A thousand words long, a million miles short: Ryan Braun's apology leaves us wanting more
Ryan Braun. Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Trusting other people's math (because mine is pathetic), Ryan Braun's written statement last week is 944 words long.
That's a lot of verbiage but it's leaving most Brewers fans wanting.
Perhaps no one summed up the list of lingering questions about Braun's use of performance-enhancing drugs (PED's) better that Journal/Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt Sunday. Yet to be explained: what exactly did you take and for how long? Was 2011 the only time you dipped into the dark arts, or does your use extend further back, perhaps to college days?
Then there's the biggest question of all: why should anyone believe anything you say?
Braun could rip up his contract (fat chance), return his tainted 2011 MVP award (he has yet to contact L.A's Matt Kemp who Braun beat out for the honor), tack a ten-story wing onto Children's Hospital, rebuild our faltering freeway system and eliminate the mosquito but still not win over the hearts and minds of a wounded Brewers fan base. An open-air apology in front of a packed Miller Park would do little to sway folks who feel used and abused by a star they trusted.
The only thing that might remotely win folks back is performance--without pharmaceuticals. Tiger Woods said it best when he opined that winning changes everything. Braun may be a lifetime pariah with fans in other cities and in every MLB clubhouse outside of Milwaukee but the jeers may turn to cheers in these parts if he hits his usual marks, and even more so if the club contends. Take a walk around the Miller Park concourses this weekend and count how many Braun t-shirts/jerseys you see on the backs of fans. The number may surprise you, even as his summer of discontent reaches its lowest points. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez turned the jeers of New York fans into cheers when he cranked his first home run while waiting out his PED appeal.
Villains come and go but few truly linger, especially now in our amped-up news cycle where bad actors go viral for a few hours before the next celeb-in-crisis comes along. It's hard to keep track of just who did what these days, much less remember a few months later.
Then again, the kinds of things Braun did might have true staying power. This isn't merely a case of I-got-caught-please-forgive-me. Braun's stupefying denial, arrogance, and deceit are unprecedented. The damage he did to himself and (most importantly among fans) to the Brewers franchise are incalculable. Braun wrecked his value which makes him un-tradable and his image, which makes him unmarketable. That new contract we were all so excited about? It's almost like a boat anchor around the franchise's neck, unless of course he comes back as the player we thought he was, minus the cream and the lozenge.
944 words aren't going to repair the hurt, heal the wound, fix the damage.