Can Ryan Braun Repent Enough To Win Back Jewish Fans?

Embracing Judaism Could Help Hebrew Hammer's Comeback

Benched: Ryan Braun can’t play baseball again until spring, after being suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.
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Benched: Ryan Braun can’t play baseball again until spring, after being suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.

By Cary Spivak

Published November 18, 2013, issue of November 22, 2013.
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Bryan Burwell, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, took a look at the prepared statement Braun issued after accepting his suspension and noted that “In nearly 1,000 words, only 12 were used to apologize to Dino Laurenzi Jr., the specimen collector he disparaged so shamelessly.”

Fleischer stressed the importance of Braun coming forward in person to acknowledge his wrongdoing. But he expressed doubts as to whether the ballplayer would be able to do so in a convincing manner.

“He has to be contrite and, if possible, be sincere and really mean it,” Fleischer said. ”I don’t know if he’s capable of doing that.”

But Fleischer emphasized that he did not think Braun’s woes should be viewed as a Jewish issue. “I wanted to say that in a Jewish paper,” Fleischer said.

Then there is the question of how Braun — who is, after all, a ballplayer — will perform on the field. This will no doubt influence the fans.

“He’ll let his bat do the talking,” Fleischer said.

A few home runs and key runs batted in will go a long way in Braun’s effort to win back fans, agreed Miriam Maistelman, a 13-year-old Brewers fan who plays baseball and softball for teams in suburban Milwaukee. “In baseball we should focus on a how a person plays, not his religion,” the Jewish seventh-grader said. Still, Braun will have to earn back Miriam’s respect. “He really messed up,” she said.

Asked how she will respond when Braun comes onto the field at Miller Park to begin the 2014 season next spring, Maistelman said initially that she would cheer. Then, after a moment to reflect, she changed her mind.

“I’ll cheer for the team in general,” Miriam said. “But not for him.”

Contact Cary Spivak at feedback@forward.com


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