The Washington Times-Herald

July 25, 2013

Will there be a time when liars and cheaters aren't the story?

The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Ryan Braun is liar and a cheat. This is no surprise, yet the outrage over Braun’s hefty suspension would lead one to believe this is the first time we’ve suspected the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder of any inpropriety involving Performance Enhancing Drugs. This, of course, is not the case with Braun. Shortly after being named the 2011 National League MVP we found out about Braun’s positive PED test, and Braun’s camp went into spin mode.

By now you know Braun won an appeal and the test was thrown out due to mistakes being made in the way the test was delivered to the testing lab. Braun’s now-infamous press conference in Arizona during spring training last year served as an opportunity for Braun to explain himself and a lot of people actually believed his distorted version of what happened. If you believed Braun’s explanation, then you probably need to re-evaluate some things.

Braun’s arrogance througout this ordeal has been disgusting and embarrassing for Major League Baseball. Braun was supposed to be the next great young player to be the face of a franchise and eventually the face of an entire sport the way Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia were before him. Instead Braun chose the easier route that saw him finally succumb to the fact that he’s a habitual steroid user with not a shred of credibility left. Braun got off easy with the 65-game suspension, but the destruction of his reputation is something he’ll never be able to mend.

After the steroid era where the game’s greatest players from Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens have tested positive for PEDs or have been suspected of cheating, Braun had the chance to bring baseball into the generation of “clean” baseball. He failed miserably. Unfortunately for every Jeter and Pedroia, there are Braun and Alex Rodriguez. These guys don’t want to work hard and build a legacy of something honorable. They’d rather just take the easy way out.

As a sportswriter and an avid baseball fan I’m not going to sit here and be angry that A-Rod and Braun lied for years and years about their actions — it’s just disappointing. Every steroid scandal tears away the fabric of all that is good about baseball. It would appear Braun and A-Rod’s only loyalty is to the almighty dollar and that’s the reason this is why at this time baseball is fighting a nearly unwinnable fight. Braun will lose roughly $3.5 million due to his suspension for the rest of the year, but he’s still due to make $117 million between now and the year 2020. So besides protecting your integrity, what is the argument to not use PEDs?

Until MLB can void contracts for juicing no real dent will be made in this fight. It’s extreme I know, but look at Rodriguez for example — he was caught in 2009 for a failed test during the 2003 season, but he once again is embroiled in a steroid controversy along with Braun. Rodriguez has lost all credibility and is universally the most disliked baseball player. Would he have stopped using if he was going to lose out on enormous financial compensation? I have to believe that would be a strong deterrent for Rodriguez, Braun and others.

Growing up as a Yankee fan I would look forward to seeing Jeter in the lineup and the hopefulness that would come from seeing my favorite player and as I grew older Jeter became a symbol of all that is good in baseball. The same can be said about Pedroia, who just signed a $100 million contract extension to finish his career in Boston. Pedroia and Braun both debuted in 2007, but between now and then so much has changed — the similarities are unrecognizable.

It’s been a long, long time since we have seen “clean” players dominate baseball and the real people being cheated are the fans. No one knows if we’ll ever get back to that time.

When we look at Rodriguez and Braun all we look forward to is a time when liars and cheaters aren’t the big story in baseball.