Ryan Braun, Milwaukee’s Pinocchio-in-Polyester, received a rather robust ovation upon taking his first at bat in the Brewers’ home opener against Atlanta yesterday, a situation SBN Nation’s Grant Brisbee considers far from unique. Citing gluttons for punishment in Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis or New York who managed to to applaud returning reprobates like Manny Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez, Brisbee warns, “Brewers fans did not invent this kind of post-steroids cheer.”
Braun wasn’t cheered because he did baseball-related things well after returning from his suspension. He was cheered because he returned from his suspension. He was cheered because he’s the Brewers’ antihero now, and the standing ovation was fan-speak for Screw those people. We still love you, Ryan. That’s what rankles the writers and fans. The ovation was an obscene gesture directed at them.
After Braun was cheered, the typical sentence of outrage included the words “Brewers fans.” As in, “Brewers fans cheering Ryan Braun makes me sick,” or, “SMDH, Brewers fans for giving that LIAR an ovation,” as if there were something about Wisconsin that made people ethically malignant. As if only Brewers fans would fall into that trap. As if Angels fans wouldn’t do the same if Mike Trout were the suspended player, or Pirates fans wouldn’t give that ovation to Andrew McCutchen if the situations were reversed.
But we just listed all of the teams and fans that have been through this, and there’s no pattern. The Best Fans in Baseball give the ovation to cheaters. The rich, spoiled kids from either coast do it. The plucky, small-market Midwesterners do it now.