Braun, No Brains

by Bill Chuck on July 23, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 10.06.52 AMTyler Kepner in today’s New York Times gives the elevator story so beautifully succinctly:

There are liars and frauds and scoundrels, and then there are people like Ryan Braun, who somehow seem worse.

Braun, the sanctimonious slugger for the Milwaukee Brewers, was suspended for the remainder of the season on Monday by Major League Baseball. Braun will miss the final 65 games for violating baseball’s drug program, accepting the punishment for his connection to the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic at the center of baseball’s current inquiry into the use of performance enhancers.

“I realize now that I have made some mistakes,” Braun said in a statement. “I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”

Braun also apologized, the way they all do. But few cheats in baseball have played the con as aggressively as Braun, before and after his failed test in the 2011 playoffs.

Kepner points out:

He fooled the Milwaukee fans, some of the most passionate and loyal in sports. He fooled Brewers staff members who believed he was clean. He fooled the team’s owner, Mark Attanasio, who made Braun the centerpiece of the franchise by signing him through 2020.

There is not enough space on this site to list all the players that Ryan Braun has thrown under the bus, but if you are interested just check Baseball-Reference.com for any player who has donned a uniform. Certainly the ones on the field today.

The renowned Buster Olney writes on ESPN.com today that the players have had it. They no longer want to be all tarred by the same brush.

A pitcher drilled a hitter in a game this season, and when the inning was over and he returned to the dugout, the pitcher explained to his teammates that he had plunked the guy because he’s a juicer — a cheater, a PED user. And the teammates who heard him understood.

Olney continues:

He lied to them, and he cheated them — and incredibly, he kept lying and kept cheating even after getting caught, with the positive test in the fall of 2011.

He would probably still be lying and cheating if he wasn’t caught a second time, through the persistence of drug-fighting machinery developed by the players and MLB.

Braun is not the worst or the most egregious offender, he is just the latest to get exposed. He is the latest to get caught even though he thought he was above the law. He is the latest who thought he was invincible. He is simply sad.

Jeff Passan, so frequently the voice of fans and truth did not mince words when writing about Braun and Dino Laurenzi Jr., “the innocent man who happened to collect a vial of Braun’s urine that started baseball down the sordid, tortuous path that found its first measure of closure,” wrote on YahooSports.com:

What we know of Braun today is no different than what we knew of him before: He is a cockroach. He understood what accepting a suspension would mean to MLB. It would give the league the pelt of a former MVP. It would affirm the believability of Anthony Bosch, the founder of the Biogenesis clinic that provided PEDs to Braun and a host of other baseball players – especially with Alex Rodriguez and his harem of private investigators doing everything they can to discredit Bosch. If he could lessen his penalty by volunteering – keep it to 50 games for violating the league’s Joint Drug Agreement and 15 more, one person deemed it, as an “asshole tax” for criticizing the drug program and putting Laurenzi through hell – and ensure a return in 2014, when his Milwaukee Brewers might not stink like they do now, even better.

Jerry Crasnick wrote on ESPN.com:

I don’t know if Braun is an inherently bad person, a serial liar or just a ballplayer who got trapped in a situation of his own making and didn’t know how to escape. But his willingness to cut a deal in the Biogenesis case merely confirms the rampant sentiment that he skated on a technicality the first time around. And now he’ll have to spend the rest of his career walking around with a scarlet “F” for “fraud.”

Olney adds:

Many of the other players have been rooting for him to go down, and to go down hard. He may be allowed into the union meetings, he may get union benefits, he may even carry a union card. But most of them will never again regard him as one of them.

Christine Brennan of USA Today writes in a great piece titled “They threw the bum out“:

This suspension will follow Braun the rest of his life. He is forever tainted. He is damaged goods. His 2011 MVP title is so fraudulent that it should be taken from him immediately. Who will ever trust anything he ever does again on a baseball field?

Does this bring a conclusion to the Steroid Era? Far from from it.

Brennan points out:

Over? That’s such wishful thinking.

The Olympic world’s drug police are still catching cheaters, and they had a 32-year head start on MLB.

We have learned, over and over and over again, when it comes to PED users where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If a name comes up in an investigation like the Mitchell Report, or what your eyes and gut senses, you now have to assume guilt not innocence.

Jason Gay in today’s Wall Street Journal writes:

This is not to diminish the very real frustration—and fury—of athletes who have chosen to play the game within the rules. It is simply to acknowledge the obvious: So long as athletes are able to see a benefit, this issue will never fully fade in the rearview.

Which is why baseball cannot make sweeping statements about its juicing era sliding into the past, or get too overconfident about its testing regimen or its aggression in cases like Biogenesis. Corners have been cut and will continue to be cut; it’s the nature of business; antidoping can only take you so far. It’s a shame that fans cannot celebrate performances without wondering if they are extra-human, but here, too, a little caution may be useful. We have all seen too much to be surprised.

Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com as he so frequently does, nailed it:

Ryan Braun kept saying he wished he could tell us “the entire story.”

We don’t need it now.

We don’t need all the details. We don’t need any more apologies, or any more vows to get back to playing “the game I love.”

No, Ryan, your flimsy statement Monday will do. The words don’t even matter. Your willingness to accept a suspension without a fight tells us more than enough.

Go away and serve your time, but understand that you’re never going to escape this. You’ll always be the guy who stood there in the Arizona desert, smugly believing you could play us all for fools.

Knobler adds:

But let’s not commend Braun or any player for accepting the penalty without a long fight. The long-held pattern of the drug cheaters has been to wait to see what can be proven, and then admit the minimum.

Braun in his faux sincere and impassioned lie to the world last year in Arizona said, “At the end of the day, the truth prevailed.”

He finally was right.

Now we wait for A-Rod to go down and Nelson Cruz and Bartolo Colon and all the others who have been named thus far in the Biogenesis mess.

And we wait and hope that the writers who are so magnificently indignant and articulate today will not lose that voice when it comes to Hall of Fame voting and deny the adulation that comes from induction even if the “player would have made it before he started to use PEDs” or he has a huge smile and is the face of the franchise.

And we finally, we wait sadly for the next group of players to be caught.

But today let’s appreciate the feats of Roger Maris and Hank Aaron and Nolan Ryan and Edgar Martinez. Let’s admire Mariano Rivera and Dustin Pedroia and all those other players who bring joy to the game and to its fans.

In the same way we will smell for smoke and then look for fire, let’s not assume that because Jose Bautista and Chris Davis can hit homers that they too are PED users.

Let’s finally appreciate the work of Bud Selig and baseball’s investigative arm that is restoring pride to the sport and putting the National Felon League to shame.

Today is not a day to be sad, it is a good day for baseball.

I’m with Kenny Rosenthal, always a go-to guy for baseball information, who writes today on Foxsports.com:

Baseball got Braun on Monday, got him but good. Some might view the day as a sad one for the game, another “black eye” for the sport. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Monday was a great day for the commissioner’s office, a great day for the players’ union, a great day for the Joint Drug Agreement and, yes, a great day for all of those players who want the sport cleaned up once and for all.

Let’s play two.

 

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