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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — ESPN reported today that 2011 N.L. MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for excessive testosterone in October and may face a 50-game suspension.

If ESPN’s unnamed sources are correct, it won’t matter whether the Milwaukee Brewers star knowingly violated baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs. League rules make no distinction between intentional and unintentional violations in such cases.

Braun’s Jewish fans may feel differently, however. Judaism stresses the importance of intent, so if the right-fielder can prove his use of illegal drugs was accidental, it will go a long way toward redemption. In a statement, Braun claimed “complete innocence” and denied any “intentional violation” of the rules.

Statistically speaking, Braun’s 2011 season was not suspiciously better than prior ones. Although his .332 batting average and 33 stolen bases marked personal bests, the 5th-year pro did not match his own career highs in runs, doubles, triples, HRs, RBIs, or slugging percentage.

Braun is the first Jewish player to be named MVP in 48 years. According to ESPN, the Baseball Writers of America will not strip him of the award even if he gets suspended.

Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Sandy Koufax was the last Jew to be named Most Valuable Player. He won the MVP and  Cy Young award in 1963.

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