(I know this rant is late, but being in Las Vegas over the weekend tends to make you miss a few deadlines!)
Too little, too late Braun
After nearly two years of Ryan Braun endlessly denying any connections to performance enhancing drugs, Braun officially apologized for the use of some “banned substances.” He also apologized to his teammates, fans, and anyone damaged in the process, but his apology left ended with much left to be said. It’s truly odd timing to finally begin apologizing and attempt a clean up of his image. The apology left much to be answered. In a time that required a complete apology, Braun took a different approach. The apology did not bear full and complete honesty, leaving most analysts and fans unimpressed, like myself.
In today’s social media age, it’s all about image and branding. I know athletes are all about “cleaning up their image” after grave mistakes that caught tons of public scrutiny, but some things I just can’t forgive. Braun’s use of performance enhancing drugs is not what leaves a sour taste in my mouth it’s the lying. There’s a huge difference in breaking rules or doing wrong and then admitting to it when compared to doing wrong or breaking rules and then trying to cover it up even though you were guilty in the first place.
I cannot stress the bold and underlined part of that description enough. In this week’s rant, I want to discuss a three aspects of Ryan Braun’s career and his apology:
1) The problems with Ryan Braun’s apology
2) The difference between Michael Vick and Braun
3) Why Braun’s image, unlike other athletes, has very little chance to ever recover
The Problems with Braun’s Apology
There are a few things gravely wrong with Ryan Braun’s apology. The first question about this apology is why now? Why after all the denials, lying, cover-up, and now subsequent suspension would he choose to do it now?
“I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong”
You had your first chance when the first allegation came out, but he did not. When Braun won his appeal, he delivered a speech that could only be described as sitting upon his high horse looking down upon others who doubted him. In the end, it was only to be found guilty anyways and suspended officially. If you knew the truth and managed to somehow skate past the arbitration, why brag? Why go on a tirade of tearing down the doubters if you know there’s truth but no one else does?
“After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth”
You’ve withheld the truth for a year-and-a-half and an apology is an obvious step, but why now? Why as you are entering your suspension? You’re still irrelevant; you won’t be seen on a field again until sometime next season. Not to mention that the public backlash against you is at its highest right now. The best possible time for the apology would be after the length of the suspension and prior to him playing again so begin upon a clean slate. Additionally, the wording of this apology is just odd. Saying that he came to the “realization” is almost turning him into a victim, like he had a problem and denial is the reason he never came clean… not the fact that he is a liar.
No matter what Braun is fighting a losing battle because his suspension has invalidated his entire resume prior and will affect every accolade after. I’ll elaborate on that in my third point of reference on the apology.
The second problem with Braun’s apology is the way in which it was delivered. When choosing to lambast everyone who ever doubted him in his successful appeals speech last year, Braun held a press conference. After being suspended and facing unrelenting scrutiny, Braun doesn’t deliver a public, in-person apology. The apology is at the wrong time and in the wrong fashion. Now isn’t the time to cower behind press release apologies. The only way to move forward is to own up to it in person – the most vulnerable you can be.
“By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected…”
This has to be my favorite portion of the apology. If you wanted to “minimize” the burden you would have came clean immediately. Let’s not start saying you’re such a conscious decision maker after the omissions you’ve made in the past two years. You’re damn right you made the right decision. You got caught the first time and weaseled your way out – no one is going to believe you the second time around. Braun is just another athlete who will lie until the gig is up. If the MLB hadn’t have kept pursuing, he would have never came clean.
The third problem is about the substance of the apology; it leaves a lot to be asked for. Braun didn’t come clean in all respects, the ultimate clean slate. He delivered a soft apology, altering the story mildly, making excuses, and deflecting blame once again. There’s only move when you’ve been caught red-handed this badly and a soft, blameless apology wasn’t the move. It’s too late for this, nothing short of a bone-crushing apology would have at least weathered the storm of hatred the Braun camp is receiving currently.
“I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards…”
The last quote I want to discuss real quickly before we move onto point number two. I truly wish this quote would have been delivered at a press conference or on some video so that we could see his face as he said it. To see if he truly means what he says he does. To see if he truly understands the magnitude of his mistakes. To see if he truly understands what’s he done to his teammates, fans, and what he has put the sport of baseball through during his debacle.
