Braun's suspension opens old wound for D-backs
Players feel 'cheated' that 2011 NLDS loss wasn't on 'level playing field'
PHOENIX -- Monday's news of Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension for violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program was a little more personal for some in the Arizona Diamondbacks clubhouse.
The D-backs lost to the Brewers in a hard-fought five games during the 2011 National League Division Series, and it was following Game 1 of that series that Braun tested positive for increased levels of testosterone in his system.
"It's hard to say what would have happened, what could have happened," reliever J.J. Putz said. "There's no way to figure that out. It's not like they're going to let us go back and replay the 2011 playoffs, but it definitely, I think, stings in here a little bit more."
Said shortstop Willie Bloomquist, "I don't know what the details of it are, but if you go back to the playoff series that we had with them who knows how that series turns out if we're playing all on the same level playing field?
"We busted our butt that series and left everything out on the field and came up just a little bit short so who knows what might have happened. Maybe there's a different outcome, maybe there's not, but it's frustrating to know that maybe you were cheated on the other side of it a little bit."
Braun was 9-for-18 in that series with four doubles, a home run and four RBIs.
"Obviously, it affected the series because that's right when the positive test occurred, that's right when it was highest in his system and he torched us that series, there's no question about it," reliever Brad Ziegler said. "We still had opportunities and we can't put it all on that."
Arizona reliever David Hernandez could only shake his head when he heard of the suspension and said that looking back at the series was "pointless."
All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said he is all in favor of punishing players who test positive, but he was not going to look back at the playoff loss to the Brewers.
"For me, personally, that stuff is in the past," Goldschmidt said. "If we wanted to win, we should have played better."
Bloomquist got a chance to play with Braun this past spring in the World Baseball Classic and said he really liked Braun, but Bloomquist is increasingly frustrated that players keep cheating.
"He's a good dude, a really good guy," Bloomquist said. "But having said that, it's disappointing. We as players have done the best job we can to clean up the game and rid it of all this sort of thing. Everyone knows the consequences and penalties for it and yet there's some people that seem like they can sneak by the system without getting caught, and what it does is it cheats everybody else. It cheats the game, it cheats the fans, it cheats the players they're playing against."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said the 2011 playoff loss still left a sour taste in his mouth, not because Braun tested positive during it, but simply because the D-backs lost.
"What's happened in the past and how it might have effected us, we'll never really know," Gibson said. "We're in a pennant race this year and Ryan Braun has to live with Ryan Braun. We take care of ourselves and try to do the right thing, do it the right way and within good ethical codes."
Gibson has been a proponent for tougher penalties for violators. On Monday he declined to say how many games players who test positive should have to sit out, but made it clear that the punishment should be more than just games missed.
"I don't think they should be in the All-Star Game," Gibson said. "I don't think they should be in the Hall of Fame, for sure. Penalties should be more severe. It should be much more of a deterrent. Monetarily things should be more severe, because I think you have to ask why they do it. They would be the best people to answer that question."
Regardless of how many games Braun was suspended, it's clear that his reputation in the game has taken a tremendous hit.
"It's frustrating that guys are still trying to beat the system, but it's also frustrating that he's essentially accepting responsibility for it now, which means that everything he said back at the beginning of 2012 was a lie," Ziegler said. "You never want to see that out of anybody, let alone a fellow ballplayer."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.