It drives me insane when people debate whether or not to strip awards, add asterisks, etc. You could test Bonds' urine from 2001 on live tv and find that he was freebasing Chuck Norris' sweat... I don't care because it wasn't illegal. A-Rod admitting that he took "something?" Wasn't caught by MLB at the time; officially, it never happened. In baseball (as in life), you find a way to cheat the system or get the upper hand. Eventually, the system catches on to the trick, bans it, and you need to find a new advantage. Spitballs, corked bats, greenies, steroids... it's all part of the cycle.
Now, with rules in place to ban these things? And a player is found to have been openly cheating? Take his award, ban him from the game; I don't think any punishment is too harsh. If Mark Buehrle has a perfect game going in Miami next year and the umps find Vagisil on his glove in the 7th inning, he's gone from the game. Once something has been outlawed, doing it is never an honest mistake: you were trying to cheat the system. I understand that there are always little things that can crop up: I remember Zach Day having glue on his finger to close a cut for the Expos one start and being tossed because of it.
In Braun's case, I think there should be a hearing with evidence from both sides to determine if there's a possibility of some kind of accidental positive test. I would like to eventually see a pretty strict enforcement of "no drugs in the game." I say, if a player tests positive, immediately test him again and suspend him pending investigation. A committee of player reps, team reps, medical experts, and fitness experts determines if it's possible that this player tested positive falsely or accidentally. If it's a false positive? Return to action immediately. If it was mistakenly taken because the bottle of supplement you got from GNC "accidentally" put HGH in your Rocket Fuel? Take a year off. If you're Jason Grimsley and they can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you knew what it was? Gone for life. Shoeless Joe, Pete Rose: they cheated and received lifetime bans. Why can't the same be done for a current player who willingly cheats the game?
NOTE: I know that this would have to be bargained for in the CBA and there's pretty much no chance something like this would ever pass. I do think that it would get teams to keep shady Brian McNamee-types far away from their clubhouses; think Arte Moreno would let any of these guys near his shiny new Albert Pujols?
Should Matt Kemp be given the award retroactively? No. If Braun is found guilty of cheating, he should be stripped of the award and it should be left vacant; basically the Heisman Trust's plan with Reggie Bush (I know that Bush eventually gave up the award voluntarily, but still.) Like Ohio State vacating wins in football, others need not be affected. Let the official MLB records show that no NL MVP award was given for the 2011 season.
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