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.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.