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Braun's suspension is a matter of convenience for Major League Baseball

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  July 23, 2013 11:23 AM

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A cockroach.

That’s how Yahoo’s Jeff Passan deftly sums up Ryan Braun. “A liar nonpareil, a serial doper, a raging narcissist.”

“A self-preservationist.”

A cockroach.

And that makes him no different than any other major leaguer. Maybe Bud Selig will notice someday.

Baseball has done itself in this time. So much for that stringent drug policy, the very same one that baseball lackeys will preach to you as the “most stringent in sports.” What a crock. It’s a matter of convenience that Braun was suspended Monday. Nothing more.

Braun’s suspension comes with his team, the Milwaukee Brewers, toiling in last place in the National League Central, 14½ games behind first-place St. Louis. Yippee. It’s not exactly pennant fever gripping Schlitz-ville, so how very convenient for Uncle Bud Selig that the decision to cast Braun aside should come so easily.

So, how many Toronto players get the axe this week? Excuse me, Melky, Michael Weiner on Line 1. Again.

Selig wouldn’t dare touch a player of note in a pennant race, would he? There’s considerable mention of Bartolo Colon (13-3, 2.52 ERA at the age of 40) the A’s ace who has been linked to the same Miami Biogenesis laboratory that resulted in Braun’s suspension, being the next to go, and indeed, maybe he is the high-profile, first-place player to go. Baseball has long proven it doesn’t give a damn about small market Oakland.

If you think anyone from Tampa, Detroit, or Boston is going to be suspended, get real.

Here’s a news flash for you: Braun, who was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating Major League Baseball’s anti-doping code, isn’t the only liar in baseball. He’s not the first, and he most certainly won’t be the last. Of course, Braun admitted to nothing, side-stepping the issue Monday in a statement that might as well have come from the desk of Tommy Flanagan.

Sooner or later, baseball’s dirty little secrets are going to land in your backyard, and we don’t mean menial Paxton Crawford accusations either.

In the four years since David Ortiz promised that he’d get to the bottom of his leaked positive test from 2003, we’ve caught Whitey Bulger, de-classified Pluto as a planet, and watched 16 different “Twilight” movies (or ... you've watched them ... not me). Yet, Ortiz’s mystery positive remains a crime that no sleuth can solve.

I said I had no comment because I wanted to get to the bottom of this. I want to talk about this situation and I will as soon as I have more answers. In the meantime I want to let you know how I am approaching this situation. One, I have already contacted the Players Association to confirm if this report is true. I have just been told that the report is true. Based on the way I have lived my life, I am surprised to learn I tested positive. Two, I will find out what I tested positive for. And, three, based on whatever I learn, I will share this information with my club and the public. You know me -- I will not hide and I will not make excuses.

That was July 30, 2009. In May, Ortiz told the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, “I don’t like to be talking about this steroid thing because people get the wrong idea.’’

So much for getting to the bottom of it.

Baseball loves to champion its steroid problem as a thing of the past, but more players are getting suspended today than were when the league had its collective heads in the mud it ignored. That’s supposed to send a hard message, like when Melky Cabrera was delivered the bad news fresh off his All-Star MVP trophy. All his teammates managed without him was to win the World Series. Cleary, Cabrera was a pivotal factor.

Now, if baseball were serious and suspended an Ortiz, a Verlander, or Brady Anderson Chris Davis, it would be getting its message of severity out there. Ryan Braun? Please.

Alex Rodriguez doesn’t count. Everybody knows he cheats. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

No, this isn’t turning the system into a witch hunt, but rather a test of reality. If we’re to believe only middling players like Cabrera and superstars lagging in last place are to blame for the league’s drug problem, then let’s all just get together and eat cotton candy at the fair, skipping our way to the Ferris wheel humming “Zip a Dee Doo Dah.” Some of us just aren’t that stupid.

Innocent until proven guilty and all, but Major League Baseball and its players have proven time and time again that they’re not to be trusted when it comes to doping. Their performance-enhancing drugs policy is 30 percent effective, 70 percent “Look at me!”

That’s what it comes down to with Braun, a big name whose absence won’t affect anything that happens come fall. His suspension is supposed to show us as baseball fans that the system works. Right.

It remains as broken as ever.

Braun may indeed be a cockroach, but those pests keep coming back until you exterminate them for good. And baseball still hasn’t found a way.


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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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