Finally, closure on Ryan Braun

By Nathan Petrashek

Braun“I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”

With those words, the Ryan Braun PED saga finally reached its conclusion on Monday, as Braun accepted an unpaid 65-game suspension from MLB and will sit out the remainder of the season.

For more than a year, Braun has steadfastly maintained his absolute innocence, denying any connection to banned substances after a failed 2011 drug test.  That test was thrown out in a 2012 appeal, and Braun went on to declare himself vindicated, claiming, “If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I’d be the first one to step up and say, ‘I did it.’”  Many wanted to believe him. It was an unbelievable performance.

But as I’ve written previously, his spring training presser raised plenty of questions.  Braun attacked the character of the sample collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr., saying, “a lot of things we learned about the collector, the collection process … made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened.”  That Braun was attempting to create an inference of tampering was undeniable.  But what motive could Laurenzi have possibly had? And what about MLB’s claim that the sample arrived at the testing agency sealed, intact, and undegraded?  Braun only made matters worse when he declared there was a “real story” known only to his friends and family.

Braun, of course, did not offer any evidence to support those strong statements, and they so infuriated MLB that when Braun’s name was linked to an alleged doping clinic in Miami, it left no stone unturned in its subsequent investigation.  It made a sweetheart deal with the clinic’s drug-peddling owner, Tony Bosch, and ponied up cash to get testimony and documents from employees with equally dubious backgrounds.  And even though this mafia-style “investigation” looked like payback for Braun’s victory, there’s no doubting this: it was effective to the point that the union virtually conceded during the All-Star break that it would not put up much of a fight should MLB decide to issue suspensions.

That doesn’t make it right, though.  For those of us who defended Braun’s procedural rights throughout his appeal and the Biogenesis saga, Braun’s admission is a bit of a slap in the face.  Not because we thought he was innocent, but because he, and any other player, deserved the protections built into the Joint Drug Agreement.  I recognize that many knowledgeable baseball minds will disagree, but I wholeheartedly endorse strong discipline, including the possibility of a lifetime ban, for PED use.  But such strong punishment – depriving a player of his livelihood – deserves equally strong procedural safeguards.  Unfortunately, “effective” is now all anyone will remember about the MLB investigation.

As for Braun, he deserves what he has coming to him.  To anyone with a skeptical mind, it isn’t much of a surprise that he’s guilty; too many connected dots, and too many incomplete explanations.  I hope his acts of contrition include apologies to the teammates and front office personnel he personally deceived, and Laurenzi, whose name he publicly dragged through the mud.

And hopefully that’s the way one of the longest, most-scrutinized off-field dramas in Milwaukee Brewers history will end.

The Failure of Bud Selig’s Logic

By Nathan Petrashek

Bud Selig has been on a whirlwind public relations tour over the All-Star break, but he just can’t seem to keep focused on the All-Star game.  Instead, everyone wants to know when the other shoe will drop in the Biogenesis investigation, a wide-ranging probe in the now-defunct anti-aging clinic that baseball believes supplied banned substances to some of the game’s brightest stars.

“This sport is cleaner than ever,” declared Selig at a POLITICO-sponsored breakfast interview.  It’s common to hear Selig speak of baseball’s drug agreement as the “toughest drug-testing program in America,” with harsh penalties and strict enforcement.

You have to wonder: if that were true, why is Biogenesis even a thing?

Keep in mind what baseball is desperately trying to do here.  They’ve doled out loads of money to consultants, private investigators, and drug peddlers in an effort to come up with something, anything, tying players to PEDs.  And there are apparently a lot of players caught up in this fishing expedition; if you believe media reports, anywhere between 20 and 100.  And though Selig has declined to say how many players might be suspended, he confirmed David Letterman’s hunch that a “day of reckoning” was on the horizon.  Those aren’t exactly words you use if you’re talking about a couple of fringe players.

And yet, as far as we know, not one of the players whose head is on the chopping block has actually failed a drug test.  Well, excluding Ryan Braun.  But even that test was thrown out because it was handled improperly – which is, by the way, evidence that the “toughest drug-testing program in America” really isn’t.

Is it really a clean sport if you have a huge segment of your playing population implicated in a drug scandal and yet can’t produce one positive test to corroborate circumstantial evidence of use?

