Award is his to keep
On Tuesday, Michael Weiner, head of the players' union, issued a statement asking for everyone to reserve judgment on Ryan Braun, who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug and faces a 50-game suspension if the finding is upheld.
Perhaps Weiner has seen suggestions that the Baseball Writers' Association of America revote to determine the 2011 NL Most Valuable Player. That's ridiculous. Braun was elected as the MVP, and the award should be his to keep.
Many suspected serial abusers have piled up BBWAA hardware, and subsequent revelations don't erase their accomplishments. There's no precedent to strip Braun of his MVP. Unfortunately for him, it doesn't appear there's much precedence to win his appeal.
Must send a message
Ryan Braun should not be allowed to keep his National League MVP award if found guilty of taking a banned substance.
It would set a bad precedent. Baseball can't continue to allow users of performance-enhancing substances to be rewarded. While past award-winners who have admitted to steroid use have retained their awards, baseball now has a golden opportunity to send a message.
Until the punishment is greater than the reward, players will continue to try to cheat the system. Maybe Bud Selig's three-strikes-and-you're-out stance is too permissive. Certainly, allowing a steroid user to keep or receive an MVP award is too lenient.
Leave NL MVP vacant
If the Brewers slugger did indeed use performance-enhancing drugs — two positive tests during the playoffs were revealed and confirmed this weekend — he needs to admit it.
And if he admits it, he needs to give up the National League MVP award he should not have won in the first place.
He would need to give it up because the Baseball Writers' Association of America has no policy by which it can strip it, and because, unlike past cheaters who have kept their awards, he would have been caught and admitted it in the same calendar year he won the prize.
The 2011 NL MVP should remain forever vacant, a reminder of the cost of cheating while representing the only real punishment for an active cheater.
Grin and bear it
If it is proven that Ryan Braun intentionally took illegal performance-enhancing drugs, the legitimacy of his MVP award will be thrown into serious doubt, but Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers' Association of American will just have to grin and bear it.
The can of worms that would be opened by reassigning the award would damage the credibility of the process.
Lest we forget, Barry Bonds has a room full of MVP trophies and Roger Clemens has a Cy Young Award to leave to every member of his family. It would be nice if we could sanitize history whenever it doesn't retroactively live up to our expectations, but that's just not practical.