Jeff Passan

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Jeff Passan is an award-winning columnist who has covered baseball since 2004. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in journalism. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October.

  • Sources: Dodgers pitcher suspended 80 games for PEDs

    Josh Ravin (AP Photo)Josh Ravin (AP Photo)Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Josh Ravin was suspended 80 games on Monday for using a banned substance, sources told Yahoo Sports, and is the sixth major leaguer to face discipline for performance-enhancing drugs this season.

    Ravin, who is on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster but has spent the year on the disabled list after breaking his non-throwing left arm in a car accident during spring training, tested positive for a banned peptide, according to sources.

    His suspension comes on the heels of 80-game bans for National League batting champion Dee Gordon and Toronto Blue Jays slugger Chris Colabello. Cleveland center fielder Abraham Almonte and Philadelphia reliever Daniel Stumpf were hit with 80-game suspensions before that, and New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia received a lifetime ban in February for a third positive test.

    Ravin, 28, debuted with the Dodgers last season after a decade in the minor leagues. In 9 1/3 innings, he posted a 6.75 ERA and struck out 12. The 6-foot-4,

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  • 10 Degrees: Is a juiced ball causing MLB's large home run spike?

    At the risk of sounding like someone who believes in chemtrails and listens to Infowars religiously, I have a confession to make: More and more I’m convinced that juiced balls are causing a home run spike throughout baseball.

    Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are 1-2 in the NL home run race. (AP Photo)Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are 1-2 in the NL home run race. (AP Photo)I am far from the only one. It’s hitters and pitchers and coaches and executives and even rational, cogent analysts who cannot find a reasonable explanation for the spike in home runs dating back to last August. The HR/FB rate – the percentage of fly balls that end up over the fence – spiked over the season’s final two months, and it has continued this April.

    With 11.8 percent of fly balls leaving the yard in the season’s first month, it marked the highest April rate since the league started tracking the data in 2002. The number mirrored those of August (12.2 percent) and September (12.3 percent), which Hardball Times analyst Jon Roegele noticed after not even a month. Roegele studied it and came to an impasse.

    “I couldn't find anything to describe that amount of

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  • The sad case of Dee Gordon, another unlikely PED user for MLB

    In person, Dee Gordon is desperately skinny, the sort of person for whom you'd love to buy a large pizza just to see how much of it he could polish off. It's a taut leanness, certainly, muscled up as much as someone whose stunt double would be made of pipe cleaners can be, but nobody ever would accuse Gordon of looking like a professional athlete. He was always the baseball player whom the uniform looked like it wanted to swallow whole.

    There was a safeness about him, one furthered with a bright smile flashed liberally, though by now it should be evident that neither the pearliness of a man's teeth nor the composition of his body reveal what's inside of it. In the case of Gordon, it was two types of synthetic testosterone. Not even the safest bets are immune from the drug testing of Major League Baseball and the 80-game suspensions that accompany the ones that come up positive.

    Dee Gordon is in the first season of a five-year, $50 million contract. (Getty Images)Dee Gordon is in the first season of a five-year, $50 million contract. (Getty Images)And so here baseball is again, same place it's been for a quarter-century, its stars doping, Bud Selig's

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  • Miami's Dee Gordon suspended 80 games for PEDs

    Defending National League batting champion Dee Gordon was suspended 80 games early Friday morning after he tested positive for two types of performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball announced in disciplining the Miami Marlins’ second baseman.

    Dee Gordon (Getty Images)Dee Gordon (Getty Images)Gordon, a two-time All-Star who in the offseason signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension after hitting .333, was found to have taken exogenous Testosterone and Clostebol, a modified form of testosterone.

    The 28-year-old Gordon, one of the slightest players in the game at 5-foot-11 and 171 pounds, thrived in Miami after his trade there last season from Los Angeles and won a stolen base title in addition to his batting crown. Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom Gordon, was hitting .267/.283/.344 with six stolen bases and his typically solid defense for the Marlins, who inched back to within a game of .500 on Thursday night.

    Gordon’s suspension is the second surprising one within a week after Toronto’s Chris

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  • How Jordan Zimmermann is helping make Strasburg and Harvey a ton of money

    Jordan Zimmermann finally gave up a run Monday, the first he deigned to allow this season. His earned-run average skyrocketed to 0.35. No pitcher this century has finished April with a better mark. Zimmermann and the Detroit Tigers weren't the only ones celebrating.

    Jordan Zimmermann is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA this season. (Getty Images)Jordan Zimmermann is 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA this season. (Getty Images)Across baseball, executives are watching the 29-year-old with a keen eye. He is just one player, just one arm, but Zimmermann is, in many ways, the standard bearer for the return from Tommy John surgery into the class of the ultra-rich. Zimmermann smashed the nine-figure threshold for ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction survivors this offseason when he signed a five-year, $110 million deal with the Tigers. And with Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez primed to hit free agency over the next three seasons, some teams' willingness to pony up big money will depend on the success of Zimmermann.

