MLB allowed itself to be beaten again by Ryan Braun

File-Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun reacts after striking out after pinch hitting during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Sunday, July 21, 2013, in Milwaukee. Braun, a former National League MVP, has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season and admitted he "made mistakes" in violating Major League Baseball's drug policies. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced the penalty Monday and released a statement by the Milwaukee Brewers slugger, who said: "I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions." (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

File-Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun reacts after striking out after pinch hitting during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins Sunday, July 21, 2013, in Milwaukee. Braun, a former National League MVP, has been suspended without pay for the rest of the season and admitted he “made mistakes” in violating Major League Baseball’s drug policies. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig announced the penalty Monday and released a statement by the Milwaukee Brewers slugger, who said: “I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.” (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

You ever see a player get into some kind of mischief on the field — throwing at a batter or charging the mound — and draw, say, a five-game suspension.

So, of course, he appeals the penalty.

And while he waits for his appeal to be heard, he plays on.

But then a couple of games go by and he tweaks his hamstring or rolls an ankle, causing him to miss a couple of games.

So the player decides to drop his appeal and start serving his suspension, using the five days to rest and recover from his injury.

Doesn’t that annoy you? How a player can manipulate the system to lessen the impact of his penalty.

It happens frequently. But this week it happened on the biggest stage, when Ryan Braun agreed to begin serving a 65-game suspension for unspecified violations of the MLB’s drug program.

MLB may think, after more than 21 months of pursuit, it finally got its man. But in reality, they let Braun wriggles himself off the hook.

Braun’s 2013 was been a walking pain. He was bothered by a neck problem for most of April and lingered into May. Then in late May, he was bothered by a thumb injury that eventually landed him on the DL for a month.

He returned from the DL and played in one game on July 9 before a trip on the bereavement list took him out of action through the All-Star break. When he returned, Braun declined to detail the nature of the “family medical emergency” that sent him home, only saying “This was one of those moments where I needed to be home with my family. Everybody is doing much better.”

After playing in three more games, his 2013 season was ended by the suspension.

To review, his 2013 season has been marred by injury, the inflamed nerve in his thumb was not completely healed even after his month-long stint on the DL and the Brewers’ season was going nowhere fast.

Sounds like a perfect time to cease his battle against MLB and take a 65-game suspension, and come back in 2014 and start fresh.

It seems to me that Braun beat MLB, again, just like he did in the spring of 2012 when he was suspended for testosterone use from a failed test during the 2011 playoffs that followed his MVP season. He appeals that penalty, and won … on a technicality.

He played it off as vindication.

Now who is vindicated?

Certainly not MLB. It had a chance to show it was serious about eradicating performance-enhancers by hitting one of the game’s biggest stars where it hurts.

But does this hurt?

Braun gets to go home, spend time with his family, heal his thumb that has been hurting him for more than a month, all while not hurting his team which was not a playoff-bound team with him in the lineup at less-than-100-percent.

Sure, there is the $4 million in salary that he will forfeit. But considering he’s due another $100 million-plus from the Brewers over the next seven seasons, what’s $4 million? Uncle Sam is going to take way more of Braun’s money as a normal course of business than what MLB will take by invoking a penalty.

But that is the penalty. And until MLB, and the players union, get serious about cleaning up the game and proposing some far more serious consequences to violators — and not allow players the right to plea bargain their way to a lesser penalty because it’s easy and convenient — MLB will again find itself allowing the cheaters to gain the upper hand.

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