Today is Wednesday April 3rd, which means baseball has just begun. For some this marks the beginning of a glorious summer and fall and for others it begins the long season of having to watch seemingly identical double plays and diving catches on SportCenter’s top plays. No matter which way you see it; baseball is in full force and is not going anywhere, at least until October.
Being a fan of the game, I spent opening day circling through the beginning slate of games, which were full of hopeful fans, teams and players. One player in particular caught my eye, and I’m sure many others as well. Ryan Braun. As you can likely recall, Braun was suspended for 65 games last season after being included in the Biogenesis incident. This was not long after Braun had failed a drug test but it was dropped due to a technicality, as apparently the drug test was “mishandled on its delivery”. Which lead Braun to respond with a press conference, that knowing how things turned out makes him look like a fool.
So now that we are through all that, lets fast-forward to what took place Monday afternoon in Milwaukee. Ryan Braun was introduced by the PA announcer and was greeted with a loud standing ovation. Not only that but his at-bat was looked in live on ESPN. I understand a player being newsworthy, but a man who cheated, and lied directly to these fans and the sport was then gifted a standing ovation. Anyone else confused?
Do not think I’m picking on Milwaukee (they already have enough bad things going on), Braun could have picked up a bat for any team in the Majors and would have gotten the same ovation. We all agree that the integrity of baseball is on the decline, yet we almost welcome the behavior. Remember when Manny Ramirez returned from his suspension in 2009. It was a road game, yet it seemed Dodger fans bought the stadium out so they could hold up a sign to say they are supporting him and glad he is back on the right track.
And oh yeah, what was it, 2 years later when Manny was suspended again?
So how is this fixed? How do we stop this from slowly ruining the sport so many of us love? This offseason the MLB changed the first offense of testing positive of PED use from 50 games to 80 and a second offense from 100 games to 162 games. That sounds fine and dandy but does not solve much in my eyes. Players are suspended when somebody is not paid and rats them out. Since 2007 five US born MLB players have tested positive for PEDs. Yes Five. And when they do get caught they are able to get it dropped (Braun).
Which means the unfortunate scenario is that currently there is no great fix to this seemingly increasing problem. The PED testing could improve, but as long as there are people willing to keep their mouth shut, there will always be a way around that. You could make the use penalty so steep as in multiple years to discourage it just incase they slip up and get caught. But until then, players can gain so much from using, in contracts, stats, championship and evening being cheered when returning form a suspension. So raising a suspension 30 games means nothing.
It’s a shame and it’s why many want baseball to stay in our pastime.