Oh, Ryan Braun.
The guy who stood firm that he was totes innocent of PED usage, throwing people under the bus along the way, only to agree to a suspension for the rest of the 2013 season without actually saying he did anything wrong?
Well, now word is getting out how badly he threw one guy under the bus when going on the defense in the winter of 2012. A pair of reports yesterday – one from ESPN and one from Yahoo! Sports – cite three sources who say that during that time, when Braun was appealing an initial suspension for a positive PED test, he called other players privately to stock support and told them that the man who collected his urine that tested positive was an anti-semitic Cubs fan.
According to sources, Braun called veteran players around baseball privately at that time to lobby for their support. In the calls — confirmed by three sources — Braun told other players that in the preparation for his appeal, some information had become known about the collector of his urine sample, Dino Laurenzi Jr., including that he was a Cubs fan — with the implication he might work against Braun, who played for a division rival of the Cubs.
Braun, who is Jewish, also told the players that he had been told the collector was an anti-Semite.
Bully to you, ESPN, for listing the collector’s alleged Cub-fandom before the accusation of racism. According to Yahoo!’s follow-up, the players contacted by Braun included the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, Joey Votto of the Reds, and Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies.
During his initial appeal in February 2012, Braun criticized the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr., for not taking the sample to FedEx to ship in a timely manner and indicated that, hey, maybe the guy tampered with the sample, I’m not saying but I’m just saying.
“Why he didn’t bring it in, I don’t know. On the day that he did finally bring it in, FedEx opened at 7:30. Why didn’t he bring it in until 1:30? I can’t answer that question. Why was there zero documentation? What could have possibly happened to it during that 44-hour period? There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.”
Of course, the conspiracy was all for naught when Braun accepted a 65-game suspension earlier this year without actually admitting guilt on anything specific. Nor has he addressed those initial accusations against Laurenzi. But upon Braun’s suspensions, several players were highly critical of Braun; at least we now know why. Allegedly. Maybe Braun will get a courtesy plunking as well.
Both the ESPN and Yahoo! reports indicate Braun may address all of this as soon as today. Or maybe not. A rep for Braun told ESPN: “Ryan isn’t currently commenting on anything — rumor or reality — related to his arbitration process or his suspension. He has acknowledged his mistakes, accepted his punishment, and is beginning to make amends and will comment at an appropriate time.”