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A small act of baseball kindness

6 Aug

Miller Park

In lieu of the recent Biogenesis PED scandal involving Milwaukee Brewer left fielder Ryan Braun, I was happy to read the following story on the opposite end of the spectrum.  It’s a genuine act of kindness, coincidentally, at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game on August 4th 2013.  As a young boy in search of an elusive game-used ball, I remember going to baseball games early during warmups or sneaking down close to the field in the later innings.  I can certainly related to the little guy’s excitement, albeit, his was the result of an anonymous stranger.  Take a look, I was glad I did 🙂



23 Jul


In a baseball context, Ryan Braun’s “day of reckoning has come” and rightly so. Still trying to absorb and process the information learned over the last 24 hours, one thing is for certain- Ryan Braun will no longer play baseball in 2013 and will forfeit approximately $3.25M in salary. Unless you’ve been living in a sporting world abyss, you’ll probably be familiar with the topic of this post. Yesterday, July 22 2013, Major League Baseball suspended Milwaukee Brewer left fielder Ryan Braun for the remainder of the 2013 season for his connection and involvement with the Biogenesis Clinic of Miami, FL. By not appealing and instead releasing a public statement, Braun effectively admitted guilt to his tie with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Major League Baseball nor Braun have explained a definitive reason for suspension, however, it is believed to be the result of “non-analytic positives”-violations without a failed drug test.

Reaction to the news within the media has been about as harsh as one would expect. Zero sympathy. Public image and legacy ruined forever. Probably be treated as if he were a convicted felon by baseball fans the rest of his career. On a personal level, I’m still trying to process my own feelings. Back in February 2012 I wrote on this blog how relieved I was to see him exonerated from a failed drug test accusation. Now, as I sit here today I realize he did indeed get over by technicality. Has he been a chronic PED user? Yes. Are his statistics the result of PEDs? I don’t know. I’m currently under the belief that PED usage helped Braun mainly in the way of fatigue and injury recovery. I don’t have any basis for this theory except that his career statistics have been a virtual straight line while having very few injuries. Again, it’s merely my opinion and I’m sure over the months ahead many many others will generate their own.

Does Ryan Braun owe me an apology? No. Despite a great acting performance during that press conference in February 2012, I don’t know him from any other professional athletes let alone on a personal level. But as sports fan and a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club, I am allowed to be disappointed. I’m allowed to feel sad. I feel that way because a man resigned to cheating in order to obtain a greater reward from his occupation. I have no idea whether that reward was monetary compensation, team success, or personal glory. This incident simply reinforces the idea that some athletes will. This incident reminds us that we do not know these athletes except for the sporting “characters” they play. We cheer for them because they play for the teams we love. When they have success we want to know them on such intimate levels because of the way we feel. And when they make poor decisions we question why we cheered for them in the first place. We ask ourselves ‘Would I do the same thing?’ In the meantime, my #8 Milwaukee Brewers alternate road jersey will simply continue to hang in my closet, unsure if it will ever be worn again.

And now…stay classy Atlanta?

11 Oct

About a week ago St. Louis and Atlanta squared off in the first game involving Major League Baseball’s new Wild Card playoff round.  The single game, winner-take-all format was created to duplicate the drama from the last day of the 2011 MLB season.  Well, drama is what they got, albeit the result of controversy instead of say a pitcher’s duel.  In the bottom of the 8th inning, Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons hit a shallow fly ball into left field.  St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma was on the verge of catching the ball when all of a sudden he ran forward and the ball dropped between he and St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday.  Atlanta, already with one out in the inning, had runners on both first and second base at the time.  The crowd roared due to the unexpected error making the bases loaded.  It wasn’t until the scoreboard operator placed a “2” next to the number of outs that they realized something else had happened.  That something else was the infield fly rule:

An Infield Fly is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out.  The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.  When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare “Infield Fly” for the benefit of the runners.

