Tips for Ryan Braun’s upcoming rehabilitation tour

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As I said the other day, I feel like Ryan Braun is in a situation where no matter what he does and no matter what he says he will still be a pariah. Mark McGwire showed us that, as has every other publicly disgraced person who gets in front of a camera in an effort to come clean.

Sometimes they are less than forthcoming, true, but sometimes they say absolutely everything that can conceivably be said about the matter and they’re still slammed for evading or not being remorseful or whatever. The secret here is that most people really don’t want answers or explanations from these people. They’ve made up their minds and won’t listen. They just want the thrill of seeing someone squirm and the satisfaction of saying, after the fact, that the person is still a piece of garbage.  I feel like Braun will get this treatment in spades.

But others aren’t as cynical as me. Bob Wolfley of the Journal-Sentinel spoke with some experts and P.R. professionals about what Braun could say or do to actually get on the road to redemption.  It’s a fascinating and, actually, quite excellent article that covers just about every angle of the matter.

This from former commissioner Fay Vincent was the first insight:

One is, he should see that the problem is a very serious problem for baseball, not think that the Ryan Braun case is about Ryan Braun … secondly he should, in my view, go to somebody like the commissioner and say what can I do to go around and make it clear to fans and to people in baseball that we’ve got to do something to keep these drugs from infecting the rest of the game?”

Nice, but if you don’t think the response to that would be (1) “Braun is not taking personal responsibility, he’s blaming ‘the game'”; and (2) yeah, sure, look at his cynical P.R. efforts, just like A-Rod working for the Hooton Foundation!” you’re crazy, Fay.

The stuff from a P.R. expert is way better: a full confession and apology with no “buts” in the comments, anonymous charity work and an eschewing of the limelight. I feel, however, that a lot of that would be construed as “Braun has gone away to hide.”  Other P.R. people in the column talk about how it’s too late and how Braun can never redeem his reputation.  I suspect they may be right.  Former Mets pitcher Ron Darling is not so pessimistic and believes that there is a chance for Braun.

I know that Braun’s reputation is not the concern of people outside of Braun himself, but I find it a fascinating sidelight to this grand opera.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.