Ryan Braun PED Appeal: 5 Reasons He'll Have a Monster Season in 2012
The decision to overturn Braun's suspension in the MLB appeals process has sent on-going shockwaves across all the baseball world.
While some want to demand that Braun is still guilty, despite not knowing any other aspects of the story or having a scientific basis in this assumption, others feel he has been proven innocent.
I'm not here to further speculate about the case since we may never know all the details of the case and every story has many sides no matter who is involved.
Rather, this article is a chance to project how the result of the ordeal will affect Braun's 2012 performance as a full-time member of the Brewers.
Here are 5 reasons the best hitter in baseball will use the adversity to fuel further success.
5. Player Unity on the 25-Man Roster
Even those outside of "Bushville," Wisconsin (as the New York reporters called Milwaukee in the 1957 World Series), have recognized the rare, unbridled joy and camaraderie recent Brewers squads exhibit together.
The style of play of the Brewers lets the game of baseball be a game and allows for the young players who came up together to really bond and grow together.
In Braun's case, the adversity of the allegations of performance-enhancing drug use could have forced him into isolation, doubt and fear.
But in this family-style, "boys of summer," environment in Milwaukee, Braun found incredible support from his teammates throughout the ordeal.
As Corey Hart said on his Twitter account when he found out Braun was innocent, "I was doing cartwheels to show my excitement."
Hart is one of 24 others on the 25-man roster who are going to support Braun through all challenges.
The reason is a mixture of Braun's positive character attributes and his dedication to his teammates. I'm sure the feeling is mutual if any of Braun's teammates need support in tough times.
Though you'd think team unity would be a given, many egotistical stars on clubs without an emphasis on chemistry will be given the cold shoulder by those with less talent who are working twice as hard to play in the big leagues.
Braun's teammates will give him the support he needs to get even better as a hitter as he enters his prime.
4. Healthy Management Support
While on the field, Braun has the support of his teammates. Equally important to this upcoming season is the great support he received from the Brewers brass.
As the man who drafted Ryan Braun, General Manager Doug Melvin has gone on record to show support for Braun in a way that is both professional and loyal.
While no GM in baseball would further punish Braun if he had truly failed the test, it is possible others wouldn't have stepped up to bat for Braun in the public arena the way Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio did this offseason.
Equally rational would be a GM getting cold feet at the possibility of having a PED-user signed to a career-long contract.
Attanasio credited Melvin with having the plan in place to show poise through adversity as a franchise, stating:
"Doug set the tone where he said we were going to stay the course and plan the same way we always do, and really not regard it. I'm sure Doug had some sleepless nights but given that he set that tone, I just went through planning this off-season the same way as we always did and tried to put as good a team together to compete.
"We didn't have 'what if' conversations. We said we'd address it if it needed to be addressed. Doug and I had conversations and we said we're going to plan for the season as though Ryan is part of the team. That was very, very constructive. It saved us from probably making a bad decision somewhere."
In the end, neither Melvin nor Attanasio buckled under the pressure of the Braun situation or jumped to conclusions before due process was held.
In Braun's recent press conference, he thanked Attanasio for his show of support in a trying time and said Attanasio "truly represents everything that’s good about our game today."
As Attanasio noted the day following Braun's arrival in spring camp, the Brewers owner is caught in a delicate position of supporting the MLB and supporting his player:
"I'm a big Ryan Braun supporter, which extends well beyond being MVP of the league," he said. "At the same time, I'm a supporter of a strong drug-testing program. And, by the way, I believe baseball does have a strong drug-testing program.
"The corollary to everything we've been talking about is the MVP went through an extremely difficult off-season because Major League Baseball has a strong drug testing program, and needs to have. The balance is you support both."
It is this kind of franchise support system that has allowed Braun to thrive, even when he was a struggling fielder as a rookie third baseman.
It now allows him to also thrive in light of a botched drug test and months of speculation about his character, ethics and whether he had cheated the game.
Knowing his teammates and franchise management have his back will surely allow Braun to thrive on the field.
How does a great hitter just keep getting better into his prime like Braun does? Intelligence.
How does a great player and solid citizen survive legacy-threatening allegations in a difficult time of his young life? Intelligence.
Braun's intelligence has been on full display throughout this process. Here are a few key demonstrations of intelligence beyond his years:
Braun sought out a very skillful team of savvy legal experts to help with his case.
In an age where many athletes resort to Twitter tirades and sophomoric pouting through electronic media outlets, Braun refrained from using the e-world for his catharsis. Instead, Braun told his followers he knew this result was bogus, but that he couldn't say anymore until the process played itself out in what was supposed to be a private appeals process until the MLB worker leaked the story.
Braun's spring training press conference this year proved his poise, intellect of utilizing compelling arguments to defend himself and maturity beyond his years. While ESPN played the low road in jumping the gun on reporting Braun's guilt before the appeal process was carried out, Braun answered all ESPN's questions this past Friday without any hesitation or backlash.
It's very hard not to lose your cool if you're wrongfully accused. Braun exhibited incredible intelligence throughout this process and I believe it his his smarts that have helped nurture his other positive character traits that the national media saw on full display in recent days.
While other athletes might suffer from wrongful accusations in their performance, Braun's intelligence will allow him to prevail through adversity.
With the ability to handle the off-field issue with great intelligence, Braun's brain also gives him an edge at the plate that will be even more powerful this 2012 season.
While we all know every athlete has to display confidence in order to perform, Braun's body language and intensity shows an incredible amount of confidence that far exceeds the standard athlete.
Watching Braun hit a sharp single through the infield in a difficult at-bat and seeing his face in the TV close-up as he sits at first is like seeing a warrior who has just tackled a rabid tiger barehanded.
The MVP oozes confidence, and his intensity could make a lesser man crumble merely seeing Braun's fierce eyes when he's in the zone.
Braun's confidence will allow him to see this recent challenge as another obstacle to break through, another proving point to show he's the player who passed 25 drug tests and never cheated.
Braun will utilize his confidence to have a monster year in 2012.
1. Chip on His Shoulder and Revenge
Much like his buddy, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Braun thrives when the odds are against him.
Whether it's gathering game-winning hits or fighting through a false accusation that nearly tainted his career, Braun will take to the 2012 season with a chip on his shoulder like no other.
I don't think Braun will be over what he must feel deep inside was a profound slight against him by April 6th. Smart players like him have a long memory and use it to not only gain insights on opposing pitchers, but to motivate them in their training and performance.
Braun will see every clean hit, home run, stolen base and diving catch as proof that he was always talented and never did PEDs.
Braun will vent any frustration by hitting big home runs and deep doubles as a form of catharsis.
Typically, reigning MVPs are best dealt with by lulling the giant to sleep through praise and pleasantries.
In Braun's case, his offeseason may have felt like someone hitting the hornet's nest just to test Braun's mettle, setting off quite a bit of passion and desire to prove himself through his upcoming performance in 2012.
I'm sure his NL Central foes would have preferred a quieter offseason for Braun over this motivational drug appeal ordeal. Now, Braun will get to let loose on MLB playing fields across the nation in a little over a month's time.
Braun's Innocence Won't Mean Any Rest for the MLB
Although Braun should be immensely satisfied with the appeal ruling in his favor, I don't believe Braun feels the battle is over until he takes the field using every 2012 at-bat as fuel to his fire to prove he's a truly great player.
Can Braun top his 2011 MVP performance?
I believe he will.
These five attributes and conditions make it feasible for an ascending Braun to perform even better and use the games as an on-field sanctuary where the crack of the bat, home runs and athletic catches can speak louder than words.
Look for this slugger to have some monster numbers in 2012.