Back in December of 2011, Ryan Braun, who was fresh off winning the NL MVP Award, was caught with elevated levels of testosterone and suspended for 50 games. Only 14 months later after somehow escaping the public spotlight, it found him again after his name was linked to a defunct Florida clinic that is currently being looked into by MLB in its drug investigation.
Generally, when a player of Braun's magnitude is linked to performance-enhancing drugs, it's all the national media talks about until there's nothing left to dissect.
But this hasn't been the case with Braun, and the quick and dirty reasoning behind this is because he is popular and a widely admired person off the field.
First of all, it's important to realize that Braun has not officially been reprimanded for this latest episode in his linkage to PED's. However, where there's smoke, there's usually fire, and there has been clouds of smoke towering over Braun ever since December of 2011.
Braun's 50-game suspension wasn't lifted because he was wrongly accused of taking steroids. Instead, it was the fact that Dino Laurenzi Jr., the man who collects the samples for MLB, was accused of mishandling the samples. It was only a flaw in the system that allowed Braun to slowly sink back into his original position, which is a big-name player playing in a small-town market.
How is it that a player who has been linked to PED's finish second in the NL MVP voting only one year after the fact, and all-time greats like Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and Roger Clemems don't get elected into the Hall of Fame?
Moreover, how does Alex Rodriguez, a player whose name was included in the very list that connected Braun to the Florida clinic, absorb all of the public criticism?
One reason may be that Rodriguez has been previously linked to PED's before this latest report arose. However, Rodriguez is simply not a fan favorite, and also isn't liked by the MLB community, according a survey taken by 100 big-league players in 2012. And it's because of stunts like scavenging the stadium for phone numbers during a game after getting benched that make people despise A-Rod.
And for this, even though he's listed right next to Braun, Melky Cabrera and Nelson Cruz, Rodriguez is taking all the heat.
The truth of the matter is that Braun is a likable guy. Being from a team that plays in a small market like Milwaukee, the national spotlight is rarely on him. Before these accusations, he never made the headlines for doing anything besides mashing home runs and driving in runs.
This has greatly benefited Braun, because even if this story doesn't simmer down in the coming days (which it likely will), he will probably be given a free pass and all will be forgotten—barring a positive PED test of course.
Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he will be claiming the headlines of this story as long as its got legs.
Whoever said it's important to be liked at work certainly holds true for Braun.
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