Day: February 23, 2012

Bryan LaHair

Bryan LaHair named Cubs’ cleanup hitter after BSOHL claim


A fitting reward, is it not?

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said today that while he’s still figuring out the rest of his lineup, he’s currently planning to use David DeJesus as a leadoff man and Bryan LaHair in the cleanup spot.

It’s quite a show of faith in LaHair, a 29-year-old who has hit .262/.335/.395 with five homers and 16 RBI in 195 major league at-bats.

Alfonso Soriano was the other candidate to bat fourth for the Cubs. He’ll probably follow LaHair in a lineup that could look like:

RF David DeJesus – L
SS Starlin Castro – R
CF Marlon Byrd – R
1B Bryan LaHair – L
LF Alfonso Soriano – R
C Geovany Soto – R
3B Ian Stewart – L
2B Darwin Barney – R

Alternatively, the Cubs could move Barney up to the two hole and go with Castro third and Byrd fifth. Barney, though, was pretty brutal offensively after a nice April last season. It’s better if he hits eighth.

Ryan Braun got off on a “technicality?” Bull!

ryan braun wide getty

In almost all cases, the people who say that someone “got off on a technicality” or took advantage of a “loophole” really mean “I think the SOB was guilty and because of that I don’t care if the proper safeguards and protocols were followed!”  It’s a ridiculous stance.

Ridiculous because procedures such as chain of custody and the proper handling of samples — which were not followed in Braun’s case — exist for a reason. That reason is not, contrary to popular grunting, to make it harder for decent prosecutors or authorities to do their jobs. It’s to ensure the integrity of the system. And, in this case, the integrity of the sample. Every detail that is not adhered to presents another opportunity for a sample to be tainted, lost or otherwise compromised. When that happens the test itself is, by definition, unreliable and any reference to what it may or may not have shown is utterly beside the point.

And while that, in this case, may work to Braun’s benefit, in the long run adherence to those procedures is critical to the integrity and efficacy of the drug testing process. And that’s far more important than whatever this means for one man’s drug test.

The response I expect to that is “well, just because procedures weren’t followed doesn’t mean that Braun didn’t take something!”  My response: you’re right.  We don’t know that. And we can’t know that, because the testing program is not nor can it reasonably be expected to be one that decides absolute guilt or absolute innocence.  In this it’s just like the criminal justice system which never determines actual innocence. It determines the lack of guilt. It does this because the burden is on the accuser and not the accused, same as with the drug testing procedure.

Except in the drug testing world the burden is way, way lower than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  All MLB has to do is take a sample and test it properly, while adhering to a relatively simple set of procedures.  If MLB, in this case, could not be bothered to do even that, then neither it nor anyone else has cause to label Ryan Braun a drug user.

Ryan Braun got off on a technicality?  Bull.  Major League Baseball half-assed it and failed to adhere to the standards it set up for itself.  In that case I have no problem considering Braun to be the less culpable party.  Anyone who says otherwise is more interested in assumptions and the casting of aspersions than they are in a rigorous and legitimate drug testing regime.

UPDATE: Here’s a copy of the drug agreement.  The term “chain of custody” appears in it 33 times. Beginning on page 38, there are detailed instructions to those who collect and handle samples.  In light of this, to suggest that the chain of custody issues are “minor” or “mere technicalities” is absurd. These procedures are a fundamental feature of the system, not some petty and annoying loophole.

Ryan Braun won his appeal because the evidence collector took his urine sample home with him

braun wide getty

Lots of people are saying that Ryan Braun got off on a “technicality.”  Before I get in to the odiousness of that particular phrase, let’s all get up to speed on what that technicality was.  This is from

Braun didn’t argue evidence of tampering, didn’t argue anything about science being wrong but argued protocol had not been followed. A second source confirmed to ESPN investigative reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada that Braun did not dispute the science but rather questioned chain of custody/collection procedure.

According to one of the sources, the collector, after getting Braun’s sample, was supposed to take the sample to FedEx/Kinkos for shipping but thought it was closed because it was late on a Saturday. As has occurred in some other instances, the collector took the sample home and kept it refrigerated. Policy states that the sample is supposed to get to FedEx as soon as possible.

Preliminary takeaways:

  • Kinkos still exists? Cool!  Of course, back when people used to use them, they were always open 24 hours, so I’m not sure what this urine collector was thinking. Guess he never had to print out a term paper back in 1992 like the rest of us.
  • If you’re friends with this particular collector, by all means, ASK before grabbing anything out of his fridge. You may think you’re drinking some exotic chilled shot when, in reality, you’re taking a little part of Vicente Padilla home with you.

I’ll have a more significant takeaway in a later post coming up shortly. That takeaway:  I am not going to have a lot of patience for those who say that Braun’s appeal, based on these facts, was him taking advantage of a “loophole” or getting off on a “technicality.”  Because it’s a totally bogus and meaningless argument.

Come back shortly to hear why.