But if Laurenzi is a suspect, why wasn’t he identified as such in Braun’s hearing? If anyone believed the sample was really tampered with, why wasn’t the FBI called in? Maybe what we need, when this is all over, is to throw back the curtain, have Braun’s brief in his appeal, and Major League Baseball’s brief, made public, so we can make up our own minds about the facts as they were presented to the arbitrator, Shyam Das, who eventually made the ruling that overturned Braun’s suspension.
Maybe the biggest question of all for Braun is this: When did what was a chain-of-custody defense in private become a tampering defense in public?
That’s where we are. Braun clearly wants to suggest — in a nuanced presentation largely prepared by his big-time media handlers — that his sample might somehow have been tampered with, and the only person who could have done that is Mr. Laurenzi.
What Braun doesn’t answer, maybe because he can’t, is why Laurenzi or anybody else wanted to tamper with that sample, why somebody was out to get Ryan Braun, one of the great young stars of baseball, the face and future of the Milwaukee Brewers franchise.
We are apparently supposed to believe that the man who collected Braun’s sample went home, and began the process of altering it in what would have had to be a rather brilliant scientific way. Added synthetic testosterone to both A and B samples, resealed the sample without the lab detecting that he’d done that, then fooled lab testing as sophisticated as there is in sports. WikiLeaks wasn’t nearly this brilliant.
We keep hearing these vague suggestions that he, Braun, might sue somebody. He ought to make sure he doesn’t get sued himself by Mr. Laurenzi, and have to face the discovery phase of a trial like that.
For now Braun wants to stand for all victims all the way back to Capt. Alfred Dreyfus. But you keep coming back to this: A victim of whom? Baseball? You think the commissioner wanted this? Bud Selig once owned the Brewers, he lives in Milwaukee, he loves the Brewers and the success they had last season as Braun was becoming the MVP of the National League, he loves his sport’s smallest market drawing like gangbusters, the way the Brewers did last year
Braun has a perfect right to clear his name and he’s got a lot of heavy hitters trying to help him do that, people who absolutely don’t care how many fingers have to be pointed to do that, we were all made pretty clear on that Friday. Though you wonder whose brilliant idea it was to make Laurenzi out to be some kind of criminal.
Braun has a perfect right to say that the test was wrong, even though he didn’t beat the rap saying the test was wrong, he beat the rap on the chain of custody issue. Braun, because of the laws of baseball, can now go play out his career and continue to earn more than $100 million and be the guy around whom the Brewers are built for a long time.
The people who say that the appeal system worked here have a right to say that. All those who don’t care whether athletes take performance-enhancing drugs have a right to cheer on Ryan Braun for beating the rap, and baseball’s system of justice on this.
Make up your mind about this, and whether you think Braun was the victim of a bad test, or some vast and bizarre left-field conspiracy. Make up your own mind, if you’re not a Brewers fan, how much you care.
Just don’t be shocked when reasonable people decide that Ryan Braun is full of something besides synthetic testosterone.