You Gotta Have Heart: What Being a Small Market Fan Means to Me

You gotta have heart, but a great mustache doesn’t hurt either.

by Kevin Kimmes

Yes, today’s title (well part of it) is taken from the musical “Damn Yankees”.

Already I can hear some of you saying, “A musical? That’s girl stuff!”, but in this case, oh how wrong you would be. See “Damn Yankees” is the story of a devoted Washington Senators fan named Joe Boyd who sells his soul to the devil so that the Senators can acquire a “long ball hitter” and finally beat the “damn Yankees”. It’s a story about unflinching devotion to your team even when you know that the outcomes will probably just break your heart.

Now replace Senators with Brewers, and Yankee’s with Cardinals, and you have a story that most Milwaukee fans can identify with because we, much like Joe, have seen our fair share of suffering over the years. It’s part of what being a small market fan means to me.

It means having the odds stacked against you:

From 1998 to 2012, Milwaukee played in the NL Central, the only division in all of baseball that was composed of 6 teams. So what, you say? Well, due to the fact that the division contained 1 more team than most (2 more than the AL West), Milwaukee’s chances of winning the division in any given year were a meager 16.67%. That’s 3.33% lower than most MLB teams.

It means being thankful for what you have:

When the Braves pulled up stakes and headed south to Atlanta, Milwaukee was left with a gaping hole where baseball had once resided. To their credit, the White Sox did try and remedy this to some extent by playing some games each year at County Stadium, but it just wasn’t the same as having a team to call our own. For this reason alone, I will always respect Bud Selig, not for being commission, but for returning baseball to a city that truly loves the game.

If you need further proof of this point, consider that Milwaukee ranked 11th in overall attendance last year despite being the team with the smallest market.

It means taking the highs with the lows:

My experiences at Miller Park have included being on hand the night that Milwaukee clinched the NL Central title for the first time and the day that they were officially eliminated from the 2012 playoff hunt. You learn to love the highs and accept the lows. It’s all part of loving the game.

It means staying true to your team, even when all hope is lost:

I ended the 2012 season by catching 3 out of the last 4 Brewers home games at Miller Park. Milwaukee was mathematically eliminated from the Wild Card hunt after losing the 1st of the 4 games, but I went to the remaining games anyway. Why? Because, you never know what you might see. In fact, for my troubles I got to see Martin Maldonado hit his first career grand slam, and Kameron Loe and Manny Parra pitch for the last time as Brewers.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

Toucherception

By Nathan Petrashek

We don’t often cross over into the world of football here at Cream City Cables, but the controversy over the final play of Monday Night Football has some pretty significant lessons for baseball, too.

In case you’ve been stranded out in the desert with no telecommunications equipment for the past 48 hours, let me explain.  Or, well, we’ll just the NFL do it:

In Monday’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, Seattle faced a 4th-and-10 from the Green Bay 24 with eight seconds remaining in the game.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a pass into the end zone. Several players, including Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate and Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings, jumped into the air in an attempt to catch the ball.

Naturally, you’re going to have a lot of defensive backs in the end zone on a hail mary play.  Golden Tate was surrounded by gold helmets, including corner Sam Shields in front of him.  The NFL’s statement continues:

While the ball is in the air, Tate can be seen shoving Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields to the ground. This should have been a penalty for offensive pass interference, which would have ended the game. It was not called and is not reviewable in instant replay.

The NFL concedes there should have been a penalty on the play.  Had there been a penalty, the play would have been negated and, as time was expired, the game would have been over.  But what’s next is really shocking, and relevant for baseball purposes.  As the players came down, the side judge signaled touchdown.  The back judge signaled timeout.  The referee did not bother to ask them what they saw; the call on the field was apparently a touchdown by simultaneous possession (though no one has been able to point to me where that call was actually made on the field).

But that’s okay!  We have replay.  Here’s what happened next:

Replay Official Howard Slavin stopped the game for an instant replay review. The aspects of the play that were reviewable included if the ball hit the ground and who had possession of the ball. In the end zone, a ruling of a simultaneous catch is reviewable. That is not the case in the field of play, only in the end zone.

Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

The result of the game is final.

And that’s that.

