Saturday, April 19, 2014

4 comments Milwaukee Brewers Fans Give Ryan Braun an Ovation, Mayhem Ensues

Fans will usually cheer players from their team no matter what. There are obviously exceptions to this rule. For example, a player who is underachieving won't be cheered if his struggles continue, but usually these players are booed after making another out or doing something stupid. In general, fans of Team X will cheer for one of their team's players no matter what. This includes even if this player has been suspended for PED use. Apparently this shocks many sportswriters. Two sportswriters who are shocked are Jay Mariotti and Jim Caple. Jay Mariotti isn't just shocked, he's disgusted, while Jim Caple thinks the fans need to teach Ryan Braun a lesson.

I'll start first with Jay Mariotti, who just got done throwing up at the site of Brewers fans cheering Ryan Braun as he was introduced.

My first thought was to contact Stephen Glass. Or Lance Armstrong.

Neither of them would likely speak to you. No one cares to speak with you.

Or Pinocchio.

He's a fictional character and he probably wouldn't speak to you even if he were real. Maybe Jay would yank Pinocchio by his hair until he promised to speak with him.

Or other people whose lives have been ruined by lying and a public eye that won’t grant them mercy.

Jay knows how it feels to be wrongly accused of something, but he didn't lie about being innocent of the charges he pled guilty to. He totally was innocent.

Ryan Braun walked to home plate for the first time since he was revealed as a cheating, lying, performance-enhancing-drug-taking miscreant. He should have been booed vigorously,

No team's fans are going to boo Ryan Braun vigorously in this instance. Dodgers fans cheered Manny Ramirez when he came back from suspension, A-Rod even got some cheers in Yankee Stadium and no one likes A-Rod. A team's fans will cheer for players on their team until they are proven to not be good at playing baseball. That is what can get a player booed. Yet, Jay acts like this is new information which he knows is not true. There have been various instances of a player who used PED's getting cheered by his home crowd once he returns from suspension.

having used a successful drug-test appeal in 2012 to concoct a story that blamed a Milwaukee urine-sample collector who supposedly sabotaged Braun because he was anti-Semitic and a Cubs fan.

Jay thinks Braun should never have called someone a Cubs fan if that person wasn't really a Cubs fan. Show some morals.

We waited for the barrage of dissent in his return to Miller Park after serving a 65-game suspension last season. And waited. And waited.

Waited and waited? Brewers fans didn't get a chance to boo or cheer Braun until the first game of the season that was in Milwaukee. Braun got cheered in his first at-bat with the Brewers during the 2014 season. What the hell was Jay waiting for and when did Jay expect Braun to get booed during a time period where he didn't play a game at Miller Park?

Until suddenly, disturbingly, there was nothing but a standing ovation for Braun, this from a town that should have a grip on Midwestern values

Even though he has lived in the Midwest, Jay still adheres to the strict homogenous stereotype about Midwestern values that every person in that large region should have.

not to mention a stronger perspective about athletes who abuse integrity.

Why should Brewers fans have a stronger perspective about athletes who abuse integrity compared to every other MLB team that would cheer for their own team's player in this situation?

They could have let months, weeks, even a few days pass before showering him with warmth. Instead, in his first game back, they supported him. 

Wait, what? Why would Brewers fans waiting a few weeks before showering Braun with warmth have made any difference in whether cheering Braun is right or wrong? What kind of weird opinion on athletes that abuse integrity does Jay have? It's fine to cheer for a player who used PED's as long as the fans have punished the player for a certain length of time by not cheering for him? Is this the "stronger perspective" Jay is discussing? Jay says to force these athletes into a purgatory of types AND THEN cheer for the athlete and show support for his having used PED's.

Said Brewers teammate, Jonathan Lucroy, per USA Today: “It was good for him, he needed that. It was important for him to know that he’s still loved here, and wanted. This isn’t New York. The fans here are pretty forgiving. He screwed up, acknowledged it, and that’s all you can do.’’

The fans in New York are pretty forgiving too if that athlete can still produce at a high level. If A-Rod could crank out 35 home runs and 110 RBI's while batting .305 and being super-clutch then Yankees fans would find it in their heart to forgive him.

When the passion of civic and team allegiance overwhelms the common-sense rationale of what’s right and wrong ethically in America, you wonder about the state of fandom in the 21st century. What the hell is wrong with those people, anyway?

Exactly, these fans should have waited a few weeks and then let their civic and team allegiance overwhelm their rationale what's wrong and right. Instead of immediately determining what their morals think is right and wrong and forgiving Braun (as the fans seemed to do), they should allow their morals to slowly erode over a period of a few weeks and then forgive Braun for his actions. It's much better that way.

