Considering it's August, you'd think you'd know all about the rookie third baseman who got to 15 homers faster than anybody in history save for Albert Pujols and who has slid comfortably into the No. 3 hole for a first-place team. But Ryan Braun plays in Milwaukee, so he hasn't gotten much pub yet. That will come if the Brewers stay in the race.
Even rookies who hit .348 with 19 homers and 52 RBIs in their first 63 big league games are not immune to hazing.
"I had to carry bags. I had to sing on the bus. I feel like I'm going to have to dress up soon." The singing performance came on his first full road trip after being called up. With the headphones to his iPod plugged into one ear, he sang "On Bended Knee" and "Water Runs Dry" by Boyz II Men. "I was into it, but I don't think my voice was too great."
He was a shortstop at the University of Miami, and this is his second full season at third base.
A shortstop has time to adjust his depth to play hops. A third baseman doesn't. "The hop kind of plays you. You get a lot more balls with topspin and a lot more in-between hops. "Braun discussed the nuances of the position switch with Alex Rodriguez, who also moved from short to third and who works out at Miami in the offseason. One thing they talked about was how to best replicate those tricky hops when fungo hitters hit grounders to them in practice.
Braun is believed to be the highest-drafted Jewish player since Ron Blomberg was taken first overall in 1967.
He has connections with two other Jewish baseball icons: Sandy Koufax was born Sanford Braun but took his stepfather's name when his mom remarried, and Braun's grandfather has lived for 40 years in a home once owned by Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. Another strange but true fact: Braun's mom also is a brewer -- seriously, she makes beer for Anheuser-Busch.
His team's fatal flaw might be its struggles on the road; the Brewers are 39-19 at Miller Park, 21-32 away from home.
Don't blame Braun, who is hitting 40 points better on the road. That's one reason manager Ned Yost has no worries about batting a rookie third during the stretch run. "He's an extremely talented offensive player who has the utmost confidence," Yost says. "He just knows, man, that he can hit."
After growing up near Los Angeles and going to college at Miami, it has been an adjustment living in the Midwest.
And that might be a good thing. "The nightlife isn't as enticing as L.A. or Miami, or I might be tempted to go out more."
Don't read anything into the fact that Braun wasn't drafted out of high school.
He was a highly touted prospect, but he told teams he was out of their price range because he wanted to go to college. He chose Miami for its social scene, its academics, its athletics and because, "I think the girls were the deal closer on the recruiting trip."