MVP Braun’s positive test spells disaster for MLB

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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.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.