MLB way off base in wake of Braun ruling

February 23, 2012, 11:34 pm
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If there is anything about the Ryan Braun case more satisfying than the brass at Major League Baseball jumping up and down and savaging arbitrator Shyam Das, it will surely be the brass at Major League Baseball demanding more stringent testing and an appeals process run by a karaoke singer.Brauns appeal of his positive test was upheld by a 2-1 vote, meaning that his 50-game suspension will not happen, meaning that some people have declared him innocent and clean (even though nobody can know any of that on any athlete for sure), and meaning that baseballs testing procedure, lauded mostly by baseball people, has some holes in it.But so does its reaction. Rather than announce that Braun had won his appeal and had been found not guilty according to the procedures and protocols set up and approved BY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, it chose instead to swine-slap Das ruling, deciding that when they say guilty, they mean guilty.RELATED: Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension overturned
Now we dont know whether Braun hornswoggled the arbitrator, the system or nobody at all. We wont call him innocent or guilty. We will say, though, that he played by baseballs rules, he followed baseballs procedures, he went through baseballs process, and he was found not guilty.Thus, it is inconceivably bad form for baseball to scream about the result just because they wanted it to be something else. The process is supposed to be about finding the truth, not getting the desired result. The desired result IS the truth, and baseballs system says Braun didnt do what he was accused of doing.MLBs reaction, though, shows that for it, testing isnt about determining a players guilt or innocence, its about nailing guys."As a part of our drug testing program, the commissioner's office and the players' association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute, a statement from Rob Manfred, managements representative on the three-man appeals panel, read. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das."Vehemently disagrees? Its your system, Robbo, the one your negotiators demanded. Is it only a good system when you win?There was only one response baseball could have had here Braun and his people followed our procedures, and was found by an arbitrator to have not used any proscribed substances. This finding is binding, and he will report to Milwaukees camp as scheduled without repercussion.The end. Not an adversary procedure, but a fact-finding mission where facts were found.But no, MLB went bat-guano nuts that someone outside the structure had the power to thwart its will, which was for Braun to be punished, damn it. And if thats the name of the game, the players union may want to rethink the drug testing part of the next collective bargaining agreement.Now its certainly possible that Manfred was speaking in the heat of the moment if you forget that he was issuing a statement, which could be vetted and shaped to take any form. This was the form MLB wanted it to take Braun won, and were pissed about it.Then again, this is what happens when labor and management think everything is about the adversarial rather than the cooperative. This is what happens when its all about I have to win so you can lose.And this proves yet again that Major League Baseball is more about punishing players than cleaning up the game. Ryan Braun was found to be clean in the instance in which MLB claimed he was guilty. That should have been the end of it.Instead, we learned what we needed to learn about MLBs position on drugs. It is the same as its position on everything else. If we dont win, youre bad people. If it was capable of shame, this would be an excellent time to exhibit some.Ray Ratto is a columnist for

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