The first thing the Milwaukee Brewers general manager said to the media about Ryan Braun upon his call-up in 2007 was, "he is a very confident young man."
In the two years since, no one is disputing that claim by Melvin.
Ryan Braun won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2007, despite missing the first six weeks of the season while still in Triple-A Nashville. He followed that up last season with MVP-type numbers and led the Brewers to their first playoff appearance since 1982.
Braun has never lacked in confidence. In fact, I'm sure there are fans of many NL teams out there that would call him cocky. I wouldn't dispute that fact or try to argue the opposite viewpoint.
Braun's swagger and home run celebrations absolutely border on cocky. Those feelings are something he is not afraid of, and he does not fear showing his emotions on his sleeve.
Recently, his actions have rubbed some of his opponents the wrong way, and they are starting to do something about it.
Jeff Karstens of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit Braun a couple weeks ago. Braun had homered in two straight at-bats against the Pirates, including a walk-off grand slam in the final week of last season.
Karstens' pitch was very high and hit Braun in the lettering on his jersey near his head. Karstens was fined for the throw, and a war of words ensued between Braun and Karstens.
This past weekend, Braun again had a ball travel towards his head.
Braun hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning Friday night to give the Brewers a 3-2 win. Braun did admire his shot a bit from the batter's box and instead of running out of the box; he did take a couple of strutting steps first.
Ryan Dempster responded by throwing at Braun's head in Saturday night's game. Braun did avoid the pitch, although the umpire gave him first base and said the pitch hit him. Braun was seeing talking with Cubs' first basemen Micah Hoffpauir after the incident and voicing his unhappiness with the pitch.
Braun retaliated with the best possible action later in the game: He hit a booming home run off of Dempster in the seventh inning of the game. Again, Braun let his emotions get the best of him.
Braun stared down Dempster as he rounded the bases and had several words for Dempster as well. Braun also stuck out his tongue and held out his hands in an "airplane" type of manner.
While I am all for a player showing emotion, theatrics like Braun's have no place in the game.
I would only ask fans to remember a couple of things. Braun is by no means the only player that gets animated in his celebrations. Hitters and pitchers alike around the league show great emotion and sometimes cross the line in the midst of their celebrations.
The bigger problem with everything surrounding Braun is the location of the pitches that are thrown at him. Again, I won't argue with the fans that say Braun deserves to be hit for his actions. You are 100 percent right.
Throwing at a player's head can not only affect his play on the field, but it can affect his livelihood off the field. There's no reason that Braun should have a ball thrown at his head, even if he would break out into a choreographed dance routine.
There is nothing wrong with burying a pitch in Braun's ribs or the middle of his back. That is part of the game. It has been happening for more than 100 years. I don't think Braun or any Brewers' fan would have an issue with that.
For any player or fan that thinks throwing at Braun's head will make all his antics stop: You're dead wrong.
Braun sees himself as an elite player and will stop at nothing to get to that level, even if that means becoming hated around the league.
Braun is a great player and will only get better as time passes. If you don't believe that, just ask him. He'll tell you.
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