Monday, April 1, 2013

Today's Diversion

Just as I was reaching an apex of grumpiness over my post-surgery induced weight gain and the inability to ride a bike to my standards in the warming glow of our blossoming spring, I received a pleasant distraction today in the form of my personal favorite unofficial holiday, Opening Day of baseball season.  I put on my Starter brand Brewers warm-up jacket (it still fits mom, thanks for getting me an XL for my 13th birthday), grilled some brats, opened one of my last bootlegged Sprecher Black Bavarians and watched the Brewer's beat the Rockies 5-4.  The Brewers haven't won on opening day since 2008 so it was really great to assuage "beer and sausage guilt" with "win euphoria", otherwise I would have felt like it was just another wasted afternoon on the couch.
Watching the game with Robin & Rollie

A couple of things wonderful about today.  Miller Park, (specifically, the retractable dome on Miller Park), without it, the Brewers could have been playing outside in a balmy 21 degrees like those schmucks in Minneapolis.  Second, beating the Rockies.  Forget the fact that I think the state of Colorado is overrated, forget that Coloradonians seem to look down on Utahns, forget that the Rockies have always given the Brewers problems.  When it comes to the baseball universe, I live in a misty, long forgotten world where there were only 26 teams and the only team in Denver was the Brewers AAA farm team, the Zephyrs.  I know that the Rockies have now existed for 20 years, over half my life, but as I've said before, if I hit puberty before your team existed, than I don't want to hear it.  Third, extra innings.  Most popular sports in this country don't have as elegant a protocol for tie games as baseball.  No clock to worry about, no sudden death, no "home run derby" exhibitions to decide a winner, no "Hey let's arbitrarily add some time to regulation because we obviously don't want to do something as practical as STOP THE CLOCK!".  Yes, it sucked seeing Axeford blow the save, but in the end, the team was able to make up for it.  Finally, Norichka Aoki.  I can't get enough of his home runs, they just look so cool with his "reach-out and pull" swing.  Plus, you always get the sense the pitcher thinks, "Where the hell did that come from?"

Now a sad thing about today, Ryan Braun.  As expected, Brewer fans have their heads in the sand just as much as Giants fans, Cardinals fans, really, all baseball fans.  I wouldn't boo him, but I wouldn't cheer for him either.  Given some of the great players from the Brewer's past, I would find it disrespectful to their memory cheer for someone who I don't believe plays the game on the level.  I don't think Braun is alone in his guilt, but I also don't think he's a victim or deserves any rationalized sympathy.  What he has done is to cast enough doubt in my mind that I probably can't ever enjoy any Brewer's success to the same degree that I did when I was younger.  And don't give me "innocent until proven guilty" shit.  That's for the court of law, not for logical judgments based on prior experience and evidence.  If Braun, or Braun fans, don't like what I think of him, they can take it up with Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Lance Armstrong, Tyler Hamilton and Roger Clemens.  I gave them the "innocent until proven guilty" treatment well beyond reason, and how did that turn out?  Every Brewer fan should ask themselves what they thought of Barry Bonds, and then ask themselves what factors in Ryan Braun's situation make it different?  Sure, there may not be the overwhelming physical comparisons between the two, but links to PEDs are links to PEDs, and this stuff is now far more sophisticated than good old steroids.  Braun seems like a nice, professional guy, but I'm not going to cut him a break because he plays for my favorite team.  If anything, he has now hurt the team.  With a suspension looming, the Brewers now have an investment in a guy who could miss 50 games for cheating.  Plus, there will then be the looming possibility of a year suspension if he's caught again.  Suddenly that player the Brewers they though they locked up for a bargain could be an anchor around their neck.

I will make one point however before I finish this that may leave an opening for some defense of Braun and other players involved with Biogenesis, although I pose it more as a bigger picture question.  Everyday, while I listen to sports talk radio, I hear commercials for genetic treatments and hormones meant to make you feel "more energized" and "improve your performance".  Perhaps the question needs to be raised that if these treatments are available to Joe Sixpack so he can play better in his next softball game, or for Ma and Pa Kettle in Fort Meyers looking for an edge at shuffleboard, why aren't we willing to let professional athletes use them to achieve the height of their talents?

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