One team managed to gain a win before the season has even started: the Milwaukee Brewers.
Brewer nation has to be in winter jubilation mode today as the MVP face-of-the-franchise, Ryan Braun, won his appeal for a positive drug test as reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
As I had predicted in a few previous articles, the longer the case dragged out the more it smelled of conflict meaning Braun was likely to be cleared.
Though the official word has not been released, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that the three-person panel that reviewed Braun's case found a technicality in the testing process resulting in a 2-1 vote in favor of Braun and his representative team of lawyers (http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/140213003.html).
Whatever mistakes were made in this process has clearly rocked the beehive of MLB officials, causing many to be upset at the breaches in protocol that may have taken place in this case. With that in mind, it's likely this isn't the end of the fallout MLB-wide associated with Braun's case even as Braun is cleared (http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/140213003.html).
We may never know the full extent of what caused a result that many speculated was off the charts, and if it was indeed tampering with an individual testing worker releasing results prematurely it certainly reeks of a smear campaign.
One could argue either Braun got off due to technicality or the technicality was a serious breach in the testing protocol that may be related to a possibly high result.
Whatever the case may be, the Brewers and Ryan Braun turn a page on a tumultuous off-season of speculation, possible suspension and begin to eliminate any distractions Braun's status may have caused.
Suddenly, a Brewers team that made smart, pro-active plans for Braun's suspension is now loaded, with the addition of Nori Aoki, a batting champ and gold glover in Japan.
In Braun's shoes, if he had lost the appeal, his legacy could have been deeply tainted. Otherwise, a negative ruling would have at least created an extreme hill to climb in regaining the national audience's full respect.
It's still not ideal for Braun to be associated with the case but if justice is indeed served, Braun should continue to be viewed as one of the game's greatest hitters, on his way to becoming one of the greatest in many years.
NL Central foes just went from expecting Braun to be ruled out for 50 games, to the sobering reality of facing the reigning-MVP for another full season.
With Braun's arrival in spring training slotted for Friday, it's likely this ruling will also serve to boost the entire squad as the full team begins to report for a big season in 2012.
Expect St. Patrick's day to come a bit early in Wisconsin (even tonight) as many Brewer fans toast to the brews that made Milwaukee famous in celebrating the first-ever appeal victory and Braun's innocence.
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