Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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.

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2 Responses

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  1. […] Braun was the biggest, baddest low point of the entire 2013 season.  (See my blogs here, here and here for further details.)  Braun is the best player the Brewers have; he’s a former MVP, has […]

  2. […] written extensively in the past about Ryan Braun’s struggle with MLB over the same issues (go here, here and here for the three latest blogs on the subject), so if you’ve read my blog before, […]


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