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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lepore: The conflicting attitudes of MLB Network, ESPN on the Ryan Braun story

Brian Kenny IS Will McAvoy.

Kenny, Tom Verducci, John Hart, and Al Leiter went through not just the present, but the past of steroid use and investigation. Leiter’s revelation that MLB’s testing policy essentially ignored guys who didn’t appear obvious users was stunning for a network owned by a league. Verducci brought journalistic credibility to the proceedings, and Hart brought an executive perspective. They also had an edge over ESPN in that they sent a reporter—Jon Morosi—to the ballpark. MLB Network has its foibles, and it still trips and falls over a lot of this “old school vs. new school” debate nonsense, but I felt like MLB Net was speaking to me like not only a baseball fan, but a reasonable adult.

Conversely, there was ESPN. [...]

Wrong role, Buster?

[Barry] Larkin, a Hall of Famer in his third season at ESPN, took a somewhat similar position to the one I espoused earlier—that Braun’s statement was not satisfactory—but went about it in the wrong way. He demanded “answers” and “specifics” seemingly dozens of times. He seemed completely baffled by the entire situation, and he sounded in over his head. Curt Schilling similarly was gasping for air, but spent much of his time railing against Braun for his misdeeds. One man repeatedly calling for specifics, and another just being angry, doesn’t make for good or compelling television.

Then, perhaps worst of all, you had Ravech’s one-on-one with ESPN reporter Buster Olney, who more or less spent his time on the air making a laundry list of people and entities that Braun needs to apologize to. Everyone from the Arizona Diamondbacks (whom Braun, it appears, performed against in the 2011 NLDS while on PEDs) to people in Milwaukee who had eaten at Braun’s restaurant.

Greg Franklin Posted: July 23, 2013 at 04:04 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: espn, media, mlb_network, reviews, ryan braun, steroids, television

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   1. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: July 23, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4502329)
ESPN is a comedy show disguised as a sports network
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 23, 2013 at 06:47 PM (#4502330)
Then, perhaps worst of all, you had Ravech’s one-on-one with ESPN reporter Buster Olney, who more or less spent his time on the air making a laundry list of people and entities that Braun needs to apologize to. Everyone from the Arizona Diamondbacks (whom Braun, it appears, performed against in the 2011 NLDS while on PEDs) to people in Milwaukee who had eaten at Braun’s restaurant.


Someone tweeted at Tracy Ringolsby yesterday something to the effect of, "Now can we give the 2007 Rookie of the Year to Tulo?" The ol' ballfan responded, "No, we can move on," which seemed eminently sensible to me.
   3. puck Posted: July 23, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4502340)
Leiter’s revelation that MLB’s testing policy essentially ignored guys who didn’t appear obvious users was stunning for a network owned by a league.


What? Is this a thing or did Leiter just assert it?
   4. Srul Itza Posted: July 23, 2013 at 07:25 PM (#4502350)
ESPN is a comedy show disguised as a sports network


But aren't comedies supposed to be funny?
   5. Dale Sams Posted: July 23, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4502352)
The This is Sportscenter bits make me smile.
   6. Jim Wisinski Posted: July 23, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4502360)
This is Sportscenter has a lot of really great things. My personal favorite, is a baseball one.
   7. eddieot Posted: July 23, 2013 at 08:20 PM (#4502381)
ESPN employs Curt Schilling to speak publicly. Enough said.
   8. Esoteric Posted: July 23, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4502386)
Someone tweeted at Tracy Ringolsby yesterday something to the effect of, "Now can we give the 2007 Rookie of the Year to Tulo?" The ol' ballfan responded, "No, we can move on," which seemed eminently sensible to me.
Speakin' of "ballfan," I know he has a job and all, but I liked having him around here and I wish he'd come back again.
   9. Esoteric Posted: July 23, 2013 at 08:56 PM (#4502387)
This is Sportscenter has a lot of really great things. My personal favorite, is a baseball one.
I had never seen that and yes that is absolutely wonderful.
   10. zonk Posted: July 23, 2013 at 08:57 PM (#4502389)
One man repeatedly calling for specifics, and another just being angry, doesn’t make for good or compelling television.


Isn't that pretty much the entirety of the cable news formula?
   11. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 23, 2013 at 09:08 PM (#4502391)
Speakin' of "ballfan," I know he has a job and all, but I liked having him around here and I wish he'd come back again.


Yeah, me too. He's really accessible on Twitter, almost always answers my Rockies questions for me: @ROOTSPORTS_TR
   12. Mayor Blomberg Posted: July 23, 2013 at 09:09 PM (#4502392)
How does "baseball ignored guys who weren't obvious users" square with the list of lousy players caught and used as "proof" that steroids don't make (that big) a difference?
   13. Walt Davis Posted: July 23, 2013 at 09:52 PM (#4502415)
I'm pretty sure Leiter is either talking out of his butt, confusing reasonable cause testing with regular testing, letting us know that reasonable cause testing is more widespread than we think or doesn't understand probability. :-) The selection of players who are multiply-tested within a season is random per the JDA. One assumes that if MLB was using obvious non-random selection that the MLBPA would call them on it.

They can also ask for testing of specific individuals for reasonable cause, which includes up to a year after a positive test (or maybe a year after suspension, check the JDA) but which presumably also includes stuff like "his name was found in a busted dealer's cellphone" or some such. MLB of course can't just test anybody they want, they have to get sign off.


The JDA only specifies the total number of tests and that, outside of the two required tests every player gets, the other tests must be random. It appears MLB selects a group and tests them several times. I don't know the details of how many are randomly selected but my guesstimate is something like 1/5 to 1/3 of "regular" players are likely selected in a year.

A couple of years ago, Jose Bautista suggested he'd been targeted because he got selected two straight years after his breakout (if I recall the details correctly). But there's likely a 4-11% chance for any given player to be selected in consecutive seasons and therefore a virtual certainty that a reasonably large group of players will be. In that reasonably large group of players, there's bound to be a few who would be "suspicious performance" or "hat size" candidates picked due to random chance alone. Like cancer clusters and other things, normal people are likely to think that random outcomes are non-random. (That is not meant to say there is no such thing as cancer clusters but to say you will always find "clusters" in random data too.)
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: July 23, 2013 at 10:07 PM (#4502424)

I believe Braun's controversial positive came from a test in the midst of that 2011 playoff series vs ARI, fwiw

   15. ptodd Posted: July 24, 2013 at 01:22 AM (#4502520)
The testing program lacks transparency. I want to know who was tested and when, and where. The time would be nice too :.)

Maybe MLB only targets players with large non performing contracts or teams in need of salary relief. Maybe the schedule is not that random allowing players to know when they will be tested and evade detection.
   16. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: July 24, 2013 at 02:21 AM (#4502531)
Leiter’s revelation that MLB’s testing policy essentially ignored guys who didn’t appear obvious users was stunning for a network owned by a league.

I mean obviously. You can't look at Freddy Galvis or Pablo Ozuna and not think steroids.
   17. Bhaakon Posted: July 24, 2013 at 02:22 AM (#4502532)
How does "baseball ignored guys who weren't obvious users" square with the list of lousy players caught and used as "proof" that steroids don't make (that big) a difference?


Guess: lousy players tend to spend time in the minors, where anything goes testing-wise. They also have less money to influence people into revealing when the tests are coming and/or buy better stuff.

But then I thought the testing program gave a maximum number of tests per season per player (barring outside evidence of use or a previous positive test).

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