Nearly 18 months ago, I wrote a column for this very newspaper stating my displeasure with defamed Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who then tested positive for using performance enhancing drugs. He was acquitted of the charges made by Major League Baseball, and he shouted his innocence from the roof tops. Even friend and fellow Most Valuable Player Award winner, and Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers came to his aid, bashing twitter followers that didn’t support his syringe-loving business partner.
I wrote how disappointed I was in the game for letting this happen, how slimy Braun sounded at the time and how disgusted I’ve become with lying athletes. Since then, Braun has accepted a 64-game suspension for his connection to the Miami-based PED lab Biogenesis of America along with chronic liar Alex Rodriguez.
So, Braun will suit up again for the Brewers in 2014, and Rodriguez in ’15, like nothing happened at all. By the end of his current contract, Braun will still earn $133 million while A-Fraud will gross another $61 million by the time he becomes a free agent again.
In the end, I feel robbed. It’s naive to think steroids aren’t being used in baseball, but when an MVP is stolen from — who we think is — a clean player, everyone loses. Players are disgusted, baseball is disgusted, fans are disgusted. People make mistakes, and I get that, but fool me once… You get the point. Along with Braun and Rodriguez, 12 other players accepted proverbial plea bargains with MLB for 50-game suspensions. Others, like Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon had already served 50-game suspensions in connection with drug policy violations, and baseball could not distinguish between the previously failed steroid tests and the link to the Biogenesis clinic.
Even with the sour taste that will most likely linger in my mouth for the next few weeks, this is a great time for baseball. Finally, it seems like the balance between reward and risk with steroid use is starting to teeter towards the latter. Once guys like Cabrera, Braun, Rodriguez and Colon can’t afford to risk using drugs to profit from baseball, the game will be clean.
How long do we wait to forgive these players? Once Braun returns, and hits his first walk-off home run in the 2014 season for the Brewers, will the Milwaukee faithful lineup at the team store to buy more No. 8 jerseys? I’m done forgiving and forgetting steroid users. As an Angels fan, if one of “my team’s” players tests positive, I’m ready to say goodbye. It’s not difficult to see that the only way to rid baseball of this muck is to hand out life time bans. The same life time band Rodriguez should have received.