Forty-four hours. That’s what we’re talking about. Twenty hours more than the Kiefer Sutherland TV show, 83 fewer than the James Franco movie. Because it took that long to ship Ryan Braun’s urine samples to the lab, his positive test was thrown out by an arbitrator and the National League’s Most Valuable Player dodged a 50-game suspension. Praise the Lord and pass the testosterone.
In the hearing, Braun’s legal team reportedly made a big deal of those 44 hours. They made them sound like 44,000 hours. You would have thought the FedEx plane had gotten caught in a storm, crashed in the ocean, and Braun’s samples had languished on a deserted island for several years in the custody of the Sole Survivor. Yeah, that’s right. It was like that Tom Hanks film, “Cast Away.”
It wouldn’t be a bad idea, in fact, if Hollywood made a sequel to “Cast Away” revolving around the L’Affaire Braun. Think about it. Steve Carrell could play the collector who takes the samples — and then stores them in his basement for nearly two days — and Adam Sandler could play the Sole Survivor, the FedEx employee who gets marooned on the uncharted isle. (For the part of Braun, I’m kind of leaning toward Tom Cruise in an uncredited cameo.)
Anyway, talk about potential. As in the original, wreckage from the plane could wash up on shore and help Sandler pass the time … as well as plan his escape. One day, he could find a package containing a plastic bat and ball on the beach, and he could paint a face on the ball and have one-sided conversations with it. Rawlings, he could call his “friend.” Another day, a complete set of Topps baseball cards could arrive, and he could divvy them up with Rawlings and propose elaborate trades (such as Roy Halladay and Derek Jeter for Josh Hamilton and a Coast Guard cutter to be named later).
Still another day, a box labeled “Olympic Anti-Doping Lab, Montreal, Quebec, Canada,” could float ashore, and Sandler could say to Rawlings, “Ooohhh, this looks important. We’d better hang on to this one and see that it gets delivered.”
Years pass. The Chicago Cubs win the World Series. Sandler grows a beard longer than Jayson Werth’s. Finally, figuring rescuers will never find him, he builds a raft — using an authentic, game-worn Prince Fielder jersey as a sail — and takes to the sea. In one tearful sequence, Rawlings falls off the makeshift vessel and bobs away, never to be seen again. “Spalding never would have abandoned me like this!” a near-delirious Sandler wails (in another brilliant example of product placement).
Miraculously, a ship crosses paths with our weather-beaten hero and returns him to civilization. Once back at work, he sets out to deliver the handful of packages he brought along on his voyage, including the one addressed to “Montreal, Quebec, Canada.” When he arrives at the lab, a technician opens the box, inspects the contents and smiles.
“Do you know what this is?” he asks Sandler.
Sandler: “Not a clue.”
Technician: “It’s Ryan Braun’s urine samples from 2011.”
Sanders: “Ryan Braun’s urine samples? Well, I’ll be darned.”
Technician: “Too bad he retired a year ago.”
Just thought I’d have a little fun with baseball’s latest adventure in PED prevention. And why not? With the Braun foul-up, MLB’s much-ballyhooed program has reached the level of farce. Whoever heard of a positive test being invalidated because it was done on a Saturday and, according to the collector, none of the nearby FedEx outlets would immediately send the samples to the lab?
And this wasn’t just any collector, apparently; it was an experienced guy who claims to have handled more than 600 of these assignments and to have followed, in the case of the Milwaukee Brewers slugger, the standard protocol.
Nobody wins in a situation like this. Baseball drug-testing comes across as slapdash and ridden with loopholes. The collector is ridiculed to such an extent that he feels obliged to defend himself. And Braun, though he skirted suspension, will always have the cloud of doubt hovering over him. Did he or didn’t he?
About the only people who might come out ahead are the folks in Hollywood — that is, if they take my advice and green light “Cast Away 2.” The screenplay is still a work in progress, but mark my words: It could be a blockbuster.