Braun Wins Appeal, Not Guilty.

Braun wins appeal of 50-game suspension

Panel votes 2-1 to overturn NL MVP’s suspected violation

By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com

PHOENIX — The verdict is in for National League MVP Ryan Braun: Not guilty.

Ryan Braun

The Brewers outfielder on Thursday became the first Major Leaguer to successfully appeal a suspected violation of MLB’s Drug Treatment and Prevention Program. The 2-1 ruling from a three-member special panel spared Braun a suspension that might have covered as many as 50 games and positions him to man left field when the Brewers begin their defense of the NL Central crown.

Braun called it the “first step in restoring my good name and reputation,” and he will report to camp Friday and address the media at an 11 a.m. MT news conference that will air live on MLB.com, brewers.com and MLB Network. Major League Baseball was swift to respond to the ruling.

“As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute,” read part of a statement from MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred. “While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

Das cast the deciding vote on a panel that also included Manfred and MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner. According to multiple reports, Braun called into question the chain of custody of the sample when it wasn’t immediately sent in via Fed Ex as required by the testing policy.

It would have been far more difficult, experts say, for Braun to fight the result based on supposedly inadvertently taking a supplement or medication that included a banned substance, even if it truly had been prescribed for a purpose not related to performance enhancement. So a challenge based on improper protocol stands to reason as Braun’s best chance to have gotten the appeal honored.

“We were able to get through this, because I am innocent and the truth is on our side,” Braun said in a statement. “We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.”

The MLBPA took the unusual step of releasing news of Braun’s successful appeal, which under normal circumstances would have remained confidential.

Given the high-profile nature of the case, which leaked in December and became national news, the MLBPA and MLB agreed to announce the result.

Ryan Braun

“Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our clubs and all of the players who take the field,” Manfred said in MLB’s statement. “It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.”

Several Brewers teammates said they were elated at the news. Left-hander Chris Narveson, the Brewers’ union representative, was playing golf with fellow starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf and Shaun Marcum when he got the news.

“It’s huge, getting a bat like that back in your lineup,” Narveson said. “This is what we thought we were going to get all along.”

Narveson declined to address what he knew about the specifics of Braun’s defense, but dismissed the idea that Braun’s case hinged on a technicality.

“If somebody mishandles a sample, that’s not just a technicality, that’s an error,” Narveson said. “I don’t know all of the details, so I don’t want to comment too much. But put it this way: This isn’t the first time we’ve had issues with the people [in charge of testing] in Milwaukee. There have been other issues with timing.”

General manager Doug Melvin focused on the bottom line: “I don’t know anything about it other than my job and responsibility as a general manager is to put the best team on the field, and the decision allows me to do that a little bit better.”

Brewers chairman and principal owner Mark Attanasio released a statement Thursday night on behalf of the Brewers.

“Since joining our organization in 2005, Ryan Braun has been a model citizen and a person of character and integrity,” the statement read. “Knowing Ryan as I do, I always believed he would succeed in his appeal. “I also want to reiterate my support for Major League Baseball’s strict substance testing program. It is unfortunate that the confidentiality of the program was compromised, and we thank our fans and everyone who supported Ryan and did not rush to judgment. “The team is looking forward to seeing Ryan in camp tomorrow. With this now behind us, we return our focus to the ballpark and defending our NL Central Division title.”

This day had been looming since October, when Braun was required to submit a urine test during the playoffs that reportedly contained a very high level of testosterone. Typically, such findings remain secret while a player exhausts his appellate rights, but in Braun’s case the result was leaked in a Dec. 10 report by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

In the meantime, Braun had become the Brewers’ first league MVP in 22 years, edging the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp and former Brewers teammate Prince Fielder in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Braun batted .332 with 33 home runs, 111 RBIs and 33 stolen bases in a charmed 2011 season. He signed a club-record-shattering contract extension in April that made him Brewers property through at least 2020, was voted an All-Star Game starter for the fourth straight season — though he was forced to withdraw because of a leg injury — and led Milwaukee to a club-record 96 regular-season wins and its first division crown in nearly three decades. He then became the Brewers’ first league MVP since Robin Yount won the American League award for a second time in 1989, a triumph that seemed to promise a dream winter for Braun, who was sitting on the balcony of his oceanside home in Malibu, Calif., when a BBWAA official called with the news.

What no one other than Braun, his closest advisers and a handful of MLB officials knew at that time was that the specter of a suspension loomed. Two weeks later, the rest of the world knew.

Ryan Braun

The night the news broke, a Braun spokesperson released a statement citing “highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case which will support Ryan’s complete innocence and demonstrate there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program.” Braun replied in a text to MLB.com that night saying he was eager to state his case, but more than a month would pass before he got his chance.

An appeal began Jan. 19 before Weiner, Manfred and Das. Two days later, with the panel’s ruling pending, Braun accepted his NL MVP Award from the BBWAA at a dinner event in New York.

Now he’ll get a chance to defend it. Braun will report to camp one day before the team’s first full-squad workout on Saturday.

