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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Barra: Murray Chass Gets it Right: Press Needs To Back Off Ryan Braun

DON’T DARE LISTEN TO THIS MUSE…ALONE!

kk

I was going to say something about the Ryan Braun mess, but Murray Chass already said it for me. Chass, as you should know, was with the New York Times for 39 years before taking a buyout in 2008. He has now been blogging for over three years, though I would not call it that. Chass has simply continued to write his old column, which is so far above the level of what is generally called blogging as to be a higher category altogether. In fact, it’s generally higher caliber than Chass wrote at the Times, if only because he no longer seems to be held back by the paper’s corporate policy.

In his column, Chass has provided a superb summation of the press’s near hysterical reaction over an arbitrator’s decision to throw out Matt Braun’s 50-game suspension for a positive drug test. Chass takes the Daily News, the Post and the Times to task, writing:

“What’s a guy [Braun] to do? He’s guilty if he’s found to be guilty, and he’s guilty if he’s found to be innocent. Besides being viewed as guilty despite the arbitrator’s ruling that overturned the 50-game suspension, Braun faces even more insulting outrage from the news media.”

...Do alcohol and ludes? And speed also count? I think it’s fair policy for writers to divulge the drugs they take while writing about athletes and other celebrities’ drug use. Who wants to go first?

 

Repoz Posted: February 29, 2012 at 10:28 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers, steroids

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 29, 2012 at 11:18 AM (#4070806)
He has now been blogging for over three years, though I would not call it that.


Neither would Chass.

Chass has simply continued to write his old column, which is so far above the level of what is generally called blogging as to be a higher category altogether.


Objectively, this is not so.

In fact, it’s generally higher caliber than Chass wrote at the Times, if only because he no longer seems to be held back by the paper’s corporate policy.


He is no longer edited by editors, either, who help make him look better.

“What’s a guy [Braun] to do? He’s guilty if he’s found to be guilty, and he’s guilty if he’s found to be innocent. Besides being viewed as guilty despite the arbitrator’s ruling that overturned the 50-game suspension, Braun faces even more insulting outrage from the news media.”


Look, I've been consistent that steroids don't bother me, that their stated effects on performance go vastly beyond what the available evidence is, and that the players shouldn't be tested. I also come out hard against "cap size" and "just look at him" and "he hit a lot of home runs" type arguments.

But once a player's test shows grounds to suspend him, I don't see any reason to pretend that the player is still in the same category as a player (e.g., Bagwell) for whom there's no evidence that he used. Contrary to what Chass writes above, this isn't black and white; it's not "guilty" and "innocent." It's gray. Braun's test result -- and all of the issues with the handling of the samples -- leaves the conclusion, to me, that he probably used. Might he not have used? Sure, it's plausible, I suppose. But he probably did. And so pretending that he's One Hundred Percent Innocent, Wrongfully Accused seems silly to me. Braun is much, much closer to Rafael Palmeiro than he is to Bagwell.

It's also hard to figure how Chass could mount a defense for Braun when Chass has savaged Mike Piazza on the basis of bacne. A higher quality blog than most bloggers? Better work than Chass did at the Times? Hardly.
   2. Tim McCarver's Orange Marmalade Posted: February 29, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4070822)
"...an arbitrator’s decision to throw out Matt Braun’s 50-game suspension..."

As he should have, since "Matt" Braun didn't even take a drug test. Ryan on the other hand...
   3. JJ1986 Posted: February 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4070826)
As he should have, since "Matt" Braun didn't even take a drug test. Ryan on the other hand...


Maybe this is all a mistake and former Royals pitcher Ryan Braun actually failed the drug test.
   4. Bob Tufts Posted: February 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4070883)
So the collector has an office in his basement. Does he also blog on his speciality while he does his work?

If you are going to ask/demand players forfeit their 4th amendment rights through the implementation of a mandatory testing program, you'd better run the program in a way that there is no chance that something like this mess can occur.
   5. Don Malcolm Posted: February 29, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4070895)
Who the hell is Matt Braun? And why is Yogi Barra writing about him? Doesn't he know that it's over when it's over??
   6. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: February 29, 2012 at 12:22 PM (#4070916)
Whatever drugs Matt Braun - Americas's Authentic Voice of the Western Frontier needs to take to stay authentic are fine with me.
   7. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: February 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4070929)
Edit: Nevermind.
   8. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4070932)
If you are going to ask/demand players forfeit their 4th amendment rights

Nobody has forfeited any rights.
   9. DA Baracus Posted: February 29, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4070935)
Chass has simply continued to write his old column, which is so far above the level of what is generally called blogging as to be a higher category altogether.


