MLB sets bad example after Braun suspension
LOS ANGELES — Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun is a cheater.
Even though he didn't specifically admit that he used performance enhancing drugs, he accepted a 65-game suspension that will cost him nearly $4 million. Also gone is anything that may have been left of his reputation following 2011's PED fiasco, in which he failed an MLB drug test, but was declared innocent because of poor handling techniques by the urine sample collector.
Despite what looks like a great career, if Braun hopes to see the inside of baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, he'll have to do it just like you and I -- buy a ticket.
314-game victor and multiple Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry is a cheater.
Perry -- like Braun -- at first denied that he broke the rules: doctoring the baseball with saliva, Vaseline and any number of slippery substances en route to a magnificent career that saw him wind up as the 17th winningest pitcher in the history of the game. He later wrote a book titled "Me and the Spitter."
However, Perry will never have a bit of trouble getting into the HOF any time he wants: He was elected to the shrine in 1991, just three years after he became eligible for enshrinement.
When did one form of cheating in baseball become more acceptable than another?
I couldn't tell you, and I think the uproar is absolutely nonsensical.
Braun is being treated as if he did something heinous to society simply because he chose to take drugs to improve his performance. Tell Perry's story, though, and he gets treated like a hero who was crafty enough to beat the system. Wink, wink. Nod, nod. And a hearty laugh later, Perry is still a Hall of Famer and 300-game winner.
Braun is -- and will likely remain -- a pariah, with fellow players like the Dodgers' Skip Schumaker calling for lifetime bans the first time someone is caught using PEDs.
I don't hear anyone calling for Perry's removal from Cooperstown, though.
Cheating is cheating is cheating — isn't it?
"Well," said a pensive-looking Angels' manager Mike Scioscia, “we've had to deal with some tough moments in this game, but it seemed like the PEDs were being weeded out. Now it looks like we have a ways to go and we might go through some dark days. Hopefully, though, the numbers of whoever is using the PEDs is a lot fewer than it was.
"There's no place in this game for them."
Former Angels' infielder Jim Anderson wrote on my Facebook page, joining the Schumaker camp:
"PED's are a whole new level of cheating that should not, and cannot be tolerated! Imagine Reggie Jackson on PED's, or Brett, or Winfield! Would they have hit .400 or hit 900 home runs? Or how about Ryan, Guidry, Seaver or Feller. Would they have thrown 110 mph? Ban them all!”
Sports fan Jc Lewis Jr. chimed in: "Here's a question, Joe McDonnell, who cares … I don't. Hell, let 'em all shoot up, it's their bodies, they gotta live with the after effects. And save the it's about the kids.’ It's the parents job to sit down with their youngster(s) and hope that their morals seep through. These athletes are not role models!"
What about the illegal drug users who have tarnished the game in recent decades? Why are they allowed to run roughshod over the rules of baseball, while PED users are treated like they should be tossed in jail for the rest of their lives? The drugs they ingest not only are mind-altering and performance-enhancing. They're also dangerous.
The late Pirates' pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter in San Diego against the Padres, and says he was high on LSD while doing it. Imagine if a fastball got away because the wasted Ellis heard a hot dog talking to him from the stands, hit a batter in the temple and killed him.
I think any rational human being will tell you that's a little more destructive than Jose Canseco turning himself into The Incredible Hulk.
Remember Paul Molitor? Early in his career, Molitor had a cocaine habit so bad that his girlfriend had a home broken into by authorities because she couldn't find him and was afraid he night be dead, according to a book written by his agent. Apparently all was forgiven by baseball, because Molitor is a member of the Hall of Fame -- and deservedly so. But if you're going to use drugs, apparently it's OK to use the ones that will fry your heart, brain and also help your performance for a number of years. Some players have told me that they couldn't make it through a full season without some help from their daily dose of "greenies."
Just don't use those horrific PEDs -- which haven't been proven to fry your brain, heart or even to make your performance better.
The bottom line -- as I see it -- is that baseball has always been a game shrouded in a cheater's culture. Whether it is taking PEDs, abusing amphetamines, doctoring of the baseball, corking bats or elaborate stealing of signs, that's what the game is, was and very likely always will be.
And Ryan Braun's way to cheat is no better or worse than Gaylord Perry's method.
Cheating is cheating is cheating.