The past isn't always easy to get past. In the case of Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers star who has been wrapped up in a performance-enhancing drug controversy for the better part of two-and-a-half years, the past is downright impossible to get past.
Braun, though, is trying.
At Brewers On Deck, the club's fan event held every offseason, Braun told reporters, via the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), "I wish I could go back and do things differently, but I can't. All I can do is move forward and make the best of the opportunities presented to me."
Ryan Braun: ‘I don’t know if I could ever apologize enough’ for taking steroids http://t.co/h5wdkYhqGR— WEEI (@WEEI) January 27, 2014
It's reasonable that, by now, Braun and most everyone is ready to move on from all the questions, doubts and controversy. But just because Braun says he'd "go back and do things differently" doesn't make it all go away.
Not when there's so much past to get past.
To review, Major League Baseball suspended Braun for 65 games—the rest of the 2013 season—last July for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
At the time, Braun said the following:
I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization.
In that statement, the operative word is the third one: "now." Yes, Braun realized and acknowledged his mistakes, but only after he got caught. Again. This time, without a way out.
That owning-up announcement came—count 'em—20 months after Braun's urine sample in October 2011 tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, as Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn of ESPN reported that December, two months later.
Facing a 50-game suspension, Braun contested the results via an appeal and, shockingly, won the case the following February (2012). His defense team called into question the chain of custody for his sample, which collector Dino Laurenzi Jr. handled, and that was enough to get arbitrator Shyam Das to overrule the ban.
And Braun? He held a celebratory press conference to proclaim his (ahem) innocence:
Baseball fans, to an extent, have forgiven PED use before (see Pettitte, Andy), but in such cases, the player admitted his mistake and threw himself at the mercy of public opinion early on.
However, when the player lies, attacks the system and then proceeds to ruin the careers and lives of others, that generally doesn't go over too well. With anyone.
Braun essentially went on a crusade to clear his name when his name didn't deserve to be cleared. That's a page taken right out of the Lance Armstrong playbook.
Not to mention, baseball is enduring a similar situation with Alex Rodriguez at this very moment. The New York Yankees star is more or less going down the same road, fighting and suing anybody and everybody in his path to try to uphold what's left of his long-since-tarnished reputation for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal that has rocked the sport over the past year and resulted in a full-season suspension for Rodriguez.
As for Braun, at least he's done his share of apologizing already, including reaching out via phone to Brewers season-ticket holders last September in the wake of his suspension.
Will you, as a fan of baseball, forgive Braun?
He can further help his cause by staying clean, putting his head down and returning to the superstar he was before this whole mess—the positive test, the appeal, the lies, the blame game, the eventual suspension—ever even started. For that, some fans will get over what he did with time and distance, and there will be cheers for him again.
But no doubt, there also will be boos for Braun. And just because he says he's sorry and some cheer his exploits on the field doesn't mean all is forgotten. Or forgiven.
Because, ultimately, Braun's past isn't easy to get past.
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