Tagged: Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun Suspension Overturned: Debunking the Rumors


-Curt Hogg-

To say Ryan Braun had the first successful positive drug test appeal ever merely because of a technicality is more than fallacious. There is no way the Braun camp or MLB would have leaked the results. No luck is involved in appealing a positive drug test.

The rumors are running rampant over the internet over the Braun case. Granted, many of them are simply comments from vehement fans on articles and posts, but those still count as rumors. After all, wasn’t this post “just a rumor” a week ago?

How and why Braun was proven innocent (or not guilty, however you choose to say it) is ultimately in the hands of the opinion holder. Understandably, every person will have a separate opinion on how Braun’s suspension was overturned and, though it shouldn’t have to be this way, whether or not the Brewers left fielder got off lucky. The most trustworthy source in this situation should be Ryan Braun, as he is the one who beat out Major League Baseball, which, in return, released an angry statement.

Rumor 1: Ryan Braun got off on a technicality

For starters, a mishandled urine sample is no technicality; it’s a major misstep in the drug testing process. Anything could have happened to that sample in the 48 hours the sample was missing, and arbitrator Shyam Das was not willing to put Braun’s career and reputation at stake with such a large question surrounding the test.

Additionally, Braun’s lawyers gathered weekly weight, strength, and speed information taken by the Brewers. As he said in his Friday press conference, there was no significant change in weight, strength, or speed on the bases throughout the season. Braun’s training regimen remained the same, as well. Let’s put two and two together: Braun’s test result showed testosterone levels three times higher than any other test recorded under the current MLB drug policy, but records show no physical change. Add to this the fact that the urine sample went missing for 48 hours, opening the possibility of a tampered test, and there is no “technicality” involved.

It would take more than merely a technicality for Das to overturn a positive drug test and 50 game suspension.

Rumor 2: The sample was handled correctly

Major League Baseball remains firm on the notion that Braun should have been suspended and the test was not mishandled.

“The extremely experienced collector in Mr. Braun’s case acted in a professional and appropriate manner,” MLB said in a statement.

“He handled Mr. Braun’s sample consistent with instructions issued by our jointly retained collection agency. The Arbitrator found that those instructions were not consistent with certain language in our program, even though the instructions were identical to those used by many other drug programs — including the other professional sports and the World Anti-Doping Agency.”

Notice that not once did MLB refute what Braun said about the absence of the urine sample for 48 hours. After contradicting much of what Braun said (including that the system is “fatally flawed”), all that has been said of the collector is that he “acted in a professional and appropriate manner”.

If not reporting the sample for 48 hours is acting a professional manner, then something is wrong with the drug policy.

Braun celebrates the Brewers NL Central crown

Braun is the first player to successfully appeal a positive drug test, proved there is no substantial case against him, had his reputation at stake, was tagged a PED abuser, and is now being called “lucky” for emerging on top.

Braun’s camp spent all winter contriving a case that would prove a) He is completely innocent or b) the testing process was flawed or mishandled. The primary issue with option a is that it’s virtually impossible to completely prove your innocence and no PED was ever taken. When they found out the test was mishandled and not delivered to FedEx immediately, the focal point of the argument was established.

Over the course of five weeks, Braun and his lawyers proved, for the first time in Major League history, that he was not guilty. Braun had his name “dragged through the mud” with reports of STD’s and major baseball writers such as Buster Olney calling for him to give back his MVP award. Major League Baseball was obviously against him, as was a significant amount of baseball fans. To overcome all this requires more than luck.

Rumor 3: Bud Selig played an  undercover role in the appeal

This is without a doubt the worst rumor I’ve seen yet. If all the rumors were true, then Bud Selig was the reason behind the reversal of the suspension because he used to own the Brewers. Not only is this completely crazy, but Selig sold the team to the Attanasio family seven years ago.

Yep. Ryan Braun will be playing this year because Bud Selig wanted the team he used to own to be able to compete.

Ryan Braun Suspension Overturned: How This Affects the Brewers in 2012


-Curt Hogg-

Ryan Braun will be in the lineup, batting third for the Brewers on April 6th. Brewers fans, rejoice.

Not only does the successful appeal on Braun’s positive drug test maintain his image, but it may have saved the Milwaukee Brewers season. With the off-season loss of three-time All Star Prince Fielder, the Brewers could not have afforded losing the reigning National League Most Valuable Player for 50 games to begin 2012. Though the pitching staff–primed with upper-echelon arms in Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, and Shaun Marcum–may have been able to keep the Brewers from locking themselves in the cellar by the end of May, the offense would have been stagnant without Braun and Fielder.

