Ryan Braun received a standing ovation from Milwaukee Brewers fans on their Opening Day on Monday. It was met with laughter on social media from fans outside of Milwaukee. Why would you cheer for a guy who lied about PED use the first time, ruined the reputation of a sample collector, and then missed a large portion of last season because of his connection to PEDs.
While many fans laughed at the concept of it, writers had a field day with it. It illustrated to me the divide that there is between the media and the fans. The writers and media like to think the glory days of baseball, before the PED bubble burst in the early 2000s, was perfect and devoid of cheats. Everyone played the game “the right way.” But they didn’t. Players have been using everything they can find in attempts to gain an edge from amphetamines to cocaine to cork to nail files. It’s no surprise they looked to medical science for an edge.
The response to Braun really underscores the concept in my mind that it’s really only the sports media that is holding on to vile contempt for PED users. Most fans, while they may not like the fact that PEDs are now a part of the game, they have grown to reluctantly accept it. Even Cardinals fans have accepted it now that we have our own playing shortstop.
I’m not sure what people expected Brewers fans to do anyway. They are stuck with Braun through at least the 2020 season. So they’re going to have to deal with him for a long time to come. What it comes down to is that he is their cheater. As long as he can be productive and contribute to a successful Brewers team, they don’t care what he did or how he did it.