Big League Stew - MLB

Well that went rather quick. It seems like only yesterday that I was putting together the Best of 2008 post, but the reality is that we've squeezed in another season — the second in Big League Stew history — and had another 365 days of unfettered fun along the way.

It's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees when you're entrenched in the blogging grind, but taking a break to look back on the year just passed immediately reminds us what a blast and blessing it is to be able to do this in such a large forum. A very Happy New Year to everyone and the Stew Crew would like to thank all those who tolerate, appreciate and even enjoy our skewed (but always loving views) on America's greatest sport.

We're already looking forward to the 2010 season, but as we prepare to pop the bubbly here's a look back at some of the BLS posts that tickled our fancy the most in 2009.  

Big League Stew's Story of the Year  — All A-Rod, All The Time

From a spring training that was dominated by steroid controversy to a playoff tear that ended with his first World Series title, there was no escaping the sweet-swinging tabloid that was Alex Rodriguez(notes). We probably did no less than 50 posts on the Yankees' third baseman (many of the best are summarized on the link above), but my favorites remain Dave Brown's dissection of A-Rod's sitdown with Peter Gammons, the release of his Details self-love photo shoot pictures, his Toronto tackling of a lady mountie  and the shot-by-shot clubhouse account of his post-title shot with Jose Molina. There's no more divisive player in Major League Baseball player than A-Rod and I'm thankful he's always good for a clickable post (or thirty).

Honorable mentions: Yankees party with parade in Manhattan, Mark Buehrle throws the 18th perfect game in history, Phillies first repeat NL champs in 13 years, 'Duk hits the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles, Barack Obama picks All-Star Game for first Presidential pitch, Granny puts rare 1869 card on eBay for $10, Manny Ramirez gets sent to his room for 50 games, Josh Hamilton encounters some speed bumps, Sammy Sosa turns white, Halos fan takes a dive into Angel Stadium waterfall, Halladay, Lee involved in blockbuster swap

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Best BLS Video of The Year — Young Phillies Fan Rejects Dad's Foul Ball Gift

If it hadn't been for Michael Jackson dying or Tiger Woods cheating, this might have been the post that took down teh Yahooz servers for good. A few people have asked why the clip of Emily Monforto throwing back a foul ball turned into one of the year's hottest viral videos and the answer is always simple: The hug she shared with her dad Steve (after he expressed shock over her Rawlings regurgitation) made the whole highlight. Watch it again here. 

Best BLS Video of the Year, Pt. 2: Manny Gets His Cricket On

We should probably include a BLS original here. I still can't believe I was there to watch this.

Honorable mentions: Dock Ellis acid short film, Hamels answers "Call of Duty" with strange spot, The video that will buy umpires some leeway, Orioles fan comes oh-so-close to glory, Baseball bat violinist performs for Nationals, Conor Jackson displays acting chops on soap opera, Freestyle rapping over the tune from RBI Baseball, Edinson Volquez handling a gun?

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The Best of BLS contributions —Leaving a perfect game after four innings

The record will show that 28,036 fans witnessed Mark Buehrle's(notes) perfect game on a late July afternoon on Chicago's South Side. But thanks to our own Maggie Hendricks, we know that at least two people won't be able to lay that claim. In one of the most sheepish posts in blogging history, Magglio admits she and her young nephew left the perfect bid a bit early.  

"Personally, I hate that I missed history. There isn't much chance that I will ever be in the stadium for a perfect game again. I don't think it has quite sunk in yet, but it will. I know I will kick myself in 10 years, when the next pitcher throws a perfect game, and I read that the last one was Buehrle's gem in 2009. My first instinct will be to brag that I was there, but then I'll remember that I watched Dewayne Wise's(notes) amazing catch and the post-game celebration on the news that night, not live and in person."

Honorable mentions: An on-the-ground account of Ricky Vaughn bobblehead night, Stratospheric ticket prices? You asked for it, Yankees fans, A Cleveland view of Sabathia-Lee, Playoff participants take the Stew's entrance exam

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The Best of Baseball Media

• Detroit's Ernie Harwell announces he has inoperable cancer, goes on unforgettable farewell tour.

• Philadelphia — and the entire baseball world — mourns the sudden and sad loss of Harry Kalas.

• Legendary Reds reporter Hal McCoy is forced into retirement, prompting a flurry of poignant tributes.

FISTED!  

• In the year's weirdest press conference, Mets GM Omar Minaya throws Adam Rubin of the Daily News under the bus, then backs up.

• The blogosphere and MSM stage their biggest battle of the year with Raul Ibanez(notes) playing a starring role.

• Former Mets GM Steve Phillips is ousted from ESPN after alleged details of sordid affair surface.

• Suzyn Waldman becomes the first woman to call a World Series game. Goodness gracious.

• MLB.com gives Keith Olbermann his own baseball blog

• John Updike, the author of baseball's best essay, passes away.

• MLB Network launches on New Year's Day.

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BLS listicle of the year  — The 10 best defensive plays of the decade

2009 was the year of the decade review and we got it started early in the Stew, posting this review of the 'Zeroes biggest defensive plays in late July. The early century crowning continued after the season with our look at the decade's best everything. (Don't worry, you'll now get a 10-year break from such lists and those annoying commenting crackpots who kept pointing out the decade doesn't end until next year.)

Honorable mentions: Top 10 plays of Tigers-Twins tiebreaker, Top 10 drug suspensions, 10 ways to improve the World Baseball Classic, 10 most memorable playoff moments in '09

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The best of BLS satire, mischief and unpopular standsBan beer at Wrigley

After a "fan" dumped a full beer on the Shane Victorino's(notes) noggin, I told Cubs brass they should get serious about the problems in the bleachers. For some reason, they didn't listen. 

Honorable mentions: Robot sportswriters unite!, Choose a team already, Jake Peavy!, Stop booing Adam Eaton, Philly fans!, 'Idiot' paper notes unusual spelling, Coghlan and Bailey won't stand test of time, In the year 2000 ..., Joe Girardi=Richard Belzer, Orlando Cabrera is no Bo Jackson, Eric Bruntlett literally belongs in the HOF, Lincecum=Rowengartner

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The Best of Fashion Ump

A day with a Fashion Ump post is always a good day and we had no shortage of them in 2009. David Wright's(notes) Great Gazoo helmet generated the most buzz, but I still have a soft spot for Zavada's mustache, Barack's continued pimping of his White Sox wear, the much-mocked Mets "pizza patch", that creepy Chuck Hustle tattoo, Jack Nicholson's old lady look, premature Phillies title gear and those sweet Twins unis. (Find all of our Fashion Ump rulings here)

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The Best of Answer Man 

Dave Brown continued with his cottage industry of mixing thought-provoking questions with wonderfully inane queries in the clubhouse. My favorite session of the year goes to The Gonzalez Bros., who talked about growing up in both the United States and Mexico, their different talent levels and the proper way to celebrate being the No. 1 draft pick (carnitas). Other memorable sitdowns included Tim Lincecum(notes) riffing on Dinty Moore stew, Pedro Martinez(notes) talking about his favorite flowers and Carlos Pena(notes) discussing independent filmmaking

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The Best of BLS photoshoppin' — Centaurs among us!

We still want to put this on a t-shirt, no matter what Kate Hudson thinks. (And, yes, someone printing out this photo and showing it to her pretty much made our year.) 

See you in 2010, everyone ...

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