THE VERDICT IS IN: The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER Walks Us All Down Memory Lane….in Bruno Magli Loafers.

February 28, 2012
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This feels like O.J. all over again….

     You may have heard that Ryan Braun, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, just became the first baseball player to ever win an appeal of a steroid suspension.   He was suspended for the first 50 games of the upcoming 2012 season for taking a banned substance that increased his normal testosterone levels like 5-to-1 or something.   That was several weeks ago.   And now that suspension has been overturned, canceled, thrown-out.

     (Testosterone levels increased 5-to-1? ??   Hell, at my age, that sounds pretty good! )

THE HEBREW HAMMER: “If the guy can hit, you must acquit!”

THE HEBREW HAMMER: “If the guy can hit, you must acquit!”

     Anyway, my first thought was that Major League Baseball was playing fast and loose with the truth, to avoid the embarrassment of having their brightest young superstar deemed dirty.   But then I read that he was acquitted by an independent arbiter, and that in actuality MLB is reportedly “livid” that a positive drug test was overturned.

     No, what happened was that Braun “got off on a technicality”, as they say.   The idiot in charge of collecting his urine sample thought the Fed-Ex office would be closed on a Saturday so he kept the sample at his house till Monday and then sent it in.

     Ryan Braun should erect a stature to this collector guy and pray to it every night.   Because the arbiter (correctly, in my opinion, and we’ll get to that later) ruled that this was improper due process, and threw out the positive (as in guilty) test results and the suspension.   Braun doesn’t lose 50 games and 50 games’ pay, and his reputation is partially restored.

     This is the classic case of was “acquitted” vs. was not “exonerated”.   No one (except maybe Braun!) is saying that the triple-sealed sample of Braun’s urine was tampered with, or that his testosterone levels were not illegally high.   Nope.   This is a process issue.   The “chain of evidence” was not properly maintained.   Therefore, said the arbiter, Braun cannot be punished because due process and set procedures were not followed.  

     Which brings me back to ‘The Juice’.

     It has been 17 years since O.J. Simpson was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife and her friend.   But the Braun case (though obviously a case dealing with far less serious issues) took me right back to it.

     Do you all remember?   At the time (and I dare say now as well) there really wasn’t much doubt of O.J.’s guilt.   He had the requisite “motive, means, and opportunity”, he was a man of well-documented uncontrollable temper, he’d been cited and/or investigated for domestic violence against his ex more than once, he was in a wild mood the day it happened (his girlfriend had dumped him that very day), and then, in the aftermath, they found a bloody glove at his house, bloody footprints of his unique designer Bruno Magli brand shoes at the crime scene, and, most damning, his own blood at the scene and the victims’ blood at his house and in his car and on his clothes.   And there were cuts on O.J.’s hand.   And then—who can forget?—he fled arrest in the infamous white Bronco along with his passport, $8,000 in cash, a loaded gun, and a fake goatee & moustache, before finally surrendering.   This was not a close call.   Ask anyone you know in law enforcement; when investigators have all this handed to them, it’s “game over”.

     But he walked.   Why?   Because he had better lawyers?   Well, sure.   By far.   The Juice had a high-priced team of legal luminaries the likes of F. Lee Bailey and Barry Scheck and Johnny Cochran, the prosecution had a team of comical bumbling underpaid city officials.  

     But that wasn’t the main reason.   The main reason was that the detectives who investigated the crime and the criminalists charged with collecting the evidence both blew it.   The guy who found the bloody glove turned out to be a documented racist and liar.   The criminalists and detectives charged with collecting and transporting the blood did not follow proper “chain of evidence” procedures, even sticking blood samples in their pockets in some cases.   Bailey, Cochran, and Scheck tore these witnesses to ribbons.   The jury came back with reasonable doubt.   The Juice walked.

     For the record, O.J. Simpson was later convicted of these murders in a civil trial, ordered to pay $33.5 million dollars in damages, and then years later finally went to prison on a different charge.   (armed robbery…what a guy!)  

     Why is all this significant?   Because a murderer got away with murder or that a drug-cheat ballplayer skated?   Not in the grand scheme, no.

     Yeah, these two guys lucked out.   But next time it could be you.   And you might really be innocent.

     What if you’re picked up for drunk driving, you’re totally innocent, but the cop does not follow proper procedures and due process and you are put behind bars on a bogus sobriety rap?   What if you get in a fight, the other guy throws the first punch, but you hit back harder and blind the guy and are thrown in jail for assault and spend two years behind bars and have all your savings squandered on losing appeals and civil-suit fees for the injured party….and then it comes out several years later that the prosecution suppressed the testimony of an eye-witness that would have cleared you?   Sounds cheesy, but you hear about this sort of thing all the time!   And convicts are cleared years after-the-fact by DNA technology, all the time, and then it comes out that the authorities had held back evidence in order to secure a conviction.   It makes you sick.

     And therein lies the rub.

     Braun is probably no more innocent of drug-taking than The Juice was of hacking two people to death.   Ah, how often sports imitates life.   But Braun had to be acquitted.   Not exonerated, but acquitted.   Because next time the ballplayer might have a valid gripe, might really be innocent, and will need due process on his side.

     We’re a country of laws and due process.   It’s literally one of the very best things about the United States.   A nation of, as the saying goes, “laws, not men”.  

     And it’s also why I’m against Capital Punishment.   Or, more accurately, I’m for it in theory and against it in practice.   If a guy premeditatedly kills somebody or kidnaps and tortures somebody for years at a time (Isn’t it amazing how often you read about that one?) or commits high treason I think they should (in theory) be put to death.   The idea doesn’t bother me one bit.   But then again, what if we’re wrong?   It happens.   Innocent people have been put to death many, many times in our country’s history, too many, the facts having come to the fore too late.   Often because due process and accepted standard procedures were not followed in the first place.   It’s a national shame.  

     For death is the one bell that can’t be un-rung. 


meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0023

Brad Eastland is an author, historian, film buff, undiscovered literary giant, and a tireless soldier in the fight for due process in the courts.   Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.   His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’.   Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, of triumph, and of utter despair, called WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for that title on,, or   And then order it.   And then READ it.   And then tell everyone about it.   He thanks you.







One Response to “THE VERDICT IS IN: The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER Walks Us All Down Memory Lane….in Bruno Magli Loafers.”

  1. Honestly believe Braun…look at him…if he was 5:1 on testosterone…don’t you think he’d be bigger? He’d passed every drug test prior to that…there’s a reason why there’s a chain of custody. If that collector had been an Army NCO he’d have an summary article 15 if not going further faster than you can say “I didn’t do it.”

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