The Milwaukee Brewers were already facing the likelihood of going forward without Prince Fielder, who is currently a free agent. But matters now have only gotten worse: according to a report from ESPN, outfielder Ryan Braun - winner of the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player award - has tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug, and is looking at a probable 50-game suspension.
It's news worthy of this ominous tweet from Bob Nightengale:
#MLB about to be hit with a bombshell. Hard to believe this news
The report says that Braun submitted a urine sample during the playoffs, which showed elevated levels of testosterone - synthetic testosterone. Synthetic testosterone, as in not natural testosterone. Players aren't supposed to have that.
If the finding is upheld, Braun will be suspended for 50 games for a first-time offense. Braun, naturally, is very strongly denying any intentional wrongdoing on his part, and he could very well be correct. I don't know. There's no way for me to know right now whether or not this was a conscious decision. His spokesman says there was "no intentional violation of the program". But in order to successfully appeal the suspension - which no MLB player has ever done - Braun can't just prove negligence. He has to prove that something he ingested was, say, tampered with, or something like that.
It's a big blow. Obviously, it's a big blow. Braun will almost certainly be suspended, and perhaps the priority now will be saving face. Even if negligence can't prevent a suspension, it would make Braun look better to fans than if he did this on purpose. Fans can forgive negligence.
Braun has a lifetime .933 OPS, which jumped to .984 last year in his MVP campaign. He has been held up in the past as an example of a clean baseball superstar, so this is awkward now.