Braun Not Doing Himself Any Favors | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Ryan Braun has already damaged his reputation — perhaps irreversibly so — with much of baseball’s fan base. He has quickly become one of the least-popular players in the league after vehemently denying PED usage after he won his original appeal. After all, people don’t enjoy being lied to. In particular, many Brewers fans feel betrayed by Braun and have been extremely vocal in their criticisms of him and his actions.

While none of this is new, recent reports over the weekend could fan the flames and further entrench Braun’s status as a pariah within the game of baseball.

ESPN released a report on Sunday, stating Braun called numerous big-named veterans to ask for support in his 2012 appeal. That may seem innocuous — and perhaps even expected — but things got cringe-worthy when the report said Braun attempted to discredit the urine sample collector by suggesting he was an anti-Semite and a Cubs’ fan. Essentially, he maliciously labeled Dino Laurenzi Jr. as a religious bigot to cast doubts on what he believed would be an unsuccessful appeal attempt.

Furthermore, a long-time friend, Ralph Sasson, has sued Braun for defamation and made numerous incendiary claims within the lawsuit. This includes taking PEDs at the University of Miami, engaging in academic misconduct at Miami and even accepting money while playing as an amateur at the university. It then proceeds to outline all the significant people Braun lied to after the appeal, injuring the reputation of Sasson in the process.

If Ryan Braun thought he could quietly serve his suspension and return next season amidst little fanfare, he was sorely mistaken. In an effort to protect his sterling reputation and image, he has caused himself a host of trouble. And that reputation he so painstakingly sought to keep intact will become more and more tarnished. It’s one thing to suggest the sample collector made a mistake which could have created a false positive, but it’s something wholly different to suggest a human being knowingly attempted to sabotage one’s career because he hates Jewish people. That’s utterly reprehensible.

Of course, I’ve said multiple times in previous articles that baseball is no place to search for morality. As a society, we continuously place sports stars on pedestals, only to watch those pedestals crumble after we realize said sports star is just a human being who makes human being mistakes. And I still believe that. Ryan Braun didn’t betray anyone by taking performance-enhancing drugs, aside from maybe himself. He certainly doesn’t need to earn back the trust of the fan base — because the common fan had no reason to “trust” him in the first place. There are so few people in this world who were in a position to know whether Ryan Braun took PEDs, yet countless Brewers fans claimed to “know” he was innocent. For some reason, professional sports cause normal people to become emotionally invested in people they’ve never met. Perhaps that’s the power of sports. I don’t know.

But labeling someone as an anti-Semite to protect one’s reputation will certainly put that separation of sport and individual to the test. Many people will not be able to cheer for someone like that. And I understand that sentiment. At the same time, will Brewers fans still cheer when he launches a walk-off home run next season? Will they still cheer when he makes an improbable diving catch in left field on a wicked sinking line drive?

I believe they will. In fact, I know they will.

Because the sport and the team are what matters. We want to feel connected to the individuals because we invest so much of our emotional energy into the well-being of our favorite sports team, but we’re quick to tear up that allegiance once that individual spurns our team for another. For example, after spending years worshipping him, many St. Louis Cardinals fans couldn’t care less about Albert Pujols now that he’s with Los Angeles. It’s that simple. Our allegiance is to the jersey and the game itself, not to the individual. Perhaps there are some former Brewers we still look upon fondly, such as Prince Fielder and CC Sabathia, but they’re still the opponent when they return to Miller Park.

Ryan Braun clearly hasn’t done himself any favors the past couple years. He’s handled this situation about as poorly as a single person could. His character has been exposed. At the same time, his personal character traits don’t ultimately matter when it comes to baseball. Perhaps one could argue his actions could cause problems in the clubhouse — and that would be a legitimate baseball discussion, though largely speculative — but in left field or in the batter’s box, his character does not matter.

