I'm pretty sure we've reached the pinnacle of incredibly hysterical things that can be said/written about doping in baseball today and, wouldn't you know it, it was Mike Lupica who took us there. There are so many terrible things about today's column, and that is to be expected, that it's almost worth gliding right over, but, like comparing a union defending guaranteed salary benefits to "gun nuts," much of it goes past the point of inanity and into the realm of the offensive.
For example, his attack on Shyam Das, the longtime MLB arbitrator who heard Ryan Braun appeal, is something even for Lupica:
The appeal Braun is talking about came after he tested positive a year or so ago for testosterone, with record-breaking numbers still discussed around baseball the way tape-measure home runs are. He was given a suspension for 50 games and appealed and won the appeal, apparently because the arbitrator decided that because Braun’s samples were kept over the weekend at the collector’s house, the guy having missed the last weekend pickup for FedEx, they had somehow been compromised.
I say apparently because to this day we never saw the written decision from the arbitrator, Shyam Das, probably because Major League Baseball is embarrassed it ever let Das near this case in the first place.
I can't say that I know what the reasoning behind not releasing a written decision was (my guess is that MLB and MLBPA didn't want a flaw in the system to be put out for everyone to see), but if they were "embarrassed" by Das they certainly had a funny way of showing it. Das had been the arbitrator since 1999, hearing CBA grievances, salary arbitration cases, drug testing appeals, etc. During that time, MLB could have dismissed him at any point, and indeed they did remove him after this case, so it stands to reason that they were perfectly fine with him up until they got egg on their face last winter. Oh, and if they truly thought Das' decision was without merit, they could have at least tried to appeal in federal court, which they didn't.
That attack on a professional infinitely more knowledgeable than Lupica is bad enough on its own terms, but then we get this curveball:
Braun talked and talked about the “truth” coming out after the arbitrator threw out his suspension. But here’s another question: What truth? The only relevant truth is that Das blew the decision like a tomato can of a closer blowing a save, and let Braun walk.
So four paragraphs up, Lupica's problem is that Das didn't release a decision, so we don't know what was argued, what Das' reasoning was, etc. 100 words or so later, the pretense is gone, and Lupica just asserts with no ambiguity that Das got it wrong full stop because he sided with Braun. Well at least he never has to worry about jury duty ever again.
But, as always, the biggest howler is saved for the big finish:
There is only one way for Major League Baseball and for the rest of us to get the answers we need on Bosch the “biochemist” and Braun and A-Rod and all the other misunderstood ballplayers who have made the PED version of the Dean’s List, known as Bosch’s List: Get everybody in front of a grand jury and make them tell their stories under oath, not to their PR men.
I've heard a lot of silly arguments about how sweeping the commissioner's powers are under the "best interests of baseball" clause, but I have to tell you: filing criminal charges in actual court and forcing people to testify under oath, all without a single piece of evidence, is very much a new one.
I know this is a bold statement, but this column may well be the worst thing Mike Lupica has ever written.