Previewing today’s Ryan Braun idiocy

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The Ryan Braun/Biogenesis report from Yahoo! came out in the evening, so most big columnists and opinion-spinners haven’t yet had a crack at it beyond their initial “oh man, Ryan Braun!” reactions.  But rest assured they’ll be out in full force today.

This is Ryan Braun after all. And the anger at him from the anti-PED zealots is extreme. In some cases maybe even more extreme than it is against A-Rod because Braun is seen as having slipped the hangman’s noose last year when he successfully appealed his suspension for testing positive for testosterone. The fact that he did so because the testers failed to follow the rules is irrelevant to them because that’s part of the due process owed the accused in baseball’s drug testing program and these folks don’t much care for due process.

And so it is with Braun Scandal 2.0.  His name showed up in Biogenesis records. Never mind that it, unlike the other players, wasn’t linked to any PEDs. Never mind that his official statement — that his lawyers used Dr. Bosch as a consultant during his appeal last year — is eminently plausible and worth exploring before we rush to judgment.  As per last year’s example we’re apparently allowed to pick and choose the facts when our outrage is at stake, so him merely being in those records are all that will likely matter when the Outrage Industrial Complex gets going.

Among the things I fully expect from the Outrage Industrial Complex later today:

  • People who trust Bosch’s records as 100% accurate insofar as they implicate ballplayers will claim that he is far too sloppy and untrustworthy to have served as a consultant for Braun;
  • People who have never litigated nor consulted a day in their lives will claim that it makes no sense for Braun’s litigators to have used Bosch as a consultant (Morosi is already on this one). The Outrage Industrial Complex LOVES to act like they know the first thing about the law in these kinds of cases;
  • People unconcerned with the actual facts of the situation will be quick to talk about how this is “poetic justice” and or “ironic” — and they will inevitably misuse the word “ironic” in doing so — for Braun to be ensnared again. And of course there will be no desire whatsoever by these people to actually let the investigation proceed beyond the 12 hour mark before deciding such things.

I’m sure there will be other examples. The news business comes at you fast. There’s no time for actually waiting for information to come out and/or be authenticated before drawing conclusions from it. That’s amateurish and naive.  Or at least that’s what people tell me.

Here’s hoping none of them never find themselves under fire for something and face the same sort of treatment to which they subject others.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.