Think The Brewers Will Contend This Year? Think Again

ImageHope Springs Eternal or in baseball lore Spring Hopes are Eternal.

The 2014 season has finally begun and on opening day every team is tied for first.

So how will the Brewers fare in what is probably the second toughest division in the major leagues (A.L. East)?

Don’t believe any hype since this team did too little during the off-season to contend. After last season, the Brewers had four main issues to address.

1. The Ryan Braun Distraction      

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There is little the club can do except sit and observe how Braun will respond to a drug free season and obstreperous fans. The best solution would to have traded him for some much-needed pitching.

The Giants were desperately seeking a power hitting left fielder. Instead they settled for Mike Morse. The Brewers could have probably gotten one of their top end starters, like Madison Bumgarner, for Braun. So what did they do? Move him to right field. Besides Braun, only Melky Cabrera among all the suspended cheats from last year remained with the same club. It was time to cut and move on.

So how would they fill the Braunless lineup gap? That brings us to:

2. Find a first baseman.

When Corey Hart went down for the year the club inexplicably went with multiple players at the position. Juan Francisco, Sean Halton, catchers Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, even shortstops Alex Gonzalez and Yuniesky Betancourt! It was a farce. One would think that this glaring chasm would have gotten intense scrutiny during the off-season. Instead of going after say, Kendry Morales, GM Doug Melvin burdened Manager Ron Roenicke with a platoon of 37-year-old Lyle Overbay and 30-year-old Mark Reynolds. One’s best days are clearly behind him while the other will remind Brewers fans of Rob Deer, Richie Sexson and Greg Vaughn, tremendous power when contact is made combined with copious amounts of strikeouts

Why did Melvin take this route? One can only speculate, but the combined salaries of these two would not equal what Morales would have wanted, so he took the cheap way out. Morales received a qualifying offer of about $11 million from the Mariners which he turned down. (The figure is the average salary of the top 129 paid players and is used for all players receiving qualifying offers). When starting at $11 million it’s easy to see why Melvin chose the alternative. One other possible move would to have Helton and Hunter Morris compete for the job during spring training, winner take all. This would have been even less expensive since either of these two would have gotten the major league minimum and would have gained valuable major league experience. Unlike the Cubs with Anthony Rizzo, the Brewers, for some reason,  always seem reluctant to do this. So the Overbay/Reynolds platoon it will be. Good luck with that one.

3. Fix The Problem at Second Base

Scooter Gennett deserves every chance to play regularly but the albatross that is Rickey Weeks stands in the way. Weeks is making over $11 million this year to platoon. Why? Because the team is adamant about not eating contracts whenever possible and no other team wanted an overpaid player with his skill set, not even the Yankees who are desperate for an everyday second baseman to replace Robby Cano. This is Weeks’ eleventh major league season. It would be expected that someone who has played that long would have improved his skills. But Weeks has never really improved, with a horrible TZ of -64, his fielding skills are not at an elite level. His career batting average is .247. In 2005, his first full season, he struck out 23.2% of the time. Last year? 25.3% or once every four times at bat. Clearly it’s time for a change.

4. Improve the Rotation 

This seems to be an annual concern. In recent off-seasons, Melvin has acquired Jeff Suppan, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum, Zach Grienke and Kyle Lohse with varying degrees of success. They won the division in 2011 with the borrowed Greinke and Lohse did a credible job last year. The other three? Wolf was pedestrian until his aging arm finally gave out. The club literally gave away Brett Lawrie and Carlos Villanueva to get Marcum who had regular arm problems and gave the Brewers only one full year. Then there was Suppan. Signed to a 4 year, $42 million contract in 2007, he lasted three and a half years until mercifully the Cardinals took him off their hands in 2010.

Now he is taking another expensive chance wth Matt Garza. Garza has not pitched a full season since 2011 while with the Cubs. When healthy he is just below elite, but he is injury prone and was terrible in spring training. Hopefully, this will not be an expensive four year ($50,000,000) mistake like Suppan.

