Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for August 23rd, 2013

My Reaction to Ryan Braun’s Statement and Letter to Brewers Fans

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Folks, most of you know very well by my previous blogs on the subject that I have been very interested in Ryan Braun’s situation, both before he accepted a 65-game, season-ending suspension earlier this year, and since.  Which is why I’m not at all surprised that I heard from at least a few of you privately regarding these questions:

“So, Barb, what do you think of Ryan Braun’s statement yesterday (8/22/2013, to be exact)?  Much less his letter to fans of the Milwaukee Brewers?”

I think what Braun said is the best he’s able to do right now.  Witness these lines from the letter the Brewers sent out to fans of the team last evening (including yours truly):

I am so sorry for letting you down by being in denial for so long and not telling the whole truth about what happened. I am ashamed and extremely embarrassed by the decisions I made. There are no excuses for what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions. I apologize to all Brewers fans for disappointing you.

Braun’s letter appears to be sincere; more to the point, as a writer and editor myself, it sounds like Braun’s personal speech (insofar as a letter ever can) rather than a canned, prepared statement by a PR firm.

But some pundits just cannot get over the fact that Braun lied in the first place about his past PED usage.  They’re upset that, in Braun’s statement, Braun only had this to say about what he took:

Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn’t have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.

But as Craig Calcaterra put it at Hardballtalk.com today:

Wow, I’m gobsmacked. I really and truly thought that, after Ryan Braun‘s apology last night, people would embrace him and say that he addressed every concern they had and now we could move on. Imagine my shock and horror this morning when I read multiple takes from the usual suspects about how Braun left questions unanswered and didn’t go far enough.

Yes, Calcaterra is being sarcastic.  But he has a point.  There are some pundits out there, Buster Olney and Jeff Passan among them, who will never, ever be satisfied by what Braun does ever again.  Braun could drop dead in the street after rescuing five little children from a housefire, and it still wouldn’t be enough to satisfy them.

In addition, players often do not know exactly what they are taking.  As Calcaterra says elsewhere in his article:

Braun probably doesn’t know (what he took). Heck, even if he does what difference would it make? Show me one instance where baseball writers have made meaningful distinctions between anabolic steroids, HGH, testosterone and other things. They all treat them like magic pills which bestow super powers, so Braun not breaking them down here makes zero difference.

I agree.

While my anger over Braun’s deception has cooled (see my previous blog on the subject), much of what I actually believe is the same.  From my earlier blog:

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.

(And I called for Braun to “come clean,” which he has now done.)

As I’ve said before, I believe in redemption and second chances.  And the first step in redeeming yourself is to admit what you’ve done and take personal responsibility, which is why I’m pleased Ryan Braun has finally come out with these explanations and apologies.

Ultimately, though, what Ryan Braun needs to remember is this: It’s not important what other people think of you.  It’s important what you think of yourself.  Providing you can look yourself in the eye and tell yourself you’ve made an honest effort to do better, that’s all that any human being can ever do.

Or to boil it down to brass tacks: Yes, I accept Ryan Braun’s explanation and apology.  And I hope he’ll play well throughout the rest of his career, because he’s a really good baseball player and I’ve always enjoyed seeing him play.

But for those of you who still expect better than this from professional athletes, I have news: The Tooth Fairy isn’t real, either.

Book Buyers, Rejoice: 4 Acclaimed TTB Titles Just 99 Cents for Next Two Days

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Folks, I haven’t done a great deal of cross-promotion of other people’s work on my blog.  But I actually worked on three of the four e-books that Twilight Times Books is offering in a special promotional deal for just ninety-nine cents over the next two days/forty-eight hours at Amazon, which is one reason I’m very glad to let you know all about them.

The first book on this promotional list is Dora Machado’s THE CURSE GIVER.  Machado’s book is a dark, lush, and evocative tale of star-crossed lovers who must join forces no matter how high the odds against them;  the best part of THE CURSE GIVER is the lively storytelling, full of characters you’ll love (Lusielle the remedy-mixer — or herb healer, if you’d rather, though I like Machado’s term better; Bren the cursed aristocrat working against time), characters you’ll loathe (Lusielle’s odious husband, a number of the toadies at the various courts), and characters you’ll reluctantly like (Bren’s master of spies, a priestess who may or may not be on Bren’s side despite being the estranged wife of Bren’s spymaster).

