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Sometimes our heroes will let us down- Part 2

Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011, at 2:11 PM


This past Saturday evening our church hosted it's Christmas program. My two step-sons and I were Shepherds. When the program concluded we went to change into our regular clothes. I reached down to unlock my phone and check the time when I noticed I had 10 text messages and an update from ESPN.

I didn't know whether it would be good or bad, but it was obviously going to be big.

When I opened the phone I saw "Ryan Braun receives 50 game suspension after testing positive for PEDs." Wow.

I have always had a lot of respect for Braun's skill and felt that his personality and talent were great for the game. Seeing that news was really disappointing.

As most who test positive do, Braun plans to appeal the finding with his attorney citing "highly unusual circumstances." Of course, to my knowledge, no player has ever won an appeal. It was reported several days later that he tested positive for "excessive testosterone." As time goes on we will learn more about the process, but his chance at appeal, as it always is, is slim.

I do want to point out that we shouldn't rush to judgment until the process has played out. While the chance of an overturn is slim, there is a chance and Braun should be given the opportunity to make his case before being vilified. The testing process is intended to be kept quiet until after an appeal if one is desired. Braun was not afforded that luxury due to an information leak.

The biggest issue here isn't his abundance of talent or the loss to Milwaukee. The biggest issue is that the test was completed and the knowledge known before he was awarded the NL MVP for this season. Many feel that decision should have gone to Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers, but Braun led his team to the playoffs and the Dodgers, well not so much. Kemp had an amazing year and was awarded an amazing contract to follow it up. Braun, well, he's going to have a bumpy off season, and if he loses his appeal, a 50 day longer one as well.

One thing we all need to remember through this is that these athletes, even though we don't always think it, are human. These guys have pressure to live up to contracts worth values we can't fathom. I'm glad I don't have that kind of pressure. All of these guys do whatever they can to be the best at what they do. Some of them do whatever they can to get that extra edge. For some ball players that comes from extra workouts and for a handful of others it comes from drugs.

It's not right and it's bad for the game, but they make mistakes just like we do. They're only human.

I was a huge Mark McGwire fan for years. I feel like what he and Sammy Sosa did for baseball in 1998 will be hard to match. People who never cared about baseball were watching like never before. Everywhere you went people were always talking about the race. When McGwire was named in Jose Canseco's book and subsequently testified before Congress, he was literally demonized and because of the revelations in years since, will likely never make it to the Hall of Fame.

When he joined the Cardinals as hitting coach two seasons ago, I was actually relieved when he finally came clean on the subject. The shadow will always follow him, but the fact that he finally came clean, no pun intended, gave him a chance to get back in the game and share the vast knowledge of the game that he is so well known for. If coming clean didn't help his image, what he did for the Cardinals offense this past season reminded fans that he's not a bad guy. He just made a bad decision. Haven't we all? Wouldn't you hate for one mistake in your life to forever determine who you are in the eyes of the world? I know I would.

The sad fact is, regardless of how Braun's incident ends up, the stigma will never go away. As a friend of mine once said, you can't "un-hear" something. You can put it in the back of your mind, but the question always remains. Every record he breaks and every homerun he hits, someone will remind us all of "the time he tested positive."

I hate it for the game, for the kids who watch and are learning to love it, for the fans and even for the players who are affected. I'm in no way condoning their actions, but, I am asking you to remember that everyone makes mistakes. At a certain point it's time to forgive and move on.

Heroes are wonderful to have. Everyone needs someone to look up to. These guys, while they are amazing on the diamond or even the basketball court, are just as human as the rest of us.

Corey Noles is the editor of The North Stoddard Countian as well as staff writer/New Media Coordinator for The Daily Statesman. See his column at dailystatesman.com or on semoball.com to comment. He can be reached at cnoles@dailystatesman.com

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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