Quick bursts, short takes and questions in the minutes after the Braun suspension...
If he thought he got booed before....
Ryan Braun's suspension--and admission of guilt that came with it--marks one of the saddest, darkest days in the history of Brewers baseball. And that's a lot of bad times.
Is this franchise star-crossed? Jinxed? The face of the team, a player who said and did all the right things, who wanted to be part of the community, who opened businesses and carried himself so well, who hung out with the star QB and made restaurant magic turns out to have feet of clay and a taste for testosterone. In the process of denying what he'd eventually cop to, he suggested conspiracy and wrongdoing, tossing an honest pee-collector under the proverbial bus in the process.
ESPN's Buster Olney said earlier this month that Braun had little support in other clubhouses, that players on other teams have no taste for someone who they deemed an obvious cheat who wouldn't own up to his offenses. That attitude, if true, is only going to be reinforced after what happened today. Will be be forgiven by his peers? Maybe, But what he did won't be forgotten.
The Brewers season is already a loss, so not having Braun isn't a big deal. Who'd have thought Sir Paul McCartney would spent more time in the Milwaukee outfield this July than #8?
Braun gets until April to mend his busted up thumb and badly dented persona. A wise friend once told me, "Image is like glass--once broken, it can't be put back together." That was before social media, the Internet and our scandal-of-the-hour mentality during which misdeeds burn bright and hot for a bug's life before they're fogotten as a new controversy comes front and center.
All Braun can do is push forward. Will fans forgive? Will patrons buy Braun's stuff, eat as his restaurants, forget what he did as he presumably puts up his usual numbers? Will anyone ever deem his future performances as legit? Won't there always be questions? What about his past MVP award? Should that be yanked?
So many things have gone wrong for this team over the years. Even when it tries to do the right thing, they seem to get punished. The injuries. The bad signings. The crappy luck. The Miller Park battle. Steroids. Strikes. And now, this.
I wanted to believe Braun when he issued his confident, adamant denials and I'm guessing a lot of you did, too. But then, if Braun wore the name of a city other than Milwaukee across his chest, would you have given him the benefit of the doubt? Didn't think so.
The Brewers will survive. The team is bigger than one player. It's been through a lot, but never anything quite like this. An awful 2013 season just got a whole lot worse, but at least today's developments won't wreck a pennant chase or a hunt for a divisional crown. The first two months of the season already took care of that.
The Packers report to camp this week and Brewers baseball becomes a sporting afterthought to many a Wisconsin sports fan. Game day stories get relegated to page three of the local paper, replaced by tales of standout rookies and positional battles in Green Bay. Meaningless football games get analyzed like the Zapruder film, while the few and the loyal keep going to Miller Park to see sausage races as a string plays out.
Without the face of the franchise. With questions about just who this guy is that we all wanted to believe, who we all wanted to cheer for, whose name we wore so proudly on our backs, who we wanted out kids to emulate.
"I am not perfect," says Ryan Braun. Nor are we in the stands. We're only guilty of wishing that he was and, if not, honest enough to admit it before the issue got forced, before others got hurt.
His bad. Not ours.