Adam Auslund was a long time intern for multiple shows on the FOX Sports Network, but has now found his place, and a job, working for The Petros and Money Show.
Originally from Nor Cal, he’s been described as a bitter, broken sports fan ever since he experienced the rare "Hat Trick of Death" where all 3 of his teams (Sacramento Kings, San Francisco Giants and Carolina Panthers) all lost their respective sports’ championship game in the short span of a year and a half.
Adam now tries to look at sports from a less serious, more irreverent perspective, because that’s what helps bury the pain and keep him sober.
Yeah, I wasn’t the first to use this title for the Hebrew Hammer’s drug test ordeal, but damn it, I swear I thought of it before I saw all the other uncreative, hack writers use it too. So why do I still hate myself for it?
So last week Ryan Braun gave his articulate, polished, well rehearsed, lawyer driven explanation and defense after arbitrators ruled 2-1 in favor of him on the case of his positive test, that would have had him suspended 50 games of the season. The original failed test leaked through to the ESPN “Outside the Lines” program last December, just a few days after Braun was awarded the NL MVP. The story was one of the biggest this past off-season and now leads us into spring training.
At the news conference, Braun was celebrating his “innocence” and how he was a victim of a failed system by an MLB drug tester who supposedly did not follow protocol. And THAT is what Braun’s lawyers built their argument around, eventually getting him off on what most see as a just lawyers exposing a loophole. Braun didn’t attack the science of the test, other than pointing out that his 30-1 T/E ratio (4-1 is a fail) of testosterone-to-epitestosterone is extremely high and how could that be accurate for someone who hasn’t changed his body size in his 5 years in the league? Well, apparently the lab that was agreed upon between the MLB and the Players Union has seen in the upwards of 80-1 in other cases. So it's not that unusual.
And I’d take on his argument that he hasn’t changed in physical stature by saying not everyone balloons like Barry Bonds did. According to the book Game of Shadows (which chronicles the Barry Bonds connection with the infamous Balco Labs) he was on a performance enhancing like cocktail, with mixtures of many different drugs. But there’s more sophisticated designer steroids out there now where the results are less obvious. Steroids can also simply be used to reduce fatigue over a 162 game season. Rafael Palmeiro, the first big name to get caught by the MLB drug program, also didn't have major changes in his physique over his career. Pitcher Paul Byrd was on human growth hormone near the end of his and he didn’t look noticeably bigger.
I’m simply not interested in Braun’s defense, that because his sample wasn’t handled perfectly within the stringent chain of command protocol, that somehow it went from being a negative test to very positive one over the 44 hours in which it was not immediately put in the mail and fedexed to the laboratory.
If he’s implying that it was tampered with, well how? He had to print, sign and date the cup he urinated in, as he's a witness that the sample in that cup was his, and was collected properly. If someone was to tamper with it, the seal would be broken, the fluid would turn a different color and it would be thrown out.
The truth is there was nothing inappropriate about the way the cup and packaging was put together and that is why the lab received it and tested the urine. If there was any fishy business they would know, and they wouldn't have tested it. The reason Braun got off is because even though the sample was stored in a cool place in accordance with proper procedure, it COULD have been sent out that day, but wasn’t. Braun’s lawyers proved there WERE Fedex’s still open after the test was administered and therefore it should have been mailed.
Ok, lawyers. Congrats on catching an error that had absolutely no bearing on whether the sample would give you an accurate reading (positive or negative), but unless Braun has some compelling evidence and actual science backing how a false test could somehow become positive in the two days that it sat (as many samples have) in the testers temperature cool and secure basement (which is well within proper procedure), I’m not buying that Ryan Braun is clean.
I do however believe it’s possible he has other possible medical issues that could have triggered a false positive. Braun claimed that he doesn’t have an STD as others have brought up, but at that point why wouldn’t he say that? He’s won the case and therefore might as well try to clear his name in that area too, because to many, in that moment it looks like he has credibility and is being truthful. What if he is treating something that is embarrassing, or is just personal, and not for public ears to hear? Since arbitration was already on his side, he may have just felt it wasn't necessary to even go there.
Also, him being as polished and steadfast as he was throughout the process, and especially during his speech, can also be very convincing. It does make you think that it’s possible there could be some kind of error somewhere. Of course Floyd Landis and Marion Jones were also persuasive in their defenses before they eventually came forward with the truth years later.
Braun still might have slipped up at one point in giving away what could be seen as the reasoning behind it, if he did purposely risk cheating. He said that he’d already been tested earlier in the season and passed. But could that mean he didn’t think he would be tested again, especially not in the playoffs? A giant testosterone spike has lead some to speculate that he took something recently. Maybe even game 1 of the NLDS, the day he was tested. Was he looking for some confidence?
At best, Ryan Braun unknowingly took something. But that still means he unknowingly could have been aided by whatever substance increased his testosterone. Regardless of how it happened, it would have still made him stronger.
If Braun’s numbers fall this year – and they likely will since it will be difficult to repeat his MVP season, especially when he's no longer hitting next to Prince Fielder – the baseball fans outside of Milwaukee will be quick to point and say he must no longer be on the juice. And Braun’s weak, legalistic defense, gives them a giant opening for that cirticism. Sure, if he went after the science rather then completely focusing on what is really a trivial mistake that wouldn’t effect the test outcome anyway, it might be easier to give him the benefit of the doubt. But his lack of concern in dealing with the positive test results and how it could have been altered just makes him look even more guilty.
Major League baseball is still not coming off their position from last week in a statement saying, “The extremely experienced collector in Mr. Braun’s case acted in a professional and appropriate manner. He handled Mr. Braun’s sample consistent with instructions issued by our jointly retained collection agency,” and the handler, Dino Laurenzi Jr. came out yesterday to say that “At no point did I tamper in any way with the samples,” and “there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident.”
Understandably, Braun has been very concerned with not having his own good name dragged through the mud, but here it's at someone else's expense. Dino Laurenzi Jr. will now have his integrity questioned for the rest his life...all because of a meaningless technicality.