Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Milwaukee, You're Better Than This

Opening Day is unlike any other. Its festivities hold hope and promise for the new season. Anything can happen. The Chicago Cubs can capture their first World Series since 1908. The Boston Red Sox can win their fifth title in a decade, brushing aside a history of futility. The New York Yankees can once again prove that money wins championships by capturing their 28th World Series. Bottom line, anything can happen.

While the sun on the Opening Day of Major League Baseball can wash away so many memories by offering promise, certain demons cannot simply be forgotten after an offseason. The Los Angeles Angels have yet to return to the postseason despite having an absolutely loaded roster. The Toronto Blue Jays followed offseason hype with a terrible and dissapointing season. And Ryan Braun is still Ryan Braun.

Ryan Braun is the star player for the Milwaukee Brewers. Braun, a former NL Rookie of the Year and NL MVP, has slugged the Brew Crew into the postseason in 2011, but the team hasn't been able to duplicate its success. The outfielder was welcomed by a warm, standing ovation after he took to Miller Park for the first time since an ugly suspension that ended his 2013 season early. Shame on Ryan Braun and shame on any Brewers fan who put their hands together for Braun. 

Now, why the harsh stance? You may recall Braun has been associated with a scandal involving Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) and a Biogenisis Clinic. When asked about his involvement with PEDs after the 2011 Postseason, Braun strongly denied that he ever used PEDs. He added that he was willing to bet his life that the substances never entered his body.

Well, if his word was any good, Ryan Braun would be a dead man.

As it turns out, Braun is a pathological liar since he actually used PEDs a number of times. What gave Braun such confidence to say he never used the drugs was because the sample that was initially used to test him was mishandled to a degree. However, the truth (the actual truth, not Ryan Braun's version of the truth) is that the outfield slugger is and always will be a cheater. He even managed to cheat the system by choosing to drop his appeal for a ban for the rest of the season after the Brewers' season turned out to be a lost cause. 

Enter Opening Day, 2014. While the rest of Major League Baseball is ready to boo and jeer at number 8 when he steps into their batter's box, Milwaukee gave him a hero's welcome. Why? Do they not have any sports coverage in Wisconsin? Well, obviously because they are convinced that Green Bay, WI is Titletown, USA; that you can win a college basketball championship with just white players; and that Ryan Braun is returning from the Heroes' Journey. That's got to be it. Joseph Campbell couldn't have created a better story to fit his frame of the generic hero: Ryan Braun, the Messiah of Milwaukee. The Brewers' hero is great, but hardships present a change and he must leave. While in exile and paying his penance in the land of Florida, the hero discovers something, the elixir to great power and strength. Upon his return, he becomes an even greater hero with his newfound strength, willing the Milwaukee Brewers to the promise land. That must be why Milwaukee fans are so excited to see him again.

Well, here's the thing Milwaukee: I know that recently this fan base came close to tasting the ripe fruit that is a National League Pennant, but do not stoop to the level of a crook, a villain, a liar. Ryan Braun can hit with the best of them. Great. He wants to improve. Good for him. He took PEDs to improve. That happens, people do that. If that was the end of the story to this point, perhaps Braun could be forgiven and everything would soon be forgotten. However, that's not what happened. Through this whole fiasco, we have all learned a little bit about Braun himself. In fact, we have learned a lot. Here is a man who blatantly lies to his fans as well as himself. He could probably convince himself that the Brewers are better than the Cardinals. Anyhow, the Braun situation has told us all too much about his true character. We were all here to see the story unravel, and for that, shame on you Milwaukee. You should be better than this. Just know that the face of your franchise would lie to you, right in your face. Keep that in mind next time you down a Miller Lite to wash away the sadness of yet another Brewers' loss.