Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has been suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season for his role in baseball's latest performance-enhancing drug scandal. There seems to be a sense that Braun is a two-faced, self-serving fraud who simply took an easy MLB deal that would allow him to skip the remainder of a lost season and return healthy, rested and rich nine months from now for the start of the 2014 season.
But careful thought reveals that Braun will suffer from his punishment far more than we all initially thought. Consider the following.
Braun will lose $3,251,366.
Braun's suspension means he will lose out on more than $3.2 million. That is a ton of money lost -- and more than most of us will earn in our entire lifetimes! Sure, Braun has made nearly $20 million in salary in his career so far and is contractually guaranteed at least $117 million more, but again: That $3.25 million he's losing this year is more than you and I will ever see!
Braun will miss out on building character by losing.
Losing builds character. Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning. Both are time-honored sports clichés and therefore must be true.
This year, after contending for most of Braun's career since he started in 2007, the Brewers are one of baseball's worst teams at 41-57. Think Braun is taking the easy way out by cashing out of this dreadful campaign? No way. He's missing the opportunity to learn important lessons and build a ton of character from the 40 or 50 or so more losses set to come Milwaukee's way.
Braun could miss out on a historic baseball comeback.
Say the Brewers are poised to suddenly turn it around and win the franchise's first World Series title despite their current 0.1 percent playoff odds. Braun would miss all of it! That would really stink not to be a part of something so completely improbable. Now he has no chance to make baseball history.
Braun will miss some great traveling opportunities.
The Brewers still have road series scheduled this season in, among other cities, Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and New York. All are great towns that people the world over want to visit. Braun won't get to see any of them. Not in the next two months, at least (unless he travels to those cities by himself, which he can most definitely do because he is a free man; he may even have his own private jet, who knows).
Instead, he likely will be holed up in one of his houses. Even a $4.85 million Malibu home with a movie theater and pool can probably get a little old after spending two months there. Just imagine having to swim in the same pool with ocean views for two consecutive months. Ugh. And a movie theater? Sounds great ... in theory. But this is a summer of blockbuster bombs. Having to watch "R.I.P.D." in your house? The worst.
Braun will now look ridiculous.
Getting suspended means that Braun can't wear his Brewers uniform for the remainder of the season. This is very unfortunate for Braun, because that uniform is one of the best outfits he owns. Now he has to walk around wearing stuff like this. Cruel and unusual.
Braun's baseball card is now ruined.
Look at Braun's career stats. Year after year of double-digit home runs, double-digit steals and triple-digit RBIs. But this Braun season will end with nine home runs, 38 RBIs and four steals. An ugly mark on his baseball card, if baseball cards still exist.
There's probably a 10 or 15 percent chance that Braun is forever a pariah.
America doesn't just hand out second chances to public figures who have lied or deceived them or committed crimes. No, that usually takes a few months. And a handsome, well-spoken guy like Braun? It's no guarantee he'll someday get a high-paying job as a TV analyst. Because he might be elected to a national political office and won't have time to be a TV analyst. There's no way to know.
Braun had to admit he's not perfect.
In Braun's suspension statement, he said: "I am not perfect." It has to be hard to be that open and honest about yourself with the whole world. Now we all know Braun's dark secret: He is not perfect.
What have we learned? We have learned that this suspension is going to be much harder on Braun than we initially imagined. So don't be so quick to take up the torches and pitchforks. And remember, we have all made mistakes. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Oh, you don't live in a glass house? You should totally get one in Malibu. The beach views there are great.