Friday, August 23, 2013

Braun should give back 2011 MVP trophy

Finally. Suspended Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun finally said something.

Braun admitted to a number of things, including being in denial, using a “cream and lozenge” and he also apologized to sample collector Dino Laurenzi Jr.

It was a carefully crafted statement that, in conjunction with his statement to the Brewers’ faithful, Braun probably thought would help start the public relations healing process.

You can read the whole prepared statement here, via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, but here is the statement that stands out most to me:

“Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn’t have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.”

I am certain that Ryan Braun had some level of input in the statements released on Thursday, but it’s also clear that a team of lawyers and publicists had significant influence on what exactly was contained in the verbiage of them.

And the fans aren’t that dumb. At least I hope not.

Picking and choosing exactly the message you want to send is a first step, but if it’s the only step, it’s still a coward’s way out.

He admitted he lied. Good. Great. Wonderful. But it’s just a start. Braun needs transparency at this point if he ever wants to fully re-enter the good graces of Wisconsin.

Sit down with Bob Costas during the playoffs. Hold a press conference and answer the tough questions from the media. Do something more. Give us details. What you used, when you used it, for how long. Vague, prepared statements aren’t enough.

He was ready to proclaim his innocence in front of the TV cameras during spring training on February of 2012, but he won’t apologize in front of them now? Something seems wrong about that.

Braun can say all he wants, but there’s one action he can take that will speak volumes so much louder than any statement he could issue: He can hand over the 2011 National League MVP trophy.

It’s a gesture that would resonate not only across the Brewers’ fan base, but across all of baseball.

He came out and said that he used products during the 2011 season that he shouldn’t have. He admitted to cheating, and he doesn’t deserve the highest individual award that an MLB player can receive for one season. If he didn’t play within the rules, why should he be rewarded and forever recognized as the league’s most valuable player?

I can’t envision a situation where the MLB will force Braun to hand over his trophy. It’s something that Braun should do on his own volition.

Milwaukee went on to win a franchise-record 96 games in 2011. Had Braun not rubbed himself down with magical cream and sucked on these mysterious lozenges, are the Brewers the same team? No one can say for sure.

I’m not a fan of asterisks and changing numbers and altering the record books. That makes things too messy and it would be impossible to make them perfect.

But if you have someone confessing to cheating for a specific season in which he was named MVP? To me it’s a no-brainer. Ryan Braun should return the MVP trophy to help close the door on a regrettable chapter in his career.

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