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Strasburg leads Nationals to 4-1 win over Braves

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg throws during the second inning of a baseball game with the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Top 5 MLB stories of 2012

Because its season spans 162 games, its playoffs feature a month of frenetic, day-after-day drama and its offseason traverses a topsy-turvy mishmash of signings and trades, baseball finds itself chock full of story lines at the end of every year, enough to fill a list 10 times the size of this.

So apologies are due to the outfield-fly rule. And to the playoff benching of the game's highest-paid player who during his free time proceeded to hit on a couple of women in the stands. Plus the coulda-been batting champion whose agent concocted a number of fake websites as part of an elaborate attempt at covering up his use of synthetic testosterone.

Before the ugliness of the Steroid Era arrives yet again with the January revelation of the Hall of Fame vote, it's time to celebrate and appreciate another year of a sport studded with intrigue, amusement and, in the grand tradition of baseball, spirited debate. – By Jeff Passan

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