Ryan Braun Admits PED Use; Is Alex Rodriguez Next?

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Today (Monday) Major League Baseball announced that Milwaukee Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun would be suspended for the rest of the 2013 regular season due to his admittance to using performance-enhancing drugs. The list that has come out from the former Biogenesis clinic in Miami has a variety of names on the list that the actual “doctor” and supplier agreed to release. Braun was one of the main names on the list, the other marquee name was Alex Rodriguez from the New York Yankees.

As far as Braun goes, this is disappointing for the fans of the Brewers. In February of last year, Braun held a press conference during spring training when he won his case overturning the results of a positive drug test. Braun told the world that he would be vindicated and that he completely told the truth.

In a city like Milwaukee, a working class, blue-collar area, Braun was believed to be truthful and the city and the team has stayed behind him through the entire controversy. Even when the evidence had been mounting against him, the team stayed with him. Braun was not only a strong player with the Brewers, but he was very vocal in the community with charities, restaurants and such.

I do believe that time will heal all wounds, but in cities where its not like New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, where you can get new players at the drop of the hat due to bigger payrolls, the Brewers, and teams and cities like them, don’t have that luxury. The team had to make a choise on first baseman Prince Fielder at the end of the 2011 season due to not being able to afford both players, and they chose to keep Braun and Fielder went to play with the Detroit Tigers, who ended up making it to the World Series in 2012.

Braun showed a sense of bravado and swagger in denying and owning the fact that he passed the drug test and that Major League Baseball was wrong. The only thing that was wrong was the fact that MLB worked too hastily before and didn’t have everything fully set up and ready for the investigation. When they were able to get the owner of the Biogenesis lab on their side, MLB had what they truly wanted – and what will be Bud Selig’s true legacy – the ability to clean the game with non-mistakable evidence.

With Alex Rodriguez, Major League Baseball will end up taking a far more aggressive approach to this. The league could never fully lock down Barry Bonds, but will try their best to do that to Rodriguez. Rodriguez admitted in 2011 that he took PEDs in 2003, which, in many people’s eyes, eliminates him from the Hall of Fame ballot for the immediate future, and possibly a lifetime ban from the Hall. Rodriguez has been the fire of the media spotlight since the Texas Rangers signed him to a 10-year, $250 million dollar contract in 2001, the richest contract in MLB history at the time.

Ryan Braun
Milwaukee Brewers OF Ryan Braun.

Alex Rodriguez
New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez.

When he was traded to the Yankees, Rodriguez struggled initially, moving to 3rd base from shortstop to accommodate legendary Yankees star Derek Jeter. The Yankees signed Rodriguez to an extension recently, guaranteeing him another $100 million, and with the Yankees looking to cut spending a bit now that legendary owner George Steinbrenner has passed away, Hal and Hank Steinbrenner – George’s Sons – along with General Manager Brian Cashman would love to be able to get out from under the contract, but due to the strength of the MLB Players Union and how contracts are set up in MLB, Rodriguez will have the leverage to get most of the contract at his discretion.

I do believe that the Yankees don’t want to deal with the media circus of Rodriguez playing for the team again, especially after the Braun situation. Even though Rodriguez has a World Series championship on his resume, because of the bad will that he has developed with fans for not coming through in the clutch in playoff runs in the past and all of the issues with PED use and his overall demeanor that many people have perceived, Rodriguez will not get nearly as much benefit of the doubt as Braun had. People wanted to believe that Braun was telling the truth, and did believe that he was truthful because there was supposed proof that he was. Rodriguez has had a cloud of doubt around him since his $250 million dollar payday.

Major League Baseball, for all of the revenue that the sport is drawing from the stadiums, the great TV deals that teams such as the Yankees and Dodgers have, the influx of new talent such as Yasiel Puig, Buster Posey, Mike Trout, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and many others, the explosion of digital media, etc.,the sport still has a long way to go, and has to let go and move on from the past. Many people still remember that great summer of 1998 when Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr. gave America the home run race that helped people come back to the game fully after the 1994 strike.

When we found out that McGwire was using PEDs, we believe that Sosa was using, and Griffey fell short of Roger Maris’ record, it hurt the fan base. When we found out that Barry Bonds unknowingly took PEDs, we hurt. Many of us have grown up with baseball being pure, going to the stadium with our parents, playing catch in the backyard, playing little league, etc. This scandal has taken away an entire generation from the game. The growth of other leagues in popularity such as the NFL and college football and the rebirth of the post-Jordan NBA with LeBron, Kobe, Carmelo and others, all of those things have had a negative impact on baseball.

In order to bring the game back to what is was in American society, it has to become clean again, in order to become pure, and fully relevant to the American public. The game took a big step today, now it has to find out if the big fish is guilty as well.

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