One of the great aspects of a site like Brew Crew Ball is all the different contributors we have. Each one brings a different view to the table, with different opinions and a different writing style. All of that coming together really strengthens the site by bringing together content from a variety of people.
Yesterday, I emailed all of the regular BCB contributors and asked them to put together a short piece on their thoughts on the whole situation with Ryan Braun. I didn't give them much for restraints, just to talk about the situation around Braun, and to keep it within a certain word count range. What I got was a variety of opinions expressing different feelings: disbelief, anger, confusion, indifference, depression and even a little bit of bargaining. Let's take a look at what the contributors (including myself) had to say.
I've been all over the place on this. On one hand, I want to lay on the floor and kick and scream. This is so unfair. I've been a great fan and I love Ryan Braun. I devoted a lot of my time to watching, writing about and, generally, loving this ball player. The best part of watching the Brewers was watching him. Heck, at one time I described myself as Team Herpes and Cocaine. That's devotion. On the other hand, the cynic in me knew he probably took PEDs; that steroids in baseball was not limited to a select few "others."
So now we're Braunless. And the question that keeps entering my mind is what I want to do next. Do I "punish" MLB by not watching? Do I walk away from the Brewers? Do I forgive it all because that playoff game against the D-Backs felt just so awesome? And if I forgive and forget, does that say something about my character? I'm conflicted and it is just going to take some time to figure it all out. One thing that I know for sure: I'd gladly tack on 10 or so games to that suspension if I knew exactly what happened.
I’ve never felt more deceived in my life. When ESPN first reported that Braun had tested positive for a banned substance back in late 2011, and would be in line for a potential suspension, I immediately assumed the story to be true -- forgetting to consider the whole ‘innocent until proven guilty’ notion. I called my dad up the next morning regarding the news to see what he thought – he’s always been my go-to baseball guy, especially when it comes to the Brewers – and he reassured me about that aforementioned notion.
Then, when Braun held the press conference in February 2012 after word got out about the break in the chain of custody from the sample collector of Braun’s urine sample, any doubts about his potential guilt in this whole process were erased from my mind, to be honest; his public apology was executed perfectly and he seemed wholly honest about the situation.
Even as news leaked about his connection to Anthony Bosch and the Biogenesis clinic, I truly believed that Ryan was innocent. No matter the amount of smoke – I told myself there was no fire.
But as I sat at work on my mandatory 30-minute break Monday evening, checking in on Twitter to see if any potential deadline deals had fallen through while I was at work, I realized I was wrong when I saw Braun had admitted to his usage.
This hurts – a lot. The kid I had idolized, the kid who had played a huge role in my love for the game of baseball, turned out to be a cheater and a lying coward. I don’t know what to think about Ryan at this point, to tell the truth. All I can do is hope that he’ll learn his lesson and become a better all-around person because of it.
It didn’t have to be like this, Ryan.
Ryan Braun was suspended. For cheating. Okay. What did he do? We still don’t know. Oh. Well, then. Love the deductive process. So we’ve got this root of "Ryan Braun cheated" with about a thousand branches hanging off of it, with maybe seventeen actually bearing something substantial. Some notebook paper. A "false positive". Tony Bosch. Shyam Das. I don’t know. Maybe it’s less than seventeen.
Let’s face it – Braun’s image couldn’t get worse. Reasonably speaking. Everyone hates him. The only new information coming with the official suspension is that Braun admitted to making mistakes, and he employed a sophisticated regimen of injecting the mistakes. I don’t know what that means. I’d like to know what it means. I hope to find out what that means. When, why, the remaining wh- question words. Most of all, I’d like to hear it from Braun himself. He’s got nothing to lose.
Maybe it will happen later. But probably not. But if he gets explicit and shares this supposed sophisticated regimen, perhaps he can actually help the situation. It couldn’t hurt to try. Plus, it would appease my curiosity. Which is all I really care about.
During the first draft of my thoughts on the Ryan Braun saga, I spent time talking about all of the great memories I've had as a Brewers fan and these memories are probably many of the same memories each of you have had. I talked about my first time at County Stadium, my first time at Miller Park, CC's first start, Game 82, the 2008 playoffs, the 2011 playoffs, and everything that has been great about my experience as a Brewers fan. I wrapped up my little trip down memory lane by trying to remind Brewers fans of all the great stuff that has happened and to not burn jerseys and boycott a team that they've loved just because of one guy, but that was all a copout.
