The Major League Baseball trade deadline is a week from today, and if any team is looking for the best available cheating, lying, defiantly arrogant pariah, I hear Ryan Braun is available.
He won't be much help to any team this year because he's been suspended for the rest of the season for high crimes and misdemeanors against the national pastime.
But Braun says he's very sorry, and when has he ever told us anything that was not true?
Talk about buying low. Trading for Braun would be buying subterranean. Braun is now baseball's Elephant Man. A victim not of character assassination but of character suicide.
Look away! Look away!
You think you've had a bad week? How about the Brewers?
The face of their franchise, a player to whom they still owe about $130 million through 2020, is the most disgraced slugger in the game — and that's saying something.
Not since Rafael Palmeiro waved literally a (but symbolically the) finger at a 2005 congressional committee and scolded them, "I have never used steroids. Period." — four months before he tested positive for steroids. Not since Stonewall Mark McGwire voluntarily agreed to appear before that same committee to talk about his past, then said he wasn't there to talk about the past, and not since 37-year-old Barry Bonds started hitting 73 home runs in a season while suddenly wearing a size 25 1/2 baseball cap, has baseball seen disgrace on the level Braun has ladled upon himself.
Still, Braun is only the new leader in the clubhouse — and will be until Judge "Beltin'" Bud Selig gavels Alex Rodriguez's career into submission and A-Rod's already tattered reputation into total irrelevance by ruling on how much A-Rod lied and cheated.
Best guesses: a lot and a lot.
The Bud Bunch, with the tacit and long overdue approval of the Players Association, is finally going big-game hunting, and the safari is bringing down big game. The biggest game.
The Braun suspension and the expected upcoming Rodriguez suspension is a victory for all of baseball's clean players — and we don't even know who they are.
That's the biggest tragedy of the steroid era, the human growth hormone era and the performance-enhancing drugs era.
You can't tell the non-cheaters without a scorecard.
Actually, you can't tell the non-cheaters with a scorecard. So everyone is presumed guilty until proven innocent. During the height of the steroid era, which was rubber-stamped by Major League Baseball and the Players Association, who — along with, it must be said, the media — just stood back and let it all be, major-league players were faced with the most sobering workplace choice of all.
Cheat and become rich and famous, or don't cheat, and risk losing your job. To a cheater.
It was lose-lose. And, predictably, everybody lost — and is still losing.
The fraudulent names and numbers that contaminate the sanctity of so many of baseball's important records — that's unfixable. You can't put the toothpaste back into the tube once it's out.
The careers that were hampered or ended when marginal major-leaguers chose to stay clean and got squeezed off major-league rosters by the cheaters — who has apologized, or ever will apologize, to them?
Where was the Players Union when so many of their rank and file, who chose not to be users, had their statistics besmirched by cheaters, and saw their teams lose games, divisions, pennants and World Series to them?
It's taken a while — it's taken way too long, to be frank — but MLB and the Players Association are finally getting serious about policing and cleaning up their soiled sport.
Before he stepped into the batter's box for the first at-bat of his major-league career, Rodriguez was considered a future Hall of Famer.
Braun was the National League's Most Valuable Player in 2011.
These are not insignificant careers.
They are careers with which you can make a point and send a message.
When the biggest of the bad guys go down, it's a great day for the good guys.
The Braun ruling is a victory for all the innocent players, all the players the cheating fellow-union members care so little about, cheaters whose egos crave attention and are thus now getting from fans and their sport the cruelest punishment of all.