It's not the cheating that has us -- OK, me -- so mad at Ryan Braun. It's the lying. It's the attacking of that specimen collector. It's the oath upon his own life that he was telling the truth.
I can handle the cheating. I can't handle the lying.
The cheating makes sense. Look at the back of Braun's baseball card. Look at his spectacular rookie season. Not a lot of difference between that season and the rest of his career, you know? He's probably been cheating since 2007. Years ago, as a minor leaguer in 2006, he didn't know he was good enough to star in the big leagues. Until you do it, you don't know. How can you know? And with so many others in baseball cheating, Braun stacked the deck in his favor to cheat also. If he was going to fail upon reaching the big leagues, he was going to fail on equal terms with the cheaters.
But he didn't fail. He succeeded, spectacularly. So he kept cheating. And I understand it. If sportswriting had a steroid, and my salary depended on my being competitive with other sportswriters, and I felt -- I knew -- other sportswriters were taking that steroid? I'd be thinking really hard about taking it too. Look, I have a family to feed. They can't eat a sandwich of bread, mayo and my moral outrage.
So I understand the cheating. Really, I do. Don't like it, don't respect it, but I get it.
But the lying? The way he buried specimen collector Dino Laurenzi Jr., in the same way Lance Armstrong buried his (correct) accusers? That's where a guy like Ryan Braun goes way over the line into unforgivable territory.
Now, he could make this better by apologizing like a champ to Dino Laurenzi. He could take some of the tens of millions of dollars he has earned, and will continue to earn, and put it in a trust for Laurenzi's family, his kids, their college education. Braun can make this up to us by making it up to Laurenzi, is what I'm saying. But until he does -- until he reaches out to Dino Laurenzi -- I'm done with Ryan Braun. Screw him.
But it's not just the attacking of the specimen collector. It's the lying. It's the way he stood before microphones a few years ago and talked about how he would never cheat, and how he was offended at the accusation, and that he literally would stake his very life on his integrity.
Ryan Braun wasn't just lying. He was calling you a moron. And me. All of us.
You're all morons. I got busted, but I'm going to turn the finger around and point it at you, and you're going to believe me! Idiots.
Look at the athletes who have cheated over the years, and the ones we loathe the most. Rafael Palmeiro, wagging his finger at Congress. Lance Armstrong. Floyd Landis, saying his elevated testosterone levels didn't mean he was a cheater; he was just more of a man than the rest of us. Alex Rodriguez, blaming his cheating on cousin Yuri.
"I would be bet my life [that I'm clean]," Braun told us in 2012.
More Braun from 2012: "I've tried to handle the entire situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism because that's who I am."
That's who I am.
We know who you are.