We love the Milwaukee Brewers and despite popular belief we love Ryan Braun. No, really, we really do. We've gotten heat in the past because of the way we have portrayed Ryan Braun and for good reason. Whether it's his Lake Geneva restaurant, his Milwaukee restaurant, his t-shirt line, being single, sticking his tongue out, his comments about the pitching last season, LikeMe.Net or anything else, we've gotten a reputation for not liking Ryan Braun. You have to realize that this all just isn't true, I love Ryan Braun. I would sleep with Ryan Braun if I had to. He's my one of my favorite Brewers. It makes me excited that I get to see him play.
Looking at that history I realize that I've probably written about Ryan Braun more than any other Brewer and that I really know a lot about Ryan Braun. I know why he's great, I know why people like him and I know why people don't like him. I might be the world's foremost expert in Ryan Braun and if watching Spiderman has taught me anything it's that girls nipples look great when their t-shirt gets wet. Oh, and something about responsibility. I feel that I must share this knowledge with the world to better educate you in all things Ryan Braun because if I don't, who will?
How did Ryan Braun become a Brewer?
Ryan Braun was the 5th pick in the 2005 MLB first year player draft where he was drafted as a third baseman. As we know, that didn't work out that well and he ended up in left field. What you might not know is that had Troy Tulowitzki agreed to move to third base (because the Brewers already had JJ Hardy locked in at short) that Ryan Braun would probably not be a Brewer today and that life could be a whole lot different right now. I don't want to get into a Doug Melvin discussion here, but we basically got really REALLY lucky because the best player on the Brewers' board was Troy Tulowitzki and he didn't want to play the position they wanted him to play so the Brewers (stupidly theory-wise) took their next best player. (In my opinion, you never draft for position, always take best available.) Luckily for us, that next player turned out to be the best player in that draft.
Best player in that draft? Really? How good is he?
I'm not taking anything away from Tulowitzki, Justin Upton, Andrew McCuthcen or Ryan Zimmerman who are all excellent players, but Ryan Braun has a chance to be historically good. His rookie season was one of the all-time greatest as he became only the 2nd player to win the NL Rookie of the Year, Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year, the Baseball America Rookie of the Year, the Baseball Prospectus Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year, and the Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie Awards. He's the third fastest major leaguer to hit 50 homeruns, is only the 2nd player in ML history to hit 30 or more homeruns in his first three seasons (Albert Pujols being the other) and last season he became the eighth player in Major League history with at least 100 runs, 100 RBIs, 200 hits, 30 homers, 20 stolen bases, and a .300 average in the same season. (Oh, and there's a good chance he does it again this year.)
Did I mention he's only 26?
And he's Jewish?
Yep, his dad was actually born in Israel and immigrated to the United States at age seven. In 2007 he attended the White House Hannukah dinner and talked a little baseball with George W. Bush.
He's proud of his Jewish heritage, but not religious and actually shares a link with two of the most famous Jewish baseball players of all time.
"Braun" was, coincidentally, the family name of Sandy Koufax, until his mother remarried and he took his stepfather's name. "There's no [family] connection that I know of," Braun said, "but it's kind of cool." In another coincidence, Braun lived for a time with his maternal grandfather in a house that previously belonged to Jewish Hall of Fame outfielder Hank Greenberg. Braun's grandfather has lived in the house for over 40 years.
He's not "that Jewish" though because his mother wasn't Jewish and he was raised under no faith. He never had a bar mitzvah and he plays on Yom Kippur. I've read on wikipedia that his nickname is the "Hebrew Hammer", but I've never read or seen that anywhere else. I assume it's false and was just made up by overzealous Jews looking to "claim him" as one of their own.
If he's so good, why do people hate Ryan Braun?
There are only two real answers to this question.
1. Ryan Braun was born and raised in Southern California.
Now, nobody hates Ryan Braun because he's from California, but it's because he lived there that helped to form his personality and that is what turns people off.