I edited this novel, and can tell you without a doubt that once this novel hooks you, you will be up long past your bedtime wondering, “What happened to all those hours?  And hey, this is an interesting book . . . I wonder how it ends?”

Then, of course, you’ll just keep turning the pages.  (Guaranteed.)

The next book on the list is Natalie Roers’ YA literary fantasy LUCID.  This is a book about the power of lucid dreaming as used by a kid named Travis; Travis is disfigured, so he thinks no one will ever love him, and of course as he’s up against adolescence, he’s a bundle of nerves and hormones.  Travis’s object of affection is a girl named Corrine, and in the real world, Travis has no confidence to talk with her.  But in the otherworld created by Travis’s lucid dreams, anything can happen . . . perhaps even a romance?

I edited this novel, too, and felt it an interesting young adult coming of age tale with a lot of true-to-life realism in it despite (or perhaps because of) the lucid dreaming made real aspect.   The romantic interactions between Travis and Corrine are sweet and age-appropriate, and the dialogue between them works well.  Tweens and teens should love this one.

The third book I worked on (this time as a proofreader) is Aaron Paul Lazar’s DON”T LET THE WIND CATCH YOU.  This is a YA mystery in Lazar’s “Gus Tregarde” series that’s set in 1965.  Most of the plot revolves around a strange house in the woods that Gus’s mother doesn’t want Gus going anywhere near, along with Gus’s mother’s strange antipathy toward a lone, cranky hermit.  That and an unquiet Indian spirit (note that no one, but no one, said “Native American” back in 1965) helps to complicate Gus’s summer rather nicely.

Lazar does a particularly good job at summoning up the ambiance of a 1965 summer — how much Gus can do, is expected to do, what songs he’s listening to, his first hint of adolescent hormones, and his love for serial mystery fiction all helps to ground the reader in a firm place and time.  In addition, Gus is a very likeable guy that you just can’t help but root for . . . all in all, this is an excellent addition for any library, but most particularly for young adults nine and up and for the slightly older reluctant 12-16 year old male reader crowd as well.

Then comes the only book on the list I haven’t had anything to do with whatsoever — Dina von Lowenkraft’s DRAGON FIRE.  All I can give you there is the summation as listed on the Twilight Times Books Web site:

Some choices are hard to live with.
But some choices will kill you.

When seventeen-year-old Anna first meets Rakan in her hometown north of the Arctic Circle, she is attracted to his pulsing energy. Unaware that he is a shape-shifting dragon, Anna is drawn into a murderous cycle of revenge that pits Rakan and his clan against her best friend June.

Torn between his forbidden relationship with Anna, punishable by death, and restoring his family’s honor by killing June, Rakan must decide what is right. And what is worth living – or dying – for.

DRAGON FIRE sounds quite interesting, and for ninety-nine cents as an e-book, it’s as much a steal as the other three.

Anyway, these promotional prices are also good at Barnes and Noble and at most other e-book sites, but do not apply at the Twilight Times Books site itself (which is why I haven’t linked there in order to keep anyone from getting completely confused).  Links have been given to the Amazon (US) listing for ease of reference.

I believe all four of these e-books should be available in the UK and elsewhere via Amazon.uk.  And as this special price deal will only last for another 45 hours, Central Daylight Time, what are you waiting for?

Go grab them right now!

UPDATE: Just received confirmation via publisher Lida Quillen that these books are available now via Amazon.uk but aren’t available at the promotional price at Smashwords.  (Sorry about my previous assumption; you know what they say about those.)

Here are the direct links to the places that are offering this promotion through the end of tomorrow evening if the above four links do not work for you:

http://amzn.to/eYYy6s
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Twilight-Times-Books
http://www.omnilit.com/storeSearch.html?sortBy=recentlyAdded&searchBy=publisher&qString=Twilight+Times+Books

Enjoy!