At least Braun, the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2011, has a history of good performance in Wisconsin. Mind explaining how new Baltimore slugger Nelson Cruz, Braun’s partner in crime in the Biogenesis scandal, was greeted with chants of “Cruuuuuuuuz!’’ at Camden Yards every time his name was announced?

I love Jay Mariotti's writing. He preaches to Brewers fans about what's right and wrong and how they need stronger integrity, but he's only arguing the Brewers fans gave away their integrity too soon. They should have waited a while and then handed their integrity in. Jay preaches about right and wrong, but really it's about further punishing the player for his actions. There's no right and wrong for Jay in this situation, it's about the fans being responsible for punishing Braun. Now Jay says that at least Braun was good at playing baseball with Milwaukee compared to Nelson Cruz only joining the Orioles this offseason, as if a player's affiliation with a prior team and good performance with his previous team mitigates his use of PED's. This is part of what is so fake with Jay Mariotti. He preaches about right and wrong, but he's not worried about right and wrong. He's worried about the fans punishing Braun sufficiently for taking PED's, Braun's actions after taking PED's, and whether the fans have a right to cheer Braun because he performed well for their specific team.

When Cruz, who served a 50-game ban, hit a go-ahead home run in a 2-1 victory over Boston, Orioles fans treated him like he was Cal Ripken Jr.

Fans generally always cheer for players who perform well for their team. I can't speak for these Orioles and Brewers fans, but they think these players have served the sentence that was (then) mandated based on an agreement between the player's union and MLB. These two players have done their time and they are eager to move on because Cruz/Braun are on their team. Baseball fans have learned to live with ambiguity.

Even Barry Bonds, despised in Pittsburgh when he left for San Francisco in 1992, heard his share of cheers mixed with boos at PNC Park, where some brainiac invited him to present Pirates star Andrew McCutchen with his 2013 NL MVP award.

Bonds left Pittsburgh 20 years ago. It's water under the bridge at this point. Plus, Bonds left because the Pirates wouldn't sign him to a market value contract, not because Bonds demanded he leave the city of Pittsburgh.

When even a few folks are cheering the all-time PED rat in Pittsburgh, something clearly is askew with the human condition.

Yeah, but Pirates fans waited twenty years and seven years after Bonds' retirement to cheer him. Didn't Jay indicate that was enough time for Brewers fans to start cheering Braun again? So what's his issue with Pirates fans cheering for Bonds other than the fact Jay doesn't even believe the things he writes of course?

Wait until the Cardinals return to St. Louis and new shortstop Jhonny Peralta, also suspended in the Biogenesis case, is cheered at Busch Stadium. I’m not sure five minutes passed at the start of free agency before the Cardinals, known for their organizational dignity, handed Peralta a $53 million deal.

Peralta signed with the Cardinals in late November. Free agency started three weeks before this.

It’s stunning, if also inexplicable, how the public can hold Rodriguez in such disdain during his season-long suspension while other disgraced players are forgiven.

While I agree with Jay on this strawman argument, I also can't help but remember Jay Mariotti is one of those in the public who holds Rodriguez in such disdain.

In his final year as commissioner, Bud Selig truly should be ashamed for not trying harder to curtail steroids use 20 years ago. But when he sits in the ballpark in his hometown and watches the ovation for Braun, it lets Selig off the hook. And that should never, ever happen.

So now the Brewers fans not cheering for Ryan Braun isn't about right or wrong, isn't about punishing Ryan Braun for his actions, but it is about punishing Bud Selig for his role in being complicit during the Steroid Era? So Brewers fans shouldn't cheer for Ryan Braun (at least not yet...wait a few weeks apparently) so they can punish Bud Selig. I get the feeling Jay doesn't even really understand what he did not like about Brewers fans cheering for Ryan Braun so he's throwing all of his reasons into one big pile where they are starting to not make very much sense.

“Fans are fans. That’s the way it’s supposed to be,’’ said Selig, per the Associated Press. “He’s their hometown player and it was a wonderful reaction. I wish everybody well.’’

I think Bud Selig realizes hometown fans tend to cheer for hometown players in situations such as this and there is nothing he can do about it. The fans pay for their ticket and have a general right to cheer for who they want to and when.

A wonderful reaction?

Excuse me while I hurl.

If he has to hurl Jay must have just gotten done proofreading this column. Jay doesn't like that the Brewers fans cheered for Ryan Braun. I'm not sure he knows why he doesn't like it. Jay goes from saying it's about right and wrong, then says "well Brewers fans should have waited longer," and then says they shouldn't have cheered at all to punish Bud Selig. Not well done at all, Jay. 

Jim Caple thinks it is the responsibility of the fans to not cheer for Ryan Braun and teach these PED users a real good lesson. He also has some ideas to ensure MLB players don't have incentive to use PED's again, which is an impossibility as long as baseball players are receiving compensation for their on-field performance.