Barra must read only really shitty blogs.

In fact, it’s generally higher caliber than Chass wrote at the Times, if only because he no longer seems to be held back by the paper’s corporate policy.


Or not be able to read at all.
   10. Bob Tufts Posted: February 29, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4070956)
If you are going to ask/demand players forfeit their 4th amendment rights

Nobody has forfeited any rights.


A Quesat/CDT case will surely reappear in the future with another Jeff Novitzky armed with a warrant looking for the test results - and leaking them to the media.

Then enjoy seeing EAP plans being destroyed by self-promoting government officials and the press corps.
   11. tfbg9 Posted: February 29, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4070964)
In fact, it’s generally higher caliber than Chass wrote at the Times


This is like saying "Moe is the smart one."
   12. bob gee Posted: February 29, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4070996)
i used to read and like barra a while back, but chass' writing has been awful for a really long time. it got worse when he wrote things on his own.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: February 29, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4071126)
"...an arbitrator’s decision to throw out Matt Braun’s 50-game suspension..."

Explains why Braun asked for a DNA test, doesn't it? :-)

I don't know the science nor what might be possible in terms of tampering but the decision for Braun makes him "not guilty" not "innocent".

Now, I agree, move on, nothing to see here, in any and all baseball sense he "didn't use".

As to Ray in #1 ... yes, but we still know nothing about the circumstances of that use (assuming it happened). There is still a perfectly good possibility that he used for non-performance reasons (STD or whatever) and that is every bit a "technical" sense of "guilty" as his "technical" "not guilty".
   14. KT's Pot Arb Posted: February 29, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4071196)
It's also hard to figure how Chass could mount a defense for Braun when Chass has savaged Mike Piazza on the basis of bacne. A higher quality blog than most bloggers? Better work than Chass did at the Times? Hardly.


Signs of raging Alzheimers? Maybe Murray forgot he never needed evidence before attacking a "known roider"?
   15. Fanshawe Posted: February 29, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4071369)
And so pretending that he's One Hundred Percent Innocent, Wrongfully Accused seems silly to me. Braun is much, much closer to Rafael Palmeiro than he is to Bagwell.

It's also hard to figure how Chass could mount a defense for Braun when Chass has savaged Mike Piazza on the basis of bacne.


Sometimes I think a lot of writers, especially those of a certain vintage, are heavily invested in twin theories that baseball can be explained entirely through aesthetics and that the writers themselves are among an elite cadre of observers qualified to interpret those aesthetics. Head in the spreadsheet, five-tool, hustle, steely glare, confidence that rubbed off on the rest of the team, put the ball in play and make things happen. Piazza didn't look like a catcher so there was something wrong with him. Bagwell was just a one-dimensional slugger, so there was something wrong with him. Barry Bonds didn't look like he was enjoying himself in the exact same way that Bill Plashke imagined he would enjoy himself, so there was something wrong with him.

Meanwhile, "On the field, Ryan Braun is a winner. Last season he won the National League most valuable player award, led the league in slugging percentage and extra-base hits, was second in batting average, runs scored and total bases and was fourth in runs batted in." For some people, whether or not Braun actually used performance enhancing drugs, just like whether Mays or Aaron or Mantle use amps, doesn't matter because they're already good guys, and it's rather impolite of you and that urine to suggest otherwise.

Other times I think that these guys are all dumb enough to buy into the baseball-was-perfect-until-Jose-Canseco-invented-steroids-and-Barry-Bonds-perfected-them line of thought and just don't care anymore now that Bonds is gone. Or maybe they're tired of writing about steroids and have moved onto a new shiny thing (CHICKEN AND BEER IN THE CLUBHOUSE?!?!?!?). When you're dealing with people like Murray Chass, the blogging anti-blog blogger, you're not always going to get coherency.
   16. Cooper Nielson Posted: February 29, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4071602)
And so pretending that he's One Hundred Percent Innocent, Wrongfully Accused seems silly to me. Braun is much, much closer to Rafael Palmeiro than he is to Bagwell.

