Born on a cold Chicago morning in early February, Big League Stew was the third blog to pop out of that magical YSB-chute. Now, after 11 months spent simmering, we look back at a year of ingredient gathering that took us from the spring sunshine of Florida and Arizona to the midtown madness of the All-Star Game to an October World Series in Philadelphia that featured end of days weather to close out our first full season. It was a fun year, to be sure, and thankfully another one is fast approaching. Whether you believe it or not, we'll be uttering those spine-tingling words about pitchers and catchers before we know it.
Until then, your main Stewards — David Brown, Nick Friedell and myself — would like to thank you for your continued readership with a review of the year that was on the l'il baseball blog we're proud to call home. Happy New Year, everyone.
Big League Stew's Story of the Year — The Tampa Bay Rays take baseball and the baseball blogging world by storm
Coming into this gig, I knew that the Yankees and Cubs of the world would be the go-to teams when it came to blogging about baseball. What I couldn't have anticipated was just how much we'd end up writing about a previously anonymous floormat from Florida.
Throughout their entire transformation from early-season curiosities to American League champions, the Rays were the pleasant surprises who brought us more blogworthy material than we could have ever expected. Their rise started during spring training, when they battled the Yankees, it continued during a debate over whether or not they should add Barry Bonds and then survived an explosion of hype that included no less than 267 tribute songs recorded in the Bay area by emerging "artists."
Meanwhile, the team's manager searched the European continent for Rays fans, its head cheerleader swigged beer from the catcher's athletic supporter and the Rookie of the Year third baseman said he was tired of being linked to pictures of a desperate housewife in almost every glass of Dave Brown's Morning Juice. (He also said the first baseman didn't seem that Dominican, which led to the Stew playing a role in its very first mini-controversy, even if it only played out on ESPN Deportes.)
Anyway, when the rising Rays were rewarded with things like out-of-control ALCS celebrations and salutes from strip clubs, it brought a little tear to our eye. Our little baby was all growed up and we no longer find it strange that the Rays occupy a large portion of our daily thoughts. May the new year bring them — and, by extension, us — more of the same.
Honorable mentions: The Phillies became World (Deleted) Champions!; The saga of Jason Giambi's mustache entertained a nation; Joba Chamberlain impersonation proved to be a profitable career; Mrs. Clemens and Mrs. Canseco compared boob jobs; We said goodbye to Yankee Stadium — Shea Stadium, too; Nick Friedell told a good story about Brandon "Taco" Phillips; The Cubs' drought odometer hit triple digits; Some guy named Manny Ramirez caused a bit of a stir in Boston and Los Angeles; The beatification proceedings for Josh Hamilton began
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Best BLS video of the year — The Anti-Hip Bump Revolution
After writing the post that made me Public Enemy #1 to at least 3,000 unamused and unmoved Yahooligans, I took my courageous fight to ban the deadly hip bump to baseball's All-Stars themselves. To their credit, Ryan Braun, Nate McLouth and Milton Bradley understood the tongue-in-cheek nature of my crusade and happily joined in the fun. Michael Young and Grady Sizemore, though? Unamused and unmoved, as well.