Maybe it's just me, but we're so far through the looking glass in baseball's PED scandal that it's hard to take anything at face value, including the unprecedented 65-game suspension of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.
First of all, I don't want to hear anybody, except maybe members of Braun's immediate family, saying how great it is that he has finally owned up to his lying, cheating ways. The guy lied and stonewalled right up to the moment when he realized the jig was most certainly up. Then he came looking for a deal and got one that isn't entirely satisfying for a lot of people who recognize the damage Braun and his scandalmates have done to the image and integrity of Major League Baseball and pro sports in general.
The guy got treated as a first offender even though he was caught earlier and made a mockery of the sports drug enforcement policy. He got suspended for 50 games for that first offense and an extra 15 for his behavior during the original offense, or -- if you want to be cynical like me -- he got the rest of the summer off at a time when the Brewers are so far out of the NL Central race that his absence isn't going to make any difference.
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You can make the case that Bud Selig and the league disciplinarians did the Brewers a big fat favor, saving them more than $3 million in salary at a time when the team is out of contention anyway and pulling Braun out of the scandal soon enough that he can come back next year without any cloud hanging over his head.
Meanwhile, the other bad actors in the Biogenesis scandal are still unaccounted for, which is certain to raise questions about the arbitrariness of the investigation and disciplinary process. Why, for instance, if there reportedly is much more evidence against Alex Rodriguez, is MLB delaying the decision to suspend or ban him permamently from the sport?
Could it have something to do with his contract status or the injury that has kept him out of action all season? Could MLB be working with the Yankees to find an avenue that allows baseball's most spend-happy franchise to save as much of A-Rod's remaining contract guarantee as possible?
That might make sense, but all of the discipline should have been announced at the same time, regardless of whether some players make deals and some don't, because the integrity of the schedule and the pennant races demand that.
If MLB officials want to restrict the impact of the scandal to the remainder of the season, that's fine, but they need to get to it. If not, they run the risk of having people start wondering if it was a coincidence that the team once owned by Bud Selig got such a convenient deal.
Don't misunderstand. Nobody's questioning the integrity of the commissioner's office, which has worked hard for years to eradicate steroids and othe PEDs from the sport. That has been Selig's crusade and he should be applauded for it. But, after all the game has been through and all the lies and deception over the past two decades, who knows what to believe anymore.