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Who cares what Ryan Braun said yesterday?

Jul 23, 2013, 9:13 AM EDT

ryan braun getty Getty Images

I touched on this some last night when I talked about how Ryan Braun doesn’t answer to anyone apart from his teammates, those he personally lied to and people he directly harmed as a result of his lying. Those are folks to whom he owes apologies, not anyone else. Certainly not the general public.

But I am fascinated this morning how hung up people are on the words he used in his public statement yesterday.  The height of this comes in Buster Olney’s column today in which he parses, line-by-line, Braun’s public statement to show us just how disingenuous and insufficient it is.

Why do we care?

We know for a fact that Ryan Braun lied last year. We know for a fact that he has cheated. We know, pretty clearly, that Braun is not a good person in a lot of ways and that we couldn’t trust him as far as we can throw him.  Now ask yourself: if you knew a person like that in your life, would you listen to him at all? Would you care about a thing he says? Or would you ignore it as the words of someone you already know everything you need to know about. Of course Ryan Braun is being self-serving. He’s been nothing but self-serving. This is a surprise now? This is where we should be outraged? People have spent the past year saying that the words which come out of Ryan Braun’s mouth are worthless. Why, now, do we expect anything else?

Players owe us nothing. We have come to think they do due to some romantic and childlike notion about what professional sports are all about, but they really and truly owe us nothing. They owe things to their teams and teammates and the people in their lives, but common fans who don’t know them from Adam really aren’t owed a thing.  At the same time, we do not owe them loyalty or our credulousness. We are free to call Ryan Braun a lowlife if he acts that way, but if we are feel betrayed by them we have no one to blame but ourselves for putting trust in them that they neither earned nor deserved.

Ryan Braun could have sung all four verses of the “Star Spangled Banner” yesterday, followed by an announcement of his allegiance to Lucifer. I wouldn’t care. People are what they do, not what they say. Especially people who have said garbage in the past. Why do we care about his words?

  1. cur68 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    I swear to Dog, Craig, you write these columns to get the “Moral Outrage” and “Think of the Chid-Ren” brigades all up in arms in the commentary section. FWIW, making a massive deal out of a “See Ya Next Year” speech is pretty much all some of those media guys got going right now. Otherwise it’d be drinking lunch and hitting on college girls.

    • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:21 AM

      I have an idea, Cur! What if they all – like – covered baseball games? Y’know, talked about hitting and fielding and pitching and prospects and stuff like that?

      Nah.

      • cur68 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        Stex, they’d fekkin plotz if they did that.

      • yahmule - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:28 AM

        Which the beat reporters continue to do. What does anybody expect the columnists to talk about right now?

      • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Same stuff as the beat reporters, yah, but in a little more depth. Talk about the longer term implications in a rational way.

        I gave up on football a long time ago and there is no way that I believe that their drug culture is cured as long as they continue to grow 375 lb monsters who can run the 40 in 4.5 seconds. But they do one thing right. When someone is caught it is very matter-of-fact. Suspension, Boom, over.

        No endless hand-wringing and moralizing.

      • yahmule - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM

        Except the NFL has knowingly buried positive test results, back in the 80’s and again in 1995. It seems naive to think the only times they did it they were caught. Clearly, the NFL has players on PED’s. Surprisingly, they’re planning to crack down on HGH. The NFL cares less than nothing about the health of their athletes, so this is probably window dressing for the upcoming concussion lawsuits.

      • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:53 AM

        It probably won’t surprise you, Yah, but I agree with everything you just said. Like I said, I gave up on football years back. And you are right, concussion issues are likely to end football as we know it in the long term.

        The difference is that the drug culture in football is still entrenched in the college sport, the trainers and the owners. I have no illusions that they are really cleaning it out. But they don’t sit around and moralize about it endlessly either.

  2. jayscarpa - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    If fan stopped going to baseball games there would be no MLB and therefore no scandal. It’s the fans fault for giving a crap.

  3. sparty99 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Don’t take this the wrong way Craig, but that’s utter bullshit. Too many players forget that the fans have one very important relationship with the players: the fans pay the salaries. Every penny traces back to the fans. Tickets and concessions? Fans in the stands. Outrageous cable rights fees? Fans at home willing to watch. Advising sponsorships? Fans buy the products being advertised. Digital rights fees? Fans being willing to pay $20 a year for At Bat apps and $100 for MLB.TV.

