Originally posted on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 2/24/12

Ken Rosenthal called the reversal of Ryan Braun’s performance-enhancing drug suspension on Thursday “a triumph of due process.” Jeff Passan called it a “blow to Selig’s testing program.” It could be both, but what happened on December 12 made those two interpretations mutually exclusive.

Whether Braun was exonerated only because of an error by the test collector, or his lawyers simply found the technicality an easier case to argue, is irrelevant.  Whether Major League Baseball agrees or—as its response by executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred stated—“vehemently disagrees” with the arbitrator’s decision does not matter, either.

Braun, by the letter of the law, is innocent. And yet many fans, colleagues, executives, and media members doubtless went to bed Thursday night feeling otherwise. That is the dichotomy Rosenthal and Passan described, and it is one we all will need to live with.

We need to live with it because two sources anonymously and prematurely leaked word of Braun’s positive test to ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada. By doing so, the sources shocked the baseball world, cast doubt on Braun’s current and future legacy, and forced opinions to be rendered before all the facts were out.  Quinn and Fainaru-Wada did nothing wrong—they were doing their jobs as investigative reporters, and doing them well. The sources were overzealous, and they likely underestimated the impact that releasing this confidential information could have.

Now that the dust has settled, it may be instructive to play a little game of devil’s advocate.

Suppose that Braun remains an elite player for many more years, and retires with sufficient credentials for a spot in the Hall of Fame. Suppose, also, that no further evidence of Braun using performance-enhancing drugs is released. Finally, suppose that “cleanliness” remains a prerequisite for induction into Cooperstown. Without qualifying or conditioning your answer in any way, would you vote to put Braun in the Hall of Fame?

If your answer is “no,” then as Passan suggested, all is effectively lost. If your answer is “yes,” then as Rosenthal suggested, baseball should be proud that due process was allowed to run its course. And if the sweeping nature of the question seems excessive, it is—because ESPN’s sources opened it to the court of public opinion before all of the evidence was presented.

This Week in Sabermetrics 101
The class took a break last night from its crash course in available statistics, and welcomed a special guest—Blue Jays professional scout Kimball Crossley—who spoke of the importance of finding a balance between what the numbers show and what your eyes see. Crossley described the unique path he took to his current job, starting as a baseball writer for an afternoon paper, and taking advantage of his daily contact with players, scouts, and coaches to learn what he needed to see to understand the game and identify the players who could cut it at the highest level.

The remaining 90 minutes of class were a question-and-answer session, during which Crossley fielded questions on topics such as Jose Bautista’s power surge, Brett Lawrie’s makeup, and Sergio Santos’ return to Toronto as a reliever.

Guest speakers who can see and explain the game from different perspectives have always been a hallmark of the class, and Crossley’s insights were extremely valuable. They may prove particularly useful next week, when students will be asked to defend their choices of the best defensive players in the league.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Greg Hardy struggling to find work, reportedly even in CFL

Jets players told not to discuss Ryan Fitzpatrick situation

Brock Lesnar won't be punished by WWE for UFC drug test

Report: Cowboys to be fined up to $250K for suspended players

Data shows NFL-backed youth program that claimed reduced concussions is bogus

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Odom’s family working hard to get him to go to rehab

Drug dealers adding Olympic rings to cocaine wrappers in Rio

Report: Cowboys have ‘no interest’ in Freeney, Hardy

Report: Bradham was defending girlfriend during alleged assault

Elliott domestic violence case being taken to city prosecutor

Belichick: Brady is not going to lose his starting job

Reds 'picking up the pace' on Jay Bruce trade talks

Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus: What does this mean for Serie A?

MLB asks Yaisel Puig to stop wearing his Vin Scully cleats

Study finds link on babies named Shea, Mets’ success

Durant: Being cheered by Oracle Arena crowd ‘felt a little weird’

10 must-watch WWE Network outside-the-ring videos

Is Marchand worth the money he’s reportedly asking for?

Rams sent emails hawking hats to old ticket holders in St. Louis

Miami Marlins unveil logo for 2017 MLB All-Star Game

Enes Kanter blasts writer over Russell Westbrook bashing

WATCH: Rick Sutcliffe cuts up tie during Cubs-White Sox game

Kirk Cousins has excellent take on franchise tag

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker