“I’m one of the league leaders in confidences. If I perform like I’ve always done, I’ll be one of the best players in this game. I don’t need any added motivation of drama at work. I’ll just let my work speak for itself, as every artist should.” – Ryan Braun, to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale
I can’t help admiring the kind of chutzpah it takes to essentially place yourself among the greats. To speak out, and through the power of your utterance to declare yourself the equal of the truly honored and revered. I speak, of course, of your Angelos, Michelled. Your Brandts, Remmed. Your Shias, LaBeofed. I wish I had that kind of self-assuredness, and the talent to presumably back it up.
I speak not, of course, of Braun’s baseball talent, which has been highly evident since the artist was a young man, a portrait of which he has graciously provided for us:
Instead, I speak of the artist he has become over the years. The master we all admire for his daring creative spark, and relentless pursuit of the truths that are revealed through his fine work. Indeed, so prolific and versatile is he that I am often at a loss to say which is my favorite period and medium of Ryan Braun, artist.
Is it his turn as a performance artist, recreating Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present?
Is it his insistence, as a conceptual artist, that we contend with his entire essence as simultaneously artist and art?
Could it be his unique cataloguing of the culture that simultaneously debases us and which we debase as America’s foremost pop artist?
Or is it as an America’s most approachable landscape artist, teaching the masses the joy of creation with each brushstroke and little happy tree that goes right here that I revere most?
No, that’s not it. For, first and foremost, I am a red-blooded American man. And, as such, above all else, I am hungry. So it is as a sandwich artist, fixing me my Subway Fritos Chicken Enchilada Melt that I love him best and most of all.
Thank you, Ryan Braun. Thank you for your sandwiches that have transformed my consciousness and fundamentally altered the way I look at the world.*
*Note, this post has not been sponsored by Subway. However, for future reference, I’m not above that sort of thing.
Mike Bates co-founded The Platoon Advantage, and has written for many other baseball websites, including NotGraphs (rest in peace) and The Score. Currently, he writes for Baseball Prospectus and co-hosts the podcast This Week In Baseball History. His favorite word is paradigm. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBatesSBN.