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).