    So please remember that you were once a fan and not some moral arbiter of what the players do our don’t owe someone. Keep up this line of thinking and you’ll be no different than Florio.

    • steeldominance - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      I couldnt agree more with you. Is this Craig guy serious? I mean these are the most PED apologetic articles I have ever read in my life. If everyone took the same stance as the writer, PED would be no big deal and widely accepted. I think I am more pissed off by his articles than what Braun did at this point.

      • nategearhart - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        You honestly see this post as PED apologizing? He spends the whole time saying no one should give a shit what Braun has to say because Braun is a scumbag.

    • mgv38 - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:18 PM

      Player salaries would still get paid if there were no fans. Wake up.

  4. yahmule - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Craig is the one with the childlike attitude this morning, but he’s in a very emotional state right now, so we need to cut him some slack.

  5. theaxmancometh - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    He absolutely owes us Brewer fans an apology. We supported him, cheered for him, stood behind him, especially after his monster 2012 season which we thought backed up his claim he was clean. And I imagine he wasn’t stupid enough to take anything last season after everything that went down. Which begs the question: he was already a top 10 player in the game, why the fuck do u need to take anything!?! He absolutely owes Brewer fans an apology!

    • ajsjr40 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      The only reason he was a top ten player is because he was cheating. My guess is his entire career is a result of PED’s and that clean he’d be a .250 hitter, with 10 HR’s and 38 RBI’s in double A ball.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        Your guess is pretty funny.

        Please provide me with one like to a study that quantifies the effects of various types of PEDs on baseball production.

      • dwdive - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        Paperlions, you are a dumba$$. This guy has been using for years, and his numbers are a direct result. How can you defend this guy in any way?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:58 AM

      Brewers fans will still cheer for him next year. Watch. If they feel betrayed, they’re gonna show it in a really funny way.

      • blabidibla - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:07 AM

        If he comes close to his earlier production, you might be right. He better hit a game winning dinger in his first game or the boo birds will be singing.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        If he is still a Brewer next year I will cheer for him just as much as I have in the past. Sports are there for my entertainment and while they are entertaining me I’m not going to try and pick and choose who I think is cheating and who isn’t. Hit me homeruns and win Brewer games.

    • dwdive - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      The guy has been using for years. I amongst others have been beating that drum for the past 2 years, but his fans have defended him like he was the 2nd coming… What does everyone think now? Do they think the “highest levels of testosterone ever tested” was bullsh!t? Do people still think the Fed Ex guy hated Braun and tainted his sample? That’s the real sad part of this. This poor guy has been persecuted by the public for 2 years, and it turns out he really did NOTHING wrong. What a scumbag Braun is…

  6. charlutes - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Why should we care about yours?

  7. thomas655 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    Craig,
    Braun does owe the fans and MLB at least one thing: THE RETURN OF THE MVP TROPHY!!!!

  8. venmous - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    So…for all the kids out there following along – once again we learn that you work hard to get to the majors, cheat and lie and then enjoy your millions. It might be a black eye for baseball but more importantly it is a continuance of the poor standards many of todays pro athletes set.

    Maybe Lance Armstrong can give Braun some pointers on how to deal with the public going forward.

  9. samu0034 - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    I see your point Craig, that in many ways it’s best for us as fans to just not care, or at least to just let it go. That said though, I wholly don’t understand how you enjoy the game. If you disallow for any generation of narrative to the game whatsoever, what’s the point of watching? Why have any allegiance at all? Why not just watch a random number generator? If you reduce the players to their statistics and only their statistics, I don’t see why anyone would watch. It’s basically Diamond Mind at that point. It’s the D&D version of baseball. But it’s not baseball.

    And further, while Ryan Braun may not owe any individual fan anything, he does owe the fans (as a collective) absolutely everything.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      Because baseball is cool. The sport. Watching guys hit and pitch and run and field. That’s not enough for you?

