CBSSports.com National Columnist

Braun looks like a cheater, but baseball writers look worse

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Brewers slugger Ryan Braun tested positive in October for excessive testosterone -- excessive in a way that would make the manliest of men blush -- but even if his appeal fails, he will keep his 2011 MVP trophy because the Baseball Writers Association of America has decided not to pursue the matter.

But don't think for a second that the BBWAA is ineffective. To the contrary, as this Ryan Braun story was expanding -- think of an enormous biceps: expanding -- the BBWAA has been quite effective.

No more short skirts in the press box!

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Just when the public needed the BBWAA, it came rushing to your aid. The BBWAA may have pulled a neck muscle looking the other way while another alleged cheater stinks up the game, but it made sure that no reporter will wear a pair of flip-flops in Ryan Braun's presence ever again. Technically the dress-code edict came from Major League Baseball, but BBWAA members were on the guidelines panel. Which means the BBWAA had more input in fixing my choice of shirt than in fixing its own choice of MVP.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

It struck me, as I sat down to write this, that there has been no outrage from MVP voters whose time was wasted -- whose vote was wasted -- on a guy whose testosterone level, according to the New York Daily News , was "insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken."

Once upon a time I was a member of the BBWAA, and as such I was allowed to vote on postseason awards. Had my vote on something as important as the National League MVP been wasted on someone as allegedly guilty as Ryan Braun, you'd have seen my outrage. You'd have seen it to the point where you stopped following me on Twitter, just to get away from it. Enough, you'd have said. We get it. You wasted your vote on Ryan Braun, and you're outraged.

I'm no longer a member of the BBWAA, so I didn't vote for Ryan Braun as MVP. But 20 BBWAA members did. Where's the outrage?

Where are they?

This is the same outfit that cracked jokes in the 1990s as players we assumed were juicing reported to spring training with 30 pounds of new muscle and started hitting home runs at crazy rates, whether crazy by their own personal standards or crazy by the standards of baseball history. Literally, we joked about it. How do I know?

Because I was cracking jokes, too.

We'd walk out of a clubhouse after noticing that even relief pitchers and infielders were enormous -- think of a deltoid: enormous -- and we'd chuckle. We'd say, "I wonder how he got that big?" And we'd laugh. Because we knew how he got that big. And because it seemed funny.

God help me, it seemed funny.

It's not funny anymore, and nobody's laughing, yet the BBWAA is still cracking jokes. Get a load of this knee-slapper from BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell, who was asked recently by the Los Angeles Times about the possibility of stripping Braun's MVP.

"The voters used the information they had at the time of the election," O'Connell told the Times . "I don't see how we can change that."

Me neither. Well, other than issuing a press release -- you guys are writers, correct? -- that says, "Ryan Braun has tested positive for PEDs. If MLB denies his appeal, we will remove his MVP trophy because the BBWAA won't honor a cheater."

There. Took me 14 seconds. Now that I'm loosened up, what else can I fix? Maybe the BBWAA has a leaky faucet or a loose screw. Maybe it already does. According to the Times, there is now overwhelming support among BBWAA voters for Matt Kemp to win the 2011 MVP over Braun, yet there is almost no support for the revote that would make that fairness a reality.

Why? I can't explain it, because my screws are tight -- think of an outfielder's pectoral muscle: tight -- but the Times quoted one BBWAA member who voted for Braun, TV commentator Tim Kurkjian, as saying a revote would be too difficult on the following grounds: If the BBWAA is going to reconsider Braun's MVP, what about the trophies won by Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens, etc.?

"The record books would become a complete mess," Kurkjian told the Times .

Hey, BBWAA? The record book is a complete mess. It's messed up by the inclusion of all these cheaters. Do we know of every single award-winner or record-holder that cheated? Nah. No way. Some have avoided detection over the years, I'm sure of it. But when we do find a cheater -- when MLB busts Ryan Braun for failing a drug test -- and we find out mere weeks after he goes into the record book, it doesn't seem all that difficult to find an eraser. Or a delete key.

Let me show you how easy this is.

In two seconds I can write the words, "Ryan Braun."

And in three seconds I can erase those words and replace them with, "Matt Kemp."


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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