Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for July 22nd, 2013

Milwaukee Brewers 2013 Woes Continue — Ryan Braun Accepts 65-Game Suspension, Out for the Year

with 6 comments

Folks, when it rains, it pours.

While I was working on my previous update, I had written this about my favorite team, which are of course the Milwaukee Brewers.  They are currently on a four-game winning streak, and I thought it worthy of celebration.  So here’s what I said, moments before the news about Ryan Braun broke in Milwaukee:

The Milwaukee Brewers are on a post All-Star break roll, sweeping the Florida Marlins out of Milwaukee yesterday and winning all three low-scoring games due to excellent pitching (Friday’s starting pitcher was Kyle Lohse, Saturday’s was Yovani Gallardo, and Sunday’s was the rapidly improving Wily Peralta) by both starters and bullpen.

Let’s see how well they do against San Diego tonight, though I do think they should have an excellent chance as the Padres have won only two more games than the Brewers and are exactly the same in the loss column.

(Granted, it seems odd to quote myself.)

I wrote this prior to the knowledge that Braun had accepted a 65-game suspension and will consequently be out the rest of the 2013 season, forfeiting over $3 million of his 2013 salary.  (Please see this link from Yahoo Sports for further details.)  Which is why I pulled it out of the previous post, quoted it here, and now will have to discard all of that as the much bigger story is Braun’s upcoming absence for the remainder of the 2013 season.

Oh, brother.

Look.  I’m someone who fully believed that Braun was innocent of using any performance-enhancing drug (or PED, for short).  Mistakes can happen when it comes to drug testing; they’re rare, sure, but they still can happen, and it seemed plausible to me that a man whose physique had never changed, whose lifetime numbers (batting average, on-base-percentage, slugging percentage, etc.) had never changed, either, and who vehemently declared his innocence was worthy of defending.

It has also seemed to me, for quite some time, that Major League Baseball has a grudge against Ryan Braun.  They are annoyed that he managed to win his arbitration case in 2012, and that he was never suspended at that time for PEDs.  And they have continued to go after him since then, doing their best to vilify his reputation in the process.

So, what am I to think of this statement from Braun, then?

As quoted from the Yahoo Sports article by Jeff Passan:

“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect,” Braun said. “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.”

This statement doesn’t really say anything, does it?  Other than that Braun accepted punishment for unnamed “mistakes,” apologized for the “distraction” afterward, and wants to play baseball again, there’s nothing here for a fan of the Brewers to really hang her hat on.

This article by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel baseball beat writer Tom Haudricourt clearly states this about the Ryan Braun suspension:

Major League Baseball has suspended Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun without pay for the remainder of the 2013 season and he has accepted the penalty, meaning he was caught red-handed either buying and/or using performance-enhancing drugs.

The suspension takes place immediately, so Braun will be suspended for the final 65 games of the season, beginning with the Brewers’ game Monday night at Miller Park against San Diego. The sanction came as a result of MLB’s investigation into the infamous Biogenesis clinic, which was exposed as having sold PEDs to players after documents were released to various news agencies earlier this year.

The suspension also exposed Braun as a liar because he has stated many times that he never used PEDs and never wavered from that stance.

So it appears that Tom Haudricourt isn’t too thrilled with what happened here, either.

Again — as a writer, I am trained to spot inconsistencies.  Braun’s story, as Tom H. clearly said, never wavered.  Braun loudly proclaimed his innocence at every turn.  Braun blamed the guy who collected the urine test for the reason it came up positive, and was able to make that stick, and doing so made it appear to me that Braun really was telling the truth.  Especially as Braun hadn’t failed any other drug tests before, or since.

But there are other ways to cheat the system.  Baseball itself knows that better than anyone, and fans — even good ones, like myself, who are aware of steroids and other PEDs and know something of their effects on the body — aren’t really able to fully grasp why someone like Ryan Braun, who seemingly has the world at his feet and has no reason to skirt the rules whatsoever, has now admitted to doing so.

Even if his admission has all the oomph of a non-admission, mostly because he hasn’t said exactly what he’s been accused of doing.

Baseball fans will forgive almost any player if he tells the truth about what he’s done.  Andy Pettitte said he used HGH — human growth hormone — in an effort to heal from injury faster, and wasn’t suspended.  Alex Rodriguez admitted to using unspecified PEDs a few years ago, and wasn’t suspended (though he may be now due to apparently using them again via Biogenesis).  Fernando Vina admitted to using steroids when he was with the Brewers long after the fact — he was a broadcaster, by then — and no one has ever vilified him.

But when someone doesn’t admit it and apparently did use them — whether it’s Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, or Rafael Palmeiro — fans get upset.  And then the player in question faces consequences, including shunning, booing, boorish behavior by the fans, or worst of all, exclusion from the Baseball Hall of Fame.

My attitude regarding PED use remains much the same as it’s always been.  I think if you’re trying to stay healthy to play baseball, that’s a lot different than trying to cheat the system, which is why McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Bonds (if he really did use them) should be given a pass, as all of them had well-known health problems that steroids/PEDs may have alleviated.  And if you’re willing to accept all sorts of adverse effects on your body, as seen by Lyle Alzado’s tragic death after his brilliant NFL career not so long ago, have at.

My particular problem with Braun isn’t that he used (or maybe didn’t use) PEDs.  It’s that he still hasn’t come clean regarding that use.

