By Jeff Merron and Kurt Snibbe
Page 2

Every year when Spring Training rolls around, there are plenty of teams thinking about winning it all in October. The truth, as we all know, is that only a few of them really have a shot at winning a ring.

But when it comes to winning the title of best story of the year . . . well, that field is wide open.

Fame, achievement, notorious behavior -- they all have a place in this tournament. And we match them up in a fight to the finish.

We've broken down this year's headline grabbers into four divisions: Bad Boys, Outside Influences, Generation Gap and Winners and Losers.

Take a peek. See who moves on and who walks away with the, um, honor of being Page 2's biggest baseball story of 2005. So far. (After all, we still have plenty of time left for shenanigans before we crown another World Series champ.)

Need help remembering what really happened? Check the key to the stories below the brackets.


Bad Boys Division -- Outside Influences Division | Generation Gap Division -- Winners and Losers Division | Best Baseball Story of the Year (Finals)

Sportoon

Bad Boys Division Key:
1. The Rangers pitcher shoved two cameramen before a game in late June and received a 20-game suspension, later reduced to 13 games.

2. Hottie Anna Benson told the world that if hubby Kris ever strayed, she'd stray too -- to every Met she could find, including the batboys.

3. Jeff Kent misses Barry Bonds?

4. Kent said for all we know, the Babe could have been on the juice back in the 1930s.

5. Chisox lefty hurler Buehrle says Rangers have high-tech signal stealing system.

6. Shortly after signing with the Yanks, Randy Johnson told a cameraman to stuff it.

7. Mike Piazza's new bride (church ceremony last January) -- a former Playboy playmate and Baywatch star.

8. Cards manager Tony LaRussa after April loss to the Braves: "Sooner or later, they're going to beat the umpires down. They argue everything."

Outside Influences Division Key:
1. 3,000 hits, 500 homers, and what we'll remember most is that Palmiero got caught with juice -- just a few months after telling Congress he'd never done steroids.

2. In his congressional testimony, McGwire squirmed and said nothing, citing lawyers' advice.

3. The Marlins batboy got a six-game suspension for chugging milk in a wholesome clubhouse tradition.

4. The Rockies' star rookie shortstop broke his left collarbone while carrying deer meat.

5. A loose pillow feather in a posh team hotel scratched the right eye of the Twins' veteran hurler.

6. Dwindling financial resources = "Juiced." Man can only live on shark meat for so long.

7. The O's second sacker had a great first half -- was it the red contacts, that enhance daytime visibility as a substitute for sunglasses?

8. Kielty's orange shlock brings back memories of Oscar Gamble.

NEXT: Generation Gap Division -- Winners and Losers Division

Kurt Snibbe is a sports news artist for The Orange County (Calif.) Register, and his work appears frequently on Page 2. He can be reached at Sportoon@hotmail.com.




Jeff
Merron
and
Kurt
Snibbe
BASEBALL BRACKET