On Opening Day in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun returned from last season's 65-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs and received a loud standing ovation from the hometown crowd. On Tuesday night, a fan ran onto the field to try to high-five him. For those two games, Braun earned roughly $124,000 of a contract that guarantees him at least $117 million in pay.

So ... that'll really teach him not to do it again, huh?

It's NOT the job of the fans to teach these players a lesson for using PED's and lying about it. It's not the fans' deal. MLB and the player's union have worked out an agreement where the players get punished for using PED's. The fans don't have to continue punishing the players beyond this agreed-upon span of games. The fans are those being entertained. We are the customer, not those responsible for the punishment of our favorite team's employees.

At spring training, when Braun addressed the media about his use of PEDs, he said he made a "mistake." That's not accurate. Braun did not make a "mistake." He cheated.

He made a mistake by cheating. That's clearly what he meant.

Milwaukee's welcoming response for Braun angers me, though, because he was caught after PEDs were firmly and officially banned, not just frowned upon. And he'd already narrowly averted a previous ban because of a technicality.

The technicality was that the drug collector didn't follow the correct procedures when collecting Braun's sample. The steps in the drug agreement were violated by the collector, and even if it doesn't make a lot of sense to the general public, these are the steps in the process agreed upon by the player's union and MLB.

If we -- media, fans, players, the league and teams -- truly want to rid the game of PEDs, then we must thoroughly punish players when they are caught breaking the rules.

It's not the job of the fans to punish the players. The fans are the customer. It's the job of MLB and the player's union to work out punishments for players who choose to use PED's.

Baseball addressed this last week by toughening the punishments for PED cheats, including banning them from playing in the postseason in a year in which they are suspended. Which is good, but we also should not then reward them with four-year, $52 million new contracts, as the Cardinals did with Peralta over the winter.

This isn't right though. The punishment is the suspension and I would be fine with not allowing players to collect their current contract amount for that season, but it seems to me that preventing a player from earning money in the future is far too draconian.

As long as players know that even if they're suspended, they still will receive multimillion-dollar contracts and the adoration of their hometown fans, what is the incentive not to cheat?

Even if the punishment was a lifetime ban from playing baseball in the majors there would still be incentive to cheat. As long as players get paid money and can earn more money for a better performance then there will always be an incentive to cheat. I recognize it's fun to criticize fans for cheering for these players who have used PED's, but fans aren't responsible for punishing the players. Even if the hometown fans didn't cheer these players they would still want to cheat in order to make more money.

I don't believe first-time offenders should be banned for life, but I want them to truly get the message that PED use is not tolerated. Here's how to send it:

Get caught cheating, and not only are you suspended without pay (as is currently the case), but your current contract should be voided.

So the solution will be to reward the player by allowing him to become a free agent? Of course not, that would be silly. Jim Caple has an idea to prevent Stephen Strasburg from intentionally failing a drug test so he could make $200 million on the free agent market.

When you return from the suspension, you also should lose whatever negotiating leverage you've accrued. You should not reach free agency until at least one full year after you otherwise would be eligible.

So what happens when a player two years from free agency outperforms his contract by making two straight All-Star Games and then fails a drug test? He's suspended the requisite 80 games, then comes back and plays at a high level. Fine, he's not a free agent, but what will the result in arbitration be? Will the arbitrator not allow the player to get a raise? Doubtful. Plus, this player now has an additional two more years of arbitration after that, which means his value will continue to rise. How do teams combat a young player's value from rising? By signing that player to a long-term contract. So the solution of allowing the player one more year before he hits free agency could give MLB teams more incentive to give this player a long-term contract. No MLB team is going to let a great young player just walk because he failed a drug test. Teams always want these players to prove they can return and play well after a suspension. If a player proves that, then giving that player an additional year of arbitration could very well give a team more incentive to hand that player a long-term contract.

But oh, Jim Caple is not done.

So that your team, which might have looked the other way at rumors of your PED use, does not benefit, it should not retain rights to your service beyond when it normally would. If that time frame expires before you are eligible for free agency, 

Which should happen in every instance of a player being caught using PED's since that player won't reach free agency until a year after that player is otherwise eligible. I think I'm confused. Teams always have a player's rights until he hits free agency and if free agency is pushed back one year then every player who has signed a contract or is still eligible for arbitration would not have his rights retained by his current team during this additional year of arbitration that Jim Caple has changed to essentially a year of restricted free agency.

you should go into a "cheaters' draft" in which each team, in reverse order of record, can pick you or not. Teams could choose only one cheat per winter. Hopefully, there never would be occasion for a second round of the cheaters' draft.

