Is Ryan Braun innocent?


Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun won the 2011 NL MVP, but soon after he failed a test for performance enhancing drugs. Photo by: Steve Paluch / Flickr

Three months ago, Ryan Braun tested positive for elevated amounts of testosterone. Two months ago, Ryan Braun was named the NL MVP. Last month, Ryan Braun’s positive test was brought to the attention of the entire nation. And last Saturday, Ryan Braun accepted his Most Valuable Player award in front of hundreds of people amid the scandal.

“The best thing he (Alex Rodriguez) can do is come out, admit to everything and be completely honest. The situation will die a lot faster if he tells the whole truth.” That was Ryan Braun’s response when asked about A-Rod’s link to performance enhancing drugs in 2009.

“Sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure. We have an opportunity to look at those challenges and view them either as obstacles or opportunities. I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity, and this will be no different.”

That was a part of Ryan Braun’s speech when accepting his MVP award on Saturday as quoted by Braun would also speak about his respect for the game of baseball and how he’s done everything in his career with that respect in mind.

Now there’s no doubt that Braun isn’t deserving of the award. He had a remarkable season, one of the best all-around seasons I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime. After all he finished in the top in the NL in batting average, home runs, RBIs, runs scored, stolen bases, slugging percentage and OPS. He became just the seventh player to have at least four 30 homer, 100 RBI seasons in his first five years of his career and just the second Brewer to join the 30-30 club (that is 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in the same season).

Braun, along with his beefy mate (well now ex-mate) Prince Fielder, is the main reasons why the Brewers won the NL Central. There’s no debate that Braun earned the award on the field. The debate centers on the moral issue due to his positive test, and of all sports, baseball has their purists. They don’t call baseball America’s Pastime for nothing.

Sure the steroid era has come and gone, as one would hope, now that the likes of Bonds, Sosa and McGwire are out of the game. But can’t a baseball fan catch a break? Braun was one of the game’s budding superstars, someone that would erase the dark times of the last 10 to 15 years. He was one that was supposed to be superior at what he does on the diamond and between the base paths, and even more importantly do it the right way.

Back to his interview in 2009, Braun said that he’s never sought PEDs. He joked that if ever took ‘roids, he’d hit 60 to 70 home runs. In his defense, Braun’s career high is 34 dingers during his rookie season in 2007.

I want to believe him. I think it’s safe to say every fan of the game wants to believe him. Aside from a career high in stolen bases and batting average, as well as a career low in strikeouts, Braun has had years where he’s had more hits and more home runs. The guy’s a .312 career hitter! If this was indeed Braun’s first positive test, everything points towards Braun’s innocence, especially if Dan Patrick’s report on his radio show Monday proves to be true.

One more thing to note, after receiving news of his positive test, Braun took a second test, which then showed normal levels of testosterone.

My immediate reaction when I heard the news of Braun’s positive test was that I felt betrayed. In fact, I then believed that Braun should be forced to give back his award if he didn’t willingly do it, which then meant that Matt Kemp should get it. And trust me, as someone that was all against the idea that the MVP and Cy Young should come from a losing team as the Dodgers were, that was my belief. Kemp deserved the award.

But I’ve come around. Again I want to believe Braun’s innocence and I will until he’s proved otherwise. If nothing more then I have to believe that there are good guys in baseball. And well if he is proven guilty, then I say to Mr. Braun to reconsider his self-assessment because he couldn’t even reach 40 homers with drugs.

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