Let’s face it: Ryan Braun’s vindication saved the Milwaukee Brewers season.

All along, Braun denied any allegations, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the positive drug test report was “BS”. Throughout the entire process, including a five-week appeal in court, Braun was nothing short of professional. That same approach was taken Thursday by the Brewers outfielder, who said in a statement, “I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I’ve done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.”

In a division with no evident front-runner, the Brewers now have as good a chance to make the Playoffs as any team in the NL Central. The   defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals lost the face of the franchise and arguably top player in the game, Albert Pujols. Cincinnati, though much-improved with the addition of starter Mat Latos, has much to prove with a plethora of question marks surrounding the back end of the rotation and bullpen.

The Brewers back end of the bullpen, comprised of 46-save-man John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez, is easily the best in the division. The starting rotation is proven and can compete with the likes of the Chris Carpenter-led St. Louis arms.

What may be overlooked in all this may be the fact that the Brewers retained a Gold Glove in left field with what may have been the worst defensive infield in the National League with the likes of Rickie Weeks and Mat Gamel. The outfield is now one of the best, boasting UZR-gem Carlos Gomez (27.5 UZR in 2011), the speedy Nyjer Morgan and his alter ego, Tony Plush, and the underrated Corey Hart in right field.

The effect will be most obvious under the ‘R’ column in the scoreboard. The Brewers gain a .330 hitter who can bop 30 homers and drive in over 100 in addition to stealing 30 bases. As much love as there may be for Carlos Gomez and Japanese import Nori Aoki, it’s borderline-impossible that the two could match that production. I mean, there is a reason the man was the National League MVP.

The debate over the Most Valuable Player award typically is along the lines of “Well, is he really the most  valuable to his team? Or is he just the top performer?” As if that line isn’t spoken enough, it would as overused as the driver’s seat in a 1994 Buick by the time his 50 game suspension would have been over. I’ll just do us all a favor and call it out right now, on the spot.

Ryan Braun will prove to be most valuable to his team in 2012.

Ryan Braun’s Released Statement on Overturned Drug Test


Ryan Braun has become the first player to overturn a positive drug test. Thursday, he was informed that a third-party arbitrator had ruled that he is, indeed, innocent and will not be suspended 50 games. To my knowledge, it is because something went wrong with the test, which sound a lot like the news I broke last week.

Braun released the below statement following the news of the successful appeal.

That, my friends, is the face of a vindicated man.

“I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision.

“It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

“We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.

“I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.

“I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment.

“I’d also like to offer special thanks to Michael Weiner and the Players Association for believing in me since day one and to my attorneys.

“I’d like to thank my agent Nez Balelo and Terry Prince of CAA Sports and Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies for all of their help and counsel through the process.

“This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked.

“Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the Panel Chair and the Office of the Commissioner.

“As I said before, I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball.

“Everything I’ve done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.

“I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title.”

Ryan Braun: Professional Man, Pure Hitter, Rightful MVP


An Infectious and Unconditional Love for The Game

*FOURTH INNING*

Curt Hogg-

Dealing with adversity is something all professional athletes must overcome in order to be successful. The ones that handle it best are ultimately the ones that go on to do big things. This is no different for Brewers outfielder and reigning National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun. Braun’s situation, however, has called upon an imperative professionalism to which he has met.

The typical highest point of adversity for a baseball player is to be caught in the doldrums of a slump, whether it be at the plate, in the field, or on the mound. Braun, compared to most, has experience far less of this sort of adversity in his career, yet has trumped nearly them all with the ongoing saga surrounding him this off-season.

In December, ESPN reported that Braun tested positive for performance enhancing drugs and was facing an imminent 50 game suspension. Click here for more details on the story. As the lengthy appeal process continues and the jury is still out (literally) on his status for the fast-approaching 2012 season, Braun has handled the personally strenuous situation with class and high regard. Unlike Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, former icons who became widely disliked for the way they handled the media during their PED trials, Braun has not crossed any lines, spoken out in portions about the situation, and politely declined any question or comment he deemed unanswerable.

He could have trashed reporters when questioned about his alleged use of synthetic testosterone. He could have created a stir toward the MLB for releasing his test results, which were supposed to be confidential. He could have sued for his private medical information being publicized. He could have gone faded off into a secluded abyss. He could have declined the invitation to attend the BBWAA Awards Dinner, where he gave a brief speech. He could have gone against the Brewers for possibly mal-testing him.

