The start of the regular baseball season is still almost a month away and already the biggest story of the spring is about drugs. Didn’t that topic hit the showers when Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens hung up their spikes?
This latest drug saga is a good news-bad news deal. Good for Milwaukee Brewers leftfielder Ryan Braun, who appealed his 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs; bad for Major League Baseball because its great plan to rid the game of juicers may have been jeopardized because of Braun’s acquittal.
Braun is no ordinary Ryan. He’s the reigning MVP of the National League, a superstar with offensive credentials that one day will be scrutinized closely by voters in Cooperstown, where the Hall of Fame resides. Unfortunately for Braun, having the drug allegations hanging over his head likely means the Hall will never call his name — innocent or not.
Bonds has not been convicted of anything drug-related (other than obstruction of justice) and we’ll find out next year, when he’s eligible for the Hall of Fame for the first time, just how anxious the baseball establishment is to have the highly-suspected cheater, Big Head Barry, given a big-head bust in Cooperstown.
Same goes with Roger Clemens, whose career stats would make him an automatic first-year selection to the hallowed Hall. Instead, he’ll be going to the Hall’s gallows, joining Pete Rose in the non-existent wing for Automatic Hall of Famers Who Shamed Their Way Out.
Braun, another “innocent” one, may join them one day. His 50-game suspension, scheduled to begin at the start of the 2012 season, has been set aside on appeal. The urine sample he provided — and allegedly found to contain excessive and illegal levels of testosterone — apparently stayed in the drug tester’s home over a weekend instead of being sent immediately by FedEx to the drug lab. That 48-hour delay was all that two of the three-person arbitration panel needed to uphold the Milwaukee slugger’s appeal.
So Braun is “innocent” after all. In the court of public opinion, though — the one that ultimately leads to the Hall of Fame — his guilt or innocence is yet to be decided. The likely outcome? The only way he’ll get into the Hall of Fame is to pay the $20 admission fee, like you and me.
• Blogger Chad Picasner, on the Yankees announcing their 40-man roster: “Three catchers, 19 pitchers, seven outfielders, eight infielders, two accountants and one banker.”
• Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald: “Jose Canseco announced he’s making a comeback and joining a baseball team in Mexico. Mexican officials reacted by calling for an end to NAFTA.”
• Comedy writer Alan Ray, on speculation that the next Dodgers owner will want to expand the team’s office facilities: “There is plenty of space in the trophy room.”
• Headline at The Onion.com: “Anti-doping agency has a bunch of old Tour de France titles lying around if anybody wants one.”
• Rick Reilly of ESPN.com, on Harvard grad Jeremy Lin’s big splash in the NBA: “Without his will and effort, the poor kid probably would be stuck running Goldman Sachs by now.”
• Norman Chad of the Washington Post, on Lin: “He’s a fabulous story — one part Tim Tebow, one part Roy Hobbs, two parts UFO.”
• John Hawkins of golfchannel.com, on the Jeremy Lin hullaballoo: “For those who don’t understand all the fuss, imagine Jonas Blixt winning the Masters and U.S. Open.“
• R.J. Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Opinions are deeply divided on Kate Upton’s bikini on the SI Swimsuit Issue cover. I say it’s really something; my wife says it’s really nothing.”
• Comedy writer Jerry Perisho, on Upton’s $180 swimsuit: “ . . . roughly $120,000 per ounce.”
• Headline at TheOnion.com: “Little League World Series to begin testing players for mustaches.”
• Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on the Dolphins’ 21-man coaching staff: “Lot of specialists there. I think the backup long snapper has his own coach.”
• Cote again, on the same subject: “Miami is the only team with an assistant coach in charge of counting other assistant coaches.”
• Brad Dickson in the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald, on ads in Montreal newspapers encouraging people to ask God to help the last-place Canadiens: “God said he’ll get back to them after dotting the I’s on Tim Tebow’s new underwear-endorsement deal.”
• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: LeBron James says he could envision himself playing for the Cavaliers again. Yeah, sure — right after Elin takes Tiger back, the Bobcats win this year’s NBA title and three pigs make an emergency landing at LaGuardia.”
• Chad again, unearthing a little-known fact at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show: “The Australian Terrier chases his tail counterclockwise.”
• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “President Obama spoke recently at University of Miami, where it was 83 degrees. He loved the weather, saying “I don’t know how you guys go to class. It’s too nice outside.” And Miami football players responded: “Class?”