    It shouldn't be that simple, of course, a single arm, unique in every way, charting the course for a

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  • 10 Degrees: Free from O's purgatory, Jake Arrieta flourishing with Cubs

    During their lowest moments, the four pitchers who were supposed to save the Baltimore Orioles looked at one another and asked a simple question: “What the [expletive] happened?” Zach Britton, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz had spent months “doming each other out mentally,” as Britton put it, “trying to fix each other” after the relationship with their pitching coach threatened to ruin their careers. And around came July 2, 2013, and the fourth of the Orioles’ great arms stuck in this baseball purgatory got his pardon.

    Jake Arrieta (AP Photo)Jake Arrieta (AP Photo)Long before he threw two no-hitters over a nine-start span and turned in one of the greatest stretches of pitching in baseball history, Chicago Cubs ace and reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta was a failed Orioles prospect. Like Britton, Tillman and Matusz, he chafed under then-Baltimore pitching coach Rick Adair, whose pitching philosophy ran in direct contrast to those of the players.

    “They took away the individual approach to everything,” Britton said. “Things we

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  • Biggest surprise of MLB season so far: Barry Bonds

    Jose Fernandez, left, talks with hitting coach Barry Bonds during a spring training. (AP)Jose Fernandez, left, talks with hitting coach Barry Bonds during a spring training. (AP)Earlier this spring, when Barry Bonds and Jose Fernandez were engaged in their usual brand of verbal volleyball, the old man laid down a challenge to the young buck. One at-bat. Get me out, Bonds said, and Fernandez could take any one thing from his house. The confrontation never happened. Maybe some other time, they said. If it did, one observer there opined, chances are Fernandez would've gone home empty-handed.

    Let us remind: Jose Fernandez is one of the finest pitchers in the world, and Barry Bonds is a 51-year-old man. He is no ordinary 51-year-old man, of course. He is baseball's home run king, its greatest offensive player since Babe Ruth and its poster boy for steroid use. For nearly a decade, the conflation of the three also made him its chief pariah. And then, penance apparently paid, debt ostensibly forgiven, he was back, ready to be the best again.

    He's still BONDS around the shoulders and 25 on the back, the jersey fitting him as well as it ever did, if a bit less snug on

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  • Sources: Zika has Pirates, Marlins players worried about series in Puerto Rico

    Players from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins have raised significant concerns about their upcoming series in Puerto Rico, expressing fear of exposure to the Zika virus, multiple league sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Officials from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have not yet given serious consideration to canceling the two-game series, scheduled to be played at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan on May 30-31, according to sources. But the sides plan on continuing to weigh the potential danger to teams and their families before making a decision, sources said.

    "The health and safety of our players and staff is our No. 1 priority," said Brian Warecki, the Pirates' vice president of communications. "We are working closely with all parties, including MLB, MLBPA and the CDC, to ensure we are fully educated on the issue. We are very confident that we are taking the overly cautious steps to ensure we have a very successful two-game series in San Juan."

    The Marlins

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  • 10 Degrees: Baseball has its LeBron James and his name is Bryce Harper

    The best hitter in the world walloped another home run Sunday. To call Bryce Harper anything less at this point would be hedging out of fear that he’s too young or too green or too whatever-obtuse-excuse-you-wanna-peddle. No need to dream up reasons. Just enjoy the show.

    Bryce Harper (Getty Images)Bryce Harper (Getty Images)Because that’s what it is right now. Harper is appointment TV when he’s not on one of his jags. When he’s going all Deadpool on baseballs, locked in and unrelenting and ready to punish, it’s easy to forget Harper is just 23 years old and will be for the rest of the season. That – gulp – he’s actually getting better, and demonstrably so.

    Now, it’s early in the season, and making judgments based off the Washington Nationals’ 11 games is perhaps foolhardy. Especially when the best pitcher Harper has faced this season is … A.J. Ramos? Arodys Vizcaino? Aaron Nola? Julio Teheran? Going back-to-back-to-back with Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia is more soft landing than gauntlet, though that isn’t the point.

    What’s relevant is

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  • How new laws banning chewing tobacco could change MLB

    In the 1990s, when airplanes went smoke-free, the ban did not extend to one place: the cockpit. Concern about pilots suffering nicotine fits or losing their ability to fly due to withdrawal prompted an exception. Then the federal government called Dr. Michael Fiore, asked him to apply his smoking-cessation magic and watched as pilot after pilot quit.

    (Getty Images)(Getty Images)“And that’s a great analogy for baseball,” said Fiore, the director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. “They’ve got similar concerns. ‘It’s going to distract me.’ ‘I’m going to lose my performance edge.’ If you follow tobacco control over the last 50-plus years, since the first surgeon’s general report in 1964, every step along the way we heard the same arguments. You can’t do it because it won’t work.”

    New laws are about to test Fiore’s theory that anti-tobacco measures can work – even in baseball, a sport whose history is pickled in tobacco spit. Ordinances banning chewing tobacco at stadiums in

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