At the end of the day...
...maybe I just notice coincidences in life too much.
As a conversation was taking place in the sports office today about St. Louis-born Cardinals players, the name Pud Galvin came up.
You don't know Pud Galvin?
James Galvin was a pitcher, nicknamed "Pud" for his ability to make batters "look like pudding."
Moving on, he wasn't a Cardinal, though he was born in St. Louis.
What he was, was the major leagues' first 300-game winner, in a career that spanned from 1875 to 1892. He also threw the first road no-hitter in the big leagues. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1965.
And as I perused his entry in Wikipedia, I ran across this little gem:
Galvin was the first baseball player to be widely known for using performance-enhancing drugs. In 1889, over 100 years before the steroid controversy in Major League Baseball, Galvin openly used the Brown-Séquard elixir, which contained monkey testosterone.
About thirty minutes after getting a chuckle out of that, the news about Ryan Braun hit the headlines.
Coincidence? Or just my abnormal mind working overtime?
Nonetheless, today I thought of Pud Galvin along with Ryan Braun.
And Rafael Palmeiro.
And yep, Lance Armstrong, too.
Braun will now sit out the rest of the season, without pay, after MLB announced he was suspended for "violations of the Basic Agreement and its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program." The rest of the season is a long time to count to three million, four hundred and ten thousand, four hundred and ninety three.
That's the dollars he won't be getting while sitting out the last 65 games of the season.
In his written apology, Braun said, "As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes."
The last time I remember Ryan Braun talking on the subject, he stood before assembled cameras and media after having a suspension for a positive drug test overturned, and arrogantly denied that he had anything to do with PED use.
Let me refresh your memory.
"Today is about anyone who has ever been wrongly accused, and everybody who has actually had to stand up for what is right."
Oh, there's more.
"I truly believe in my heart, and I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body at any point."
I can still see Palmeiro, he of the three-thousand career hits and 500 career homers, testifying before Congress with a wag of his finger and a hearty, "I have never used steroids, period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."
Four-and-a-half months later, Palmeiro was suspended after testing positive for...wait for it... a steroid.
It was his last year in baseball, though he continues to this day to deny he ever intentionally took a steroid.
Oh, and he blamed a teammate for his positive test.
I can't help but think that Palmeiro, and Armstrong, too, used the George Costanza defense. You know, it's not a lie if you believe what you're saying.
But it's Braun that's in the murky spotlight now, as we await the next hammer to drop. Several other players are on borrowed time as MLB prepares to mete out justice for their connections to the Biogenics America lab, but it was Braun who was in the crosshairs and came down as the big prize.
His loud denials came with a price: he may have gotten his suspension overturned, but it wasn't because the tests were wrong. MLB doesn't like egg on its logo, so when his name came up most prominently in the Biogenics probe, he became a target.
And what a job by the legal folks with MLB, to get this crier of denials to walk away quietly, with no further fight.
Today, a meek apology given by Braun in a written statement, even as MLB was lauding him for "taking this bold step."
What bold step?
He knew he was caught, and he took a cowardly way out. Why couldn't he make his apology as publicy as he made those arrogant denials?
What of the tester who became Braun's scapegoat in getting his initial suspension overturned? The one who had to hold on to Braun's urine sample for a couple of days because there was no delivery company open for him to take it to. The one who subsequently lost his job for what happened. His reputation went to tatters, while Braun continued to play.
On borrowed time.
Now, Braun slinks off to quietly let the time pass until he can attempt to come back. And he will. And he will resume collecting the millions he has remaining in his contract.
But what is the price for a reputation? What price, credibility?
I think Ryan Braun is finding out that he may have millions in the bank, but it's not enough to buy a conscience.
Next up: likely Alex Rodriguez, the other prize Bud Selig would like to hang in his trophy room. But ol' A-Rod has his millions, and his steroid-bloated numbers, and he's proven through the years that he doesn't have a conscience in his budget, either.
Will Major League Baseball ever be cheat-free?
Too much money up for grabs.
But Selig and the folks at MLB are making a show that, in their case, a reputation is worth fighting for.
Until next time....