(Image: Morry Gash/AP)
Earlier today, Ryan Braun did what many of his detractors said he should have done months ago – make himself available for dull questions from the media about his admitted PED use. It was always unlikely a press conference would provide much additional insight, but it’s customary for disgraced public figures to undergo this tawdry bit of theater, and now it’s done. Presumably, every Brewers fan and sports pundit who criticized Braun for not taking questions in an unscripted format is now satisfied.
If they’re not, one must assume nothing will satisfy them. Fair enough – obviously, no one is obligated to accept an apology (they had no right to demand) from a stranger (for doing something that didn’t actually hurt anyone outside of his employer and peers). As for the rest of us, I’m sure we’re happy to move on.
The transcript of Braun’s remarks can be viewed here. The most fascinating detail is that Braun claims to have made amends with Dino Laurenzi, Jr., who infamously mishandled Braun’s PED-tainted urine sample in 2011. Braun’s previous comments about Laurenzi’s conduct in that matter were arguably the single least defensible aspect of this sordid affair. If it’s true that Braun has been forgiven by the one person who was actually harmed by his behavior, it’s a heartwarming development.
Another newsworthy revelation came when Braun was asked about potentially playing right field. Braun’s response:
“Possibly. We've discussed it. I'm not opposed to it. I don't know exactly what's going to happen but it's definitely a possibility. 100%, I'll play wherever they want except third base. That didn't go well. But I'll do whatever we want. It’s not something set in stone but it's something we've discussed.”
From the perspective of Brewers fans looking ahead to the 2014, that’s a worthwhile piece of information – and it came at the very end of the press conference. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the media’s questions were not meant to elicit anything that might be relevant to the direction of the Brewers. Instead, they seemed more interested in making a show of asking Braun boring questions they probably thought were tough.
Why did you lie? was the very first question, and nothing could be more predictable. This is not the kind of question that could possibly produce an interesting answer. That question prompted Braun to refer to his previous statement in which he did offer an explanation of why he lied: “I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did.”
Another question was What was worse in your opinion, using PEDs or lying about it after the fact? Christ, you might as well Braun “Why are you such a jerk?” and then act astounded he doesn’t give a thought-provoking answer. There are ways to phrase questions so that they prompt introspection on the part of the interviewee. Some of these jokers were more interested in working the words “lie” and “cheat” into their questions so they could mark the boxes of some imaginary checklist and pretend they held Braun accountable.
The most tedious questions were surely What do you have to say to the kids who have looked up to you? and What do you say to kids about cheating? How is it at the end of 2013 our media still acts as if celebrities are obligated to be role models to other people’s children? Pathetic.
Braun said several times he doesn’t intend to provide any more specifics about what happened in the past, and that he’s focused on moving forward. Fans and pundits may think it’s appropriate to criticize Braun for not being more forthcoming. I would suggest it’s also appropriate to criticize the media for not asking more questions that produced meaningful responses.