braun wide getty

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.

Yordano Ventura killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.