Braun report shows no one is exempt
I don't know if Ryan Braun is telling the truth, that this is all a mistake or a false positive or a tainted supplement. We don't know. Yet. Or ever.
What we do have to know is how and why a synthetic substance got into his body, and he will have every opportunity to prove himself innocent. We know that Major League Baseball doesn't want one of its star players to fall into the PED dumpster. And we know it wasn't about getting a contract or more money, because Braun is signed through 2020. Why and how ... there is a people's court of public opinion that Braun can and will address.
What we don't need is media posturing, at least until we do know.
For a team that set a franchise attendance record and made it to the sixth game of a thrilling National League Championship Series, this is a cruel, crushing blow. The Brewers had stood to lose Prince Fielder to free agency, with the crown of "franchise player" turned over to the 28-year old Braun, with his .332 average, 33 homers, 111 RBIs, 109 runs, 33 steals, .597 slugging percentage and MVP Award.
Now the Brewers have to go back to marketing without Fielder or Braun on the cover of the media guide. They have to deal with fans disappointed, disillusioned and angry, as well as fans who realize that the only times they have made the playoffs since Robin Yount won his first MVP Award, CC Sabathia and Fielder have then left for larger market dollars.
This doesn't mean that Baseball doesn't care -- terribly -- about cleansing the game. Bud Selig wants it. The players want it, evidenced by their approval of HGH testing and the number of emails and texts sent out Saturday night and Sunday morning with very little sympathy for anyone who doesn't understand what's going into his body.
Reality is that even with the increased testing, the chemists will forever make more from the 1% than the 99% that includes testers. Always was, always will be.
But what the Braun test result tells is that the Commissioner's Office and the players don't care if it's the MVP or a 4A utility infielder, they want a level playing field. Thus, in a sense, this speaks for the sincerity of the program, that it doesn't protect the faces of the sport or anyone's favorites, that Ryan Braun gets no different treatment than some kid in the Dominican Summer League.
So, for all that is painful about this Ryan Braun story, as much as anyone who knows him hopes this is all one dreadful mistake, it sheds a positive light on the way Baseball is run. The search for the edge will forever be available on the horizon, as chemistry advances and enablers profit, but the message from the Ryan Braun test story is that from Bud Selig to Craig Counsell, they want testing to work just as much as you do.
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.