Braun avoids suspension but at what cost?

Everyone and their uncle has talked about Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun winning his appeal from a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test. Some have said he was cleared and is innocent while others have said he only won on a technicality because he challenged the chain of custody.

Either way, the one question that was never truly answered was why was there synthetic testosterone in his samples? And if the levels were as high as some reports claimed them to be, why did it take almost three months for an answer? And how come Commissioner Bud Selig has been so quiet about all this? Someone called in to a radio show on MLB Radio and asked that particular question and pointed out his ties to the Brewers.

You can't help but wonder what his role in all this was, but the bottom line is Braun won't be suspended and Milwaukee's start should be better because of it. For me, he sounded contrite when addressing the media last week. If he did indeed beat the system and still cheated, I'm sure in time that will come to light. Until then, he's innocent so let's just let him play ball.

START SEASON EARLIER: I know the spring training games haven't started yet, but I hope next year when MLB realigns the leagues that they strongly consider shortening the spring training games from their current monthlong exhibition to maybe three weeks total so the season will have a chance of ending by mid October instead of early November.

Some baseball players have said in the past that they only need 30 or so at-bats to get their timings down. Fine with me. All that means I won't have to worry about the NBA and NHL seasons any more (not like I do anyway but you get where I'm coming from).

ATTENTION BRAVES FANS: 2012 individual tickets for the Braves go on sale at 10 a.m. March 5. Single game tickets will be available at braves.com/tickets, the Braves ticket office at Turner Field, the Braves Clubhouse Store at the CNN Center and all Publix Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000.

Several promotions will highlight this season including fireworks after every Friday home game, and the bobbleheads are back according to a news release. The first 20,000 fans on June 9, June 13 and Aug. 16 will walk away with a Sid Bream, closer Craig Kimbrel and veteran third baseman Chipper Jones bobblehead.

For more information on the Braves schedule and the promotions this year, go to braves.mlb.com.

FINAL THOUGHT: The last round of voting for the MLB Fan Cave is under way. The 50 finalists were trimmed to the final 30 and if you're a Braves fan, Ricky Mast needs your help.

The son of former NASCAR driver Rick Mast needs your help to get a chance to watch the 2012 from MLB's Fan Cave in New York. His video is hilarious (www.mlbfancave.com) and is worth your time to see it. If you get a chance, check it out and vote.

And for any GreenJackets fans who want to support your big league organization, the San Francisco Giants, check out Ally Williams. She's knowledgable, she interned with the team and knows the ins and outs of the team, but more importantly she's a fan.

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