The Norman Transcript

Columns

July 25, 2013

After Braun’s suspension, fans left to wonder why

NORMAN — So Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun is done for the season, suspended for violating baseball’s anti-drug policies. No surprise there. He dodged a suspension last year when a urine sample showed elevated levels of testosterone. It was his good fortune when it was proven his specimen had been mishandled, and his appeal succeeded.

Braun’s defense was that “I am not perfect” — a lame claim anyone could make. Now he will have the remainder of the season — 65 games — to think about his imperfection. But this isn’t Little League, and a “my bad” response doesn’t get it.

Someday Braun may choose to offer more insight into his actions and explain how so many at the top of their profession — in his case, baseball — can’t play by the rules.

It is expected that more major leaguers will soon find themselves in the spotlight of shame as the summer drags on. Braun is believed to be just one MLB player associated with Biogenesis, a now-closed Miami clinic. It’s likely a couple dozen more players, including Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez, could be named before the end of the season.

The “why” question remains unanswered, even though it would be hard to image that it’s not linked to fame and fortune. Braun had both, but the suspension will cost him almost $3.8 million of a $9.6 million salary.

The loss of pay is substantial. But Braun’s loss of credibility, while considerable, is not as easy to calculate.

A few summers ago I talked with a guy about his son who played several seasons in the major leagues. I was intrigued by what he had to say. Fans can observe the highs — a game-winning home run — and the lows — getting traded to a slumping team — and empathize. What most of us cannot comprehend is the challenge of going to the ballpark day after day and performing against the best players in the world.

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