24 February 2012

Ryan Braun's Steroid Suspension: A Primer


Most days I wake up and think that there's no possible way for me to despise Milwaukee any more than I already do.

Congratulations, Universe...you've done it again.

Before I put my head in the oven (Does that even work?), I'll try and break down the Ryan Braun situation so that even non-baseball fans can understand what an absolute clusterfuck of incredible proportions it was/is. If you're deathly afraid of men wearing eyeliner, frozen urine or Kinkos, this is your last chance to turn away.

Still with me? Let us begin..

Where does this crazy story start?

Technically back in the 80's and 90's, since that's when steroid use in baseball started becoming more and more common. But things really peaked in the late 90's and early 2000's, when baseball players stopped looking like this and started looking like this. Home runs were being hit at an incredible rate. No one openly came out and admitted steroid/Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) use, but it was definitely hiding in plain sight.

After a scandalous Sports Illustrated interview with one-time Astro and zero-time current living person Ken Caminiti about the rampant use of steroids in baseball, MLB decided to start cracking down. Soon, testing was put into place and harsh penalties were enforced. You get caught once, it's a 50 game suspension. Second time? 100 games. Third time? You're no longer a baseball player.

The first few years, only a couple players in the minor leagues got caught, and no one that was a legit prospect. In 2011, future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez got caught for a second time and promptly retired from baseball instead of sitting out his required 100 games. But that was at the tail end of his career and no one really cared much when it happened.

As the 2011 season wrapped up, I'm sure the higher ups were high fiving and chest bumping each other. All of MLB's biggest and brightest stars had passed their PED tests that year. NO PLAYER LEFT BEHIND! OBAMA! USA! USA! USA!

But just like after I eat Chipotle, something sinister was on the horizon. A few weeks after the season ended, word got out that Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers had failed a late-season drug test. Who is Ryan Braun you ask? Only the MVP of the 2011 season.

(Artist's rendition of MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's reaction to Ryan Braun's  failed drug test during his MVP season)
What is a Ryan Braun and why should I care?

Ryan Braun's nickname is the 'Hebrew Hammer', partially because he's Jewish, but mostly because he's definitely a tool. He wears eyeliner. He started a clothing line that was so BROTASTIC that Affliction bought them. He's one of the cockiest assholes in baseball. But the man can hit. He came up to the big leagues in 2007 and led the league in slugging as a rookie. He's been one of the best outfielders in the game ever since. So yeah, finding out that he used steroids is a pretty big deal.

You keep mentioning this failed test. What's the deal?

I'm pretty sure this is what Braun's failed drug test looked like.
Here's the quick version: Braun gave a urine sample to the MLB testers. A few weeks later, that test came back showing that Braun's testosterone levels were about 4 times higher than they should have been and that his body had synthetic testosterone in it. He received his mandatory 50 game suspension. Case closed, right?

Right.

Well, not really. Remember, this is the same league that let the 2002 All-Star game end in a tie. There is NOTHING they can't fuck up. It turns out that Braun appealed his suspension and had a 3rd party arbitration hearing to see if his suspension would be upheld. Word came out yesterday that Braun beat the rap and would not be suspended after all, even though he failed his steroid test.

Um...how?

Braun got off on a technicality. Word got out yesterday evening that Braun didn't dispute the positive steroid test. What he was contesting was the actual handling of his positive urine sample. After he gave the sample, a courier was supposed to take it to a FedEx/Kinkos (not making this up) to send it to the testing lab. This is where the story gets shady. I've heard that the FedEx was closed when the courier got there and I've heard that the courier thought it was closed and just didn't go. Either way, the urine sample never made it into the mail that Saturday night and the courier brought it home and put it in his freezer for 2 days until he could mail it ("Uh honey, you didn't drink the frozen lemonade in the freezer, did you?").

When the urine test finally got to the testing lab, it was still completely sealed and was not tampered with. But because of its 2 day stay in someone's freezer, it was technically handled wrong and therefore, Ryan Braun gets off scott free.

Wait, so is he guilty?

Absolutely. Like I said, the test was never tampered with and still 100% sealed when it got to the lab. Keeping urine in a freezer doesn't just elevate the testosterone levels to 4x that of a normal human being. Ryan Braun cheated. And he's going to get away with it.

So who has the most egg pee on their face now?

TONS OF PEOPLE look bad now. Let's go down the list.

'HURRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!'
MLB/Bud Selig: These guys are at the top of the list. It's their fault for having a system in place that allowed something like this to happen. Did they not have a backup protocol in place in case a urine sample couldn't be sent to the lab immediately after being given? If Kinkos is a crucial part of your plan, maybe don't test players on weekends. Also, if Kinkos is a crucial part of your plan, HAVE A DIFFERENT PLAN.

"Wait, this is a major part of our operation? FUUUUUUUU..."
They have no one to blame but themselves. Word is that they're absolutely furious with the decision that came down yesterday and are going to "pursue action". That makes me feel so much better. CLEARLY these guys know what they're doing when it comes to important action (FART NOISE).

Ryan Braun: He didn't get out of punishment because of a false positive test. If the courier had delivered his drug test to the lab as normal, he would have been busted. And now he looks like a weasel because he escaped punishment even though he was guilty. Looking like a weasel isn't terrible, but don't forget that he also looked like a transvestite too. The combination is not flattering.

Ryan Braun's Testicles: I bet they look like this now:


OJ Simpson: Famous MVP-caliber athlete that everyone knows is guilty gets off without punishment because of mishandled evidence? Yeah, you're going to hear OJ's name come up a time or fifty in the coming days. Hopefully years from now, Braun will get caught jaywalking and serve a 10 year sentence in jail as payback.

OJ seems unconcerned by your Ryan Braun bullshit.
So basically Ryan Braun is the most hated man in baseball today. And he's still more likable than all the current GOP Presidential candidates.

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