If you work in the Wisconsin sports media long enough, there is a common saying throughout that state that goes "Let's hope the Brewers at least stay relevant until the Packers begin their training camp". And ever since Mark Attanasio bought the team in 2005, the "Crew" has done just that by winning and at least staying around the .500 mark. The Brewers had finished last in the NL Central three straight years from 2002-2004, and their most recent winning season prior to that was in 1992. To remind you how long ago that was, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount were still part of that team and Chris Bosio was their best pitcher. In the past six years, Milwaukee has had four winning records, and two playoff appearances with an overall regular season mark of 509-463. That's a winning percentage of .524, and a far cry from what this organization had accomplished for the better part of the previous two decades. The Brewers had just 4 winning seasons from 1984-2004, with zero appearances in the postseason, and it's safe to say that the franchise has been way better off since Attanasio's arrival.
The latest saga surrounding Ryan Braun has given fans plenty of reason to pause, and take stock in their baseball loyalty, but is it really the end of a good run in Milwaukee? I doubt it. As long as GM Doug Melvin is in charge of the team on the field (with Attanasio running the entire show), the Brewers organization is savvy and talented enough to keep their small market club relevant. All you have to do is go to a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game, or look at their farm system to see that the cupboard is well stocked for the forseeable future. It was difficult explaining to my 6 year old son, why his favorite player was in the "news" lately, and exactly why Braun wasn't on the field. I could have talked to him long and far about the former MVP's thumb injury, or his neck issues earlier in the season, but right now it's just easier to tell him that he did something wrong, and won't be playing for awhile.
At this point we have seen several athletes staunchly deny allegations of performance enhancing drug use, most notably Lance Armstrong, only to be caught red-handed and eventually admit guilt. The problem with this, is that multiple people along the way are "thrown under the bus" without regard to their families and their livelihood. There is little that Ryan Braun can do to repair his reputation in the short term, but he could make the doubters think differently by going out next year and putting up the same kind of numbers that he has had in the past. And more importantly, send an apology to Dino Laurenzi, Jr. who was the "sample collector" he called out in his defiant press conference during last years spring training. And the way this season has gone for the Brewers, on and off the field, thankfully......Packers training camp has started.
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