1. This is the first time that such a big name's failed drug test became public well before the matter's resolution. Good job by ESPN. But now we're going to have to wait a while.
My understanding is we probably won't have a final verdict on the Braun case until February, right around spring training. Why does it take so long? That's the nature of the appeals process. Braun and his attorneys can bring in scientific experts to try to explain how, despite the test result, he did not actually use illegal PEDs.
The Brewers have to conduct business the next few months not knowing whether they'll have Braun for the first 50 games of the season. Although, if they look at the history of this matter, they'll probably plan to be Braun-less until about Memorial Day.
2. My first thought, once I absorbed all of this, was, "Braun is going the Roger Clemens route here!" And I love it, from an entertainment standpoint.
Rather than go underground or confess to wrongdoing, Clemens challenged the allegations against him in the Mitchell Report. He's still challenging them.
Braun could've no-commented upon being contacted by ESPN, but instead, he essentially confirmed the charges against him, in order to try to refute them. A very interesting PR strategy.
Here's the difference: Clemens has a half-decent chance of riding his strategy to victory (legally, if not PR-wise). He's dealing with the unpredictability of a jury, he has smart lawyers who can play to the crowd, the prosection's witnesses are flawed and, as we've already seen, the government attorneys are not geniuses.
Braun? He's facing a situation in which no one has ever successfully overturned a failed drug test. Not since this process began in 2004. He has quite the uphill climb.
3. For goodness sakes, no, of course Braun's NL MVP trophy shouldn't be revoked. Come on, now. There's no morality behind the award. If the voters determined that Braun was more valuable to his team than was any other player in the NL, then that's it. End of story.
Buster Olney made the interesting point, in his blog - and Dennis copy/pasted it and put it here on the blog, without proper attribution - that the BBWAA doesn't take away season awards in an instance like this, yet it has consistently voted no on "steroids players" on the Hall of Fame ballot like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.
All true. Yet in order to revoke a season award, the BBWAA would have to officially legislate that. Whereas the Hall of Fame elections reflect the apparent feelings of a majority of voters - and let's be clear, we're not even sure how many of those voters simply don't think McGwire or Palmeiro is Cooperstown-worthy just based on the numbers.
Maybe someone in the BBWAA will propose legislation, down the road, to institue such a revocation process. I know that, as long as I'm hanging around, I'd fight such a proposal.
4. Now let's discuss one of my least favorite words: Tarnish.
This drug-test tarnishes Braun and his MVP campaign. Baseball has been on such a good run, and now it's tarnished.
As the late Nell Carter used to sing, Gimme a Break.
You can tarnish something only if you think it's polished. If you view a baseball season with open eyes and an open mind, then you won't freak out when something like this happens.
Hank Aaron admitted to using amphetamines. Does that "tarnish" his career home run total of 755 home runs? No. We view it as a holy number. Same as Willie Mays' 660 home runs, which were allegedly accomplished with the help of "red juice."
If you take the emotion out of it, then numbers are what they are. There's no tarnish, no polish, no nuthin.' They're just statistics, and every stat has a backstory.
Bud Selig is partly to blame here. In thumping his chest about the sport's drug-testing program, he likes to say that the game is far cleaner than it used to be, before testing.
He's probably right. But in making those statements, he's setting himself up for moments like this one.
Better to be out in front, like MLB sort of is now, and catch a big name like this, instead of having fans point fingers and accuse. Ultimately, though, every era has its accomplishments and its failures. And I don't know why this era would be any different.
--OK, I'll post updates here if they come. But remember, we ain't going anywhere for a while, in terms of wrapping this up. Grab a Snickers bar.