About 10 minutes before the start of a "Sunday Night Baseball" game in Baltimore on June 30, Chris Davis finished his pregame routine and stopped alongside the photo well, where I was sitting. Davis had something on his mind.
Earlier in the day, he said, he answered a question posed to him on Twitter: Are you on PEDs?
He had responded no, and he talked about the responses to his response. A lot of folks didn’t believe him.
A problem that he and other ballplayers have, I said to him, is the generation of lies that fans have heard from professional athletes -- from Marion Jones angrily proclaiming her innocence to Rafael Palmeiro jabbing his finger at congressmen in proclaiming his innocence, to Lance Armstrong attacking accusers the way he went after the Tour de France.
It’s largely because of that history of bold-faced, relentless, unrepentant untruths that other athletes -- clean athletes, in a lot of cases -- are no longer given the benefit of the doubt. That is the legacy of the liars.
There is something else that the liars have had in common: They haven’t admitted anything until they were caught.
There was no crisis of conscience that brought them forward, an internal gnawing that had to be addressed. None have come forward on his or her own and offered to give their money back, out of a belief that they had gained the dollars based on fraud or deception. Most have surrendered and admitted guilt and apologized after being caught. When the choice is between being completely honest or protecting dollars, the primary motive is to not do the right thing, but to hold onto the loot.
Which brings us to Ryan Braun.
Like a shoplifter who got caught with a toaster, he surrendered. He has been sentenced and he’s currently serving his time, through the rest of this season. After initially issuing a statement stunningly void of accountability on the day he was suspended, he issued another statement Thursday evening.
He did not step in front of cameras, as he did in his verbal victory lap after winning his appeal in February 2012. He did not answer questions Thursday evening, either in person or in writing.
Braun’s initial statement back in July included these words: “I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love."
Sorry, but it’s not going to be that easy. He isn’t just going to wish it all away, after months and months of lies. He isn’t going to make it right by issuing a couple of statements and going back to the batting cage. The crafted and polished words issued in his name left a lot of unanswered questions, and if he’s not willing to address those -- openly, with his only motive being the telling of truth -- then the statements just become part of the bigger lie.
Questions such as: