Braun Over Brain’s — MVP?

I’m going to jump to conclusions. I don’t need to wait for all the evidence to come out. Ryan Braun used performance enhancing drugs. Guilty until proven truly guilty. Right?

If it is indeed the case that Ryan Braun will be suspended 50 games for steroid use, a little black rain cloud is once again hovering over Major League Baseball. They will have big decision to make. Should Ryan Braun retain his MVP trophy? To strip or not to strip? That is the million dollar question.

The thing is, this million dollar question isn’t very difficult. It shouldn’t be a question. Ryan Braun’s MVP trophy must be taken away and given to its rightful owner – Matt Kemp.

No, Ryan Braun probably is not the only star player in the MLB currently using performance enhancers. At this point in time, with any brains and proper means to do so, the system can be cheated despite the much stricter system that has been implemented. However, Ryan Braun has been caught and having been caught so shortly after his stellar season raises a few red flags to say the least.

The effect of PED’s is no doubt different from individual to individual. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the potential effects that PED’s can have can be enormously beneficial for a player. Steroids may not hit the ball for the player or increase hand-eye coordination and athleticism, but to dismiss the effects of performance enhancers because of the unquantifiable nature of the issue is crazy.

Steroids help.

If proven guilty, I’m not sure how you can argue that steroids could not have played a role in inflating Ryan Braun’s numbers for 2011. He won the MVP race by a fairly small margin of 56 points. His .332 average, .397 on base, .994 OPS and 111 RBI’s are all skewed. By how much those numbers are inflated can never be determined but the grey area surrounding the figures is enough in itself to discredit Ryan Braun’s season.

For all we know, Matt Kemp is on the juice. The bottom line though is that he has not been caught. He is the deserving MVP because, for all we know, he has done it au naturel.

In an era supposedly free of performance enhancers, Ryan Braun gave himself a leg up on the rest of the competition. More like a giant Sasquatch leg but you get the idea.

In Ryan Braun’s case, we have no pre-steroid numbers to refer to when putting his 2011 numbers in context because, for all we know, Ryan Braun has been using steroids since he entered the league in 2007. As alluded to earlier, 2007 was the year after the MLB finally implemented a severe penalty for positive drug testing. He has put up similar power numbers in all of his 5 seasons in the bigs. Unlike Barry Bonds, Braun’s 2011 season stats do not feature a suspiciously colossal increase.

Even so, Ryan Braun cheated. He may have been voted the most valuable player in the league but he was assisted. Whether the assistance was more similar to that of a clumsy intern or a trusted employee shouldn’t matter.

Marion Jones forfeited every one of her medals earned after September of 2000. Ben Johnson was forced to give back his gold medal that he “earned” at the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Ryan ought to return his MVP award as well.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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29 Responses to Braun Over Brain’s — MVP?

  1. Kevin Blocker says:

    Well written and insightful; the witty headline in particular caught my attention.

    • thehypercritic says:

      What does the headline mean? What is the brain possessing?

    • evanvogel says:

      Chris, nice work here. I agree that the MVP should be taken away, especially since if he is suspended the juice stood as a physical enhancer. I’m interested to see what happens to the Brewers with Braun out for 50 games and Fielder playing elsewhere. Ouch! When the new CBA has testing for Human Growth Hormones, I’ll be interested to see how many show up positive for that.

      • thehypercritic says:

        HgH now? Really? HgH is wildly expensive compared to substances that are significantly more effective and have shown basically no effects on athletes under 40 — it is a non-issue, used occasionally for a period a few years ago by ignorant athletes with little benefit and moved beyond.

        Why do you think the union was so blasé about putting it in the CBA? Because nobody uses it because it doesn’t help world class athletes — especially those under 40.

        Why don’t you look into efficacy before getting all high and mighty about these things??

  2. jaysjems1141 says:

    Very good article that hit on a lot of good points. Even if his MVP award isn’t taken away, he really should give it up. If anything, the timing is reason enough to do so. Also, imagine what fans will do to him next year… this is just another taint of corruption in the world of baseball.

    • thehypercritic says:

      The timing of a test that isn’t tremendously accurate and is on appeal amidst violent denials is reason enough? Really??

