Best of Big League Stew 2014: Recapping baseball’s top stories (Big League Stew)

The baseball story of 2014 will be defined by some of the names we expected to hear — there was Derek Jeter and A-Rod and Clayton Kershaw. But there were even more that surprised us — the Kansas City Royals, Hank the Dog, 50 Cent, and the all-too-soon loss of Tony Gwynn. As we prepare to flip our calendars to 2015, Big League Stew is here with our annual look back at the year that was in baseball, from Madison Bumgarner's legendary postseason performance to Mo'Ne Davis' sizzling summer. We thank you, once again, for following the biggest stories and oddest moments right here on Big League Stew. We'll hope you do the same in 2015 because, as you might know, pitchers and catchers report in 51 days. Previous best of Big League Stew retrospectives : 2013 ,  2012 , 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 * * * STORY OF THE YEAR (ON THE FIELD) The Kansas City Royals end playoff drought, then go all the way to the World Series. Fans of the San Francisco Giants will surely dispute this, but the Kansas City Royals were the story of the 2014 baseball season. A team that had long been a punchline rebounded by playing its own brand of baseball, and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 29 years . But the Royals didn't stop there, of course, they hung on until Game 7 of the World Series. Along the way, we learned about all the Ned Yost quirks , their lockdown bullpen, their superfan from Korea , the guy with the big ol' moose antlers and, of course, who could forget the young woman who got a puppy . Honorable mentions: • Madison Bumgarner's already-legendary postseason run sends Giants to third World Series in five years. • Derek Jeter retires, but not without one last moment of late-inning heroics . • Clayton Kershaw was historically good, capturing both the Cy Young and MVP, plus throwing a no-hitter . • Tommy John surgery entered full "epidemic" status, claiming Jose Fernandez and dozens others. • Masahiro Tanaka comes to MLB, dominates and gets hurt. • Joe Maddon leaves the Rays, joins the Cubs and brings new hope to Chicago once Jon Lester signs there. • Giancarlo Stanton's great seasons ends unfortunately, as he's hit in the face with a fastball . He laters signs the biggest contract in sports history. • Baseball adopts a number of new rules — from video replay to the home-plate collision rule — that lead to growing pains throughout the game. • Mo'Ne Davis is a summer star after becoming the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series . * * * STORY OF THE YEAR (OFF THE FIELD) Tony Gwynn dies at 54 after bout with cancer We knew Tony Gwynn, San Diego's legendary Mr. Padre, was sick, but that didn't lessen the blow when he died in June . Gwynn, one of baseball's purest hitters ever, battled cancer and ultimately lost, but we were left to remember all the wonder his life with a bat gave us. We marveled at the facts — like how he needed 1,183 hitless at-bats for his career batting average to dip below .300 — and we were outraged when he didn't get any love during the All-Star Game . Honorable mentions: • Hank the Dog goes from spring-training stray to beloved Brewers mascot . • The A-Rod saga quiets, as he stops fighting and  accepts his season-long suspension  from MLB. • Rob Manfred is  elected as new MLB commissioner  and heir to Bud Selig.  • Dumb controversy of the year: David Ortiz and his selfie with President Obama . * * * PLAY OF THE YEAR Derek Jeter's delivers walk-off single in Yankee Stadium farewell Yes, by the time Derek Jeter's Yankee Stadium farewell came around, we were tired of Jetermania too. That's what makes his final hurrah in the Bronx even more special. Jeter — as if it was drawn up by a higher power — came through with a walk-off single to give the Yankees a win, and even those of us exhausted by the lauding of Jeter had to marvel at him one last time. Honorable mentions: •  Steven Souza's diving catch on final out gives Jordan Zimmermann a no-hitter  •  Yoenis Cespedes makes phenomenal throw that would impress Bo Jackson •  First World Series replay reversal gives Giants spectacular double play •  Incredible catch while falling into dugout suite caps Mike Moustakas' great defensive night  •  Billy Butler steals second base in ALDS Game 3 — no, really!  •  Indy-Leaguer tears ACL after hitting homer, hops around bases on one leg * * * VIDEO OF THE YEAR Jeff Francoeur's teammates pull month-long prank When Jeff Francoeur joined the San Diego Padres' Triple-A affiliate, his teammates played an elaborate prank on him. They spent an entire month convincing Francoeur that pitcher Jorge Reyes was deaf. Teammate Cody Decker captured the whole thing on video and released it as a short film called "On Jeff Ears." Honorable mentions: •  Joey Votto dresses as a Mountie for hilarious 'Intentional Talk' interview •  Watch the end of World Series Game 7 recreated using 'R.B.I. Baseball' •  Rapper 50 Cent threw out probably the worst first pitch ever (Video) • The Internet made it so: 50 Cent's bad first pitch hit by Vladimir Guerrero * * * GIF OF THE YEAR Following the trajectory of 50 Cent's awful first pitch

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 30, 2014

LJ Mazzilli, son of Lee, gets 50-game drug ban (The Associated Press)

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Mets' L.J. Mazzilli, a son of former major league All-Star and manager Lee Mazzilli, was suspended for 50 games Tuesday under baseball's minor league drug program following a second positive drug test.

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 23, 2014

Giants second baseman Scutaro has back surgery (The Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro underwent back surgery that could end his career.

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 22, 2014

IRS to auction Strawberry’s deferred compensation agreement (The Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Internal Revenue Service is auctioning the deferred compensation agreement that was part of Darryl Strawberry's 1985-90 contract with the New York Mets to satisfy taxes owed by the former All-Star outfielder.

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 22, 2014

Things to know about Friday’s baseball news (The Associated Press)

There was a flurry of news around Major League Baseball on Friday as teams worked to retool before the holiday break. Here are some things to know about all the player moves and other changes:

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 19, 2014

Yankees send Prado, Phelps to Marlins for Eovaldi, Jones (The Associated Press)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Looking for rotation help at a relatively low price, the New York Yankees acquired right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, outfielder Garrett Jones and minor league pitcher Domingo German from the Miami Marlins on Friday for versatile Martin Prado and righty David Phelps.

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 19, 2014

Yankees get reliever Gonzalez Germen from Mets (The Associated Press)

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Yankees have acquired right-hander Gonzalez Germen from the Mets for cash in the first trade in a decade between the New York rivals.

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 19, 2014

Major League Baseball must share documents in Orioles-Nationals TV dispute (Reuters)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Major League Baseball must produce documents relating to a dispute over television rights fees involving the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals before the matter goes to trial next year, a judge ruled on Monday. The regional baseball rivals have been at odds over the amount the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, also known as MASN, should pay the Nationals to broadcast their games. The Orioles control MASN, which broadcasts in the U.S. capital and seven surrounding states. The Nationals own a minority stake. ...

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 15, 2014

Mayberry finalizes $1.45M deal with Mets (The Associated Press)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and the New York Mets have finalized a $1.45 million, one-year contract.

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This post was written by Yahoo! Sports - MLB - New York Mets News on December 15, 2014