I wrote all of those things to keep myself from actually writing about the Braun stuff. I was much happier telling people to remember the good times and keep the hope than actually confronting my feelings about the saga. So here goes...
This whole thing pisses me off. I put up with all of this garbage for the last year and a half for nothing. All I got was a 65 game suspension and a vague apology from Braun. Now I don't want, or do I think I deserve, an apology from Braun. I could care less about the lies he has told and the sincerity of his apology. And I don't need him to detail exactly what happened. I do want someone to tell me what actually happened though
All I want is answers and that is the one thing I don't believe I will receive.
I will never find out if the only thing Braun did wrong was fail that first test that he successfully appealed. I will never find out what actually happened in that appeal. I will never find out if he was actually on a testosterone regimen and screwed up just once in October or if he actually only took testosterone that one time. I will also never find out about his true relationship with Biogenesis. I will never find out if he was buying drugs off them regularly or if he actually only paid Biogenesis for their consulting. I will never find out exactly what Braun was shown in that first meeting with Major League Baseball that convinced him to look for a settlement.
Was there actual evidence or was there just the threat of facing a suspension no matter what he might have done? What actually happened in these last two years? I don't think I'll ever know and that's the thing that truly upsets me.
To frame my reaction to Monday's Braun news, you need to know that I was in charge of the site the day in February 2012 it broke that Braun was successful in his appeal of the original suspension - Kyle was on vacation and had asked me to be ready in case the news broke. This meant that I had very little time to actually think about the news - I just went into full-on site-coverage mode. Compiling the Mug really OD'd me on the whole thing and I kind of just really moved past the story without ever really processing it for myself.
MLB's reaction made me realize the story wasn't over. I figured I'd have a response and deal with that when the next phase of the story came up. I assumed I'd either feel elated or disappointed.
So I was pretty shocked when on Monday the whole thing hit the fan and the only thing I felt was exhaustion and apathy. I'm too sick of the whole thing to bother being shocked, angry or sympathetic. I feel very "it is what it is" and I really just hope this means we might be able to start moving on from here.
It's probably too much to hope that this will bring any sort of closure, but to say that I'm just sort of "done" with this whole story would be the best way to sum up my feelings on it. We've been on this roller coaster for 18 months and I'm ready for it to be something approximating over. It's been the ever-present elephant in the room and for us doing the blog, it's been a bit of an albatross. "The Braun Thing" has always been there, looming like a specter, so in some way it's a relief to have that gone.
The most interesting thing about the past few days for me has been the reactions, both positive and negative. As someone who went to school for journalism and studied the history of journalism, this is a fascinating time. There's been both some truly awful and some truly spectacular writing happening this week and the context of it all will be incredibly interesting as the whole Biogenesis thing continues to play out.
Braun's suspension and final public shaming has felt so inevitable for so long that now that it's finally happened, there aren't a whole lot of emotions left for me. I don't feel the outrage that so many fans feel, but I also don't feel the defiant "Who gives a crap?" that many of the commenters here feel, either. And frankly, I'm kind of tired of people -- especially Brewers fans -- telling each other what they should and shouldn't feel about Braun anyway. (That doesn't extend, of course, to condemning the faux-outrage being spewed by the Passans and Olneys of the world. That's not emotion; that's strategic performance, and we should all continue calling that self-serving blather out for what it is.)
The one thing I keep coming back to is something several commenters said throughout this ordeal: that we don't ever want to become Giants fans -- the only people in America still cheering for a villain and a liar that everyone else in the country justifiably loathes.
Well, that's what we are now -- we're Giants fans rooting for Barry Bonds. I don't like that at all, and I don't know how to process it right now, but it's the new reality of being a Brewers fan, so we might as well start figuring out how we're going to adjust to it. I suspect that adjustment is going to take shape in very different ways for all of us here, but that's OK by me.
For the longest time, I had been in denial about the whole thing. I just wanted to believe that he was telling the truth, that he was clean, and that this was just a witch hunt against him. Now that he's been suspended and has admitted to making mistakes, I'm still trying to figure out what this means to me. I haven't been a Brewers fan as long as many of the other people here, and Braun has been part of the Brewers for most of my time as a fan. I'm left wondering how much of those years are a lie now. While the 2008 wild card and 2011 division title will never be taken away, they feel a little less special now. If Braun comes back and continues to play well, he will hold several Brewers records and be one of the most important players in Brewers history, if not the most important. What does it say about the franchise if that happens?
