SBD/July 24, 2013/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
MLB's 65-game suspension of Brewers LF Ryan Braun for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic "was not 'negotiated' down" by Braun or the MLBPA, according to Tom Haudricourt of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Braun let MLB know "he would take" a suspension after he was "presented with the evidence from the Biogenesis investigation that made him realize a suspension was inevitable." MLB's decision was that Braun would "have to go away for the rest of the season." It "just happened to be 65 games left." If Braun had "gotten back to them a day later, it would have been 64 games" instead. The suspension is "not 50 games for a first offense plus a 15-game 'tax' for lying." It "merely was an end-of-the-season suspension mandated by MLB," and it was "non-negotiable" (JSONLINE.com, 7/23).
CONTRACTUAL CONUNDRUM: FOXSPORTS.com's Jon Paul Morosi writes the "ultimate game-changer would be if teams had the opportunity to void contracts on the basis of a PED suspension." Braun's story in a "twisted way" shows "incentive still exists for players to cheat: He will continue collecting huge paychecks except for the 65 games this season during which he’s suspended without pay." That "doesn’t seem fair" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/24). In L.A., Bill Plaschke asks, "Guess how much of Braun's recent cheating-fueled $105-million contract extension will be affected by his suspension?" Plaschke: "Three percent. He's losing barely $3 million, which will still leave him with more than a $100-million reward for all those phony homers and RBIs. With that kind of incentive, why wouldn't everyone cheat?" (L.A. TIMES, 7/24). In DC, Nathan Fenno writes of Braun's suspension, "This is a speed bump, not a deterrent" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 7/24). In Detroit, Drew Sharp writes, "The punishment is laughable." However, it is the "best" MLB could do "within the framework of a joint drug policy with the players’ association that doesn’t go far enough" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/24). ESPN's Michael Wilbon wondered if there is a "real deterrent" for players. Wilbon: "If you say void a contract entirely … that might serve as a deterrent, except that Ryan Braun would then be a free agent and he can sign with somebody else. I don't know that it is. I think we're going to see more cheating" ("PTI," ESPN, 7/23).
PLAYERS GIVE THEIR TWO CENTS: Tigers P and union rep Max Scherzer said that "many of his peers are upset with Braun's behavior," and that he favors the Brewers "having the ability to terminate Braun's contract." He added, "You got to commend MLB for doing its homework to find everything possible it needed to make the suspension stick and for him not to get off on a technicality. I still don't think the punishment fits the crime. MLB hasn't closed the loophole to create the incentive to cheat. He still has his contract and he's still financially gaining from this. ... You got to start cutting out contracts" (USA TODAY, 7/24). Braves C Gerald Laird said of Braun, "He’s not giving up very much of his contract, because he’s making more money next year and the following years. His team is not going to the postseason, so there’s nothing to lose there. I mean, what are you really teaching the guy?" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/24). Cardinals CF and union rep Jon Jay said, "The right thing is if you have cheated or done something you’re not supposed to do that you should be punished for it. My thoughts aren’t going to change on him" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/24). Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia: "That’s why our drug policy is what it is. If you do something you’re not supposed to be doing, you should be caught and you should be penalized severely. That’s all we’re looking for" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/24).
MLB FINALLY GETTING AHEAD OF PEDS? A USA TODAY editorial states, "Maybe, just maybe, Major League Baseball has finally turned the corner on its attitude toward performance-enhancing drugs." The significance of the Braun suspension is that the league "aggressively investigated Braun and about 20 other players," including Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez. This "chase wouldn't have occurred" five years ago (USA TODAY, 7/24). FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal said Braun's suspension is "good for baseball because it proved that the sport again is quite serious about cracking down on the use" of PEDs, even "beyond its testing program" ("Markets Now," Fox Business, 7/23). The N.Y. Daily News' Bruce Murray said, "You have to compliment baseball for at least doing everything I think they can to get them out of baseball" ("Daily News Live," SportsNet N.Y., 7/23). ESPN Radio 1000 Chicago's Carmen Defalco said the Braun suspension "does seem like a win for baseball in that they're finally getting what they want." Comcast SportsNet Chicago's David Kaplan said the "big winner in all of this" is MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Kaplan: "You have the toughest testing of any of the four major American sports, you've got players coming out saying, 'We want a clean sport so get rid of the cheaters.' ... Bud Selig comes out a huge winner here" ("Sports Talk Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 7/23). But ESPN's Michael Smith said, "This is no cause for celebration. ... It is never a good thing when all the attention is on the cheaters" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 7/23).
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: In California, Jeff Fletcher notes Angels analyst Mark Gubicza was a "player rep for much of his career in the 1980s and '90s, when the union continually blocked testing" for PEDs. Gubicza said, "I look back and I'm surprised that we, as players, didn't have a situation where it was cleaned up right away and was never a discussion. I wish that would have been the case." He added, "I look back and I wish the game would have been equal for everybody." He said that players in his day "weren't so much in favor of steroids as they were against whatever owners requested." Gubicza: "Anything the owners wanted, we didn't want. That confrontation was always embedded in your mind. ... Now you look back and it was childish on both sides" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/24).
MLB is considering a "much harsher" penalty for Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic than the 65-game suspension given to Brewers LF Ryan Braun, including a ban of "years ... or even a lifetime suspension," according to CBS News' Jim Axelrod. An MLB exec indicated that the league has an "overwhelming amount of evidence" on Rodriguez showing "multiple years of usage." The exec added that it is "not a matter of if Rodriguez will be suspended for using performance enhancing drugs, but when." ESPN's T.J. Quinn said, "People have a strong understanding that there is a lot of evidence out there, that it comes directly from Tony Bosch and it was compelling enough to get one of the biggest names in the game to just concede that baseball had the goods on him. So if that's the case, they know something is coming with A-Rod. It is just a matter of time." Axelrod noted the exec indicated that MLB "has a lot more on Rodriguez than just drug use." The exec said that MLB is looking into whether Rodriguez "lied, whether he obstructed the investigation and whether he got other players involved.'" An announcement about Rodriguez "is expected sometime in the next two weeks" ("CBS Evening News," CBS, 7/23).
