Saturday, February 25, 2012

Freedom With A Price

Yesterday at Maryvale Baseball Park Ryan Braun spoke his first words on the allegations of the use of PEDs or another banned substance. At first Braun seemed nervous or apprehensive about speaking on this subject, but that quickly turned to what seemed to be restrained defiance. The voice coming out of Braun, for probably the first time in his career, was filled with anger and contempt at the way the situation was handled, the breaches in his personal privacy, and the media's willingness to run with half truths and fabrications.

Braun stated that he in no way ever had the substance in his sample in his body and I believe him. Other cases involving steroid use have ended with some giant slugger, or a pitcher with a tree trunk arm, giving some half-hearted apology about using steroids. Braun, not folding to public pressure, denied up and down that he had ever taken a banned substance, and sighted his consistency in his weigh ins, power, speed, and numbers over his career which show no spikes in performance metrics or body mass that may suggest the use of steroids. In fact, given the amount of testosterone that was present in the sample, and given the amount of time between the sample before that, it would stand to reason that we would have noticed a definite spike in production. Didn't happen.

But through the turmoil of accusation Braun has always held his head high. He spoke in the press conference about how this act would be against his character. Not only that but it would in effect destroy everything he has worked so hard to accomplish. He showed that more than his public perception, more than his effectiveness in the field, and more than his financial gain he would stand to lose, Ryan Braun is most worried about how he views himself and what he has done. That speaks volumes to me, because no matter what anyone will tell you ultimately we all do things for ourselves, or to try an follow a set plan or way of life we want for ourselves. Ryan Braun is accountable to the highest ruler in the court of opinion, the personal acceptance of the things you do.

We have to remember that this story was cooked up in ESPNs rumor mill, and tossed out to the MLB audience to start a feeding frenzy for more news and information on the Braun case. They plastered the airwaves for months afterwards, only cooling down when fans started to lose interest or phase them out because of media outlets reporting supposed sourced stories when they had no new information to print. Newsflash everyone in case you didn't hear Braun does NOT have herpes, so go get him ladies! But, that was just the tip of the journalism breakdown regarding Braun's case.

Even after the press conference, and even after the decision made by the arbitrator, the court of media opinion continues to try and paint Braun as a user. They claim that Braun found a loophole in the process and that is the only reason that he was exonerated. They claim that while every player on twitter and everyone interviewed is happy for Braun they will continue to throw him in the PED pile saying he just had good lawyers, or he beat the system. Not one player had a bad word to say about Braun, and the only reluctant voice was that of Prince Fielder who claims he knew nothing about the story except that it happened. A surprising voice was that of David Freese of St. Louis who said he knows Braun and knows that he was having a really hard time dealing with this so he was happy he won his case.

The bottom line is this, because of ESPN's inability to fact check and uphold certain standards in journalism a 28 year old outfielder who just won his first MVP award, and was an integral piece to a Division pennant for his club, is viewed by the casual fan as a cheater. I hope this story is relayed to kids coming up in sports to show them how a champion acts. Braun didn't blow up, he didn't fire back, he didn't acknowledge. Ryan Braun waited until it was his turn, said his piece, and opened himself up to questions in front of the same media members that have been muckraking half-truths for 4 months and his teammates sitting in the bleachers. Braun will keep his integrity because he did the right thing, and in his own mind he will know the truth, even if no one else believes him.


1 comment:

tiefsa said...

Braun is classy through and through. I just hope he uses this whole episode as fuel for another MVP season. You heard it here first. Braun = Triple Crown