Almost three years have passed since Ryan Braun was suspended 65 games for taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2011 playoffs. Unlike other players busted during the Biogenesis scandal, Braun made matters worse by defiantly claiming he never, ever took steroids. This facade of innocence came crashing down in 2013 when documents acquired by Major League Baseball (via questionable methods) inexorably linked him to Biogenesis. Milwaukee Brewers fans were rightfully irate at Braun for taking PEDs and lying about it. But now, in the year 2016, I find it hard to remain angry at him.
Braun has avoided controversy since his suspension and has been an exemplary member of the community. In 2014 he was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award for his volunteer work*. Braun even called fans to apologize for using PEDs in the immediate aftermath of his suspension. Those are good things! And this is America! Just like Prince at the end of Purple Rain, people should be given a shot a redemption. Braun’s transgressions were worthy of scorn, but it’s possible to be a jerk one year and a good guy the next. All of the available evidence suggests Braun has learned from his mistakes and is successfully moving forward. Brewers fans should do the same.
*As you might expect, this nomination raised some eyebrows.
There is little purpose in staying angry at someone for this long, especially a professional athlete. Fans are welcome to believe “once a cheater, always a cheater,” but life is better if you don’t dwell on bad things indefinitely. Ryan Braun has been a good guy in the three years since his suspension and – to the delight of fans that enjoy watching him as a baseball player – is absolutely raking this season. That is something to enjoy.
It’s more fun to be a Brewers fan if you root for Braun to redeem himself. It’s okay if you simply can’t forgive him, but you should still root for him. After all, he’ll be much easier to trade if he returns to MVP form.