The drama unfolded Tuesday night in the Arizona desert, Kirk Gibson finally getting a chance for retribution against his new nemesis, Ryan Braun. Braun, as is well documented, was juicing when the Brew-Ha's disposed of the D-Backs in game 5 of the NL playoffs in 2011, only to lose in the NLCS against St.Louis.
Once Braun's lies were exposed, Gibson was one of many who chided Braun for his insincerity and overall stupidity in handling the allegations. in a article from the Associated Press nearly a year ago, Gibby had this to say about the matter:
"If I get a chance to see Braun, I've got a question for him right to his face, you know?" Gibson said Sunday before a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. "Is he about rehearsed (enough) by now, you think? About ready to come out? He's probably practicing at the theater school somewhere. Just you look at how things like that can influence people's opportunities and an opportunity to do something like that."
So the kettle of vitriol was well past the boiling point when Braun stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh Tuesday night, his first place Brewers trailing the D-Backs (30-43), 4-3, with runners at 2nd and 3rd, and nobody out. Instead of pitching to Braun, who had been struggling lately, or intentionally walking the former slugger to load the bases (only to have to face Jonathan LuCroy, arguably the hottest hitter in the game right now), Captain Kirk gave his D-Back reliever, Evan Marshall, the green light to bean Braun. Problem was, Marshall's first bullet went behind Braun to the backstop. With an open base still an option, Gibson instead insisted Marshall give Braun another fastball to remember. The second pitch struck Braun right on the number 8 on his back, and, without benches emptying, Marshall was ejected and Braun awarded first base.
LuCroy promptly made the D-Back's skipper pay for his moment of mindlessness with a grand slam that propelled the Brewers to an eventual 7-5 victory. Or was it really a moment of mindlessness? How many true blue Brewer fans thought the same thing I did when Braun got drilled...finally! So what that LuCroy delivered a grand salami, the Snakes are a bad team with nothing to play for at this stage of the game, and Gibson finally got to send his message to Braun with his true feelings spinning toward him at 90 miles an hour.
Here's my observation, kudos to Gibson for sending his personal message, and why haven't other teams done the same thing in the form of a "Welcoming Back Committee" for Braun? Every ball park he strides into has filled the air with boos when he takes to the plate, even in Miller Park, and some cities, Pittsburgh, Philly and Arizona most noticeably, have expressed their sentiments more loudly.
But what has been the opposing team's stance from each team on his return? That's still an open question, with the exception of the Diamondbacks, whose manager made it pretty clear just how much he cares for Braun. In my humble opinion, every team Braun has faced for the first time since serving his 50 day suspension should have sent the same message as Gibson did, just as a gentle reminder of course, to just how stupid and insincere Braun's actions have been, especially at a time when the Brewers franchise was seemingly heading in the right direction, and MLB was trying erase the still lingering memories of a steroid era gone by.
It's simple, Bean Braun. Bean him wherever he goes. Maybe 28 more reminders will finally bring him to his senses, or at least shake him out of the hitting slump he's currently in.
And For What