Ryan Braun

The Old Curmudgeon In Me

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE KIDS????!?!?!?!

Grinds my gears Welcome to an episode of “Coopie is an old curmudgeon,” where I don’t talk about things like my stool or my heart meds, but I talk about things that piss me off in sports.

I’ll state for the record, that PEDs, steroids or HGH never bothered me in baseball. You’d think it would, since I do talk about things like “keeping the sanctity of the game” by not having instant replay (I have modified my stance in certain situations).

Sure it bothered me a little in 1998, when I knew Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had to be using. But you know what – no one gave a shit then, only when it was confirmed. Then EVERYONE talks about sanctity of the game. Because they all looked like assholes supporting it when it was under their nose. And dropped the scoop of a lifetime.

Then we have Barry Bonds and the HR record (both single season and overall record), we have the Mitchell Report, Congressional hearings, Rafael Palmeiro, more shit hitting the fan.

I didn’t care anymore.

You know why? Because cheating in baseball is as American as Chevrolet, apple pie, hot dogs, and yes…baseball.

And I’d be a hypocrite if I thought PEDs were any different for this era.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

I grew up in an era where the heroes I idolized did coke (Keith Hernandez and Dwight Gooden), greenies (most of the 1986 team), binged on alcohol (Darryl Strawberry), or killed innocent kittens (“allegedly” Kevin Mitchell). I grew up in a rough-and-tumble family where shit happened, and you learned to fucking deal with it. My parents didn’t feel the need to explain everything to me. Maybe things were different in that we didn’t have the connectivity that we do today. But we heard all sorts of things — especially relating to Keith Hernandez, and this coincided with the “Just Say No” era of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan. And drugs were bad, m’kay?

I guess there is something to be said about not being raised in a fucking bubble where everything was all Ward and June Cleaver and hunky dory and peaches and every other cliche you could think of.

Shit, maybe that was why I liked guys like Gary Carter and Cal Ripken growing up.

Yet it was not for me to judge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Here’s an idea: maybe we don’t have to explain shit to our kids. They can figure it out on their own. They should instinctively know right from wrong or learn it by fucking up every now and then. Instead of this “everyone gets an award” bullshit. You didn’t get a participation award back then, you had to earn that shit. Everyone does not get a trophy for just showing up in life.

So you know what grinds my gears? This idea that baseball players are supposed to be perfect. Here’s a newsflash: players have cheated since the beginning of time. Does it make it right? Absolutely not. But to think this is some kind of isolated incident is foolish.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

Let the children make their own decisions. And by the way, if you are not your child’s “hero,” then you are doing something wrong. (Yes, I just judged you, a little bit.)

Here’s the deal: I grew up knowing my heroes were not exactly heroes. I turned out okay. I realize that athletes are people, they are not perfect. While there is an obligation to hold yourself to a higher standard as a public figure, there is also the human element that comes into the game or all sports that we also must acknowledge.

BUT OMG WHAT WILL WE TELL THE CHILDREN????!?!?!?!

The Hall of Fame committee missed the ball a few months ago. What we had to “tell the kids” when no one was voted in, was that all of a sudden, due to years of lazy journalism and putting on pedestals the very players they are now vilifying, that all of a sudden, players are now guilty until proven innocent.

So Alex Rodriguez is facing a year-to-lifelong suspension, and Ryan Braun is out for the year despite neither of them failing a drug test. Bartolo Colon is under suspicion. Barry Bonds is still a dick. Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, despite decorated careers, are kept out of the Hall (for at least a “statement”) because they might have done steroids.

I say let ’em all in. Believe it or not, there is a level playing field, throughout baseball history, because cheating is as “pure” as the game itself.

What do you tell the kids? Get over yourselves, really, because the sanctimony isn’t helping the game either.

Now get the FUCK OFF MY LAWN!!!!!

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Brains > Braun

Before I go any further, I wanted to state up front that I happen to be a big Ryan Braun fan.  When Jose Reyes was in the thick of a batting race with him, I wouldn’t have minded if he lost to Braun.  That’s how crazy I am about him.

That’s something you have to know about me.  Though I am a Mets fan true and through, there are some players that get to me that I have to follow since my love for baseball transcends my team sometimes.  I’ll root for the name on the front of the jersey first and foremost.  But there are guys that I tend to watch because of their names on the back of the jersey.  Ripken.  Lincecum.  Now Braun.

I’ll still continue to watch him, if only to feed my own curiosity as to how he responds to this whole drug testing drama.

I guess in real life, I happen to be a little more on the optimistic side of realist.  In my optimism, I tend to want to see the best in people, and believe in the best side of people.  However, I’d be silly to not acknowledge that Braun was looking out for the best interests of himself in this process, under the guise of what’s best for baseball and what he found to be an incredibly flawed analysis of drug testing.

