2013 MLB Yearbook: A Look Back at a Wild, Wacky and Wonderful Season
Time to turn another page and close another chapter on a book that continues to be written. The latest entry into the tome of MLB's history was, um, odd.
We saw brawls, gaffes and goats; unwritten rules, nostalgia for the sport and emerging talent also played a major role. Oh, and there was a Puig in there somewhere.
Rather than wrap up the World Series and forget all about baseball for the winter months, we decided to collect all the moments—precious, absurd, vile and otherwise—and throw it all together in a digital yearbook of sorts. (You can sign my copy in the comments section below.)
For clarity, we have broken things down into three sections:
Superlatives: How else are we going to find out who has Best Hair?
Moments: Whether precious or harrowing, these are the moments we will most remember.
Change: The thing that was most startling about 2013 was how much change took place in such a historically stubborn sport. Sounds confusing, but it will all make sense shortly.
With that, we shall dust off the lucky cap and dive into baseball one last time for the 2013 MLB season.
Superlatives: Best Hair
Mike Napoli really only had three home runs this season, because his beard accounted for the other 20. While that might not be true, we simply have to take a step back and adore the only Wookiee to make it to the majors.
Want more beards? Glad you asked, because here is a breakdown of all the Red Sox players.
Superlatives: Most Likely to Succeed
This kid's pretty good.
If MLB ever gets around to marketing some of the stars over the teams, they would do well to take a gander at hard-throwing, home run-trotting Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins.
Every season features a few young stars who give hope that the future is in good hands. This season, however, featured some guys so exciting they had fans reaching for the fast-forward button in the hopes they could possibly see what is to come.
Between Wil Myers (22), Yasiel Puig (22) and Jose Fernandez (21), I'll take the guy who managed 12 wins, a 0.98 WHIP and 6.3 WAR for a team that usually plays before a crowd that quite possibly made their way to the stadium by accident.
Change: Bring on the Replay
Human error has always been a major part of the game. While baseball rewards impeccable timing and exact statistics, it's always allowed a great deal of latitude to the umpires.
Any ball or missed strike might be chalked up to that particular umpire's idea of the zone. Didn't quite look like the shortstop swiped the bag with his foot? Ah, it was close enough.
Phantom tags, arguments between managers and umpires, and creative license with calls were all just part of the game.
Well, times are changing.
Even with the advent of instant replay for home runs, umpires failed to always get the right call—as we saw in May with Angel Hernandez's botched home run call during an A's game against the Indians.
The postseason umpiring has only exacerbated the issue. While it was overturned, it's hard to see how Dana DeMuth could have possibly seen an out at second base in Game 1 of the World Series after the egregious error by Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma.
The crew eventually got the call correct, but fan frustration had already been ignited. The fear is what may have happened had the umpires stuck with their colleague's initial call.
Shortly after, commissioner Bud Selig was asked his thoughts on replay, and he once again iterated that a more complete version of video review and managerial challenges is just around the corner, possibly ready for deployment in 2014.
Even this hardened fan of old-school sensibilities welcomes all that it has to offer. Sure, games will linger longer, but it's increasingly important to get the correct call. When fans at home can see multiple angles of a play and tweet their thoughts within seconds, it's time to make sure the game is as accurate as possible.
You had a nice run, phantom tags.
Moments: David Ortiz Rallies Boston
Everyone knew it was going to be emotional when the Red Sox played in Fenway Park for the first time after the harrowing Boston Marathon bombings in April.
One of the more beloved figures throughout the city, David "Big Papi" Ortiz stood before thousands and declared, "This is our [expletive] city," and it was beautiful.
Moments: Mariano Rivera Steps off the Mound
Damn! Someone's chopping onions up in here again.
You often hear about the greats in every sport overstaying their welcome, getting pushed out rather than leaving of their own accord.
Mariano Rivera left on top.
After a year-long farewell tour that illustrated how well-respected he was, Rivera ran to the mound one last time to pitch in front of Yankees faithful.
After 652 career saves, teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte went to relieve Mo from the mound one last time. That's when an MLB-mad world began sobbing like babies.
Consider this one last tip of the cap from this guy to you. What an amazing career.
Joe Kelly and Scott Van Slyke
Yes, Brandon McCarthy may be far funnier on Twitter, but the moment that really got fans rolling came at the end of the season.
Here is, yet again, the video of Kelly and Van Slyke having a standoff of sorts before Game 6 of the NLCS.
Home-plate umpire Greg Gibson eventually had to implore the guys that there was sort of a big game being held up because of their shenanigans.
Oh man, we love shenanigans.
Superlatives: Most Likely to Never Grow Old
We can't exactly confirm David Ortiz isn't a vampire. He is the antithesis of David Ross, seemingly getting younger before our very eyes.
At 37, Ortiz batted .309 and clubbed 30 home runs on the season. If that weren't enough, he absolutely dominated the postseason.
Big Papi had a 1.206 OPS in the playoffs with a .353 batting average, five home runs, 13 RBI and 16 walks on his way to the World Series MVP honors. That kind of production can only be described as spooky.
Change: Yasiel Puig
This little Puiggy ignited a fanbase and polarized all of MLB.
Whether you love or hate Yasiel Puig, you have to admit the 2013 season would have been far more dull without him. He burst onto the scene as the Dodgers were mired in lackluster performances. They were losing games and wasting a hefty payroll as well as fans' time.
With the addition of Puig, the reemergence of Hanley Ramirez's bat and a solid rotation, the Dodgers made some noise—and then the nation began to roll its eyes. Puig is an All-Star talent with Little League maturity, and people outside of Los Angeles grew tired of his baserunning gaffes, failed cutoff throws and showmanship.
