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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Five Reasons Brewers Fans Shouldn’t Lose Sleep Over ESPN’s Latest Braun/ Biogenesis Reports

tony bosch
Tony Bosch: A Face You Can Trust
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The Milwaukee Brewers claimed one of their most exciting victories of the season last night thanks to a 10th inning Yunieski Betancourt walkoff double and some truly spectacular base running from Carlos Gomez. Of course, that rare win was overshadowed by an ESPN report that broke around game time reporting that Major League Baseball is inching nearer to suspending Ryan Braun and 19 other players as part of its ongoing investigation into a Miami-area clinic alleged to have supplied performance enhancing drugs. It’s not the first time a screaming ESPN headline has portended Braun’s impending suspension, and it almost certainly won’t be the last; as Ron Roenicke Stole My Baseball writer Andy Schaaf noted on Twitter yesterday, “Casual baseball fans must think this is Braun’s 5th or 6th steroid suspension.” Of course, Braun wasn't suspended before, and odds are pretty good that he won’t be this time, either. Here are five reasons why Brewers fans shouldn’t lose sleep over ESPN’s latest scary report.

Little has changed.
It’s no revelation that MLB is looking to sink Braun. The organization has been investigating Braun for years; in a USA Today report this spring, Bob Nightengale described him as MLB’s “public enemy #1.” He’s been the roadrunner to the league’s coyote for some time now, and that dynamic is unlikely to change anytime soon. The only news in ESPN’s article is that the league has reportedly flipped alleged PED-pusher Anthony Bosch, founder of the now-shuttered Biogenesis clinic, who is now apparently cooperating with their investigation—a development that always seemed likely. What exactly Bosch will say, how much weight it will carry and how the investigation will play out is still unknown. Until someone from MLB goes on the record, ESPN is still relying on anonymous sources and speculation.

MLB is hinging its case on a discredited witness.
If Bosch is MLB’s smoking gun, the league will be asking the public to trust a man who has repeatedly been described as a scumbag, a hustler, a scammer and a sleazeball, and who would be contradicting his own prior claims that he never provided illegal supplements to any of the players listed in his own documents. According to ESPN, “Bosch has been feeling pressure from both the MLB lawsuit, which claims tortious interference, and a potential criminal investigation, and that he sees full cooperation with MLB as one of his only refuges. Several attorneys have said they don't think the lawsuit could survive a legal challenge, but Bosch likely would have to put up a costly fight in order to have the case dismissed.” There’s a sense that even MLB doesn’t trust this opportunist, so it’s asking a lot for anybody else to.

Bosch has already corroborated Braun’s story.
Ryan Braun has already offered a plausible, if not wholly satisfying story about his links to the Bosch clinic: His lawyers consulted with Bosch as a potential expert witness during their successful appeal of Braun’s 2012 suspension. Bosch is already on the record insisting that was, indeed, the case. “I haven’t offered Braun any services,” he told ESPN. “I just answered a few questions from his legal team.” It's unknown whether he will even try to recant this story.

Braun’s legal team is incredible.

And let’s talk about that legal team: They are miracle workers. They did what many spectators believed was impossible when they overturned Braun’s 2012 suspension, on what many still insist was a technicality. Braun has positioned himself as a Dexter/Walter White-esque figure in the National League, squeezing his way through close escape after close escape. If I were a gambling man, I'd bet his team of highly paid Saul Goodmans will continue to keep him in the game.

It’s not like this changes the season much.
And finally, if the worst-case scenario plays out and the MLB finally tags Braun and boots him for 50 or even 100 games, it’s unlikely to hurt the Brewers’ virtually nonexistent playoff chances any. Given the team’s dire May, its endless injury epidemic and inevitable summer selloff, Braun’s absence will hardly register (and, hey, maybe we'd finally get a chance to see how Khris Davis does with daily starts). If the league is really that hell bent on retribution that it's going to do whatever it takes it make Braun pay, let it cast its punishment now so we can all finally move on and start next season fresh.