At this point, I don’t even know why I’m surprised anymore. It’s like a broken record. A ballplayer gets accused of using performance enhancing drugs. He then denies it vehemently, emphasizing it with something between a Rafael Palmeiro finger-wag and a full-on Lance Armstrong assault on his accusers.
For Ryan Braun, however, things have been quite different.
The Milwaukee Brewers‘ star would stand in front of anybody with a camera or a microphone and shout his innocence from on high. He swore on his life that the substances “never entered his body.” When he won his appeal — based on a mishandled sample, not a clean test — he let it be known that he had maintained his innocence “from day one,” and was finally “proven” innocent.
He was the victim here, but he stood up to injustice and came out on top. This time, he really was clean. Right?
After Monday’s suspension was handed down by MLB, Braun should be ashamed of himself. It’s no surprise that all we’ve gotten from his camp since news of his season-ending suspension came down on Monday is a canned, PR-friendly statement in which he says he “made some mistakes” and will “accept the consequences.”
Guess what, Mr. Braun: The time for being a man and accepting the consequences was two years ago. There’s nothing honorable about beating your chest and proclaiming innocence when the entire time, you knew it was a bald-faced lie.
Honor, integrity, class, dignity and professionalism. Those were the words by which Braun claimed to live when he shouted his innocence last year. As it turns out, he knows the meaning of none of those words.
Don’t get me wrong; his use of PEDs, in and of itself, doesn’t make him any more or less a disgrace than others who have used and, indeed, will use in the future. What’s disgusting about this is how willing Braun has been to take down anybody who would accuse him, while knowing all along he was living a lie. If you ask me, he got off light with just a 65-game suspension, thanks to the very same process he fought against for so long.
The true measure of a man isn’t how he acts in times of success, but how he handles himself in his lowest moments — when he’s beaten, defeated or just plain wrong. Braun’s actions and words of the last two years show him to be nothing more than a coward and a fraud. He’ll get to play baseball again, and he’ll get his millions, but his reputation as a player — and a man — will be forever tarnished.
I hope, for his sake, that it was worth it.