When Major League Baseball’s Biogenesis suspensions came down on Monday, there were a lot of players who had claimed to have been “clean” that had to admit that yes, they did in fact cheat and lie. They (or their PR counsel) did this to varying degrees of success.
As a massive baseball geek and a PR guy, I’ve wondered how I would have handled this on behalf of a suspended player.
As always, the rules that you learned as a child when you got caught continue to make good PR guidance:
- Admit what you did
- Say what you’re doing to make it not happen again
- Apologize again
- Shut up
For a baseball player facing down the barrel of baseball’s wrath and the disappointment of fans, what does this look like?
Today, I received a 50-game suspension for knowingly violating the league’s prohibition against performance-enhancing drugs. I accept this suspension, because I did in fact break the rules. I knew I was breaking them, and it’s time for me to admit what I did and stop falsely claiming that I didn’t do it.
I would like to apologize to my teammates, my coaches, my team’s owners and everybody else whom I’ve hurt with my actions. I’m sorry I let you down. I hope you can forgive me.
I need to make two special apologies to the people who were hurt the most: The fans and my opponents on the field.
To the fans, I’m sorry that I wasn’t completely the player you thought you were cheering for. You have the right to a clean game and I was part of a dark time in this game’s history where you’ll never be able to truly know what was real and what was tainted. All I can promise is that you’ll never be given any reason to wonder again about me, and I won’t stay silent if I see other players heading down the same road I went down.
To the other players against whom I competed, I’m sorry that I cheated. We all try to get an edge, but I went too far. We hear that “everybody was doing it” but it’s people like me who made other players feel like they had to turn to PEDs to stay competitive. It wasn’t worth it and I’m sorry for my part in it.
I will serve my suspension, stay healthy and be ready to contribute next season. I don’t plan to do any further interviews because I want the focus to be on the players who’ve earned the right to be on the field and the great games that they’re playing. Baseball is bigger than me and bigger than the other players involved and it’s time for us to take our medicine and move the focus back between the lines.
I have not used performance enhancing drugs since [DATE] and I never will again.
Any child who ever had to apologize for something they did wrong would understand…and might someday pull that player’s jersey back out of their closet with pride rather than shame.