  3. shanghaisam says:

    Chris. Nice piece. Yet another black eye for Bud Selig and MLB. I don’t think baseball will ever again be just a game. Cheating has become endemic to the sport. It is a sad state of affairs.

    • thehypercritic says:

      Baseball is and will always be a game.

      Major League Baseball has always been, and will always be, a business run for profit.

      I agree that Bud Selig has beat the sport bloody (unintended consequences of wild cards, late postseason games forsaking a generation of fans and the massive overreaction to so-called PEDs), but the only embarassment today is the fact that they leaked a test that was questionable and under appeal — and the distasteful reaction of fans who for some reason choose to care what grown men put in their bodies.

  4. thehypercritic says:

    ” it goes without saying that the potential effects that PED’s” you have no scientific study to back that point — which you state as fact later in the post — but many studies suggest that there isn’t an effect on baseball performance.

    Building a case for cheating, a charge which implies he gained an advantage, when the only evidence out there suggests that he may have broken the rules is hardly worth the time it takes to read

    Kemp was sure more deserving of the MVP than Braun due to his play on the field, and I don’t know why I get worked up about a meaningless award voted by an electorate that often proves themselves more ignorant than the average fan, but to pretend altering what happened on the field of play to satisfy some smug version of moral restitution over a rule that needs dramatic alteration of not abandonment…

    Well, the basis of your larger argument are as absurd as the straw man you defeated to set it up.

    • evanvogel says:

      Hypercritic, great name since it plays perfectly in your reactions to the articles and comments I’ve seen, this isn’t a professional blog that is picked up by a supersite so an opinionated response is fine without scientific studies. However, HGH and steroids allow for quicker recovery, not necessarily strength. The fact that is necessary is that steroids are illegal in the sport and to have in the streets without a prescription. If he was on them this season without that document proving he needed them, he should be suspended. Just because smoking weed makes some people sleep better, it doesn’t mean you can legally possess and use it on the street. Due to that, a sport, and MLB in particular, need to keep their sports clean. You deter future violations when you suspend players, especially your best players, because of their acts. Kemp and Braun were even candidates for MVP this year and maybe it was Braun playing for a team that mattered that helped him over Kemp, right? They could have been co-MVP’s this year and it would have been fine, but the integrity of the sport requires those who cheat to be pushed aside, i.e. Pete Rose, Joe Jackson.

      • thehypercritic says:

        And I’m saying that a line needs to be drawn between breaking a sport’s rules which are questionable and cheating.

        Despite physical benefits, no benefit to baseball performance has ever been proved.

        And as marijuana is legal with a prescription that takes 20 minutes and $100 to obtain at any dispensary, I don’t know how you think the dying prohibition on that drug bolsters your case.

        The fact is that there have been many studies on the effect of PEDs on baseball skills and not one, that I’m aware of. has shown a definitive link to better performance.

        And just because this isn’t a professional blog, it doesn’t mean opinions not informed by facts should go unchallenged — that’s hardly acceptable in social conversations, let alone when someone holds convictions so strongly as to put them in writing.

        There has been a deeply irresponsible reaction to the use of PEDs in sports by media and fans, and unless people force the conversation back into the realm of facts it may continue.

      • Chris Ross says:

        I have no problem with hypercritic’s comments or anyone else’s for that matter. I expected disagreement on this topic and that’s not an issue. That’s what the comments section is here. Relating to the topic though, there are facts that show steroids in themselves are proven to make individuals stronger, faster, etc. etc. How that definitely correlates to performance in baseball is yet to be definitely proven, true. However, finding evidence and actual cases to compare non-PED users and PED users is very limited, which no doubt makes studies of this sort very difficult. People want definitive scientific fact but it’s giong to take years for that kind of stuff to come out as technology improves and somehow more subjects are available to be studied upon. The difficulty in this matter is tremendous. How could a scientist ever study Ryan Braun’s pre-steroid and post-steroid difference?

