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Baseball had its moments in 2013

The MLB season provided plenty of memories this season, with the retirement of Yankees great Mariano Rivera taking the top spot.

November 02, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Clockwise from top left: New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is removed from the game by teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter; Detroit's Torii Hunter goes head-over-heals in a failed attempt to catch a grand slam by Boston's David Ortiz in Game 2 of the ALCS; Yasiel Puig provided a spark for the Dodgers; Ortiz helped propel the Red Sox to another World Series title.
Clockwise from top left: New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is removed… (Elsa / Getty Images; Charlie…)

As wild and wacky as the World Series was — Game 3 ending on an obstruction call at third base, Game 4 on a pickoff play at first . . . really? — the Boston Red Sox celebrating their third championship in 10 years won't be baseball's most indelible image of 2013. That honor belongs to the prince of pinstripes, the closer with class, and the last major league player to wear No. 42. This season's top 10 moments:

Exit Sandman

Mariano Rivera's farewell tour included on-field ceremonies and private gatherings with select fans, stadium and team employees throughout baseball. And his All-Star game entrance, when players remained in the dugout to applaud the New York Yankees reliever as he took the mound, was memorable.

But those were warmups compared with the final act of Rivera's 19-year, 652-save career, when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, who won four World Series with Rivera from 1996 to 2000, went to the mound in Yankee Stadium on Sept. 26 to remove Rivera from his last game.

Rivera smiled when he saw his two longtime teammates, but after handing the ball to Pettitte he broke down, sobbing on Pettitte's shoulder during a long embrace. Overwhelmed by emotion, a teary-eyed Rivera walked off the mound to a thunderous ovation that seemed to last forever.

Boston Strong

It was a slogan for a resilient city in the wake of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings and a mantra for a gritty, relentless Red Sox team that went from worst to first in the American League East, honoring and embracing bombing victims and first-responders along the way.

Slugger David Ortiz reflected Boston's anger and toughness when, in an emotional Fenway Park speech just days after the attack, he warned terrorists not to mess with Boston because “this is our [expletive] city!” That spirit and tenacity never waned through the summer and fall, for city or team.

Cardinals rule

St. Louis rode its clutch hitting — the Cardinals hit a major league-record .330 with runners in scoring position — and a rookie-infused pitching staff featuring flame-throwing youngsters such as Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez to its second National League pennant in three years.

But after eliminating the Dodgers in a six-game NL Championship Series, the clutch hits dried up against the Red Sox; St. Louis batted .214 (nine for 42) with runners in scoring position during the World Series.

Dodgers en fuego

The Dodgers nearly fired Manager Don Mattingly when they were 30-42 and in last place on June 22. Then they went on a historic 42-8 run, turning a 91/2-game NL West deficit into an 81/2-game lead.

Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 1.40 earned-run average); Zack Greinke (8-1, 2.25 ERA) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-1, 2.94) spurred the run, and the offense averaged 4.79 runs a game. It tied the best 50-game stretch since the Yankees and Cardinals posted the same record in 1941 and 1942, respectively.

Biogenesis boys

Another black eye for a sport rocked by several drug scandals was a victory for those who want to clean up the game, as Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz were among 14 players suspended in early August for obtaining performance-enhancing drugs from the now-defunct Biogenesis clinic in Miami.

Rodriguez, who finished out the season while appealing his 211-game suspension, and Braun, who agreed to a 65-game ban after vehemently denying he used PEDs after testing positive for testosterone in 2011, bore the brunt of criticism.

“I think it centers around greed,” Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson said. “The players want to do well to get bigger contracts. That money they earn is tainted, just like their statistics.”

Pirates bounty

Pittsburgh ended a 20-year playoff drought and snapped a string of 20 straight losing seasons — the longest streak in the four major professional sports — with a playoff run that electrified the city.

The Pirates rode Russell Martin's two homers to a 6-2 win over Cincinnati in the wild-card playoff but lost to St. Louis in a five-game division series.

“Even though I didn't lose for the last 20 years, they make you feel like you did,” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “That's all you hear, every single day. ‘When's it going to change?' You get sick of hearing that.”

Miggy vs. Trout II

The most-valuable-player debate of 2012 — Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera or Angels prodigy Mike Trout? — repeated itself in 2013.

Cabrera led the AL in average (.348), on-base percentage (.442) and slugging (.636) and had 44 homers and 137 RBIs. Trout had a .323/.432/.557 slash line with 27 homers, 97 RBIs, 109 runs and 110 walks.

Cabrera beat Trout for the MVP in 2012 and probably will in 2013. “He won the division and is going to the playoffs,” Trout said in late September. “We're going home.”

Day of Puig

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