Virtually from the very moment it was announced that Ryan Braun would be suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season due to violating baseball’s rules regarding performance enhancing drugs, the Arizona Diamondbacks became part of the conversation.
After all, it was during the 2011 postseason that Braun tested positive for PEDs, and that same 2011 postseason saw the league’s MVP lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a Divisional Series win over the D-backs.
It was a very close series between two good teams, and there’s no doubt Braun hitting .500 with one home run, four RBI, four doubles and three walks had something to do with sending the D-backs home for the winter.
In fact, ESPN’s Buster Olney was one of many voices who said the outfielder owed the D-backs an apology.
“Braun’s performance, aided by performance-enhancing drugs, may have directly cost the Diamondbacks’ players money and a chance to advance to the World Series,” he wrote.
Look, it’s understandable how Diamondbacks fans are upset because in their eyes, a non-cheating Braun could very well have meant a trip to the NLCS.
And if you ignore the fact that Gerardo Parra batted .056 and Justin Upton hit .200 while Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy combined to allow 11 earned runs in 18 total innings, perhaps you could have a case.
There’s no doubt Braun killed the D-backs that year, just as he destroyed pitchers around the league. He hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBI that season, so don’t you think there are other players on other teams who also have a beef?
But that’s not really the point.
Braun cheated, of that there is no doubt. However, he’s not the first player to do so and certainly won’t be the last, and it’s damn near impossible to believe the D-backs have never benefited from PEDs at one time or another.
To think otherwise would be naïve.
So good on baseball for finally trying to take steps to rid itself of cheaters. If ever the day comes where there is not one player benefiting from PEDs, it will be a wonderful time for the sport.
But until that day comes, stories like Braun’s will pop up from time to time, and when that happens some fan base(s) will undoubtedly wonder how things would have been different for their team if they hadn’t “been wronged” by a cheater, all the while forgetting about how cheaters have probably helped them before.
Ryan Braun is a cheater and a liar. Hell, for good measure he’s probably a horrible person, too. His transgressions helped end the D-backs’ 2011 season, and for that fans have a right to be angry.
What they don’t have is a right to call themselves victims.