Tag:Brian McCann
Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:54 pm
 

Is baseball's drug program still credible?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If Ryan Braun has work to do rebuilding his image, so does Major League Baseball.

If you don't believe that, then listen to what Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said Friday when I asked him if he worries about the integrity of baseball's drug program.

"I do now," Jones said.

That's a problem.

If the fallout of the Braun case is that players don't trust the drug program to be fair, then the program itself loses all the credibility it needs.

Baseball and the players union obviously understand that, and it was no surprise that both the commissioner's office and the union issued statements late Friday afternoon defending the program.

"Our program is not 'fatally flawed,'" MLB said in its statement, countering a charge that Braun made in his press conference earlier Friday in Arizona.

"Our Joint Drug Program stands as strong, as accurate and as reliable as any in sport, both before and after the Braun decision," the union said.

The union couldn't resist taking a shot at management, saying that the arbitrator's decision in Braun's favor was "deserving of respect by both bargaining parties."

But the bigger issue here isn't who liked the decision or who didn't. The bigger issue isn't whether the decision hinged on a "technicality."

It's whether players still trust the system.

Braun is a part of it, because of the respect players around the game have for him. Support for him seemed to be near-universal in the Braves clubhouse on Friday, and the belief seemed to be that at least in this case, the system had holes.

"It's fishy," catcher Brian McCann said. "The guy who [collected the sample] doesn't need to be doing it anymore. It's terrible.

"It should never ever, ever happen."

Jones and other Braves players suggested that they would have been more comfortable if the urine sample had been held by someone who didn't know which player it came from, eliminating any chance that a collector with a grudge against one player could try to take action.

But most of all, they expressed strong support for Braun.

"I believe Ryan, because I know him," Jones said. "I believe him. He's not a guy you look at and say he's on something. I sincerely believe he didn't take anything."

But Jones also understands the uphill battle that Braun now faces to save his reputation.

"Yes, there's always going to be doubt, and that's what's unfair," he said. "Once your name is associated [with steroids], you might as well wear a scarlet letter."

The problem for baseball is that its drug program is now associated with the Ryan Braun case.

And even if this really is "the highest quality drug testing program of any professional sports organization in the world," as MLB claimed in its Friday statement, it's a program that is now very much on the stand, and very much on the defensive.

MLB defended the sample collector, calling him "extremely experienced" and saying he "acted in a professional and appropriate manner."

The players aren't convinced, and that's a problem that baseball needs to address.

No drug program is of any use if it lacks credibility. Right now, the credibility of this program is at stake.

Posted on: June 3, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 8:07 pm
 

Braves to McCann: Go ahead, block the plate

NEW YORK -- Like the Giants, the Braves have a catcher who bats cleanup. Like the Giants, the Braves have had trouble scoring runs and need that catcher in the lineup regularly.

But even with what happened to Buster Posey, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would want Brian McCann to block the plate to cut off a run.

"You can't worry," Gonzalez said Friday. "People have gotten hurt coming down the steps. I don't think you can tell an athlete, a competitor, 'Don't block the plate.'

"I want him to give us an opportunity to win the game, and if that's by blocking the plate, it's by blocking the plate. I couldn't bring myself to say that to Brian -- don't block the plate."

Gonzalez, the former Marlins manager, also defended Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins, saying he thought Cousins did nothing wrong in the play on which Posey was hurt.

"I've looked over the film," Gonzalez said. "I thought it was a clean play."

 
 
 
 
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