As you can see, little was done to address the major needs of the club heading into this year. Even worse, he made a puzzling trade with the Royals, sending Norichika Aoki a productive leadoff batter for left-handed reliever Will Smith who has little major league experience.Why? To open a slot for slugger Khris Davis who is no better than 50/50 to last the entire year. So who’s leading off this year? Carlos Gomez!

As you can see, there wasn’t nearly enough done to be a legitimate contender this year. It will take everyone staying healthy and having abnormally good years to stay in the race. Staying healthy is key because the Brewers farm system at the top levels is mostly depleted. Baseball America listed the Brewers in 29th place among all systems, ahead of only the Angels. In addition, three of their editors chose a Top 100 prospect list and not a single Brewer minor league player appeared on any of the lists.

I predict a 74-88 record and fourth place and if that happens, Hank the Wonder Dog will be the main attraction by the end of the season.

 

 

 

 

Want To Attend a Marquee Game? Forget It.

Derek Jeter is one of the best players of his generation, if not the best. When he announced that this would be his last year, my Jeter-crazed daughter and I planned on going to New York for his farewell game on August 26th against the Orioles.

We were told that individual game tickets for Master Card holders would  go on sale online on Wednesday, February 19th at 11am.

We had a plan. We would both go on-line simultaneously, my daughter from her work cube in Chicago and me at home then correspond via text.

We both got on precisely at 11. And waited. And waited. A full 15 minutes before we even gained access to the site. Both of us were then bounced back and had to wait…another 15 minutes. The long and short of it is that we wasted over 35 minutes just trying to gain access to the site while never really getting to the purchase tickets page. What a waste and what a racket.

After we both gave up I suggested we go to E-Bay that refuge for money mongers. Voila! We found many tickets there and even more on Stub Hub at ridiculously high prices…some as high  as $1777.00 apiece for the  nosebleed section.  So while two real fans wanted to attend a once in a lifetime game, getting tickets on line at the Yankees site was a farce and buying them from the shysters on Stub Hub who have no interest other than suckering other people out of their money was out of the question.

What’s a real fan to do? The scalping of tickets online for marquee attractions at an obscene profit should be investigated. A limit on the most one can sell them for, say 50% of face value, should be explored.

A  50% profit is hefty and far exceeds what most fair and honest businesses can expect. While some might say that this prevents people from exercising their right to make transactions on the open market place I say it doesn’t if there is a level playing field. With a maximum profit level set, you might even see some scalpers and brokers undercut others to sell their tickets. This favors the buyer who would still have to pay a robust price.

If they can do this selling fuel (where the rule is just the opposite; one cannot sell fuel for less than a set profit) then they can do it for ticket sales. The average family should be able to buy tickets at a marquee event for a reasonable price, not one that requires you to take out a loan.

So unless some miracle happens, we will watch the game on television 780 miles away from the action and wait another five years when we will be there to welcome him to Cooperstown.

 

I’m Back!

Well, after a one year hiatus, I’m reinvigorated and ready to begin my eighth year of baseball opinion.

There are many topics from which to choose for this resumption of commentary: the abomination that is A-Rod, the ridiculous expansion of replay and the stubborn refusal by the Brewers to improve their team.

But let’s begin where  I left off last year with the Hall of Fame voting. I have published an annual tirade about the voting. Each year it seems that someone is voted in that doesn’t deserve it while others are left out.

This year, the three who were elected, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas all are worthy. But there are others that belong and are still on the outside looking in. Let me make the case for four of them.

Jack Morris

Morris is no longer eligible after getting ignored for 15 years. The only way he can get in now is through the veteran’s committee. This is a shame. Morris had the most wins than any pitcher during the 80′s (162). He won 20 games three times, had a lifetime .221 BA against, and allowed less than 1 HR per inning. His WAR is a very Hall-worthy 56. Tom Glavine’s was 64. Jim Palmer’s, 52. In the postseason, he was as clutch as they came. Some will consider him to be  borderline eligible and that’s OK because borderline players have been elected recently anyway (Dawson, Rice, Sutter).

