SBD/July 24, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Players Chime In On Braun's Suspension As Word Comes In That It Wasn't Negotiated Down

MLB's decision was that Braun would have to go away for the rest of the season
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).
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