I owe you one, Teflon Braun.
When the allegations against Braun surfaced the first time, I started calling him Teflon Braun, a blatant theft of a name once used to describe Jon Gotti. (Because "nothing sticks" to teflon). I was gleeful about it, in part because the cheap-date Brewers have been a last stop for other players whose reputations had been besmirched by steroids (Eric "Game Over" Gagne, anyone?)
Cynical? That's my middle name.
I belong to the Al Bundy school of athletic competition ("It's only cheating if you get caught."). I don't have a lot personal investment in the success or failure of the Brewers as a club (beyond a sort of upbeat feeling when they're beating the Cubs or Cards).
I identify with the Brewers in large part because they are a distinctly Wisconsin sports franchise, and because I had my Luther Vandross "One Shining Moment" with the Packers in 1998 and have subsequently become apathetic about all things football. I grew up in a household which was fairly indifferent to things sporting (granted, the Packers were on the TV every Sunday, but that felt more like an obligation ... we weren't short on obligations in my Catholic household), so my role models didn't include many sports figures.
So that first time, I never stuck my neck out personally to say things like "Braun would never do that," primarily because I don't know the man personally. So I don't feel the deep sense of betrayal I've read in many comments sections in various places on the Interwebz.
I think Kirk Gibson's anger brought it home to me. While I remember my fandom drove me to intense levels of disgust with the Diamondbacks during the 2011 Division series, Gibson recently delivered a profanity-laced tirade about Braun (unprompted, apparently). And now I find myself having to admit that Gibson, despite leading a team I tend to think of dismissively, had more than just a point, but casus belli to be disgusted (even if he expressed his disgust in a fantasically egotistical fashion). I've been thinking about that disgust a lot recently (even though I still prefer to think of the Diamondbacks by their raunchy nickname). And I came to realize I share Gibson's disgust, on some level.
So here's Braun, trying to apologize, or at least seem apologetic. Some people have taken it as a heartfelt come-to-Jesus moment. Others are reading it more critically (one could almost say cynically, at least if one didn't proudly self-identify as a cynic).
Braun's polarizing actions have led me to consider my own level of emotional investment in a sport, beyond a sort of inertial provincialism which led me to the House of Brew in the first place. Teflon Braun has pushed me into either remaining a baseball cynic or joining the ranks of spurned romantics.
So now I have to decide. To decide, I have to think. Hard. About things I don't like to think about when I'm listening to Uecker call a game.
I may even -- God forbid -- actually have to eventually mature as a person.
And I owe that to Teflon Braun.