As most baseball fans have undoubtedly heard by now, Milwaukee Brewers superstar and former-MVP Ryan Braun is being linked to performance-enhancing drugs for the second time in his six-year career.

Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday night that Braun’s name appeared on the records of a clinic – Biogenesis of America LLC – with a long history of connections between athletes and PEDs.

Braun is the latest of several high profile baseball players to appear on the clinic’s records. Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz headlined similar allegations last week.

This development comes little more than a year after Braun allegedly tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the 2011 MLB playoffs. Braun proceeded to appeal the test and became the first player to ever win an appeal regarding a failed drug test, citing procedural flaws with his urine samples.

As a fan, my initial reactions to Tuesday’s report were shock, disbelief and anger. I felt like a complete fool who had been duped after buying into Braun’s pleas for innocence in December 2011.

After the haze of shock began to subside, I decided to give Braun the benefit of the doubt one more time and began to look deeper into the story, searching for any glimmer of hope leading me to believe he could somehow be innocent.

Further investigation provided what I was looking for. According to the report, Braun’s name did appear in the clinic’s records, but his name was not affiliated with any PEDs unlike other players in the document.

Turns out Braun was on the clinic’s records because he owed them money for consulting with Anthony Bosch, the founder of the clinic, during his appeal in 2011-2012.

The Yahoo! Sports article reported that Braun met with Bosch to talk about his urine samples and the amount of testosterone that was present in them. After meeting with Bosch, Braun and his agent were so dissatisfied with his attempt at assistance that they refused to reimburse Bosch for his time.

This evidence was just enough to keep my belief that Braun is clean as a whistle, and this is just all a big conspiracy to tarnish the left fielder’s reputation.

I know, I might be taking the role of homer. If Braun played for any team other than the Brewers, I would most likely chalk him up as just another cheater and disregard anything he does for the rest of his major league career.

But, before you condemn Braun to a death sentence similar to that of Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa, give me one chance to tell you why it is absolutely essential for baseball fans and the game itself to give Braun the chance to prove he is innocent before putting an asterisk on an otherwise stellar career.

With the overpopulation of proven steroid users over the last couple of decades or so in MLB – Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera come to mind – baseball fans need superstar players who are not linked to steroids.

Fans are already becoming cynics after time and time again they are embarrassed when they find out their favorite player cheated.

It is getting to the point where supporters will no longer look at the game with the same awe and innocence that once existed in the fan experience.

Nowadays, a baseball enthusiast will look at a player’s stats, see he is hitting over .300 and has 30 homeruns and immediately have at least the smallest inclination the player is on something.

If Braun is proven to be guilty of using PEDs, professional baseball will suffer another catastrophic blow to its already tarnished reputation. I for one will never be able to love the game again the way I do now if Braun is guilty of using steroids.

If he is ever proven innocent of his alleged use of PEDs, I believe it will provide a monumental boost to the MLB’s efforts to rid the connotations of steroids that riddle the perception of the game in each and every stadium.

I am not saying within the outcome of Braun’s connection with PEDs lies the fate of Major League Baseball. But I am saying if Braun gets added to the list of proven steroid users, baseball will be on the fast track to never being taken seriously again.

So I urge you, all fans of baseball and all that is good, to bear with Ryan Braun and give him a chance to show he is not just another perpetrator of one of baseball’s most heinous crimes because if the MVP can prove his innocence once and for all, it will be a triumph that could feasibly catapult baseball out of the depths of the steroid era and into a new time where an athlete’s performance is based off what comes from his body, not what he pumps into it.

Spencer is a senior majoring in journalism. What do you think of Ryan Braun and baseball in the steroids era? Let him know with an email to ssmith@badgerherald.com or tweet @sj_smith23.