Post-Braun News, Who is the Face of the Brewers Franchise?
To me, it’s still Ryan Braun. Just hear me out here. I think for my generation of Brewers fans, it always will be Ryan Braun. At least, for most of us. I grew up with a family full of baseball lovers and started going to and watching games at a young age, but I really fell in love with the game at the beginning of the 2007 season (which is season that Braun was called up). The next season, he was one of the players who led us to our first playoff berth since 1982. He hit the eventual game-winning homerun in a game against the Cubs that would help the Brewers clinch the 2008 wild card spot. The Brewers were eliminated in their first series in that postseason by the Phillies, but for the time being, just getting to the playoffs was enough for most fans. He also became the team’s first player to win the MVP since switching to the National League, and the first to win MVP since Robin Yount in 1989.
Fast forward to 2011. This was the most exciting season of any sport I have ever watched. A lot of people say that it’s now “ruined” because of the Braun suspension, but it’s really not, in my opinion. Can you really tell me that watching the 2011 NLDS wasn’t one of the most exciting things you have ever seen as a Wisconsin sports fan? The 1982 World Series appearance by the Brewers was before my time, so the 2011 postseason is my fondest memory of the Brewers to date. I was at the game in 2011 against the Marlins when the Brewers clinched the division. It was hands down the best baseball game I have ever attended, and nothing will change that or take away the joy I felt that night. The joy of watching my team finally win a division title, watching grown men running around on the field celebrating like they were little children, and celebrating with other Brewers fans in attendance that night. No matter what has happened with Braun since, nothing can take away our joy and excitement we felt watching that game, and watching the Brewers advance to the NLCS after defeating the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. Ryan Braun was pretty much the hero during that division clinching game and the 2011 NLDS. He was one of the few players who showed up offensively during the NLCS, too. Fielder’s offense did not show up during the postseason, and most other players had their troubles, too. Face of the franchise leading the team through the postseason? Yup.
I guess what I’m saying is that until someone can help lead the Brewers to another postseason and then tear it up in that postseason, no one will come close to taking the “face of the franchise” away from Braun. Sure, Segura and Gomez are having good years this year, but this season is a lost cause and when all is said and done, no one is going to remember 2013. Heck, I’m already trying to block it out of my mind. Segura is probably the closest player we have right now that could come close to Braun status. Jean may very well lead us to another postseason, eventually. However, if the Brewers are going to make it to another postseason, you’d have to bet that Braun is going to play a huge part in that.
I still think people are going to forgive Braun, come 2014. Are you going to tell me that if he comes back and hits .300, drives in 90+ runs and hits 20-30 homeruns, you’re still going to hold a grudge and not view him as an important part of your ball club? I’m sure some people will, but for the most part, I’m willing to bet most people forgive him if he can come back and still be productive. Okay, so maybe Braun did lie to you. Who cares? I’m sure professional athletes lie to their fans all the time. If you really think about it, what else was he supposed to do after successfully appealing his suspension? Come out and say “Yeah, I really did take PEDs, but I got away with it so ha.” If so, he may as well not have even tried to appeal the positive test. Sure, maybe he shouldn’t have laid it on so thick at his 2012 spring training press conference, but how many other people out there would lie after getting away with something? I bet most of you. I could be completely off on all of this, but this is just my opinion on the matter. I was angry and sad at the news at first, but ultimately, I still think Braun is the face of this franchise and will continue being the face of the franchise for quite a while.