Fans have worn “Ryan Fraud” jerseys to Miller Park, the media has attacked his character and his own teammates — past and present — have even spoken out about how betrayed they feel by the outfielder’s performance-enhancing drug use.
But despite all of the negative attention he’s received since accepting his suspension in July, Ryan Braun is coming out of the Biogenesis scandal relatively unscathed, and he has Alex Rodriguez to thank for that.
Braun’s path to redemption will certainly be an uphill battle, but by simply accepting his fate and serving the 65-game suspension Major League Baseball handed down to him, he is on his way. Braun has been called a cheater for years and his name will forever be linked with the other infamous steroid-using major leaguers of the last few years, so this suspension is merely a speed bump in his legacy that was never going down in history as squeaky clean.
When Braun got off on a technicality in 2011, he fervently denied the positive results the tests showed and vowed that he would be exonerated. Braun couldn’t take responsibility for his actions then, but with his back against the wall in 2013, he finally allowed the truth to catch up to him and exhibited at least an ounce of accountability.
Braun’s suspension came as no surprise — it was his admission of guilt that caught the baseball world off-guard.
While Braun can’t take back the lies he has fed to his teammates in swearing his innocence, or earn back the fans that looked up to him like he was a hero, his quiet acceptance of the suspension juxtaposed to Rodriguez’s deafening insistence to fight the inevitable makes the former liar and cheater more redeemable than the latter.
Rodriguez has shown nothing but desperation and selfishness as the Biogenesis saga has played out. A-Rod attempted — unsuccessfully — to orchestrate meetings with MLB and the Yankees to work out a deal before Monday, he has offered conspiracy theories about the two working together to keep him off the field and, more than that, he has continued to proclaim his innocence to anyone who will listen.
He has repeatedly and vehemently announced that he will fight any punishment he receives, and his fight to the death began Monday afternoon with MLB announcing a 211-game ban for the Yankees third baseman.
Prior to taking the field for Monday night’s game against the White Sox, A-Rod held an uncomfortable press conference filled with the avoidance of direct questions about his alleged PED use, and shallow, empty responses about his love for the game. Rodriguez’s inability to fess up and his inability to apologize once again for dishonoring baseball shows exactly why he is the biggest villain in baseball and Braun isn’t.
Braun has lost fans, endorsement deals and a great deal of respect from the baseball community, but even so, as bad as Braun looks, Rodriguez looks worse.