FOX Sports Exclusive
Braun selfish every step of the way
To the very end of his losing fight with baseball’s drug police, Ryan Braun was all about Ryan Braun.
Even more than a final declaration of guilt, his season-ending suspension — and the way Braun handled it Monday — proved something else entirely: Braun is one of the most cravenly selfish figures in American professional sports.
We live in a forgiving country — especially if you are a superstar athlete. But it will be hard to forget hubris like this. Braun is the new active major league leader in reputations and careers ruined while, wrongfully, trying to make himself look good.
This is what happens when someone who believes he is awesome surrounds himself with people who do nothing but reaffirm the myth of his awesomeness.
How does Dino Laurenzi Jr. feel today? He’s the urine sample collector Braun implicitly — and unfairly — accused of subterfuge with an October 2011 drug test.
How does Shyam Das feel today? He’s the arbitrator Major League Baseball fired after he ruled in Braun’s favor on a procedural technicality in February 2012.
How does Mark Attanasio feel today? He’s the owner of the small-market Milwaukee Brewers. Faced with the decision of whether to retain Braun or Prince Fielder, he chose Braun. Attanasio signed Braun to long-term contracts totaling $150 million, based on numbers apparently goosed by performance-enhancing drug use.
How do general manager Doug Melvin, manager Ron Roenicke and the Brewers’ players feel today? Many have defended Braun for a year and a half, since ESPN first reported news of his positive test. They were duped. When the suspension came down Monday afternoon, Braun departed Miller Park without speaking to the media, leaving them to face questions and speak for the organization.
Sadly, that wasn’t surprising. Braun has made a habit of stonewalling reporters’ questions about PEDs. All along, it seemed Braun’s crisis-management strategy involved pinning the blame elsewhere — damn the consequences felt by others — while hoping MLB investigators would be unable to find information that stuck.
Well, that worked out well, didn’t it?
Then again, Braun was only continuing the behavior that has made him a very wealthy man. Even after this suspension, he has more than $100 million left on his contract through the 2020 season. That is guaranteed cash, folks. He cheated. He was caught. He wins, anyway.
After lying for so long, Braun must go before the media and detail what he did and when he started doing it — provided, of course, that he’s willing to acknowledge PED use at all. He made no such admission in a carefully crafted statement issued Monday afternoon, instead saying, “I realize now that I have made some mistakes.” In the same statement, Braun apologized to the organization, the Milwaukee fans, and his teammates. But it’s hard to judge the sincerity, in light of how disingenuous so many of his previous words seem now.
Sources told FOXSports.com that Braun did not explicitly admit to using PEDs during a pregame meeting with teammates. Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, Braun’s roommate in the minor leagues, said after Monday’s 5-3 loss to San Diego that he still believes Braun never used steroids. “Yeah, I do,” he said. “That’s only my opinion.”
Gallardo said he doesn’t think Braun owes the team a more detailed explanation. “I don’t want to know anything (more), to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s over and done with.”
Unfortunately for Braun, many others in the game won’t be as sympathetic.
If Braun stays quiet — or insults our intelligence by saying he never used PEDs — that will only inflame the negative opinions about him throughout the sport. We don’t know if MLB would have prosecuted the Biogenesis case with such vigor — if at all — had Braun not skated on an appeal two offseasons ago. Surely, other players linked to Biogenesis are wondering if they would be in this predicament had Braun been suspended the first time.
And with evidence possibly mounting against them all, Braun passed up the chance to appeal this time. He’ll serve a 65-game suspension, let the last-place Brewers play out the string and then start fresh next season with another $10 million payday.
Every man for himself. For Ryan Braun, it’s a way of life.