I’m just as much against performance-enhancers as the rest of us, but let’s be fair.  When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were smacking the crap out of the ball in 1998, when they both looked like the Incredible Hulk, didn’t we all just turn a blind eye and watched for the love of the game, despite what the naysayers said?  When Jose Canseco came out with his Juiced book a few years back, I actually turned up my nose.  I felt that what went on in the clubhouse should have stayed in the clubhouse.  It’s one thing if he wanted to come out and say, “I fuckin’ did steroids.”  To throw his teammates under the bus just wasn’t cool to me.

Yet, it doesn’t mean I think those years he players should be considered tarnished.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes in baseball that we aren’t privy to.

Here’s my take on a few of the themes in the Braun case.

Many prominent MLB players back his side of the story, even those who aren’t on his team.  Matt Kemp, a runner-up in the MVP balloting that Braun actually won in 2011, was happy that Braun won his appeal, and even went so far to say he wouldn’t want the MVP title if Braun had to forfeit it for any reason.  Remember when Mike Greenwell said that he felt that he should have won MVP when Canseco won it admitting he did steroids to enhance his numbers?   Kemp wouldn’t have wanted a tainted MVP win any more than Braun, I suppose.  Many other players not named Corey Hart (a teammate of Braun’s) have come out in support too, such as Mark DeRosa on the Nationals.

I guess it’s two-fold.  At the end of the day, players are “union brothers,” so this is sort of a win for the player’s union.  Anyone who doesn’t back another player is just a scab, I suppose.

Then there’s the MLB side, the only side who are really bashing the system…you know, the system they put in place.  And of course, beat writers and fans with a soapbox (especially those in the NL Central, rightfully so to question it, of course) who all know better than the players.

This isn’t some kind of blind-eye fan girl optimism.

Okay, maybe it is.

This might be an unpopular view, but after reading some of the articles today (especially the New York Times), I happen to think that Braun has exposed a huge hole in the testing policy in MLB.  I mean, it’s bad enough it took them forever to acknowledge that, hey, this actually IS a problem, it seems like they’re using some antiquated methods in handling the specimens that could effect the process.  At the end of the day, these players have livelihoods and families to support and all that jazz.  Do we really want a Homer Simpson-like courier to handle the specimen of a high profile player who could easily be taken down because there’s a flaw in the process?

I’m not saying that’s happened…but Braun did bring up a technicality that could impact the testing system.

I hear some people say that Braun should just give a test sample to clear his name anyway.  That’s also flawed for many reasons.  I used to be in a Union, and there are things that a member can do that the Union will not support.  The Union doesn’t have to support, for example, taking a lie detector test, and I’m guessing along those lines that if a player doesn’t have to submit a DNA test to clear his name, why would they support him if he wanted to do that?  In a way, his name has been cleared, albeit on a technicality.

At the end of the day, this was a news story that should have not even been a story in the first place.  We’re raised with the idea that we’re all innocent until proven guilty, except in the era of PED-testing where you just might as well hang up your cleats and call it a career the second your name gets anywhere near tainted.  Yet, at the same time, in the instant-gratification of journalism, we still go with the old adage if it bleeds, it leads.  What better to spice up a pretty dead winter with “OOOOH the reigning MVP might be taking PEDs.  FILM AT 11!!”

I’m not saying he took them, didn’t take them, whatever.  All I’m saying is that there are no winners, no losers in this drama.

So Ryan Braun got off on a technicality.  What can we do?  MLB will have to make their process more bulletproof.  Players will have to still monitor what they put in their bodies.  (They should do that anyway.  Idiots).

I still happen to like Ryan Braun a lot and wish him well in the upcoming season.  He’s gonna need it with the extra scrutiny and lack of a big power bat missing in his lineup now that Prince Fielder is gone.

You. Cannot. Be. Serious.

I don’t want to say, “You won’t find a bigger Jose Reyes fan than me,” because quite honestly, there probably are many more who are bigger.  But I do love him.  I hope he stays a Met, but I am a realist in knowing his limitations as a player and what his “value” may be, for better or for worse.  But I don’t come to you today in writing that.  No, far from it.

If you watched the game today, Jose Reyes bunted for a single in his very first at-bat.  Today was Game 162, in a very meaningless season in an equally-as-meaningless game, after said bunt single, Reyes was pulled for pinch runner Justin Turner.

There were several subthemes in today’s story.  One was that it was Game 162, and Reyes is playing for a contract.  Reyes has also been hurt twice this season, one of his limitations as a player (his legs, and his game is based on his legs).  Two is that Terry Collins even said prior to the game that if Jose Reyes were to get two hits quickly, he’d be pulled.  Third?  Jose Reyes is “fragile” with his legs, and it’s been well-documented that Collins wanted to give him the day game after a night game off.  Two reasons Reyes started today?  1) To appease fans who wanted to wish him well in case this happened to be his last game as a Met and 2) To preserve his lead in the batting race.