In obvious protest, the Atlanta fans decided to litter the field with anything they could get their hands on, stopping the game for almost 20 minutes.  St. Louis went on win the game and Atlanta filed a formal protest with Major League Baseball which was denied.  Thus, the big talker over the next several days was about this particular and rarely called rule.  Most chose to focus on the fact that the umpire didn’t make the call immediately or that the shortstop’s effort running into left field to make a catch was considered “ordinary”.  I personally focused on the position of the catch, err, almost catch.  The St. Louis fielders were more than 50 feet from the dirt path that marks the infield.  Since the infield fly rule was created to protect the runners, I was asking the question aloud to myself- “What benefit would St. Louis had gained if the rule wasn’t called?”  They certainly would not have had enough time to achieve a double play.  At best they could have gotten the lead runner out at third base.  How were the runners protected in this situation?  Anger in Atlanta will live on, the rule’s debate will live on…until the next sporting controversy.

Major League Baseball’s second wildcard confuses even the experts

12 Sep

Chris Singleton from ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” had an interesting Twitter exchange last night as the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies both reached the .500 point record-wise and stood 4 games back of the second wild card team in the National League.  Poor logic? Confusion? Regardless of whichever it is, when you are an “expert” on television you had better figure it out.  In the back of my head, it plays out like an old Doonesbury comic strip 🙂

So long Zack

26 Jul

He was traded for during the off-season before the 2011 MLB season.  Rumor has it he’ll be traded today (certainly by the end of the week before his next scheduled start for Sunday).  Zack, we hardly knew ya.  The Milwaukee Brewers gave up significant assets in order to obtain his services, including starting shortstop Alcides Escobar, center-fielder Lorenzo Cain, pitcher Jake Odorizzi, and (troubled) pitcher Jeremy Jeffress.  Did they get value on this trade?  Hard to say they didn’t.  2011 brought the Brewers a first division title in the National League, not to mention an appearance in the 2011 National League Championship Series.  Of course the objective was to sign Greinke to a contract extension, but I think he’s intent on exploring free agency.  Once such a fact is known, said player becomes the infamous “rental” that contending clubs would like to have to put themselves over the proverbial hump.  In fact, the Brewers know the process well.  Last year during “the run” they obtained Francisco Rodriguez from the New York Mets in July 2011.  And, as they also found out, no one knows how the off-season will play out…K-Rod eventually accepted the Brewers tender offer when his prospects on other clubs weren’t so great.  Maybe Zack will come to the realization that a couple of million (!) won’t make a huge difference on his happiness and wallet.  Maybe the Milwaukee Brewers will be one of his suitors again, this time in free agency before the 2013 season.  Regardless, thanks for being a good ballplayer and teammate Zack, I’m sure you’ll be missed in the Brewer clubhouse.

UPDATE- Greinke was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for shortstop Jean Segura, pitcher Ariel Pena, and pitcher Johnny Hellweg on 07/27.  Thanks to John Axford for this picture.

Marlins Racing Seafood: Survey says? Buzzzzzz!

6 Apr

Not much to write here, you see the picture. Probably the worst ripoff yet of the Milwaukee Brewers Racing Sausages. Do those “things” even have names? Is one of them ConchMan?

‘Hawk’ paid it forward

29 Feb

Many professional athletes are also good people.  I think sometimes we forget their human side as our impression of them resides on their most recent performance in whatever sport they play.  So when I read this nice little story I felt the need to pass it along- me paying it forward if you will.  It seems last year former Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins decided to conduct a nice gesture to one of his teammates, relief pitch Tim Dillard, when the team arrived in New York City to play an interleague series against the Yankees.  Tim Dillard recalls:

We were just pulling into the hotel and ‘Hawk’ called me up to the front of the bus.  I didn’t know what was going on.  I didn’t know if I was going to have to do (his) Harry Caray (impression) or what.  He said, ‘Has anybody ever bought you a suit?’ I told him I couldn’t remember anybody doing it.  So he took me across the street to this place the players like to go to and bought me a suit.  It was unbelievable.  Before we left, he had bought me two suits, four dress shirts and a couple of ties.  Then, he said, ‘You know why I’m doing this? Because he did it for me.’  And he points to this picture of Kirby Puckett hanging on the wall.

