The other day, I was talking to a coworker at the bar about baseball and he asked me what I thought about Ryan Braun receiving a standing ovation from Brewers fans on opening day. I explained that I was cool with it, that Braun had served his time, etc. etc.
The coworker then brought up two familiar points that people like to bring up in order to prove that Braun is awful. Those points:
- Ryan Braun threw the sample collector and several other people under the bus at his press conference
- If Ryan Braun had only come clean like Andy Pettitte, it would not be nearly so bad.
Andy Pettitte gave a grandiose apology on December 16, 2007, saying, among other things:
"In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow. I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped.
This is it -- two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list. I wasn't looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.
I have the utmost respect for baseball and have always tried to live my life in a way that would be honorable. If I have let down people that care about me, I am sorry, but I hope that you will listen to me carefully and understand that two days of perhaps bad judgment should not ruin a lifetime of hard work and dedication."
Of course, Pettitte said this only after the Mitchell Report came out and his name was on it, and when he knew he would not be punished because what he was doing at the time was not yet against baseball's rules. That's a completely different scenario than Braun faced.
If you want to believe that Andy Pettitte would have been just as forthcoming had he tested positive and faced a 50-game suspension, by all means believe it. I don't, though. Pettitte would have appealed his suspension just like Braun did.
The only difference would be that we wouldn't have heard about Pettitte's appeal. We were never supposed to hear about Braun's. Baseball has a confidentiality agreement in place wherein results of failed drug tests are not announced until any appeal process is over. We should never have heard about Ryan Braun being connected to steroids until Biogenesis. No Dino Laurenzi. No press conference. Nothing.
Of course, that's not to retcon what did happen. It's to say that Andy Pettitte would likely have fought a suspension as well. And after an appeals process nobody knew about, he would likely say similar things as he did. Andy Pettitte comes off a lot better than Braun due in part to the situation they were in, not just what they said.
Speaking of what Ryan Braun did say, he never threw any innocent person under any metaphorical busses. Braun's sample collector did his job crucially wrong, or Braun would have been suspended two years ago. He did his job so crucially wrong that someone who should have been suspended was not. Braun, in his press conference, gave the facts of what Laurenzi did wrong that night. He didn't name names, he didn't sound spiteful, he didn't say anything but factual evidence that led Braun to evade punishment. If Braun had editorialized at all, then sure, that sucks. But unless you think Braun somehow framed Laurenzi, nobody was trampled by any rampant herds of busses.
But wait! What about Braun calling Laurenzi an anti-semite and so on and so forth. Oh, but, yeah, that didn't happen according to Troy Tulowitski. So I guess if you want Braun to stop lying, maybe stop doing it yourselves? Or don't stop reading after the sensational headlines get the press, then the facts come out the next day.
Is Braun the greatest, most wonderful person on Earth? Nah, of course not. He did lie, a few times. Unlike Pettitte, he did still try to evade punishment when his name was in the Biogenesis report. He came clean shortly thereafter, though, and that's better than, say, A-Rod can say. Of course, Braun also had the same excuse for using performance enhancing drugs as Pettitte -- that it was to get over nagging injuries. Only one of those guys are believed, though.
Brewers fans shouldn't be looked down on for cheering Ryan Braun. Did he lie? Yup, sure looks like it. Is he one of the best players in the game on a marvelous contract for the team? Absolutely. Has he done all the right things since his suspension? Pretty much.
Cardinals fans don't seem too down on Mark McGwire or Jhonny Peralta. Giants fans are cool with Barry Bonds. Padres fans enjoy Everth Cabrera. You don't get to pick and choose which players that used steroids are OK and which ones aren't. If lying is your big issue with Braun over the others, then, hoo-boy, I'm sure I could create a nice long list of people in baseball who have lied.
So let's get over it, let Ryan Braun play baseball, let Milwaukee fans cheer for him, and let's just enjoy baseball being played. The point of a punishment is to be the punishment. It's over. Braun got his -- 15 more games than he should have, even. The sanctimonious garbage is getting tiring.
Of course this post, all in all, was probably a waste of time. Such is the steroids issue. The people who, like me, are still fans of Ryan Braun are maybe nodding along and agreeing and wondering why people don't get this. The people who still loathe Braun are coming up with counter-arguments to each and every point and will give plenty more reasons why we should despise him.