Nothing like a good drug scandal to get everyone’s attention……..

At a time when the focus of sports fans in Wisconsin should be on the Green Bay Packers’ undefeated season, Badger running back Montee Ball’s Heisman Trophy worthiness or how the Milwaukee Brewers are going to replace free agent first baseman Prince Fielder, the ubiquitous Entertainment & Sports Programming Network (where the emphasis is sometimes too much on the entertainment part in the most liberal use of that word) gets loose with a report that Brewers’ All-Star leftfielder and recently named National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun registered a positive test for performance enhancing drugs.  If the finding is upheld, Braun faces a 50 game suspension at the start of the 2012 MLB season.

For his part, Braun has said that he is ‘completely innocent’ of the accusation and insisted on a second test immediately upon learning of the results of the first test.  Setting aside for the moment that the characterizaion of ‘completely innocent’ doesn’t really apply to anyone in life over the age of 10, the damage may already have been done regardless of the outcome of Braun’s appeal.  The history of such things insures that there will be plenty of speculation pertaining to the merits of the charge.  In the minds of many, Braun’s season, and by extension, the NL Central division crown of the 2011 Brewers has already been tainted by the allegation.  Once that genie is out of the bottle it’s difficult to put it back in.

The only thing we really know right now is that we don’t know.  As I understand the policy, MLB is under no obligation to establish intent so, even if the positive test was a result of an honest mistake on Braun’s part he would still be subject to the suspension.  And as we’ve seen in the past, ‘not guilty’ and ‘innocent’ are not always one and the same, so the spectre of this insinuation to an extent will always be hanging over Braun’s head.

One of the more interesting comments I heard yesterday in reaction to this ‘news’ is that it makes it more imperative for Milwaukee to re-sign Fielder.  Unfortunately, Braun’s potential extended absence doesn’t change the Brewers’ financial constraints.  If anything, it probably puts Fielder even more out of their price range as agent Scott Boras is more likely to use their increased need for Fielder’s services to drive up his price.  But it might have the effect of making Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin more inclined to go harder after former Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, with whom the Brewers have reportedly already held discussions.

There is one other thing that has been largely overlooked in this situation:  Braun’s confidentiality and that of the policy in general was clearly compromised by ESPN’s report.  The MLB Player’s Association fought against drug testing for years and maybe an instance like this is part of the reason why.  MLB is slated to begin testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) next year and there has been much debate in the past over the reliability of such tests.  This episode certainly isn’t going to make players feel more at ease with that process.


The University of Wisconsin basketball team notched another win yesterday against UNLV at the Kohl Center.   Frankly, I expected a closer contest than what we saw.  UNLV earlier in the season had defeated then top-ranked North Carolina, to whom the Badgers narrowly lost during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  Wisconsin allowed the Runnin’ Rebels to do neither in Madison,  hitting the boards hard and controlling the tempo throughout the game.  That helped the Badgers overcome their own 37% shooting from the floor.

The interesting part about the Badgers so far is that they seem to be winning in spite of, rather than because of, senior point guard Jordan Taylor.  The pre-season All-American did dish out 6 assists, but scored only 4 points while shooting 0-6 from the field.

The lone bright spot on offense for Wisconsin was reserve guard Ben Brust leading the Badgers with 25 points.  Brust tied a Big Ten record by hitting seven 3-point baskets without a miss.  There have been four such games by Big Ten players and, ironically, the Badgers have been involved in 3 of them.  Larry Hisle, Jr. previously accomplished the feat for UW while former University of Michigan sharpshooter Glen Rice did it against them.  Brust certainly doesn’t lack for confidence in his offensive game and Wisconsin can use all the offensive help it can get.  Brust has already helped the Badgers win a couple of games, but his impatience on offense could potentially cost them in a close game down the road.  His last 3-point attempt yesterday came early in the shot clock at a point in the game where it would have been better to take some more time off the clock.   The Badgers have also been getting some useful minutes off the bench from freshman center Frank Kaminsky.

