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Is race and personality affecting coverage of the Ryan Braun story?

Dec 13, 2011, 3:36 PM EDT

braun wide getty Getty Images

Ray Ratto of wants to know why people are inclined to give Ryan Braun the benefit of the doubt at the moment when they weren’t so willing to do so with Barry Bonds:

So why, then, is there such an eagerness to find Braun’s seemingly implausible story so believable, or at least defensible by so many people who dove face-first into Bonds?  The options are two: Race, or personality. Neither is appealing.

I don’t know Ray personally, but I’ve chatted with him enough on Twitter to suspect that he very much enjoyed throwing that grenade into the bunker. It’s kind of why I like him so much.

Not that he’s throwing it for no reason. For my part I’m giving Braun the benefit of the doubt for now simply because we are getting a rare mid-testing-and-appeals-process look here and that makes this weird, but Ratto is right that there has always been some weird character test on top of the drug tests.

I don’t know that race is as up front as the personality part, however.  Witness David Ortiz who never ever seems to get much PED stuff thrown at him even though he tested just as positive as anyone. Why? I don’t know. Because he’s cuddly. And Ryan Braun is handsome and isn’t muscle bound I guess. Whatever the criteria, however, to suggest that there isn’t some psychological overlay to PED stories is to deny reality. Personality always enters into it. If Derek Jeter or Michael Young tested positive tomorrow we’d be introduced to a whole new, player-sympathetic PED lexicon, I’m sure.

Ratto goes on to make an even better point, however: media covering these kinds of stores — and the labor disputes and any other off-the-field thing — very often take on the role of defenders of the institutions they cover rather than unaffiliated reporters or commentators.  It’s not a very flattering stance for anyone and ultimately does both the media and the institution a disservice.

118 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. mox19380 - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:32 PM

    I wouldn’t say race has absolutely nothing to do with it but it has to be based mostly on personality.

    Sosa is a great example where people ignored his swollen mass of a body because he smiled, shook hands and gave out autographs. People didn’t want to believe it until his terrible supreme court display and the corked bat incident.

    Whereas the Clemens, Mac’s and Bonds or the world are curmudgeons and were therefore always skewered

    I also just think it’s unfair to say the lack of vitriol against Braun is because he’s a nice white guy and more because the news only dropped 5 days ago.

  2. Jonny 5 - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Hey, everyone is different. So for some people maybe race is the issue. For others people with big heads weird them out, so for them it’s big heads. Some people don’t like records being broken by PED users, so for them they go after those who broke records while using. Man I hate when we try to figure out, or tell people their opinion exists because of their preference or displeasure over race. It’s far too presumptuous for my taste. Ray Rotto knew this would get clicks, be inflammatory, and more than likely didn’t care if he was right or wrong about it.

    If you check out the voting on his page though, you see most people have already convicted Ryan Braun as well, so he’s wrong imo…

  3. isujames - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:54 PM

    I dont believe race has anything to do with race,people like braun and bonds was a notorious asshole.Braun also is about average in stature.Remeber when Bonds hit 73 hrs. that year they couldnt throw bonds a strike without him knocking it out the park or atleast getting a hit.

  4. unlost1 - Dec 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM


  5. brewcrewfan54 - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    I’ve seen Ratto on Rome is Burning and he sucks. Braun is more likebale than Bonds so he’s getting a fairer shake? WOW!! Talk about an earth shattering revelation. His next great revelation will be that American’s like to see the bad guy get caught at the end of movies.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:26 PM

      Jim Rome sucks

      Fixed that for you

      • brewcrewfan54 - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:41 PM

        Nope. I wrote what I meant.

  6. HitsDingers - Dec 13, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    That, Ray, is what us smart people call a false dichotomy; there are not only 2 options. Maybe your forehead is getting too fat for your eyes to see around, but Barry Bonds’ head was the size of a genetically-engineered watermelon, whereas Braun looks like a normal human being.

    So there we go. ONLY 3 possible options. Race, personality, and fatheadedness. And religion. And hospitals / manufacturing.

  7. Walk - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    For me i tend to favor braun’s side right now. I have spent most of my life in military and law enforcement work. What i am gettin at is the circumstances here. Why was this leaked in violation of policy? Who gains from leaking this information? Makes one wonder. Next is the whole was it a ped or steroids that came up during early reports. One side said one the another differed. Only thing i know is that i know next to nothing so i cannot judge one way or another but again confidential info was leaked and no one will be held accountable so thats is why i currently favor braun.