It feels somewhat hollow to say that. We want children to have positive role models, and we want to feel like we’re cheering for good people. But it ultimately doesn’t matter. All that matters is the production on the diamond. The sooner we realize that — and the sooner we stop idolizing sports figures — the more we’ll be able to better enjoy the greatest game on earth.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Eugene Mannarino says: August 19, 2013

    i think his so clled apology will be a joke and i still think Mark will be doing his best to make a trade

  2. jeff says: August 19, 2013

    Your point on morality/baseball i do see. But if the guy living down my streer turns out to be a liar and cheater, i am just not gonna really like the guy. For that same reason i dont particularily like Braun at this time. I dont feel “hurt” or “betrayed” but doesnt mean i cant dislike the guy because of this mess.

    • Philboyd says: August 19, 2013

      Exactly.

  3. Brad says: August 19, 2013

    It’s going to be harder to recruit players to MIL, can’t really use the “You get to play with Braun” card anymore if no one want to be his teammate.

    • Ross B says: August 19, 2013

      Don’t worry about that, at least not for this reason. As much as they say otherwise, almost all players sign with either the team that offers the most money or the team that offers the best chance to win. The Brewers can still be the former, though it may be advisable to not be the highest bidder. They almost certainly won’t be the latter. That, way more than Braun, will be why they don’t sign with the Brewers. Any player who is honest with himself will admit that they have always played with at least one cheater and at least one terrible person.

      • Rick Frischmann says: August 21, 2013

        FYI…The Brewers have Braun under contract for at least 5-6 more years!! They’re stuck with him for awhile. Maybe he’ll surprise us, handle this professionally, and still be able to produce w/o PED’s!

        • Ross B says: August 21, 2013

          You probably should try to do the “FYI” thing if you don’t know the fact you are trying to drop. 7 more years with an option for the 8th.

  4. CURT says: August 19, 2013

    Please Trade Him

  5. Philboyd says: August 19, 2013

    What about calling the guy a Cubs fan? That’s pretty bad, too.

  6. BooFirefighter says: August 19, 2013

    Be a fan of the sport, a team, then a player, in that order. If the player moves on, you can still be a fan of theirs, but probably not in the same way as before. Look at all of the players from Green Bay that have gone to Minnesota….. you love them…you hate them, then they end their career, and depending on how long they were with your team, you let bygones be bygones.

  7. Len Moskovits says: August 19, 2013

    But what if the guy really WAS anti semitic? Forget the other stuff…we willingly believe other racist stories about bad cops, etc. Why not about people who are anti semitic? I think we have plenty of proof that people act on that emotion…Why are you so quick to discount that claim? Did Braun give an example of why he made that claim?

    • Bob M says: August 21, 2013

      Perhaps because Braun has proven to be a liar, we should take a bit of caution before believing what he says. Especially claims made without any type of proof.

  8. Franco says: August 19, 2013

    Just for the sake of argument;

    Let’s say that Braun and his lawyers did in fact discover that this guy was anti-Semitic and, gasp, a Cubs fan, and then used this as one of the key points in their trial: does Braun’s lying about his PED use suddenly make those “facts” that they discovered about the collector false? That seems to be the jump in logic I’m noticing in this latest report.

    If this was just a case of defamation by Braun to turn players against the collector — which is probably (1) likely, (2) beyond stupid of Braun, (3) yet another reason to dislike Braun, and, of course, (4) the immediate assumption made — then he deserves to draw the ire of fans and players everywhere.

  9. Joel says: August 19, 2013

    My problem is that he built his image of being the “clean” super star. He was supposed to be the face of the “new era” of baseball, the clean era. Not only that but he denied what he knew to be true, and only got off on a technicality. Then he had all his teammate back him up on it. Now they all look dumb too. I imagine there are more than a few of them that aren’t too happy with Braun at this point.

    But I think the ultimate question is what does the ownership do? If it were me, I would get rid of him and show everyone in the organization that if you cheat, you don’t belong in a Brewers uniform.

