Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is out of the game. Braun has accepted a season ending 65-game suspension for “violations” of baseball’s drug program.
He’ll sit out the rest of the season without pay, losing about $3.4 million. He’ll be able to come back next year and the $117 million he’s still owed through 2020 won’t be affected.
“I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed,” Braun wrote in a statement. “All of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”
Braun is one of about 20 Major League Baseball players whose names appear on a list tying them to the now-shuttered Miami anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, which has long been suspected of providing performance-enhancing drugs to baseball players.
The clinic’s founder, Anthony Bosch, began working with MLB officials in early June, with the hope that they would help him with legal problems of his own.
So what does Braun’s suspension mean for the other players on the list? And will it have any lasting impact on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball?
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
I'm Robin Young. It's HERE AND NOW. Someone already said it, but when will the next cleats fall? The first of the 20 or so Major League Baseball players tied to that anti-aging clinic in Florida. The Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun has accepted a season-ending 65-game suspension. He'll lose about three and a half million dollars but be able to come back next year when his salary is higher. Might more players see the wisdom of that deal?
The now-closed Miami clinic Biogenesis is long suspected of providing performance-enhancing drugs to players. You might remember its founder, Anthony Bosch, began working with baseball officials in June in the hope that they'd help with legal problems of his. So what more can we expect? David Epstein, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. David, Joel Sherman writes in The New York Post today that Ryan Braun now becomes Yankee star Alex Rodriguez's worst enemy. Do you think that's true that other names will fall instead of fight these allegations?
DAVID EPSTEIN: I think it's an interesting point, and I do think other names will fall instead of fight the allegations. But I don't totally agree with the point that Ryan Braun is A-Rod's worst enemy. I think A-Rod is definitely A-Rod's worst enemy. And I think from what I'm hearing and I think what others are hearing, Major League Baseball has a case, you know, against Alex Rodriguez in this regard. It's even more strong than what they thought they had against Ryan Braun. So I don't think they really needed a first domino in the form of Ryan Braun in order to get a big suspension against Alex Rodriguez.
YOUNG: Right. Well, A-Rod was accused of doping in 2009. He admitted to using steroids for three years starting in 2001. He did not serve a suspension for that. So, I mean, what's your most educated guess as to what's going to happen?
EPSTEIN: I think that - so Major League Baseball is - you're right that article - so, like, I co-authored that article when it first came out and that the positive test he failed was for survey purposes only, not for a suspension. But now, they're looking at multiple offenses against him, not only related to using products from Biogenesis but lying about it, attempting to purchase documents from Biogenesis employees so that Major League Baseball couldn't get to them first.
So Major League Baseball is trying to count these in the absence of a positive test as multiple offenses and look at things like a potential lifetime ban. And I think the negotiations are going to say, look, with Alex Rodriguez and Major League Baseball, you'd like to avoid a lifetime ban. You know, what are you willing to take? And I think that's going to end up being a suspension in the range of 100 games or more, maybe even 150 games, which is essentially a season.
YOUNG: Right. Well, the Yankees and the Brewers, A-Rod's and Braun's teams, aren't in contention for playoffs this year, but the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers are. They have key players on the list. The Tigers' Jhonny Peralta and the Rangers' Nelson Cruz. So your thoughts on them.
EPSTEIN: I do think it's going to - I think the Rangers were sort of spiking in terms of, you know, a current favorite for a team that might make it to the World Series. But I think this is going to change the Vegas odds for them a little bit because people are going to be concerned about the suspensions. That said, I think it's going to take probably another month or so for Major League Baseball really to be done with their investigations. And then you're going to have - talk about appeals and things like that. And I don't think that we're going to see many more suspensions this season, unless other players decide to say, hey, let me take my suspension now, but that's unlikely from a player on a team that's in contention.
YOUNG: You know, there may not be sympathy on the part of fans, but how are these players are playing with this going on? Just briefly.
EPSTEIN: Playing, you mean while...
YOUNG: The game, yeah, knowing this is - yeah.
EPSTEIN: Part of the collectively-bargained process. So they have these rights to appeal. I mean the last - the reason why Ryan Braun was playing after he failed the drug test last year was because it was going through the appeals process. And part of the agreement between the union and the league is that the players can continue to play while that process is going on.
YOUNG: I guess I meant more the pressure of knowing, you know, that there's, you know, potentially, as we've said, cleats to fall. David Epstein, senior writer for Sports Illustrated, on suspensions because of performance-enhancing drugs and baseball. David, thank you.
EPSTEIN: Thank you.
YOUNG: And you fans out there, your thoughts as you watch this steady stream of news, as you watch your players play. Hereandnow.org, love to hear from you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.