In hindsight, Ryan Braun’s statement in the video above was the biggest media relations faux pas in the sports world since Lebron haphazardly spurned his home town in front of a group of underprivileged youth.
For those of you who don’t follow baseball, Ryan Braun has been on a hall of fame pace since his debut in 2007. Not yet 30, he has compiled 211 home runs, a .312 batting average, a MVP award and 32.3 wins above a replacement-level player. Right after securing the 2011 National League MVP award, however, Braun’s accomplishments were cast into doubt by a failed drug test in October of 2011. To wit: Braun tested positive for elevated Testosterone levels. Facing a 50 game suspension, Braun mounted an appeal of the test based on the delay in submission of his urine sample. Basically, the person assigned to collect the sample submitted it two days beyond protocol. Despite no evidence of tampering with the sample and without a scientific theory that testosterone levels would increase with the delay, Braun won his appeal by a 2-1 vote among the arbitrators.
Rather than accepting his legal victory for the mere technicality that it was, Braun doubled down on his arrogant, self-righteous video above. At 3:13 in the video, he said:
“I have always stood up for what is right. Today is about everyone who has been wrongly accused and everyone who has had to stand up for what is actually right. Today is not just about me…We won because the truth is on my side…I am a victim of a process that has completely broke down and failed in the way it was applied to me.”
Cut to February 2013. Yahoo reported that documentary evidence existed that Braun purchased and received performance enhancing drugs (PED) from Biogenesis, now a notorious PED distributor with a network of major league baseball players. Two days ago, faced with overwhelming evidence, Braun reached a settlement with MLB resulting in his suspension for the remaining 65 games of the season.
I don’t mean to start a debate about the morality or efficacy of PEDs (see links below). The only relevant concern is that fans, by and large, hate the use of PEDs and MLB is acting in accord with that sentiment. By violating the drug policy, Braun committed a dishonest act. Many players, like David Ortiz, Rick Ankiel and Manny Ramirez, have been able to move past their PED use and continue as productive professionals and fan favorites. Braun is different, however. Despite his guilty conscience, he shamelessly made a celebratory spectacle of his Pyrrhic victory over MLB on a meaningless technicality. In doing so, he revealed himself as an arrogant liar completely devoid of integrity. For that, in the court of public opinion, he should be banished to the ranks of the universally loathed baseball players, including Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
(For a skeptical discussion of the effects of PEDs on baseball performance see: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/home-run-rates-in-1998-and-2012/ ; http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/03/de_vany_on_ster.html)