MLB'S MOST WANTED? USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale cites sources as saying that Rodriguez has "no intention of negotiating a settlement" with MLB and "plans to appeal any potential suspension." Another source said that MLB is "prepared to suspend Rodriguez for 100 games ... for his role with the Biogenesis clinic, alleged lies about performance-enhancing drug use and possible interference in the investigation." The original sources said that Rodriguez "does not view Braun's situation as a comparison for his case" (USA TODAY, 7/24). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff writes, "Given that he’ll have far more money at stake than did Braun, finding a disciplinary sweet spot for A-Rod might not be as easy as it was for Braun" (N.Y. POST, 7/24). Also in N.Y., Bill Madden writes Rodriguez is the "Whitey Bulger of baseball, the most wanted criminal in the game's history." Rodriguez has "not only been one of the biggest cheats of all, but he is also believed to have sought to impede MLB’s investigation by helping to secure lawyers for some of the witnesses in the case" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/24).
DOMINO EFFECT: ESPN DALLAS' Todd Wills noted Rangers manager Ron Washington yesterday praised RF Nelson Cruz for the "way he has handled playing baseball every day while the Biogenesis cloud hangs over him." Washington said, "I don't know what (Cruz is) going through because I've never been in that situation, but I think he's handled it admirably. He's been a pro, and he has been able to separate what he has done on his job, which is come to the ballpark and play baseball, and what he's done out of here. He's done a good job of separating." Washington added that he, the coaches and the players "will support Cruz" (ESPNDALLAS.com, 7/23). Meanwhile, in San Diego, Bill Center notes there are indications that the Padres "no longer believe" SS Everth Cabrera will "escape sanctions," while that status of C Yasmani Grandal is "much less clear." Grandal already has "served a 50-game suspension for testing positive last September for testosterone." Center: "Would more sanctions from the Biogenesis probe be double jeopardy?" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/24).
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote all the discipline from the Biogenesis case "should have been announced at the same time, regardless of whether some players make deals and some don't, because the integrity of the schedule and the pennant races demand that." If MLB officials want to "restrict the impact of the scandal to the remainder of the season, that's fine, but they need to get to it." If not, they "run the risk of having people start wondering if it was a coincidence that the team once owned by Bud Selig got such a convenient deal" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/23).
The NFL this week introduced its “Legends Program” in which former players brought together by the league will “act as ambassadors for other retired players," according to NFL Network’s Lindsay Rhodes. The players selected for the program "will spend their three-year term working to connect each of the 32 teams with the larger network of retired players.” The goal is to “enrich not only the game, but also those who play it." NFL Senior VP/Player Engagement Troy Vincent: "We shared a responsibility for one another for healthy lifestyles as we transition out of the game. It's a brotherhood. … We want to be advocates. We want to be active contributors in developing our game, protecting our brand and developing our future. Our 'legends' allow us to do that" ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 7/23). FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez reported the initiative is "designed to change the 'out of sight/out of mind' reality that many players face once their football careers end." The program will include "bolstered outreach to NFL alumni for team and league initiatives like homecoming festivities, community events and the 'Heads Up Football' initiative with USA Football that was created to teach proper tackling techniques to youth players." The Legends Program also serves as "another avenue for the league to better assist ex-players who are experiencing difficulties adjusting to their post-football lives as the spotlight fades away." The program should help "fill in some of the gaps created by the demise of the NFL Alumni Association under former president George Martin." Vincent said that the NFL will "try to foster stronger working relationships with the NFLAA chapters that are already established in most NFL cities" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/21).
HGH TEST CLOSER: NFL.com's Breer & Kremer reported the NFL and NFLPA today are holding an "important negotiating session" to "continue their work toward an agreement" on implementation of HGH testing. There are "three categories" of key issues: procedural, economic and due process/appeals. Also, "it needs to be discussed who will foot the bill" for each $2,200 HGH testing kit (NFL.com, 7/23). SI's Jim Trotter noted an agreement "could be done by the end of the week." The tests "cannot be retroactive, meaning that blood is going to be used for the population study." However, if players "test positive, you can’t go back now and discipline them” ("Rome," CBS Sports Network, 7/23). Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez said he did not believe steroids were prevalent in the NFL, but HGH might be different "because you cannot test for it." Gonzalez said if HGH testing was instituted, "you would probably find some people out there that are actually using it." Former NFLer Tony Mandarich said steroids "are really a non-issue in the NFL right now, and for years they've been a non-issue because they've done such a good job testing it." Mandarich: "Your next issue is the growth hormone" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 7/23).
AFL Global, an entity aimed at introducing pro U.S. arena football teams in China, yesterday announced that it, along with the U.S.-based Arena Football League, "will be hosting an AFL All-Star Game on Saturday, Nov. 16 in Honululu," according to Vaughn Johnson of PHILLY.com. A release said there will be a second ASG in Beijing in the “near future.” But a source said that "none of this has been made official yet." The source added that "all of this still hinges on approval from the AFL." Outside of a shared name, "AFL Global is a separate entity from the AFL." However, the AFL "gave permission to AFL Global to use its logos and brand of Arena Football" (PHILLY.com, 7/23).