While the Dustin Parkes’ and Drew Fairservices of the world are off enjoying their weekend, I’ll be taking the reins and providing you with some content to hold you over until the big boys get back to their desks on Monday morning.  Now you can get your Getting Blanked fix seven days a week.  You’re welcome.

If you haven’t yet heard, Brewers outfielder and reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during the 2011 playoffs.  This is not the same as a positive drug test, but more often than not, elevated levels of testosterone are exogenous (meaning not produced within the body, but from an outside substance).   The results of the test were made known to Braun in late October, but had yet to be made public because Braun was in an appeal process, claiming complete innocence.

It had been a dream season for Braun.  He won his first of what could be many MVP awards, he led the Brewers to their first division title in three decades (and just their second playoff appearance in that time), and he was being lauded as one of the game’s next great Hall of Fame-calibre stars.

Of course, this hasn’t stopped the masses from proclaiming Braun to be the devil incarnate since the news dropped yesterday evening.

Over the next few days we’ll probably hear the proverbial echo-chamber of link-seeking journalists claiming outrage and sitting perched atop their moral high horses, spouting the usual vitriol normally reserved for hardened criminals and murderers.  Many will claim the integrity of baseball is still murky and that the game is in trouble.  Many will call Braun’s character into question, call him a cheater, and claim he is somehow unduly responsible for the game’s image.

All of it, of course, is nonsense.

If Ryan Braun did in fact take some kind of banned substance (I really hesitate to use the words ‘performance-enhancing’ as many of these substances have been proven to do nothing in that regard) he would be merely one of many, and one of the few to get caught.  If he did take some sort of banned substance, the game, and Braun himself, will move on and ostensibly nothing will change.

People will point to his incredible numbers; his .312/.371/.563 career slash line, his .402 career wOBA, his 25.2 career fWAR, and his 161 home runs, and talk of them as if they mean nothing; as if every last ounce of talent in his being is caused by some synthetic elixir of the Gods that changes ordinary people into Babe Ruth.

If Braun is found guilty, the angry mob will demand a retraction of his MVP award, claiming that he would never have won it had be not been doping. In fact, one writer has already done that.

This is not to say that Braun should not be suspended if he did something wrong; if he broke the rules, then he should pay the price.  But if he’s guilty, the insistent drone of the industry will proclaim Braun to be of bad personal character and claim that his numbers are hollow and now mean nothing; they will say all of this without a shred of real evidence or authority on the subject.

Of course, the only reason we’ll even remember all of this in a few years is because Braun is an excellent baseball player; and a power-hitter to boot.  We don’t remember, or selectively forget, that J.C. Romero, Guillermo Mota and Edinson Volquez have all tested positive and been suspended under the new drug testing system.  We don’t remember that Astros infielder Angel Sanchez was suspended while playing in the minors.  And I don’t imagine anyone much cares.  Those players don’t hit home runs after all.

And the rest…

Ken Rosenthal has some thoughts on PEDs in baseball in wake of the Braun business [FOX Sports]

The St. Louis Cardinals have signed 34-year-old shortstop Rafael Furcal to a two-year, $14-million contract [NBC Hardball Talk].  It’s a sad end to the Ryan Theriot-era in St. Louis.  Bad week, Cards’ fans, bad week.

Despite missing almost all of the last two seasons with a broken leg, Angels’ slugger Kendrys Morales will be tendered a contract by the team [MLB.com’s Hot Stove Blog].  With the signing of Albert Pujols and a crowded outfield that includes three legitimate starters and Vernon Wells, the Angels may be looking to trade Morales to a team in need of depth at first base or DH [MLB Trade Rumors].

Speaking of Pujols, he and fellow new Angel C.J. Wilson posed in front of some cameras in Anaheim with their new jerseys on and probably said something about commitment and just wanting to win [NBC Sports].

The Cardinals’ low-ball offer of five-years, $130-million may have showed a lack of commitment and caused Pujols to look for satisfaction in SoCal [St. Louis Post-Dispatch].

It turns out, velocity is the most important thing for a pitcher [Hardball Times].

