Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers stands on deck against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Ryan Braun was voted NL MVP by the BBWAA. If the accusations of Braun using a banned substance are upheld, should that organization take his award away?
The answer to the question posed in the headline of this feature is "No."
14 words! I'm done. Easy, right? See you later...
Of course, there's more. While the answer is "no", and will remain "no", there have been some interesting issues raised by even posing the question. Earlier today, three national baseball writers -- Ken Rosenthal of Fox, Buster Olney of ESPN, and Jon Heyman of CBS -- went back and forth on Twitter with each other and numerous fans on the Ryan Braun/MVP issue. The discussion is too lengthy to reproduce here, so I'll point you at each man's Twitter feed (Rosenthal; Olney; Heyman) to see the entire back-and-forth. It can, however, be summed up in this tweet from Olney:
Now they're thinking about "general character, disposition, loyalty and effort"?
And what sort of accusation is Olney making about Braun by saying that? Is he saying that Braun -- by all accounts a good teammate and hard worker -- doesn't have good character, or didn't put out effort, or is disloyal? (The limitations of Twitter being what they are, perhaps this isn't a fair statement, either.)
This is the slippery slope we have been put on by the ESPN.com "Outside the Lines" report that Braun had tested positive for some sort of performance-enhancing, or "banned", substance -- it's unclear which one. The primary problem is that Braun is appealing this and that during the appeal process, this is supposed to remain confidential. Someone leaked it to writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn. They didn't have to write about it, and in my view, probably should not have.
It's too late for that, unfortunately, and as a result of Fainaru-Wada and Quinn's report, the usual snap judgments and ad hominem statements have been made, which leave us in a position of judging a man without all the facts.
MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner issued the following statement on the matter Tuesday, with which I agree completely:
"Our Joint Drug Agreement is designed to protect a player from a rush to judgment before he can challenge a reported positive test result. Fairness dictates that Ryan Braun be treated no differently. I urge all to reserve judgment on this matter until the JDA's process has played itself out."
And that's exactly what everyone needs to do. Tone down the rhetoric -- the usually calm and reserved Doug Glanville says Braun should be stripped of the MVP if guilty, but I think he misses the point: we shouldn't even be having this discussion, because none of this should have been made public.
Jayson Stark, another ESPN writer, presents another issue:
So if we're going to hold a new 2011 NL MVP election, how can we not do a revote on that 2003 AL MVP award that A-Rod won -- considering that he's admitted he used steroids on the way to winning it?
But wait. Go back and take a look at that 2003 vote sometime. A-Rod was one of 10 players who got a first-place vote that year. Five of them have since gotten tangled up in some level of PED suspicion: Manny Ramirez, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, David Ortiz and Nomar Garciaparra. So what would we do about those guys? How could we hold a fair and rational re-election all these years later?
Stark is correct. Do we go back and strip Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds of their awards? One has been found guilty in a court of law. The other might be in the future. Stark concludes, "I believe that what happened, happened. And trying to make it un-happen is more trouble than it's worth, even if it taints an MVP award, and the man who won it, for the rest of time."
I agree. Reserve judgment. Don't undo what's done. And please, in the future, reporters: if you're leaked information of this nature that's supposed to be kept confidential, honor that commitment.