Saturday was a complete day in sports news. We had a Heisman Trophy winner, a big day in college basketball and a continued debate of why Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers had to be disallowed.
But Saturday evening, one story seemed to make all the others look small.
ESPN reported that Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun tested positive for a banned substance. If true, the positive test will lead to a 50-game suspension for the superstar.
Here’s the real kicker — Braun was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player just months ago, and the failed test was administered about a month before he won the award.
Now, I’ve had a few days to think about this news, but my opinion hasn’t changed. Braun will appeal the findings, but if he is found in the end to be guilty of taking banned substances to achieve an MVP season, the trophy should be given back. No questions asked.
Even though the Baseball Writers of America have said they won’t hold a re-vote for the NL MVP award, Braun is a cheater and should do the right thing, even if he wasn’t doing the right thing all along.
The reason why this is even remotely difficult to say is because Braun is one of the nice guys of professional baseball (he seems that way, at least). He’s not a polarizing figure like Manny Ramirez, and he isn’t freakishly big … as a matter of fact, he’s not big at all. But that’s the way players have to cheat these days — little by little with lesser-known supplements as opposed to anabolic steroids that blow up your muscles at an alarming rate.
In a Boston Herald story, an MLB source said that no player has ever had a positive test overturned through an appeal, so the odds are against Braun. “I guess there’s always a first. But he tested positive for a substance banned under the program,” the source said.
Braun has always seemed like a man of his word, so when he responded to the allegations with, “It’s B.S.,” I wanted to believe him. He’s always been a straight-shooter, and I thought he’d be one of few players in MLB who would own up to a mistake if he made one. Did he figure it would just be too damaging to his image if he fessed up, or is he really innocent?
It’s hard to say if he’s innocent or just covering his tail, but if he is caught, he should serve the full 50 games and hand the trophy to Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who was arguably robbed of the award even before we found out Braun allegedly was on a banned substance.
I’m willing to listen if the report is false. But until then, I’m going to believe that the system of catching cheaters is perfect, since it hasn’t been proven wrong yet.