Ryan Braun's E-Mail Apology Gets Put in Society's SPAM Folder
After spinning a web of lies that dates back God knows how long, after leaving a trail of jilted friends and defamed sample collectors that stretches from coast to coast, after now yanking an entire baseball franchise completely into harm's way, and finally getting caught, the decent thing for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun to do was apologize profusely for his use of performance-enhancing drugs and let the healing begin.
As a cornered cheater, once you accept that we are a forgiving society and accept that saying you're sorry is the way to go, the process itself should be clear, if not easy.
Face the music, be contrite, let us see you.
And still, on Thursday, as he has with everything else (other than hitting a baseball) from about the time he was forced to pee into a cup back in October 2011, Ryan Braun managed to fuck it up.
Late last week, rumors began swirling that Braun was ready to come clean about his PED use, admit he messed up and construct the beginning of "where we go from here." In a situation that required a face-to-face delivery of the message, where questions could be asked and the truth could begin to be revealed, Braun apologized from the comfort of his own living room. Opting for a keyboard over a microphone, Braun sent a contrite, at times rambling e-mail to the Milwaukee Brewers that was then posted on the team's Web site.
Hey, I know as a society we've skewed more toward communicating electronically. Why burden ourselves with actual, y'know, conversation when we can text, tweet or e-mail it to somebody else? I'm as guilty of that as anybody. Somehow, though, I think Braun's desire to electronically convey his message has less to do with 2013 communication nuance and more to do with sheer cowardice.
As for Braun's e-mail itself, I suppose it qualifies as an apology insomuch as it's a statement that includes the word "apologize" (four times) and "sorry" (three times), the same way that Bree Olson qualifies as an actress because she has an IMDB.com page that lists "films."
And along those lines, if you break down Braun's missive scene by scene, you quickly realize that it is the Lord of Asses 9 of apologies. (For the record, Lord of Asses 1 through 7 were deservedly lauded, but I always thought Lord of Asses 8 got a bad rap. I think it was just misunderstood.)
Let's examine Braun's e-mail, pausing where necessary to make comments (each preceded by "SP"):
"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."
SP: I will say one positive thing about Braun's apology -- he does repeatedly shoulder all of the blame. Now, I think he's lying through his teeth on the extent of his PED usage, but he doesn't try to deflect culpability anywhere else. I bring this up only because I think that when Alex Rodriguez is eventually backed into a corner and forced to admit to using PEDs (again), there's a decent chance he will place sole blame on the inventor of whatever drug it is he took, kind of like those disgusting assholes who smoke two packs of cigarettes a day and then sue the tobacco companies.
"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."
SP: Yeah, I would say sprinkling the words "honor," "dignity" and "class" around betting one's life in a statement where you clearly know that you're lying qualifies as denial. In case you had forgotten Braun's press conference back in February 2012 where he tries to string all of his haters up by the balls, here it is:
Easily the best part is the 1:55 mark, right after Braun "bets [his] life this substance never entered [his] body," where he pauses for like three seconds, almost as if he's bracing himself, waiting for the lightning bolt to strike him down.
"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."
SP: People who stuck their neck out for you. Hmmmm, you mean like this guy?
MLB and cable sports tried to sully the reputation of an innocent man. Picked the wrong guy to mess with. Truth will set u free #exonerated— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) February 23, 2012
I'll let my buddy take it from here. All u idiots talking about technicality open up for some crow too. See if Espn gets pressured not to..— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) February 23, 2012
"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."
SP: Dammit, Ryan! You were doing so well with this apology, too. I realize that we in the media have been saying from the time Andy Pettitte admitted his PED use that following his blueprint is the way to go, but the "I only did it once, and it was to come back from injury" method only works if, y'know, you're not thought to be a total scumbag piece of monkey crap. Now, not only are we all laughing at you, but you've poisoned the water for the next, far more deserving PED abuser who wanted to use that "out." (Also, does it make me a PED prude that I didn't know you could take steroids in "lozenge" form?)
"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."
SP: If you're looking for a point where this whole thing crossed over from "Ryan Braun's apology" to "an apology ghost-written for Ryan Braun to send from his e-mail account," I present to you the phrase "clouded vision of reality." Uh-huh, suuuuure you wrote this, Ryan.
"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."
SP:....says the guy who issues an e-mail to apologize for PED use, leaving his teammates to inevitably answer all the questions from reporters for the next several days. Minimize the burden? I think if Braun were a fireman, he'd show up at the scene of a blaze with a blowtorch and a 30-gallon drum of lighter fluid.
"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."
SP: Indeed, it will result in additional attacks and accusations from others, many of which will probably be drunkenly screamed from opposing outfield bleachers between beers number 10 and 11. Unfortunately, one of the things Braun's admission will not result in is a peeling back on his salary over the next eight seasons. Indeed, Braun will receive every penny of the remaining $117 million (at least) remaining on his deal. He will lose approximately $3.25 million during his suspension, which makes Braun's PED "gamble" the life decision equivalent of Raymond Babbitt's destroying the blackjack tables for about $83,000 in two hours in Rain Man. $3.25 million lost on a suspension for taking a substance that sparked a performance that led to a nine-figure contract is a payout ratio that even the most delusional gamblers couldn't dream of.
"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."
SP: A guy who e-mails his apology to the public...he definitely texted his private apologies to Selig and Manfred, right? This isn't even up for debate, is it? Also, it's nice that the specimen collector (Laurenzi) garnered about six words out of the nearly 1,000 in this statement. There may be nobody more deserving of an apology than Laurenzi after Braun made a point to drag him through the mud and privately appeal to other players to spread false rumors of Laurenzi's being an anti-Semite, and he gets barely half a sentence. You suck, Braun.
"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."
SP: Sure you are, Ryan. Sounds familiar...
Now excuse me, Braun, while I delete your e-mail and report you for SPAM.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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