An Open Letter to Ryan Braun
Just a couple thoughts regarding your press conference last Friday.
First of all, you’re right, the confidentiality of your test results was breached. There’s no denying that. But maybe the way to deal with that would be to pursue the people who actually betrayed that confidentiality, rather than take a chest-thumping victory lap in front of the media?
You said early on in the press conference that you want to “continue to take the high road” and that you tried to handle the whole situation with “honor, integrity, class, dignity, and professionalism.” Well, maybe not the whole situation.
But I think you may have confused your metaphors, because rather than actually take the high road, you flung someone else under a bus.
Your whole defense (although it’s really not a defense–it’s more like an excuse) is that there is roughly a two-day window when the collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr.*, must have tampered with your sample in some way. And it seems since you were unfairly treated as “one hundred percent guilty until proven innocent” you’re OK with laying the same burden on him. In fact, you say as much: “If we’re held to that standard, it’s only fair that everyone else be held to that standard.”
*You can read Laurenzi’s explanation and reaction to Braun’s accusations here.
So let’s get this straight–wild, unfair, and heinous accusations were made about you, so it’s fine for you to turn around and make similar accusations about someone else? Except the accusations you’re making against Laurenzi are actually much worse than any leveled against you.
And make no mistake, you haven’t left a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to what you obviously think happened to your sample. The kind of drastic chemical anomaly you’re describing isn’t the result of poor storage or accidental contamination. You want us to believe that Laurenzi cracked the no-tamper seal on your specimen and introduced some foreign substance with direct, malicious intent. You want us to think this guy had it out for you, that he planned to ruin your character, your integrity, and your good name, and that he almost got away with it.
But why? Why would anyone go to such great lengths to get you a fifty game suspension and a slap on the wrist? What’s it to him if you’re accused of taking PED’s? Or do you think he was manipulated by someone else–a shady financial backer, or someone with a vested interest in seeing you fail? How deep does the conspiracy go? Is the whole world out to get Ryan Braun? If you really want us to believe this guy has an axe to grind with you, you need to show us the axe.
On Friday you also talked about the need for vindication because of what’s at stake. Well fine, let’s think about what’s really at stake here. If you’d been found guilty, the worst that would have happened would be a fifty game suspension, the loss of those game checks, and a smear on your reputation. You’d still be the NL MVP, and you’d still have your “contract guaranteed for nine more years.”
I highly doubt Laurenzi–who has made his career in athletic training, physical rehabilitation, and health care–has any such nine-year guarantee. In the course of your thirteen minute speech, you made this longtime medical professional out to be an incompetent, conniving liar. Calling your integrity into question means people look at the back of your baseball card differently. Calling his into question so publicly means he might soon be looking for a new job.
Finally, you said last Friday that you “won because the truth was on our side… the truth prevailed.” Let’s be real clear–you’ve offered us no truth, and there has been no vindication. The only truth here is that you won because the loophole was on your side. You won because you identified and created a patsy–because you were willing to fling all kinds of accusations against the wall and just enough of them stuck. You won because you were able to shift the blame onto someone else and completely dodge the burden of proof.
So congratulations–you got out of trouble with the MLB by creating just enough sketchy doubt about the evidence. And you probably ruined a man’s reputation and possibly his career in the process.
So much for “honor, integrity, class, dignity, and professionalism.”