Dear Ryan Braun,
After your suspension for doping, we Milwaukee Brewers fans won't see much of you for the rest of the year, and God only knows how we'll feel when you return to the dugout come next spring. But, for better or worse, you are still the face of our franchise.
In the coming weeks and months, the national media will drag your name and, by association, the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans through the mud. In truth, I could not care less what they have to say. There may be hundreds of them, but there are tens of thousands of us. They will tell you and anyone who will listen that you've sullied the game of baseball or that you're a disgrace. While there may be truth to that, you're still ours and we're still yours. So what you go through, we'll all be going through in some fashion.
Here are a few ways you could get back in our good graces:
- Be completely honest with us. We want to hear your story, but we don't want to hear some polished version of what happened or listen to you read something off a few slips of paper that your lawyers have carefully crafted. We want to know when this all started, what you took, and a reason why you chose to go down that path. It's never easy to forgive someone who has blatantly lied to you, but if we could understand these points, it would certainly be a start.
- Genuinely apologize. We want to see you standing in front of us, without your cue cards, just saying, 'I made a mistake and I am sorry for letting you all down.' You can even throw in a part about how you'll spend the rest of your career trying to regain our trust.
- Of all the people you hurt, you likely did the most damage to sample collector Dino Laurenzi Jr., whom you implied tampered with your drug test in 2011. You threw the guy under the bus, and you have to make this right. I don't know if he'll swallow his pride and accept your apology, but I think you've been successful enough to offer to pay off his mortgage or send his kids to college.
- Return your Most Valuable Player award. This part may hurt the most, but you and I both know that no one will ever look at that accolade the same. You were the most valuable player that year, but the accomplishment is tainted.
- Apologize again. Not to the fans this time, but to your teammates and others around the league.
- Lie low for a while. In the coming seasons, fans at other parks will try to tear you apart. As you've risen above that before, I'm sure you'll have little problem doing it again. But, when you're at home, please understand our own confusion. We want to support you because we belong to one another, but we won't quite know how for some time. If I had my way, each of your on-the-field successes in the next two seasons would be followed by a quiet crowd. We can't openly cheer for you yet, but one day we may want to again.
- I think it is fair to say that your hopes of entering the Hall of Fame are pretty slim. What I hope you will conclude is that your career is an opportunity to support the Milwaukee and Wisconsin communities. At every chance you get, attend a charity event or donate to a worthy cause. Show us that you genuinely care for the people who have supported you all these years.
- Voluntarily submit a urine sample on a monthly basis for the rest of your career, including the off season. I am sure the Milwaukee Brewers organization would be willing to cover this cost. If not, pay for it yourself.
- Finally, give Aaron Rodgers a call. He put his name on the line for you. You owe him.
I suppose that all sounds like a lot. But if you'd like to one day regain the support of the Milwaukee fan base, you need to work for it. I'm hoping your actions over the remainder of your career will give me a reason to cheer for you once more.
Benjamin Banks is a student at the UW-Madison. "Citizen" is an opinion series that presents the views of the author. If you would like to reply, please comment or consider submitting an op-ed in response.