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Aug 5

Arena Five: The Mystery Man at Miller Park

On Biogenesis suspension day here is a story that will help restore your faith in humanity and the national pasttime.

Aug 5

How did the players suspended in the Biogenesis investigation avoid detection?

I asked it a month ago and I’ll ask it again; how broken is the drug testing policy of MLB?

Bud Selig, the players union, and all of MLB seems to be very publicly certain that the PED testing program is working. Last season’s aborted Ryan Braun suspension seemed like the first chink in the impenetrable armor of the collectively bargained PED testing program. Despite the belief that his appeal was successful on a mere technicality, MLB and the union took steps to make sure that any holes that may have been present have been plugged. The program was thought to be even stronger. 

In the 2012-13 offseason a word few had heard before would captivate fans of baseball again; Biogenesis. There was a list of 20 or so players that were linked to the Florida clinic that was run by Tony Bosch. Some on the list had already been suspended by MLB for drug offenses, some (Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez) had been linked to PEDs, and some had no previous PED suspicions or ties. This last group is the most curious of all; they are all of an age that they have been tested since they entered the minor leagues. In regards to the effectiveness of the PED testing program, this raises some potentially disturbing questions.

Were they on sophisticated, long-term regimens or did they use a few times for specific reasons, such as injury recovery? How were these players able to avoid detection? If these players are users of PEDs and were able to proceed undetected, how many more are out there that went to a clinic other than Biogenesis? At the very least this has to call into serious question the effectiveness of the drug testing program in MLB. 

 

Aug 5

People need to quit bringing up Pete Rose in their PED discussions

It is absolutely debatable if Pete Rose deserves banishment from baseball, but in no way does another player’s (of many players’) PED use have anything to do with him or what he did. It is like saying a thief isn’t a bad guy because there are murderers around.

Personally, I think what Rose did was much worse and could have possibly had a much larger direct impact on individual games than any player ingesting artificial testosterone. He also went on denying what he did MUCH longer than any current player has denied his wrongdoing. That is my opinion and others are entitled to their own, but for anyone to act like it is a cut and dry, this-is-worse-than-this issue is absurd.

What about Shyam Das?

With the news of Ryan Braun’s suspension and his weak, wishy-washy admission to PED use came along an interesting phenomenon: calls of sympathy for the collector whose mistakes made it possible for Braun to win his appeal in 2012. Many in the national media are calling for an apology to just about everyone, but for the besmirched collector in particular. Granted, Braun did imply some misdeeds, perhaps above and beyond the misdeed of keeping a container of urine in his basement instead of delivering it to FedEx like he was supposed to. He never explicitly stated that the collector tampered with his piss, although that is what many inferred from his statement. (Can you tell I’m just learning the difference between imply and infer? I’m trying to use it as much as I can.)

One thing he said is that they learned some things about the collector.That is very vague and could mean just about anything. Perhaps they learned that the collector didn’t follow protocol, perhaps they learned the collector was a big Cubs fan, who the hell knows? Another thing Braun said was that given significant motivation, it was possible that the sample could be tampered with. That seems like a fact to me. Given the proper motivation just about anything is possible. Before 9/11 I would have thought it impossible that a small group could orchestrate a terror attack like that, but they were properly motivated. I’m not comparing Biogenesis to 9/11, I’m merely making a clumsy point (although you would think Braun was flying one of the planes given the reaction by some in the national media). That being said, he never said the collector actually did tamper with the sample, just that it was possible given the fact that it was in his sole possession for much longer than it should have been. If he would have just delivered the sample to FedEx like he was supposed to we probably wouldn’t be talking about any of this. Ryan Braun would have been suspended and people would have forgotten about it like every other player that has been suspended for PEDs in the past and every other player that will be suspended in the future.

Back to the topic at hand. Much like the poor, poor courier that thought the rules didn’t apply to him, another figure lost his long-time job because of the Ryan Braun saga. That guy was arbitrator Shyam Das. After he ruled in Braun’s favor, supposedly the first time a PED suspension was overturned, Mr. Das was summarily dismissed by MLB because they didn’t agree with his ruling and the resulting weak points that were discovered in the testing process. Das was the longest tenured arbitrator since the player’s union was established. He served as arbitrator for 13 years and was dismissed the first time (once again, supposedly) he disagreed with management. To rub salt in the wounds, MLB took steps to shore up the sample collection and delivery procedure, the same procedures that Das cited as the reason that he ruled in favor of Braun (and Eliezer Alfonzo shortly after). So MLB disagreed with Das’ ruling and his thoughts on weaknesses in the procedure, but proceeded to shore up those same weakness (that they didn’t believe existed) immediately after relieving Das of his duties. 

Das is also not the first arbitrator that has gotten the ax after ruling against management. Peter Seitz was fired by MLB after ruling against owners in a free agency case in 1975 and Thomas Roberts was fired in 1986 after ruling that owners colluded against free agents in between the 1985 and 1986 seasons.

