On Thursday, Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun beat the rap. After flunking a drug test during last year’s playoffs and getting caught red faced (especially around his upper lip), he managed to skip out on a mandatory 50 game suspension, because some dumb ass piss watcher in Milwaukee can’t read a sign on the side of a FedEx store.
At least that’s what Braun wants you to believe. He wants you to believe that the guy who watched him pee in a cup was not only too dumb to figure out how to immediately send the samples via FedEx to the testing facility in Montreal, but Braun is implying that the guy tampered with the sample in an effort to smear an innocent man. A man as pure as the driven snow. A man with the most ridiculous bouffant since Henry Winkler took his leather jacket off. (Let’s see how old Doug Padilla thinks I am after another Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley reference. Hey Doug, TVLand is a thing!)
According to Braun, the man, whom Desipio has learned is named Dino Laurenzi (we learned it like all of you did…we read it on the Internet), framed Braun. Somehow Braun’s testosterone levels spiked to three times the level that would be enough to fail the test. How did Dino do it? Did he add some of his own batter to the mix? Did he sprinkle a little Rogaine into it? How did he do it without breaking any of the tamper proof sealing the samples are packed in?
Clearly, the man is a criminal mastermind. Shit. Just look at him:
Menacing. The face of pure evil. Holy shit, I’m glad Ryan Braun had the courage to stand up a guy who looks like the third Mario brother.
(Maybe Padilla is right, maybe my references are a little old? Shit, if I keep this up, I’m gonna get a job at Grantland!)
Braun avoided suspension by convincing the one impartial arbitrator on the three person panel (one is an MLBPA rep who always sides with the player the other works for Major League Baseball and always sides with the owners) that it was Laurenzi who caused his sample to be abnormally high.
Either by neglecting the sample for 44 mysterious hours, or, more nefariously, by tampering with it. See, there’s a conspiracy here. The good people of Milwaukee are out to get Ryan Braun, and Dino Laurenzi was the mastermind of the whole thing.
Seems unbelievable, right?
Yes. Because it is.
In fact, I could concoct a conspiracy that’s actually more believable.
What if Braun’s sample was intentionally mishandled? But what if it was done to help him, rather than harm him?
Seem far-fetched? Of course. Because it is. But it’s no more far-fetched than Braun’s claim that his piss burned 20 times more manly than average just by sitting in a cooler for a little under two full days.
Since this whole thing happened in Milwaukee it’s seemed fishy from the start. Consider that Interim MLB Commissioner for Life Bud Selig is not only from Milwaukee but that he brought the Seattle Pilots to town to become the Brewers, that he owned the team for more than three decades, that when he was actually the interim commissioner he still owned the team and his daughter, Wendy ran the team, that he has a second commissioner’s office (which he’s in much more than the real on in New York) and that even though he sold the team to Mark Attanasio, the Seligs still own a minority stake in the team.
Braun was tested at Miller Park during the playoffs on October 1. Even though players know they can be tested during the playoffs, it’s still a shock to them when they are. It’s possible that Braun was using what BALCO founder Victor Conte calls “fast acting testosterone.” Conte is convinced that cheating is still rampant in baseball and that players are using HGH and fast acting testosterone. HGH won’t show up in a test and you have to get a sample from a player in the first couple of days after he’s used fast acting testosterone to get a positive test result.
What if Braun had just dosed himself and then got surprised with a drug test? He’d know he was screwed. What if he gave Dino a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to break the protocol in the way the samples were sent to the testing lab in Montreal? If Braun tested positive as he feared he’d at least have grounds to fight it. If he didn’t test positive, then nobody would ever know.
“Hey Dino, why don’t you take your time mailing in my piss. There might be a couple choice Ed Hardy’s in it for you!”
So Dino puts the pee in its container and drives straight home. He hangs out with the piss samples all weekend and then finally takes the samples to FedEx. Braun’s got reasonable doubt to lean on if he tests positive, Dino makes an “innocent” mistake.
Then ESPN sticks it big fat nose into things and finds out Braun flunked his test. Word gets out, Braun can’t keep it a secret even if he beats the rap on a technicality. So he immediately has his agents start blabbing about how the “chain of custody” has issues.
When Braun is let off the hook by Shaym Das, the arbitrator, Bud is no doubt thrilled. But he can’t seem thrilled. His little Brewer pet has won the appeal and won’t sit out 50 games to start the season, his MVP can at least pretend to have not cheated. But in order to make it look like Bud isn’t doing a victory lap, MLB has executive vice president Rob Manfred issue a statement saying baseball “vehemently disagrees” with the arbitrator’s ruling. As well they should (but probably don’t.)
Then Braun coifs his hair up all helmet-like and rambles through a victory press conference where he throws the collector under the bus and implies that the guy framed him.
I know, that scenario is ridiculous. Most likely it didn’t happen.
But it’s no more ridiculous than Braun insisting that because the collector left his samples in a closed cooler for two days that suddenly the testosterone level in both samples skyrocketed. That’s some awfully convenient fermenting for Ryan Braun.
Whatever happened, it’s pretty clear. Ryan Braun cheated his ass off and kind of got away with it.
The most incredible part of the story though, were how many prominent baseball writers immediately…and I mean within minutes of the word getting out that his suspension was overturned came to his defense.
Take Jon Heyman for example.
Bullshit. He’s not innocent. Nice journalism.
He’s not clean, and the news was true…apparently we’re not entitled to the truth? Braun flunked a drug test. A guy waiting two days to mail a package is the only reason he’s not sitting in shame for 50 games.
Ahh, baseball. We missed you so much.