As 2013 winds to a close, looks back at the stories that made the year memorable. Producer Shane McNeil reflects on the best baseball moments from the past 12 months including Ichiro’s moment in the spotlight and more insanity for Game 162.

Originally published on – December 24, 2013.

Ichiro joins baseball’s elite

By: Shane McNeil

Baseball has had a pretty brutal couple decades from the 1994 players’ strike through to the Biogenesis bombshell of 2013, but Ichiro is the type of classic baseball player that performs at the most basic technical level in hugely entertaining fashion.

I don’t care that he has hit one home run for every 83 major league plate appearance, because there’s no one else in the game I’d rather see run as fast as they can from home to first.

So when Ichiro joined Pete Rose and Ty Cobb as the only professional ball players to reach the 4,000 hit plateau on Aug. 21, it gave baseball fans a chance to respect a man who has excelled at the game on its most basic of levels.

Some put an asterisk on the achievement due to his time in Japan, but there are many reasons why those people are wrong.

Ichiro has played baseball in a beautiful and dignified way for the last 13 years in North America while countless other superstars have chosen not to. If we can’t allow the man his one moment in the sun in what is likely the twilight of his MLB career, we’re doing something wrong.

MLB strikes unlikely gold in Game 162

By: Shane McNeil

So, we’re now two years into Major League Baseball’s expanded playoff format and while nothing could replicate the insanity of the final day of the 2011 season, the extra playoff spot has at least provided meaningful games on the season’s final day with regularity.

This season was no different, as the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians entered the final game vying for wild card spots. All three teams won their final game, setting up a one-game playoff between the Rangers and Rays to earn a spot in another one-game playoff with the Indians.

But the highlight of the day would come not from the wild card chase but a meaningless game in Miami.

Marlins hurler Henderson Alvarez no-hit the Detroit Tigers for nine innings, but his teammates were unable to get him a run through eight.

The Marlins caught some fortuitous bounces in the ninth, including the wild pitch that would plate Giancarlo Stanton for the winning run. Immediately after Stanton crossed, the Marlins mobbed Alvarez — who was standing in the on-deck circle – to celebrate the achievement.

When was the last time you saw a pitcher relish a no-no with a batter’s helmet on?