Ryan Braun should offer to give back MVP

Updated: January 21, 2012, 10:31 PM ET
By Buster Olney

From the moment the news of Ryan Braun's positive test for performance-enhancing drugs broke in December, he has maintained his innocence, texting to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the PED charge was "B.S.," and he and his representatives followed through with an appeal that was heard on Thursday in New York. He's the only person who can know, with certainty, how this happened, and he insists he did nothing wrong.

But by now Braun understands that no matter how his appeal is decided, the perception of him has been shaped. Under the terms of baseball's drug prevention program, the positive test from October means, quite literally, that he is guilty until proven innocent, and this is true for many in the court of public opinion, as well.

This is a reality that Roger Clemens didn't seem to comprehend the instant his name was published in the Mitchell Report: He had already lost what he was trying to protect.

The best chance for Braun to extricate something good from his situation would be to stand up on the dais Saturday, hold the NL MVP trophy in his hands -- and offer to give it back to the Baseball Writers' Association of America at its annual New York dinner, even while maintaining his innocence. This gesture would elevate Braun and separate him from the legions of athletes who have issued denials in the face of accusations of performance-enhancing drug use.

Braun could say something along these lines when he speaks Saturday night :