Celebrate the best of MLB in 2015 with It's Been Reel: The Hot Stove kept us warm in December
The year is coming to an end. Before we drink champagne and write resolutions that we'll surely break, it's time to look back at the best of baseball in the last 12 months. Check back each day through December 31 for a new month recap.
"There's no baseball in December," they said. "It's the offseason," they said. "People are focused on football and basketball and Chrismas cookies and making sure they're not alone on New Year's Eve," they said. And then -- BOOM! -- David Price signs with the Red Sox, Zack Greinke signs with the D-backs and Bryce Harper does a box jump higher than you can reach, probably.
Don't sleep on Hot Stove season. You should know better than that by now.
There was only one MLB game played in November, but boy oh boy was it a doozy. Game 5 of the World Series lasted 12 innings and featured yet another Royals' comeback -- in fact, it was a Royals game through and through. Perhaps no single play explains Kansas City's championship more than Eric Hosmer's slide into home to tie the game in the ninth inning:
So yeah, there was only one game, but it happened to be the deciding game of the World Series. And along with world champions, November crowned MVPs and Cy Young Award winners. Sometimes it's about quality, not quantity.
So, uh, let's try to remember what happened in October, the baseball-est of baseball months: The Royals escaped postseason elimination with a late-inning ALDS rally against the Astros and Kyle Schwarber hit a home run on top of the Wrigley Field scoreboard. NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy also homered ... in six straight games.
Oh, and the first four World Series games were played in October, meaning that Alex Gordon's ninth-inning Game 1-saving homer also took place before Halloween. Man, what a month.
Jake Arrieta celebrated his first career no-hitter with mustache pajamas (you know, as one does) and Madison Bumgarner called your #PitchersWhoRake hastag and raised you #PitchersWhoMash. Not to be outdone, Marcell Ozuna launched a home run so high and so far that it bounced on top of the left-field foul pole at Marlins Park.
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke might have escalated to unheard-of levels of skill, but the thing that really got us going was the new Home Run Derby format. There were buzzer beaters, of course, but most memorably, there was Todd Frazier's heartwarming win. Oh, and John Smoltz did this at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony:
In addition to helpful wig fashion tips, click on the video at the top of the post for Wilmer Flores' tearful Trade Deadline and a conspiracy among MLB outfielders to never let Chris Davis hit another home run.
You'd think that by the middle of June, the hottest thing about MLB games would be the rising summer temperatures, but you'd be wrong, because Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Sale matched Pedro Martinez's MLB record of eight consecutive starts with 10 or more strikeouts and Scherzer came an elbow away from perfection when he followed up a 16-strikeout performance with his first career no-hitter.
With baseball finally back in the swing of things, it's time to focus on what's really important: dingers. Lots and lots of dingers. Kris Bryant launched one off of his own (virtual) face, Bryce Harper blasted 13 on the month, and Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball clear out of Dodger Stadium:
Check out the video at the top of the post for all that dinger goodness, plus Noah Syndergaard announcing his arrival and Andrew McCutchen making two young Pirates fans very, very happy.
OPENING NIGHT! OPENING DAY! LIFE BEGINS YET AGAIN!
There were some cool moments on the first day of the 2015 baseball season, including Hanley Ramirez belting two home runs and Mike Trout doing Mike Trout things. But what we really missed over the long, unforgiving winter was Bartolo at the Bat:
Check out the full video above to watch more scenes from Opening Day, a near Sonny Gray no-hitter and an always enjoyable Little League home run from eventual NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant.
It's almost like real baseball is back when Spring Training games get going in March. And sure, these are games that can end in a tie and starters pitch just a handful of innings, but it's still baseball! With uniforms and everything.
This past March, Will Ferrell played for 10 teams in one day to raise money to fight cancer and produce an HBO special. Somehow, no team offered him a real contract.
Watch the video above for Ferrell, Pat Venditte in A's camp, Andrew McCutchen chopping off his glorious hair and more.
February is a wonderful month because the first signs of spring begin showing. No, I'm not talking about that weird beaver or groundhog or whatever, I'm talking about pitchers and catchers reporting. It's the first sign that baseball is back! And this past February was a real banner year.
Even if Derek Jeter was hosting SNL instead of playing baseball:
Watch the video above to see The Captain auditioning for a TV career, Bryce Harper bashing golf balls, an 88-year-old charging the mound and more.
The first month of the year isn't always filled with baseball happenings. After all, January is more associated with paying off holiday shopping bills and desperately hoping the snow melts before you have to go out and shovel. But every now and then, a pair of GMs will link up on a trade to help us break out of our winter doldrums.
Or a player living in his van will post a gem like this on Twitter:
Daniel Norris (@DanielNorris18) January 17, 2015
So check out the January recap for Max Scherzer's signing, Daniel Norris' rustic lifestyle and much, much more.