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The First Shoe Drops

July 29, 2013 - Al Stephenson
Major League baseball has spoken - well, sort of. Apparently there was enough evidence against Ryan Braun of the Brewers to convince him to make a deal with baseball and accept a 65 game suspension - the rest of the season - without pay. Braun admitted to making mistakes and accepted the punishment.

So where does this sit with baseball fans. I can't speak for any other fans, but I have some thoughts and I will share them with you.

First - It does appear that baseball is serious about ridding the game of PED's and for this I applaud them. Baseball has no one to blame for the mess it is in but itself as it turned a blind eye to the steroid use of the 1990's. I can also shoulder some of the blame as I was as mesmerized by the McGuire - Sosa home run race as anybody. Baseball looked the other way as the behemoths assaulted the record books. They finally came to their senses - the last sport to do so - and decided it was not in the best interest of the sport or the players themselves to allow the use of these performance enhancers.

So now baseball is trying to clean things up. Did the Braun penalty fit the crime? Well the debate will rage on that point. Many are upset about Braun appealing his original suspension because he claimed he did nothing wrong, and when the arbitrators overturned the penalty on the grounds that the sample was tainted, we all wanted to believe that good guy Braun was innocent. So did Aaron Rogers, but that's another story.

By accepting the deal and admitting to mistakes we all know that Braun did use PED's. A lot of people are more upset that Braun not only cheated but lied about it. I'm not sure we should be though. Anyone willing to cheat is going to be willing to lie to cover up the act. It may make us a little madder at the individual, but it should not surprise us.

Second - the penalty on the surface seems sizeable. Braun will forfeit $3.7 million or so in salary. For most of us it would be on to bankruptcy court, but look a little closer. Braun has been hurt much of this season and the Brewers are not going to make the playoffs. Come next season Braun is eligible to receive an even bigger salary than he was currently making. He'll recover from the financial hit and the Brewers are no worse off than before.

Maybe the penalty was not severe enough.

Third - maybe the best thing about this whole Braun affair is the fact that the players and the players union are not running to his rescue. Maybe the worm has turned and baseball will get its act together.

The view from my seat suggests that the A-Rod case will be more damming. He may actually be given a lifetime ban. If that happens a message will clearly be sent. For now, let's hope that the owners and players are serious about getting it right. Let's also hope the next CBA will reflect that.

That would be a great message to send to the youngsters who hope to play this great game at its highest level.


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