        With all that being said, I could simply point out the lack of evidence on the other side of the equation. It has not been definitely proven either that PED’s have no benefit to baseball performance either. However, we have a substantial amount of correlation among athelte’s and PED’s that cannot be disregarded.The significant jump in home runs among guys like Mark Mcgwiire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, wasn’t seen prior to the introduction of steroids and isn’t being witnessed to nearly the same degree after the MLB’s implementation of real punishments for steroid use. You can take from that kind of correlation stuff what you want (and I know you won’t take it very well) but I take it as evidence that there is a clear beneficial effect of PED’s on performance. I’m still amazed people continually deny it citing their lack of scientific evidence when the evidence is right in front of them. In time the scientific studies will come out with definitive evidence, but until then this argument will be never ending.

      • JC says:

        But Chris-

        When you make a claim the onus is on you to provide the evidence not those commenting on your initial argument. When you say “not been definitely proven either that PED’s have no benefit to baseball performance either” it’s hand-waving because you can’t provide the evidence.

        Some other thoughts:

        1) Correlation does not equal causation. Scientists get crushed in peer review if they present correlative data and claim it causes x (Note: medical literature has quite a number of correlation studies- again none of them really PROVE anything). So correlation is not evidence as there are other factors that contribute to the end result. Correlation is merely suggestive.

        2) Just some food for thought. There are probably other reasons, besides steroids, that HR jumped

  5. JC says:

    “The effect of PED’s is no doubt different from individual to individual. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the potential effects that PED’s can have can be enormously beneficial for a player. Steroids may not hit the ball for the player or increase hand-eye coordination and athleticism, but to dismiss the effects of performance enhancers because of the unquantifiable nature of the issue is crazy.”

    – I agree with hypercritic above. If you want to make these statements then at least reference some studies. It’s equally crazy just to assume someones numbers are built totally upon PED use. In other words just because they “can” help doesn’t mean they “do” help. And just because their effects are hard to determine, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t or can’t try.

    “If it is indeed the case that Ryan Braun will be suspended 50 games for steroid use, a little black rain cloud is once again hovering over Major League Baseball. They will have big decision to make. Should Ryan Braun retain his MVP trophy? To strip or not to strip? That is the million dollar question.”

    – The MVP isn’t an MLB award it’s a BBWAA award. ARod still has his award.

    “Unlike Barry Bonds, Braun’s 2011 season stats do not feature a suspiciously colossal increase.”

    – Bonds’ HR rate jumped yea but even before he took steroids (or at least before the best guesses) he was hitting 30HR and had a really high OBP/OPS. Translation- he was a great player before steroids. So do steroids help only great players?

    • Barb Caffrey says:

      I agree that if anyone should give up his MVP award, it’s Alex Rodriguez. He’s admitted to taking anabolic steroids. And yet, no one goes after him.

      As I said on my own blog, I feel that Braun is innocent until proven guilty. He has denied this vigorously, more so than I’d have expected if he really was taking something — I just do not believe that his stats have been inflated this year compared to past years as they were comparable to his previous four years in MLB. So either he’s been on something since the start — doubtful — or he’s on something now — again, doubtful — or he’s really *not* on something.

      And the problem with the current messy system is that the people who are cheating (including past Milwaukee Brewers player Fernando Vina) sound exactly the same as the innocent. And because we had a situation in Milwaukee a few years ago that was close to this — Mike Cameron tested positive for taking something with Sudafed in it (or something close to that), _not_ a performance-enhancer at all, and was suspended for 25 games. His suspension was unjustified and unjustifiable because he took an over-the-counter cold medicine that MLB said was OK. And I fail to see how someone who has allergies, taking an allergy medicine or cold medicine, like Cameron has “enhanced” himself — is it considered “performance enhancement” now to be abel to breathe?

      Anyway, I believe Braun. Maybe I’m just too, too naïve for words, but I believe him. And he is indeed innocent until _proven_ guilty; it’s still possible that MLB is flat wrong here, and since there _is_ a precedent in the NFL (with the two Minnesota Vikings players, who won in federal court against an unjust NFL sanction), it’s very possible that Braun will sue in federal court, too, for all I know. (And win.)

      • Barb Caffrey says:

        *able* to breathe — typed too fast there.

        Anyway. Mike Cameron was unjustifiably suspended a few years ago and if he’d have stayed with his case, he may well have won it; he was injured so he decided to accept the suspension.

