Ryan Braun is a 36-year-old man with chronic nagging injuries, more than $140.5 million in career earnings and a newborn son at home.
He has very few reasons to play this season if he thinks things aren’t safe and he’s worried about the spread of COVID-19 in the game.
Reading between the lines of a series of tweets from the Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, it seems like it may not be “Ryan Braun Forever” for long this season if players can’t be reassured about the league’s safety protocols following the outbreak among the Miami Marlins.
Braun says it's "day to day" in deciding whether to keep playing or opt out. "There's a real level of fear and anxiety for all of us."— Tom (@Haudricourt) July 28, 2020
Even though they've only been on road six days, #Brewers Ryan Braun says there's more "anxiety and fear" than it was being at home, where you knew what you could trust and how testing would be done, etc. The Marlins' situation certainly did nothing to alleviate that.— Tom (@Haudricourt) July 28, 2020
Braun on just where MLB is with the whole virus situation right now: "I don't feel comfortable with where we're at. It makes it really difficult to concentrate on baseball." And that's from the guy who had #Brewers huge game-tying hit in 9th inning last night.— Tom (@Haudricourt) July 28, 2020
For someone who’s largely been giving canned cliches to reporters for the past 14 seasons, those comments come off as remarkably candid.
As the veteran in the clubhouse, it also wouldn’t be a surprise if Braun wasn’t the only player on the Brewers feeling this way, especially given the extra context in Adam McCalvy’s tweet on the topic:
Ryan Braun on the Marlins news: "It's disturbing, it's upsetting. It's a reminder of how precarious the situation is that we're in. ... There's real fear and anxiety for all of us."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 28, 2020
Part of the reason why the Miami Marlins won’t be playing a game until next week is because the Washington Nationals took a team vote and decided against traveling to Miami this weekend. In other words, there were enough voices in that clubhouse concerned that the team flat out refused to play scheduled games.
Could we see more clubhouses go that way if things get worse in the coming days and weeks? And the big question — how many players (or teams) would have to make the decision to opt out of the season altogether before the league took a serious look at suspending or canceling the season?