Cocky or Confident? A question that has been asked before when it came to Ryan Braun, ever since he came up in 2007. He just had a swagger about him that many Brewer fans weren't used to seeing. Braun quickly backed up his "cockiness" and has been referred to as a "confident" ever since. However, this year Braun made a statement after getting beaned by the Pirates that got the sports pundits all up in arms, but the pot seemed to boil over this past weekend against the Cubs and the debate seems to once again be in the air.
Of course the first incident earlier this year most people were able to overlook as Braun was obviously intentionally hit with a fast ball directly to the upper back thrown by Jeff Karstens of the Pirates. After the game, still in obvious rage, Braun basically threatened Karstens that he would be hit later this year. Probably not exactly a wise thing to say, especially if the Brewer pitchers were planning on doing so anyways, because now an ejection could easily loom over anyone who might do so. Plus, threatening pitchers....eh, just hit a jack off of him instead. Let the pitching staff retaliate on their star player instead if they so want to. As it turned out Karstens was fined by the league for the pitch, but Braun, who probably could have been fined for his comments, just raised some eyebrows.
Then last Friday against the Cubs Braun hit a go ahead homer in the 8th, which ultimately gave the Brewers the win. Obviously an emotional player, Braun was fired up stuck his tongue out in joy and proceed to make an airplane motion rounding 1st, similar to his now iconic image of his game winning homer against the Cubs to help send the Brewers into the postseason. The difference is this is May, that was September. I found no problem with it but the message boards blew up about Braun's cockiness and his unsportsmanlike conduct.
What really has Cubs fans steaming though, and Cubs TV announcer Bob Brenly, was Saturday night's game. Ryan Dempster buzzed the tower with a fastball. Ruled on the field that Braun was hit in the helmet, replay showed what appeared to actual be the bat that was hit. Regardless, it was a scary moment for Brewers fans, players, and of course Braun. Braun showed obvious anger in regards to this pitch. His next at bat he let the bat do the talking, hitting an obvious homerun off of the bat, but then stares Dempster down as he is trotting to first base. Once again the message boards light up and as I mentioned, rejected Brewer manager prospect Bob Brenly had some unkind words for Braun after the stare down implying Braun will be taking some pitches to the ribs.
A nice video of comcast network and story on brewcrewball.com
ESPN has made some comments, Yahoo! briefly mentioned it in an article, both looking down on Braun for his actions, but what makes this different than what other big time players do? Albert Pujols, well respected in the league will admire a well hit homer more than most and no one seems to mind. Braun doesn't make showing up a pitcher a habit and I hope he keeps it that way. However, I love to see him playing with that level of passion, turning his emotions into performance. Getting beaned is no fun, it hurt me in little league with a ball thrown 40 mph, I can't imagine a 90 mph fastball.
Cubs fans have no room to talk, one of the biggest "passionate" players, Carlos Zambrano, shows up batters on a consistent basis. Whenever he gets out of a tough inning unscathed he acts as if he just threw a no hitter to win the World Series. It is something that annoys me, but Cubs fans call him passionate. I get why they would like to see emotion out of a player, so they should keep their mouths quiet when an opposing player celebrates a big moment.
Keep doing what your doing Braunie!