|The fans in Milwaukee cheer Ryan Braun in his first|
game back after a steroids suspension.
Ryan Braun returned to action Monday in Milwaukee to a standing ovation.
My Twitter feed erupted with outrage from the press box types. How dare the fans of Milwaukee greet him like a conquering hero when he's a liar and a cheat?
Me, I expected it:
Standing O in Milwaukee for Braun. Of course. PED use is only bad when it's the other team.
— Edward Thoma (@bboutsider) March 31, 2014
It's not just the fans, either. The players are at best passive aggressive in their opposition to performance enhancing drugs.
It's an interesting clubhouse dance they wind up performing. The union and MLB just completed a reworking of the drug policy that steps up the suspension for first and second violations -- 80 games for a first violation, 162 (full season) for a second -- but allows a softening of punishment for an inadvertent violation.
And it includes what we might call the Peralta rule: Violators are ineligible for postseason play.
That provision follows the return last fall of Detroit's Jhonny Peralta from his 50 game suspension in time for the playoffs; he hit a crucial home run that helped advance the Tigers past Oakland to the ALCS.
The players, as a whole, were unhappy with the fact that Peralta was permitted to play. But I doubt any of his Detroit teammates wanted to give that game back, or didn't want him on their side last October. Peralta has since signed with the Cardinals as a free agent. I'm sure the St. Louis players also supported the Peralta ban now in effect, but I'll wager they have not given him as frosty a reception as, say, the replacement players who partook in spring training during the 1994-95 strike.
The players are conflicted. They want the sport cleaned of the drugs, but they want to win more.
If a cheater can help them win, great. Just as long as he doesn't get caught. That is the greater sin.