Reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun maintained throughout his 50-game suspension for a positive drug test that it would be overturned and he could work on restoring his “good name”. No longer suspended based on a technicality, restoring his good name will be more difficult than expected.
Also, the once again recovering Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton sounds off on his possible free agency status and what he owes the Rangers -with Bible in hand of course.
In its latest battle against performance enhancing drugs, Baseball once again shoots itself in the ass.
For the first time in league history, arbitrators tossed out the drug suspension of a player that had offended the league’s drug policy. Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was lifted based on a technicality when the package containing his sample was delivered 48 hours after submission. Baseball mandates that all submitted samples are sent to the laboratory on the same day of collection. Braun’s sample was collected on Saturday October 1st. The Fed-Ex courier responsible for transporting Braun’s sample took it to his home – feeling the sample would be more secure there as opposed to the shipping facility over the weekend. Braun’s triple-sealed sample did not arrive at the laboratory until Monday.
Braun’s comments following the announcement sounded like a guy overloaded on the testosterone his body allegedly held in ample supply, warranting the suspension. Comments like “the truth prevailed” and “It is the first step in restoring my good name.” Not to mention the ready made excuse that poor production this season can be blamed on Prince Fielder signing with the Detroit Tigers. Braun gave me the impression that I was listening to a man wronged by the system – not one who reaped benefits from it, thanks to an overly dedicated worker who for regardless of his intent did not do his job. My feeling is if the sample was not tampered with and its status could not change under any conditions keep the suspension in place. Braun submitted a hot sample and he knows it just as well as baseball and the paying public. As much as the powers that be know about Braun’s sample, the game can ill-afford to have its reigning MVP locked in a PEDs scandal.
Twice relapsed Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has been living on the sympathy of the public since his feel-good story was documented in 2008. Hamilton battled drug and alcohol addiction and went on to become an All-Star as the Texas Rangers stood by him during his first “slip” in August 2009 and his most recent relapse just more than three weeks ago.
Last week at the Rangers spring facility, Hamilton threw down the gauntlet stating that if he went into free agency following this season that the Rangers would not receive a “hometown discount” and that he didn’t “owe” the Rangers organization anything. Hamilton continued to go into the “this is a business” rhetoric and basically sounded like a guy wanting to get the organization before the organization got him despite giving everything he had to the Rangers. During his 30+ minutes of speaking to reporters, Hamilton held his Bible close and even quoted six scriptures from the good book. Hamilton’s alcohol relapses are not overseen by MLB – their only concern with Hamilton is drugs and he has not tested positive.
Hamilton later recanted his remarks and stated that his loyalty remains with the Rangers and that he would give them the first shot to acquire his services.
Maybe Hamilton took the time to think about how the Rangers could’ve cut him loose after his first relapse where he was photographed amongst strippers and even asked where he could score some cocaine. Maybe he thought about the fact that at 32 years old, how many teams are willing to break their bank on an injury-prone outfielder who’s a drink away from destroying a clubhouse. Or maybe it was just the fact that with two relapses in 2 1/2 years has he really given everything to the Rangers who are paying him $13.7 million this season and a total of $24.2 million over the past three years.
Hamilton’s situation brings up a touchy subject because of drug and alcohol abuse in this country particularly among our youth. I wonder if Hamilton really understands how fortunate he really is. Talk of God, family and baseball doesn’t go far when mixed with alcohol and loose women. Hamilton will be given another chance by Major League Baseball or any job in America if he admits he has a problem, whereas a person who is more than willing but yet struggles at his/her job is unceremoniously dumped. I supported Hamilton a little last season when he tossed the ball into the stands and the fan with his young son, caught the ball, fell over the railing and died. Like many others, I felt for everyone involved, including Hamilton who I’m sure will live with that moment forever.
Other than that, view Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton as just newly added footnotes in baseball’s checkered history.