      • nobody78 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        America’s Got Talent is full of “cool” stuff. For better or for worse, sports means a lot more to us than that. Yes, it can lead to some ridiculousness, but I’d rather spend my time with fans who can still have their hearts broken when their favorite players cheat than ones for whom it’s just idle entertainment.

        If I ever found out Mariano Rivera used PEDs, I’d be crushed.

      • yahmule - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        Watching guys hit and pitch and run and field is enough for me. Some walking chemistry experiment hitting the ball 600 feet isn’t necessary for me to think baseball is cool.

      • samu0034 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        You’re right, it is cool. But I like to remember that it’s human beings doing the hitting, pitching, running, and fielding. They’ve got good days and bad days. Some of them cope with pressure better than others. Some of them have talent that is awe inspiring, while some of them have to work at it with such discipline that it shames me. Some of them came from a privileged background, some of them come from nothing. Some of them bear the burden of the legacy of parents who played and cannot escape the shadow of their fathers, some of them eclipse their fathers entirely. It’s the fact that humans, more or less just like me, with important histories all their own, who are playing this beautiful game that is interesting to me.

      • billybawl - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:42 AM

        I think it’s easy to forget that internet bloggers and commenters are a minority of baseball fans. I would probably continue to watch baseball regardless, but most fans want the heroic mythic narrative around their favorite players. Maybe more in baseball than in other sports. The PED scandal hit a little closer to home last year when I had to explain to my 6-year old son why his favorite player, Bartolo Colon, wasn’t with the A’s anymore. He knows nothing about the latest scandal, but keeps asking for reassurance that his success this year isn’t because he’s cheating. I’m really hoping not to have to break bad news to him. So this stuff matters. If MLB caves on steroids, they lose much of their appeal to the average fan.

  10. sdelmonte - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Actually, I really do want just one player to say “it was worth it.” THAT would be interesting.

    • saints97 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:10 AM

      Haha, that is so true. It would take someone getting banned for life for a player to say that, but you know Braun is thinking. He regrets getting caught, not getting enhanced.

      Although I agree with Craig in that Braun owes people nothing (though human decency might require more), I am still fascinated with Craig’s ethical and moral brow-beating that he’s vomited on these pages since Braun was busted the first time. He is so invested in this story that he has gone on some wild tangents.

      Who really cares if Braun technically (pun intended) owes people nothing. What matters in public entertainment is public opinion.

      Besides, Braun bet his life that those substances never entered his body. Time to pay up!

  11. erstwhiledoc - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    There is a credible argument that Braun and his ilk literally stole from the fans. His (and others’) juiced performance resulted in higher perceived value and a much richer contract, paid for by fans’ higher ticket prices, higher cable costs, higher concession prices. Thus, his improved statistics — thanks partly to PEDs — stole money from the pockets of fans who pay the freight. In the non-sports world, this is called fraud and often results in a jail sentence.

    So, yes, he owes the fans an apology, minimally.

    • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:01 AM

      Holy fail batman. First, there is no link between player salaries and ticket prices. Ticket prices are determined 100% by what the market will bear, nothing more. Beer doesn’t cost $8 because of salaries, it costs that because fans will still pay it. Every owner makes more money off of his baseball team than even the highest paid player will make in his entire career….in fact, every owner probably makes at least 10 times that amount.

      Baseball is entertainment, you are paying to be entertained and because you like baseball. If the baseball was entertaining to you, the players owe you nothing.

      Holy hell people love being the victim. Look everyone I WAS WRONGED! Feel sorry for me and my horrible plight!

      • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        Wait, Paper, hold on there! You mean we’re not the victims??

        Dammit. My day is ruined.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        Sorry man, will some pictures of puppies cheer you up?

      • dwdive - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:11 AM

        Those prices are driven up by players salaries. TO think the players salaries have NOTING to do with the price of tix, beer, ect, is just nonsense. It does have some relevance, for you to pretend it doesn’t is just silly.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Actually, it isn’t silly, and it is consistent with the data. Salaries have stopped going up and teams have stopped paying to build their own stadiums and prices still keep going up because fans will pay the prices.

        Feel free to dismiss the data if you wish, but ALL of the data shows that what the market will bear defines ticket prices, not player salaries…which have gone up because teams are making so much money, not the other way around.

      • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:37 AM

        They are not charging $8 for beer because players salaries are high. They are charging $8 for beer because people pay it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        It does have some relevance, for you to pretend it doesn’t is just silly.

        It’s business, plain and simple. This is how it works, how it’s always worked. If you are a team, and you sell beer X and price Y, and you can’t stop selling it, in fact you constantly sell out of it. You’d be an idiot not to increase Y. Because if people are going to continue buying X at price Y(+n), you are going to continue making more and more money. Eventually, people will realize that paying $15 for 12oz of PBR is ludicrous, and they’ll stop paying for it. Then you start dropping the price down until people start buying it again.

        It’s econ 101, or supply and demand. Tickets/beer/merchandising/whatever all follow this simple rule. If you can sell it for Y, try Y+n and see if they’ll keep buying. As long as there’s a fixed amount of X and you have a large group of people willing to pay Y+N for X, you’d be a fool to hold prices at a stagnant rate.

      • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        I don’t know, Paper. Maybe if the puppies were devouring Bud Selig and Ryan Braun it would do something for me.

      • jwbiii - Jul 23, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        We know this is a lie because teams which cut payroll always cut ticket and beer prices.

      • paperlions - Jul 23, 2013 at 3:38 PM

        Ah, damn! You got me.

  12. manifunk - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    So sad to see the media go after someone because they risked their own health and well being in order to help their team

  13. brokenjay - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    Every day we are encouraged on a societal level to “progress” and do away with centuries of tradition. Instead of trying to eliminate PED’s from baseball let’s turn it around and encourage the use…. make it a steroid freakshow where every player looks like McGuire, Sosa and Bonds. After all, the players don’t “owe” the fans anything but entertainment. Let kids emulate these players and learn the lesson that the ends justify the means. Selig and the “purists” are sooo old fashioned.

  14. banpeds - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    CC- As I wrote you 2 weeks ago, no one will be reading your irresponsible writings in the future… you continue to perpetuate the same theme… SAD, VERY SAD you may actually believe what you write.

    • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      But I see you still are.

  15. nobody78 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Rooting for our team is the biggest part of what makes us care about sports. The competition, and the personal investment in the competition, is part of that. So it stings when the guys we root for cheat and then lie to us about it.

    If we just wanted to watch impressive athletes doing cool stuff, it’d probably be better to watch Cirque de Soleil. We care about our teams a lot more than that, which means we don’t get to punt on these questions. Sports is more than mere entertainment, and it carries some moral baggage.

    • eightyraw - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Baseball carries no “moral baggage.” It is simply a silly game. You are projecting something onto baseball that does not actually exist.

      • shadowcell - Jul 23, 2013 at 2:07 PM

        Sorry, but it does, for the simple fact that people continue to regard athletes as admirable people and role models for children, and that people continue to identify with their sports teams, and that people continue to regard sports as a metaphor for all kinds of things in life.

        If you don’t like that, go complain to human nature.

  16. thebadguyswon - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    I don’t think Braun owes anything to baseball fans in general. However, he has completely lied to and cheated the Brewers fans, and I do believe that sometime between now and February 2014, he needs to address that.

  17. Great Caesar's Ghost - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    I agree, who cares what he said? Football season is around the corner. Though I realize idle conversation IS more exciting than major league baseball sometimes.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      Yes, a sport were a bunch of PED riddled players pound each other into an early grave due to brain damage is way more exciting than baseball.

      • Great Caesar's Ghost - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:47 PM

        Looks like you, I, and America agree.

  18. thegonz13 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    I agree up to a point. He doesn’t owe any apologies to anyone…

    …except…

    He stood in front of a microphone last year, swearing on everything that was holy that he did nothing wrong and that he would be fully vindicated. If he doesn’t have to apologize for getting busted this year, he should at least stand in front of the same microphone and admit that everything he said last year was a bald-face lie and thus, that he’s a bald-face liar.

    Then again, he figured that if you can fake honesty, you can fake anything and that people are gullible and dumb enough to buy what he says.

    Braun should at least apologize for taking fans for idiots!

    • yahmule - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      And for insinuating some guy, with no discernable motive whatsoever, was out to wreck his career for him.

