Desperate times call for desperate measures – and the Brewers' situation at first base is the definition of desperate, so let's overanalyze an Instagram video of Ryan Braun taking batting practice in a park.
On Tuesday, Larisa Braun posted two videos to her Instagram story featuring her husband, the former Brewers all-star, taking batting practice out in his home state of California – including Ryan Braun happily chiming in after a particularly well-struck ball, "Still got it." The first video also comes with the Brewers and Mike Attanasio, son of Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, tagged (and also Christopher Backus, an actor and Braun buddy).
Hmmm. Someone planning a midseason return? Ryan Braun takes some swings in California, as filmed by wife Larisa on her Instagram stories. #Brewers #ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/R8fHacszp3 — Doug Russell (@DougRussell) June 9, 2021
Does this mean Ryan Braun is coming back?! Is the Brewers' offense saved!? Are we all just trying to distract ourselves from the Bucks and the Packers right now!? The answer to all those questions is clear: Maybe?
If this is indeed a hint that Ryan Braun's ready to play one more time – he never formally retired after all – it would make sense for the Brewers to be first in line to give him his #8 back. While they've shaken the rust off a little bit recently, Milwaukee's offense has been notoriously poor this season – especially at first base. Keston Hiura, their opening day first baseman, was just sent down to the minors for the second time this year after batting a whole .130 with one home run. Daniel Vogelbach has taken over the position now – but it's not like a .213 batting average with four home runs is all that much more impressive. Travis Shaw can also play first, but he's currently flashing a gaudy .190 batting average.
One would hope Ryan Braun, one of the best hitters in the team's history, would be an improvement on all of those numbers. After all, last season was Braun's worst year at the plate – but a .233 batting average would still be better than all three of the Brewers' top options this year so far.
Bringing back Braun for the second half of the season would arguably make even more sense off the field than on. The 2020 campaign ended up being Ryan Braun's last (FOR NOW!), which meant that one of the best players in Brewers history, a key part of the modern revitalization in Milwaukee sports, said his farewell to an empty stadium – no real fanfare, no real celebration. A final return would offer the team and the fans a chance to give him a proper sendoff – plus on a team that appears thus far to actually be contending, currently leading the NL Central by a game, and could offer him one last chance at a World Series ring. (Hey, a fan can dream.)
That being said, there's plenty of reasons why Braun's batting practice video could just be exactly that: practice. If the Brewers are looking for more consistency from first base, picking up a player who was oft-injured over his several final seasons doesn't sound like the most effective strategy. And this wouldn't just be a designated hitter position; he'd have to play first base, something Braun wasn't particularly a fan of even back in his younger, spryer days. Plus, even though Braun never officially announced his retirement, last we checked, he was "strongly leaning" toward calling it a day and focusing on family and other business ventures.
As for giving Braun the sendoff a player of his stature in Brewers history deserves, they already have a way without Braun having to suit back up or put in a sweat on the diamond. On Sunday, Sept. 5, the Brewers will have a Ryan Braun bobblehead day at American Family Field – aka the perfect excuse to invite Braun back to throw out a first pitch, talk to the crowd pregame, make the media rounds and give a true final wave to a packed stadium of Brewers fans. And since they're playing the St. Louis Cardinals, we could run the replay of Braun's 2019 game-winning grand slam against them a few more times too.
Ah yes, that's the good stuff. You can understand why we'd want him back.
Considering the Brewers are currently eight games over .500 and leading the NL Central, they'll almost certainly be looking to make a move for a playoff push. Will Ryan Braun be it? Considering all we have right now is Instagram clips of a family day at the park, who knows. But I can confirm that this has been much more enjoyable to think about than the Bucks or Aaron Rodgers right now.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.