MILWAUKEE -- It has been a tough year for Brewers fans. A season that has seen their team fall short of expectations was saddled Monday with the news of Ryan Braun's suspension for the remainder of the season for violations of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Braun -- whose suspension is effective immediately and without pay -- consistently stood by his innocence before releasing a statement Monday that accepted the punishment, a development leaving Brewers fans at a loss.
Prior to Monday night's series opener against the Padres, fans voiced their opinions on the subject, some more strong than others, but all equally disappointed.
Some fans said they would destroy the Braun jerseys or shirts they purchased. Some said they will welcome him back with open arms next season. Others simply shook their heads and walked away when hearing his name.
Steve Laviolette, 41, of Kenosha, Wis., was among those more angered by the example for young fans Braun has set.
"Well, I've got little guys and it's very disappointing that their role model is a cheater and a liar," said Laviolette, motioning to his 11-year-old son and his 11-year-old neighbor. "We supported him all through it and today he announces that he's -- he never said he was guilty, but he said that he's going to take his lumps."
Others were not so quick to give up on Braun just yet, although they were hurt by the news.
"I believe that if he serves his penalty, I can forgive him and move on," said Lyle Laforge of Brookfield. "I do believe it has to be corrected in this league, it's got to be taken out, the drugs. There's no room for it and it shouldn't be there with any sport."
Laforge, 57, remembers greeting the team at the airport when the Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee in 1970. He hopes Monday's news will not be burned into his memory or his grandson's, whom he brought to Monday's game.
"Two things: I'm here with my grandson tonight, so, No. 1, that's a bad example," Laforge said. "Then to lie about it even makes the mistake worse. I don't think anybody wins in this situation. The fans sure don't win. Ryan doesn't win. It's a sad day. Like I say, I do agree he should be suspended for the year, and let's start next year fresh and get over it."
Some fans felt the news caused a different reaction in a small-market city like Milwaukee compared to a New York or Chicago.
"I think the biggest thing is that being such a small-market team, we're very protective of our players, and it's a lit bit stronger of a blow, I think, to us here in a city like Milwaukee," said Noah Koenig, 30, of Oak Creek. "He's the face of the franchise and you have all the kids. The Braun jersey or shirt has to be the No. 1 seller in the team store or anywhere else, just with the Brewers' association. He's such a big part of it and all the kids look up to him, they want to be him. It sucks that it's tarnished that way."
Jonnie Bach, 40, of Wauwatosa pointed to another Wisconsin star athlete as a reference for the fan base's ability for forgiveness.
"People are starting to let Brett Favre back into the wagon again," he said. "I think, generally, the people in Milwaukee are pretty friendly and he obviously, I think, cares a lot about Milwaukee. I had always kind of assumed he was innocent."
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com.