For the first time since serving a 65-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, Ryan Braun showed up in Milwaukee and talked face-to-face with reporters.
Braun was in town as part of a Brewers Charities food drive for the Hunger Task Force, helping take donations next to Miller Park. After the event, Braun spoke to the media. WSSP 1250 in Milwaukee has the 13-minute audio clip online, while the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a full transcript.
Braun was asked some tough questions — point blank, why did you lie? What do you have to say to kids who looked up to you? Was using PEDs the biggest sin, or was lying about the use worse? But for the most part, Braun once again stuck to vague, well-rehearsed apologies and declined to get into specifics.
In fact, Braun used the phrase "not getting into specifics" or some variation eight times, and referred back to the written statement he issued in August when he was asked why he lied:
"Obviously I’ve been through a lot and as I expressed in my statement that I felt was pretty lengthy and specific, I got into a lot of details at that point. I’m not really going to go into any further details. I’m deeply remorseful about what happened. I wish I had the ability to go back and change things and do things a lot differently, but unfortunately I can’t do that. All I can do is move on and try to do everything in my power to earn back peoples’ trust and respect and support. I don’t anticipate being able to earn back everybody’s support, but I certainly intend to do everything in my power to do that and I won’t stop trying."
On his biggest regret:
"Obviously the whole thing is a huge regret. It was a huge mistake. I wish that I hadn't done it. I wish I could go back and do a lot of things different. I don't think I could specifically pinpoint one thing that I regret more than anything else, I regret all of it. I wish I could go back and change it but I can't do that."
When asked about his now-infamous spring training press conference after winning his initial appeal:
"I’m not really, again, going to get into too many specifics. I wish that I hadn’t done the press conference. It was a big mistake. I deeply regret having done it, and a lot of the things that I said that day. But again, all I can do is move forward, and in an effort to do that I’m not going to get into too many specifics. I really don’t think that it does anything too positive or productive for me, the team, the game of baseball or anybody else. And in an effort to move forward, I’m not going to discuss that subject."
Previously, Braun said he wouldn't answer questions because of the ongoing investigation. With his case now closed and suspension served, that (valid) excuse to stay quiet no longer applies, and it appears Braun is moving on to the Mark McGwire Memorial "not going to talk about the past" refrain.
While he may not be scoring many brownie points with the media, he's trying to win fans back…or at least Brewers fans. Aside from today's charity event, he's spent the offseason cold-calling season ticket holders to personally apologize (although if his public statements are any indication, he's probably not offering much insight into what happened in the phone calls, either).
He and the Brewers are trying to clean up the PR mess of a lifetime, and while public displays of goodwill may help soften his image, he's still largely toxic. He won't be featured on any bobblehead days this season, his image won't be splashed on media guides and ticket packages, and there probably won't be a huge All-Star campaign centered around him this upcoming summer.
As for his on-field contributions, Braun was asked if he thinks he'll be able to put up the same kind of numbers he did before the suspension. His answer?
"Yeah, I think I will be better. I should be better."
For his sake, he'll need to be. His play is probably the biggest thing he can do to win the people of Milwaukee back (and let's face it, winning people outside of Wisconsin back at this point is probably a lost cause). If he continues to put up All-Star numbers, fans will slowly warm to him. If he struggles, he'll only face more questions, and a response of "I don't want to talk about it" won't cut it.