Dodgers first baseman James Loney didn’t tell the team about his being arrested on suspicion of DUI last month after he was involved in an auto-mobile collision [ESPN Los Angeles].

Sticking with the Dodgers, they have apparently been working diligently to acquire Daniel Murphy from the Mets [MLB.com]. Segue machine.

And finally, David Price interrupted a man peeing on his car and nearly engaged in fisticuffs.  Tampa’s an awesome city [Tampa Bay Times].

Comments (20)

  1. The link is bad on the David Price Article as it links to the Murphy article instead.

  2. “I really hesitate to use the words ‘performance-enhancing’ as many of these substances have been proven to do nothing in that regard”

    ‘Proven’ is a strong word on such a complicated and controversial topic. Feel free to link to some sources, or even one source, that might back up your claim.

    • He won’t be able to, but you can find numerous sources showing their ability to increase protein synthesis, dramatically improve body composition, increase the body’s ability to recover from injuries and from workouts ect. It is tiresome seeing all these writers who have obviously no experience researching or using these substances write “facts” about them. Just report the facts and leave the editorial comments for the stuff you have informed experience of. To suggest that these substances don’t improve performance and make a great athlete even better is ludicrous in this day and age. If you can synthesize more protein, carry more lean mass, and recover faster, increase your testosterone and feelings of confidence and well being, how does that not translate into better performance? Why use them, with all the risks associated with them if they don’t work?

      • Yeah, you’re right, all of that makes you an awesome baseball player

        • How could it not? Please explain to me how having a more efficient, athletic body doesn’t make you a better athlete? Please explain how being able to stay fresh and recovered from the rigors of a 162 game schedule doesn’t make you better. Add on to that, that you can still maintain high intensity workouts as well. I agree 100% it won’t improve you hand-eye coordination or your ability to field a ground ball, but it will make you more athletic and stronger. Isn’t today’s model in baseball looking for the athletic guys? The team you cover most stresses the importance of having athletes, so their must be something to the fact of athleticism playing a role in baseball. Now make him an enhanced athlete, even better. This doesn’t even get into the mental aspects of steroid use, but that’s another thing.

          • Again, please cite your sources that these drugs don’t increase athletic performance.

          • Great posts IamError. It’s frustrating to see the pompous tone that so many PED sympathisers take, without any reference to credible sources. Drew, Stoeten, Parkes and now Travis all recycle the same lines and further their own confirmation bias while doing so.

            If you are going to continue making these claims then at least familiarise yourself with some of the literature on the subject. There are plenty of decent studies on HGH you could have cited which cast doubt on performance benefits. They all have flaws which could be debated, but there’s nothing to debate if you aren’t prepared to back up your assertions.

          • Agreed. I expect this kind of talk in a hockey blog where they just can’t fathom how a hockey player can benefit from steroids. If you’re an elite level athlete, you can benefit from them. If you’re a regular Joe, you can benefit from them. They knew this is in the 60′s and 70′s and now in 2011 there are still those who don’t believe. It’s not going to make Johnny Mac into Barry Bonds, no one said this, but that witty one liner sure did back up your point.

          • Please go back and read what I wrote again. You’ll notice I’m not excusing Braun for using (if in fact he did, which we still don’t know). I’m very careful in my wording. My reference to not using “performance-enhancing” in my writing the article was simply to show that not all “PEDs” actually enhance performance. HGH for instance has been shown to alter body composition, but has no impact on actual athletic performance; and that’s per Drs. Liu H. Bravata and Andrew Pipe from Stanford University who published a study in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. We have no idea what Braun used, if anything and neither do you, so why speculate?

            And I never said that traditional “steroids” didn’t make you a more efficient athlete…in fact, I never even used the word steroids. I’m not excusing Braun and saying they do nothing, I’m simply decrying the hair-brained idea that none of his accomplishments matter or that he is of bad personal character.

            All I said was that there is no conclusive proof that they make you a better ballplayer or that they made Braun a better ballplayer.

            Athlete does not equal ballplayer.

          • Increasing athletic ability (recovering from injury faster, etc) doesn’t make you more likely to hit 50 home runs instead of 5; that’s the point Travis is trying to make. For every ALLEGED user that put up sensational numbers, (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, etc), there are countless guys who put up terrible numbers while using PEDs.

