On Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers a familiar face stepped to the plate. Banished from baseball one year ago, he was greeted with a thunderous standing ovation. His name was Ryan Braun and he returned from a 65-game suspension due to steroid use. Braun, Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Cervelli, Alex Rodriguez were all suspended for varying games due to their connection to the Biogenesis Clinic and performance enhancing drugs.
But of course you already knew that.
This is old news and for some reason people in Major League Baseball are eager to keep it that way with one exception… Alex Rodriguez. Baseball’s Steroid Era has been a black stain on the sport and for some reason, despite Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens being a huge part of that stain, A-Rod has become the face of this era. I for one, want to know why this is?
“What’s done is done” seems to be a common phrase when talking about Braun. He cheated, he paid his dues, move on. Okay well… no. Let’s not do that. Ryan Braun won the MVP in 2011, tested positive for PED’s and was suspended. The outfielder went on to appeal his suspension and won. Braun, obviously excited for his victory, show boated his innocence in a highly publicized press conference in which he strutted around like a peacock.
Braun’s eventual connection to Biogenesis caused his to serve his suspension and he did so by dodging almost every question about the incident. Braun received 65 games and 50-game suspensions were handed out to Cruz, Peralta and everyone else with the sole exception of Rodriguez, who received a 211-game suspension. Since then it has been lowered to just the entire 162- game 2014 season. But what Rodriguez has become is baseball’s newest taboo. His actions were deemed unforgivable while Braun’s are deemed “over with”. Why?
In 2009, Rodriguez was accused of PED use and openly admitted his story. He explained his misdeeds and apologized for his use of the substance. The events never left him and his cheating was never seen as forgivable. After he was handed a suspension he became a villain. His name brought cringes to some of baseball’s most distinguished sports writers and fans called for a lifetime ban.
While, I’m not defending the use of performance enhancing drugs I do see A-Rod’s bulked up charges as excessive. Rodriguez is being ostracized from the sport that he once dominated and he is still seen as an unforgivable criminal. Braun, on the other hand has been welcomed back. A standing ovation for a player who lied. Face it. He lied to the sport. He stood at a podium and defended his own honor that was clearly sullied. When the ax finally came down he promised to tell his story and, months later, he still hasn’t told it. People in baseball are welcoming back a player, who did just as much as Rodriguez, with open arms and warm hearts. “What’s done is done” is not an acceptable response when the same people saying that will certainly grumble if and when Rodriguez steps on the field.
Alex Rodriguez seems to have taken over the role of “Face of the Steroid Era”. You can’t read an article about the topic without his face at the top of the page. How is this? How do we elevate him over Bonds or McGwire who have tarnished some of baseball’s most beloved records? I am not defending Alex Rodriguez but instead I’m trying to understand where he differs from Ryan Braun? He received no ovation when he returned to baseball. In fact he was welcomed with a rain of jeers from every stadium.
Cruz was praised on his return to the Rangers and Peralta was granted a 4-year $53 million dollar contract with the St. Louis Cardinals. I agree 100% that when a player uses steroids, or human growth hormone, or testosterone, or wherever else that punishments must be laid out.
Rodriguez’s suspension was bigger than all others and he has become the shame of America’s past time while baseball is ready to put the whole thing behind Braun and others. I can’t watch baseball shows where they ignore Braun’s cheating because, frankly, “forgive and forget” is not acceptable anymore. I can’t think of a time when it was.