Lee Smith

Lee Smith was the all-time saves leader before first Trevor Hoffman then Mariano Rivera broke it. Yet shamefully he remains unelected. Let’s compare some stats with the three most recent closer inductees.

                                    ERA       SV     W    SO%    WAR

Smith                            3       1         3     1        3        

Eckersley                     4      2          1     4        1

Sutter                           1       4         4     2        4

Gossage                        2      3          2    3         2

This is, I believe, a fair measurement of comparison and proves that it is long past due for Lee Smith’s entrance.

Alan Trammell

Alan Trammell is one of the few players to have played for just one team. He manned shortstop for the Tigers for 20 years and was a key contributor to thier post-to-post pennant year of 1984.

Now let’s compare Trammell to two of his contemporaries who were recently elected, Ozzie Smith and Barry Larkin. I deliberately excluded Cal Ripken and Robin Yount because they played other positions.

                                       AVG      OBP     DEF*      WAR

Trammell                      2             2         2            63.7

Smith                             3             3         1             67.6

Larkin                            1             1         3              67.7

Smith got in by virtue of his defense and there’s no arguing he belongs. His defensive rating was an eye-popping 375.3

Based on the above, Trammell should be voted in.

Dick Allen

One of the biggest oversights of all time is the continued exclusion of Dick Allen, I wrote a piece about this a few years ago and it is repeated here:

Dick Allen Why Do We Ignore Him?

 

Allen played 15 years (1963-1977) with 5 teams but made his biggest impact during his first seven years with the Phillies where he was the 1964 Rookie of the Year and two prolific years with the White Sox. In 1972 while playing with Chicago, Allen had one of the most productive years ever for a hitter. He won the MVP while leading the AL in Home Runs (37), RBI (117), Walks, OBP (.420), Slugging (.603), OPS (1.023) and OPS adjusted to ballpark (199). In 506 AB he grounded into only 13 double plays. His RAR (Runs Above Replacement – Batting + Fielding + Replacement + Positional) was a phenomenal 72.3

Over his career, Allen hit 359 HR, had 1,119 RBI, a .293 average and a superb .912 OPS. His career RAR was 593.2 and his WAR was 67.9. Baseball historian Bill Jenkinson ranks Allen with Jimmie Foxx and Mickey Mantle and a notch below Babe Ruth among the top long distance sluggers of all-time.

By comparison, the recently elected Jim Rice had 382 HR, 1,451, a .298 average, a .854 OPS. His RAR was 532.1 and his WAR was 56.1 while playing in 341 more games.

In 1997, his last year of eligibility, he garnered a ridiculous 16.7% of the vote. By all measurements and other standards, Allen should be in the Hall.

So why was he denied? It has to do more with the era than to the career. During his playing days, the country was engulfed in heightened racial tension, a difficult transformation trying to adjust to the surging civil rights movement. Any African-American athlete who was considered “outside the norm” was deemed to be “different, moody, unresponsive, unapproachable” and patently disliked.

Writers admonished him and according to admirer Mike Schmidt, “The baseball writers used to claim that Dick would divide the clubhouse along racial lines. That was a lie. The truth is that Dick never divided any clubhouse.”

Fans soon came to loathe him for his Milton Bradley – like persona. In this highly toxic racial environment, he soon became a symbol of fan prejudice. While he was with Philadelphia, he was greeted by fans with racial epithets, and later, with fruit, ice, refuse and flashlight batteries.

Yet just a few years later another brash African-American player would arrive on the scene – Reggie Jackson – “the straw that turns the drink” who had no problems being voted in.

