Why doesn’t Major League Baseball just suspend Ryan Braun and see what happens?

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Here’s a deep thought: if Major League Baseball is certain enough that its players took PEDs supplied to them by Biogenesis that they’re willing to file a lawsuit to that effect, why are they not certain enough to simply suspend Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and all of the other players named?

Seriously. You can’t file a lawsuit in good faith unless you are willing to swear under oath that what you put in that lawsuit is true. And for their part, the lawyers, by virtue of the rules of civil procedure and legal ethics, are bound to file only those lawsuits which they believe to be in good faith.  My misgivings about the merits of this lawsuit aside, let’s assume — because it is polite to assume such things — that Major League Baseball truly believes and has basis for what it says in the complaint.

If so, is that not enough for them to suspend the players under the Joint Drug Agreement?

There’s not a burden of proof in the JDA. It merely requires, in the case of no positive test result, “just cause.” They have just cause to file the lawsuit — and they already suspended a minor leaguer based on what is now known — so why not just suspend Braun and everyone on a just cause basis now and make them appeal the discipline?

Of course they would appeal it, and with no shortage of vigor. But they’re going to do that regardless of what happens in this lawsuit. Indeed, baseball’s whole end game is to get the Biogenesis records and then suspend players, so they’e going to have this fight eventually, and there’s no way the players’ union will ever concede that what documents MLB is able to get — likely none, but whatever — prove anything. They’ll argue until the end of the world.

So have the fight now without this charade of a lawsuit. Put Braun and everyone on defense. No matter what happens — even if Braun wins on appeal again — Bud Selig can throw up his hands and declare victory, saying that they did what they had to do and, once again, those no-good players got off on a technicality. Or, perhaps, with a new arbitrator in place and all of the stuff that has thus far spun out of Biogenesis, they actually get their men this time.

Seems preferable to monkeying around with a dumb lawsuit.

The 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.