Hating Cali is something that is prevalent throughout the country, but is more focused in the Midwest. People in the Midwest hate people from California. Part of this, of course, is jealousy. We call them pussies because they "couldn't handle" a Wisconsin winter like we could, but what we really mean is that we wish it was 70 degrees or more all the time here and we hate you for living there. That is only part of it though because as we all know living through freezing cold winters does give you a certain level of toughness that other people don't have. In our opinion we (ideally) work harder than they do, we play harder than they do and we are tougher than them because of our winters. There's no way this doesn't come in to play, at least a little bit, with Ryan Braun. Whenever the season ends Ryan Braun skips town to live in his Malibu home while we all stay in Wisconsin to bare the cold winter. He's not "one of us" because he leaves to go to his "five-bedroom, seven-bathroom gated Mediterranean with ocean views" that "sits on more than an acre with a swimming pool, spa and built-in barbecue. (The interiors include three fireplaces and travertine and hardwood flooring.) There is a two-bedroom, one-bathroom guesthouse and a movie theater" having Malibu home.
Just reading that makes me hate him.
However, this is merely only a small part of his California heritage that turns people off of him though. The other part is his complete immersion in the SoCal culture or as we like to call it "being a douchebag". Before starting his own clothing brand Ryan Braun wore Affliction shirts and designed a shirt for them (seen here). He's a fan of the club/ringtone rap that's not that good that dominates the airwaves these days, like Soulja Boy (he used "Turn My Swag On" as an at-bat song). He likes going to those clubs where there is a dress code, but the dress code somehow doesn't include Affliction shirts or white tennis shoes. You could imagine him saying "bro" a lot when he talks to his friends. I wouldn't be surprised if he hung out with The Situation on an occasion or two. We can't be sure if Ryan Braun is a douchebag, but he does dress like what I associate with a douchebag dressing like and he listens to music that I see douchebags listening to. Does this make him a douchebag? I don't know I've never met the guy. I can only say that we have completely different tastes in pretty much everything.
2. Ryan Braun went to the University of Miami.
The University of Miami is good for many things. Doing cocaine, for example. But there is also a seedy side of the program that is exemplified in the ESPN 30 for 30 doc "The U" (a must see, btw). The University of Miami in the 80s basically invented modern showboating as we know it or "swagger" as the kids call it nowadays. The program has changed since then, falling down the ranks of college football (this is most likely because it's harder to pay players now), but the attitude has remained. Just because Ryan Braun played baseball instead of football at Miami, don't think for a second that this excluded him from the culture of swagger. The talent that Ryan Braun taught him to be confident, The U taught him to be brash, cocky and full of swagger. Ryan Braun's favorite shirt says "The U invented swagger" and he's not someone who's afraid to show that off. In fact, he loves showing it off.
People hate cocky people and everytime Ryan Braun talks he walks the thin line between confidence and cockiness, but I have to ask the same thing that Justin Timberlake once asked "is it really cocky if you know that it's true?"
So, wait you like his cockiness?
I'll let Braun himself field this one.
"I'm kind of known for my confidence," Braun says matter-of-factly. "If you don't believe in yourself, I don't see any reason that anyone else would believe in you. If not for confidence, I wouldn't be here today.
"My goal at a young age was never to make it to the big leagues but to excel at this level. If you don't strive for greatness in everything you do, you cheat yourself.
"I think I've been a good player. But I really believe I have the opportunity to be a great player."
Those are all things that I want someone to say that is being paid a lot of money to play baseball for my team. I want him to talk like this, as long as he walks the walk. One of my favorite inspirational quotes of all time is "whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." Ryan Braun seems to believe in that too and I have no problem with that.
Can you sum up why people don't like him in one or two quotes?
Sure, here's the ridiculous opening line from a piece in the USA Today about Ryan Braun. That gives us these gems.
He's hip-hop. He's got game. He's got restaurants and a clothing line, too. And, oh, how he has swagger.
And then later in the story, this quote that makes most of the country turn against him.
[Braun] is a mixture of SoCal and South Beach cool, with a New York flair for the bravado and a business mind that belongs on Wall Street.”
Does that make you like him, at all? Didn't think so. Does that make you want to punch him in the face? A little bit. Seriously, if you introduced a character in the WWE with that description he'd be the biggest bad guy since Ted Dibiase.
By the way, the guy who wrote that? Looks like this.
Why do baseball people not like Ryan Braun?
