Ryan Braun’s Arrogance

In hindsight, Ryan Braun’s statement in the video above was the biggest media relations faux pas in the sports world since Lebron haphazardly spurned his home town in front of a group of underprivileged youth.

For those of you who don’t follow baseball, Ryan Braun has been on a hall of fame pace since his debut in 2007. Not yet 30, he has compiled 211 home runs, a .312 batting average, a MVP award and 32.3 wins above a replacement-level player. Right after securing the 2011 National League MVP award, however, Braun’s accomplishments were cast into doubt by a failed drug test in October of 2011. To wit: Braun tested positive for elevated Testosterone levels. Facing a 50 game suspension, Braun mounted an appeal of the test based on the delay in submission of his urine sample. Basically, the person assigned to collect the sample submitted it two days beyond protocol. Despite no evidence of tampering with the sample and without a scientific theory that testosterone levels would increase with the delay, Braun won his appeal by a 2-1 vote among the arbitrators.

Rather than accepting his legal victory for the mere technicality that it was, Braun doubled down on his arrogant, self-righteous video above. At 3:13 in the video, he said:

“I have always stood up for what is right. Today is about everyone who has been wrongly accused and everyone who has had to stand up for what is actually right. Today is not just about me…We won because the truth is on my side…I am a victim of a process that has completely broke down and failed in the way it was applied to me.”

Cut to February 2013. Yahoo reported that documentary evidence existed that Braun purchased and received performance enhancing drugs (PED) from Biogenesis, now a notorious PED distributor with a network of major league baseball players. Two days ago, faced with overwhelming evidence, Braun reached a settlement with MLB resulting in his suspension for the remaining 65 games of the season.

I don’t mean to start a debate about the morality or efficacy of PEDs (see links below). The only relevant concern is that fans, by and large, hate the use of PEDs and MLB is acting in accord with that sentiment. By violating the drug policy, Braun committed a dishonest act. Many players, like David Ortiz, Rick Ankiel and Manny Ramirez, have been able to move past their PED use and continue as productive professionals and fan favorites. Braun is different, however. Despite his guilty conscience, he shamelessly made a celebratory spectacle of his Pyrrhic victory over MLB on a meaningless technicality. In doing so, he revealed himself as an arrogant liar completely devoid of integrity. For that, in the court of public opinion, he should be banished to the ranks of the universally loathed baseball players, including Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

(For a skeptical discussion of the effects of PEDs on baseball performance see: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/home-run-rates-in-1998-and-2012/ ; http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2010/03/de_vany_on_ster.html)

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Tip of the Day: Think Deeper

Today, consider your role as a consumer in a dynamic economy.  Think about the human coordination involved in items that you use every day.  This will help you live a more examined, socially conscious life.

On that thought, consider:
1.  Economist Leonard Read’s legendary essay, I, Pencil, where he ponders the unseen complexities behind manufacturing a pencil. 

2. A modern interpretation of Read’s essay, where Thomas Thwaites attempts to build a toaster from scratch.

3. Or Adam Davidson’s recent article on the risk to consumers from a looming price truce between the major beer manufacturers.

Formal Friday: Cocktail Edition

ImageAs you read this, I hope you are enjoying a Formal Friday–the viral campaign for America’s resurgence.  There is more you can do though.  I’m not telling you to take the “Ties, not t-shirts” sticker off your car, but this is a broader cultural movement.  Now on to the second rail of American culture: libations.

Just as with dress habits, America’s relative devolution in drinking habits has paralleled the fall of its hegemonic economic power.  In the 50’s and 60’s, American drinking was centered on high-proof spirits and the cocktails derived thereof.  Then came the mass-market revolution in bad beer, and the current median drinker appears to enjoy a mix of portage (Bud Light, seriously?) and over-priced, unfulfilling artisanal beers that are only marginally better.  All the while, our deficits continued to skyrocket, jobs departed for foreign shores and now—sequestration is upon us!

The same countries taking our jobs have adopted the drinking habits of our greatest generation.  As it turns out, India does not produce I.P.A.’s, and the rest of Southeast Asia isn’t exactly clamoring for our craft beers.  Rather, our successors to economic power are consuming more of the West’s finest spirit: scotch.  Based on the most recent data, Singapore and Taiwan are the third and fourth largest exporters of scotch whisky.  Combined, those countries have less than 10% of America’s population.  That is a lot of good booze per capita.  It’s as if we ditched Hemingway for Stephenie Meyer, while our Asian brethren have done just the opposite.

