Even Year Bullshit has struck again, and the San Francisco Giants are your 2014 Major League Baseball World Champions. Let us now begin the five months of darkness until baseball returns to us. Important dates to remember: November 3: Last day for teams to tender a qualifying offer to pending free agents November 4: Free agents may negotiate and sign with any team November 10: Last day for players to accept a qualifying offer November 10 - 12: GM fall meetings December 2: Last day to offer contracts to unsigned arbitration-eligible players December 8 - 11: GM winter meetings December 11: Rule 5 draft February 18, 2015: Pitchers and catchers report Other news of note: - Alex Rodriguez is now officially back on the Yankees' 40-man roster. Welcome back, A-Rod, may you mash taters in all your at-bats. - Bug Selig's tenure as commissioner is effectively over. While his last day in office is technically January 24, 2015, Rob Manfred has spent the last few months preparing for transition into the league's top office and will continue to do so. For those who have forgotten Manfred's pedigree, he has served as a top lieutenant in MLB's structure since 1998; prior to that he was one of the league's lead lawyers in the 1994 strike, championing the efforts to break the union, and he was the lead negotiator in the two most recent CBA negotiations, neither of which were particularly favorable for the MLBPA. He is responsible for MLB's private investigation unit, which has broken several federal, state and local laws over the past few years. He is no friend of organized labor and it is not outside the realm of possibility that baseball's twenty years of uninterrupted labor peace (the longest in American professional sports) will be in jeopardy after the 2016 season, when the current CBA expires. - MLB has been testing several rule changes during the Arizona Fall League, aimed at speeding up the game. The changes range from pretty smart (hitters must keep one foot inside the box at all times) to patently stupid (limit of three mound visits per game). I would not expect any major rule changes to occur in 2015, however. - Current front-office openings are with the Rockies, who finally fired Dealin' Dan O'Dowd, and the Rays, whose front office has collapsed in the wake of Andrew Friedman's departure to the Dodgers. (The Dodgers, however, lost scouting director Logan White, which is huge and almost instantly counterbalances any benefit from Friedman's hiring.) - Current official managerial vacancies are in Minnesota, Chicago (Cubs) and Tampa Bay, though I say official because the Cubs are likely to announce Joe Maddon as their new manager tomorrow morning, thereby fucking Rick Renteria. - This is an exceptionally weak free-agent class. After the top prizes of Scherzer and Lester in the starting pitcher segment, there's a steep drop down to James Shields, then another drop to the likes of Francisco Liriano and Jason Hammel. The DH market comprises three old, broken dudes (Giambi, Victor Martinez and Raul Ibanez), and at 3B your options are Pablo Sandoval and a whole bucket of shit after him. You get the idea. Look for a very active trade market at the fall and winter meetings, and don't be shocked if Lester's price tag starts to approach the monster deal that Kershaw got. So there we have it! We are 157 days away from the return of baseball. Let us sit around the hot stove and await its return.