The Arrogance of Ryan Braun and the Latest PED Suspects

MLB is back at it again. It’s on that head-hunting chase for performance-enhancing drug users, and original steroids-era ringleader Bud Selig is burning down the Hall of Fame fortunes of every implicated slugger in the process.

Major League Baseball is set to suspend some 20 players in the coming weeks, due to the latest PED scandal involving a biogenesis lab in Miami. In this case, lab founder Tony Bosch is ready to one-up Jose Canseco and Brian McNamee or whoever leaked the names in the Mitchell Report, in the snitch category. They’re calling it potentially the worst drug-abuse case in the history of U.S. sports.

Smack dab in the middle of the mayhem are two former MVPs – Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and NY Yankees drama queen Alex Rodriguez – who’ve had their share of encounters with PED use.

Braun won an MVP in ’11 and failed a drug test, which showed high levels of testosterone in his body, but found a loophole and skated.

When asked about the ESPN report Tuesday, Braun said he was standing by his previous account. “The truth has not changed,” he told reporters.

Braun’s aggressive and dismissive style of denial is similar to the arrogant and bold-face-folly of Barry Bonds. Bonds — to this day — has never admitted to knowingly taking PEDs despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Like Bonds, Braun was emphatic in his innocence, even though most people had an inkling that he was lying. Braun’s saving grace with fans was that people respected his gangster in vindicating himself. He beat the system and the powerful hand of MLB, and that just doesn’t happen.

At least ARod had the sense to admit to “juicing” with the Texas Rangers. His involvement is not shocking. ARod’s name has been linked to PEDs, and the people, places and things involved in that world, numerous times. At the rate he’s going, he will be the poster child for the PED Era in baseball.

Lost in the reinvigorated, venomous furor over baseball’s PED epidemic is the fact that these cats feel they deserve the riches acquired under false pretense. The arrogance and overall delusional approach of Braun and Bonds comes from a belief that they didn’t do anything wrong. They just out-cheated the cheaters. It’s all fair game in the land of nine-figure contracts, billboards and baseball gods.

At this point, the players are just disposable parts of a billion-dollar machine. One thought is that Bud Selig is at the end of the road, so his only allegiance is to his legacy, and rectifying any blemishes on it. That’s why he is trying to suspend and expose MLB’s best players as frauds. It doesn’t make sense when you look at it from the traditional capitalistic scope.

No matter how you slice it, this recent witch hunt just doesn’t help baseball. Selig’s praised for finally doing something, but his motives stink of the pursuit of personal gain.

This was supposed to be a golden time for baseball, which claimed to cleanse itself of performance enhancers and created “stricter” substance abuse policies and penalties. The Mitchell report and grand jury hearing did little more than embarrass some of the game’s greatest players.

After the dust cleared and the bodies were counted, it was generally accepted that whomever thrived and broke records in that era would be casualties of justice and their baseball fate would be a toss up from generation to generation.

It’s an exhausting topic at this point. The scientists stay ahead of baseball’s testing to keep producing superhero players that can help baseball thrive until somebody blows the roof off the lab and sends crops of MLB players to slaughter.

There’s got to be a better way. This dog-chasing-its-tail scenario is taking its toll on fans and the players are too into drinking champagne on an airplane to stop looking for that edge.

But until baseball acknowledges how far it is behind the times, they don't have a chance at catching up – let alone getting ahead.

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