It’s as complicated as anything Brewers fans have ever seen. The favorite player for so many fans (Ryan Braun) coming back from a self-induced—MLB enforced 65-game suspension. Braun made his first formal public appearance this weekend at the team’s “On Deck” event. Although his appearance was essentially incident free, one heckler shouted—“You know he’s lying,” to which Braun replied—“I've gotten in trouble in the past for not being completely forthcoming.” That was it, but this wasn’t the test. The test begins in April, and continues through May-June-July-August and September.
Braun will be judged the way all baseball players are, on production. Working on the assumption, that Ryan Braun is PED-free. That means that the performance numbers will be scrutinized and compared to his 1st six seasons. Throw out 2013’s injury riddled 1st half and season ending 65-game suspension—and Braun has averaged 34-HR’s, 107-RBI’s, and a .313 Batting Average. So the “welcome back-Ryan” celebration will be based on how he plays. Brewers’ fans want to cheer for Braun, even if it’s never quite the same as it once was. How loud they cheer will be directly tied to how well he plays.
Some fans are completely forgiving, some will never forgive, but I think the majority of the ticket-buying public is somewhere in between. They will judge and conclude whether Braun’s previous numbers were artificially compiled. Fans will track his statistics more closely than ever…we in the Sports/Talk business will help—almost daily. Scrutiny is the price this All-Star will face. Brewers’ Owner Mark Attanasio is fully aware of public opinion--"So far, so good," Attanasio said. "He's mindful, and I'm always careful to remind him, that this is an ongoing process. He needs to take steps to have the support of the community he once enjoyed."
Ultimately, Braun will never fully recover all of the fame he gained with an MVP season and an amazing 6-year career start. Braun will however, gain favor again in Milwaukee by being the same player on the field that fans have seen since 2007. Braun is, and always has been confident, "I think I'll be better than I've ever been." Braun said. "I'm very confident about that."
Braun should also be confident that Brewers’ fans will – “wait and see.”