  10. Beep says: August 19, 2013

    How about Braun ruining Corey Hart’s knee? As I recall, Corey went running and slipped on the way to hear Braun’s first presser to proclaim his innocence in spring training two years ago. Now he can’t get healthy. Braun successfully took two guys off the field this year.

    • Kris says: August 22, 2013

      He also caused the famine of 1694!

  11. Jeff says: August 19, 2013

    “It’s one thing to suggest the sample collector made a mistake which could have created a false positive, but it’s something wholly different to suggest a human being knowingly attempted to sabotage one’s career because he hates Jewish people. That’s utterly reprehensible.”

    I think your emotions are running away with your fingers here. Regardless of the Braun situation, anti-Semitism does exist. It’s not ‘reprehensible’ to claim someone sabotaged you because they ‘hate Jewish people.’ That does happen, actually. I’ve seen it happen. If I say “So-and-so sabotaged that guy’s career because he hates Jewish people,” that’s reprehensible?

    What would be ‘reprehensible’ is making the accusation knowing it’s false, strictly for the purposes of smearing someone. I think that’s what you’re trying to say. You may want to fix your mess before it makes you look like you’re attacking the existence of anti-Semitism.

    (BTW: I’m not Jewish)

    • Sam says: August 20, 2013

      Read it again. He said the suggestion of it was reprehensible. In context, he’s clearly saying this suggestion was not backed by anything.

  12. Matthew V. Rossi says: August 20, 2013

    I want Braun traded. I cannot and will not cheer for a lying cheat.

  13. The Logical Man says: August 20, 2013

    You know what is funny about this- This Henry character who went on about how good Braun was and scoffed at people who said he was a user- You don’t hear from him know

  14. Dan says: August 20, 2013

    Your not talking about the famous pirate Henry- Have you looked up buffoon in the dictionary

  15. Bratwurst says: August 20, 2013

    I think Braun is clean!!!

  16. Big Lance says: August 20, 2013

    I agree with Logical Man about that Henry- I really agree with Matthew- How can you follow this guy again. They only problem is his contract- Impossible to trade- Plus no one wants him. I hope Gibby gets a hold of him

  17. Joshua says: August 20, 2013

    I for one am still waiting to hear what Braun has to say once he does speak. Everyone is claiming he’s a liar and cheater, which is fairly easy to jump to that conclusion. But the MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S
    JOINT DRUG PREVENTION AND TREATMENT PROGRAM is a 31 page document which states numerous other reasons why he could of been suspended. Whether is be interfering in an investigation or even lying about knowing something.
    It would be really nice if MLB just came out and said Braun is being suspended for “BLANK” instead of saying he violated the joint drug prevention and treatment program. That’s no different then saying you are going to jail for breaking the law. No duh you broke the law, but what law did you break? I hate everything being vague and us having to speculate.

    I only bring this all up because I find everything that happened odd. With Braun offering his DNA which MLB declined to the arbitrator finding that the sample could of been tainted through chain of custody.

    As a fan I want a yes or no answer and I want a punishment that reflects that. If it’s yes, give him another full year suspension. If it’s just interfering, what he’s serving is good enough.

    • Ross B says: August 20, 2013

      You are wrong on one point. No matter what his suspension is correct. The first violation of the JDA triggers a 50 game suspension. The extra 15 games were for all the other crap that went on with Braun. He paid his penalty. Suspending him for an entire year violates the JDA and CBA.

  18. Bob M says: August 21, 2013

    It appears you have a very narrow view of what it means to be a sports fan. To pick out a couple of quotes, in an attempt to illustrate what I mean by this:

    “Because the sport and the team are what matters. We want to feel connected to the individuals because we invest so much of our emotional energy into the well-being of our favorite sports team, but we’re quick to tear up that allegiance once that individual spurns our team for another”

    It very well may be true that your experience revolves around the name of the team above all things. However, that is not true for everyone. My first experiences as a baseball fan were specifically player-related. I loved watching Rickey Henderson play baseball. He was my favorite player, and my favorite team was whichever one he was on. I jumped from As to Yankees and back with no second thoughts. While I have ultimately settled on the Brewers, for reasons that have little to do with the team, I still relate to the players on the field much more than Bernie Brewer or anything non-player related. A more recent example (though one that doesn’t apply to me) would be the legions of Packer fans who became Jets fans when Brett Favre changed teams.

