Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

July 24, 2013

Dirty rotten scoundrels

So many things I don’t understand.

For instance, I don’t understand how you can always find a van, truck or SUV parked in front of signs that say, “FOR CARS ONLY - NO VANS, TRUCKS OR SUVS.” Why bother to put up the signs if we’re not going to enforce what they say?

And why is the Royal baby such a big deal here? I understand why it is over there, but why were so many people here so giddy and pacing about as though they were going to have a baby themselves? I mean the kid’s still third in line to the throne.

Maybe it’s because at our core, despite van, truck and SUV drivers who park in front of those signs, we’re not really ugly Americans after all. Maybe we’re actually more genial than the rest of the world believes we are. So why not get a little bubbly over the Royal baby, right? As Lt. Frank Drebin once said, “No matter how silly the idea of having a queen might be to us, as Americans, we must be gracious and considerate ...”

And is it just me, or does Prince William remind anybody else of Peyton Manning? And please. Enough of calling the Manning family — likeable as they are — America’s quarterback royalty. Ack! No wonder Johnny Football bugged out.

Speaking of bugging out, how about that Ryan Braun? Talk about your bold-faced liars ... Prior to being suspended for 65 games for taking performance enhancing drugs, the Milwaukee Brewers slugger denied not once, but eight times taking PEDs, with my personal favorite being the denial of Feb. 24, 2012: “If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say, ‘I did it.' By no means am I perfect, but if I’ve ever made any mistakes in my life, I’ve taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point.”

Guess his life’s worth just 65 games as, this past Monday, we came across Braun saying, “As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. 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 ... I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”

Sure, nobody’s perfect, right? Everybody makes mistakes. And this whole thing really must have taken a toll on Braun and his family, so thank goodness it’s behind him. And I imagine he’s somewhere taking practice cuts right now so he can get back to the game he loves — the game he loves so much that he spent more than a year lying to everybody connected with it.

And speaking of a toll being taken on somebody and his family, what of the original urine collector in this sticky mess, Dino Laurenzi Jr., who received death threats because Braun did nothing but lie? We have no apology for Dino? I’ll bet this all became a bit of a distraction for him too, although this is the business he has chosen. Personally, I’d look for something else to collect, but that’s just me.

What I really didn’t understand about all of this was Major League Baseball saying first thing in its statement, “We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions,” and MLB Players Association executive director Mike Weiner saying, “I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step ...”

Bold step? He was twice caught red-handed, and then negotiated his suspension down with Major League Baseball. Saving your skin is a bold step? Cheating and then lying about it at least eight times and then saying “I’m not perfect” after you’re caught in your lie is taking responsibility? Sure it is, just like the guy who wasn’t a bit sorry he robbed the bank, but who is now very sorry he got caught with the goods.

The guess here is Braun will assume poster boy status for MLB’s fight against PEDs once he is allowed to return to the game he loves, as MLB and the MLBPA both spoke of the positive contributions he would be making in the future, both on and off the field. But with his credibility rating going neck and neck with Anthony Weiner’s, who really needs to see that?

Unfortunately, having now been through several of these PED episodes, there is very little left to surprise us, although word persists that what Braun faced is small potatoes compared to what Alex Rodriguez is about to.

At least something positive is about to happen for the Yankees.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com

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Mike Burke - Sports
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