It goes back to the aforementioned swagger. One only need to point at last season's infamous "cannonball" celebration that the Brewers did to see why many don't like him. Old school baseball people don't like people to show off. You should celebrate, but only in silence. Remember when Bob Howry said "It's not only a lack of respect for the other team but the game. It won't be forgotten."? That's how the entire league feels about Ryan Braun.
I know what you're thinking and that it was Prince who hit the homerun and did the celebration not Ryan Braun, but that celebration clearly had Ryan Braun's fingerprints all over it and people didn't like it.
More people think like Bob Howry than you know. Like, say Bob Brenly, who once said:
"Braun had some issues with some rib muscles early in the season; he may have some issues with his rib muscles as this season progresses if he acts like that on every home run he hits."
You know, basically condoning throwing at him. He's also rubbed his own General Manager the wrong way before.
The thing is, in baseball, people pride themselves on being "old school" and "showing respect for the game" while Ryan Braun is someone who wants to enjoy playing baseball and show emotion when he's happy. This rubs people the wrong way. People don't be like to shown up in baseball and sometimes when you show certain people up, they throw the ball at your head. Some people call it classless, I call it being honest.
Personally, I like the way Ryan Braun celebrates but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if he was on another team I would absolutely hate him. That is Ryan Braun in a nutshell.
Do his teammates like him?
From all accounts his teammates love him. Here's a couple quotes from teammates to underscore this.
"He's cooler than cool." - LaTroy Hawkins
"Look, if you don't back it up, it's arrogance. If you back it up, it's confidence. He backs it up." - Prince Fielder
"I watch Ryan and some of these young guys, I'm thinking, 'How many great moments did I miss because I was afraid to show my emotions, afraid of having fun? I'm not sure these young guys don't have it right." - Gregg Zaun
"To tell you the truth, Ryan is a pretty decent guy. So, I don’t have any hard feelings. It sucked getting thrown under the bus, but I understand where he was coming from. I understand he wanted to win and I wanted to win. So, I think he learned from it." - Seth McClung
What's up with this Remetee thing?
Remetee was once described as like Affliction, but "a little more colorful and friendly". I think that means that the skulls are pink and have smiles on their faces. The shirts are popular among athletes (many baseball players, plus Dwight Howard and Manny Pacquiao have worn them), musicians (think Puddle of Mudd or Salivia) and celebrities. My favorite celebrity to wear the shirt has to be a tie between these two.
While I would personally never wear them because it is not my style and I think people look kind of stupid in them, I can't say anything negative about the quality of the shirts. A lot of work goes into the designs and the making of the shirts, the quality is high on these.
The garments are hand-distressed and softened with various wash techniques. The graphics are screen printed using eco-friendly water-based inks which yield a no-hand feel and add to the vintage look.
Which is probably why they cost $69. If these shirts are something you are interested in, you should probably get one.
What's up with these restaurants? Are they any good?
There are two restaurants which Ryan Braun owns. One is in Lake Geneva and is called "Ryan Braun's Tavern and Grill" and the other is in Milwaukee and is called "Ryan Braun's Waterfront". We'll tackle each separately.
Ryan Braun wants you to know that his restaurant is NOT a sports bar. There might be sports on the TV, but he wants it to be a regular restaurant for adults.
"Most athletes have a restaurant that ends up being a sports bar," Braun says. "I wanted a contemporary place. A little L.A. A little Miami. A little New York.
"I wanted this to be more of a lifestyle restaurant, one representative of my personality."
(So, there's no Milwaukee in your personality then? Saying things like this turn people off of you too, Ryan. Think about it.)
Ryan Braun's Waterfront
Ryan Braun's Waterfront took over for the old Fratello's at 102 N. Water St. in the Third Ward. It opened on the same day as the Brewers season on April 5 (Opening Day) and the reviews have been solid.
The mini-review my buddy Tyler did for AV Club doesn't tell much, but the comments tell a bit more.
As a dedicated worker with great work ethic, this place is not worth working for! The management team is full of young rookies who treat the staff very poorly. If your lips are not stuck to someones butt then they dont have much care for you. They would rather have that than strong employees that keep busy through out their shift! During training and orientaion, the staff was promised to be treated fairly with no ranks, yet to see that happen! Carly does not know how to handle a full staff let alone speak to people. Im not sure if Ryan wants that for his image, he should look into that! All I know is what comes around goes around! Good luck! Oh yeah... maybe Ryan's stylest can help her out with a new wardrobe, shes so tacky!
