Ryan Braun made his return to the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday, and was greeted by fans at Miller Park with a standing ovation.
Then I threw up in my mouth.
A standing ovation? Are you kidding me? A standing fucking ovation? Not ironically, this took place on the same day the Pittsburgh Pirates welcomes back Barry Bonds, who came to PNC Park and presented Andrew McCutchen with his MVP award. He, too, was greeted with loud cheers—even though he spent the years after he left bashing the organization and the city, loading up on drugs, cheating to erase Hank Aaron from the record book.
Hey, all’s good, bro …
I’m starting to think that baseball fans—as a whole—are quite dumb. Or, perhaps, entering Major Le ague stadiums renders people a rare and perplexing strain of Alzheimers. I mean no offense, but how in the world are we forgiving men like Braun and Bonds; men who did their best to ruin the game for their own benefits? Hell, Braun didn’t merely do his best to ruin the game. He actually went out of his way to discredit and smear Dino Laurenzi, the drug test sample collector who deserved no such awfulness. Let’s flash back to February, 2012, when Braun held a press conference to say “a lot of things we learned” about Laurzeni, and that the collecting process, “made us very concerned and suspicious about what could have actually happened.” As the Washington Post wrote: “Citing conversations with ‘biochemists and scientists,’ Braun said he was told that if anyone with access to the sample was ‘motivated’, tampering ‘would be extremely easy.'”
Oh, wait. He was lying. Never mind.
Braun cheated. He literally took drugs that ballplayers are not allowed to take; too drugs that give you an advantage over other players. I’ve written on this many times, but somewhere on the Brewers roster, or in the minor league system, are 100-percent clean players fighting for a shot. Guys who are deserve enormous apologies from scumbags like Braun.
Bonds, meanwhile, well … where to begin? When the Giants invited him back to Spring Training as an instructor, i thought it was ludicrous. Why not just ask a rattlesnake to babysit your mice? But at least Bonds brought the Giants fame, fortune, a new stadium, a World Series appearance. What, exactly, did Barry Bonds give Pittsburgh? He was mean, rude, snide, dickish, awful to pretty much everyone (not named Bobby Bonilla) in the organization. I date back to my research of Love Me, Hate Me, and an interview I did with Pete Diana, the team’s official photographer. I asked Pete what he thought of the slugger, and his response was jarring: “I hope Barry Bonds dies.” He meant it—Bonds had been cruel to so many, for so long, that Diana had no morsels of goodness left to muster. He told me how, a few years earlier, a couple of low-level Pirate employees had died in a stadium accident, and the team kicked off a fundraiser. When opposing teams came to town, star players would be asked to sign bats, balls, jerseys to be raffled off for the cause. Everyone happily participated—except Bonds. He refused—meanly.
But, hey, it’s a new day. It’s 2014. Forgive! Forget! Move forward!