It would have been one thing to just get caught.
Yes, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun could have probably survived a positive test and subsequent suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Sure, there would have been some public outrage. Sure, people would have said he didn’t deserve to win the 2011 MVP. Sure, he wouldn’t be the beloved figure he was before much of the speculation about his PED use began.
Still, at 29 years-old, Braun could have issued an apology, asked for forgiveness, served his suspension and come back next season, with 6-8 good years of baseball left while making north of $20 million dollars a year.
And at some point in time, we wouldn’t have cared much whether Braun used the Cream, the Clear, Andro, Creatine, HGH, female fertility drugs, or panther hormones. That is of course unless you are the United States Congress and you’re running a trillion-dollar deficit, but I digress.
Nevertheless, at some point, much would have been forgiven — if not totally forgotten a la New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettite.
Ryan Braun couldn’t tell the truth. He couldn’t even offer the cursory non-committal answer. He couldn’t even say that his legal team had advised him against speaking to sweep the problem briefly under the rug. Braun had to get his Rafael Palmeiro on.
He had to tell us how he handled his initial suspension for a failed drug test in 2012, which was overturned due to a technicality, with “class and grace.” He had to tell us he was the victim of an unjust, non-confidential process, and his name was “dragged through the mud.” He had to tell us that he wasn’t going to talk about the details of the process because he was looking out for “the best interests of the game.” He had to tell us he had no idea where any of these accusations came from.
Now, I will give Braun credit for this: at least he spared us the obnoxious, self-important Palmeiro-esque finger wag.
But at the end of the day, Braun won’t simply be remembered as a hero of the game who fell from grace. Nor will he welcomed back with open arms and given an opportunity to right any of the wrongs.
See, America often forgives the criminal. Folks are, however, much less tolerant of the lying, and they certainly don’t sympathize with the sanctimonious holier-than-thou liar who seems to find fault with everyone but himself. And if you have doubts about that, go ahead and ask Pete Rose.
In all honesty, Braun, like Rose, will probably not even be given the opportunity to repair his image. He was not just another player trying to get an edge. He can’t play the “I was trying to make a living playing baseball,” card.
No, Braun committed sins and had the gumption to tell the world the problem was with them — and people usually don’t have short memories when it comes to that.