So Braun is further vilified because he had the audacity to point out some very real mistakes that this idiot courier made, but MLB gets a pass for firing the longest tenured arbitrator in their history merely because he didn’t agree with them? 

Jun 7

This whole thing is just really so stupid, I really don’t even want to talk about it. If MLB has legitimate means to suspend Braun for violating the rules, then have at it. Yet, what’s going on just looks more and more farcical as more info comes out. They seem to be willing to go to any end, sink to any level of shadiness to get these guys, and to what end? By doing it they’re turning it into a news story, and the sports press is more than happy to latch on to it over the coming low news months. They’re damaging their own product all in the name of cleaning up the sport, when the public has never seemed nearly as concerned about steroids as the media or Congress. People didn’t boo Barry Bonds because he was on steroids for the most part. They booed Barry Bonds because he was on someone else’s team hitting home runs and taking steroids. It’s just all so pointless.

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- Ryan Topp - Disciples of Uecker

This sums up the way I feel about the Biogenesis “scandal” and the steroid/PED debate in general. Fans aren’t mad that players use steroids, they are mad that players on other teams use steroids and do well against their favorite team.

Mar 3

This is getting ridiculous

New story on ESPN, “Cubs players praise, back Braun collector”. My only question is this: What the fuck difference did it make how this guy performed at his job in the past? That is not being questioned. It is on the same line of thought as “MLB’s drug problem doesn’t wok because of the Braun case.” This one incident does not change anything that happened in the past or, possibly, anything that will happen in the future. It is what it is, and that’s all that it is. It was a SINGLE incident. The drug testing policy (and process) were ‘broken’ in this one instance. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t work before or won’t work going forward. It does mean that it didn’t work THAT ONE SINGLE TIME. Is this single failure indicative of a flaw in the testing procedure? Possibly, but that doesn’t mean that the whole system doesn’t work. Did the arbitrator find, in this one situation, that the collector did not follow appropriate procedure? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that the collector didn’t follow appropriate procedure in the past and won’t in the future. Nobody is hanging this guy out to dry, in fact, he has the complete backing of Major League Baseball. There is no reason for anybody to feel sorry for him or come rushing to his defense. 

Listen, I am not a fan of Albert Pujols. I will go on record (and have in the past) to say that I feel he is one of the laziest players in the game. However, if this same situation happened with Pujols and he was exonerated because the sample wasn’t handled correctly, I would believe the same thing. The only evidence that is out there that Braun is guilty of anything was the positive test. That test was ruled invalid. Hence, there is no evidence that Braun is guilty of anything. It is extremely simple logic and it doesn’t matter if anyone agrees with the reasons that the test was ruled invalid. People that know an infinite amount more about the situation than anybody in the national media or the blogging world have decided that the sample was improperly handled and the test was ruled invalid. Why is there so many that are questioning it, with nothing to go on but the garbled “facts” that have come out since November?

Mar 2
7thinningsketch:

Chicken-Braun Soup OR The Old Switcheroo

So that is why MLB refused the offer for a DNA test…

7thinningsketch:

Chicken-Braun Soup OR The Old Switcheroo

So that is why MLB refused the offer for a DNA test…

Braun’s own people were the “leak”.

In previous posts I have blamed MLB for being the leak in the Braun case. Apparently, the leak came from Braun’s side. I stand corrected. That is especially unfortunate, as he could be scott free if not for loose lips. This bums me out.

When a technicality is not a technicality

ESPN, keeping true to form about how they handled this story from the start, reported yesterday that Ryan Braun was exonerated on a “technicality”. Like a back-handed compliment or a humblebrag, the way they reported the results of the appeal cut two ways. Their view that Braun won the appeal on a technicality is due to the fact that the courier that is charged with delivering the sample to FedEx/Kinko’s to send it to the lab in Montreal failed to do so in the allotted time. When does it stop being a “technicality” and start becoming part of the process? 

Nobody but the people in that arbitration hearing know what was said or the evidence that was presented. That hasn’t stopped everyone and their dog (myself included) in hypothesizing why the arbitrator, Shyam Das, ruled for Braun instead of Major League Baseball. I’ve seen many “facts” presented, some in direct opposition to one another. Here are some indisputable “facts”; there is a lengthy process as to the handling of urine samples for MLB drug testing, one step in the process is how fast the sample must be FedEx’d to the testing house, the courier failed miserably in that regard. I have read two separate stories as to where the sample was stored during the time that it was in the hands of the courier. One said it was in his refrigerator and another said it was on his desk in Tupperware. Word is, he felt safer with the sample in his possession rather than in a Fed/Ex office over the weekend. There is one MAJOR problem with that thinking: He is the only person who knew who the sample came from. And that is why it is important that the courier waste no time in getting the sample into the hands of someone who has no idea what it is. In his press conference, Braun mentioned that him and his attorneys have found out things about the courier that bring his professionalism and credibility into question. Because of potential further litigation Braun would not or could not say what that evidence entailed. 

