For whatever is left of Ryan Braun and his dignity, do know that he knocked on a door Tuesday night in order to do the right thing. And for what remains of Dino Laurenzi Jr., who'd once been sacrificed by Braun to the ends of greed and self-preservation, know that Braun is fortunate Laurenzi is the man he appears to be. He will need more like him.
When Braun knocked, Laurenzi opened the door to the person who tried to ruin him. He let Braun in from the cold. He had him to his dinner table.
The details are vague. Braun, the disgraced ballplayer, told reporters in Milwaukee on Wednesday he'd been to Laurenzi's home the night before. Laurenzi's family was there. Braun brought his fiancée.
"We had some really good conversation," Braun said. "We've made amends."
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Laurenzi did not return a message left on his phone Wednesday morning.
Two years before, he'd collected a urine sample from Braun as part of his rounds for Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc., which is contracted by Major League Baseball. The day had been fairly routine, in spite of the fact the delivery office had been closed. By protocol, he would ship Braun's specimen, along with others, when the office reopened.
Synthetic testosterone would be discovered in Braun's sample, and because of that Laurenzi's life would hardly be routine again. He'd be accused of nefarious conduct, of tampering with the sample, of incompetency, of evil intentions, all by Braun, who knew his urine was laced with the latest in chemical enhancers.
Braun the superstar got off. Laurenzi the fall guy went back to work. And 18 months later, Braun, cornered by Biogenesis documents, was confirmed to be the cheat Laurenzi's honest methods had delivered.
It takes two to make amends, and Braun perhaps should not be taken at his word. But, for a moment, let's assume he would not stand in public and describe a dinner that did not happen, a gesture that could be disproven. And let's assume this is Braun's way back, the early rigors of seeking forgiveness through words and deeds. To many, it would mean apologizing for the lies. To Laurenzi, Braun would have to explain the maliciousness of it, in which every filthy accusation had intended to destroy a man he hardly knew but viewed to be expendable.
It took some courage to knock on that door. It took more to open it.
By accounts, Laurenzi is a decent, straightforward and educated man who never wanted much more than what he had, until he wanted his old life back. He liked what he did and is doing it again. He hated the attention brought by the Braun case.
In a statement released shortly after Braun attacked his competence and character, Laurenzi said, "This situation has caused great emotional distress for me and my family. I have worked hard my entire life, have performed my job duties with integrity and professionalism, and have done so with respect to this matter and all other collections in which I have participated."
Braun told reporters Wednesday he'd not paid off Laurenzi. It does not appear Laurenzi has sued. They'd spoken before by phone, and in those conversations they'd made a plan to meet, and two days before Thanksgiving, Braun knocked on Laurenzi's door. The next morning, he stood in a parking lot and didn't say much. He's trying to move on, he said. The past is gone. He's trying to make it right, as right as it can ever be. He's trying to be a better person. Maybe he could be a little more like Dino Laurenzi. That would be a start.
"I'm not going to get into too many details other than to say it was an incredible experience," Braun said. "It was extremely kind and gracious of them. They're really special people and I appreciate them giving me the opportunity to go to their house and have a conversation in person. I wish that I could change it. I wish that I hadn't said anything about him. I wish I knew more at the time I said what I said. But he was really a special person and his family was a special group of people."
I don't know if Laurenzi forgives Braun. I will believe, however, there are people such as Laurenzi who are capable of forgiving, who would open that door. For, in the end, this is not about Braun and what he must live with. It's about Laurenzi, and what he chooses to live with.
- Ryan Braun