Ryan Braun isn’t getting into Cooperstown, either, but not because he merely used performance-enhancing drugs. No, before admitting his guilt and accepting Major League Baseball’s 65-game, rest-of-the-season ban, he committed a more cardinal sin: He kept lying, only more belligerently. Going after the people who caught him lying and cheating, he became the National League MVP who knew no bottom.
Braun followed the Bondsian deny-till-you-die credo, attacking the people who caught him, swearing his innocence on everything — including, comically in retrospect, his actual life. A week of ugly backlash showed Braun there is a harder-to-forgive crime than using steroids to steal money and fame from your peers: being a bad guy.
Alex Rodriguez, who admitted he once used PEDs, is flirting with expulsion from baseball because he too didn’t learn the lesson of the PED era: Fess up when the truth catches up to you and move on.
When A-Rod commissioned his own physician this week to imply that the Yankees are unfairly shelving him on the disabled list, oh, after he has been lying and cheating the game long after he said he stopped lying and cheating the game, he doesn’t merely come across as a multiple offender under baseball’s anti-drug program; he comes across as a three-time offender under humanity’s anti-fraud program.
Bonds, Clemens, Braun and Rodriguez are all cautionary tales in what should be the thesis of the Lance Armstrong School of Ethics: The public will forgive a guy for using PEDs.
What they’re less likely to forgive is lying about it afterward and then trashing and attacking the accusers.
People understand the temptation to cheat. But if and when you get caught, don’t be a jerk. It makes you look irredeemable.
Look, I still have dreams about playing basketball in high school, when I last commanded an audience on the court. If I could have that feeling again just once, I might give all the money I have to a synthetic chemist such as Anthony Bosch of Biogenesis or BALCO’s Victor Conte.
It’s why some of us can eventually forgive cheaters, especially the player who convinced himself he needed performance-enhancing drugs to stay relevant. We get the main rationale behind most drug use — the elite athlete convinces himself it’s so prevalent in his sport that he needs it to survive, to the point that puncturing a syringe full of synthetic testosterone into your veins becomes as routine and mindless as icing or stretching.