On this day one year ago the Arizona sun shone a little brighter, if only for a moment.
After an offseason of scandal, drama and anticipation, it was announced that Ryan Braun had won the appeal of his 50 game suspension following a questionable positive test for performance enhancing drugs the fall before. Instead of missing nearly a third of the 2012 season, Braun was now free to start for the Brewers on Opening Day (which he did) and try to defend his 2011 NL MVP award (which he also nearly did).
The case was decided by arbitrator Shyam Das, possibly one of the most unlikely people ever to become a household name for Brewer fans. Das was later dismissed by MLB. Braun won his appeal based on concerns about the chain of custody of the sample, which was collected on the weekend but held unsecured by the collector until being shipped on a Monday.
Braun, meanwhile, went on to have one of his best offensive seasons. He hit .319/.391/.595 in 154 games and led the NL in home runs (41), runs scored (108), OPS (.987) and total bases (356). He made his fifth consecutive All Star game (and was voted in as a starter for the fourth time), won his fifth consecutive Silver Slugger Award and finished second in the voting for MVP.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to Seattle Pilot and 2000 inductee into the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame Gordy Lund. He turns 71, and we covered his birthday in this space last year.