Dick Allen was different. He was known for his colorful quotes such as:

“If a horse won’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it.”  - Regarding playing on artificial turf

“I never worry about it. I just take my three swings and go sit on the bench. I’m afraid if I ever think about hitting it, I’ll mess up my swing for life.” – On hitting the knuckleball

“ Gibson was so mean he would knock you down and then meet you at home plate to see if you wanted to make something of it.” On the great Bob Gibson

“ I can play anywhere; First, Third, Left field, anywhere but Philadelphia” – On playing in Philadelphia

There is no question, Dick Allen was denied because of the era he played in not for the player he was. This injustice needs to be revoked.

BWA. Shame on You!

 

Anyone who bothers to read this knows that since its inception nearly eight years ago, I have been disillusioned by how the BWA has voted for the Hall of Fame.

I mean, Bruce Sutter and not Lee Smith? Andre Dawson and not Dale Murphy?

Legitimate players like these get shunned and borderline players like Jim Rice get in.

There are many more examples in my archives.

But the most shameful act is voting for players who cheated during the steroid era.

Voting for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, etc is a slap in the face to players like Willie Mays, Bob Gibson and Hank Aaron.

If these dummies insist on voting for them, then let’s set up a “Cheater’s Wing” in the Hall since they do not deserve to be in the same space as the others.

What happened to integrity?  Should that not be important criteria for election or have we come to the point where anything goes? Dick Allen wasn’t voted in because he was unpopular with fans and the writers despite the fact that by any means of measure he deserves to be in. Yet we’ll turn the other way when it comes to Bonds.

Now come the Jayson Stark’s of the world who vote for Bonds, Clemens, and Sammy Sosa using the lame excuse that they would have made the Hall even if they did not take illegal substances. That’s like saying that Joe Schmo deserves to be treasurer of the bank despite the fact that he stole money because he has a Harvard MBA.

Since when in this country do we give cheaters a free pass? Let me make this perfectly clear: THEY CHEATED! THEY DON’T DESERVE TO GET IN!

I don’t care what your stats are, you cheated to get them. You hid in the back of locker rooms or went to the sleazy “Athletic” club to get injected.  Then denied it.

Anyone who voted for these cheaters should have their voting privileges rescinded.

BWA. Shame on You.

And one last point. If Bonds, Clemens and any of the other cheaters get in then you must also let Pete Rose in. Yes what he did was unconscionable but no worse than filling your body with illegal chemicals.

Buddy Going to Shut You Down.

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Were the Washington Nationals wrong for shutting down Stephen Strasburg with only two more starts the rest of the season?

Yes in so many ways.

  1. The team is close to winning their first title of any kind (including when they were in Montreal which joined the league in 1969). Why risk this by not using your ace pitcher?
  2. The team has robbed Strasburg of being part of this excitement down the stretch. After all he’s done doesn’t he deserve better? Now he’s banished to the bench nothing more than a spectator while his teammates are in the middle of a pennant race.
  3. His numbers scream Cy Young Award. Will they hold up the rest of the season?
  4. The team is hosing its fans who are have paid good money all year to get this point only to be told that their team’s star pitcher is too fragile to continue.
  5. Teddy, one of the racing Presidents was finally looking to win his first race the day the team clinched the division!

So what is really behind this?

The team seems more interested in protecting its investment than winning, and if that is the case, shame on them.

From this fan’s 50+ years of following the game, there are many pitching trends in today’s game that are downright brainless. Pitch count, few complete games, bullpen overload, one hitter “specialist” and now ace “shutdown”.

I wonder what Sandy Koufax, the late Don Drysdale, Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson, all Hall of Fame pitchers I saw as a kid would feel about this?

The Nationals are totally wrong about this and they know it.

SHAME SHAME

To all of those who rushed to the premature idea that Ryan Braun took a banned substance, shame on you.

There are two main culprits to blame in this unprecedented incident: the handler of Braun’s urine sample and the person who leaked the results to ESPN.

