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Saturday, August 24, 2013

BREAKING MY KID'S HEART, ONE PLAYER AT A TIME


This is my 11 year old's baseball card of Ryan Braun.  It's trash now because cheaters are losers.  The reason why it took this long is because of something called "innocent until proven guilty" or, "if they admit they're guilty, you know they are."  We wait to determine "when" in my house... until there is an admission, or until the evidence comes out officially, and it's a clear cut case.  I am trying to teach my kids to take in all the information before pointing fingers.  I know, it's stupid and complicated and why not just say these guys are all cheaters and blanket the whole league, right? Well, you can't do that... so I do it my way.

Ryan Braun issued his statement... again this past week.  This time, it was a full blown apology to the fans, to his team and to everyone he "hurt".  He also apologized to my son, who thought that for the past 6 years or so Braun was pretty damn awesome. Now though, he thinks Braun is trash.  There are many like Braun and I don't mean to hammer 1 cheater, because there will be many more as time goes on. As we move forward, my son will ask me and I will explain it the best I can. In the end, I'll let him make an adult decision... forgive, or toss and forget and move on. It's really tough.  By the way, here is a portion of Braun's statement:


"Now that the initial MLB investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended. I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards.

I have disappointed the people closest to me -- the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.

It is important that people understand that I did not share details of what happened with anyone until recently. My family, my teammates, the Brewers organization, my friends, agents and advisors had no knowledge of these facts, and no one should be blamed but me. Those who put their necks out for me have been embarrassed by my behavior. I don't have the words to express how sorry I am for that.

Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn't have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.

I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator's decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn't want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this..."

There is much, much more... the full statement is HERE. What Braun has done, and the many that will follow, has been so disappointing to baseball. It's disappointing to children and opens up a bigger can of worms.  In the hype of these players only thinking about themselves, they have checked their "role model" card at the door. Or in this case, they placed it right next to their syringe of PEDs.  That's the irony... these players sit there and say, "I never wanted to be a role model."  Really... REALLY? It doesn't matter if you wanted to be... you are, so set an example. Clearly this is personal to me.  Normally, I'm a forgiving person, but when it comes to my kids and my kids getting lied to or crushed... I circle the wagons... that's me... it's probably you too.


Parenthood isn't easy. I wrote about it in THIS IS 42.  Before kids, we knew we wanted them and I pictured myself having a catch with one child in a cornfield like in the end of The Natural while my other child was painting a portrait of my wife on our yacht. This is a joke, but the point is, I thought it would be a piece of cake.  What we have is alot of kids, and alot of sibling hair pulling, punching and arguing in my small house and in between it all, there is love and teaching.  The teaching of 4 boys is fascinating. You can teach them, but I'm never sure if they're listening.  I know my kids listen to their coaches and teachers for example, more than me, because I'm the dad and... what the hell do I know anyway?  Well, I do know what cheating is... and Ryan Braun cheated and admitted it finally so we know it's true.  So, in my "parent" fashion, my son and I spoke about it and he decided that cheaters are trash.  Last night, Braun's card hit the garbage.

We'll go through more cards and there will be more cheaters. But in the end, what MLB did might have helped clean up baseball, but not forever, just for now and after these players, there will be others and there will be new ways to cheat.  It will never end.  Cleaning up baseball is good, but shaming these players and making them do public apologies, like a Public Service Announcement instead of hiding behind a paper statement works better.  Again, these cheaters are suspended and disappear from the public eye.  It's a tactic used so people forget over time.  If these players were faced to stand in front of a camera and publicly apologize, it would make the problem more read. Again, and you can read this in PEDs HAVE DESTROYED THIS GREAT GAME OF BASEBALL, humiliate these players and make them talk directly to my children:


 "Hi Boys and Girls, my name is Ryan Braun, I play for the Milwaukee Brewers, but I tested positive for drugs and cheated.  I am now suspended for 65 games.  What I did was wrong.  Don’t be like me. I am not a role model. A role model works hard to achieve their goals.”

It's more affective, it's directly to the kids and they aren't hiding behind a paper statement where the children don't see them.  In other words, Braun's statement wasn't enough. MLB's punishments are not enough.

And what about that Alex Rodriguez card that my son threw in the trash months ago you ask? Well, as you may remember, we pulled it out of the garbage. Sure, ARod admitted using, but then when the Biogenesis scandal broke, it got really fuzzy.  We took the card out and we're waiting.  That card is currently in purgatory, my son's sock drawer and we're waiting to see what MLB "has" on Alex.  If then, they have something, or Alex admits to this current mess,let's just say then, my son will make a full blown decision on that card.


Until then, it sits in his sock drawer... waiting.

Oh and by the way... don't go ranking on my kid for not throwing ARod's card out yet.  You need  to understand how hard this is on a child. Players become heroes and sometimes when heroes do the wrong thing, it ain't easy to let go. It's not as cut and dry as you and I make it out to be.  Let him go through this exercise... and let him decide on his own.  It's very brave of him.  It's very adult of him.  I'm proud of him for thinking this through... it's a life lesson about human integrity and character and he's doing the best he can working through it in that brain of his.  Good for him. 

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