Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Disagree with Jeff Passan

I do not know if Ryan Braun took PEDs. The positive test indicated yes, but his victorious appeal said no. His name is in the books of Tony Bosch, but there's a plausible explanation for why it's there. I'm aware my skepticism of guilt puts me in the minority and I know that believing Braun juiced is a reasonable position. However, some of the arguments levied against Braun reveal a line of thinking that is just plain wrong. Jeff Passan dispenses these arguments like candy:

“I have nothing to hide,” he likes to say. This is funny. For somebody with nothing to hide, Ryan Braun is a fireproof safe inside of an armed vault behind a Scooby-Doo pull-a-book secret door. All he does is hide. When MLB asked him questions about his positive testosterone test more than a year and a half ago, he wouldn’t answer them, and now he’s all Mr. Fifth Amendment again as the league investigates players’ links to Tony Bosch, the alleged PED pied piper of the Biogenesis clinic near Miami. 

What's troubling about Passan's article is it places the burden of proof on Braun when it rightfully belongs to MLB. Even worse is referencing constitutional rights as if they're a bad thing. I agree it ostensibly looks bad to say "I have nothing to hide" and subsequently refusing to answer questions, but that's also making a connection where none exists. Furthermore, saying you have nothing to hide does not mean you have something you're obligated to disclose.

Imagine you're pulled over by a police officer for going 42 in a 35 zone. The officer gets settled by your window and says "I suspect you have drugs in your trunk." Shocked the officer would draw this conclusion, you proclaim "My trunk is empty, I'm not hiding anything back there." The officer remains skeptical and responds "If that's so, why don't you pop it open and let me have a look?" Realizing you live in America, you refuse this unreasonable demand. In this scenario, you've told the officer you have nothing to hide, yet you did not allow him search your trunk. Are you wrong to refuse? Jeff Passan says yes, because if you say you have nothing to hide you're obligated to prove that's true, otherwise you're certainly hiding something.

Outside of the dangerous logic present in Passan's article, being an enthusiastic participant in the investigation is not in Braun's best interest. We know that players have used PEDs in the past and many are probably using them right now. If Braun holds a press conference where he opens his fireproof safe to the world it sets an unfavorable precedent for players that subsequently find themselves in a similar position. Perhaps this is baseless conjecture, but I believe that would make him a pariah. If he cooperates to Passan's liking, future players that don't do the same will be unfairly presumed guilty(er). And let's be real, nothing he says or does will convince the skeptics otherwise. At best he has absolutely nothing to gain.

Intelligent and reasonable people believe Braun cheated. This is a-okay with me. What's not is admonishing Braun for properly handling the situation. Not speaking to people who wish him harm is self preservation 101, not evidence of guilt.. He's allowed to say he has nothing to hide or say nothing at all, and doing (or not doing) so should not raise suspicion. As Stan Marsh once said "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was America!"

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