Fri August 23, 2013
Outfielder Ryan Braun Issues An Apology But Skimps On Details
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 1:40 pm
One month after he accepted a 65-game suspension that ended his season, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has issued a statement in which he apologizes for his actions. But the note, posted online by the Brewers, falls far short of the full disclosure many fans and analysts say they expect from the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player.
You can read Braun's full statement here.
Shortly after the statement came out, ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian found it lacking, saying that while Braun "used a lot of the right words" in expressing his embarrassment and regret, "we need more specifics than this."
"And I really thought that after this, he would get in front of a microphone, maybe even take some questions," Kurkjian says. "But from all indications, this might be it until spring training, or whenever."
The gesture also doesn't do enough for those harmed by Braun's actions, says CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, who is calling for Braun to turn his 2011 NL MVP title over to runner-up Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The statement from Braun, 29, comes one month after Major League Baseball suspended him for the rest of the 2013 season, in a decision Braun did not appeal. At the time, the Brewers outfielder issued a statement in which he said he had "made some mistakes." He apologized to baseball and its fans.
In large part, the statement issued last night amplifies rather than expands those sentiments, with Braun saying he apologizes for his actions and regrets how he behaved after they came to light. But he provided no specific details on what drugs he used, or how he got them.
The relevant paragraph:
"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."
The statement does not specify the injury Braun refers to. Nor does it discuss performance-enhancing drugs, or Biogenesis, the Miami-area clinic that MLB investigated for distributing banned substances, including synthetic testosterone and human growth hormone, to players.
The results of the Biogenesis inquiry were instrumental in baseball's decision to suspend Braun and other players involved. A dozen major-leaguers have accepted 50-game bans. Another player, Alex Rodriguez, is still playing for the New York Yankees while he appeals his 211-game suspension.
Braun's apology arrives in the same week that, according to ESPN's Outside the Lines, the former Biogenesis official who blew the whistle on the anti-aging clinic's activities gave a trove of documents to a federal grand jury.
The AP brings us this recap of Braun's problems that became public in 2011:
"Braun's urine tested positive for elevated testosterone from a sample collected on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, after Milwaukee's NL division series opener against Arizona. The drug collector, Dino Laurenzi Jr., stored the samples from Braun and two other players at home and dropped them off at a Federal Express office on Monday, rather than send them immediately, as specified in baseball's drug collection rules.
"The players' association argued that the specimen was handled improperly, and arbitrator Shyam Das overturned the discipline on Feb. 23 last year."
Revisiting that episode in his statement, Braun said, "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."
After the initial claims against Braun were dismissed on appeal, he went on to another All Star season, in which he finished second in the 2012 race for league MVP.
As Yahoo reported last week, anonymous sources have accused Braun of seeking to undermine Laurenzi by telling fellow major-leaguers that Laurenzi, the test facilitator, "was anti-Semitic and a Chicago Cubs fan."
And Braun also faces further legal worries in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a former longtime friend, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported this week. That suit grew from a dispute over money into a list of accusations that allege Braun used steroids as far back as his college days at the University of Miami.
Noting those reports and the lack of specific information in last night's statement, ESPN Senior Writer Jerry Crasnick calls Braun's apology "meticulously crafted."
Here's more of Crasnick's reaction:
"Inevitably, as players sit on their fat paychecks, the public debate will continue to swirl around the risk-reward ramifications of PED use. Braun has $117 million still owed him through 2020, and he'll be forfeiting a paltry $3.25 million during his suspension this season. He also gets to keep his 2011 Most Valuable Player award, even though you can probably find a healthy share of Brewers fans who would be happy to declare his victory null and void or give the award to runner-up Matt Kemp."
Here is Braun's statement in full:
"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.
"For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball's evidence against me, but I didn't need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of-and the punishment for-my actions.
"I requested a second meeting with Baseball to acknowledge my violation of the drug policy and to engage in discussions about appropriate punishment for my actions. By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected- my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB. There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.
"I love the great game of baseball and I am very sorry for any damage done to the game. I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players' Association. I'm very grateful for the support I've received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions. One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.
"I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.
"I support baseball's Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program and the importance of cleaning up the game. What I did goes against everything I have always valued- achieving through hard work and dedication, and being honest both on and off the field. I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people's trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers' organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB. I am hopeful that I can earn back the trust from those who I have disappointed and those who are willing to give me the opportunity. I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to everyone who has been adversely affected by them."