The Badgers continue their season against UWM in Milwaukee on Tuesday before returning home Thursday night to face Savannah State.  That game will also be shown on the Big Ten Network.

RANDOM SAMPLINGS:    Good moves by the Milwaukee Bucks to sign Mike Dunleavy, Jr. and retain Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, but does anyone know what happened to Michael Redd?  I admit I’m unaware of his whereabouts……….. There was another signature win in the Big(12)Ten yesterday as the Indiana Hoosiers knocked off #1 ranked Kentucky on a last second 3-pointer.  The Wildcats played the last possession foolishly but props to Indiana ( and former Marquette) head coach Tom Crean, who finally seems to be turning the corner in Bloomington.  That’s not good news for the rest of the conference………..Baylor Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III was named the winner of the prestigious Heisman Trophy last night but Griffin, who has designs on an NFL career, may want to consider declining the award.  Until recently, the record of Heisman-winning QBs at the next level has been unremarkable to say the least………..One man’s prediction:  In 5 years, the contract that longtime Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols just signed with the Angels will look better from St. Louis’ perspective than it will from Anaheim’s.  It does make it awkward, though, that a statue of Pujols stands outside of Busch Stadium.  Now that Pujols is off the market, it should also help facilitate the forthcoming signing of Fielder.  I still believe that he’ll end up with either the Cubs or Marlins………..The spending sprees of the Angels and Florida, ne Miami makes me think that the Yankees must have flown south and west for the winter.  It’s also further evidence that a salary cap would still be useful in Major League Baseball………..Finally, congratulations to the UW-Whitewater football team who once again have advanced to the NCAA Division III title game next Friday night.  And, as usual, they’ll be facing Mount Union, Ohio for the championship.  Good luck to the Warhawks!

Thanks for reading-Have a good Sunday.  GO (PERFECT) PACK!!!!



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  • foundinidaho

    Glad to see the return of this feature….and thanks to the Badgers for beating UNLV. That always makes my day.

  • Chris

    As they say on Twitter: This–>”Braun’s season, and by extension, the NL Central division crown of the 2011 Brewers has already been tainted by the allegation. Once that genie is out of the bottle it’s difficult to put it back in.”

    That, to me, is the greatest sadness in this whole sorry affair.

    Your comment on Ben “Oh no…Yes!” Brust are spot on. I love the guy’s shot, but he seems a bit anxious for the disciplined Badgers’ offense. That last shot yesterday, in particular, reminded me of his early-in-the-clock shot at UNC midway through the second half that took the air out of UW’s balloon.

    Props to IU for slipping by KY. (Be sure to tip your waitress…) Reawakening that sleeping giant is not good news for UW and the rest of the Conference Still Oddly Called The Big 10.

    I agree that the contract Albert signed is not on the side of the Angels, at least long term. But they might not care if they win a World Series or two over the next five years.

    Interesting comment about the Bucks. I didn’t realize they still had a team in the Association. Now that I know, I still don’t care.

  • KF

    I really doubt that a salary cap is the answer for the MLB. There’s no way a hard cap like the NFL’s would get approved, so teams would just jump all over a soft cap, which is what happens in the NBA, which has even more ridiculous contracts than baseball.

    By the way, Redd is a free agent. He sustained knee ligament injuries in consecutive years and played a little down the stretch for the Bucks last year. He could hook on somewhere for cheap, but it won’t be Milwaukee.

    • BigSnakeMan

      Thanks for the update on Redd. I knew he was FA and virtually done in MKE but didn’t know if he had signed elsewhere yet. I always thought, with him being an Ohio native and the Cavaliers having a need for a scorer, that he would be a good fit in Cleveland. I’ll be curious to see if where he lands.

  • BigSnakeMan

    Editor’s Note: In the interest of accuracy, I have been informed that the statue of Albert Pujols in St. Louis in fact resides near his restaurant in the suburbs which, technically speaking, is still ‘outside of Busch Stadium’.

    • Rich Ward Jr

      That’s gonna look strange with an Angels logo on it once he retires in Anaheim and is inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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