  8. rjmarrella - Dec 13, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    none wants to believe braun is cheating. this setback will allow the cloud of suspicion to linger for seasons to come.

  9. birdsnblues - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    It couldn’t be that we watched Barry’s head actually grow into a summer melon…Braun is going to be found GUILTY….the reason there is no uproar is because it’s not new anymore…. We all expect someone to test positive. The energy just isn’t there anymore to get all crazy about it … Black or White or Yellow or Brown….. Barry was an egotistical jerk though!!!

  10. nightrain42 - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Don’t be gullible. Of course it does some. But personality also plays alot into this. More than race. The media has always hated Bonds and always will

  11. hushbrother - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    Like Joe Posnanski once said, it can be summed up in two words: home runs. In the end, the whole steroids controversy is about the fraud that was pulled on baseball fans by players who hit ridiculous numbers of home runs in the 1990s. It’s not John Rocker or Fernando Vina or even Roger Clemens people are angry at. It’s Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and, most of all, Barry Bonds. It’s numbers like 73, 70, 66, 65 etc. that people have a problem with.

    Ryan Braun just won the MVP, but with relatively ordinary-looking numbers. I guarantee you if Braun had hit 60 home runs this season, the reaction to this news would be very different.

  12. kingjoe1 - Dec 13, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Let us see…Clemens not Italian, McGwire not Italian, they got hammered. Is Braun Italian, lucky sob probably gets all the chicks too.

  13. notdumb - Dec 13, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    ok im white first of all . everyone saying its not about race is racist and so is everyone else to a degree. what matters is how you let it cloud you judgement . im racist like everyone else but the reason braun gets the benefit of the doubt is because hes an all american handsome white guy. racism own it dont deny it people

    • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:14 AM

      Speak for your self, idiot. Every one is PREJUDICED (a normal defense mechanism). It’s what you do after your initial reaction to someone that defines whether or not you are RACIST (a sustained hatred for someone based solely upon their race)..a condition that can be acquired by members of any race BTW (for those specific minorities who think that their status as such makes them immune to being one).

      FYI, Braun is Jewish, so if anything he is also a member of a minority that has been subjected to vast amounts of racist propaganda.

  14. tjv027 - Dec 13, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    It must be race, because these guys’ situations are exactly the same. Besides of course, you know, the eye-witness accounts of Bonds injecting himself with steroids. And, you know, the fact that Barry Bonds was chasing an all-time HR Championship, which is a bit of a big deal.

    Another reason it MUST be about race is because, you know, no fans or media members laid into McGwire or Clemens.

  15. roteschtrimp - Dec 13, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Is it possibly because Ryan Braun is a nice guy and Barry Bonds is an insufferable jerk? I seem to recall Big Papi getting pretty much of a pass on his drug difficulties. Papi has a nice, year-round tan…

  16. senorflippyflop - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:00 PM

    No, it has nothing to do with race and it’s sad someone has to bring this up. It’s very simple. Ryan Braun is a likable guy and Barry Bonds was/is not. Ryan Braun doesn’t show the physical signs and Barry Bonds did. It’s not like people ran to Mark McGuire’s defense when his was reported.

  17. henryjones20 - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    It has everything to do with showed there hatred to bonds by going to his games throwing syringes at him and showing him syringes. Sick off fools sticking up for McGuire.he never faced so much hatred as bonds.and spare me the crap about bonds being a many of u ppl have ever actually met bonds to say that he is a jerk? I heard that he has treated media bad cuz how they he treated hos father along time ago
    Nut that is only rumour since I was never there. I wonder what wld happen if bonds ever got a MLB job as hitting coach like McGuire did?I’m guessing pure rage and a whole lots of hate

    • brewcrewfan54 - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:46 PM

      No these people don’t know Bonds personally. They do know his personality towards the media which makes them think he’s a jerk. And so most peoples opinions will be that he’s a jerk. And his jerkiness is why people and reporters didn’t and never wanted to give him any benefit of the doubt.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:17 AM

      Henry: You can’t possibly believe what you posted. If you are truly being honest with yourself…you absolutely can’t believe that. Fans showed their “hatred” to Bonds by going to his games and throwing syringes as it him? Yeah…it was because he was black. Had absolutely NOTHING to do with him being a complete fraud…and an even bigger dickhead. Treated the media bad because of how his Father was treated? Laughable. His own teammates couldn’t stand to be around the Man! Further, there are numerous reports of Bobby routinely apologizing for his behavior to Dusty Baker. Stating he never could get him to act the right way. “The boy has alwasy had a chip on his shoulder and been a complete asshole to people.” As for Big Mac…I have heard NOONE stick up for him. In fact…he was equally vilified. As a Cardinals fan I found that somewhat strange considering he NEVER LIED to Congress (chose to not say anything…which in my opinion was probably the smartest thing to do at that point). But I can certainly understand some of the vilification with the 500′ bombs, 70+ Home Runs and subsequent assault(s) on the record books (although they did nothing illegal as far as MLB’s head turning…hyprocitical asses were concerned at the time). As for Barry getting a job as a hitting coach…if he ever had a coach who didn’t think he was a complete DICK he would already have that job. You are looking for excuses Henry. Excuses don’t help you.

      • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:16 AM

        Dead on. Bonds is consumed with being racist in his own life. Biggest racist out there, in fact.

  18. warhawk04 - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    Word in Milwaukee is he has an STD, and because he would have been taking medication to cure it (herpies) he may actually not be suspended. Not sure if that is denial, just what I have heard.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Dec 14, 2011 at 12:34 AM

      The herp. I bet a lot of pro athletes have that.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:21 AM

      Warhawk: That would explain it. But most people don’t realize…there is NO cure for Herpes. When you consider statistics show 1 – 4 people have it…that is frightening!

  19. jshalk123 - Dec 14, 2011 at 3:51 AM

    Way to just pass over the fact that Bond was always considered one of the biggest asses when it came to the media. They put up with him because he was a star and put up crazy numbers. They had no choice.. You had to cover Barry Bonds. When things went bad they all loved the fact that they got to trash him. Had Braun been a complete ass he would have been trashed to. If you want to make the race argument at least bring up a guy who was considered a “nice guy” who is black and was vilified beyond belief. As far as Bonds is concerned I consider it Karma. He treated people like shit and it came back to bite him in the ass.

  20. wvugrad00 - Dec 14, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    It simply comes down to Bonds is and always will be an A1 hall of fame A-hole

  21. boston992 - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    The major difference for me is that Barry Bonds is a complete A$$, and at least to this point, Braun is not. Bonds also broke the all time home run record while he was juicing, and for someone like me who has been a lifetime baseball fan, that record is sacred, and he doesn’t deserve to have it. If Braun goes on to set records, but remains a good guy, I don’t think people will view him the same was as they do Bonds. I don’t feel it has anything to do with race; look at the way people idolize Hank Aaron, and that goes across all racial lines. Bonds personality is what rubs most people the wrong way, and the perception that he’s a self centered Jack A$$ isn’t going to change, no matter what he says or does.

  22. cameron poe - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:22 AM

    Uh-Oh! Matt Kemp a black man just took Ryan Braun’s side! But hey, it has to be a racial issue. Keep making these unfounded comments to boost blog ratings and sell papers. Ryan Braun gets the benefit of the doubt because he didn’t alienate the media like Bonds. Also on the subject of Bonds you are using an outlier as an example. You are comparing Ryan Braun a guy who is liked by the media and the fans (one end of spectrum) to Barry Bonds a man who did everything he could to create the persona of being an ass (the complete opposite end of the spectrum) to one another. I think the rest of the world would have a much easier time believing the racist argument if you used more realistic comparisons. But hey we all love good hyperbole!

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      I went to school with a Cameron Poe. Although I do NOT recall him being a baseball fan.

  23. plezbo - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    Ryan Braun is a cheater, he should be suspended the 50 games and have the MVP award taken away if baseball is serious about getting rid of Steroids.

    Barry Bonds was also a cheater, so was Mark McGuire, neither one should end up in the Hall of Fame, and all of their stats should be wiped from the record books.

    I am white, I make no excuses for any white players, anyone that cheats should be punished.

    Ken Griffey Jr. never cheated, not even at Monopoly, and everyone cheats at Monopoly.

    • stlouis1baseball - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:42 AM

      Plezbo: THE GUYS DID NOTHING ILLEGAL IN THE EYES OF THE HEAD TURNING…TURNSTILE SPINNING…ATTENDANCE CRAVING MLB EXECUTIVES. Do you understand that? NOTHING. Why is that so hard to understand? They did NOTHING illegal in MLB. Sad? Absolutely. True? Without a doubt.
      One more thing…Reds fan huh?

  24. purnellmeagrejr - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    Geez – I thought from the headline he was getting a HARD time because he’s a Jew – kind of glad that’s not what it was about.

  25. kacapaco - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    Nothing but race. The redneck world doesn’t enjoy exposing and justifying cheat whites as much as blacks or hispanics. Period.

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