Is race and personality affecting coverage of the Ryan Braun story?

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Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com wants to know why people are inclined to give Ryan Braun the benefit of the doubt at the moment when they weren’t so willing to do so with Barry Bonds:

So why, then, is there such an eagerness to find Braun’s seemingly implausible story so believable, or at least defensible by so many people who dove face-first into Bonds?  The options are two: Race, or personality. Neither is appealing.

I don’t know Ray personally, but I’ve chatted with him enough on Twitter to suspect that he very much enjoyed throwing that grenade into the bunker. It’s kind of why I like him so much.

Not that he’s throwing it for no reason. For my part I’m giving Braun the benefit of the doubt for now simply because we are getting a rare mid-testing-and-appeals-process look here and that makes this weird, but Ratto is right that there has always been some weird character test on top of the drug tests.

I don’t know that race is as up front as the personality part, however.  Witness David Ortiz who never ever seems to get much PED stuff thrown at him even though he tested just as positive as anyone. Why? I don’t know. Because he’s cuddly. And Ryan Braun is handsome and isn’t muscle bound I guess. Whatever the criteria, however, to suggest that there isn’t some psychological overlay to PED stories is to deny reality. Personality always enters into it. If Derek Jeter or Michael Young tested positive tomorrow we’d be introduced to a whole new, player-sympathetic PED lexicon, I’m sure.

Ratto goes on to make an even better point, however: media covering these kinds of stores — and the labor disputes and any other off-the-field thing — very often take on the role of defenders of the institutions they cover rather than unaffiliated reporters or commentators.  It’s not a very flattering stance for anyone and ultimately does both the media and the institution a disservice.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”