So yes: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and America’s own “Hebrew Hammer” has accepted a 65-game suspension under a drug-testing agreement, which means (aside from anything else) that he cheated in a game which has been (let’s be honest) fairly riddled with cheaters of a similar nature. So that’s bad enough.
But then, but then! Yesterday, we heard that back when he was lying about having cheated, Braun called some fellow ballplayers to try to win their support, and along the way, accused the collector of his urine sample of being not just an anti-Semite, but a Cubs fan, to boot.
As a the daughter of hard-core Cubs fans, I’m not sure which accusation could be considered the deeper cut. But I will say this: you shouldn’t be an anti-Semite. Not if you collect the urine of professional athletes, and not if you do anything else, either. (I’ll leave it up to readers to decide what they think about clinging to the Cubs).
But wait! According to Braun’s own mother, who is a Catholic, Braun “is totally not Jewish”—in 2007, USA Today reported that:
Ryan was not raised Jewish and never had a bar mitzvah, but suddenly he’s hearing from Jewish organizations claiming him as their own.
“He’s totally not Jewish,” Diane says. “I heard some organization started called him ‘The Hebrew Hammer’.” I said, ‘Oh no.’ My mother would be rolling over in her grave if she heard that.”
“Ryan is proud that people want to claim him now, but where were they before? You know how that stuff works.”
But hold on! It’s not even clear that Braun accused anyone of anti-Semitism! Some of the people to whom he’s supposed to have made the comments have issued categorical denials.
And yet, none of that has stopped actual, self-revealing anti-Semites from being just as pleasant as you might expect actual, self-revealing anti-Semites to be.
“Ryan Braun typical sneaky Jew,” tweeted one upstanding sports fan last month. “Of course Ryan Braun took steroids,” wrote another, “he's a Jew, and last I checked, sports aren't really their thing.” And of course: “Bye Ryan Braun, you cheating piece of sh*t. CANT JEW YOUR WAY OUT OF IT THIS TIME.” You can read more (if you really feel the need) by clicking here.
So I don’t know. Was the guy whose unenviable job it is to collect urine an anti-Semite? Did Braun ever say that he was? Does Braun genuinely identify as a Jew, or was he forced into a virtual yarmulke and then despised for it? It’s kind of hard to say at this point.
Here’s what we do know: Braun did, in fact, dope, and then he lied about it, and then he agreed to pay a price for his unassailably awful behavior. And no matter what he did or did not say about the guy who took his pee, actual anti-Semites are a real thing.
It’s been my impression that Catholics have some pretty well-established ideas about lying and cheating and how to address those problems. But if Braun wants to tackle them through the faith of his (Israeli-born!) father, we have a special day coming up on which he can do so. Everyone’s welcome in shul on Yom Kippur.
As for the actual anti-Semites who dumped their repulsiveness on a man they presumed to be Jewish? Some sins are harder to absolve.