This week, Time Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports dropped Ryan Braun’s name in a link to Miami “anti-aging guru” Anthony Bosch. This comes about a year after he was “exonerated” by an arbitrator, who never released the reason why he let Braun off the hook. In the Yahoo report, they rightfully acknowledge that Braun is not linked to specific PEDs in the records they found, but there is one particularly troubling document, written about (presumably) Melky Cabrera, congratulating him for winning the All-Star Game MVP last season, using the “Braun Advantage.” Braun explained away why he appeared on the lists that were uncovered, claiming he used Bosch as a consultant in his appeal last year, and having a dispute over compensation. He has yet to explain the “Braun advantage.” My guess is, he won’t.
Sammy Sosa is named by the New York Times to have tested positive in 2003 by an anonymous source for an unknown substance. In 2005, Sosa testified before Congress that he’d never broken US or Dominican law, and that he “is” clean. Far from a steadfast denial, and most assume Sosa was a user during his career. The most cited evidence against him…his stats.
The numbers are where the Braun supporters hang their hats. In fact, in 2011 when he tested positive, Braun didn’t have a career high in any major hitting statistic. The only oddity to his numbers was a major spike in stolen bases. Some of that can be explained away by a more aggressive approach from new Brewer Manager, Ron Roenicke. Doubling stolen base numbers is a little much, though, and some synthetic testosterone cream applied to the legs can make those fast twitch muscles twitch a little faster…or the difference between being safe and out on a stolen base attempt. Also, numbers don’t lie, but they may omit the truth a little bit. Anthony Bosch is tied to Jimmy Goins, the University of Miami Strength and Conditioning Coach, who worked with Braun while Braun was with the Miami baseball team. If Goins has been Braun’s source for whatever substances he was getting from Bosch, then all of his minor league and major league numbers are tainted. The same can be said if his source was his college roommate, Cesar Carrillo, who is also tied to Bosch. The mere fact that there hasn’t been a significant change in the numbers doesn’t mean he’s not using, necessarily. It could also mean he’s been using for a long time without getting caught.
Factually, this entire PED debate about guilt and innocence is baffling. It is even more baffling when Braun and Sosa are discussed. I had a back and forth with a number of Brewers fans on Twitter after the news broke on Tuesday that Braun has ties to the Miami goodie PEDdler. The rationale from these blind men was that Sosa was sure to have used because of his numbers, while Braun is “innocent until proved guilty.” (Quoted for intellectual effect).
The facts about PEDs on Braun and Sosa boil down pretty simply…
- Tested positive for synthetic testosterone in 2011. While his suspension was appealed, and he won, the result of the test remains uncontested. The seals (multiple seals on both containers) of both samples were not broken. They both tested positive. And a cup of even warm urine doesn’t manufacture its own synthetic testosterone content.
- Tied to Anthony Bosch’s lab, who is linked to PED distribution to major league players. Namely, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, who both tested positive for synthetic testosterone last season.
- Letter from Bosch to Juan Nunez, who works for the ACES Sports Agency, who represents Melky Cabrera, congratulating him on Cabrera’s All-Star MVP award, saying, “this smells like the Braun advantage.” Cabrera tested positive for synthetic testosterone soon after the All-Star game.
- New York Times report that he tested positive in 2003. The drug he allegedly tested positive for is unknown.
- Denial of breaking US or Dominican law, and saying he “IS” clean to Congress in 2005
- Not named in the Mitchell Report
- Included in affidavit from former MLB pitcher Jason Grimsley as someone who “may” have used
This is not to say that Sosa is innocent and Braun is guilty. They may both very well be guilty. Actually, if I were going to bet on whether either, neither, or both used, I would bet on both. This is to say, though, that public opinion is interesting. Sosa gets killed by fans for using PEDs. Even Cubs fans leave the man out in the cold because of how he left the organization, which was halfway through the last game of the 2004 season, on his own.
Braun is a charismatic young superstar in the post-steroid era, who can’t possibly have done it.
What we’re seeing here is how perception plays a role on every individual reality. There is no solid evidence that Sammy Sosa used PEDs during his playing career. There is a report of a positive test in 2003 for a substance that is unknown, accompanied by speculation, and nothing more. Braun has a positive test for synthetic testosterone, ties to a man who’s given PEDs to players in both the major leagues, and is also tied to Braun’s college
Strength Coach and roommate. The same man is tied to two players who tested positive for synthetic testosterone last season, and wrote to a man representing one of them that his All-Star Game MVP “smells like the Braun advantage.”
My own spin on all of this…nobody wants to believe their guy did it. Even when all of the evidence points awkwardly toward guilt. Unless their guy walked out on them. Then, to Hell with him…