The NFL’s statement even, quite helpfully, gives us the rule on simultaneous possession:

If a pass is caught simultaneously by two eligible opponents, and both players retain it, the ball belongs to the passers. It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball.

Remember, a valid catch requires a player to secure and maintain control of the ball, even while going to the ground.  You might recall the Calvin Johnson rule from a few years ago:

The NFL concluded that was not a catch.

Now, back to Monday night.  We’re going to conduct our own little replay review.  Here are some photos of the play on Monday night as it progressed:

The ball, incoming. Clearly M.D. Jennings has elevated himself above Golden Tate.

M.D. Jennings catches the ball. Golden Tate’s hand isn’t even on it.

Yep, that’s an interception.

The only thing Golden Tate caught is M.D. Jennings.

The infamous conflicting signals from referees. M.D. Jennings still clearly has possession of the ball. Tate clearly does not, making this an obvious interception.

Just in case you needed more proof.

There you have it.  If Calvin Johnson’s catch was not a touchdown, there is no possible way that Golden Tate can be found to have caught the ball and maintained possession.  There was no simultaneous catch.

One thing to keep in mind is that the replacement referee is not the only one who blew this call.  The NFL has officials – real NFL employees, not replacement referees – assisting with the administration of rules.  According to the NFL, one such official, Howard Slavin, was assisting with the review.  He got it wrong.  And apparently the entire NFL Officiating Department blew the call, too, because there is no way – simply no way! – you can review that game footage and determine that Golden Tate had possession of the ball at any point, let alone that he maintained control through the fall to the ground.

The obvious implication for baseball is that the blown call undermines much of the case for expanded review or automation.  The Commissioner has taken a very careful approach to replay in baseball, first permitting it for borderline home runs calls in 2008.   It will be expanded to fair-or-foul calls and trapped balls, but the system has so far resisted calls for further expansion (for example, on baserunning calls).

What is plain from Monday night’s fiasco is that replay review is not an infallible system.  Review officials will still get calls wrong.  Teams and players will still get screwed.  Error is inherent in any system in which human judgment comes into play (a scary thought when you consider that there are approximately 154,000 U.S. jury trials per year).

What’s more, a replay system is not a system without costs.  There are monetary costs, though one can argue these are not unacceptably high; the Bengals purchased equipment last year for $300,000, plus, of course, the additional cost of review officials and operations staff.  In baseball, the more troubling cost is time.  Every game requires one team to produce at least 27 outs, and baseball is the only major team sport in the United States without a clock.  As of 2010, the average length of a nine-inning game was just under three hours, and that because of dedicated efforts by the Commissioner to speed up the game.  Compare that to 1970s, where the average regulation game lasted under two and one-half hours.

Any expansive replay system is going to impose time costs.  NFL games, after expanding replay review to all scoring plays last season, and all turnovers this season, are lasting longer and longer in 2012, and it isn’t all due to replacement refs.  Expanded replay slows the game down.  It also takes the emotion out of a game when you’re not really sure if your guy just scored a touchdown or hit a home run until five minutes after it happened.

I am not opposed to replay, but I must be persuaded that the benefits outweigh the significant costs.  When the NFL Officiating Department can reach such absurd conclusions even after careful video study, it undermines the case for replay in every sport.

UPDATE

In today’s Ask Vic segement on Packers.com, Vic Ketchman reaches much the same conclusion about replay review:

Norm from Orange Park, FL

I think you have been present to witness two of the most controversial plays in NFL history, one in Pittsburgh and the one on Monday night.

Replay review was used for one and wasn’t available to be used for the other, but Monday’s play and the Immaculate Reception have one thing in common: Replay review was meaningless for both. Forty years later, replay of the Immaculate Reception still can’t confirm whether it was Frenchy Fuqua or Jack Tatum who deflected the ball to Franco Harris. It makes me wonder why we even use replay review if it can’t render a verdict on plays such as these. Aren’t these the plays for which the creation of the system is intended to be used? These weren’t low-profile games. One was a playoff game and the other was a Monday night game, national telecasts with a horde of cameras positioned throughout the stadium, and TV couldn’t produce one angle to help make the call. The thing I don’t like about replay review is that we’ve come to rely on it to correct mistakes, and that’s created an attitude among fans that we no longer have to live with mistakes. The bottom line is mistakes still happen and we still have to live with them.