      • Recover faster, yes, but be a better ball player, no. Or any sport requiring a great deal of hand-eye coordination. Its like claiming that if you stick Bo Jackson with needles, he’ll know hockey… sorry, Bo DON’T know, no matter how many times you’d jab him.

        • You may have been careful with your wording about Braun, but you should notice that neither IamError or I mentioned Braun a single time.

          I don’t care about Braun’s case any more than I care about Guillermo Mota’s and I really don’t like your presumption that I must care more about Braun’s case more because I have an irrational distaste for PEDs.

          I care about the issue of PEDs because I see all the contributors on the main sites I read talk about them as if the science is settled and you must be behind the times if you don’t agree.

          On the subject of PEDs you most certainly were not careful with your language. You said that ‘many of these [banned] substances have been proven to do nothing in that regard’. If you were careful with your language you would not have written ‘proven’, because the onus is then on you to demonstrate your claim about the vast number of substances on the banned list.

          Again, stating ‘[HGH] has no impact on actual performance’ is not careful. You need to present some evidence for that. Unless you have some hidden evidence up your sleeve then I can tell you in advance that the best evidence does not prove HGH has no performance enhancing properties.

          There are numerous ethical problems with running clinical tests on HGH in able bodied young people, let alone with professional athletes. This has resulted in the sample sizes used in existing clinical trials being far too small to prove anything meaningful.

  3. I’m really hoping this turns out to be not true. I really like Braun but he joins the A-Rods of the world if this is upheld.

  4. I hope Braun is able to prove no wrong doing. It would be a shame if otherwise.

    The debate will no doubt rage on. IMO, there’s no place in the game for players who seek artificial advantage over others. While I don’t believe that steroids enhance the abilities that make a great baseball player great, I do believe that the advantage to be had through improved recovery from exercise and injury alike is unfair. And really – if there was no advantage, why do it?

    What’s really unfortunate is that if he’s innocent, he’s likely to be treated like he’s guilty regardless.

  5. I can see both sides.

    PEDs and banned substances don’t turn your average Joe into Babe Ruth, but rules are rules and if players don’t want the bad press, pay attention to what you put in your body and follow the rules.

    I can sympathize more with players from the “steroid era” when many PEDs weren’t necessarily banned and the testing was little to non-existent. But now all the players know the black eye that their career can get from doing this. They should be held accountable, whether the PEDs make them a better player or not.

    The debate about whether the rules are good/bad/fair/unfair is irrelevant.

    • I can see why players from the steroid era should get a little more sympathy, but the emphasis should be on ‘little’.

      A good analogy to PEDs, for anyone who writes for a living, is plagiarism. Plagiarism isn’t generally covered under criminal law but almost all writers are against plagiarism; they want to be given credit for their work. Both PEDs and plagiarism are forms of cheating that give the PED user/plagiarist an unfair advantage over the other players/writers.

      Some writers do plagiarise and are generally heavily criticized when caught. PED users should be given the same treatment.

      The point is, just because something isn’t explicitly banned doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to do it.

  6. I’m also getting a little tired of all the “PED’s do nothing” crowd. (paraphrasing). How can you not see that if you take a good baseball player and make him a better athlete, that he will then become a better baseball player? If you’re stronger and faster, you gain fractions of seconds in reaction times and that makes a big difference at the plate. You can also get faster bat speed so you’re able to wait just a little longer to identify the pitch. Also, I’m not talking about Braun specifically, because no real information has come out yet. It’s possible this is a false positive and I wish writers on other sites would wait for all the info before crucifying him.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking about an article from Outside magazine I read several years ago where an amateur cyclist decided to try out all this stuff himself and see what they actually did. It’s a great read and provides anecdotal information on HGH and what it can do for people. One of the possible benefits is improved eyesight which might help out baseball players. Here’s a link.

    http://www.cyclingtipsblog.com/2009/11/drugs-a-cautionary-tale/

    • Thanks for the link Garold, very interesting.

      As you say, it’s all anecdotal, but when the scientific studies are so limited this type of anecdotal evidence is quite possibly the best evidence available.

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