|Steve Gansen, who for some reason chooses to use his real name, began writing and editing professionally in 1993. He started as a newspaper editor before becoming an editor for the magazines “Yard & Garden,” “PRO” and “Farm Equipment.” He worked from 2002-11 as acquisitions editor for book publisher Zenith Press. Gansen holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Iowa State University, is earning a paralegal certificate from Hamline University, and is now available for paralegal services that have nothing to do with baseball, fantasy or otherwise.|
The question that haunts us today is not whether or not Ryan Braun, the so-called “Hebrew Hammer,” that most valuable of professional players in the mighty National League of Major League Baseball in the year of our Lord two thousand and eleven, took steroids. We leave that question for others to decide. No, today we ask a bigger question, and that is this:
Does Ryan Braun hate America?
Now, to you, the jury of Crackerjack readers, who am I, when I am not being a fantasy baseball manager, but a lowly paralegal? I am not even a lawyer. I freely admit this. I am not one who wishes to commit unauthorized practice of the law. Nor am I one to decide the legal questions of this case. That is the role of the judge. I am no different than you, the jury. I—nay, we—want facts. Just the facts.
And the fact is, as lovers of fantasy baseball, we are lovers of that most precious commodity, that most vulnerable and ethereal of things: the baseball statistic. As true and patriotic Americans and fantasy baseball managers, we understand that a baseball statistic that becomes corrupted by malevolent forces is not only a danger to our latest roster move; it is a danger to our beloved country!
Mr. Braun has told his story. It involved a misplaced urine sample, and unmentionable sins upon the daughters of the Milwaukee-Racine-Waukesha metropolitan area. And because this is a family website about a family sport, we will only stick to those substances (hopefully they won’t stick to us) with names that are suitable for reading by those literate American children who frequent the Intertubes when they aren’t playing their WarCrafters or Space Invading on their Nintendo 64s or Macintosh Apple computing machines.
And we won’t dwell on how convenient it was for Mr. Braun that his alleged sins would provide the legal technicality for the grievance committee to ignore the sample that would prove him to be a chronic steroid abuser. We will leave such tortured ironies where they belong—as lyrical fodder for Canadian songstresses.
But Mr. Braun was not just an abuser of steroids. He abused our cherished baseball statistics. Granted, he has yet to eclipse the ridiculous stats of the Canseco/McGwire/Palmeiro/Sosa/
Then, sometime in the late 1980s, that European rooster extraction made its way to our sacred pastime. The stats became ridiculous. Second basemen started hitting double-figure home runs, for goodness sakes! It got worse at the turn of the millennium. On what planet does a single-season home run record that lasted for 37 years get eclipsed six times in four years? On the same planet where a Canadian runs a 100-meter dash in 9.79 seconds (no, not the songstress) and a golden-boy cyclist wins five consecutive Tour de France championships when most bodies would be in physical decline.
What to do about these inflated statistics, which smear and corrupt and discredit a professional sport that traces its history back to the Civil War years? There are those who compare the so-called Steroid Era and its corruption of statistics to the disgraceful decades before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. It is a compelling argument, so let’s assume we can have a civil discussion about such matters in a country where someone who proposes such solutions as dumpster-diving as a meal plan for poor children–without a hint of true satirical wit–merits a bronze statue.
Or, not. Let’s just say it is painful enough to look back at the segregation era without comparing it to baseball’s more recent self-inflicted wounds. We hoped the steroid matter was put to rest during those notorious hearings a few years back, when Mark McGwire tearfully bared his soul, but not the whole truth, and Palmeiro wagged one finger at Congress while failing to notice three fingers pointing back at himself. Certain Hall-of-Fame hopes were dashed quicker than a Ben Johnson sprint.
But the matter has not rested, as evidenced by Mr. Braun’s tainted urine. Perhaps he thought that Milwaukee’s connection to the masterfully wimpy owners’ toady Bud Selig would offer a shield to protect his use of so-called modern training methods. At first, he appeared to be wrong. His sample showed record levels of human-growth hormones. Then came the appeal, and his legal team cooked up that ingenious herpes defense, lowering the enforcement bar to historic new depths, and a precedent was born for defending the abuse of baseball statistics. And America will have to live with this mortal wound to its pastime until her plug is pulled.
It is not difficult to see Mr. Braun’s motive here, so we will not dwell on it. Suffice it to say, capitalism is what it is, and to argue otherwise makes you a socialist. We don’t want to seem like Mr. Braun, i.e., America haters. But in legal terms, we have established a chain of causation: grotesque amounts of money => pressure to excel => win at all costs => modern training methods => Rookie of the Year => mo’ money, mo’ money => mo’ modern training methods => MVP season => happy baseball capitalists => Ryan Braun, abuser of baseball => Ryan Braun, America hater.
There are those who would counter-argue that we hurt those we love most. Just as Wall-of-Sound record producer Phil Spector once wrote for his much-abused future ex-wife wife Ronnie as lead singer of the groundbreaking girl group, the Ronettes: “He hit me/It felt like a kiss.” Needless to say, it didn’t get as much airplay as their song “Be My Baby,” nor was it featured in Patrick Swayze’s second greatest movie, but Courtney Love – America’s sweetheart – thought enough of the sentiment to do a cover version. Anyway, if you believe the reasoning inferred therein, that we hurt the ones we love most, then you believe Ryan Braun loves baseball statistics, ergo Ryan Braun loves baseball, ipso facto Ryan Braun loves America.
Come to think of it, that is a very persuasive counter-argument. How can anyone with a heart ignore the passionate plea of Courtney Love? Therefore, on appeal, I must concur that Ryan Braun loves America. As a couple, they deserve each other, much like Rihanna and Chris Brown. They’re both such cute couples. I’m ashamed to have even doubted their sincere mutual affection.
And Patrick Swayze’s greatest movie? Who am I to judge?