If I'm reading this correctly, teams will be punished for their players using PED's by losing the rights to these players and not having a chance to negotiate a new contract with these players. This doesn't seem right at all. I'm glad these PED cheaters aren't allowed to be free agents until a year after they normally would have been eligible and Caple's solution to make this happen is to essentially make these PED cheaters a free agent, even if a free agent with restricted options. Also, this idea of not allowing a team to retain the rights to a player suspended for PED use gives MLB teams even more incentive to sign these players to a long-term contract. This is the second time one of Jim Caple's solutions ends up rewarding the PED user by giving his current team more incentive to give him a long-term contract. We all know long-term contracts to players who have used PED's makes sportswriters howl with anger.

But fans also will boo an opponent who wins the Triple Crown and donates his salary to Habitat for Humanity. It's how they regard their own team's players that is at issue.

But how to punish the fans for cheering for their hometown players. That's the problem and clearly the fans need to be punished as severely as possible.

Obviously, fans can't be forced to behave a certain way or instructed not to cheer. But there are rules that could be enacted so that a returning cheat doesn't feel as welcome as Braun and others have.

I'm sure glad these punishments don't feel petty at this point.

No walk-up or entrance music for his at-bat or relief appearance. In fact, no introduction whatsoever.

No walk-up music! That will show the players! You can take away their million dollar contracts, but not letting them listen to Rage Against the Machine before they bat will surely stop PED use by MLB player in it's tracks.

Let that silence be a reminder that he cheated. If the fans still want to cheer him, so be it. But teams shouldn't encourage an environment for applause.

What about making the player wear a dunce cap instead of a batting helmet? That will really make the player feel stupid, plus if that player gets hit in the head by a pitch and dies, who cares, that player was a fucking cheater anyway.

I would include a Hall of Fame ban, but any player who tests positive for PEDs isn't going to get 75 percent of the BBWAA vote anyway.

Ok...I don't think this is a guarantee that the current way PED users are treated will be the same way PED users are treated in the future.

Sure, there are flaws in these suggested measures. For one thing, there would need to be some ways to prevent teams from manipulating the rules just to get out of an expensive contract.

The Yankees are very sad that Jim Caple is on to them.

But that and other issues could be ironed out.

"These are my ideas and my solutions, but I'll let others iron out the problems with my ideas and solutions. I've done my part."

It's always nice when sportswriters want a problem solved, propose ideas to fix this problem and then don't care enough to iron out solutions to the problems their new idea presents.

I'm all for giving a player a second chance after he makes "mistakes."

The player just can't keep his current contract and the collective bargaining agreement between the player's union and MLB will be violated in order to ensure this player is punished through not being allowed to be a free agent. Also, the player's walk-up music will be taken away in an effort to be as petty as possible. But otherwise Jim Caple is all for second chances.

But to really discourage the use of PEDs, players also must know that when they come back, all will not be forgotten, all will not be forgiven, and life in baseball will not be the same.

But after the player serves his suspension, isn't allowed walk-up music, and gets pimped out to one of the worst teams in MLB for one season before he becomes a free agent then life in baseball will be the exact same. That's the part Caple doesn't have a solution for. He wants a solution that permanently hurts a player who has used PED's, but that's just not possible outside of never allowing the player to play in the majors again. 

4 comments:

Crazee said...

I'm really tired of the hysteria regarding PEDs in baseball. I understand baseball fans value certain statistics and they like comparing players of different eras by using certain landmark numbers.

I don't support PEDs or users. But Baseball is the only sport that gets this kind of constant scrutiny even while they're instituting the harshest dug policy in sports. Nobody seriously ever wonders if major players in the NBA or NFL are taking PEDS UNTIL they fail a drug test. No one wonders "How can a guy as big and tall as LeBron James never get injured?" Or "Why are these linebackers so strong and fast?"

If you even bring it up, people say "There's been no suspicion, you can't say anything". But that's what baseball writers(not just fans) do all the time. Ask question and make accusations without proof.

Crazee said...

Also, nobody thinks PED users that get caught in the NFL should be treated as Pariahs. They do their time(suspension) and then it's all over with and they can get back to their career.

I don't even think it would affect hall of fame inclusion....like with the Ray Lewis "Deer Antler Spray" stuff. If that was baseball, it'd be the end of him.

Bengoodfella said...

Crazee, I agree. I would be fine with harsh suspensions for PED users, but once they served their penalty then I'm not going to get mad at the fans for cheering them.

It's ridiculous the scrutiny baseball receives on this issue. The other sports turn more of a blind eye rather than ask, "Why is Dwight Howard built like a tank" or "is it natural for some of these football players to be this big and powerful?"

I think it's because baseball is so tradition-based. Like more is expected of baseball players because of this. In football, a guy can kill someone accidentally and get right back to playing, while in baseball a guy cheats and then challenges MLB because they are circumventing the rules for the suspension and he's the bad guy for pointing out how baseball is playing dirty pool.

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