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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

It's not the name on the back that matters

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Anyone who's good with needle and thread in these parts must be busy these days.

REALLY busy.

"Got a question," the talented one is probably asked, "is there a way you an remove this name and number from the back of my Brewers jersey?  It's a good shirt and I still want to wear it, but this '8' and the 'BRAUN' that come with it?  They've GOT to go!"


Lots of Brewers fans now own damaged goods--apparel bearing the name of baseball's public enemy number one.  Few Milwaukee players were so loved.  None fell so far so fast.

We took calls the morning after Braun's admission (for what, he hasn't said) and apology (for what, we still don't know) and the first guy up told us that he'd taken all of his Braun stuff and burned it in his fire pit the night previous.  Poof.  Gone.

My wife makes clothing and is in the process of undoing her own Braun shirt--she went to Thursday's game with work friends and didn't have enough time to complete the purge, getting only as far as the "B".  The jersey was left on the kitchen counter.   She wore something else.

My daughter told me she no longer will buy stuff with a player's name on the back--she, too, has Braun items that she won't be sporting any more.  Her thought is a rational one--remember, there used to be a time when we didn't name buildings/bridges/roads/streets after living people, choosing instead to wait until they died so they'd have less of a chance to screw things up.

Jerry Seinfeld had it right--we don't cheer for players anymore, we root for uniforms.  There's no loyalty left in sports where athletes leave via free agency or get traded, even after years with the same franchise.   Sports marketers want to sell us personalities when in fact we should be rooting for teams.   Among the many galling aspects of the whole Brett Favre mess was seeing people wearing #4 Jets and Vikings jerseys, fans who were loyal more to the single player than to the entire franchise.   Only now can we civilly speak of retiring Favre's Packers jersey in Green Bay.

I own four Braun jerseys--one dark blue authentic and three All-Star models.  They no longer hang in my closet, and now reside in a red plastic bag en route to a dark corner of my basement.   Wearing anything Braun-related now would seem like an endorsement of his career--not just his great on-field numbers but also his off-field shame.   And, no matter how large your capacity for future forgiveness, would you really want to spend an entire day at the ballpark garnering nasty looks or having to explain your fashion sense?

I understand why a fan would burn their Braun laundry, but I myself won't.  Besides his name on the back, there's another one on the front that means more: "Brewers" or "Milwaukee".   They've been through enough this past week.  Therapeutic as it may be to watch Braun's name go up in flames. there's no need to have flames licking away at what's on the front of that shirt or jersey.  The Brewers and Milwaukee did nothing wrong.

It's always the name on the front that matters most.

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