Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun

It’s probably no worse here than in other countries, but America certainly has a long history of being, shall we say, less than truthful. After essentially stealing their land, our myriad of broken peace treaties with the Native Americans comes to mind. This even could apply to the heartwarming tale we were taught in school about George Washington and the cherry tree.

Apparently, when George was 6 years old he was given a beautiful hatchet. He then proceeded to chop down everything in sight, including his father’s favorite cherry tree. (Why George had to chop down everything seems a bit odd, but evidently that’s just the way he rolled.)

When George’s father discovered what happened, he stormed into the manor and demanded to know who was responsible. (Today, George might have lawyered up or, at a minimum, dialed Child Protective Services.)

But indicative of his fine character, young George confessed on the spot, “I cannot tell a lie, father, I did cut it with my little hatchet.”¬† (Give me a break.) Immediately, the anger died out of his father‚Äôs face, and taking the boy in his arms, he said tenderly, “My son, that you should not be afraid to tell the truth means more to me than a thousand trees!” (Frankly, I‚Äôm getting nauseous.)

The point is, the cherry tree and Georgie‚Äôs endearing confession, they never happened. Pure PR. Cut to 235 years later, President Richard Nixon tells a spellbound nationwide TV audience, “I‚Äôm not a crook.” (You could almost see his nose growing.)

Nixon soon became the only president in history to resign. But instead of going to jail, as did his cronies, he was pardoned by Gerald Ford, the vice president whom he had appointed only a month earlier.

There‚Äôs an old joke, “How do you know when a politician is lying? When his lips are moving.” So it is, as a country we‚Äôve endured “I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” or “We not only know there are¬† WMDs in Iraq, we know where they‚Äôre located.” (Which caused more lives lost? If you don‚Äôt believe WMDs was a lie I have some swampland in Florida I‚Äôd like to sell you.)

If it used to be politicians lie when their lips move, thanks to Ryan Braun and others, it‚Äôs now also applicable to baseball players. As Paul Simon ruefully lamented, “Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.”

Braun grew up in Granada Hills and was a local boy who made good. Or so we thought. Ryan Joseph Braun, nicknamed “The Hebrew Hammer,” is a left fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers and, until recently, was considered one of the best active players in Major League Baseball. Now he‚Äôs considered just another “cheater.”

In 2011, Braun won the National League’s MVP award, but apparently did so with the help of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs). In December of 2011, Braun tested positive for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone and was hit with a 50 game suspension.

Braun immediately appealed the action saying, “I‚Äôd bet my life those drugs aren‚Äôt in my system.” Given his golden boy status everybody believed him. Kind of.

Having put on a “vigorous” defense as only multi-millionaires can, in February, 2012 Braun became the first player in MLB history to have his suspension lifted. By a vote of 2-1 the arbitrators had upheld his appeal. (Albeit, on a technicality.)

Instead of quietly returning to baseball, Braun ripped MLB and boasted of his innocence. “This vindicates everything I stand for and value in life.” Online, his good friend, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, backed him up. Apparently doing a Mitt Romney impression, Rodgers tweeted about Braun‚Äôs innocence, “I‚Äôd put my salary next year on it. #ponyup #exonerated.” Rodgers salary is $39.5 million! (Just be grateful I didn‚Äôt reprint Anthony Weiner‚Äôs tweets.)

Causing great disappointment to kids and fans all over the country, as part of the Biogenesis scandal, this week Braun admitted that he had used PEDs. Given the evidence against him, he eagerly cut a deal with MLB, accepting a 65 game suspension. Though he’ll likely be forever disgraced in baseball we shouldn’t feel too sorry for him.

Next year Braun will return to the game and play the remaining seven years and $117 million of his $145 million contract. He‚Äôs a tad better off than Shyam Das, the longtime arbitrator who headed Braun‚Äôs hearing and was subsequently fired by MLB in May, 2012. Or Dino Laurenzi, Jr., the collector of Braun‚Äôs urine sample who has two master‚Äôs degrees and whom Braun accused of “tampering.” Maybe Braun could spare some of his $117 million so Dino could buy back his reputation?

There‚Äôs a cynical expression circulating these days, “If you‚Äôre not cheating you‚Äôre not really trying.”¬† I‚Äôll bet Joe DiMaggio would have disagreed.


Jack can be reached at facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth or via E-mail at jnsmdp@aol.com.