Overhauling the Midsummer Classic

By: Ryan Smith

Most sports fans would agree that, when it comes to all-star games and the festivities associated with them, Major League Baseball puts the other professional sports leagues to shame.

But that’s not saying much.

When you break it down, the other leagues aren’t doing a whole lot to overtake MLB in this category.

The NFL’s Pro Bowl is a joke. If it’s before the Super Bowl, you are missing the best players from the league’s two best teams. If it’s after the Super Bowl, no one cares because, well, it’s after the Super Bowl. Hell, they almost cancelled the damn game in the last few months!

The NBA used to have an impressive All-Star Weekend. Used to. I remember when the Slam Dunk Contest had the league’s best players competing year-in and year-out. These guys wanted to win. Back before Vince Carter was a salary-cap albatross, he absolutely tore the place down. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan also found the time to compete – and win – this once-wonderful competition. Now, the contest is filled with a bunch of bench players who can jump but can’t actually play a lick of basketball. And, believe it or not, the All-Star Game itself features less defense than a typical regular season NBA game.

The NHL’s All-Star Game is…well, to be honest, I can’t stand hockey. When they went on strike, I realized I didn’t miss the NHL. Maybe the NHL has an amazing All-Star Weekend. Who cares? It’s hockey.

That brings us to Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. As I said before, this is the best All-Star Game in professional sports. But it could be better.

With that being said, here are a few suggestions that, in my opinion, would make MLB’s Midsummer Classic even better:

1) Make the Futures Game a bigger part of the festivities.

This little four-day break from the grind of the regular season is supposed to be an exhibition – a time to celebrate the season thus far and a chance to showcase the best of the best…and Pablo Sandoval. Well, if it’s an exhibition and a showcase, then why not shine a little more light on this game, which selects the best players from all minor league levels? First of all, this game draws the short straw by being broadcast on the Sunday before the ASG, when there are still major league games being played. If you were lucky enough to tune in to the dominating performance by Team USA on Sunday night, you were able to see some of the pitchers and hitters that will soon become household names. I know this will never replace the Homerun Derby as the biggest event before the game itself, but it is by far the best display of actual baseball talent before the game.

2) Fix the Homerun Derby.

Hamilton didn’t win the Homerun Derby in 2008, but he should have.

First of all, no captains. That’s just stupid. Especially when one of the captains has been on the DL for a good chunk of the season and cannot even participate in the ASG itself. Instead, why not just take the top four homerun hitters from each league’s roster? Taking the guys who have hit the most homeruns in that given year seems to make sense, right? Right. So let’s move on. Next, the winner should be the guy who hits the most homeruns over the course of the entire contest. A few years ago, Justin Morneau “won” the Derby, but no one remembers that. Everyone remembers Josh Hamilton hitting 28 homers in the first round. Maybe Hamilton tired himself out with that first round. Should he have stopped at 15 and saved something for the final round? No! The Homerun Derby is supposed to be entertaining, so let’s do whatever we can to keep it that way. Finally, why not add a little twist to the Derby? College baseball’s homerun derby features a bonus ball (similar to the last ball in each rack of the NBA’s Three-Point Shootout), so why not add that? Or maybe they could have special “zones” that are worth two homeruns? When Sammy Sosa was wowing the crowd at Miller Park in 2002 with his shots off of Bernie’s slide or when Prince was knocking them into the fountain in K.C., why not give them a bonus? I’m sure I could think of more changes for the Derby, but I’ll move on for now.

3) Change the roster selection process.

I think this year’s roster fiasco proved that fans just don’t know what they’re doing. Sometimes, the managers struggle with this, too. I know the fan vote will never be taken away, but it should be. Derek Jeter wouldn’t have been good enough to start in the Futures Game, let alone the ASG. And don’t even get me started on Kung Fu Sandoval. Anyway, since the fan vote has no chance of changing, let’s look at the other elements of the roster selection process. Personally, I think the players might do the best job in selecting the most-deserving participants for the ASG. So why do they need to vote by the end of May? When the players selected Lance Lynn as an all-star this year, he was still pitching really well. In that pesky month after the players voted, the wheels fell off for Lynn, yet he still made it ahead of Zack Greinke. So let’s push back the deadline for the players to vote so their selections accurately reflect as much of the season as possible. Also, instead of just having the manager of each All-Star Team select players, why not have all of the managers in each league vote? It just makes sense to include as many voices as possible in this process.

