Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun, left, doesn’t have a lot of friends around Major League Baseball right now after his admission he cheated and lied, leading to his season-long ban. Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, wasn't ripped by 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey, right, like others did following the news of his ban, but Posey echoed that he was glad MLB was doing its best to make the game "a level playing field."
SAN FRANCISCO — From one MVP to another, Buster Posey called the season-long suspension of fellow MLB star Ryan Braun “bittersweet.”
Others weren’t so diplomatic.
The reaction to the news Braun, the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player, had violated the league’s drug policy and would be suspended the rest of the season Monday was met with shock, outrage and applause by players around the league, most of them echoing the same opinion: Good for Major League Baseball.
“I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I’ll be taking down,” said Dodgers utility man Skip Schumaker. “I don’t want my son associating that with what I’ve worked so hard to do to get to here, and have him compare Braun to me. Suspend them all. We need to get it out of baseball.”
Meanwhile, Leesburg native and Giants catcher Posey, the 2012 NL MVP, spoke to reporters Tuesday before the first game of a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds, saying he felt conflicted about the news.
“It’s definitely bittersweet because for me, personally, I like to think everybody playing the game is playing it clean. I really do,” Posey told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I do think the majority of major-league players are clean. That’s the bitter part. The sweet part is, I feel very fortunate to be playing at a time when Major League Baseball is making such a concerted effort to clean the game up. I think that’s the general consensus. Everybody wants a level playing field.”
Posey, who is about as clean-cut and controversy free as a professional athlete comes, appears on the surface to be the polar opposite of Braun, who hails from big city Miami and at times seems to be a lightning rod for the uglier side of baseball. Braun became the only player in MLB history to have his first performance-enhancing drug suspension overturned in 2011 when he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, but suspicion lingered after Braun got off on a technicality when it was discovered the chain-of-custody of his urine sample was compromised.
This time, Braun reportedly was faced with such a mountain of evidence, there was no escape. He accepted his penalty and subsequently apologized.
On Tuesday, Posey expressed confidence that MLB’s drug-testing was working the way it’s supposed to.
“It’s been pretty evident for a while now, there’s not going to be any exceptions to the rule,” Posey told the newspaper of Braun, who became the first former MVP to be suspended by Major League Baseball for a drug violation. “Whatever is agreed upon with the joint drug agreement, that’s what’s going to stand.”
And most players seem happy about that.
“The guys that are cheating are taking something away from the other players,” pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Los Angeles Angels’ player representative to the major league, said Tuesday. “That’s what it really boils down to. They’re lying to the fans, they’re lying to their teammates, they’re lying to the (general manager), the owner, and they’re going to get caught.”
No explanation or detail of Braun’s doping violation have yet been released, but more bans are expected as more than a dozen players have been implicated in the Biogenesis scandal.
New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he was fed up with doping scandals tarnishing the game.
“I’m tired of steroids. I’m tired of that. Just do things the right way, bottom line,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys that are doing it the right way and I respect those guys.
“It’s just another black eye for our game.”
Even while losing his most productive player, Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin felt a sense of relief.
“We can move forward starting (now),” Melvin said Monday. “We’ll have someone else here (to take Braun’s roster spot) and we’ll try to win as many games as we can.”
The Brewers fell to 41-57 with Monday’s 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres and are in last place in the NL Central, 19 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio, who still owes Braun more than $120 million over the remainder of a contract that runs through 2020, said he was disappointed in Braun.
“It’s clear that Ryan used bad judgment, but we accept his apology and believe that he should be given the opportunity to redeem himself,” the owner said about Braun, who will forfeit nearly $3.5 million of salary during his unpaid suspension.
Braun addressed his teammates prior to Monday’s game and Brewers players stood by the banned outfielder.
“I’ve said all along he doesn’t need that stuff to perform,” Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “I don’t know why he ever took it. When people make a mistake it’s tough to forgive them, but I think it’s a bigger person who will forgive them than who will sit there and wear him out, hold a grudge against him.”
Posey, like everyone else, just wants things to be fair.
“Again, you want a level playing field no matter what, no matter if it’s a guy who’s been in the big leagues for a week or a guy who’s been doing it for 10 years. Everybody wants to know they’re competing on that same level,” he said.
Herald sports editor Danny Aller, The San Francisco Chronicle and Reuters News Service contributed to this report