|Former Padre, the late Ken Caminiti, celebrates the 1998 N.L. Championship|
Monday, December 12, 2011
This Time It’s Different
I must say that I'm a bit surprised that the majority of writers and bloggers that are commenting on the Braun positive test, remain in his camp and believe that he should keep the MVP award. I’ll tell you right now, I don’t agree with them. I’m fairly confident that if Kemp wasn’t in the position that he is and it were someone like Upton or Howard that was in second place in the voting, I’d still feel the same. Braun shouldn’t get the award and it is not too late to right this wrong. Here are a few comments from respected writers on the topic.
Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness: “So no, Braun shouldn’t lose the MVP. If Bonds and others like him didn’t get their awards taken away, if the cocaine-fueled Pirates of the 70s didn’t lose their championships, and if the entire NFL can pretend they don’t have an enhancing problem, then Braun shouldn’t be subjected to such criticism either, even if it would be favorable to our viewpoint as Dodger fans.”
Jon Weisman at Dodgerthoughts: “My opinion: A positive drug test doesn't make Braun's 2011 season less valuable. He still did what he did. It does call into question how he achieved that value and open the door for you and me to judge him how we will. But my view of history is that it chronicles what happened, for better or worse. History isn't what we'd like things to be – it's what was, like it or not.
Whenever I consider baseball's long, plentiful history of misbehavior, I've never been in favor of bringing an eraser to the record books, and I'm not going to start now. If Braun is guilty, his punishment will be his suspension and his tainted reputation. I'm not excusing his behavior. I'm just not pretending that he didn't deliver on the field, illicitly or not.
The fact that my MVP vote would have been for Kemp regardless is a separate issue.”
Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports: “The BBWAA did not strip A-Rod of the tainted MVP that he won in Texas; it would not and should not take any different approach with Braun. Voters make their selections on what they know at the time. And again, we don’t have all the facts. Braun’s case has not been fully resolved.”
Keith Law of ESPN tweeted: “A revote is a horrible idea.”
Bob Nightengale, of USA Today tweeted: “Dave Stewart, Matt Kemp’s agent, says that Ryan Braun should keep the MVP award no matter what the outcome.”
Craig Calcaterra at Harballtalk.nbcsports.com: “Ryan Braun was the NL MVP. It happened and it’s history and if it came at a time when he was using banned substances, then that’s part of the history too. The sports writers should then do what they do best: place that history in context and tell the stories to readers. Not act like this has anything to do with them.”
Jack O’Connell, the secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA: “I am not against discussion on the topic, but I do not think we should have a rush to judgment. According to reports, the test on Braun was during the playoffs, after the MVP ballots were already submitted. I guess the question is: Do we want the option of conducting another election if it turns out that a candidate tested positive? And, remember, it could be any candidate, not just the winner, because we vote 1-to-10, so the points system could be affected by any one player.’’
Steve Dilbeck, Los Angeles Times: “The award has been issued now, and the Baseball Writers Association of America is not going to have a do-over or suddenly announce it’s taking back its MVP from Braun. Nor should it. It’s done, and however tarnished it might become, there’s no taking it back. A little something USC and the Heisman Trophy Trust should have considered.”
So here’s my argument.
There’s a big difference in this MVP voting scenario. This isn’t a similar situation to the tainted MVP awards given to Alex Rodriguez in 2003, and Ken Caminiti in 1996. In those cases, the disclosure of their steroid usage was far after the players had been presented the awards. With Braun, there hasn’t yet been a formal presentation of the award. Additionally, the positive test results were known to MLB prior to the announcement of the award and MLB could have run some interference. I see that failure to act as another blemish on the legacy of Bud Selig.
Interestingly, Braun’s immediate reaction when named the winner was that he was relieved and that he had been extremely nervous leading up to the announcement. “I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t anxious or nervous because I was,” was Braun’s direct quote on the day his MVP award was announced. I now understand his mindset. Braun knew about the failed test for a full month before the voting results were announced. He knew that if the story leaked, his award announcement would be extremely controversial. This calls into question Braun's integrity, but that's another topic altogether.
As things stand now, if Braun keeps the award, (and all indications are that he will), he will receive it in a ceremony in street clothes on the field in Milwaukee because he’ll be serving a 50-game suspension. How is that going to look? Selig brags that MLB has the best testing program in Major League sports and that baseball is clean and drug free. Now the National Leagues most valuable player will be presented the award under a cloud of suspicion and acknowledgement from MLB management that he cheated. Yet they still give him the award? That is a ridiculous and embarrassing proposition.
If MLB and the BBWAA want to make things right, then they’ll do whole process over again. It’s time to right a wrong. The award hasn’t been presented yet, so do the right thing. That would be, 1) MLB speeds up the appeal process and completes their business in a week. If Braun is exhonerated, he keeps the award. If he isn’t, then 2) the BBWAA votes again. That process could be completed in a day or so. Who knows? Maybe Prince Fielder wins in the second vote because, after all, Braun’s voters justified their votes for him because he accomplished his feats under the heat of a pennant race. Under that premise, Prince Fielder will win the second time they vote around.