Okay, maybe the headline is a tad over-dramatic. Still, it sure seems pretty accurate given some of the reactions from fans and members of the media who have spent the last couple of months trying to stomp into oblivion what was remaining of Ryan Braun’s reputation, only to have the latest news throw a wrench into their plans.
A quick search through the Twitter-verse will show that despite Braun’s victory in his appeal of a test that showed elevated levels of testosterone back in October, fans are not convinced. They say Braun got off on a “technicality” – which they use as a dirty word implied to mean that Braun’s not innocent – he just was able to escape justice. Let’s address this egregious fail-acy first.
Leaving a DNA sample unprotected overnight, if that is indeed what the official tasked with collecting Braun’s sample did, is not some silly little mistake that should be brushed aside as irrelevant. There is a reason collectors are told to ship out samples immediately, and that’s to minimize the risk of a sample being contaminated, misplaced, accidentally swapped or otherwise rendered useless in some way. What happened is a complete failure in a process that is set up to avoid situations like this where a tests reliability is rightfully called into question.
Even if we assume the test was not tampered with in any way, that does not end the story. Will Carroll, contributor to Sports Illustrated, said on his Twitter page Thursday night that Braun’s team in the hearing was able to show arbitrator Shyam Das exactly how the false positive happened through MLB’s mishandling of the testing process. We will have to wait and see if SI runs Carroll’s full article soon. (Update 6:26 PM Friday: Will Carroll’s article is now available on Amazon.com. You can read it using a kindle or the free downloadable Kindle for PC app).
Perhaps the best (read: worst) argument to emerge in the aftermath of the Braun news is that even if the test is inadmissible, it doesn’t prove Braun is innocent. Nevermind that he’s passed dozens of tests before, only to fail one under highly suspicious circumstances. Nevermind that he was crushing elite pitchers at every level while passing those tests on a regular basis. These things mean nothing. But that one failed test, now ruled to be unusable – that means everything.
In any case, the full details of Braun’s successful appeal are not known, won’t be known at the very least until Braun’s Friday press conference, and probably not even then. Of course, does it really matter? You have to believe that nothing Braun or anyone else says at this point will satisfy fans and media who, from the beginning, were only interested in hearing Braun declared guilty. The opposite happening frustrates them, because for once, an athlete was able to rebuff their attempts to run his career all the way into the ground.
Ryan Braun is not supposed to win his appeal – that’s not how this is supposed to go. He is supposed to be disgraced, defamed, and left to grovel at the feet of baseball purists everywhere, begging for them to hand down forgiveness from atop their extraordinarily high horses.
But despite all of that, he won. He did what nobody else has done, and denied the torch-wielding angry mob their satisfaction.
Now that’s justice.