    “He certainly doesn’t need to earn back the trust of the fan base — because the common fan had no reason to “trust” him in the first place.”

    The common Brewer fan has cheered for Braun for the past 7 seasons. They could depend on him being in the lineup every day, and deliver fantastic results. Now? He’s suspended for PED use. Will he continue to use, inviting a future suspension? Will he continue to be a fantastic player, or will he suffer an immediate decline? Those questions about performance and availability did not exist before. And this does not even begin to get into basic tenants of acceptable behavior. He publicly declared his innocence, and we all listened. He lied. While I certainly have no reason to place personal demands on Braun, I do have the opportunity to voice my displeasure with my wallet. While he attempts to “build his brand”, I can choose not to go to his restaurant. Or wear his clothing line. Or purchase Braun-related Brewers memorabilia. That is the type of “trust” he will attempt to restore with the fans. Can he be a dependable member of the Brewers once more, and will the fans accept him – and show their acceptance?

    “For some reason, professional sports cause normal people to become emotionally invested in people they’ve never met. Perhaps that’s the power of sports. I don’t know.”

    That is simply part of the human experience. Sports has little to do with it. People have emotional reactions to events, places and other people. Princess Diana. Trayvon Martin. Barack Obama. Kate Middleton. The Pope. Millions of people around the world had emotional responses to events concerning these people.

    “All that matters is the production on the diamond. The sooner we realize that … the more we’ll be able to better enjoy the greatest game on earth.”

    If the only reason people watch sports is to observe the competition, sure. Of course, if that were the only reason to watch sports there would be no need for post-game press conferences. There would be no need to purchase a team T-shirt or hat. There would be no reason for MLB to partner with charity organizations, such as Susan G. Komen. There would be no need for internet blogs to discuss off-field things such as what Braun is doing to his public reputation. Quite simply, sports is entertainment. As a result, there are a lot of off-field things that are part of the product. If people want to be entertained by and financially support those they perceive as having good moral character, that is their right. As Braun proves, it doesn’t mean it will always happen.

  19. Bryguy says: August 21, 2013

    I love baseball and the Brewers more than anything. Players come and go but the game and the team keeps on going. I really don’t want to see Braun in a Brewer uniform ever again. Honestly, I can’t even watch replays of him doing amazing things in the past to help push the Brewers to the playoffs because it wasn’t legit.

    I know that not many teams are going to want Braun in their clubhouse but I still think that Melvin could move him. Will it come at a price? Of course. I imagine that the Brewers will have to eat the majority of his contract and get nothing in return for him. Teams like Seattle, Cleveland, Miami, Houston, or Oakland might be able to have a guy like Braun on their team. I know it sucks not getting much back in return but for the face of the Brewers franchise, ownership, and most importantly the fans, this guy needs to be gone. I have always been proud to call myself a Brewer fan, even when they were terrible, but since Braun made us all look stupid I struggle with it. Lets ship this guy and be happy about our up and coming young talent that we have. I would rather watch the Brewers struggle for the next 4-5 years without Braun than see them do it with Braun.

    • Franco says: August 22, 2013

      Precisely why I’m glad fans don’t run teams. This is baseball, not a grand moral battlefield. Dumping Braun while paying all of his contract for absolutely nothing in return: absolutely comical.

  20. The Logical Man says: August 21, 2013

    Realistically Milw needs to clean house and go forward. They need to rebuild the minor league system. If they can move players like Weeks possibly Gallardo when he still has some value and if they can get some type of taker with Braun they need to do it. They need prospects badly

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