So all told, it’s probably best to reserve judgment on Braun’s issue until everything is fully sorted out by MLB. The smart money says he probably used some form of banned substance, whether intentionally or not, but maybe he will be exonerated of wrong doing. There’s no harm in waiting a few weeks to bring the righteous outrage, and if the appeal fails you’ll get to deliver it with even more vigor!
That said, the media really needs to cool down on these matters. Ken Rosenthal, in particular, seems to have won the race to write the most forceful hand-wringing of PED usage in baseball based on the test, with the old “baseball will never be clean” chestnut. Obviously Ken didn’t take enough philosophy classes in college (or go to law school) or he’d be familiar with the false-positive paradox, which basically undercuts the entire premise of his column. But in general, what is supposed to be the point of this worrying? Say Braun did use a banned substance. Then…what? He got caught, he’ll be suspended, and it would be incredibly hard to mount a credible conspiracy theory about Major League Baseball covering up steroid use by their star players. What is MLB supposed to be fretting over in the big picture?
At the end of the day, the reason the steroid issue will never go away is because it’s like concentrated liquid crack to national sports writers, who just can’t resist the urge to return to the highest peaks of moral preening they reached at the end of the Steroid Era. Which is why even an isolated case involving the newly minted N.L. MVP that’s in dispute (and represents one of a relatively few cases of usage by established MLB players in the first place) can inspire this sort of hand-wringing and outrage. The fact of the matter is that, whatever the outcome of Braun’s appeal, the real lesson of this test is that baseball’s testing regime is working pretty much as it should.
The real threat is that leaks like this will sour the MLBPA on the process. Though if I had to put money on the matter, I’d wager the leak came from the WADA lab.