Looks like somebody got fired.
The other half of the comments say the quality ranged between okay and good. I'll be checking it out myself sometime this summer and will check back with a review.
Ryan Braun's Tavern and Grill
While Ryan Braun's Waterfront opened a month after he acquired it, Ryan Braun's Tavern and Grill is still yet to open despite once promising a fall 2009 opening. (Thankfully, they dropped the unnecessary "e" at the end of "Grill".) After that idyllic fall opening failed they shot for a April one and when that didn't happen they were supposedly opening on Memorial Day weekend and after that opening didn't happen they set another one. You have to feel sorry for those people that went to a job fair in May and got hired, yet won't start their job for almost two months later.
The opening is currently scheduled to be on the 24th of June (rumors of a VIP party featuring the entire team persist for that date) and they actually had a soft opening this past weekend (hehe, "soft opening"). So, how can a restaurant that isn't even open yet can boast on its website "best steaks in Wisconsin"? Good question.
I know a few people that went to the soft opening and they said the same basic thing "good, but not great" which must be what the business model is for these restaurants. (One person complained that they spent a million dollars on remodeling the old Cactus Club and were closed for nearly a year without it looking all that different. I can't judge one way or another since I haven't been there yet. Again, I'll update when I do.) I am not saying that it's a bad one, people are likely to come in just for the name "Ryan Braun's" and as long as you don't disappoint them you could be sucesssful.
Still, I feel that maybe Ryan Braun will end up regretting these ventures in the long run. Restaurants are hard to turn a profit on and if I know anything about Ryan Braun it's that even if he does turn a profit on them he never wants the words "good, but not great" uttered about anything he is involved with.
For more fun stuff check out the comments section of the original post I did on the Lake Geneva restaurant. Some people are really negative (and you should see the ones we were forced to delete).
What kind of endorsements does Ryan Braun have?
Tons. In addition to Remetee and his RB8 maple baseball bat line, Ryan Braun also endorses for Remington (including this unbelievably bad online commercial), Muscle Milk, Gatorade, Dick's Sporting Goods, Kwik Trip, CytoSport (a supplement maker), Nike, Wilson, Mikita Sports and AirTran Airways. He's also coming out with a line of aluminum bats, an energy drink and a condom line.
(Okay, I made that last one up.)
What are/were his at-bat music songs? Anything good?
All links go to music video on youtube.
Lupe Fiasco - Superstar: I seem to remember this one being chosen for him by his teammates.
Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal: When Michael Jackson died Ryan and other Brewers all switched to MJ songs for a few days.
Kanye West - Power: Current. His at-bat song seems to be different than this though, maybe a remix?
Does Ryan Braun have a girlfriend?
Not that we know of. We know he dated Andreena Clarke for awhile which was the girl he was photographed with at the All-Star game a few years ago.
And we've also heard a rumor about him and a girl named Larisa Fraser who is a model out of Miami which would make sense.
She seems nice.
Then, in the unreliable rumor department we have Karen McDougal, a former Playboy bunny and model. Why do I call this an unreliable rumor? Because Karen turned 39 this year and she last dated Bruce Willis. Could you imagine Bruce Willis and Ryan Braun sharing a lady? Don't do it! It will blow your mind.
Still, I have a hard time not believing this commenter who said:
He's been dating or just doing an old cougar former playmate who won't hang up her gstring karen Mcdougel , The team calls her the odometer because she has so many miles on her. lol sure it's just a phase
Anything else we should know?
Braun currently leads all NL Outfielders in voting, if he remains in the top three (a lock) he will become the first Brewer ever to start three consecutive All-Star teams.
He once turned down the Bachelor leading to one of our most popular posts where I got away with saying "McJewy".
Ryan Braun is a Brewer through the 2015 season. This is like the best news ever.
Editor's note: I kind of made fun of it a little, but I couldn't have done this without a few money quotes from that USA Today article. So, good work Bob Nightengale. Just stop using swagger in a sentence. Please.