Today, Braun went through extraordinary lengths explaining how the process works and where it broke down. The identified flaw in this incident was the handler who waited a full 44 hours until he dropped Braun’s sample off at FedEX, the official courier of all MLB test samples. Not only that, bUt the handler admitted keeping the sample in his refrigerator over the weekend.

Once the sample is placed in the cup, it is identified by a number in order to keep the identity of the donor anonymous. Only two people in the entire process know whose sample it is, the player himself and the handler.  After the sample is numbered, the handler is to take it to FedEX as soon as possible so as to protect the integrity of the test.

So why did it take 44 hours from Saturday evening at 5pm until Monday afternoon at 1PM to deliver the sample? What occurred during that time gap? The handler AND MLB need to provide answers.

Just as important is who leaked the test results to the reporter for ESPN, which hastily and irresponsibly put the story on-air. Revealing any kind of medical results is a violation of HPPA laws and the one who leaked this should be found and prosecuted.

As for MLB, instead of recognizing that a grievous mistake was made, it threw Braun under the bus by not admitting that despite the stringent testing protocol something like this could happen.

When the results were reported, Braun submitted every one of his weekly weigh-ins and regular strength tests, which indicated nothing that may have caused an alarm. He did not gain weight or add more speed. There was no dramatic change in his physical appearance.

Yet he was considered guilty until proven innocent. This is a result of not only the way the process is set-up, but the automatic presumption based upon the original group of cheaters – Clemens, Palmiero, Sosa, McGwire and especially Barry Bonds – who lied to try to claim their innocence. This set the tone for all who have been accused since.

There will be some who even in the face of all this evidence will think that Braun got away with something. I pity them.

I railed against ESPN in my last post. As Braun stated during his remarks,

“There were a lot of times I wanted to come out and tell the whole story, attack everybody as I’ve been attacked, as my name has been dragged through the mud, as everything I’ve ever worked for my entire life has been called into question. … I could have never, ever envisioned being in this position today, discussing this subject with you guys.”

Thank ESPN for that. Ruining one’s reputation is the new standard of reporting for this farcical network.

Ask Ryan Braun how he gets his good name back, for no matter what happens from here on out, there will always be this stigma.

I could gloat and say I told you so, but this whole sleazy episode is too pathetic for even that.

MAYBE IT’S LATE BUT JUST CALL ME…

Lyrics from the song “Call Me” are in the thoughts of the 273 unsigned free agents, as Spring Training is about to begin. The list is a conglomeration of veterans near the end of their careers, fringe players and those who are victims of the salary syndrome (too old, too much money).

Among the latter that should have this song as a ring tone are hitters Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Jason Kendall, Magglio Ordonez, Edgar Renteria, Derrek Lee, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui and Kosuke Fukodome. Surprisingly, Kelly Johnson at age 30 has not been signed.

The top pitchers on this list include Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Tim Wakefield, Brandon Webb, Jon Garfield, Brad Penny, Rich Harden, Arthur Rhodes, Chris Young and Damaso Marte.

Harden and David Aardsma are also 30 but both are coming off serious injuries.

Are any of the above still productive? Generally, yes. I believe Guerrero, Damon, and especially Lee still have something in the tank but must be willing to take big pay cuts to still play.

The same goes for Oswalt who could be a stopgap starter on a team waiting for their prospects to develop (Seattle/Baltimore/Pittsburgh/Colorado?). Having earned $16,000,000 over the two seasons while a member of the “Greatest Rotation of the Decade”, Oswalt is affordable. But apparently he is holding out for more than what clubs are willing to pay. He has banked nearly $92,000,000 over his career so this is more about personal pride and whether he has the desire to keep playing.

A few seasons ago, Jermaine Dye walked away rather then taking less pay and that’s what will happen to these players who want A-Type salaries for diminished skills.

For a few less bucks, they might find a job. In the meantime they’ll have to wait for the dubious ring tone “Call Me”.

WHY I HATE ESPN

There has been little to write about recently other than which player went where, why and what the impact will be. Been there. Done that.  This has been most likely the topic of many fellow BBA’ers.

