The mighty fall, and the fault is their own

July 24, 2013

The Bible tells us that “pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” It certainly has played out that way in the past few days for two well-known figures in the worlds of sports and politics.

Exhibit A is Ryan Braun, an all-star player for the Milwaukee Brewers who just two years ago won the American League Most Valuable Player award. It was that same year that Braun failed a drug test, but the outfielder denied everything and ended up skating in that case because of a technicality involving the way his urine sample was handled. One would think Braun’s close brush with suspension and being labeled a drug cheat would have put him on the straight and narrow, but we now know that wasn’t the case.

Despite the knowledge that the folks in the main office at Major League Baseball, angry over the dismissal of the 2011 test results, would have him in their sights, Braun got himself involved with the Biogenesis clinic in Florida, which, it appears, was providing banned substances to a significant number of baseball players. When the owner of the clinic, Anthony Bosch, turned state’s evidence, so to speak, Braun and the others named in Biogensis records cited earlier this year in an expose by Miami New Times were cooked.

Braun is the first to cut a deal with MLB, agreeing to a 65-game suspension and the loss of $3 million in salary for the rest of this season. Frankly, that’s a slap on the wrist, a drop in the bucket, because Braun, starting next year, will be able to return and play out the rest of his current contract, which still has more than $100 million remaining on it.

One has to take that into consideration when pondering whether the punishment for Braun – and possibly Alex Rodriguez and a parade of other plea-bargainers in the days and weeks to come – will act as a deterrent in the future for players weighing the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The most likely answer is that it will not. For one thing, the chance of getting caught still remains rather slim. Those who produce PEDs typically seem to stay a few steps ahead of the tests created to detect the substances. And there’s also the money. Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon, suspended 50 games apiece last year for the use of PEDs, signed lucrative new deals for this season. That doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of those who might be considering the use of illegal substances.

Even messier is the big story in politics this week: Anthony Weiner trying to explain, again, why he was sending photos of his private parts to women who are not his wife.

Until just a couple of years ago, Weiner was a prominent member of Congress and a rising star in Democratic politics. Then came the revelation that he was texting lewd photos to women he met online. Career over, right? Not necessarily. There are plenty of American politicians who have launched second acts despite scandal. Newly minted South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford, he of the non-existent stroll on the Appalachian Trail during his tenure in the governor’s office, is a good example of that.

So it came as little surprise that Weiner threw his hat into the ring for this year’s race for the New York City mayor’s office, or that he was near the top in recent polls. But like Braun, Weiner’s arrogance brought him down.

He admitted that he was up to his old sexting behavior as recently as last year, a year after his resignation from Congress and a pledge that he’d cleaned up his act. Thus far, Weiner is refusing to bow out of the mayoral race, but now he’s an even greater laughingstock than before, and we would hope that New York voters can find someone with greater personal integrity to lead their city.

Fame gives some people a feeling of invincibility. Braun and Weiner now know that it’s an illusion.



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