News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

Columns

July 26, 2013

Braun has no excuses

TERRE HAUTE — So Milwaukee slugger Ryan Braun is done for the season, suspended for violating baseball’s anti-drug policies. No surprise there. He dodged a suspension last year when a urine sample showed elevated levels of testosterone. It was his good fortune when it was proven his specimen had been mishandled, and his appeal succeeded.

Braun’s defense was that “I am not perfect” — a lame claim anyone could make. Now he will have the remainder of the season — 65 games — to think about his imperfection. But this isn’t Little League, and a “my bad” response doesn’t get it.

Someday Braun may choose to offer more insight into his actions and explain how so many at the top of their profession — in his case, baseball — can’t play by the rules.

It is expected that more major leaguers will soon find themselves in the spotlight of shame as the summer drags on. Braun is believed to be just one MLB player associated with Biogenesis, a now-closed Miami clinic. It’s likely a couple dozen more players, including Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez, could be named before the end of the season.

The “why” question remains unanswered, even though it would be hard to image that it’s not linked to fame and fortune. Braun had both, but the suspension will cost him almost $3.8 million of a $9.6-million salary.

The loss of pay is substantial. But Braun’s loss of credibility, while considerable, is not as easy to calculate.

A few summers ago I talked with a guy about his son who played several seasons in the major leagues. I was intrigued by what he had to say. Fans can observe the highs — a game-winning home run — and the lows — getting traded to a slumping team — and empathize. What most of us cannot comprehend is the challenge of going to the ballpark day after day and performing against the best players in the world.

Spectators  have no idea how difficult that is, partly because they can’t imagine how truly good professional players are and the mental toughness it takes to succeed under never-ceasing scrutiny.

For many, this father told me, the life of a big leaguer is a blessing and a curse. Pro athletes are treated like royalty. They fly on chartered planes. Everything is available for their asking, including gourmet meals and the finest hotel accommodations. But what is given can also be taken away — quicker than fielding a ground ball at shortstop and firing it across the diamond.

Seeing your name penciled in on the lineup card is a statement about your ability. Hitting the field six or more days a week takes its toll. The pressure and responsibility mount as the wear of a six-month schedule of games builds. Hitting a 98-mph fastball in April is one thing, doing it on a sweltering night in August is another.

Don’t perform and 10 people are ready to take your place. Suffer an injury and someone replaces you. Slump and you’re benched. This isn’t an occupation built on job security nor loyalty. Knowing your dreams — your livelihood — can be taken away is frightening.

That doesn’t seem to match Braun’s situation, of course. He was the National League’s MVP in 2011. He was an established star, not a utility man or an infielder with a .230 batting average. He was hitting .298 this year and still carries a .312 lifetime average.

Maybe Braun and others like him are looking for an edge, anything to keep them atop the occupation they’ve spent a life chasing, even if that means using a magic potion available from a Miami clinic.

It would be so much easier to fashion a remedy or understand the problem if it was identified. Until then, players and fans can only speculate about where a career tragically took a wrong turn and fame was replaced by failure.

Tom Lindley is a national columnist for CNHI News Service. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Bull Run Comes to Middle America Space Station Shipment Launched From Virginia Raw: Divers, Snorkelers at Undersea 'Concert' Wisconsin Cop Ready to Roll...On Skateboard Israel Deploys Ground Troops to Gaza Strip Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Giant Whale Vacuumed in New York City Hamburger Champion Downs 26 Burgers Lightning Kills Two in National Park in Colorado Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Raw: Truck Crash Spills Turkeys on Va. Highway Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale Raw: Stunning Timelapse of WC Final Host City LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters Diaz and Segel Strip Off for 'Sex Tape' WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison
NDN Video
Germany Wins The 2014 FIFA World Cup!!! RAW VIDEO: Stampede injures ten at Georgia World Congress Center Cellphone Video Shows Assault Tracy Morgan released from rehab month after crash LeBron: Move Back to Cleveland 'Exciting' Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity