The Ryan Braun story is top news and rightfully so.
There are many who are happy that Braun won his appeal and
many who aren’t. To me the main story has little to do
with the decision by the arbitrator, it has everything to
do with how did we get back to this point. I had hoped we
were done with the steroid era and the suspicions of
cheating in baseball. Gone are Rafael Palmiero, Mark
McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and most
of the others we associate with cheating the game.
You see, what makes baseball so special to me is its
history and tradition. I know football is king now, but
how many of you can name even 10 football players pre-
1970? Not many of you. But in baseball we know all about
Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Stan
Musial, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio etc…. So to
me the worst part of the steroid era was having precious
records broken by those who cheated the game. Having the
single-season home-run record of Roger Maris, one of the
great records in all of sports, demolished by cheaters
hurt me and many baseball diehards.
So it was great to see Major League Baseball come up with
a comprehensive drug testing policy that was going to keep
the cheaters from cheating. Keep the records from being
shattered by those not playing fair. We can’t do anything
about the numbers that Sosa, McGwire, Palmiero and Clemens
put up now. Their doom is in the public perception of them
now – their legacies are tarnished, they are branded as
cheaters. Most of those cheaters will never get into the
Hall of Fame without a ticket. And for that I am grateful.
What is Braun’s end result? Why did he test positive? Why
was his testosterone level 5x higher than normal? If there
is an answer to that will he take it to the grave with him
or someday tell us his secret? I thought Pete Rose would
go to his grave with his secret,
but eventually he spilled his guts and let the world know
he was betting on baseball.
No matter what the end result
is for Braun, the perception of him as a cheater will
follow him throughout his career and beyond. And the
belief that we had passed the era of players cheating is
now gone. In some ways we are back to square one, not
trusting the players and not trusting the testing policy.
And that is sad for baseball.