MLB wants to suspend Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and more, but can it?

In a perfect world, Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez would have already been suspended, but the MLBPA may be too strong for MLB to get around Photo: Ryan Braun's Beast Mode may have been chemically induced/AP

LOS ANGELES, June 5, 2013 — According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Major League Baseball is looking to suspend over 20 players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun, for their involvement with the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Miami.

Documents were released in late January and early February that list current Major League Baseball players as clients. All of the athletes named have publicly denied having any connection to the clinic, which is now closed.


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Tony Bosch, the man that operated the clinic, is participating with MLB. He will be providing MLB investigators this week with testimony and any evidence in his possession regarding MLB players. Bosch’s father, Dr. Pedro Bosch, is the doctor that prescribed the performance enhancing drugs that got Manny Ramirez suspended in 2009 when he was playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In addition to Braun and Rodriguez, other names mentioned for possible suspension are Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, Melky Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Evereth Cabrera, other current major league players. Colon, Grandal and Melky Cabrera have each already served a 50 game suspension for testing positive in 2012 for banned substances.

In 2011, Ryan Braun had a positive drug test for performance enhancing drugs and was given a 50-game suspension. Braun appealed and eventually won on a technicality based on how his sample was handled. A five-time all-star, Braun won the Most Valuable Player award in 2011.

Alex Rodriguez admitted using steroids when he was with the Texas Rangers, but he said he has not used them since. As the very expensive former slugger ages, his numbers have dwindled and he has been on and off the DL with various injuries. He was so ineffective in the 2012 postseason that Yankee manager Joe Girardi benched him.

According to ESPN, Gio Gonzalez, whose name appears on the list, might avoid any suspensions since the substances he allegedly obtained from Bosch were not banned substances.

Major League Baseball is going to try to suspend some players 100 games for second offenses and others for 50 games for first offenses. Can Major League Baseball suspend players without a positive test for banned substances?

Some are reporting that MLB set a precedent when they suspended minor leaguer, Cesar Carillo, in connection with the Biogenesis clinic. MLB suspended him 50 games for being on the list and another 50 games for lying about it. Carillo, however, is not protected the MLB Players’ Union. The union is expected to appeal on behalf of any player that is suspended.

In an appeal, an independent arbiter would hear the case and review the evidence. MLB will have a very weak case if they are not able to come up with corroborating evidence or witnesses and without positive tests.


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No suspensions ever came from either the Mitchell Report or BALCO and both were accompanied by witnesses and evidence. MLB really wants this to happen to show that not only are they cleaning up the sport, but that they are willing to go after anyone and everyone regardless of their stature.

They were embarrassed by the Ryan Braun overturned suspension and are going out on a limb with these potentially long and wide sweeping suspensions. It will set a precedent one way or the other. Either a precedent will be set that says the players and their union are more powerful than baseball or it will say that no player is above the law and MLB is powerful enough to clean up its mess.

Time will obviously tell what actually happens. Regardless of whether or not these players get suspended, baseball and sports as a whole are far from being clean.

The respect for the game will always be trumped by money. After all, sad as it may be, money trumps everything in all aspects of life. When cheaters get suspended and then rewarded with lucrative multi-year guaranteed contracts, like Melky Cabrera, there is no reason for these kids not to try to get whatever edge they can.

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball

 


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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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