The accepted acumen on Ryan Braun’s chaotic doping abeyance is that it was a celebration of alert proceduralism over absolute justice—a achievement for acceding and a attenuate (and for my money not absolutely unwelcome) defeat for the biologic cops. Baseball’s testing affairs bent a juicer, the cerebration goes, but the testers were unacceptably awkward about it. Over the weekend, however, I batten with addition accustomed with the adjudication action in general. He had addition theory: Ryan Braun didn’t get off because of the claim of his case; he got off because the adjudicator who casting the absolute vote in Braun’s favor—the vote with which baseball “vehemently disagrees”—was cerebration about his own future.
That adjudicator was Shyam Das. According to his resume, Das has been a activity adjudicator back 1977, and he has served as administrator of baseball’s adjudication console back 1999. In the closing capacity, he is paid by both Major Alliance Baseball and the MLB Players Association. According to the union’s filings with the U.S. Department of Labor, Das clocked in on four occasions in 2010 and accustomed $32,000 from the MLBPA; MLB pays him the aforementioned amount. It’s acceptable work, and for an adjudicator it can’t aching business to be accepted broadly as the Solomon of baseball grievances. But Das serves at the will of both parties and can be accursed at any moment by either side. That makes him a aloof third party, but not absolutely independent.
Why is that significant? In contempo big cases, Das has appear bottomward adjoin the players. In 2010, he denied Shawn Chacon’s affliction adjoin the Astros (who had ripped up his arrangement afterwards Chacon assaulted accepted administrator Ed Wade), and aftermost year he benumbed Yorvit Torrealba’s case adjoin the Mets (who had backed out of a three-year, $14.4 actor arrangement acceding back a concrete aloft apropos about the catcher’s throwing shoulder). Added importantly, Das has never disqualified in favor of a amateur in a biologic case—handing at atomic eight after losses to the MLBPA. That almanac says beneath about Das than it does about baseball’s testing system, which, while heavyhanded, at atomic has the advantage of actuality actually heavyhanded. You apprehend the players to lose in a strict-liability regime.
The Braun affliction had conceivably the accomplished stakes of any that Das had worked. This was a ascendant MVP in the prime of his arena years. We don’t apperceive Das’s reasoning. But we do apperceive that Braun’s affected never acknowledged the after-effects of the test, the 30-to-1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. And we apperceive that abounding weekend biologic tests accept been handled beneath the aforementioned hardly screwball acceding that Braun’s was—i.e., the tester stashing the piss cup about amid the milk and the legumes until a FedEx/Kinkos opens up—and that no one had ahead contested their legitimacy. (After accepting the sample on Saturday, the beneficiary went to FedEx on Monday afternoon. Braun’s aggregation best acceptable argued the case about and absolutely on procedural grounds—that acceding had appropriate the beneficiary to address the sample aboriginal affair Monday morning, not Monday afternoon. In his consecutive comments, Braun has absent able-bodied aloft what his attorneys were arguing in his hearing, to the point of claiming that the sample went missing for a time. As far as we know, that’s not true.)
Tom Haudricourt initially appear that Braun’s address was based on adjoin the testing…
By all appearances, this was an accessible decision. The sample was sealed, and there was no affirmation of any tampering. Nobody—not alike Braun’s camp—has offered any approach of how the testosterone got into it.
But put yourself in Das’s position aftermost week. If he rules adjoin the players, the abutment will about absolutely blaze him. But a cardinal adjoin the league? Maybe, with his history, MLB will accord him a pass. And if it doesn’t—and I’m academic now that it won’t—Das will at atomic leave the job accepting counterbalanced out the scales a little. Nobody wants to appoint an adjudicator who looks like a administration stooge. If anytime there were a case for Das to bandy to the players, it was this one.
As I said, we don’t apperceive what was activity through Das’s mind, and we apparently never will. But the adjudication action creates an allurement for an adjudicator to anguish about his own almanac aloft all else, alike the particulars of the case at hand. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—the action tilts against candor in a macro faculty instead of amends in the micro. Braun able the closing not because the drug-punishment arrangement bootless Bud Selig, as some bodies accept said. The adjudicator let Braun off because, in a sense, that arrangement works too well.
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