Bud Selig’s suspension of Ryan Braun should spell big trouble for Alex Rodriguez.
Again and again and again and again … the narrative about steroids and performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball has become a never-ending saga.
In our newest installment of "Steroids Gone Wild," Ryan Braun has ’fessed up: Guilty has charged.
Braun, the 2011 MVP in the National League, isn’t just a ‘roid head; he’s a liar, too. He had fended off earlier allegations about his use of PEDs, standing on a high summit and denouncing anybody who accused him of cheating. A lot of people believed him. What choice did they have when Commissioner Bud Selig wouldn’t take the fight to the last round?
The fight is over now for Braun. He’s done for the 2013 season. He accepted a 65-game suspension, which looks like a stiff penalty for cheating and lying. Yet he’s not the last ballplayer who will face consequences from relying on the treatments a wellness clinic in South Florida provided those who were willing to bend the rules.
The way some of us see it, the rule-breakers are everywhere. Twenty names have been tied to Biogenesis and the man who ran it. Anthony Bosch, a store-bought witness in this recent tale of PED abuse, dispensed wellness in a beaker. Bosch had no shortage of customers, which included Jhonny Peralta, Bartolo Colon and Alex Rodriguez, the biggest name of all.
Braun, of course, might be one of the dumbest on the list. The man gamed the system last time steroids allegations were thrown at him. He wouldn’t be so fortunate this time.
That’s likely the situation Rodriguez finds himself in, too. An admitted PED abuser, the egomaniacal Rodriguez was unrepentant. He took his chances again. He lost.
He hasn’t said as much about his name being on Bosch’s list of clients, but Rodriguez will have as difficult a time as Braun in trying to convince baseball fans that his blood samples were clean.
Still, it isn’t so much whether Rodriguez and Braun were dirty. No one is surprised that they are — or, in Rodriguez’s case, accused of being dirty. The question is what sort of punishment will Selig slap Rodriguez with. It must be something that fits a repeat offender.
If Braun’s punishment indicates anything, Rodriguez could be out for a long time, certainly far into the 2014 season. The baseball grapevine says Selig is looking at a lifetime ban for Rodriguez, which would put him in league with Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson, though for different reasons.
A lifetime ban would make the strongest statement Selig has ever made, proving to the sports world that he isn’t soft on PEDs. Selig could have established that no-tolerance policy had he done the lifetime suspension thing to Braun.
For that’s the only message ballplayers like Braun and Rodriguez might understand: Stay off the juice or you’re outta here — forever.
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(Photos from left: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File, AP Photo/PennLive.com, Christine Baker)