Major League Baseball has announced that Milwaukee Brewers cheater... I mean outfielder... Ryan Braun has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs.
And... his punishment is suspension for the rest of the 2013 season. (Insert sound of a needle screeching on a record here.)
You've got to be kidding me. Sure, 65 games sounds like a lot on paper.
But the Brewers are in last place and their season is lost. They're behind the Chicago Cubs by 2 1/2 games in the National League Central Division and have the second-worst record in the Senior Circuit. So MLB lets him plead guilty after two years of lying about his PED use in exchange for a shortened sentence that will allow him to be ready to play at the beginning of the 2014 season?
The talk was that MLB was planning 100-game suspensions that would have at least spilled over into 2014 for Braun and some of the other big fish drug cheats in baseball. And, up to last week, the players association was instructing players not to cooperate in interviews with the league. Because of that, it has been widely speculated that players would avoid any punishment until at least the winter and that the guys who get suspended then would figure to miss 2/3 of next season.
I wonder if a player from a team other than the one the commissioner used to own and which he has spent the last 45 years rooting for would get such favorable treatment.
It's not like Braun is a first time offender with a squeaky clean record. He was caught in 2011 with a dirty drug test and then skated on a technicality. He's a guy with a reputation for not only gaming the system but also for being completely unrepentant after he was busted.
He's stared reporters in the eye again and again to proclaim his innocence, all while we knew he was guilty. And now, when it's finally time to pay the piper, he walks away laughing, to take an early vacation.
This is what the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal had to say about Braun's suspension:
"The suspension has also exposed Braun as a liar because he has stated many times that he has never used PEDs and never wavered from that stance."
But Braun claimed in a press release that he has admitted many times to not being perfect and that he now realizes that he "made some mistakes."
Mistakes? Ooops. I accidentally called the sleazy clinic, mistakenly ordered the illegal drugs, unintentially jabbed the needle into my body and then accidentally lied my butt off about it for nearly two years?
This isn't Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada or any of the several MLB players who got caught after their best days were behind them. This is a guy who has yet to start a $105-million contract extension that he's already singed, money that he "earned" by cheating the game and the fans. If any players deserved the career death penalty is was the habitual, big-money cheats that are Braun and Alex Rodriguez. Now MLB is going to have an awful time playing tough with other athletes who cheat when the worst offenders got away with baseball murder.