My Thoughts on Baseball’s Ryan Braun Bashing
When this whole thing with Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun was amping up last year, I withheld judgement. Obviously, we're talking about a very different situation now.
So far, I've shied away from putting my thoughts out publicly because it's hard for me to really process the situation in a completely neutral way without feeling like I'd be piled upon by other baseball fans.
I'm the only Milwaukee Brewers fan that most people know, so I'm the de-facto defender. Having grown up among Yankees fans, Mets fans, and the occasional oddball Red Sox fan, it's a role I've played my whole life.
To be honest, I'm not sure what to think of the whole situation. I want to think that there must be some extenuating circumstance. I want to think that Braun must have some good reason for having something sketchy in his body.
Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte admitted that he used human growth hormone to help recover from injury in 2002. As the unquestioned star of baseball's smallest market franchise, maybe Braun felt the pressure to stay healthy and used the same reasoning (however faulted that reasoning may be).
Or maybe he simply cheated. Maybe, as a member of baseball's smallest market franchise, he saw the opportunity to be the unquestioned alpha dog with a little artificial help.
Only Ryan Braun knows.
In the last few days, the media has had a lot of different titles for Braun; pariah, "raging narcissist", and "Lyin' Ryan".
Before all of this, Ryan Braun had a pretty good reputation, especially among Brewers fans. He was good with the media, signed autographs for fans, and participated in charity events. He carried himself with just the slightest amount of swagger to make him a likeable stud athlete.
So before I'm castigated for not coming right out and stringing Braun up along with everyone else, think about how you'd feel if your favorite, likeable player was caught in the same situation - Yankees fans, how would you react if it was Mariano Rivera? Mets fans, if David Wright was caught red handed, how would you feel?
When a former hero is shamed, there are a lot of conflicting feelings for their fans. I, for one, would like to know the whole story. I want to know if it was a misguided attempt to heal, against MLB's zero tolerance policy, or if it was a straight up, fully knowledgeable grasp at artificial greatness.
I, like the rest of us, will have to wait for the eventual sit down with the media. In the meantime the strongest feeling is disappointment. Disappointment that a star let his fans down. Disappointment that a franchise desperate for positive attention is now tainted, and disappointed that this isn't something that is going to go away soon, if ever.