Ryan Braun has lost an endorsement deal for a regional convenience store called Kwik Trip, and local apparel outlets reportedly have slashed princes on his merchandise since his suspension by Major League Baseball was announced. But the Milwaukee Brewers also say that something counterintuitive has happened: Sales of Braun-related merchandise are up.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports this surprising bit of news published Thursday in a Q&A with Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger:
Q: The presumption is that Ryan Braun was a significant driver in team merchandise sales. With him out of the picture for the remainder of the season, do you expect to see a drop in merchandise sales? And by how much?
A: We will continue to offer Ryan Braun's merchandise for sale at our team stores at Miller Park. Ryan is a Milwaukee Brewer. It is within each fan's right to decide whether to purchase his merchandise or not. While it has only been a few days since the announcement of Ryan's suspension, we actually have experienced an increase in sales of Ryan Braun merchandise. We are not speculating as to the reason for this increase, but it's the reality.
He might not speculate as to the reason, but that doesn't mean The Stew can't. There would seem to be five possibilities:
1.) Fans either love Braun unconditionally, or feel he's been treated unfairly, so they're buying his stuff to show solidarity.
2.) Fans really believe that team owner Mark Attanasio will act on the poorly considered advice of the Journal-Sentinel editorial board and "rid" the team of Braun (as if it were that easy), and they're snapping up Braun souvenirs before the Brewers don't make them anymore.
3. ) A local radio shock jock has ordered his minions to buy up all of the Braun gear they can find in order to do some kind of ritualistic bonfire.
4. ) Braun himself is buying the merchandise, all in an effort to continue a narcissistic and possibly sociopathic campaign to lie to friends and teammates, cheat MLB's rules with impunity and make it seem like everybody still likes him.
5. It's just really nice stuff and who cares whose name is on it?
Overall, the Brewers seem to be keeping a stiff upper lip about Braun fallout. Trading him — even if it were a good idea — would be tough given the size of his contract and their bargaining position. And you can't just cut him. What you can do is wait out the storm, hope Braun straightens up and flies right and start preparing for 2014 with Braun as the centerpiece of the franchise. And, apparently, order more merchandise with his name and No. 8 on it. Somebody wants it.
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