He has maintained a professional mannerism in a situation that has progressively drawn a “Braun+Brewers fans vs. the world” feel. If anybody actually believes that Braun went over-the-top with his initial reaction,telling USA Today the report was “BS”, they need to get a realization of how 98% of people would react. Imagine being one of the game’s elite sluggers and just having won your first MVP award, just for it to be reported you tested positive for PEDs. Who wouldn’t defend themselves in this scenario? Calling a report “BS” in an attempt to instinctively defend yourself is anything but over-the-top, unless your name is Tim Tebow.

At the BBWAA dinner, in his first public appearance since the report surfaced, Braun asserted that challenge is opportunity.

“You know, sometimes in life, we all deal with challenges we never expected to endure…and I’ve chosen to view every challenge I’ve ever faced as an opportunity and this will be no different. I have always believed that a person’s character is revealed through the way they deal with those moments of adversity.”

Braun at the BBWAA dinner to accept his MVP award

Throughout, the 28-year-old has been able to voice his opinion on the report  respectfully without attacking any group or individual.  This video from TMZ found on Bleeding Yankee Blue shows just this.

The final verdict on Braun’s pending suspension has yet to be reached and the star outfielder may have to report to Spring Training without knowledge of whether or not he will be in Ron Roenicke’s Opening Day lineup. I expect him to handle all the media attention in the same way since he was called up in May of 2007. Seeing Braun tear the cover off the ball in Spring action can also be expected at the same elite level we’ve seen since May 2007.

Prolonged slumps have avoided Braun over the course of his five Big League seasons. Ever since Little League, he has been one of the most feared players on any given diamond. From sharing the field little Jonny Olson and TJ Johnson to doing so with the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, Braun has always been the primary focus of opposing pitching. Any notion that Braun  only had a MVP-caliber season with 33 homers, 111 RBI, and a .332 average because of alleged PED use is absurd. There was no significant increase in power numbers for Braun in 2011; he blasted 34 in a mere 113 games as a rookie in 2007 and didn’t test positive for PEDs. The lucid fact that he has always been a pure hitter should remain prominent when discussing the situation.

What I’m trying to say in that last paragraph is that, if the report holds true and he is suspended 50 games, Braun didn’t become the National League MVP simply because of taking any performance boosters.

Without Braun, the Brewers don’t win the division for the first time since 1982. Milwaukee would have been absent from the party in October, yet again. They don’t make the franchise’s first National League Championship Series appearance. Miller Park doesn’t draw 3,000,000 fans.

The bat of #8 was invaluable for the Brewers in 2011, which is why he won and has retained, for that matter, the MVP award. If Braun

raun led the National League in slugging in 2011 at .597 and in OPS at .994

was really a fraud, he would have failed other postseason drug tests in the past and any random drug tests administered by Major League Baseball throughout the regular season. To our knowledge, however, he never failed any of these.

Rightful MVP, indeed.

The goal here is most definitely not to offer my opinion on whether or not Braun is innocent, but ,as a Brewers die-hard, believing Braun’s words emanates a lining of hope. The kind of hope that the truth will come out and that it will be favorable to Braun and the Brewers. Maybe even hoping that, despite it being merely a rumor, his test was mishandled, as I reported earlier this week on Plushdamentals.

Many of the details surrounding the Ryan Braun saga are currently ambiguous to the public, but I know three things are certain: Braun has handled a beyond-adverse situation professionally, and, because of doing so, has shown he is the deserving MVP and will receive a standing ovation that rattles the Miller Park roof whenever it be that he returns to the Brewers lineup.

*’Ryan Braun: Professional Man, Pure Hitter, Rightful MVP’ is the “fourth inning” in a series of nine posts on An Infectious and Unconditional Love for The Game. Read the first, second, and third posts here.

Source: Braun Test Sample Mishandled, Says College Teammate


Curt Hogg-

An anonymous source has reported to Plushdamentals that Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun’s drug test that tested positive for increased levels of synthetic testosterone was mishandled, thus likely altering the results of the test. The report exclusively reached Plushdamentals through a source familiar with a former college teammate of Braun’s at the University of Miami and reportedly has knowledge of the situation.

The 2011 National League MVP is facing a 50 game suspension if the results of the test hold true and Braun does not win his court hearing, which, to the knowledge of the public, is currently still in process. A second, independent test taken by Braun after the season came back with no evidence of performance-enhancing drugs. The court process, however, is in a prolonged state. Events and findings have been undisclosed to the public, but the initial source on this story may have an inside track, as he is still familiar with Braun.