With this geopolitical framework in mind, your after work drink today should match your Formal Friday attire.  The gentleman does not need to be dragging around a 16 oz jar of swill while everyone asks him how hoppy his beer is.  Seriously, I don’t want anyone to ever talk about hops again.  And even if you like that inane nonsense, you’re probably going to spill it on yourself at a crowded Friday happy hour.  Solution: order/make a cocktail.  Here are two cocktails that will be perfect for your weekend, both involving triple sec, an orange flavored liqueur.

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Formal Friday

While at lunch the other day, my grandfather exclaimed, “Isn’t your generation capable of producing anything but memes?!”  I immediately took a defensive posture, chastising him and his contemporaries for their unironic exuberance in fighting and winning World War II.  As he sat speechless, I thought more introspectively–was he right?  Is “good guy greg” our only worthy creation? 

My despair ended, however, after reading a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.  Evidently, American youths have absolved all of their cultural listlessness with one fell swoop: Formal Friday.  As you might imagine, Formal Friday is an informal dress policy to dress formally on Fridays.  It is a brilliant satire of the casual Friday hoisted upon us by the Comfort Mongers of the Baby Boom generation. 

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Before you scoff at the significance of this nascent convention, understand this: the devolution in American dress habits is inseparable from American decline.  In the 1950’s, Americans wore suits to work.  During that time, we resisted the spread of Communism, nurtured the largest middle class in world history and rebuilt Europe just because we could.  In the 1950’s, Chinese Communist Party leaders wore Mao suits and pretty much starved their people to death on purpose.  Now, American leaders wear polo shirts; Chinese leaders wear real suits, and we are indebted to China by some unfathomable figure that I don’t feel like looking up.  The formality-geopolitical power relationship is obvious!  

Indeed, this same pattern can be seen throughout human history.  Just ask Edward Gibbon, author of the historical classic, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (available on Librophile).  Though no one has ever truthfully read the book due to its oppressive length, Gibbon scholars agree that Gibbon likely hypothesized that the central cause of the fall of Rome was not a war, not over-expansion, not dinosaurs.  Rather, it was moral decay precipitated by a tweak in the centurion dress code from Super 120’s wool to a sort of flannel, pajama-pants material. 

 Tomorrow, do your part to stop our national descent—wear something nice.  I suggest something relatively dressy without being too serious.  Wear a suit or a nice blazer with slacks.  Accent your outfit with a bit more color than you would at a conservative business event.  You will look great, especially next to your denim clad coworkers. 

  

 

Tip of the Day: Listen to a Classic

ImageModern popular literature leaves much to be desired.  The bestseller list is populated by vampires, sexual deviants and clichéd mysteries.  While the masses may find this appealing, some of us are actually looking for an escape.  For those of us who have already trudged through a thousand years of ball-gagged virgins and false murder accusations, rest assured!  There is an answer: librophile.com.

Librophile provides a vast selection of free audiobooks.  These classic works are no longer copyrighted so they can be disseminated for free.  Even better, some bored souls have kindly read through the works so that you won’t even need to pay for the paper.

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Tip of the Day: Soak Your Cherries

In my last post, I told you that maraschino cherries were a necessity for your budding bar.  I wasn’t talking about the syrupy, fire engine red variety that belongs on top of your sundae.  Indeed, the maraschino cherry is capable of much more!

Maraschino cherries were originally preserved in maraschino liqueur, not the sugar brine where they find themselves today.  (More history).  Those cherries were sweet, but not obnoxiously so, and they served as the original garnish for the old-fashioned and manhattan.   Consider the following tips for improving your cherries.

  • Option 1: Make the cherries yourself.  You can learn about that relatively simple process here.  It does, however, require a cherry pitter.  Martha Stewart might not even have a cherry pitter.  Amazon does have them though.
  • Option 2: Put your own twist on store-bought cherries.  This couldn’t be easier.  You just need to drain the syrup from the cherry jar, give the cherries a quick rinse, then pour your liquor of choice over the cherries.  I recommend maraschino liqueur, but if you can’t find it at your local liquor store, use brandy or bourbon.

Your soaked cherries will be the perfect conclusion to your next cocktail.  You may even catch yourself eating them as a quick sweet.  Enjoy!

Building your first Bar (Part II): The essentials

Last week, in my blogging debut, I made the case for the importance of maintaining a bar at your residence.  Now, I will expand into the essential elements of your new bar.  Trust me, you will be annoyingly calling yourself as a ‘mixologist’ in no time, but first I would like to briefly reflect on my foray into blogging.

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