If he lost anyone, it was right about the time somebody asked if he should be an All-Star. Of course, the general response from those who watched his brilliance over a relatively small number of games was a resounding "no."
Some went further. Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon quipped, "The guy's got a month, I don't even think he's got a month in the big leagues. Just comparing him to this and that, and saying he's going to make the All-Star team, that's a joke to me."
Bleacher Report's own Jason Catania delved into the manner in which Puig plays the game and the tremendous way it irked a lot of players and fans. He plays with childish abandon, and his mistakes are bush league, or so the sentiment goes.
Still, there is a growing call for infusing some excitement into a game that feels interminable at times. Some see Puig and proclaim that isn't how you play the game—the same proclamation that was at the heart of a Marlins and Braves dustup thanks to Jose Fernandez.
At some point, fans will crave the brash, no matter how absurd it might be. Like it or not, Puig, Fernandez, Bryce Harper and the like make this game a whole lot more fun. Many more of their ilk are likely on the way, and it will only help the game.
Moments: Ted Kremer
Back in April, Ted Kremer, a 30-year-old man with Down syndrome, got to once again don a uniform and serve as the Cincinnati Reds batboy.
As the Cincinnati Enquirer reported at the time, his day would be far more special. Not only would the team procure the necessary 11 runs and 11 strikeouts for free pizza, but his hero, third baseman Todd Frazier, would make good on a promise and hit a home run.
That feel-good story still feels pretty darn good months later. To add a little icing to this delicious cake, Kremer has been immortalized in his very own special Topps baseball card.
Moments: Dodgers Donnybrook
A tackling drill broke out in an early-season clash between the Padres and Dodgers.
After getting plunked, something Carlos Quentin is fairly prolific at, he rushed the mound to take out Zack Greinke.
The Dodgers pitcher held his ground and took every last ounce of the blow, ultimately fracturing his collarbone.
Oh, a huge kerfuffle broke out if you are into those sorts of things.
Superlatives: Most Disliked
Winner, winner, chicken dinner of the accolade we affectionately refer to as the Alex Rodriguez Award goes to Ryan Braun.
After proclaiming to be clean and admonishing the character and motive of the person who collected his urine, Braun was suspended the remainder of the season for violations of the MLB Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Yeah, that didn't go over well with fans.
Superlatives: Best Use of Silence
Sometimes it's best to remain silent and let the atmosphere tell the story. Back in June, broadcaster Hawk Harrelson was silent for large swaths of this video, but mostly because he was beside himself with frustration over his White Sox.
Sorry, Hawk, but your frustration is our wonderful entertainment.
Change: The Cardinal Way
Don't avert your eyes just yet, Cardinals fans.
There has been enough St. Louis-fan-bashing taking place to really make us ponder whether the Yankees had actually uprooted and moved west. Really, this is just a byproduct of fans weary of constantly hearing that a team and fanbase play and cheer "the right way."
We already covered players "playing the right way," so it makes sense we cover a franchise that ends the discussion for the year rather nicely.
Columns like the one offered by USA Today's Bob Nightengale may have once had a place in the hearts and minds of fans savoring all that is bucolic about baseball. If there ever was a fairytale, it would be that a single fanbase exudes all that is rainbows and teddy bears about the game.
Or, as Nightengale put it, "It's about the responsibility of upholding tradition. It's for old-time baseball. They want to show this generation, that yes, it's still hip to be square."
It's as if Roy Hobbs would jog in from the dugout to save the game from these miscreant punk rock bush leaguers.
As we now know, The Cardinal Way, and any of its like, received quite the backlash. There is the Deadspin column from Drew Magary, a Twitter account labeled "Baseball's Best Fans" dedicated to retweeting the more obscene Cardinals tweets, and so many other examples of people proclaiming there is no such thing as "right," "best" or "just."
There are merely fans. The vitriol was so intense that Will Leitch, a brilliant writer and Cardinals fan, decided to answer back recently.
Some are jerks, some are beautiful people who get the game, some just want to support the organization through the good times. All franchises have them, and it's time to put the idea that there is some noble way to cheer to rest.
Except for Rays fans, because they don't exist.
Moments: Fabulous No-Hitters
Homer Bailey has two.
The Reds pitcher went to the mound on July 2, stepping off with the smile and sweat only befitting a man who dominated an offense to the tune of nine strikeouts, one walk and no hits, giving him his second no-hitter of his career.
A couple weeks later, a pitcher who hasn't been the ace we all knew and loved for the last couple of seasons put it all together for one wonderful game.
Tim Lincecum had 13 strikeouts in his no-hit win over the Padres, giving him a gem amid a relatively rough season for the Giants.
These things seem to come out of nowhere, as was seen in the final no-no of the yeartossed by Miami Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez over the stout Detroit Tigers at the end of the season.
Even amid rough patches, the truly exceptional can make a cameo.
Moments: The End of an Era
If all good things must come to an end, the bad things have to have a conclusion at some point as well. For the Pirates and their unfortunate streak, that number was 21 years without a playoff berth.
That all came to a glorious and champagne-fueled end this season.
While they fell short of the ultimate goal, their fans got to see the Buccos traipse into the postseason after two decades of misery (and even won a couple of games against the Cardinals in the NLDS).
As you can see, change can be a very good thing.
Feel free to chime in with some superlatives of your own in the comments section below, or offer a fond memory, because there were so many we left off the list.
Or, we can always chat on Twitter until next baseball season.
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