“Lessons learned are like bridges burned. You only need to cross them but once.”
-Dan Fogleberg, "Lessons Learned," from the Nether Lands album
I was in the gym this morning and overheard one gentlemen say to another: “Wow, I’m in trouble today.” “Why is that?” his friend asked. “Because I have a court case today, and Ryan Braun is my only character witness.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people jump off a bandwagon so quickly.
Maybe rightly so.
The bottom line of course is that Ryan Braun, former National League Rookie of the Year, National League MVP, five-time All Star and the face of the Milwaukee Brewers franchise, somehow, someway violated Major League Baseball’s anti-drug policy, then vehemently lied about it for over a year, finally succumbing to the overwhelming evidence MLB has against him by accepting a season-ending 65-game suspension.
We now know all that. But we still don’t know exactly what he did. And he won’t tell us.
The Brewers players have no clue:
John Axford, Brewers relief pitcher: “I don’t know all the details of everything, don’t know what the suspension is exactly for.”
The manager has no clue.
Ron Roenicke, Brewers manager: “I don’t know that Ryan lied to me about anything. I can’t answer that because I really don’t know what’s going on with the investigation. I never knew anything about what was going on. Even in the conversations I had with him, he never got specific.”
Why wouldn’t Braun at least tell his manager and teammates what he did? Being coy sure isn’t helping him, because the media has him on the steps of the guillotine, as illustrated by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports:
"Anyone who suggests that Ryan Braun got off easy not only is wrong but also misses the point. This notion that Braun will miss 'only' 65 games and forfeit 'only' about $3.4 million, or slightly more than 2 percent of his projected career earnings ... please. Braun’s name is ruined. His reputation is shattered. He forever will be an object of scorn."
And that is the issue. Since Braun has not told anyone exactly what he did, we’re all left to assume the worst, as ESPN in their infinite wisdom has done, “Braun wasn’t just a one time user, he was involved in an on-going, sophisticated doping regimen.” Yep, when you’re not sure, make it up. Because they don’t know either.
Why won’t he tell us? Do his PR people (who should all be fired in one fell swoop after their performance since December 2011, but that’s another story) feel there is something to protect here? Rosenthal’s right – Braun’s name is ruined, his reputation is shattered. So why not come clean?
It seems as if his teammates are forgiving him, even though he didn’t tell them what he did, based on what Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers catcher, was quoted as saying after last night’s game: “I still forgive him. He made a mistake. A lot of people make mistakes. I’m not sitting here trying to act like I’m perfect because I’m not. None of you all are perfect. So hey, you know what? He made a mistake, I forgive him, let’s move on.”
But I don’t think anyone can expect us, his fans, to move on, at least based on what we know now. Because we know very little.
And that’s why it’s really tough as fans to forgive Ryan Braun. So to us, his fans, to the media, Ryan Braun is a cheater and a liar. And we have no information to change that perspective.
Can Braun ever repair his image? I’m not sure; there will always be that cloud hanging over him, regardless of how he performs on the field.
The only way that cloud can even remotely start being lifted is for him to tell the truth and tell us exactly what happened, exactly why it happened, exactly why he lied, and exactly why it will never happen again.
Then, and only then, can he truly demonstrate to us that indeed, for Ryan Braun, there have been lessons learned.
Otherwise, the bridges burned will most likely never be repaired.