Tonawanda News

Columns

July 24, 2013

DUVALL: Tip of the cap to the real ballplayers

Tonawanda News — I was sitting at the end of the bar in one of my favorite local watering holes one night last week, quietly enjoying a beer and my thoughts after a long night at the office. The ubiquitous late night SportsCenter broadcast was playing on mute. The neon light in the window flickered and I peered through the golden tint of my pint of beer to the distorted Molson CanADIAn coaster below.

I glanced up and happened to catch a bulletin on ESPN’s hamster wheel of news spinning at the bottom of the screen: MLB union head says MLBPA will no longer defend players against overwhelming evidence of steroid use.

The union, the bulletin went on to say, would instead encourage players to cut a deal with MLB on punishment.

I silently rose my pint of beer and toasted the screen.

Finally, I thought, the good players — the clean players — are getting the upper hand.

It didn’t take long for the union’s advice to sink in.

Ryan Braun, the sanctimonious rat who plays left field for the Milwaukee Brewers, was suspended for the remainder of the season after taking the baseball equivalent of a plea bargain for violating the league’s new, tougher performance-enhancing drug policy.

One might point out not having to go to the ballpark for the remainder of the Brew Crew’s pathetic 2013 season might be more reward than punishment. Essentially, Braun will pay $4.5 million or so for the privilege of giving up early on a Brewers squad that is 16 games below .500 and in last place in the National League Central (19 games behind my first place St. Louis Cardinals).

Of all the steroid users over the last decade or longer in baseball few are as odious as Braun.

After the 2011 NL MVP failed a drug test during the playoffs he was suspended 50 games. He had the suspension overturned on appeal after he exploited a loophole in the testing procedure, then took to Miller Field during spring training to proclaim his vindication to all the world — when pretty much the whole world knew he got lucky.

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