4) Bring in some fun announcers.

Uke would make the All-Star game infinitely more entertaining.

I’m stealing this one from Manny Parra (@MannyParra26), who tweeted that the ASG should have All-Star announcers. I completely agree. Now, I must admit that I may be a bit biased for two reasons. One: I hate Joe Buck. Always have. Always will. Two: If we’re talking about All-Star announcers, don’t you think our very own Bob Uecker would be in the running? As Parra tweeted, “Anyone else think that the All-Star game should be announced by Uecker, and Skully? Would make sense…All-Star Announcers.” Bob Uecker and Vin Scully announcing the ASG together? Sign me up, please.

5) The Managers should be from this season’s best team in each league.

If the game is supposed to matter, then why do we have the managers from last year’s World Series? This makes absolutely no sense to me. And this year, it has gone to new levels with the retired Tony LaRussa taking the reigns for the NL. (Ed. Note: I know the National League won 8-0, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous that a retired guy is managing in a game that is supposed to matter.) Why in the world is a guy who is no longer managing having an impact on home-field advantage for the World Series? This doesn’t seem like a tough change, so make it happen, Bud.

6) Quit having the game determine home-field advantage for the World Series.

This is the biggest change that needs to be made. There is no way that a game being played in July should have a direct impact on the World Series. Remember, this rule was put into place because the 2002 ASG ended in a tie. Because we couldn’t live in a world where the ASG ended in a tie, Bud Selig decided that he would take this exhibition game and have it play a pivotal role in the freaking World Series! In that very game that ended in a tie, I remember Torii Hunter making a leaping catch at the wall to rob Barry Bonds of a homerun. For the most part, the players were always trying, so why change it? Seriously, this needs to stop. Let’s just let this exhibition game remain an exhibition.

These are only a few changes that I think would help the overall All-Star experience for Major League Baseball. As is, the MLB All-Star Game is the best of the best in professional sports. But that doesn’t mean that they should stand pat.

With a few simple changes, Major League Baseball could make the Midsummer Classic a true classic.

Someone Like “Ueck”: Mr. Baseball to be Imortalized August 31st in Milwaukee

by Kevin Kimmes

We here at Cream City Cables would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations (and an apology for the above Adele parody title) to Bob Uecker on becoming the latest member of the Brewers family to be immortalized outside of Miller Park.

On August 31st, “Ueck” will join Hank Aaron, Robin Yount, and Bud Selig as the most recent statue recipient at the ball park. Earlier this week, Uecker quipped that his statue would be the first one to be entirely made of paper mache, and that the team also planned on attaching some sort of feeder to it in order to attract pigeons to the statue.

When asked what the statue would look like, Uecker was quick to respond:

“Kind of a Schwarzenegger-type thing. Beefcake. Speedos. Pretty buffed. It’s really enhanced. I’ve seen pictures of the finished product, and, yes, I’m very pleased, as a matter of a fact. It’s drawing a lot of attention. More than that swimsuit issue.”

Swimsuit issue, you ask? Uecker was referring to the infamous picture of himself, poolside, that ran with an article on the Brewers in Sports Illustrated in 2008, and which can be found here.

Now you may be asking yourself, “Why has it taken this long for Uecker to take his place among the immortals, like Hank Aaron and Robin Yount, and…and…well, let’s just focus on those two statues for now…” Well the answer is simple. As current Brewers owner Mark Attanasio pointed out this week, 2012 is the 50th anniversary of Uecker’s first major league game (he debuted as a catcher with the Milwaukee Braves in 1962), and despite being a .200 hitter in his 7 years in the majors, the statue represents just the latest accomplishment for a man who can be counted as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, and the Wisconsin Meat Industry Hall of Fame, among others.

Stay tuned to Cream City Cables all season long as we will continue to cover this story and all the Uecker related news that’s fit to print (and probably some that isn’t).

What Can We Learn From The Ryan Braun Case?

By Kevin Kimmes

When the decision came down yesterday that Ryan Braun would be exonerated of the charges against him for allegedly testing positive for a banned substance, I honestly was the happiest I had been since the initial announcement regarding the test had come out in December. That elation, however soon soured as I began to see that despite being found not guilty, the fight was far from over. So, what have we learned from all of this?