According to sources, the results were not immediately sent to Major League Baseball as they should have been. Instead, the test samples were brought back to the collector’s residence in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There they remained, refrigerated, overnight until they were mailed in the next morning. While it is not assured that there is sufficient information to show that the test was mishandled, it supports Braun’s case.

Additionally, there is reportedly no STD involved in Braun’s case, contrary to reports that the 28-year-old’s herpes medicine he was taking triggered historically high results.

The confidential test was, according to the source, missing for a period of time from Point A (Milwaukee) to Point B (Major League Baseball). This opens up a wide potential of possible happenings between the time it was taken and time it was sent, both of which are supposed to occur within the same day, per the MLB drug policy. Braun’s college teammate and friend reported the story to an anonymous source who works out with him, after which word reached Plushdamentals.

“The story seems unlikely, but who knows? It may hold to be true,” the source said of the situation.

A verdict on the Braun case is likely to be reached and made public before Spring Training games begin.

2011: A Healthy Brew of Magic


FIRST  INNING 

The indelible image from a magical 2011 is that of the regularly exuberant Nyjer Morgan, separating from the post NLDS Game 5 celebration, and submerging himself in the splendor, magnitude, and sheer joy of the moment. Following his game-winning hit and the least surprising F-bomb in television history, he took the cross-legged and grinning pose of a joyous kindergartner in a corner of the clubhouse. The celebration, meanwhile, ensued, much like the Brewers season as they advanced to their first NLCS in franchise history.

A bittersweet taste, however, still lingers in the mouths of Brewers players and fans. Sure, the team won a franchise-record 96 games. Yes, they won the division and beat the Diamondbacks in the NLDS.  And, of course, it was a seven month long party in Milwaukee. But to get so close and to not taste the full effects of winning it all hurts. Add to this the idea that the St. Louis Cardinals, whom the Brewers were a better team than for the entire year minus one roughly mistimed series in October, ended up hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy, and you have yourself a recipe for “what if….?” thoughts.

But, as they say, time heals all wounds (unless you tend to hold grudges), and, soon enough, 2011 will bring forth only positive memories from Brewers fans, of which there is a plethora to choose from.

Braun's memorable go ahead blast vs. the Marlins to clinch the NL Central

There was the 4 hour 35 minute marathon in May that ended royally with a Prince Fielder walk off blast to right field. Or the 4-6-3-2 triple play turned by the Crew against the Dodgers. There were all the hilarious post-game antics of Morgan-err…. Tony Plush. Braun’s game-winning home run vs. the Marlins as the Brewers clinched the division on September 23. And the vivaciously unforgettable “Beast Mode” celebration that enthralled the entire city of Milwaukee.

Deftly put, 2011 was one incredible dream for all Brewers fans alike. After being confined to futility and mediocrity for 29 years, with a brief 2008 Playoff stint thrown in for kicks, Milwaukee baseball finally returned to prominence.

Ryan Braun brought home the Brewers’ first Most Valuable Player award since Robin Yount won it in 1989. Braun out-slugged the competition, beating out Matt Kemp and teammate Prince Fielder for baseball’s most coveted award. He led the league in slugging and in OPS in addition to batting .332, second to only that of New York’s Jose Reyes, and hit 33 homers while driving in 111 RBI. Braun also led the team with 33 stolen bases while only getting thrown out six times and hit .500 with 4 RBI in the NLDS. Ignore the drama for the time being surrounding the Brewers four-time All Star and Silver Slugger; Milwaukee has found itself a star.

The loss of Prince Fielder to free agency will undoubtedly affect the team’s performance offensively. Without the dynamic 1-2 punch of

Plush soaks it all in.

Braun and Fielder, the 2011 season would have had a significantly different outcome. Fielder’s .415 OBP, 38 home runs, and 120 RBI provided protection to Braun in the 3-hole in the lineup and provided an elite power bat.

It was not all Fielder and Braun, however. All Star Game starter Rickie Weeks was on pace to have a career year until an injury in July set him back. Corey Hart filled in nicely for Weeks at the leadoff spot, finishing the season hitting .285 with 26 homers. He finished the season hitting .301 as the leadoff batter for the Brewers. Morgan proved to be more than all talk, batting .304 with countless clutch hits and stellar defensive play. Jerry Hairston filled in nicely for the injured Weeks before replacing a struggling Casey McGehee come Playoff time. The team produced more than enough offense  to back their stellar starting rotation.

