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It is a shame to admit, but the Baseball Writers’ Association of America must revoke Ryan Braun’s MVP Award, following reports that he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in October. The BBWAA’s awareness of that sentiment is exactly why they claimed just a few days later that they would not be taking such action. Voters are hoping that the situation will simply go away on its own – but this is not the case at all. Allowing Braun to maintain the award would first do a major disservice to Major League Baseball and the recent progression it has made in diminishing steroid use within the game.
A few years ago, when Commissioner Selig implemented extremely severe suspensions for policy violators, it was clearly a statement that cheating would not be tolerated even one bit. Well if it is that serious, then it would make no sense for the BBWAA to let Braun keep the game’s highest annual individual honor knowing that he was not 100 percent clean.
Even if Braun is being truthful and the synthetic testosterone found in his system did not come from an illegal performance enhancing drug, it should not make a difference. The fact would still remain that he took something that gave him an unfair competitive advantage. Doing so unknowingly really does not change much.
Another case to make against Braun involves the current struggles of former players like Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGuire. These two have obviously not been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the last few years because of their connections to steroid use. Now, the NL MVP may not be as prestigious as a spot in Cooperstown, but there is still one undeniable similarity between the honors. Just like getting into the Hall of Fame, winning the MVP of the league means that a player will always have their own special place in baseball history that will allow their name to live on forever.
That whole idea is very powerful when looked at closely. The circumstances may differ immensely when it comes to McGuire and Palmeiro, but the focal point is still the same. If they are being punished for cheating, then there should be no exception made for Braun. The baseball writers need to set a strict precedent so players will be more aware of both their actions and the consequences that will ensue.
We also definitely cannot forget about Matt Kemp. The Dodgers center fielder had the year of his life in 2011 and finished a close second behind Braun in the voting. He hit 0.324, stole 40 bases, scored 115 runs, had 195 hits, smacked 39 homers, and drove in 115 runs. Now, although Braun only beat him out in one of those categories with a 0.332 average, the award was still considered well-deserved. After all, he did play an intricate role in the Brewers winning 96 games and their first ever National League Central title.
Kemp’s Dodgers, on the other hand, only won 82 games. Suddenly, however, Kemp appears to be much more deserving. As far as we know, he was able to eclipse all of those numbers without the aid of a performance enhancer.
Meanwhile, the baseball writers should ask themselves a few interesting questions after news of Braun testing positive. Would Braun’s numbers have come close enough to Kemp’s without the synthetic testosterone? Would Milwaukee still have won the division? Would that even be a determining factor if Kemp’s numbers were substantially higher in comparison?
The BBWAA has to take all of these morals and possibilities into consideration and take the award back. Major League Baseball and its fans will be thankful in the long run.
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