Ryan Braun suspended: He cheated, but Brewers fans will forgive

I won’t mince words here: Ryan Braun is a cheater. Ryan Braun is a liar. It’s a day that Milwaukee Brewers fans hoped would never come, but knew would.

Ryan BraunBraun, the Brewers’ star left fielder, was suspended by Major League Baseball for the rest of the regular season, a verdict that conceivably could have happened any time over the past 19 months.

It’s clear that Major League Baseball is trying to clean up the game, and using Ryan Braun as an example. And rightfully so. There are still many questions to be answered, but the big question – Did Braun use some sort of performing-enhancing drug? – has an answer, and it’s one that Braun is no longer denying.

If Braun truly didn’t cheat, he should have continued to adamantly deny any use of anything illegal. His acceptance of the suspension is damning evidence and casts a shadow on the denials that Braun has made since he was first accused on Dec. 10, 2011.

Here’s what Braun had to say about Monday’s suspension:

As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organizations. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed – all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love.

For fans in Milwaukee, the suspension is palatable from a baseball perspective. All things considered, it comes at a tolerable time for the organization, as the Brewers sit 15 games under .500 at 41-56 as of July 22, 2013.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt referred to Milwaukee as “the last bastion of support” for Braun in this case, and while that is true, I don’t see that necessarily turning a 180 and pitting fans against Braun.

Again, the reality is there: Braun is a cheater and a liar. But Milwaukee isn’t going to give up on him.

As a die-hard Brewers fan, it’s unfortunate to see Braun suspended but in all reality, it was a long time coming. We’ve watched him break onto the scene in 2006 and turn into one of the game’s best hitters. His numbers have been astounding, but perhaps not as much as his impact on a small market. I don’t see him as a complete and total fraud, as I think he is a byproduct of a dirty game, but it does put an official damper on the purity of the playoff runs in 2008 and 2011.

This current season is essentially a lost cause. The 65 games that Milwaukee will be Braun-less aren’t necessarily going to open a door for some hot young prospect to get more playing time, but it will likely make the front office go further into sell mode and consider deals for the likes of Norichika Aoki, Corey Hart and Yovani Gallardo.

While the questions of what exactly Braun did need to be answered, the question remains as to how the Milwaukee fans will accept him come Opening Day 2014. He needs to remain contrite and apologetic, take ownership of his transgressions, and say all the right things necessary to ensure that he and the organization are in a position to contend next season.

I don’t see the Brewers faithful booing him, as he’s still “our guy” – cheater or not. He won’t officially don a Milwaukee uniform until spring of 2014, and I think the nine months between now and then will serve as an adequate punishment for Braun to the fans that have been his supporters since day one.

About Chris Callaway

Chris lives and works in La Crosse, Wisconsin, working primarily on-air while doing some writing as well. He is a part-owner of the Green Bay Packers, a Milwaukee Brewers die-hard, learning hockey while supporting the Minnesota Wild, and is also a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow him on twitter @ccallaway33.


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