GM Doug Melvin’s off-season acquisitions of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke payed off, with Marcum’s rotation-leading ERA. Greinkem, despite missing 7 starts to begin the season, struck out 201 batters and posted a 16-6 record. Yovani Gallardo proved to be the team’s ace time and time again, and Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson went a combined 24-18 to round out the rotation.

We could go on for days about the key parts to the 2011 Brewers. I just spent four paragraphs discussing the players and didn’t even touch John Axford or Francisco Rodriguez or Jonathan Lucroy or Takashi Saito. This speaks volumes about the depth that the Brewers possessed.

The turnstiles of Miller Park were rushed all year long as the team set a franchise record for attendance with over 3,071,000 million fans. Nothing was magical at all about this influx of Brewers fans to Miller Park. Mix together a great baseball team with a great baseball city and the result is party rockin’ in the house every night. Miller Park was a living nightmare for opposing teams, as the Crew won a franchise-record 57 home games in their friendly confines (Shut up, La Russa, it wasn’t the lighting). Braun, Fielder, Plush & Co. made damn well sure that DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” would be blasted after every game from the same speakers that once chimed “Hell’s Bells” for Trevor Hoffman.

As was Miller Park, homes around Milwaukee were rockin’ on a nightly basis. 96 wins. NL Central champions. National League Championship Series appearance. National League MVP. 3 All Stars. Franchise attendance record. A Prince that blossomed into a King.  Nightly lessons of Plushdamentals from T. Plush. Axford’s mustache and saves. Beast mode.

Simply magical.

*2011: A Healthy Brew of Magic is the “first inning” of a set of nine posts on An Infectious and Unconditional Love for The Game.

Stay posted on the series. and “Follow” Plushdamentals, the #1 Brewers fan blog.


NLCS Game One: Brewers 9, Cardinals 6: Six Run 5th Gives Milwaukee 1-0 Lead


The ball was jumping out of Miller Park on Sunday afternoon for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Three two-run home runs, two of which came in a six-run fifth inning, propelled the Brewers to a 1-0 lead in the NLCS. Ryan Braun’s 463-foot blast over the Harley Davidson Deck in left-center opened it up, and homers by Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt ensued in the fifth to give the Brewers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“With the shadows it can get hard (to hit), but I’m just fortunate it went over the fence,” said a modest Ryan Braun on his first inning moon shot off Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia (0-2).

However, it wasn’t all fun and games for Milwaukee, who is 4-0 at home so far in the Playoffs.

A three-run home run by David Freese in the fourth gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead against Brewers starter Zack Greinke. St. Louis added to their lead with a two-out RBI single off the bat of Lance Berkman in the fifth.

Milwaukee responded, down 5-2 in the fifth. The rally began humbly with a meager base hit through the left side by Corey Hart. Following a Jerry Hairston double to left, Braun sent a Garcia breaking ball down the line in right that barely stayed fair for a ground-rule double. 5-4. Fielder carried the momentum by launching Garcia’s first delivery into the visitor’s bullpen on a rope to give the Brewers the lead 6-5. Octavio Dotel then relieved Garcia and botched a Rickie Weeks grounder, disposing the ball into right field for a two-base error. The usual free-swinging Betancourt then put together an eight-pitch at bat before homering to the Milwaukee bullpen to make it 8-5.

Braun finished with 4 RBI with a homer, double, and two runs scored as the Brewers followed suit of the 1982 Milwaukee team to take the opening game in a Playoff series with St. Louis (the two teams met in the World Series that year).

The team that won Game 1 of the NLCS has advanced to the World Series in 16 of the past 19 years.

Milwaukee is now 17-0 at home in games Greinke (1-0) has started. Greinke, who criticized the demeanor of Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, went six plus innings, allowing all six of St. Louis’ runs, striking out six.

Takashi Saito relieved Greinke after a leadoff single from leadoff man Rafael Furcal in the seventh and immediately made Brewers fans nervous.

Axford (left) notched the save as the Brewers take Game One

With Furcal running on the pitch, the Cardinals avoided a double play and wound up with a Jon Jay single to put runners on the corners with no outs and the heart of the order coming up. Saito avoiding the jam, breaking Albert Pujols’ bat for a 5-4-3 double play with Furcal coming home. A Lance Berkman pop out ended the inning and Milwaukee escaped up 8-6. A Jonathan Lucroy RBI single would get the run back immediately for the Brewers.

Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford held the lead in the eighth and ninth with no trouble as Axford picked up his second postseason save.