The Gobstopper that got away
Another icon. Another broken promise.
And folks, it’s only going to get worse.
Ryan Braun has proven, like many other professional athletes, untrue to his word. And what’s even worse is that we all expected it to end this way.
I’m not sure what makes me more angry, the fact that we let this guy off the first time when we all knew he had tested positive but gotten off on a technicality; or that we’re letting him off now with just a 65-game suspension. Try doing any of the shenanigans that Braun just pulled in your current work place and it will shortly be your former work place.
But such is not the case for professional athletes.
In case you’re not up to speed on what Braun did, here’s the Reader’s Digest version:
He failed a drug test at the end of the 2011 season.
He appealed the test, claiming that the person executing the test had failed to follow procedure.
And when he won his appeal in 2012, he exclaimed in an statement televised by ESPN that “If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say I did it. I would bet my life this substance never entered my body.”
Two short sentences. 32 little words. None of them true.
Braun negotiated his punishment so that his long-term contract will remain in tact for the more than $100 million the Brewers still owe him. He’ll lose a whopping $3.8 million this year, mere pocket change compared to his total payout.
So what’s to be done to stop these sorts of violations from continuing to come forth? Well, short of making all PEDs legal, I have a few suggestions…
1. All Sports need to be under one testing body, both nationally and internationally.
Let’s get everyone on the same page and get the best tests we can. There will always be more money put into the cheating side than the discovery side, but there is strength in numbers.
And this means that every sports team opens every contract with a statement to the effect of, “If you get caught using PEDs in any way, shape or form, your contract is null and void.”
Yes, its just that simple.
2. Period of Amnesty
Starting immediately, players in baseball have a two-week period where they can admit they’ve been using PEDs and have no consequences regarding their ability to play, save two. They must get clean before they can play again and they must be tested every game for the next two years and randomly after that. They miss the window on confession, then they wear a target on their back.
Just like a PC that has gone bad, Major League Baseball has hit its ‘blue screen of death.’ It’s time to wipe the slate clean and reinstall the system they way it should have been all along, including appropriate updates.
3. No more excuses
One of the most offensive things that Braun said in his recent statement after his suspension was that he “… had made mistakes in the past.” No Ryan, a mistake is something you do by accident. You lied. You cheated. You stole fizzy lifting drinks and so you should get NOTHING! But since you aren’t about to confess to what you really did and give back baseball’s equivalent of the Ever-Lasting Gobstopper (aka your salary or the tainted MVP you “won”), then you should be kicked to the curb with the Veruca Salts and Mike TVs of the world.
But no. In this twisted version of the children’s classic, Willy Wonka let’s Charlie keep and sell the Gobstopper to ol’ Slugworth and still get the factory. Oompa Loompa brain matter would be everywhere as they collectively sang “WTF?”
And that leads me to my next point…
3. No more second chances
These guys know the rules. And if they don’t, and obviously some pro athletes don’t (eg Donovan McNabb) they should be tested on them until they do. I’d think the ones that could cost you your job would be chief among the ones that just might catch your attention.
But in Braun’s case, he knew.
And when Alex Rodriguez gets nailed in the not-to-distant future, he knew.
Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson … they all knew.
Hell, even Pete Rose knew he was breaking rules when he bet on baseball.
So when they break a rule, they know exactly what they are doing. If not, why weren’t Braun and A-Rod doing commercials for the Biogenesis Clinic? Why weren’t they on TV, radio and the web urging folks to “come on down” and a buy some for the kids?
Why? Because they knew. They knew it was wrong and they knew they’d get nailed if anyone ever found out.
A lifetime ban is what they deserve. A ban from playing, coaching, administering, attendance or even keeping score on a piece of notebook paper in their own freakin’ home is what they deserve!
Baseball has long since been removed as our national past time, being replaced by the NFL. It’s faster, quicker and sadly even more reliable. Roger Goodell may seem like a power hungry maniac, but that’s only because the NFL had gotten very close to going the way of baseball.
Baseball has no one in its front offices any longer that has a spine. Certainly no one as staunch as Judge Kenesaw “Mountain” Landis during the days of the Black Sox Scandal. No, new leadership is desperately needed. Leadership that actually cares about the game and not the bottom line. One that knows that America’s “grand ol’ game” could be that again if someone is willing to take a stand and weather the storm that lies ahead.
Better get your umbrellas out folks, it going to be a bumpy night.