Ryan Braun’s 65-game suspension – and the subsequent reaction of players around the league – might force MLB’s collective bargaining agreement back on the table this offseason.
Specifically, the part about PED use. More specifically, the part about PED-use punishments.
“I think it’s possible,” CBSSports.com baseball writer Scott Miller said on The John Feinstein Show. “In the old days, no way in hell would they go back in and reopen a collective bargaining system. But under (Michael) Weiner, (the union has) been a lot more cooperative.”
Yes, Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season, and yes, he’ll lose about $3 million. But the Milwaukee Brewers are 20 games out of first place, and Braun is guaranteed more than $125 million between now and 2021.
Slap on the wrist, anyone?
The players certainly seem to think so. Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer called the Braun saga “despicable.” Dodgers utilityman Skip Schumaker said watching Braun talk “makes me sick.” Matt Kemp even said Braun should be stripped of his 2011 National League MVP award.
Kemp finished second in MVP voting that year.
“The players have come out and spoken against Ryan Braun this week,” Miller said. “I find it heartening from the game’s perspective because I think that’s the biggest way you can affect change – if the players take control of their own union. And I think they’re definitely moving that way. A lot more players, now (more) than ever, want a clean game. We’ll see. I think there is a chance they could go back into the CBA this winter and tighten up the penalties.”
Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer would like to see a 100-game suspension for first-time offenders, while St. Louis’ Matt Holiday wants a full-season ban for the first offense and a lifetime ban for the second.
“It’ll be very interesting,” Miller said.
In other baseball news, Atlanta starter Tim Hudson sustained a fractured right ankle Wednesday night that will require season-ending surgery.
Hudson was in the midst of a masterpiece – a four-hit shutout against the Mets – when Eric Young Jr. sent a grounder to first base. Hudson covered the bag for the out, but Young inadvertently stepped on Hudson’s ankle while attempting to beat the throw.
The Braves held on for the 8-2 win, but losing Hudson hurts – literally.
Even worse for Atlanta, there’s a dearth of quality starting pitching available as the July 31 trade deadline nears, especially after Matt Garza signed with Texas earlier this week.
“It’s nothing real exciting,” Miller said. “It’s a down market this year – at least, unless somebody steps up and shocks people by putting somebody on the market that we don’t know about yet.”
The Braves’ best option, should they pursue a trade, is likely Jake Peavy or Yovani Gallardo. Ervin Santana could also be shopped, especially since Kansas City – which was expected to contend for a division crown this season – is eight games back in the standings.
Then again, trading Santana could be problematic from a public-relations standpoint.
“After years of losing,” Miller said, “they don’t want to look like they’re giving up.”