You want to know what I was upset about this afternoon?  That I couldn’t go crazy and give a proper standing ovation for my current favorite Met, Jose Reyes.  (Optimistic Mets Fan, Ceetar, said I could give him my standing O when he returned in April…I hope!!).  What I would have liked to do is send him to his position in the 2nd inning, send Justin Turner out there, and have Jose take a curtain call.  People looked at me like I was crazy when I was chanting, cheering and screaming.  Most of the folks who were getting settled in their seats didn’t even realize he was being taken out.  Collins did us dirty, in my opinion.  But we learned later that this was Reyes’ doing.  (Collins also did the same thing with fan favorite David Wright later in the game, giving a pinch runner,instead of allowing Wright to take his position and then come out).

Look, if this was any other day game after a night game situation, none of us would say shit about it.  The reality is, we want our players to “earn” things.  The common refrain I’ve been hearing is, “Well Ted Williams played the last game of the season to preserve his .400 average.”  Well, Reyes is NOT Ted Williams.  The GAME isn’t even of the ilk of Ted Williams day!  ENOUGH ALREADY!!!  Will it make us feel better if it was earned “fair and square,” whatever the Hell that means?

There was no HGH involved, like some tainted records.  There was no “stats padding” involved, like some players are accused of (Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, etc).  Even a Milwaukee writer defended Reyes earlier, saying that batting titles have been gamed since the beginning of time.

For all the in-fighting I have seen amongst Mets fans, (and trust me, I’ve seen a lot and have been part of many arguments), this has to be one of the most asinine I’ve ever witnessed.

In my years as a blogger, I’ve been a “bitch,” a “loudmouth,” a “know-nothing” (because I am a woman), and a “non-fan.”  The “non-fan” thing always cracked me up, because I don’t think I could ever be accused of that (the other stuff is fair game).   There was one night, as an example, on Twitter where I had a raging migraine, and there was a particularly tedious game on the TV. I made a comment to the universe at the game, that I wouldn’t have lasted as long as they would have.  Some non-entity later told me that, “You’re not a real fan” because I made a comment that I wouldn’t have lasted as long.

I’ve been a fan since I was seven.  That was a LONG time ago.  I go to 30+ games a year, and go to games on the road.  But I’m not a “real fan.”  **SMH.**

I made it a point to never judge another person who called themselves a fan from that point on.  I have friends on the West Coast who can’t make as many Mets games as they’d like.  I have friends close by that can’t make as many games as they’d like.  Does that make them less of a fan?  No.  Just to self-righteous people it does.

My point is, I don’t like to judge or gauge people’s fandom towards the team we both love.  But today takes the prize hands down.  We have a great player who could potentially win something, a MEANINGLESS something, a piece of paper, that no other player who wore their uniform before has won.  And they still wish to diminish it.  My personal favorite?  Some have even said they wish that Ryan Braun goes 5-for-5 today. On “principal!”

I’m going to come right out and say it..

YOU ARE NOT A FAN.  AND YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS.  (My friend Dave is excluded, but he’s a more of an emotional spectrum of fan, so I let is slide. Plus I know him, and I’m biased).

Furthermore, where the Hell are all the “true Mets fans” who will defend not only Reyes, but also tackle the media that is out to get the Mets?  Before, it was all over Terry Collins.  Collins said it was Reyes’ idea.  Now everyone is quick to throw Reyes under the bus.  The other day, there was a trend on Twitter that was #NegativeMetsHeadlines.  One was: “Mets throw first no-hitter, lose perfect game in 3rd.”  It’s that type of shit that sells newspapers folks and causes all this infighting! ENOUGH!

Look, I will freely admit, some of my favorite players of all time in baseball were not Mets.  To this day, my hero is Cal Ripken Jr.  Currently, I am in love with Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun.  Yeah, I said it, the guy who is in battle for the batting title with my own Jose Reyes (who is my favorite Met, as I’ve illustrated several times).  Ryan Braun is a legit MVP candidate.  If his team makes it to the World Series (which I hope, if only to knock out the Phillies), I’ll root for him and hope he does well.  I’m sure the “batting title” means very little to him at this point compared to a ring and an MVP award.  This is just my personal feeling.

In conclusion, I get why Mets fans are just so angsty and so angry.  For over five years, we’ve been sitting in our seats, waiting for that moment we want to leap out our seats to celebrate something.  It hasn’t happened.  So what if Reyes wins a batting title and he bunted his last at bat to get to that point? Does it matter?  Because in a few years, when we look at the batting title champion wall in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, we’d have probably forgotten about how he got there in the first place.