On Ryan Braun’s overturned suspension

I’m not here to exonerate Ryan Braun or declare that he’s definitely clean. I have no idea if he used steroids or not, just like I have no idea if Roy Halladay has used steroids or whether Dee Gordon has used steroids. – Dave Cameron, Fangraphs

This is nonsense. Let me first say that I am not even close to one of the loud, angry fans that Cameron mentions. I couldn't care less when he tested positive because I don't care who uses steroids and who doesn't. If PED usage was dwindled down to 1 or 2 players in professional baseball I might feel differently, but a large enough group of players continue to take these drugs so I wouldn't have enough rage in me to be outraged every time someone is caught. Then again, I may not even care if only 1 or 2 were using. It's a meaningless baseball game that collects meaningless statistics. I'm as much a fan of those same statistics as many are, but they are meaningless.

That being said, it's nonsense to think we know as much about Ryan Braun when it comes to PED usage as we do Roy Halladay. Ryan Braun has tested positive for synthetic testosterone and Halladay, to my knowledge, has not. This is information because the false positive rate, while higher than some may think, tells us that there is a damn good chance that Ryan Braun took the drug. We have no such piece of information when it comes to Halladay. We can be damn sure there is a much, much higher chance that Braun used steroids than there is that Halladay did.

In reality, the only thing we can ascertain from the information we have is that Bruan may or may not have used, and there’s no real way for us to actually know.

He's right that there's no real way for us to know just as there is no real way for us to know if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens used. For that matter, there's no real way for us to know if Andy Pettitte was even being honest when he came clean. It's entirely possible he admitted to something he didn't do so the media would stop hounding him. People confess to things they didn't do all the time for one reason or another.

Cameron is absolutely wrong when he says the only thing we can ascertain is that Braun may or may not have used. We can calculate the probability that Braun used based solely on the false positive rate. We already know the only reason the suspension was overturned is because of some technicality. I'm glad it was overturned because the rules weren't followed. Braun deserved to have his suspension overturned because of it. If we factored in other pieces of information I think we could even be more certain that Braun used. If you'd like to factor in the off chance that his sample was actually misplaced or tainted or what have you because of the technicality, do so, but it's not going to make much of a difference when determining the probability of him having used steroids.

Every human not named OJ Simpson believes that OJ Simpson is guilty of murder. There's more than enough evidence to reach that conclusion even though a court of law did not find him guilty. Remember, they did not find him innocent. It's not the court's job to find a person innocent. It's to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to find them guilty.

Cameron continues by saying the only fair thing we can say is "I don't know" when it comes to whether he used or not. We know he tested positive. We know that positive result triggered a second and more reliable test. He tested positive again. We know MLB overturned the suspension only on a technicality. We know as much about Braun's likely usage today as we did yesterday. That information doesn't lead one to believe the only fair thing to say is "I don't know."

I guess I don't know if he used, but I have reason to believe that the probability he used is probably higher than 95%. So if the only fair thing to say when you have a probability that high is "I don't know" then I guess for every person convicted of murder that's all we can say too. Unless there are multiple eye witnesses and the person confesses, it's unlikely any murderer can be said to have a 95% probability of having committed the crime.

In reality, the only fair thing to say is that MLB screwed up and they were punished for it even though Braun more than likely used. If MLB insists on punishing those who break the rules then MLB should also be punished when they fail to follow them.

I wrote all of the above before checking out a thread on The Book Blog and MGL nails it.

Braun won his appeal fair and square and probably for good reason. It had (almost) nothing to do with his actual guilt or not, but so what?

Chain of custody rules are in place NOT because when they are typically broken it significantly affects the chances that a player is guilty or that the results will get tainted. They are in place so that an egregious or intentional breach that WOULD affect a result does not occur.

It is like when the police illegally break into a person’s house without a warrant and find all kinds of contraband. Just because they broke into the house unlawfully. that does not mean that they guy isn’t guilty. But the judge throws out the arrest because if he didn’t police would ignore the Constitution and break into people’s houses all the time.

It is the exact same thing with this. If the arbitrator let’s the ban stand regardless of the chain of custody issue, because he doesn’t think that it affected Braun’s innocence or guilt (which it likely didn’t), then that would open the door to the chain of custody rules being broken all the time and more egregiously and it would open the door to someone tampering with someone’s sample.

I couldn't agree more. Braun should definitely have had his suspension overturned, but he more than likely used the drug.