There — I said it.
Ryan Braun is my most hated Major League Baseball player — ever.
That was a little bit easier to say.
On Saturday, Braun accepted his first National League MVP award after leading his Brewers to the playoffs, all while hitting 33 home runs. He also had a batting average of .332 and an unprecedented OPS of .994 with a solid .597 slugging percentage.
What will cloud his rather remarkable season, though, is shame.
Braun tested positive for a banned substance in December, after he was already named MVP. Us Pirate fans rejoiced at the news. Of course, it was an opportunity to point a finger and laugh and the man who has helped torment this fan base in all of his five seasons in the league. It affirmed the speculation that something most definitely has been up with this guy, and it’s about time he was found out.
More so, it fueled the judgement of a doubting nation that the steroid-era is most certainly not over.
Braun has long been a players advocate saying that he is clean and could be tested at any time to prove he’s truthful. Even with the confirmed allegations against him, he maintains his innocence. While it wasn’t necessarily a steroid or a Performance Enhancing Drug he tested positive for, Braun still broke the rules.
Still, he got on base, hit the home runs and led Milwaukee through an exciting season and playoff run.
For that, he deserves to keep the award.
Defending the honor won’t be so easy as Braun faces a 50-game suspension for, well, breaking the rules.
I’m not one to put an athlete on a pedestal, but they will always be looked up to. I don’t not cheer for guys that are proven jerks, convicted felons or smug to the fans. I root for players, not people.
But, I don’t pull for Ryan Braun.
The Brewers have long been Pirate killers. Since 2007, they are 38-4 against Pittsburgh. At the axis of the evil, Miller Park, Milwaukee won eight games when hosting the Pirates. There have been brawls, chin-music pitches thrown from each side and a 20-0 beat down within it all.
It has all been said and done, Braun is the 2011 NL Most Valuable Player, deservingly so. He also deserves a 50-game suspension for injecting/ingesting something that is illegal. He’s appealing it, but to take a page from Braun’s book when referencing getting beaned by Pittsburgh’s Jeff Kastens:
“We’ll see what the commisioner has to say about it.”
photo credits: washingtonpost.com, espn.com