Ryan Braun’s suspension was first and, as the alleged public enemy number one — or two — of Major League Baseball, may eventually be seen as the most significant. But at the moment it sort of seems like small potatoes, all things considered.
Why? Because the Brewers season was already effectively over and it will all end for Braun and his team after the season ends. There are other Biogenesis suspensions, however, which will have a much bigger and potentially longer-lasting impact.
The ones to watch: Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, all of whom are reported to be in Major League’s sights, all of whom are playing for playoff contenders. Depending on what the league makes of Gio Gonzalez’s passing mention on the list, the Nationals could be affected too. Colon, depending on how the league views his inclusion vis-a-vis last year’s positive drug test, could be facing second offender discipline.
Do these players pull a Ryan Braun and take their medicine now? If so, they will deprive their teammates of key cogs just as the playoff stretch drive gets underway. Do they appeal? If so, they risk greater penalties, one assumes, legal costs and the likelihood that any discipline ultimately stretches into next year.
Can the A’s replace Colon in the rotation? Who plays shortstop for the Tigers if Peralta is gone? Nelson Cruz hit a big homer for the Rangers last night. Who is their deep threat with him gone?
Those are all less-sexy topics than bad boy Ryan Braun or badder boy Alex Rodriguez getting popped. But they have far greater actual baseball implications.
On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.
The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.
Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:
While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.
Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.
It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.
With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.
Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.