CLEVELAND - A little more than a year ago, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun called himself a victim of a failed process after an arbitrator overturned a suspension based on a positive test for banned substances.
Now, Braun is again a “victim,” this time of his own delusion.
In the wake of a 65-game suspension Monday for violating baseball's drug policy, the 2011 National League MVP’s February 2012 news conference has to go down as 25 of the phoniest minutes in history.
“I have always stood up for what is right.”
“I will continue to take the high road because that’s who I am and that’s the way that I’ve lived my life.”
The “lie road" might be more accurate.
“I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body.”
Don’t take Ryan with you to the casino.
"If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say, ‘I did it.’”
Major League Baseball beat him to it.
What is more astonishing about Braun’s situation is not just that he cheated - many other players before him have done the same - but how assertive he was in complete falsehoods.
He looked and sounded like he really did believe he did no wrong, as if he had convinced himself of his own fabrication.
Others bought in too. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was so effectively hoodwinked he tweeted he was willing to put up his 2013 salary on Braun's word that he didn't use PEDs.
Braun stood his ground that day as a man of integrity who was wronged by a bunch of bad guys trying to compromise his character.
But really, with those words said in 2012, Braun paved the way to his own demise.
Americans may never forget but they will forgive if you’re upfront and honest. It may seem as if there is a double standard when it comes to PEDs, guys like Andy Pettitte forgotten, while the public rides roughshod over others.
However, those that become vilified are those who not only cheat but lie.
Rafael Palmeiro boldly asserted in March 2005, in front of Congress no less, that he never used steroids. Five months later, he was handed a 10-day suspension for a positive test.
"The man just reached 3,000 hits," fan Ed Johnson, of Baltimore, told a Baltimore Sun reporter following the bombshell. "It's shameful. Him of all people. It's very shocking. Now I'm teed off."
Alex Rodriguez, perhaps baseball’s most polarizing player, is also like Palmeiro and Braun a victim by no one else’s doing but his own.
When asked in a 2007 “60 Minutes” interview if he had ever used steroids, HGH or any other performance-enhancing substance, Rodriguez bluntly told Katie Couric no. When she further asked him if he was ever even tempted, he again said no.
By 2009, Rodriguez was admitting he did in fact use steroids, following allegations of a positive test while with the Texas Rangers in 2003.
Rodriguez betrayed any reasonable faith you could have had in his word.
Following his suspension Monday, Braun said, "I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions."
Just now? What took so long?
Braun is right - no one is perfect. Had he come clean about his mistakes from the get-go his reputation as a baseball player may just have been tarnished.
But those consequences Braun will now have to accept are far greater - ones of dignity, character and trust that will be difficult to ever regain.
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