The Difference between Ryan Braun and Michael Vick
Before I get into the explanation, let it be known for those of whom reading do not know me personally: I am an avid dog lover. Animal cruelty is one of the most disgusting and senseless crimes in today’s age (I’m not going to touch on the other top senseless crimes about the other ones in effort to not digress).
While what Michael Vick did to dogs is unforgivable, at the end of the day – people make mistakes. Vick didn’t deny his involvement (at some level) in the dog-fighting ring. Vick didn’t engage in a smear campaign against those with claims against him. Vick served his time in jail. This doesn’t make what he did okay, but you at least know he owned up to the mistakes he made. Ever since his release, Vick has improved his image dramatically through extensive philanthropic efforts (specifically with dogs), community service and staying under the radar.
In Vick’s fortune, time heals almost everything. We will never forget what he did, but it won’t affect our vision of him in the present as much as it once did. Since it has been in the news lately, the whole Michael Vick wants to get a dog topic is ridiculous and Vick is an idiot for saying it in the news. You only have to avoid one freaking subject when speaking with the media. Why would you dive head first into it?
Can you imagine how much more you would hate a person like Vick if he took Ryan Braun’s approach? He would be one of the biggest villains ever in professional sports. He would be as despised as Lance Armstrong is nowadays. However, in light of him owning up to the crimes he was found guilty for and serving his sentence – the case is now closed and while his crimes will never be forgotten.
I really think the stories of these two athletes is an interesting parallel. Despite being two completely separate reasons for hatred, it shows the two phases of where they at during a public image crisis such as this. This is a rant, so I’m free to explore some things!
Why Braun’s Image has Little Chance for Recovery
After nearly two full years of lies, deceit, moral quandaries, and mistakes: Braun finally decides to come clean this week? What a joke. After all the turmoil, he has finally thrown in the towel. Except it’s too late, especially for a baseball player. The steroid era is a problem so complex for Major League Baseball that no one knows how to handle it. It’s one of the most polarizing topics in sports nowadays. Similar to politics or religion in conversation, people try to avoid the steroids topic. It just causes too much passion in one direction or another: you’re either okay with steroid use or you think it’s a giant black mark on the game of baseball and anyone who has used them is a villain and has contributed to ruining the game.
Braun isn’t the first individual in baseball, or any sport for that matter, to be speculated to have used steroids. Yes, Barry Bonds & Roger Clemens played the endless deny, deny, deny game. However, there were never any positive tests to tell us otherwise so there wasn’t ever a real punishment other than testimonials from different individuals as proof of their performance enhancing drug use. And now look at them – fans still despise their existence and believe the things they accomplished are no longer legitimate.
Braun is worse off than either of them because he tested positive for elevated levels of banned substances in his body. Then, he went on a full scale assault to make sure he could make all evidence against him illegitimate. In addition, he also sought to ruin the career of the individual who was charged with taking care of the sample and conducting the test. Did the lab technician follow all instructions? No. Does that mean there was foul play? No. Is Ryan Braun a jerk? Yes.
No matter what side of the fence you’re on, no one likes Ryan Braun right now. He’s detached himself from nearly 100% of baseball fans. If you’re against performance enhancing drugs, you don’t like Braun. If you don’t like dishonest athletes, you don’t like Braun. Not only is Braun guilty, he’s a liar – two things that turn all everyday fans against you. To build upon the already extreme hatred for Braun, the crusade against performance enhancing drugs is most passionate and active in baseball.
In any other major sport, performance enhancing drug use is forgivable. In the NFL, the substance policy in the NFL normally lands players only a 4-game suspension and then players are back without a question asked. In the NBA, performance enhancing drug hunts are nearly non-existent. It’s essentially a don’t ask, don’t tell or ignorance is bliss approach on steroids in basketball. It’s just not something the league is concerned with pursuing right now.
However, in the MLB, the league office and commissioner Bud Selig are on a crusade to cleanse performance enhancing drugs from the sport. They are out to find every athlete with any connection to it and hoping to make examples out of every single one of them. Fans share a similar passion in demanding these players be removed from baseball, their records erased, and their ability to ever make it into the Hall of Fame impossible. Former players and analysts are on the exact same side of the argument; they are ashamed of these players. The league fighting against itself right now: the fans, the former players, the current players, the analysts, and the league office.