As the NBA dealt with vetoed trades and lockouts and the NFL is recovering from a near work stoppage, MLB was basking in the glory of a fantastic postseason and happy labor negotiations. The end of a weeklong Winter Meetings with, quite possibly, the biggest Free Agent signing ever just wasn’t enough for them.
Ryan Braun has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PED) and is appealing a 50-game suspension. A source told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that “the positive result was triggered by elevated levels of testosterone in Braun’s system.” Further, a more comprehensive test revealed the testosterone was synthetic. Now Braun will go through the process of appeal, something that no one has ever been successful in overturning.
Braun won the NL MVP in 2011 after hitting .332/.397/.597 with 38 2B, 33 HR, 111 RBI and 33 SB. He signed a five-year, $105 million extension that will keep him with the Brewers through 2021 last offseason. Clearly, if the Brewers lose Prince Fielder to Free Agency, which they have basically admitted was going to happen, they’ll take a major hit over a 50-game absence from Braun.
You have to hope that this is an error but all signs point to MLB losing a well-respected, previously untarnished star. Braun was in the Minors when drug-testing started and has had to pass tests every season up to this point, or he at least knew that he could have been tested. Since Manny Ramirez was actually a part of the “Steroid Era” and only was suspended as an old, shell of his former self, it didn’t mean as much. This is a devastating blow to the Brewers and to MLB. Braun has had a track record that had him heading to Cooperstown, too, even if he is just 28 and played just five seasons. He’ll just be a part of the crop that baseball writers choose to ignore once he gets to that point unless something drastically changes. Though, he still has time and the appeal process to try to clean his legacy.