By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) This time, there’s no courier for Ryan Braun to blame. Instead, he’s got to take his punishment because Major League Baseball had him dead to rights.
And he knew it.
His name was associated with a Miami anti-aging clinic that MLB investigated because it felt the clinic was involved in distributing performance-enhancing drugs.
Of course, this is the same Braun who had denied to the hilt that he had ever taken steroids in his MVP season of 2011, even though he tested positive in October of that season. When he was about to be suspended, Braun launched a successful appeal claiming the chain of custody in his case was tainted.
His initial test had demonstrated that he had not only used PEDs, but an extremely high level of synthetic testosterone was found in the sample.
Now, with MLB about to announce its findings that would impact Braun, Alex Rodriguez and many others, Braun told MLB that he would be willing to accept a penalty and it didn’t have to be the minimum.
MLB went along with Braun’s program and he is now suspended for the rest of the season. Braun will not get to put on his Milwaukee uniform for the next 65 games.
The most interesting thing is that Braun’s MLB brothers are not happy. They don’t think Braun got enough and the condemnation has been nearly universal. Skip Schumaker of the Dodgers had the most visceral reaction, saying he felt sick watching Braun make his half-hearted admission and apology.
”I have an autographed Braun jersey in my baseball room that I’ll be taking down,” Schumaker told the AP. “I don’t want my son identifying what I’ve worked so hard to get to and work so hard to have – I don’t want him comparing Braun to me.”
CC Sabathia said he was “shocked” to learn that his former teammate would use performance enhancers.
Braun had done everything he could to deny using banned substances until yesterday. Coming clean days or weeks before the hammer was about to come down does not make him an honest man or some kind of hero.
It makes him an opportunist. He didn’t want a penalty that would linger into the 2014 season. He wanted to serve his punishment now, and baseball went along with his wishes.
That’s a mistake. When you fail to take responsibility for your actions and you point the finger at the individual who handled your sample as being responsible for a positive drug test, you have done more than cheat at baseball.
You are scapegoating a smaller, weaker individual and that is horrendous. Not from a baseball point of view, but from the perspective of morality and decency.
Braun knew what he was doing from start to finish. He knew he was taking PEDs and when the test came back positive, he was almost certainly in shock because he thought he had the testing procedures beaten.
But instead of accepting reality at that point, he went after the courier who found the FedEx office closed when he went to send it off to the testing laboratory.
Braun saw a loophole and he went through it.
Now he wants to be looked at as a stand-up guy.
Nobody’s buying, Ryan. You knew you were guilty and you rose up in righteous indignation anyway. You blamed others. You failed as a baseball player and you failed as a man.
Your so-called penalty is mere slap on the wrist. Baseball should have suspended him from now through the end of the 2014 season.
Spring training in 2015 would have been the right time and not a moment before.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.