remained under wraps" until yesterday. The final agreement "could include retroactive testing." Specifically, the blood collected for the population study "could be split into two samples." One would be "used for the population study, and the other would be tested at a later date." This "potential twist, which the NFL affirmatively is seeking, would mean that players whose HGH levels drive up the thresholds for the population study could still face discipline at a later date for HGH levels that helped skew the baseline numbers" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 7/22).
MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: In DC, Mark Maske cites a source as saying that there "has been 'progress' but there is 'still a ways to go.'" The source added that the league and union 'have been close before and could not get it done.'" But another source said that the two sides "are 'getting there' on reaching an accord on the issue and the union increasingly appears to be 'ready to agree to something'" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/22). The AP's Barry Wilner noted the union has "reservations about the way discipline will be handed out, and wants to collectively bargain that issue." In the union's e-mail, it "told the players that Dr. Alan Rogol has been jointly hired by the NFLPA and NFL to oversee the study and supervise two jointly retained biostatisticians." One of those biostatisticians, Donald Berry, will "design the study protocol and conduct the analysis." The second will "independently review both the protocol and the analysis" (AP, 7/22). SI.com's Jim Trotter noted it is believed that once an agreement is reached, it will be "the most scientifically valid HGH test in pro sports." MLB is the "only professional league that has HGH testing, but it did not do a population study" (SI.com, 7/22).
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS: NFL Network's Steve Wyche said it is a "positive sign because the league has wanted to have HGH testing for years." He added, "There's been pushback from the players' association because, mainly, the science behind it, but not necessarily even the science, the testing methodology. The players want to make sure that it's foolproof" with a blood test. NFL Net's Mark Kriegel: "I'll believe it when I see it. This is part of a larger trend. For this year, I'd be curious as to see how they could really implement it on the eve of a season, but it's also part of a larger, broader trend in all of sports" ("NFL AM," NFL Network, 7/22). USA TODAY's Jarrett Bell writes after "so many stops and starts on this winding path to HGH testing ... I'm wondering if this is yet another tease." NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith has "consistently declared that he wants a clean sport, even as he has moved the target in negotiating for HGH testing and drawn criticism for using stall tactics." He also has "stuck to his guns on the population study, despite one anti-doping expert after another contending it's useless." Bell: "So what happens when the population study results come in? Will the sides agree on how to interpret them and thus set the levels for that?" (USA TODAY, 7/23). ESPN's Ed Werder said, "It’s a huge development that the two sides agree on the scientist who's going to oversee the implementation of this program and that could actually happen before the regular season begins" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 7/22).
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones on Saturday said the NFL is "closer than ever" to returning to L.A., according to Arash Markazi of ESPN L.A. Jones added, "Ever being since they left, which has been a long time much to my surprise and anticipation. There are some viable ways for a team or teams to be in Los Angeles. We've got some very talented and very qualified people that want to be a part of it that are not a part of the league right now." He said, "I think we're closer. I say that not just wishing. I say that, technically, because I'm aware of some things that make sense." Jones: "I wouldn't want to give you a timeframe on it but I do think that the commitment and the substance with that commitment is right around the corner." He said that he "likes" the Farmers Field project and AEG Chair Phil Anschutz. Jones said of the project, "There are no misgivings at all about it. It has outstanding people involved. Phil Anschutz is an outstanding individual and would be an asset in any way for any group to be involved with and he has quite a sports background and quite a background in venues ... I'm actually involved in a company that just hired the lead guy that was involved in putting that Farmers Field project together so all those people have a lot of talent" (ESPNLA.com, 7/20). Jones said of bringing the NFL to L.A., "You have all the aura that the NFL is enjoying today: its interest, its visibility, and then you have the entertainment capital of the world and you really have some great tradition. So I think really much sooner than later, this is the time to be in Los Angeles. And I'm personally a big proponent of it." Jones said the league is "way down the road from a team in London relative to" having a team in L.A. (THEMMQB.com, 7/22).