No 50-game suspension for Braun …

January 24, 2012
By admin

What winds up in the first or second graph of Ryan Braun’s historical record – or maybe even on his Hall of Fame plaque, should he end up thusly enshrined – is yet to be determined by events in coming days or weeks. Still, it has already been quite extraordinary how the press has so gingerly handled one of the biggest stories in the supposedly post-steroid era.

The careful and sharply limited national media musing about Braun’s situation contrasts mightily to what might have been the case had a player of a different stature seemingly run afoul of the ironclad rules about performance-enhancing substances that are now so widely known and accepted. I don’t suggest that Braun’s Jewish heritage directly affected the way in which the media covered his current dilemma, but I do contend that his unique status as an MLB icon of the first order does, and it in turn derives much of its oomph from his special situation on the American sports and cultural landscape.

Unlike how we might have collectively felt about Barry Bonds’ travails in this tawdry question of PED’s and such, I think MLB fans desperately want there to be extenuating circumstances surrounding Braun’s goofy testosterone levels. I think the relative silence about his situation has been almost deafening when compared to how the media might have come down on a less-popular player. Oh, there were a couple of knuckleheads who suggested he should have had to give back his MVP Award – or more precisely, not accept it when it was handed out this week – but there’s no reason to take such idiotic notions seriously simply because they were offered up by ostensibly legitimate media types.

I, for one, am clinging to a last remaining vestige of optimism, and if this doesn’t pan out I am going to swear off such Pollyanna-like detours forever. It says here that Ryan Braun is not going to end up serving a 50-game suspension and that extenuating circumstances are going to show that the elevated levels of testosterone resulted from a perhaps ill-configured and/or ill-advised treatment of what is de being described as “a private medical matter.”

I don’t know if the language in the MLB directive leaves enough wiggle room for some mitigating circumstances if it turns out that the spirit of the decree was being honored even though the letter of the law was violated. I hope it does. Bud Selig doubtless hopes so, too. And a couple of million baseball fans as well, many of them Jewish, but many more just fans who don’t want to see one of the biggest stars of the game taken down with this awful brush once again.

I’m saying it ain’t so.

- T.S. O’Connell

(Editor’s note: I apologize for the absence from the blogosphere in recent months. As noted in my last entry, my mother had been critically ill and so my efforts were confined to trying to help her in any way that I could. She passed peacefully on Dec. 17, and so much of my time in the last month has been directed at settling her affairs. I am going to resume blogging at a minimum of once per week, likely with multiple topics appearing within individual entries.)

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