The National League Central Division just tightened up after arbitrator Shyam Das threw out NL MVP Ryan Braun’s 50-game ban on Thursday, making the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder the first Major League Baseball player to successfully challenge a drug-related penalty.  Braun has said all along he would beat the suspension. Braun tested positive in October for elevated testosterone, which was revealed by ESPN in December. He reports Friday to spring training.

“We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide,” Braun said in his statement. “I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.”

This is great news for Milwaukee…not so much for the rest of the division including the Cardinals.  After the NLCS opponents lost sluggers Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the Brewers were dealt a blow for competing in the central when word first came out in December that Braun failed a test taken on the day of the NLCS opener.  Braun hit .332 with 33 homers and 111 RBI in 2011.  He hit .333 in six games against the Cardinals in the NLCS with one homer and six RBI.

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