Report: MLB plans to suspend Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, and 20 other players

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Ryan Braun returns to the Brewers’ lineup tonight after missing a month with a thumb injury and he’s back just in time for this bombshell report from ESPN.com saying that MLB plans to suspend Braun, along with Alex Rodriguez and as many as 20 other players.

According to T.J. Quinn and Mike Fish from “Outside The Lines” Braun “refused to answer questions during a recent meeting with Major League Baseball” and suspensions are expected “sometime after next week’s All-Star break.”

Quinn and Fish quote sources saying that 100-game suspensions are being considered even though that’s the standard second-time offender penalty and neither Braun nor Rodriguez have served a suspension previously. The argument being made is that lying is viewed as the second offense.

Reports of MLB wanting to suspend 20 players first surfaced via Quinn and Fish back on June 4, but have mostly been dormant since then. During that time Biogensis director Tony Bosch was expected to meet with MLB officials and reveal details, leading to the hammer that’s apparently about to drop.

Umpire Cory Blaser made two atrocious calls in the top of the 11th inning

Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.

Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.

Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.

James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.

The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.