Of course, I do not know if the sample, refrigerated or not, is affected by the delay. I’m not a biologist so the science is over my head. In this case, I’m not sure it mattered. ESPN’s initial report made a point to say that Braun and his crew did not challenge the science or the positive test. That brings up the question of how much the handling and expediency of the process affects the science of the test. Is a sample that has sat around for a weekend less reliable than one which is tested within 24 hours? I certainly don’t know, but in this case it really doesn’t matter. The process has been agreed upon by both sides and there is a reason that it is there. In the document that explains the process the handling of the sample is mentioned 33 times. To me, that is part of the process and not a mere technicality. If a sample is spilled on the floor and recollected is that a technicality? If someone mixes two samples together is that a technicality? If a sample is unaccounted for over a 44 hour period is that a technicality? Where is the line drawn? 

I’m obviously a Brewer fan and a fan of Ryan Braun, so take my opinion and analysis with a grain of salt. I’ll admit that this whole situation and how it has been handled by the media has pissed me off. Ryan Braun’s reputation has been sullied and with some people he will always be a “cheater” no matter what happens. Immediately after being notified of the positive test, not only did Braun get retested, he offered his DNA to test against the positive sample and MLB didn’t want to do that. That would definitely raise a red flag with me. Here is a guy that has maintained his innocence from the jump, prostrated himself at every turn, fought the system, and has escaped unpunished, yet there is still a portion of the population that refuses to believe him. Now, MLB and ESPN have egg on their faces and hopefully Ryan Braun gets another day in court to bring the WHOLE story to light.

Witnessing a Human Breakdown in Five Minutes

oldtimefamilybaseball:

Not often does one have the displeasure (or pleasure, if your leanings are sociopathic) of witnessing a human being crack. Yesterday afternoon, with the Cardinals leading 5-2 due in large part to David Freese’s three-run home run, me and a friend, who hails from St. Louis, got in the car to start the trek back to Santa Monica.

When the ride began, he was chipper and agreeable. But as we drove and the bottom of the fifth began, his mood turned black. When Corey Hart lead off with a single, it didn’t faze him. When Scott Hairston doubled, putting runners at second and third, he mentioned that it was no problem. “Jaime Garcia has gotten out of worse.”

But Ryan Braun then doubled into the right field corner, scoring two runs. After a few slaps to my glove compartment, he composed himself, realizing that not only did the Cardinals still have the lead, but Ryan Braun is an excellent hitter who will run into his fair share of breaks. 

On the very next pitch though, when Prince Fielder blasted the fastest home run that was hit this season, coming in at 119 mph, and giving the Brewers a one-run lead, he just sat there. 

“Too stunned to speak?” I asked. 

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Prince Fielder just blasted a two-run shot. Your team is losing.” 

He paused. “Wait, what? Hold on. I thought they were just replaying the crowd’s reaction to the Braun doubl—you mean, that is, I…well. F&^#!” 

When the Cardinals replaced Jaime Garcia and the radio went to commercial, we drove in silence.

“You know, it’s a seven game series. It’s only game one.” 

His eye twitched. “I know.” 

And then the game returned. Rickie Weeks hit a groundball for a sure out, but then wound up on second base thanks to Octavio Dotel’s throwing error. I looked over. He was rocking back and forth.

“Don’t worry. Yuniesky Betancourt is up next. Everything will be all right.” 

But then Yuniesky did the unexpected. After swinging and missing at a first pitch strike, Yuniesky drew a ball and fouled off four consecutive pitches. This wasn’t the Yuniesky Betancourt I knew. When Dotel left a 78 mph cutter at the top of the zone, Betancourt hammered it over the left-centerfield wall, putting the Brewers up 8-5. 

There was no saving my friend now. He was not muttering something to himself, maybe it was “don’t leave pitches up” or maybe they weren’t even words at all. He was like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and no amount of ripped out bathroom fixtures was going to bring him back. 

The scoring was largely over by that point save for a pair of traded runs in the seventh inning, but it was too late. The Brewers went on to win and at least one man’s brains was returned to a pile of mush. Kansas City Royals fans are well accustomed to the mental anguish that Yuniesky Betancourt provides, though usually for different reasons. Hopefully when the newly revised DSM V is released it will recognize Betancourtism as a disease that requires a healthy dose of beer and fatty meats to overcome it. 

The Cardinals will have their chance to tie up the series tonight when Edwin Jackson takes on Shaun Marcum at 8:05 ET. 

(Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Oct 9

hittingforthecycle:

Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum.

NLCS Game 2.

Brewers lead series 1-0.

Oct 9
captainlatte:

#MillBillies exist! #Brewers “Cletus” @JohnAxford handles #urbandimwit review well. And remains adorbs. I call this “One Crew Over the Cuckoo’s Best” ~I have no shame~

captainlatte:

#MillBillies exist! #Brewers “Cletus” @JohnAxford handles #urbandimwit review well. And remains adorbs. I call this “One Crew Over the Cuckoo’s Best” ~I have no shame~