There’s a Reason That Testing Results are Supposed to Remain Confidential Until a Final Outcome is Determined

In a perfect world, we would not even be addressing this issue, and Ryan Braun would have reported to camp today with the public none the wiser to what had gone on in the offseason. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Instead, we were treated to a 2+ month long circus as everyone and their mother tried to weigh in on whether Braun was guilty or not of violating the league’s banned substance policy despite not having any of the facts regarding what had transpired. Here’s the long and the short of it, baseball in many ways is an allegory for life in America. In this case there was a labor dispute between a worker and his employer over a test result, the employee invoked his legal right to appeal the finding, he had his day in court and was exonerated of the charge due to a testing inconsistency. If this had been Joe Six-Pack who worked for XYZ Company, this wouldn’t be considered news. The HR department would have handled the proceedings, end of story. Unfortunately, there was another court at work here, The Court of Public Opinion, which brings me to my next point.

The Court of Public Opinion Hates to be Wrong

Despite, a 3 person panel ruling 2-1 in favor of overturning the initial decision (and the 50 game suspension that it carried), some people just can’t accept the outcome. Some people just want to belong to a cause, no matter how ridiculous or unfounded the cause may be. This is what happened here as a (metaphorical) pitchfork and torch wielding mob took to the internet to let everyone know that no matter what the decision was, it was wrong because…well…because that’s what they had heard from someone.

Well, who told you that?

Uhmm…you know the guy, the one with the…face…yeah, and he has that show on that one channel (or maybe it was the radio)…well, he said he was guilty, so it must be true…right?

Again, without all the details who can say if the correct decision was rendered or not, but here’s what we know:

1) Braun has insisted from the beginning that he was innocent and that he was going to leave it up to the arbitrators to determine this based on the information that he planned to present.

2) Based on said information, Braun is exonerated of the charges.

3) Life goes on no matter if you agree with the decision or not. Kicking and screaming because you didn’t get your way will not change this no matter how long or how loud you do it. It’s like the Beatles said, “Let It Be”.

People Love a Good Conspiracy Theory

It’s amazing the leaps in logic that some people are willing to make in order to justify an opinion that is not factually sound. With this said, I would like to debunk several theories that people have used to justify why Braun was the only player in MLB history to successfully appeal a positive test result. And yes, I found all of these gems in the comments section of various articles today.

***Warning*** the lack of logic that follows may cause readers to believe that we have entered the times portrayed in Mike Judge’s film Idiocracy. Consider yourself warned!

1) Braun must be related to Selig. – Nope. There is no factual evidence to back up this claim what-so-ever.

2) Braun got his appeal overturned because Selig’s daughter owns the Brewers. – While it is true that Bud Selig sold the team to his daughter, Wendy Selig-Prieb, in 1998, it is also true that she sold the team to current owner Mark Attanasio in 2004. At this time, the Selig family has no vested financial interest in the team.

3) Braun got off the hook because he’s white. – Ah, the ever present race card. Too bad the PED issue has no bias when it comes to race. See Roger Clemens and Mark McGuire if you need further proof.

When the Deck is Stacked Against You, Face Adversity Head on and Keep It Classy

The final thing we should take away from this case is that despite all of the name calling and accusations that have been strewn around since this started, Braun has been a class act the entire way through. He could have easily come off the rails and started his own counter assault against his accusers, yet he took the high road and didn’t stoop to that level, maintaining that the truth would prove what he said all along.

And that is the most important lesson that we can learn from all of this. No matter how bad things may get, no matter how dark the road ahead may look, never loose sight of who you are and what you stand for. Braun has refused to let himself be dragged down by this mess, and stuck to his convictions and morals the entire way, and guess what, in the end he prevailed. It’s a lesson that we all can learn from.

All You Need Is Love – What I Love About The Game of Baseball

by Kevin Kimmes

With today being Valentines Day, I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on the things I love most about baseball. And while I’m on the subject of love, I would like to dedicate this article to my fiance, Abigail Bellehumeur, who has shown unwavering patience despite having to share me with the “other woman” who she claims has the initials “M. L. B.”, and to my mom, Sandy Kimmes, whose birthday it is today. I love you both very much!

