Greg Cote: Ryan Braun becomes newest face of baseball’s steroids era

Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin talks to reporters about Ryan Braun's MLB suspension before a game against the San Diego Padres Monday, July 22, 2013, in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin talks to reporters about Ryan Braun's MLB suspension before a game against the San Diego Padres Monday, July 22, 2013, in Milwaukee.
Morry Gash / AP
WEB VOTE What do you think about Ryan Braun being suspended for the rest of the season without pay for violating the drug policy?

Ryan Braun entered his personal jail on Monday evening but no bars clanged shut, at least none that you could see or hear. He might move about freely. His sentence is the remainder of this baseball season — that’s 65 games — but of course his sentence is longer. It is endless. He will return next year to the sport he says he loves, the sport he cheated, but everything will have changed.

Braun’s permanent house arrest has begun.

These are the consequences of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

The consequences seem all good — the black magic makes you better — until the moment your scam no longer is a secret. Then the consequences are bad. You are stained with indelible ink. You never get your good name back.

Braun became the newest face of baseball’s continuing Steroids Era on Monday, a national story but a Miami story first. He’s a former University of Miami Hurricane. He was nabbed through his dealings with the now-closed Biogenesis “clinic” that operated right across from campus in Coral Gables and that has ensnared close to two dozen other big-leaguers, including Alex Rodriguez.

Braun said two things Monday that sounded terribly off key and betrayed a tone deaf self-awareness.

“I realize now that I have made some mistakes,” he said.

Great. Nice admission, after the fact. Where was the conscience that might have led him to realize those mistakes as he was making them? Such as when he tested positive for a PED in late 2011 but slipped out on a technicality related to the handling of his urine sample. Such as when he was dealing in the deep shade of that Biogenesis “clinic.”

Admitting wrong when you have no other choice earns no medal. Braun acknowledging now that he has made mistakes is awfully little, awfully late.

The second odd reaction by him was this:

“I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all.”

Can he be that naive to believe it?

Has he not seen what a PED stain has done to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa and so many others?

Legacies are rewritten in an instant. Hall of Fame careers disappear as fast.

Before Monday Braun seemed headed to Cooperstown. At the very least he was positioned to become a modern Milwaukee Brewers icon in league with Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Someone beloved.

No more.

Braun got greedy. He had great natural talent, but it wasn’t enough for him.

Baseball’s PED crowd is disproportionately Latin American because, it is said, steroids are seen as the available, fast bridge from poverty to the American dream. Desperation drives the use. So goes the explanation/excuse.

Plenty of other culprits fit the Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod category of aging, fading stars looking for an elixir to buy them a few more years. More time to be who they are before they become the has-been they have always feared seeing in the mirror. There is desperation there, too. So goes the explanation/excuse.

Braun is worse than what we are used to.

He was not desperate to escape some far-flung barrio. He was not fighting a calendar or health issues. At 29, he was in his prime. If there was desperation in his case, well, it just looks like greed to me. It feels like a less-understandable cheating.

If you are going to rob, at least do it to feed your family. Because utter desperation drove you. Braun had ample talent; he had his youth. It wasn’t enough.

Braun could have been the needed face of baseball surviving its Steroids Era and moving on — an example of doing things right.

Instead he’s just dirty, like anybody else who is.

I happen to have spent the past 10 days or so on vacation on an Alaskan cruise, where the getaway included the magnificent vista of massive (though receding) glaciers and the out-of-my-zone fun of halibut fishing.

On Monday, I returned to reality.

Remember when sports was the escape?

Somehow sports became the reality. The arrests. The failed drug tests. The seemingly endless parade of athletes letting us down.

“I’m glad to have this matter behind me once and for all,” the latest disappointment actually said Monday.

It is not behind him, of course, and won’t ever be.

Like so many before him and surely more to follow, the stink has become part of who Ryan Braun is.

Read more Greg Cote stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, left, and center Chris Bosh watch from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, April 16, 2014 in Miami. The 76ers defeated the Heat 100-87.


    Greg Cote: Miami Heat odyssey this time could be dynasty or dismantled

    A Heat playoff run is the annual gift we slowly unwrap together, our two-month emotional thrill ride ever since LeBron James grandly announced he was “taking my talents to South Beach” that summer night in 2010. Well, buckle up again, South Florida. Prepare for exhilarating highs and work-productivity lows. Prepare for late nights walking drained from the downtown bayside arena. Prepare for hearts to soar or plunge on whether a basketball swishes through a nylon net or bonks off a painted rim.

Charlotte Bobcats' Al Jefferson, left, drives past Miami Heat's Shane Battier, right, to dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014.

    In My Opinion

    Miami Heat sweep would challenge rosy outlook by Bobcats’ Al Jefferson

    I think that Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson, not a star in the NBA but a good player, must lead the league in seeing the bright side, in trying to find the best in a bad situation. This talent figures to come in particularly handy in the next week-plus as his hopeless underdogs try to avert being swept in four games by the two-time, defending-champion Heat.

LeBron James cheers as he holds both trophies after the Heat won Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: Element of doubt makes this Miami Heat quest intriguing

    This time it feels different, doesn’t it? The Heat in the Big3 Era always has found a way to keep things fresh and keep us fascinated, and now that means trying on a role unlike any the team has played in the previous three seasons. This time, for the first time since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade, Miami enters a postseason seeming a bit vulnerable — something close to the unlikeliest of underdogs.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category