“This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully today the process worked,” Braun said in his statement. “Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the panel chair and the Office of the Commissioner. As I said before, I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball. Everything I’ve done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.

“I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title.”

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at@AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ryan Braun - Milwaukee - 2007 Road

(Photo credit: BaseballBacks)

MORE ON RYAN BRAUN WINS APPEAL
• Braun wins appeal of 50-game ban
• In speaking, Braun proud of ‘integrity’
• Players, managers react to appeal
• Bauman: Big relief for Brewers
• Kemp glad for NL MVP Braun
• Crew celebrates good news
• Justice: Braun’s statement is key
• Statement from Braun
• Brewers statement on Braun
• Statement from MLB

 Braun on winning appeal
 Braun takes questions
 Roenicke on Braun
 Network’s analysis
 Melvin on Braun
 McCalvy reacts
 Heyman’s reaction
 Costas on decision
 Prince shares thoughts

The Heart Of The Order, 3-4 Power Combos

Dynamic 3-4 duos abound around big leagues

Pujols-Hunter, Fielder-Cabrera latest in long list of power combos

By John Schlegel / MLB.com
The conversation about the greatest 3-4 combinations in baseball history begins with Ruth-Gehrig, whose uniform numbers, one-name notoriety and Hall of Fame credentials tell you why.
English: Manny Ramirez in 2008.

Manny Ramirez

In more recent years, there have been some venerable combos, like Barry Bonds-Jeff Kent and Manny Ramirez-David Ortiz, and there remain many solid power duos taking up the Nos. 3 and 4 spots in lineups throughout the Majors today.

But the 3-4 conversation has changed a bit this offseason.

No longer will Braun-Fielder be a hyphenated word in these discussions. Pujols-Holliday didn’t last very long, and the Tigers came up with a pretty solid Plan B for losing half their 3-4 combo to injury this winter.

With the pieces seemingly in place now, here’s a glance at some of the best 3-4 combos in the game heading into 2012:

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth's Monuments

Gehrig - Ruth by Espino Family

WINTER ADDITIONS

It’s hard not to put Miguel Cabrera-Prince Fielder right at the top of the list before they have even played their first game together, because their potential together is so spectacular.

English: Prince Fielder (left), Ryan Howard (c...

The Tigers already had a great combo with Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but the blockbuster Fielder acquisition takes it up a notch. Fielder was already part of one of the game’s best while teaming with reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner Ryan Braun in Milwaukee, and he’s on to another good thing in Detroit — on paper, at least.

Of course, that new combo under the halo has some pop to it as well. Albert Pujols-Torii Hunter combines the best hitter of his generation with an All-Star who has put up 20-plus homers in 10 of the past 11 seasons.

Another boffo offseason move altered a 3-4 combo, albeit indirectly. With Jose Reyes installed at the top of the Marlins’ lineup, Hanley Ramirez-Mike Stanton hope to have more opportunities to knock in runs and, in Stanton’s case, knock baseballs to the moon. Heading into only his second full season in the Majors, Stanton is emerging as one of the game’s must-see power hitters behind the star Ramirez, who will be shifting to third base.

CLASSIC COMBOS

Alex Rodriguez sharing his thoughts on a calle...

The American League East’s beasts have the middle of the order covered with veteran hitters who have a powerful list of accomplishments. Mark Teixeira-Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees stands out as having perhaps the game’s best switch-hitter and the active leader in career homers, although a rebound year for A-Rod is in order.

In Boston, the Adrian Gonzalez-Kevin Youkilis combo is only one year in, but it has great potential. While Gonzalez delivered as advertised in his first season after being traded from the Padres, Youkilis has a two-year downturn to rebound from in the final year of his contract with the Sox.

And in the category of young duos taking over where Braun-Fielder left off, Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez-Troy Tulowitzki emerged the last few years as an up-and-coming combo. CarGo experienced a dip from his 2010 MVP Award-caliber season, but he still came close to matching Tulo’s 30-homer, 100-RBI effort.

The current combo with the most quality miles together is Philadelphia’s Chase Utley-Ryan Howard, but they’re on the mend. Utley lost much of last season to chronic knee pain, and Howard will be on the shelf at least into May with the Achilles tendon injury he suffered in the Phillies’ postseason finale. When on their games and healthy, Utley-Howard has been hard to top.

The Rangers, meanwhile, had an unorthodox 3-4 combo most of last season and into the playoffs, with Josh Hamilton-Michael Young, the latter of whom delivered just 11 homers — but also more than 200 hits and 100 RBIs — in the cleanup spot. But Young shared that spot for half the season, so Hamilton-Adrian Beltre might be considered one of the stronger combos around, too.

ON THE RISE As seen in Pujols’ career, if you have an MVP Award candidate as half of a combo, you have a good combo.

In Toronto, Jose Bautista-Adam Lind isn’t a one-man show by any means, but it doesn’t hurt that Bautista is hitting the last couple of years like he’s a Triple Crown winner waiting to happen. Ditto in L.A., where Andre Ethier-Matt Kemphas been a buzz combo for a few years now. But while Kemp’s star rose high in the sky last year, Ethier has seen his numbers dip each season since his career year in 2009.

Joey Votto

And in Cincinnati, Joey Votto-Jay Bruce really began to mesh as a formidable duo in 2011. They actually came the closest to any of these current 3-4 combos to hitting for 30-100 last year, falling one Votto homer and three Bruce RBIs short.

Then there was Braun-Fielder both crashing that barrier for the third time in the past four years. Meanwhile, the top power duo in the game was the 2-3 combo of Curtis Granderson and Teixeira, who combined for 80 homers and 230 RBIs.

Curtis Granderson at bat during a game between...

Every team has a 3-4 duo, and perhaps 2012 will bring others into the discussion. Maybe Ryan Zimmerman-Jayson Werth will get something going in Washington. Maybe Minnesota’s Joe Mauer-Justin Morneau will get back on track, together. Maybe a new combo will emerge for us to admire, or one we’ve known will take it to the next level.

For now, there are plenty of 3-4 duos to keep pitchers on their toes and put their teams in position to make noise offensively.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

COMBO PLAYERS

Links to Bio, stats, photos and highlights

Hunter Signs For $10.4 Million Pence

Pence agrees to one-year deal with Phillies

Slugger was Philly’s lone remaining arbitration-eligible player

By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
The Phillies on Friday announced that they’ve agreed to terms with outfielder Hunter Pence, avoiding arbitration with their lone remaining player. Pence received a one-year contract for $10.4 million, plus award bonuses.
Hunter Pence

“We’re always focused on getting a deal done with a player,” said assistant general manager Scott Proefrock. “We think that’s the most productive way to handle these situations.”

Pence, who sparked the Phils’ offense after being acquired from the Houston Astros just before the non-waiver Trade Deadline last July, had been asking for $11.8 million, while the team filed at $9 million, so the agreement came at exactly the midpoint.

The right fielder made $6.9 million last season.

Pence became an almost immediate fan favorite after arriving at Citizens Bank Park and batted .324 with a .954 OPS in 54 games with Philadelphia. When asked after one game what he was thinking while rounding third to score the winning run, Pence responded, “Good game. Let’s go eat.” That phrase soon appeared on T-shirts sold at the stadium.

Hunter Pence

The contract also features the following bonuses: $100,000 each for winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award and World Series MVP Award; $50,000 each for NL Championship Series MVP Award, All-Star Game MVP Award, NL Silver Slugger Award and NL Gold Glove Award.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Related articles

Make Pete Rose Eligible for MLB Hall Of Fame Induction

PETE ROSE PETITION to the Office of the Commissioner of MLB

Pete Rose Baseball
I just created a petition entitled: “Office of the Commissioner of Baseball Allan H. Selig, Commissioner: “Make Pete Rose eligible for MLB Hall Of Fame Induction”, because I care deeply about this very important issue. I’m trying to collect 100 signatures, and I could really use your help.
It’ll just take a minute!
Once you’re done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!
Charles Oliver aka Bloggo Schloggo
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The Major League Baseball logo.

T H E  P E T I T I O N:

 Make Pete Rose eligible for MLB Hall Of Fame Induction
Greetings,
To: The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball

Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner Address: 245 Park Avenue,
31st Floor City: New York, State: NY Zip Code:10167
Phone: 212-931-7800 Fax: 212-949-5654

—————-Make Pete Rose eligible for MLB Hall Of Fame Induction.

Pete Rose was one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He is 70 years old and deserves to have the opportunity for induction into the MLB Hall Of Fame while he is still living. It would be tragic for this man not to receive what he deserves for exceptional play matched and unmatched by very few that are in the Hall Of Fame. —————-
Sincerely, Charles “Chuck” Oliver
————————————————————————————–
Pete Rose - Cincinnati - 1976 Home
Why People Are Signing
To give Pete Rose the opportunity to be in the Baseball Hall Of Fame which he deserves because of his prowess on the baseball field as one of the best players to have ever played professional baseball.
Why This Is Important Pete Rose was one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He is 70 years old and deserves to have the opportunity for induction into the MLB Hall Of Fame while he is still living. It would tragic for this man not to receive what he deserves for exceptional play matched and by very few that are in the Hall Of Fame.
Why Pete Rose should be inducted, career bio, records and career stats. Major League Baseball’s All Time Hits King. Most Career Hits 4,256 – Most Doubles 746 NL – 3 Times NL Batting Champ 1968-1969 -1973 – Most Extra Base Hits by Switch Hitter 1,041 – All Century Team 1900-2000 – 17 All star at 5 positions – 1963 ROY – 1973 NL MVP = 1975 WS MVP – Longest NL Consecutive Game Hitting Steak (44 Games) 1978 – 4 Hits or More in Games 73 Times – Most Extra Base Hits by Switch Hitter 1,041 – Only major league Player in History to Play 500 Games at 5 Positions – Most Total Times on base 5,929 – 5 hits or more in Games 10 Times. Plus many other reacords.
Visit “A Case For Pete Rose (Charlie Hustle)” by Charles Oliver on WordPress

Thank you for your time and consideration,
Bloggo Schloggo aka Charles Oliver