I Love The Brewers

I know, that should go without saying, but it’s important, I think, to start here. Through thick and through thin (and there has been a lot of the later and a lot less of the prior), the Brewers have been, and will always be, my home team. Throughout the years, I’ve tried to cheer for other teams, but much like wearing someone else’s clothes, I never felt comfortable sporting another teams colors.

I think we fall in love with the team that we have the greatest connection to as children. For me, I remember going to my grandparents and spending time sitting in the garage with my grandfather as he listened to Bob Uecker call the games on the radio, a warm summer breeze blowing in through the open garage door. For me, these were some of my first experiences with the game, and will always be cherished memories that I carry with me throughout my life.

I Love The History Of The Game

The fact that we as fans celebrate the teams, and players, of yesteryear just as much, if not more so, than the players of today says something about the game as a whole. Despite changes to the game throughout the years, baseball is fundamentally the same game it was over 100 years ago. This allows for easy comparison of today’s teams and players with those from the past, allowing us to have a better understanding of those who we never had a chance to see play.

Need proof? Every year we celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and award the best pitchers with the Cy Young Award. Our favorite teams wear throwback uniforms to remind us of where they came from, and to pay homage to those that paved the way (the Negro Leagues). And, millions take the pilgrimage to Cooperstown each year to not only view history with their own eyes, but to wish congratulations to that years Hall of Fame induction class.

I Love That The Game Is Allowed To Move At Its Own Pace

Baseball is that rare sport that we allow to take as much (or as little) time as needed. We express patience and hang on each moment with the wonder of what may come next. We do not hold the game to a time limit, like we do with football, basketball, hockey, etc. As long as a team can avoid the final out in the 9th, we give them as much time as they need to mount a comeback, no matter how improbable.

This to me is beautiful in the sense that it allows hope and optimism to bloom even when things look their darkest, something that we can take away from the game and use in our daily lives.

I Love Bud Selig

This has nothing to do with his work as commissioner, no, this has to do with the fact that he was the man who brought Major League Baseball back to Milwaukee after the Braves walked out after the 1965 season. Having been born in the late seventies, if Bud hadn’t purchased the ailing Seattle Pilots and relocated them to Milwaukee, there is a strong possibility that I would never have known the joy of cheering for my home team. I would have still found the game through the school yard or Cable TV, but would have probably wound up a Twins fan,  a White Sox Fan, a Tigers fan, or (gasp) a Cubs fan!

I Love The Emotion That A Game (Or Moment) Can Create

While I have been wowed by spectacular plays and angered by bonehead on field buffoonery over the years, the strongest emotional reaction I have ever felt during a game transpired on September 23, 2011. Seated 4 rows up off of the 1st baseline between Fielder and Hart, Abby and I saw the Brewer win the NL Central Division title for the first time in franchise history.

When we had first received the tickets in July, I had joked that it looked like we would probably be going to a AAA game that night, as this was the final series at home for the year and the Brewers were on pace to have the division locked up prior to the game transpiring. As the weeks went by, and the Brewers pace slowed, the likelihood began to become more and more real that we may be on hand to see history. However, it was a Cardinals loss the previous evening to the Mets that finally cemented the scenario.

As we sat in our seats that night, our eyes kept shifting from the play on the field to the wall in left field where the score from the Cardinals/Cubs game was occasionally displayed. In the top of the 9th, with 2 men out, and the batter in a 1-1 count, we saw what we were waiting for. Alfonso Soriano had just gone yard putting the Cubs ahead. In his post game interview that night John Axford was asked if he knew what was going on when the crowd erupted, saying that he assumed he knew, but hadn’t turned around to confirm his suspicions. One player who did though was Ryan Braun, who checked the score over his shoulder, then returned to his defensive position with a huge grin on his face.

With two innings to go in the Cardinals/Cubs contest, no one moved as 44,000 fans, plus the team, turned to the outfield video wall to await history. As the Cardinals game went final and the image on the screen changed to the NL Central Champions graphic, I turned to Abby as I fought back tears, only to find that she was crying. I pulled her close and hugged her tight, kissing her cheek in the process, as confetti rained down around us. That’s what I mean by emotion, and that is why I truly love this game.

Happy Valentines Day!