Ryan Braun needs to step out of the gray area

The Brewers open the season Friday. Along with the usual festivities, St. Louis pitchers are going to pound Ryan Braun inside with impunity unless the leadoff hitters can do a little something about it by getting on base.

Then the Brewers are going to Wrigley Field, where Braun will hear the first of many times just how much opposing fans object to him being free to swing a bat and stand out there in left.

This is just the beginning of the trial by fire that 2012 is going to be for Braun, so you've got to wonder:

Why is the guy making it harder on himself from the start?

Just the other day, after the Los Angeles Dodgers and their supporters were doing their best to simulate regular-season conditions for him, Braun was given yet another chance to explain his side of the story regarding Major League Baseball's only positive-drug-test overturn.

"It's over, man," he said. "I'm not going to back into it. It's not good for baseball, it's not good for us, it's not good for me, it's not good for anybody."
And that would have been an ideal way for Braun to have ended that portion of the interview.

Instead, he went on for another couple of hundred words, revisiting the shadowy tones with which he occasionally tints his speech whenever the topic arises. Such as . . . "The people that are close to me - my friends, my family - know the truth."

You can appreciate that Braun is willing take questions, however repetitive and occasionally pointless they have become. Yet, how it is helping him to respond in such a way is beyond me.

He will have enough problems besides not hitting in front of Prince Fielder anymore. Why compound the challenge to come by allowing his critics to jump all over his story as if it were a hanging curveball?

By being so actively evasive and coy about a story that somehow needs to be put to rest, Braun is only giving his detractors more ammunition to assume he's hiding something.

It is almost as if Braun wants "the real story" as he perceives it to emerge, but not from him. He has already floated the conspiracy theory, but so far nothing has stuck to the person who handled his urine sample. In fact, that line of defense is looking less relevant with the passage of time.

As well as Braun handled himself at his first news conference, in retrospect maybe he would have been better off by not mentioning others at all.
So unless a lawsuit is going to be filed by Braun, what harm would come from him telling the story as he sees it? It's true, no matter what he says, the verbal firestorms that are about to emanate from Wrigley and beyond won't be quelled, no matter what Braun says.

Still, he's down to two choices with this episode. Say nothing at all or completely open up in an effort to explain there was more to his exoneration than a third arbitrator allowing him to avoid a 50-game suspension on a technicality.

Braun said he was "tempted" to reveal more, but he is not doing so for concern that it would cause an even bigger story. He also said that full disclosure on his part "really wouldn't do any good."

Unless he's got something to rival alien autopsies at Area 51, I'm not sure how the story could get bigger than it will be next Monday in Chicago, where the ears of baseball will be gathered to hear the reaction from one of the Brewers' biggest rivals.

A simple explanation from Braun might even help.

As for no good coming from Braun opening up, Brewers fans, who, for the most part are prepared to support him unconditionally, would still like to hear what he has to substantively say on the matter. It is possible some good could come from that.

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