We all heard the news yesterday about Ryan Braun. Luckily MLB’s recent PED scandal doesn’t appear to involve the Baltimore Orioles, however for sure Braun is one of the bigger names in recent memory to receive a suspension. The bottom line is that Braun was suspended for the rest of the season – 65 games. However in breaking down his suspension just a bit, he was suspended for 50 games for PED use, and 15 in effect for being rude to the person that was assigned to collect his sample. For sure that sends a message in civility to the folks watching. However is that really the message that MLB was trying to send?
To answer the question, outwardly it probably was. However I think there’s a bit more than meets the eye here. Braun was suspended for 50 games after the 2011 season for PED’s, a suspension that was later reversed on a technicality. They came to find out that Braun’s specimen had been inappropriately handled, and thus it had to be disregarded. Obviously Braun knew at that time he was guilty and that he got off on a technicality…but after the fact he took somewhat of a “victory lap.” The prevailing attitude seemed to be “I told you I was clean, and I was right!”
That’s all well and good I suppose…if in fact he had truly been clean. However I suspect that he was a marked man from MLB’s standpoint as soon as he started moonlighting. He embarrassed MLB because they had no choice but to expunge his suspension once it came to light that his specimen was mishandled. But the moonlighting probably made things worse. So with that said, are we really to believe that MLB cares if players are rude to the people collecting their specimens for PED tests?
Make no mistake about the fact that the additional suspension is really a punitive measure for making the league look bad. In no way am I suggesting that people should be punished for such things in general, because that’s not what I think at all. However in this particular case there’s a bit of blind justice that’s been done by the league. Braun seemed to have no problem saying “…see, I was right and THEY WERE WRONG!” In fact, it was really the other way around. Had he just stopped while he was ahead and been happy he didn’t need to serve a suspension, I suspect he would only be suffering the 50 game suspension right now. Instead he decided to drag the league’s nose through the mud, and it’s obvious that the league hasn’t forgotten that.
Ultimately the real message here is DON’T DO PED’s. However there’s also a hidden message about being a graceful winner. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about your business. Moonlighting for the media because you beat the steroid rap is probably not the right way. Having said that, the real right way is not using PED’s to begin with, as is stated above. Braun is hardly the only one that’s doing PED’s, nor is he the only one that’s going to be implicated this time around. I would also submit that the motif of the little guy thumbing his nose at authority is probably a popular one in our society. However when in fact that little guy was wrong all along, it just comes across as arrogant and foolish.