Hiatus over. Exoneration?

24 Feb

Wow, what a day to pick up writing a blog again.  I take a couple months off and this is the day I return?  A big day in the world of sports, more specifically, Major League Baseball.  Why is today so interesting you ask?  The 2011 Major League Baseball National League Most Valuable Player and Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun held a news conference to discuss his winning his appeal of a positive drug test from October 1, 2011.

I’ll say it again, wow.  My first reaction to the news that came down late yesterday afternoon was relief.  I thought to myself- One of my favorite baseball players is not a cheater, thank you God.  As more information came out, the public’s rationale was that he received ruling in his favor due to a technicality in the delivery of the drug testing sample.  Apparently the courier used by Major League Baseball didn’t ship the sample via FedEx on the day the sample was taken, instead retaining it for 44 hours in their possession.  After absorbing all the information and hundreds of comments from random anonymous baseball fans, doubt crept into my head.  Did he really take drugs and just got lucky that a courier screwed up?  If I wear my #8 jersey will people think I support athletes who use drugs?  I spent an uneasy night, partially due to the amount of emotion I spent on the sport of baseball last year and more specifically, the Milwaukee Brewers.  I even felt sad for awhile.  How could this person do this to his fans?

Today Ryan Braun made a 12 minute statement to the media and held a Q&A session afterwards.  Composed anger is a way I’d describe his demeanor after listening to the opening statement.  At one point I thought he’d lose his fortitude when he described how this had personally affected his well being.  Either he’s Major League Baseball’s greatest thespian or this was someone who indeed had the truth on his side and wasn’t afraid to let it out during a speech.  Needless to say, as a fan, I felt reassurance.  I don’t know Ryan Braun anymore than any other professional athlete, so all we have for character judgement is their actions within their sport and the manner in which they speak for themselves.  Today Ryan Braun conducted himself with outstanding poise in the midst of a situation I cannot even fathom.  Today I think a professional sports’ appeals process got it right.  Today I believe Ryan Braun.  I hope one day we’ll all know the truth.

Congrats to the 2011 MLB National League MVP!

22 Nov

Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun has been named the 2011 MLB National League Most Valuable Player, as voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).  Braun is the 3rd player in Milwaukee Brewers history to the win the award, joining Rollie Fingers (1981) and Robin Yount (1982 at SS, 1989 at CF).

Fantastic end to a fantastic season by #8, couldn’t be any happier for him.

Thanks for a fun year :)

17 Oct

It was a nice run.  Even in the 1989 movie “Major League” the Cleveland Indians’ fictional season came to an end without a World Series title (of course they left out that back story from the end of the movie!).  I’ve spent most of my adult life comparing that movie plot to the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club, primarily because the movie was filmed in Milwaukee and because the Brewers exploits over the last 15 season on the field seemed to mirror that of the 1970-1980s Cleveland Indians spoke about in the movie.  Whenever the Brewers would show signs of promise, I’d always think to myself “Wouldn’t it be fun if the real team developed personality, camaraderie, and success for a season like those guys in the movie?”  Now that the 2011 Milwaukee Brewer season is over, I realize it finally happened.  Nyjer Morgan, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, John Axford, and manager Ron Roenicke magically had the embodiment of Willie Mays Hays athleticism, Pedro Cerrano’s power, Jake Taylor’s leadership, “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn’s heat, and Lou Brown’s fortitude.  “Beast mode” and “Tony Plush” were about as close as they were getting to a cardboard cutout of the owner and a guy who practiced voodoo worshiping “Jobu”.  And Bob Uecker, well, he just played himself in both.  Winning the 2011 NLDS against Arizona in such dramatic fashion would have been a fitting point to stop, but unfortunately life doesn’t imitate art, even if it is a cheesy baseball movie from the 1980s.  Thank you 2011 Milwaukee Brewers, I finally got my major league moment.