But a recent incident reported by ESPN stirred enough of a reaction to post this. Accept for live events, I gave up watching ESPN years ago.  It went from showing informative and somewhat irreverent Sports Centers to hype-central. I swear they must get a kickback from the NFL since it seems like nearly half their programming is NFL-related. With ESPN it’s hype-city.

Their baseball coverage has been borderline good with Tim Kurkjian and Buster Olney being the best of a mediocre crop of reporters. The MLB Network in much better. (Watch anything that Bob Costas does).

Besides the hype, the thing that has really gotten me keyed up is their reporting on players who have had misfortunes. They go non-stop with columns, quotes and worst of all conjecture.

This happened earlier when they broke the Ryan Braun story all but announcing him guilty without knowing all of the facts. If Braun is exonerated or even receives a reduced suspension, he should seek defamation of character.

Now comes the story of Josh Hamilton being seen in a bar with a drink. We all know about Hamilton’s brave fight against addiction, how he is willing to talk about it, how he has someone travel with him during the season so he doesn’t give in to temptation.  We admire what must be an awful situation and how disciplined he’s been.

One slip-up and it becomes a feature story. Is this news? Of course it is, but ESPN carries it too far. Already there’s been a column posted by Jean-Jacques Taylor saying that the Rangers should not consider re-signing him because of his relapse. Relapse? It’s not like he was found roaming the streets incoherent in an alcoholic stupor. He had a drink. Know one knows why. That’s for his doctor and the ballclub to determine. Why doesn’t Taylor think the Rangers’ should have dismissed manager Ron Washington when he admitted taking marijuana earlier in his career?

Perhaps he is still despondent over the ball-throwing incident last season in which a fan unfortunately fell to his death trying to retrieve it.  Something like that is sure to make a dent in an already fragile makeup.

We don’t know why Hamilton had a drink. That’s all he did, have a drink, and it’s not anyone’s business to try to probe why. Not even ESPN. They would presumably respond that it is their “duty” to report incidents like this, and, of course, it is. But report it and get over it. Follow-up when something has been decided. But no, they have to keep hammering away at an athlete’s character without all of the facts and without consideration of the impact it has on his friends, family and fans.

How many more athletes must ESPN tarnish before people say enough is enough?

Now What?

 With Ryan Braun’s playing status for the start of the 2012 season still in doubt, do the Brewers have a Plan B?

 Let’s look at some options.

 1.) 40 Man roster

There doesn’t appear to be an outfielder on the current 40-man roster ready to step in.

Brock Kjelgaard has played no higher than a half season at Double A Huntsville.

Caleb Gindl turned in a solid season at AAA Nashville but has yet to play in a major league game.

Logan Schafer just turned 24 and has all of 3 AB from a late season call-up.

Unless Gindl has a solid spring, there will be no help here.

 2.) Current Outfield Staff

With Mark Kotsay’s departure to Oakland, the club has only Corey Hart, Nyger Morgan and Carlos Gomez as experienced outfielders.

Morgan and Gomez are best suited for a platoon, which worked well last season. Gomez’ weak bat and poor decision making is not conducive to being an everyday player and Morgan just doesn’t have the pop they’ll need in the lineup.

Corey Hart can also play there but he’s being considered as a candidate to replace Prince Fielder at first. If he moves, that leaves a huge mess in RF. So look for him to stay in right.

There are two other possibilities that are on the roster. Taylor Green performed well during his late-season call-up and has most likely made the club in 2012.  His normal position is 3b and after the Brewers gave up on Casey McGehee, Green seemed like the probable starter. But the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez disrupted his chances. He’ll probably get a long hard look in left field in the spring if Braun is, indeed, suspended,

The other player is Mat Gamel, a player who has yet to play up to his enormous potential. Gamel is listed on the roster as a third baseman, which, like Green, is his normal position. He does have the power to partially fill the Braun-less lineup and has played the outfield in the minors, but he is also being considered for first base. This will be a make or break year for Gamel so there’s no guarantee he’ll even be with the club on opening day.

