The Milwaukee Brewers will be without the services of slugger Ryan Braun for the remainder of the season. Major League Baseball suspended Braun Monday for 65 games for his connections to Biogenesis, a Florida clinic that allegedly distributed performance enhancing drugs. Braun issued a written apology after the suspension was announced, but Sports Illustrated writer Michael Rosenberg has some issues with the way he said he was sorry … or more specifically didn’t say he was sorry. Rosenberg wrote a column titled “Ryan Braun’s weak apology looks better than Alex Rodriguez’s silence” and he joined Bill Littlefield on Only A Game.
BL: Tell us what stood out to you about Braun’s statement.
MR: Well, you know, he seemed to apologize for the toll this has taken on himself, which is a really interesting way to apologize. It was really kind of a half-apology. He didn’t say what he did wrong. He didn’t really say why he was sorry. Then he released a statement saying he can’t speak yet, which makes you wonder if he’s cooperating with officials, if he’s turning on other players. There’s so much we don’t know here, but we do know is that Ryan Braun is not the guy he claimed to be.
BL: In 2012, Braun avoided a suspension on a technicality involving the chain of custody of the [urine] sample he provided for testing. You wrote that since then Braun has been –quote – “acting like some heroic combination of Jimmy Stewart, Stan Musial, and that doctor from ‘The Fugitive.’” Will Braun come out looking worse than other steroid users who fessed up and moved on?
MR: I think he will. If he had just said at the time [in 2012], “Hey look, this is done. The case has run its course. They did not find me guilty. That’s it,” that would have been it. But he had to spike the football. I mean, he had to go around and say that he wasn’t sure about the [sample] collector and he couldn’t believe this, and if he had ever done anything intentionally or unintentionally, he’d be the first one to say it. These are highly competitive people, and he just wanted to win and win and win. And it reminds you of Lance Armstrong, as far as [Armstrong] was concerned, he didn’t tell a thousand lies he told one lie a thousand times because it was kind of a game for him. I think that’s how it was for Braun.
BL: Braun certainly won’t be winning any awards from the public relations industry, but in your column you argue that Braun’s in better shape than another player with ties to the Biogenesis clinic: Alex Rodriguez. In your opinion, how has A-Rod mishandled his current situation?
MR: In every possible way. According to reports, A-Rod has purchased documents that would prove his guilt. He obviously has fought Major League officials. He has hired and fired publicists. He’s battling with the Yankees. He really has nobody in his corner anymore. And from all indications, he’s going to get a longer suspension than Ryan Braun. He’s just left alone right now.
BL: Meanwhile, the New York Yankees and Rodriguez have been in a dispute about when the third baseman should return from a leg injury. A-Rod wants to come back sooner, the team wants him to come back later. And the possibility of a suspension still remains. How do you see things playing out for him?
MR: I have never in my life seen a guy who’s owed $100 million and the team is saying, “You’re hurt. You’re hurt. You can’t play.” And he’s like, “No, I can play.” And they’re saying, “No, no you can’t play.” It’s like a dark comedy and he doesn’t even realize he’s starring in it.
The Yankees, I think, deep down, they would love him to stay in the minor leagues for right now. He’s not even hitting well there. And they would love for that [possible] suspension to go into next season because there are payroll reasons and luxury-tax reasons that that would really help them. He’s not a good enough player anymore to put up with this, but they’re stuck.
BL: Last week, MLB and the players association said suspensions stemming from the Biogenesis scandal were likely to be on hold until next season. Why the sudden 180?
MR: Well, it’s important to note that there was a 180 on one guy, so far, and that’s Ryan Braun. And from all indications, that’s because Ryan Braun looked at the evidence in front of him and for whatever reason decided, ‘I can’t win this. I’m going to cut a deal. My team’s out of the playoffs race. I’m going to get this done this year and come back fresh next year.’ If these other guys wanted to cut a deal – I suspect if Alex Rodriguez wanted to cut a deal, it would probably be a longer suspension. He could do that – that may be the process right now. It’s an individual, case-by-case basis. Not everybody’s going to cut a deal like Ryan Braun did.