The public will remember
Mishandled urine samples are not exactly anyone's favorite subject matter, and there's no sense crying over spilled … uh, you get the point. However, clearly Ryan Braun lucked out here. He got MLB on a technicality.
Clearly, you don't go after the National League's reigning MVP for the heck of it. This is not the kind of publicity the league wants as it tries to distance itself from the steroid era. It had solid evidence that Braun had committed a violation but botched the protocol.
Braun, however, won't escape the public's wrath, at least outside Milwaukee. He will now be among the game's most scrutinized players, and every future feat will come with a "Yeah, but …" attached.
The system worked
Dave van Dyck
In the end, as with any "criminal" case, the purpose is to get the decision absolutely right. So, knowing now that Ryan Braun says he would "bet my life" that he was innocent, did the arbitrator get it right? Most likely we'll never know.
Did Braun escape on a technicality? Perhaps, but if he is truly innocent as he convincingly claims, isn't that the purpose of having "technicalities" written into law? Braun is now "free" — whether it was ultimately right or wrong — and he has to live with whatever the truth is, something perhaps only he knows. He'll have to listen to the taunts at road games and the lingering doubts in the media, and he can choose to handle them as he wants. If he is innocent, everyone is better for it because the appeal system, as it was intended, worked.
We don't know enough
It's easy to view Ryan Braun as simply having gotten off on a technicality and to continue to perceive him as a cheater and a drug user. It's easy, but it's not right or responsible.
We don't know whether Braun caught an undeserved break. Any possibility of knowing that went out the window when his test sample reportedly spent 48 hours in the home of the person who collected it instead of being shipped immediately to the appropriate lab.
This doesn't prove Braun's innocence, but it also doesn't prove his guilt. And if there's doubt about his guilt, then punishing him is wrong.
That's how we do things in this country, and that's how we should do them, inside or outside a court of law.
Those are the rules
Los Angeles Times
In instituting a drug testing program, baseball asked Ryan Braun and his fellow major leaguers to play by the rules. If MLB did not play by the rules in processing his test, it is hypocritical to say Braun should be suspended.
MLB has framed the issue as a technicality regarding when Braun's specimen needed to be delivered. The rules are there to protect players — from the sample deteriorating, from anyone tampering with the sample, and so on. If the rules need to be clarified because an arbitrator considers them inconsistent, as MLB said Friday, then so be it.
But better for MLB and the players' union to agree that the testing program should be administered by an independent agency, rather than overseen by MLB and the union.