There are a lot of questions out there about what happened, and others want some answers. I'm on the opposite end of that. I just want to move on from this, and I don't really want to hear the answers now. I'm ready to look to the future. Braun will be back in 2014, and I definitely won't be booing him. However, I won't be cheering either. I think Braun can win back a lot of support from the Brewers fans, but it won't be the same as before. The Brewers need Ryan Braun if they want to be successful. For that reason, I can put aside any feelings I have about him and be ready to welcome him back next year.
I'm not as outraged about the whole situation of PEDs in baseball as some other people are, and I think that's because I haven't been a fan of baseball as long as they have. The whole PED issue has been around for the whole time I've been watching, and I've come to accept that it's a part of the game for now. I'm more outraged by how MLB is trying to clean up the sport. I agree that a level playing field is needed, but I don't think MLB is doing this correctly. They need to step back and reevaluate what they need to do.
I don't get myself worked up too much about doping; it's been part of the game since at least the early 20th century. The overblown reactions in the press just make it harder to have discussions with fans of other teams without discussions turning to cheats. There are much larger issues of crime and punishment to worry about.
I'm largely over the Braun part of this whole saga, because I realized a long time ago that he probably took something he shouldn't have, lied about it (because, honestly, what other choice did he have?), and was gonna get hammered before his career was over. On that front, then, my reaction is largely: "whatever"; a dude who I watch run around and smack stuff with a big wooden stick for a couple of hours each night isn't going to do that anymore this year. Bummer.
I remain much more fascinated with how badly MLB is handling this entire situation. You remember the scene in The Dark Knight, when the accountant who works for Wayne Enterprises figures out that Bruce Wayne is Batman and Lucius is funding him and demands, like, a million dollars a year not to go public? And Lucius says something along the lines of: "You've concluded that your boss, who's one of the most rich and powerful people in the world, goes around at night beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands ... and your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck."
That's how I feel about MLB at this point: in an effort to convince people that you've got your PED issue under control and it's not the problem it was in the '90s and '00s, you're going to publicly (and repeatedly) trash two perennial All-Stars and former MVPs, leak information about the case to the media, buy off the testimony of two drug-peddling pukes, threaten people with bajillion game suspensions and effectively disregard the agreement you made to deal with this very issue, and then let the suspensions (and who knows how many there are going to be; 20? 30?) trickle out piecemeal over the course of the next several weeks?
That's your plan?
Good luck with that.
I have never been big on righteous moral indignation. I have also been fairly outspoken about my beliefs that the line drawn between performance enhancing drugs and non-PEDs is arbitrary and stupid. If someone can explain to me why creatine, contact lenses, caffeine, vitamins, Tommy John surgery, and hundreds of other "nutrition supplements" are not banned while many other items are (without the phrase "a line has to be drawn somewhere"), I would love to hear it.
That being said, Ryan Braun clearly broke the rules. I will save the moral judgment until/if we ever actually learn details about this whole debacle, but he, the Brewers, and the fans have to live with a suspension. Ryan Braun did not die. He will be in the Opening Day lineup in 2014, and I will cheer for him. In some ways it will be almost like a nice surprise; the Brewers can pretend to build a team around Gomez, Segura, and Lucroy and then out of nowhere bring a star left fielder back into the mix. This year I have cheered for a domestic abuser and a drunk driver, I do not really do a moral check on players if they are going to help the baseball team I like.
There are really only two reasons I am somewhat angry about the whole fiasco. One is that Braun made me look like an idiot to the non-Brewer/baseball fan contingent for defending him so profusely. He came out after the successful appeal with such strong language you felt dumb notbelieving him, and unless there is some big piece of the puzzle we do not know, that was a mistake. And secondly, MLB's drug program, in addition to the aforementioned arbitrary line, clearly has problems in the detection department (twenty-some Biogenesis clients and one shady positive test? you would be stupid not to use) and in the due process department.
It is fun to root for villains sometimes. Braun may not be a good guy, but he's our guy. And I have a feeling he is going to take the time off to get "naturally" stronger and better, and come out next year, get drug tested three times per week, and have a career year.