 3.) Free Agents

Any free agent outfielder will need to be willing to fill-in for Braun then become part of the outfield rotation. There are a few intriguing players who could fill the bill, but most would need to play for far less than they’re accustomed to. The two most interesting would be Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez. Damon is close to achieving some career numbers that would make him a candidate for the Hall of Fame, but at age 38 can he play everyday until Braun comes back?  If Ordonez, also 38, stays healthy in April and May then platoons, his bat would definitely be a plus. Other free agents to consider who have been everyday players are Luke Scott, Cody Ross and Ryan Ludwick.

4.) Norichika Aoki

The 30-year old Aoki is a three-time Japanese League batting champion now looking for a major league team. The Brewers worked him out on Sunday and are now mulling over their next steps. He seems best suited for cf so signing him would be an upgrade. He could play lf until Braun comes back if his appeal is not upheld.

 5.) Trade

This is the least attractive option. First, there is little incentive for the other team to trade assuming that the starters are untouchable (and that better be a correct assumption). The farm system has few, if any, prospects good enough to be included in a trade for a top-line outfielder.

So if you were Doug Melvin what would you do?

I would take a flyer on Magglio Ordonez who has a history of being a run producer and can fill in at least adequately until Braun returns. It’s a risk because of his past injury patterns, but remember, the most important factor is getting someone who has power and can drive in runs.

While Aoki would be a splendid addition to the team, he is like most Japanese hitters who have come over and played: left handed batter, good OBP, above average fielder but no power. This has Kosuke Fukodome written all over it.

I like Ordonez, but would be equally delighted with Ross or Scott. Either way, if Braun is suspended, and with Fielder gone, there is an enormous gap to fill in the lineup, Ramirez can hit but it won’t be nearly enough.

The best thing that can happen of course is that Braun’s appeal is granted.

We can only hope.

 

 

 

The Ryan Braun Kerfuffle

What a way to get this humble blogger away from a self-imposed hiatus.

The ruckus that ESPN has created around Ryan Braun testing positive for banned steroids has caused him to be considered guilty until otherwise admonished.

Let’s look at the facts. During the playoffs all participating players are tested. Apparently Braun’s was the only sample to come back positive, although I’m sure others might still be in the system but properly remain anonymous. However, later reports indicated that the amount of banned substance in his system would’ve have killed him.

Braun vehemently denies the result and has repeatedly requested re-tests, one of which was granted and came out clean.

In the past, the existence of steroids in a player’s system could be evident by his statistics, which historically would show vast improvement over his average before taking them. This is not the case with Braun who has been exceptionally consistent since he broke in during the 2007 season.

This consistency has been the result of vigorous training, so much so that he has been told to ease up on it during the season.

Ryan Braun is not a bonehead and he certainly knows the rules. It’s incomprehensible that he would knowingly risk his career over something that his performance indicates he doesn’t need.

Yet a great many people want to get on the bandwagon and accuse him of cheating before all of this is cleared up.

If it sounds like I’m defending him, so be it. Those here in Milwaukee who are real fans know that this accusation is so contrary to the Ryan Braun they have seen.

Next to his good friend Aaron Rodgers, he is the most popular athlete in the state.

He owns a popular restaurant in Milwaukee and has proven to be a good team representative going out into the community during the season.

He understands that many young boys emulate him much the way I emulated Hank Aaron when I was a kid. It would be devastating to those kids if this turns out to be true.

Performance is fleeting but image is everything. I have to believe that if Braun did take it and got caught he would’ve admitted it.

So let’s not jump to conclusions.

And if it does indeed turn out to be a mistake, then ESPN owes Ryan Braun an apology for tarnishing his reputation; for no matter what happens from here on out, there will always be that dark disturbing and fleeing thought every time he steps to the plate.

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