Today marks two months to the day since we learned that Ryan Braun won the appeal of his 50-game PED suspension. The hope was that a written explanation from arbitrator Shyam Das would provide further illumination for why he made his decision, but it turns out we may never get that information.
According to the Associated Press, Das was asked by the players’ union and management to hold off giving his reasoning while they negotiate changes to their rules for collecting urine specimens.
If players and owners reach agreement on the changes, the Feb. 23 decision by arbitrator Shyam Das to overturn the penalty for the Milwaukee outfielder could be allowed to stand without any written explanation, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the process is designed to be confidential.
It would certainly be interesting to read Das’ explanation given Braun’s cryptic insistence that we haven’t heard the real story, but if the testing and appeal process were followed as designed, we wouldn’t have known about it in the first place. I’m not sure a written explanation from Das would really change the minds of those who have labeled Braun as a “cheater,” but that we may never get the complete truth will probably only embolden those who insist the decision somehow wasn’t on the up-and-up. So that’s fun.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.