I distinctly remember the words of my co-worker Jim Kelley one time, talking about the business of journalism.
A member of the Buffalo Sabres had told him directly that he had not asked for a trade to another team. Then Kelley discovered that the player had indeed asked to go elsewhere.
Kelley was incensed. To paraphrase Jim's argument, he said that people speaking for the public record could dodge a question, say no comment, hem and haw, etc. But, as he put it, "just don't lie to me."
No, that should be put another way. "JUST DON'T LIE TO ME!"
If you look at the rage issued by the nation's sports commentators in the past couple of days, you can see that they agree with Jim. Ryan Braun lied to them, lied to the fans, lied to everyone when it came to performance enhancing drugs. The fallout is one big mess. Braun accepted a suspension for the rest of the season, admitting he had taken PEDs in the Biogenesis probe.
You might remember how Braun had tested positive on a sample from the fall of 2011. An investigation showed that the specimen hadn't been handled in a completely proper way, and thus had to be thrown out. Braun then protested the entire episode, and continued to proclaim his innocence loudly to anyone who would listen.
And now this, complete with a statement with the comment, "I realize now I have made some mistakes."
There aren't many winners here. Many other major leaguers have commented that they are glad Braun was punished for his actions, so the MLB office gets credit for concluding this case relatively quickly.
On the other hand, Braun has a completely ruined reputation. He's done for the rest of this year, and when he gets back, his life on road trips is going to be, um, difficult. I'd say the good citizens of Milwaukee might not give him a warm welcome, but I remember San Francisco's fans not caring too much about Barry Bonds' situation as long as he was hitting home runs for the Giants.
The Brewers might be an even bigger loser. They picked Braun to be the face of the franchise in the form of a nine-figure contract, and Braun will get most of it in the years to come. The team had a choice of keeping either Braun or Prince Fielder, because they couldn't afford both. If they had to do over again, what would they do now?
If you think this case interesting, consider the angles of the Alex Rodriguez case. A-Rod already has admitted previous PED use, and reports have leaked out that the case against him is stronger than the one against Braun. Rodriguez's body has become more and more injury-prone in the past few years, and his huge contract mixed with a lack of production continues to be an anchor around the franchise. Are the Yankees quietly hoping that somehow A-Rod receives a lifetime ban from baseball? There's a history-making event that we didn't see coming a while ago.
Meanwhile, the pennant races go on, and several other players are at least possible targets of the Biogenesis probe. That could affect the pennant races in bizarre ways, such as having players who are appealing decisions take part in September and October games.
The other players would do well to remember the words of Jim Kelley. Just don't lie to me.
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