Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

July 31, 2013

Running the Point: America’s pastime tainted?

By MacKenzie Bates - Sports Editor
Journal-Times

July 31, 2013 — Last Monday, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended the rest of the season in connection with taking performance-enhancing drugs.

While this is a big story for baseball fans across the country, it would not be as big of a deal if he publicly, vigorously, whole-heartedly lied to you, me and the national media about taking any type of drug that would improve his play on the field.

Back in 2012, the reigning National League MVP tested positive for taking a substance that showed he had elevated levels of testosterone that was banned by Major League Baseball. After the sample was mishandled by a collector, Braun won his appeal of the original 50 game suspension a first-time offender receives for testing positive for a PED.

“I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point,” said Braun in a press conference after winning his appeal. “The truth is always relevant and at the end of the day, the truth prevailed.”

Yes it did, Mr. Braun. It just took a little longer for the truth to be revealed.

Not only did you lie to the media on that day, you lied to the fans, which is the livelihood of Major League Baseball. The clinic that Braun allegedly received the PEDs, BioGenesis in South Florida, had been under investigation for handing out these substances that give players extra power for a long time. It was not until Monday before Major League Baseball figured out which domino was the first to fall.

Braun becomes the poster child of the “You got caught” club. Not because of the admission but the lies surrounding it.

“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect,” Braun said in a statement released by MLB. “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”

Why now “apologize” for taking these drugs? And what kind of apology is that? It seems to me that the only thing he’s “sorry” for is getting caught.

The proof is in the pudding. In 2012, he hit 41 home runs (a career high) and had 112 RBI in his NL MVP season He hit .319. But if he only tested positive in late 2011, how long had been doing this? He has averaged 107 RBI in his first six seasons with the Brewers. Why now was a positive test revealed during that season?

This puts a huge black eye on the game of baseball and there will likely be more suspensions handed out. While I commend MLB officials for “cleaning up the game,” more must be done to ensure America’s pastime can return to having positive role models instead of negative ones.

Some say the suspension was not harsh enough, that he should forfeit the contract extension he signed (five years, $105 million) or ban him from the game itself. I do not want them to go that far. Braun already has become the sacrificial lamb; why not go all the way with this? Put him in left field on opening day in 2014, on the road against a rabid fan base where they can heckle him for the decisions that he made to taint the game of baseball.

It certainly will not teach him a lesson, but it will give fans satisfaction to let him hear their voices on the matter instead of the media.

MacKenzie Bates can be reached at mbates@journal-times.com or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.