This is just the kind of PR mess that commissioner Bud Selig and his cronies didn’t need this month.
The National League’s newly minted Most Valuable Player tested positive for enhanced testosterone levels during the postseason, and now Ryan Braun joins legends like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire in being implicated for steroid usage.
Through his own PR guy, Braun maintained his innocence, and there’s a chance his name will be cleared on appeal. Still, the steroid taint never goes away entirely.
It’s a real shame, in part because Braun seemed a bit more human than some of the league’s recent heroes. At 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he looks normal enough, yet he hits some of the hardest balls of anyone in the league. Braun also has a rep as a good guy, and he committed himself to spending the bulk of his career with the small-market Brewers when he signed a $105 million extension through 2020 in April.
So, if a guy like Braun, who has next to nothing left to gain financially by roiding, is cheating anyway, it suggests baseball’s steroid problem isn’t even close to being wiped out. That baseball gets the bulk of the attention in this department even though steroids have certainly been more prevalent during the NFL’s history isn’t fair, but it’s the game’s burden anyway.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.