Here's an unpopular opinion, but what if the positive test was wrong in both cases? The evidence seems to suggest this is extremely unlikely, but certainly stranger things have happened in world history.

What if the testing process didn't work correctly for both Palmeiro and Braun? What if both of their samples were tampered with? Or maybe the testing process went perfectly, but somebody pranked them by rubbing testosterone cream on them the night before the test while they were asleep?

I admit that it's unlikely that anyone was out to "get" these guys, but sometimes supposedly foolproof methods fail, or pranks go awry, and people scramble like heck to cover up the fact that they made a mistake. Then innocent people start to look very, very guilty.

It's at least possible that both Palmeiro and Braun were victimized, railroaded or unfairly accused, and if that happened -- or if it happened to someone else -- what can they do about it? Well, Braun managed to win his appeal on what appears to be a lucky "technicality" and Palmeiro apparently slunk off into the sunset.

Everyone seems to assume that Palmeiro was using steroids, and possibly had been for a long time, but it is entirely possible that he wasn't, and his name has been permanently blackened for no good reason. But he can't do anything about it because "the tests don't lie" and no matter how strongly he denies it, no one will believe him. There's no way to prove that he wasn't using PEDs.
   17. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 29, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4071617)
Here's an unpopular opinion, but what if the positive test was wrong in both cases? The evidence seems to suggest this is extremely unlikely, but certainly stranger things have happened in world history.


I don't see where that gets us. We can make "it's extremely unlikely, but, hey, he might be innocent" defenses for most players who haven't admitted to it. How does this separate Braun and Palmeiro from Clemens?

And why is it fair to put Braun and Palmeiro in the same category as Bagwell and Piazza?
   18. Cooper Nielson Posted: March 01, 2012 at 01:19 AM (#4071662)
I don't see where that gets us. We can make "it's extremely unlikely, but, hey, he might be innocent" defenses for most players who haven't admitted to it. How does this separate Braun and Palmeiro from Clemens?

And why is it fair to put Braun and Palmeiro in the same category as Bagwell and Piazza?


Sorry, that probably wasn't clear. I'm not trying to defend these guys or say that I honestly believe that they didn't use PEDs -- I was just wondering what would happen if someone who was truly innocent tested positive for some reason. It could definitely happen, through malfunction or malice, even with all the safeguards and "B samples" built into the system.

If a player who has never touched a PED in his life produces a positive test, it seems there is no possible way for him to clear his name, ever. MAYBE that happened to Palmeiro and Braun. Probably not, but maybe. If that's the case, they -- especially Palmeiro -- really got a raw deal.
   19. Something Other Posted: March 01, 2012 at 01:41 AM (#4071667)
@18--it would be on this basis that if I were a clean, multimillionaire ballplayer, there's no way I would trust my reputation, my future, and my salary to the competence and judiciousness of people I'd never met and had no reason to trust. Assuming I could produce enough, I'd be giving two samples contemporaneously, one of which would be kept by a scrupulously honest, well-known company with an unimpeachable chain of custody until the urine tested by baseball came back clean.

Seems like a small but eminently sensible precaution.

   20. Ron J Posted: March 01, 2012 at 01:41 AM (#4071668)
#18 If I understood Chris Dial correctly (and he has specific expertise in the area), there's roughly no chance that a test result that yields a named substance (IE Palmeiro's positive test for stanozolol) is wrong (absent issues of contamination that is -- see the case of the Phantom of Heilbronn for the biggest screwup of that nature)

That said, if the positive result is for Nandrolone there's a decent chance that the result is a false positive. (But then they don't test for Nandrolone itself. They can't since it's naturally occurring. IOW this doesn't undermine the initial point once you look a little deeper) Or to be more precise these days (since Andro is banned) they've detected Andro and identified it as Nandrolone.
   21. shoewizard Posted: March 01, 2012 at 01:44 AM (#4071670)
Murray Chase gets it right


Aww ####....., This 2012 end of the world stuff might just be real after all.

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