I believe very strongly in redemption and second chances.  But one of the things most people need to do before they can fully proceed with either is to be honest.  With themselves.  With the other important people in their lives.

So far, Ryan Braun hasn’t done this.

Like it or not, Braun is a public figure by the dint of his baseball stardom.  That’s why whatever happened must be explained to those who’ve supported him from the beginning — some specific explanations, not today’s weasel-worded non-denial denial — the fans of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Until he does, he’ll probably face all sorts of unintended consequences of today’s admission.  And he’ll keep on facing them until he’s finally, fully and freely explained just what happened here that’s bad enough for him to accept an unpaid suspension for the rest of the 2013 season.

An All-Around, Generalized Update

leave a comment »

Folks, I’ve been hip-deep in editing this past week — I’ve been doing a last-ditch edit of my novel, ELFY, and have decided to re-do some chapter lengths.  I also edited a short project for a friend, and have consulted on two other projects . . . and as if that’s not enough, I prepared for a concert with the Racine Concert Band that was unfortunately rained out last evening, too.  (I was to play my alto saxophone.)

So I’ve had plenty going on, which is why I haven’t written a blog in over a week, why I haven’t reviewed any books, either, and quite frankly, haven’t really had much time to even turn around.  (Ask my friends, as they barely see me, online or off.)

At any rate, here’s what I think about this, that, and the other, July 2013 style:

The George Zimmerman trial stirred up a lot of bad feelings.  The African-American community is outraged, as is completely understandable, that Zimmerman wasn’t held accountable for his actions by the Florida court system.  The Hispanic community is upset because they mostly seem to believe that Zimmerman is a poor reflection on them.  And many white Americans seem to believe that Zimmerman is a martyr and should be embraced at all costs.

While I completely understand how the public at large could have conflicting feelings — and these three segments of the American “melting pot” could feel in completely different ways — the fact remains that as Zimmerman was not initially charged with anything for over a month, many bits of evidence were completely lost.  The prosecution didn’t have much to work with, which may be partly why they seemed to do such a terrible job in going after Zimmerman.  And the laws of Florida are such that there was absolutely no way with the evidence the prosecution had left to work with that the prosecution could have ever gotten a jury to sign off on the charge of second degree murder, either, no matter how competent the prosecution had been.

I said on my Facebook page that I thought Zimmerman would not be convicted of second degree murder or the high degree of manslaughter, which came into play only in the final days of the trial and was ill-defined to boot, not because I think Zimmerman is an innocent — he’s not — but because the prosecution hadn’t proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Had the prosecution gone after something much more likely to have been understood by the jury, albeit with much less high of a profile than second degree murder, they would’ve charged Zimmerman with whatever Florida calls “reckless endangerment of human life” coupled with “unlawful use of a firearm.”  Zimmerman most likely would’ve been acquitted of the last due to the way Florida’s laws are written, but at least the prosecution would’ve had a snowball’s chance in Hell of making the charges stick.

A sentence for something like that in Wisconsin to a first-time offender is usually anywhere between two to five years in jail coupled with the loss of the firearm in question.  I think if the jury had been looking at something like that for Zimmerman rather than the lengthy stints in jail required for second degree murder or the high degree of manslaughter the Florida authorities were going after, they may have been able to consider the actual evidence in a different light.

All I know is, I’m glad there weren’t nationwide riots after the verdict was read, and that the jury’s verdict has been respected (even if not appreciated by vast segments of the population).  Because truly, there are better ways to continue the conversation Trayvon Martin’s untimely death has prompted than to cause permanent damage to people and objects — like actually talking.

Edited to add:

A very interesting column by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane has this to say about the Zimmerman trial:

After Zimmerman’s acquittal, widespread dissatisfaction was expressed by black and white supporters alike who didn’t understand how an African-American teenager’s life could have so little value in the criminal justice system.

Without a video, the Zimmerman jury felt compelled to buy the defense portrayal of Zimmerman as someone just defending himself from attack, even though testimony showed he sought the confrontation by stalking the teenager in the dark of night. Zimmerman’s self-defense argument (not technically “stand your ground”) angered many black parents, who wondered how someone could be considered not guilty after initiating contact with a black teenager who ended up dead.

I agree wholeheartedly with Kane’s assessment, and think this is the main reason why the jury wasn’t able to do any more than acquit Zimmerman of what he’d been accused of — particularly because the evidence was definitely not there (something the prosecution must have known) for second degree murder due to the 45-day delay between the death of Martin and the arrest of Zimmerman.

(Now back to my original post.)

I’m also reading a really interesting book right now by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called THE GREAT PARTNERSHIP: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.  I have found it most enlightening thus far, and may post some quotes from it soon.

So that, and watching baseball (thoughts about the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Braun accepting a 65-game suspension will be forthcoming, honest), and working are what I’ve mostly been doing this past week.

And because of all I’ve been doing in July, I didn’t get a chance to mention that I’d passed my third year of bloggery (is that even a word?  ‘Tis now.) here at WordPress earlier this month.  (Hip, hip . . . something?)  But I hope things will have calmed down so much by this time next year that I will be able to write a much more proper celebratory blog — or at least an informative one — discussing what I’ve learned from blogging, my fellow authors, and you all . . . because I’m sure that post is inside me somewhere.

At any rate, thanks for continuing to read my blog despite the infrequency of my recent postings.  I truly appreciate it.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm