Ryan Braun hitting his 200th home run in 2012 was against the odds. Then again, so was him winning his appeal of the positive drug test this off-season, a battle that was Braun versus the world. His opponent on the field, instead of a court of law and the perceptions of the media, was to be pitchers trying to make sure the 2012 National League MVP wouldn’t repeat his past success.
He did accomplish this season what many thought would have to wait until 2013: reaching 200 career home runs. With a solo shot to right-center on Sunday, Braun reached the two century mark; in his next plate appearance he tied Cecil Cooper for fifth on the all-time franchise list with a round-tripper to left, his fortieth of the season.
But we’re used to that.
I could rank each of Braun’s 201 career home runs because each has its own significance and memorability, but, for everyone’s sake but the irrational young woman to put her phone number on a sign for Braun to see last year, the list has been kept down at 20.
Jody Gerut also hit for the cycle in this game (no, seriously), but Braun made the biggest dent in Chase Field with an absolute missile to straightaway center off Blaine Boyer. Who? Exactly.
The first two on the list come at Chase Field in Arizona, where he has five homers in 17 career games. His 100th was a vintage Braun homer, a line drive rope muscled out to right field. Braun led the league with 203 hits that season and finished 11th in MVP voting on a sub-par Brewers team.
18. Grand Slams at Cincinnati and Anaheim (5/6/09 & 6/14/10)
Braun’s first career grand slam was–how do I put this?–slightly more dramatic than his other two to date, but grand slams are grand slams, four RBI-generating blasts from the baseball gods, regardless of the situation. His ’09 slam in Cincinnati came already leading 5-0 in the second inning off notorious Brewer killer Bronson Arroyo. So it’s good that we at least got runs off of Arroyo once in the history of baseball.
In the bottom of the fifth at Miller Park, Cubs starter Ryan Dempster drilled Braun in the back. In the seventh, payback was enacted as Braun crushed a homer to the bleachers in left and stared down Dempster on his way to first base with the swagger we’ve grown to love.
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the ninth, manager Ron Roenicke called upon Braun to pinch-hit after nursing a sore left shoulder for two games. What does he do? Hit a no-doubt, two-run jack to left to give Milwaukee a 6-5 lead and eventual win. It was one of the initial moments that gave the feel of a special 2011 season for the Brewers.
With 2:00 am soon approaching at Busch Stadium in a 13-inning marathon, Braun wasted no time, launching a solo homer off Lance Lynn. Cinderella had returned from the ball. The sun was thinking about rising again. I slept through innings 9,10,11, and 12. Then Braun has the audacity to go yard and keep the Brewers in Wild Card contention? Yeah, I must have actually been dreaming during the 13th, also. (Also: Brian Anderson says “unbreaks the tie” in the video. Unbreaks? Late night for him, also.)
Trailing 5-3 with two outs and two strikes, Chan Ho Park left a breaking ball up and out over the plate, which Braun hooked into left for a two-run homer, prompting Vin Scully, who seemed sure of a victory, to announce “hold everything” as the ball carried out. How much more clutch can Braun possibly be?
I had promised my followers on Twitter that I’d catch Braun’s 200th homer, and it’s not to say that I didn’t at least try. Bleacher seats for Saturday’s game with the left fielder sitting at 199 put me in that position…until he decided to wait til Sunday to deposit his 200th into the Tundra Territory in right-center against Chris Young of the Mets. Thanks for the love, Ryan. Now we’re in a fight. Me and you. No longer on speaking terms.
Once again in Cincinnati, the one-two-three punch of Rickie Weeks, JJ Hardy, and Braun accomplished what had never been done before: opening a game with back-to-back-to-back homers on the road. Did Mantle-Maris-Berra ever do that? Nope. HAHA!
Quite frankly, 2009 wasn’t very much fun for the Brewers. Braun helped end it on a positive note, hitting his 30th homer of the season in grand style, a two-run, walk-off homer against the Phillies. 365 days before this walk-off blast may have been a little more fun for Braun and the Brewers, but, hey, game-winning homers are fun no matter what.
One season before Brad Lidge couldn’t blow a save (literally), he had a save opportunity against the Brewers at home. With two outs and two on, leading 4-3, he made the unfortunate error (unfortunate for him, I guess) of underestimating the eventual Rookie of the Year. Braun jacked a three-run homer to left to take the lead, 6-4. Clutch. Clutch. Clutch. Prince Fielder would go back-to-back to give Milwaukee a 7-4 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.