One thing that is clear from the Ryan Braun suspension is that it was, in some form or another, the product of horse trading. A settlement of sorts given how both sides got something good out of this, all things considered.
But there is still an open question here: is this considered Braun’s first offense? Second? Is it off that paradigm altogether? Where in the heck are we now, and what in the heck happens if Braun dances with the PED devil at some point in the future?
The uncertainty stems from not just the punishment, but from the statements of Michael Weiner last week when he said that “just cause” punishment is not subject to the 50-100-life scale. That did not seem to jibe with the words of the JDA which seemed to include that scale in both testing positives and just cause situations, but that is what the man said. And, at least based on the number of games, that’s what Braun got.
It’s likely that other Biogenesis players will get similar deals (or punishments, depending on your point of view). Are they outside of the 50-100-life thing too? Or does this count as a first offense and the next one counts for 100 games? And what if the deal, say, in the case of A-Rod, is 103 games? Where do we go from there? How does the standard apply?
This is not a theoretical question. This set of circumstances could happen again. Or, like Manny Ramirez, we could have “retirements” that are rescinded followed by reductions in discipline. As time goes on the system is going to get messier and messier with precedent, as all systems do.
In light of that, I feel it’s important for Major League Baseball to clarify how the Biogenesis suspensions fit into the overall discipline regime of the JDA. For a system to work it has to have transparency. And, though it’s pretty clearly necessitated by the murkiness of the Biogenesis case, at the moment we’re lacking some transparency.