It’s a great day for Chicago, Cubs fans! When the Brewers take the field today, Ryan Braun should be in the lineup following his stint on the DL. This will give you ample opportunity to take out any and all frustrations you have—about the Cubs, life, the Bulls' early exit, schizophrenic weather, mothers-in-law, MTV no longer playing music, a psycho ex, or maybe even the fact that it burns to pee now, when you can get it starting—on a tremendously deserving target.
In a past installment, I wrote of my list of the most vilified Chicago Cubs players of all time. People who I wouldn’t want to spend an ounce of time with, for a plethora reasons. You know what though? High above the highest high of that Ass-Hat Mountain of mine hovers someone far more deserving of any label bestowed upon the likes of Ian Stewart, Milton Bradley, Todd Hundley, et al. That person is Ryan Braun.
Let’s time jump into the WABAC Machine, shall we, Sherman? It won't be too long a ride, for we are not going too far back.
"Gee, Mr. Peabody, 2011 doesn't seem that long ago. People still listened to Mumford and Sons?"
"Pipe down, you. Now, as I was saying, Sherman..."
The Year 2011
After testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs at the end of the 2011 MLB season, an MVP year for the little slugger, Ryan Braun appealed and subsequently won his case against MLB, based on a loophole. Not willing to let well enough alone, Braun entered spring training 2012 with a prepared statement about the case. A statement in which he read:
“There were a lot of things we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and suspicious about what could have actually happened.”
The “collector” Braun called out is a fella by the name of Dino DiLaurenzi, Jr., a guy who made an error in his collection and transfer of a pee-pee sample. Rather than calling out the process alone, though, of which DiLaurenzi was part, Braun and his legal brain trust included him in their attack with vague statements about concern and suspicion, even leading the accusation with the person and not the process.
Accusations like those of Braun are reserved for the likes of spin media in sculpting political theater attacks on politicians and policy. Doing so to a regular working stiff was incredibly and stupidly dangerous. To this day, I remain amazed that a legal team, which had to have some hand in the written statement, would actually allow their client to go on record with these accusations. This is not to mention the reports that made it to the media that Braun had, in discussions with teammates, accused DiLaurenzi of tainting the samples because of his anti-Semitism.
What if Dino was someone with a history of depression or this public lynching sent him to that state? What if he had committed suicide or accidentally hurt someone as a result of the dump truck of BS the Braun camp unloaded between his ears? Falsely accusing someone publicly has led to some pretty bad results. Heck, just look at Richard Jewell.
Now, I'm not comparing a blown PED case to a bombing, but it provides perspective.
That aside, let's thank goodness there were no ripple effects from Braun's false accusations, but they could have.
Still not getting the connection?
OK, what if it had been you? Your father? Your brother? Hell, even a cousin or an uncle? Imagine how those accusations filled the world of DiLaurenzi in the weeks and months that followed, hanging like a heavy, choking fog. Put yourself in the shoes of a man being publicly vilified by a superstar and blamed for almost ruining his career and reputation. One day you’re going door to door gathering urine, and the next, you’re in the headlines.
Ryan Braun and his legal team willingly took some poor sap and did nothing short of throwing him on the tracks of the Ryan Braun PED Lies Express.
“I won because the truth is on my side,” said Braun in that statement under the warm Arizona sun.
Well, that’s interesting, because as it turns out, the Ryan Braun PED Lies Express makes limited stops between a loophole legal victory and an in-your-face pile of evidence and pending testimony that would not only prove that you lied in the first place, but that you continued to use PEDs even after being caught.
"N0w, back to the WABAC Machine, Sherman. We're going forward this time, to the year 2013."
The Year 2013
In the summer of 2013, MLB investigators laid before Braun and his legal brain trust evidence so damning that Braun copped a plea for the remaining 65 games of the 2013 season, 15 higher than the mandatory 50 for first-time offenders. The fact that he took the 65 vs. attempting an appeal leads one to believe he could have been facing 100 games. Or more.
As someone who appreciates watching the tremendously narcissistic face their reality, I would have paid top scalper prices to have been in the room when Braun was presented with so much evidence against his misdoings and lies, that he had no way to fight it. No patsy to blame. Just a bitter, non-PED pill to swallow.
In a written statement (What, no sunny press conference?), Braun apologized to teammates, ownership, and baseball fans. In it, he said he has made some mistakes. Nailing some person to the cross to call out your own false innocence is not a mistake. It is an intentional act, and one for which Braun should always be remembered and of which forever reminded.
"Back into the WABAC Machine, Sherman. We're going to the present."
The Year 2014
Ready for the real stomach-turner in this all? On March 31, 2014, in the Milwaukee Brewers home opener, as Ryan Braun approached the plate for the first regular season game following his suspension, the sellout crowd rose to its feet and booed him. No, that’s a lie. But it would have been better than the STANDING OVATION they gave him.
A standing ovation for a guy who cheated the game, threw teammates and an innocent guy under the bus, lied, got caught doing what he lied about in the first place, and then caused his team and city embarrassment as he wandered off with an unpaid 65-game vacation.
He wasn’t coming back from an injury. He hadn’t just rescued a cat from a tree. He didn’t win best throw at the Council Grounds State Park cow-chip throwing contest.
He cheated. He lied. He got caught cheating again. He just about destroyed the life and reputation of an innocent bystander. And you applaud that?
Maybe Milwaukeeans are just looking for a local celebrity to grasp. Their "We're not just a cheese-and-beer town, so keep us on the map" individual.
It's been kind of a dry national celebrity town since the Fonz left to go shark jumping in Hawaii. I hear he's a lawyer now, representing some high-profile clients in Southern California. I think they're the Bluths, but I don't know for sure.
What would the Fonz say about this standing ovation for this cheat? This liar? This cheat and liar again? Probably something along the lines of, “Yo, Milwaukee. You really gonna root for this meshugener? Uncool. Ayyyy.”
I couldn’t have said it any better, myself, Arthur. I couldn’t have said it any better, myself.
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