There is risk in channeling Hawk Harrelson. The longtime Chicago White Sox television voice famously goes off the deep end with his rants, particularly against umpires.
Yet, while digesting reaction Monday to Ryan Braun’s suspension for using performance enhancing drugs, a Hawk staple came to mind.
“You gotta be bleepin’ me!”
First, there was Major League Baseball’s official statement, courtesy of MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred:
“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions. We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field.”
Soon after that load of barnyard waste was dispersed, we were shoveled more from MLB Players Association executive director Michael Weiner:
“I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step. It vindicates the rights of all players under the Joint Drug Program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field.”
The pulse raced. Blood rushed to the head. Dinner made a beeline up the esophagus.
On the very day Braun was exposed as a liar and a cheat — as Lance Armstrong in cleats — the eyes and ears couldn’t believe what they were seeing, hearing.
We commend Ryan Braun?
Nothing about Braun is commendable. For a year and a half he vehemently professed his innocence, portrayed himself as a persecuted victim.
Originally given a 50-game suspension following a positive steroid test in October 2011, he beat the system on a technicality, arguing FedEx had not immediately shipped his urine sample to the approved lab.
Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled in Braun’s favor, a decision that cost Das his job. The poor guy entrusted with the sample paid a price, too, all because the FedEx office was closed when he initially arrived.
Braun kept on playing, declaring on the eve of spring training in 2012: “The simple truth is that I’m innocent. I truly believe in my heart, and I would bet my life, that this substance never entered my body at any point.”
Contrast that to Monday, when Braun’s statement read in part: “I realize now that I have made some mistakes.”
That is code for: They have the goods on me. It’s time to make a deal.
The result is Braun will sit the rest of the season without pay — 65 games at about $3 million — but return in 2014 to a contract paying him more than $120 million over the next seven years.
That somehow is seen as a “bold step” by the head of the Players Association. The only bold thing Braun did was to continue receiving PEDs from a Miami-based Biogenesis anti-aging clinic.
Maybe next year we’ll learn what kind of player the 2011 National League MVP and 2012 runner-up is without the juice. Then again, given his history, maybe we won’t.
The guy has set a horrible example for fans, teammates, other players and, worst of all, impressionable children.
Yet, MLB’s official stance was to look forward to Braun returning and “making positive contributions both on and off the field.” And the players’ union head deems it “good for the game” that Braun will return to “continue his great work both on and off the field.”
You gotta be bleepin’ me.