By Nathan Petrashek
Ryan Braun’s long awaited statement on his suspension has finally arrived, and it’s a doozy. Literally. The most remarkable thing about the statement is that it took him 943 words to say what could have been said in 17:
- He’s sorry.
- He’ll never do it again.
- He did it only that one time.
- He’s really sorry.
At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t matter what Braun had to say. He destroyed every shred of credibility he had with his victory speech, so I won’t hold it against anyone if they believe he started doping at the University of Miami, or whenever. His story has a lot of loose threads.
And what is Braun’s story, you ask? Hampered by a calf strain in the summer of 2011, Braun said simply that he used “a cream and a lozenge” to speed his recovery. Of course, he failed his test in October, so that must have been some strain. And we don’t know how Braun hooked up with Tony Bosch and Biogenesis in the first place, though that’s probably (hopefully?) of greater interest to MLB in its quest to rid the sport of PEDs than to Braun’s ever-dwindling fan base.
Braun explains his actions following his failed test as “self righteous” and stemming from his belief that he was “wronged and attacked.” This part of the statement I take at face value. I’m sure in the months following his positive test, he did convince himself that he was in the right. That even though he brazenly flouted the Joint Drug Agreement, Dino Laurenzi’s decision to store his sample in a plastic tub in his basement for days was somehow so much worse. I’m sure Braun rationalized, diminished, even denied his own drug use until, encouraged by the false confidence he had instilled in others, Braun somehow believed he stood on the moral high ground.
And so Braun’s most grievous sin is not his drug use, it’s his arrogance. He believed he could beat a system in which he had been caught red-handed. And he did, for a time, but not before smearing Laurenzi who, even if he didn’t exercise the best judgment in handling Braun’s sample, certainly didn’t deserve the inference of tampering Braun tried to create. Notably, Braun did not say he had “privately expressed” his apologies to Laurenzi, as he did to MLB and Players’ Association officials.
Braun’s ego was the problem, and it may still be. But he can’t dodge the cameras and questions forever. And when they finally catch up to him, he’s going to wish a calf strain was his biggest worry.