  19. Jonny 5 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Unlike Olney, I don’t care what Braun has to say. He’s a liar, and he’s only sorry because he got caught anyway. Who really wants an apology that’s fake as hell? I AM glad he did get busted though. It makes me feel much better about KNOWING he was guilty the last time even though he was let off on procedural technicalities.

    • stex52 - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      I would take out the word “technicalities”, Jonny because procedure is important.

      Otherwise, I agree with everything you say.

  20. modellforprez - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Craig while i almost entirely agree with you i think Ryan Bum may Owe his Fans an apology no? I mean dont you think the people in Milwaukee that supported this junkie are upset. he lied to them too and if he does not owe the general public an apology i believe he owes one to the general public in waukee because those are the people THAT PAY HIS SALARY THEY BUY THE JERSEYS AND MERCHANDISE they are owed something….. okay you can hate me now!

  21. danindelray - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Anything for page views and 100+ comment threads, huh? You’re beyond pathetic Calcaterra.

    Expecting an apology from this lying a$$hat has nothing to do with some romantic or child-like relationship with athletes.

    He lied to us, the fans, in exactly the same way that he lied to his friends/teammates/lawyers and whoever else you think does actually deserve an apology.

    Because there is no difference between lying in person and doing it in front of a camera!

    He communicated his pathetic falsehoods in an especially egregious way, cloaked in a self-righteous claim of total innocence. Why shouldn’t he apologize, and he can do it in the same way that he delivered the lies: In front of a camera.

    • nategearhart - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      …so that you can sit back and rage about how full of shit his apology is. Get over yourself.

  22. zevi1972 - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    After reading Craig’s blog for the past year or so, I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised with his take on yet another steroid-related story.

    The overriding theme in these posts is pretty much – hey fans, stop overreacting. Yeah, he cheated, but unfortunately there are a ton of people who have cheated (both in the steroid era and the “good old days”), so let’s move on. Don’t get overexcited about whatever the latest outrageous story happens to be.

    Steroid use does matter. Steroids may not help a hitter make contact with a ball, but it may allow the player to be stronger, have better conditioning and recover faster than that player would have otherwise. Ask any “clean” ball player about (a) how rundown they get playing night after night over 162 games (on top of off the field conditioning) and (b) the difficulty in their body’s recovery. Hell, ask any 40 year old “weekend warrior”.

    Any form of cheating – and it is cheating – should not be tolerated in a professional sport. In baseball, the numbers meant something. Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod, Braun and all of the other steroid cheats have robbed a great sport of its history.

    If you think that cheating doesn’t impact a sport, are you serious? Do you want baseball to go the way of professional cycling?

    Craig is right on one thing – Ryan Braun is a liar. Anything that comes out of his mouth is likely going to be a lie or, worse yet, publicist approved drivel that says nothing.

    But, that doesn’t mean that we cannot be outraged over yet another lie. It does not mean that we cannot be unsatisfied with the explanations, the fake remorse.

    Ryan Braun was paid millions, given celebrity status and baseball awards for astounding feats on the field that – it turns out- were the result of cheating. Yes, the actual check for those millions came from the owners… but, the only way the owners could pay such a ridiculous salary was because we – the fans – paid for the overpriced tickets, concessions, pay per view and Ryan Braun uniforms.

    The fans have every right to be upset. We have every right to express our outrage and condemn Ryan Braun for not providing an adequate explanation as to why he took something we loved and made an absolute mockery of it.

  23. steelers88 - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Why don’t they ban this asshole for the rest of his life!

  24. dparker713 - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Craig, we do not know for a fact Braun lied last year. We do not know for a fact that he cheated. And I generally don’t ascribe moral failings to the athletes that seek to gain every edge they can.

    What we do know for a fact is that Braun accepted a plea deal. We also know that he has “made some mistakes.” Be careful in your conclusions counselor.

  25. Stiller43 - Jul 23, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    So whens braun giving the MVP to kemp?

    I guess craig would then say, like something he said in another article, “WHO’S TO SAY KEMP WASNT ALSO ON PEDs??!!”

    Once again, Craig…all the tests he passed that braun did not.

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