I got an email from Ryan Braun's publicist the other day. Ryan wanted to apologize, at some length, for his use of performance enhancing drugs and for lying about it. One thing was clear from the email: whatever Braun is paying his public relations firm is probably worth it, because as phony apologies go this one was very well-written.
Of course, Ryan didn't apologize to me personally. The email was probably sent to about a million people, which just is a fraction of everybody he let down.
But for me, both the email and Braun's formal statement of apology aren't worth the paper they weren't printed on. For one thing, I'm not much into apologies. They've become just a meaningless PR game among politicians, celebrities and sports stars who mess up. Mistakes are made. Apologies are demanded. Apologies are given. Nothing changes. Take for example (please) Anthony Weiner.
I suppose the standard, carefully crafted apology is step one in the rehab business, so I guess Braun had to check that off his list. But who cares? The Brewers should still trade him, but given the size of his contract, his justifiably destroyed image, and the possibility that he has been juicing all along, a trade seems unlikely. Even the Yankees care about the third thing in that list.
And the Yankees are right to care. This is the crucial question: has Braun been using since college, which makes his entire career a sham and a lie, or is he finally telling the truth now in saying he only started using PEDs in 2011?
If he's a legitimately fine athlete without the stuff and can return to his old performance level without it, then the Brewers might as well make the best of a horrible situation. Well-respected Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sports reporter Tom Haudricourt writes that Braun needs to have a full blown, no-holds-barred, come-to-Jesus-and-Bud Selig press conference in which he answers every tough question.
Of course he's right, but if Haudricourt really thinks that's ever going to happen, then he's been enjoying a little too much of Milwaukee's most famous product. A guy as cunning and controlled as Braun isn't going to do that. I'll settle for Braun just being quiet and proving that he's really the athlete he always pretended to be.
Only one thin reed now binds Braun to his organization and his former fans: the hope that his entire career will not have been a lie.