Next Step for Braun
Gus Merwin - COMMENTARY
amarc543@uwsp.edu
According to Dino Laurenzi, Jr., he has always performed his job with “integrity and professionalism.” Those are just the traits that have come under fire in the past week.
 
Laurenzi collects pee for a living. In this day and age where nearly everyone is ingesting something, whether legally or illegally, I’m sure “Specimen Collector” is quite a lucrative position. But this isn’t a couple samples from a cheese factory trying to see if their cheese flippers are smoking devil lettuce.
 
The pee in question belonged to Ryan Braun, who last week became the first player to win an appeal against Major League Baseball after calling to attention the protocol used by Laurenzi.
 
In Braun’s press conference last Friday he said that he was the victim of a “fatally flawed” system.
 
“There were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way the entire thing works, that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened,” Braun said.
 
According to Laurenzi, the last FedEx planes had left by the time he left Miller Park following the collection of the sample. Protocol for his employer, Comprehensive Drug Testing, then states that it is best to keep the samples in a secure location, prompting Laurenzi to take the samples home with him rather than leave them at a FedEx office.
 
Braun contends that there were five FedEx stations within five miles that were open until 9 p.m. and one location that was open 24 hours. Some reports state that Laurenzi drove past as many as 12 drop-off points on his way home.
Ryan Braun is the first player to win an appeal against Major League Baseball after
calling attention to the protocol used by Dino Laurenzi, Jr. Photo by Jeff Hanisch.​
 
“The protocol has been in place since 2005 when I started with C.D.T., and there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident,” Laurenzi said.
 
I doubt those other occasions involved a National League MVP.
 
In Laurenzi’s statement Tuesday he said the indirect call-out by Braun has “caused great emotional distress for me and my family.” What does he think Braun has been dealing with since news of his positive test broke in December?
 
Laurenzi is a faceless member of the drug testing process. He’s a middleman. Why would C.D.T. rule in Braun’s favor if how Laurenzi handled the process was, as he says it, protocol?
 
The MLB immediately disapproved of the decision, but because the process is a joint procedure that was agreed upon by the players’ union and the league they had to abide by the decision reached by C.D.T., whom they contracted to collect and evaluate the samples.
 
MLB Executive Vice President Rob Manfred stated after the decision that their system is not fatally flawed. Manfred also said there will be immediate changes made to the process that will clarify the procedure of collectors.
 
Braun beat his suspension on a technicality. Exonerated? Maybe legally, but in the eyes of non-Brewer fans he is this year’s fixture for resentment. From the early days of integration, to the ridicule of troubled players like Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, to last season and the barbarous beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow, fanatics of the game will always try to cut down a beautiful game.
 
No doubt Braun’s image will be hindered by recent events and he will receive more than an earful on the road and home in Milwaukee. He has already vehemently proclaimed his innocence. The only thing he can do now is let his play continue to speak for itself.
 
If Braun is truly the man Brewers fans have been accustomed to seeing over the years he will respond to this adversity the same way he responds to it on the field: with towering success.