|Braun Already Facing Trouble||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 19, 2012
It's started already.
The chants "urine test." The catcalls of "cheater." The stigma has been attached.
Braun may have gotten off the hook for his suspension by attacking the chain of custody on his urine test.¬† But the fans haven't forgotten that the test was positive for PEDs, and that no one, including Braun's attorneys, attempted to challenge the validity of the test itself, just the handling of it.
Perhaps if Braun hadn't fought the suspension but served his time quietly.¬† Perhaps if he had challenged the validity of the test instead of launching what amounted to a smear campaign against the man who collected the sample, the fans would have been willing to forgive.¬† Instead his strut, his walking away from that positive test, and dodging his punishment reeks of a type of special treatment that the fans cannot understand.
It's like OJ Simpson and the gloves.¬† Had it been someone else, would they have convicted?¬† The people think so almost unanimously outside of the world of athletes and Milwaukee fandom.¬† Brewers fans can be forgiven, Giants fans did that for Bonds, Yankees fans did that for Clemens, and just about everyone has done it for Manny Ramirez.¬† At least they did until they could look at it in hindsight.
But for Braun the circus is just beginning.¬† The reigning MVP is going to find himself under a microscope this year.¬† He'll hear it from the stands, where the fans will chant "cheater," "urine test" and many things far more unpleasant at him.¬† There will be signs, there will be costumes, there will be hounding of him.¬† Not just at the stadium but outside it too, especially when the Brewers are on the road.
And there will be representatives from the anti-doping programs.¬† They'll want to bring him down as does MLB.¬† Braun made a mockery of what was one of the better drug-testing programs in all of sports.¬† He challenged not the tests, but the underpinnings of testing and sample handling, not just for baseball, but for all sports including the Olympics.
Braun may have dodged his suspension and may get to keep the salary he would have lost for those 50 games he was ineligible to play, but he's made himself a marked man. ¬† Maybe he'll be able to handle that pressure well enough that it won't affect his play on the field or get under the skin of his teammates, but the pressure is on.
Given time the fans will get over it and the incident may just become a footnote but it won't be forgotten soon.¬† But for the moment Braun is the guy who beat the system, who got off on a technicality and then claimed innocence. ¬† The problem is that no one believes it.
It's going to be a rough season for Ryan Braun.