  6. Great article, Chris.

    I largely agree with your position, except that I’m going to wait until I know more before I rip Braun to shreds. If the story is true, what a gigantic controversy to throw at the feet of Uncle Bud, who doesn’t tend to do well with a good day, much less a hard problem like this.

    The only thing I might want to suggest when using things like Olympic and NCAA medals and awards, those are supposed to be amateur athletics. Once money gets involved, the rules change a little bit. It shouldn’t be that way (and money is involved in amateur athletics), but rules are often ignored when that much money flies around.

    If it is true, then yes, Braun should return the reward as well as any compensation directly related to winning it. Will he ? Not a chance.

  7. breakingwi says:

    This is a great article, and, normally, I’d agree right away.

    But this is why crap like this shouldn’t be leaked before the matter is actually resolved. The appeal is still going on, and we don’t know if Braun actually took the PEDs (or whatever they may be).

    So we shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions, talking about stripping away the MVP, and all that stuff until the whole thing is actually resolved.

  8. I don’t disagree with you, CR, but it won’t happen.

    Let’s not forget we’re talking about Major League Baseball.

    A brief look at MVP’s past (Juan Gonzalez, Ken Caminiti, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Jose Canseco, Miguel Tejada, Sammy Sosa and um… Barry Bonds, allegedly) all used performance enhancers.

    They still have their trophies.

    The Braun situation just appears worse because the news of him failing a drug test comes only a month after he actually won the award.

    Hey, if the league can consider dropping Manny Ramirez’s 100-game suspension down to 50, then anything is possible.

    The ironic thing here is Braun shouldn’t have won the damn thing in the first place.

  9. tophatal says:


    Braun says he ” never knowingly took ‘roids “ . Who the hell is he kidding ? Now Manny Ramirez is being reinstated by the league . Someone explain to me who now takes the game of baseball seriously in terms of its hierarchy led by that ” moron ” Bud Selig ?

    tophatal …………..

  10. buddad1957 says:

    As usual your comments are right on. A tainted MVP is a tainted MVP. Perhaps they should test all finalists before giving the award. I’m hoping there’s some truth to his appeal, but I am not optimistic.

  11. The latest news I’ve read states that he tested positive for a substance, but not a steroid. If that’s the case, I’m very curious what exactly it is that he took. But let’s not fool ourselves, getting an edge (even if by definition that means cheated) has always been part of baseball. Until all the information comes out, it’s easy to imagine the worst case scenario. For instance, there was a NFL player that successfully sued the manufacturer whose substance claimed it did not contain something that it did. If that proves to be the case here, is Braun at fault for being lied to by a manufacturer of a supplement? There’s things I’ve witnessed in a game with my own eyes that are illicitly against MLB’s rules and policies. Should I be a whistle blower? Sometimes you need all the information out there before you can make a totally informed verdict. Whether that’s innocent or guilty remains to be seen.

  12. Arguments are what make sports great. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. For those of you who haven’t read the website, I suggest you head on over there and read it. It might change the way you view steroids or PEDs.

  13. Pingback: What has happened to baseball? | thenewsofsports

  14. Great article Chris, but I think it’s a bit awkward to take away the MVP now. I wrote about this on my blog, come check it out please. I referenced your article.

  15. chappy81 says:

    Not sure I agree they should take away his trophy, but I do think it was a terrible mistake to give it to him in the first place. Kemp clearly won the MVP, but for some reason the BWAA decided to count winning when they rarely do…

  16. clinton529 says:

    There doesn’t seem to be many posts on here since the real reason Braun tested positive broke… Braun has a mild case of herpes, and his medication spurred the positive result. This should have never come out to the public and Braun is 100% innocent of all charges. He’s one of the game’s brightest stars and has done everything right throughout his astounding career.

  17. Brewer fan says:

    You are such a retard Ryan braun would not be that stupid he is set up in Milwaukee where his restaurant and fans are. He would not screw up his entire career just for the numbers. I I’m going to laugh in your face when he is proven innocent and then you can suck it. If this is your whole life trashing peoples good names you should get a girlfriend and find yourself a life.

  18. Braun was tested 4 times during the regular season and passed each one. He failed the October test. The failure was due to a prescription from a dr. He may still need to serve the suspension due to the MLB zero tolerance rules. I don’t believe he should have to though if it was in fact dr prescribed.

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