Baseball screwed up.

Again.

But baseball has been screwing up since its inception in the late 1800s. Baseball fans have endured scandals, steroids, championship runs, and everything in-between. More times than not, the MLB has punished those who have broken the rules. As of 2008, the Collective Bargaining Agreement laid out strict rules for failed drug tests. First time offenders would serve a 50-game suspension with steeper penalties for each additional infraction. Manny Ramirez, who is no stranger to this rule, will serve his second suspension this season. While Manny is known for his theatrics and off-field comments, his career numbers (555 HRs, 1,851 RBIs, .312 career batting average) rank him among the all-time greats. With that being said, Major League Baseball did an absolutely horrible job by letting its most recent offender (Ryan Braun) off the hook. Here’s why:

Blah, Blah, Blah I'm A Cheater Blah, Blah, Blah--AP Photo

Major League Baseball knows no boundaries. During the mid-1990s, home run rates and the game’s popularity were at all-time highs. Cartoonish-sized hitters routinely took advantage of ‘mortal’ pitching and baseball began to flourish. Granted, baseball needed some good PR after its strike-shortened season in 1994. But those good feelings were artificially inflated. Steroid and performance enhancing drug use ran rapid as hitters put up gaudy home run totals. It took a few legal formalities and the death of a few former players to halt the use of these drugs. Baseball had no other choice, but to sanction those who broke the rules. To this day, I still believe that baseball is trying to clean up its image after steroid use ran rampant. But letting Ryan Braun off the hook dirties that ‘clean’ image.

Say whatever you want about Braun, the ‘false’ test, the procedures involved, whatever. From what the report said, Braun showed a ratio of 20:1 for the two hormones used in testing. To put that in perspective, the normal male has a ratio of 1:1. Braun’s test even came back positive for synthetic hormones. I don’t care what happens to that sample–that ratio is obscene. That’s not normal and Braun’s doping landed him the 2011 NL MVP award and a few nice cash bonuses. I suppose baseball is back to its old tricks of looking the other way. This case is even fishier that it happened to a player on the Milwaukee Brewers–Bud Selig’s former team.

All in all, most will forget about the Braun-‘dirty test’ case until the next baseball player claims he was ‘Braun’d’ by the system. Steroids and performance enhancers are so imbedded in the game that it doesn’t really phase anyone anymore. However, it’s the MLB’s job to punish those who break the rules. And Braun should be sitting out his first 50 games of the 2012 season.