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.

  • 10 Degrees: MLB All-Star voting is down, and the Cubs want ballot-box anarchy

    At this point last year, Major League Baseball said more than 400 million ballots had been cast in its All-Star Game voting. The anarchy of it all – lax registration restrictions and the looming presence of computerized bots and the desire of Kansas City Royals fans to hijack the entire process – was like a pre-Brexit exercise on the perils of populism.

    This year, almost certainly by design, All-Star voting results are down significantly. Baseball hasn't released numbers, but the top vote-getters in 2016 have received less than half of what their 2015 counterparts had at the same juncture. Part of that is due to a change in the rules that allows fans the same number of votes as last year, 35, but caps the per-day limit at five, meaning those who want to cast their full complement of ballots must do it over seven days.

    The Cubs might land a starter at every infield position for the NL All-Star team. (Getty Images)The Cubs might land a starter at every infield position for the NL All-Star team. (Getty Images)While MLB hasn't publicly affirmed its efforts to root out automatic voting scripts that can stuff e-boxes, the notoriety of last year's vote – and Omar Infante's near

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  • Prospect Heat Check: The most unhittable pitcher you haven't seen

    Tyler Glasnow stands 6-8. (Getty Images)Tyler Glasnow stands 6-8. (Getty Images)By the time he makes his next start Monday, Tyler Glasnow will have pitched five times over the previous month and allowed a total of five hits. In three of those starts, Glasnow held his opponents hitless. He is, quite simply, the most unhittable minor league pitcher in the last half-decade, and perhaps even longer.

    How Glasnow manages to so embarrass hitters isn't fully clear. It could be that Glasnow's 6-foot-8 frame gives him an unfamiliar angle from which he can launch his pitches. Or the fact that his fastball hits triple digits. There could be some fear and apprehension that because Glasnow walks a lot of hitters he doesn't know where the ball is going. Maybe he just induces soft contact and that's that. Or it could be luck, though doing this hitless thing over and over tends to render that possibility rather unlikely.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates don't want to rush Glasnow. He's still just 22. The walks are a concern. The possibility of stashing him in the minor leagues through next

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  • Mission impossible for 2 Brazilian MLB players: defending Rio Games

    Over the past month in Brazil, a financial meltdown threatened its ability to put on the Olympics, a Paralympian was robbed at gunpoint, accusations of widespread corruption plagued the national government, the sitting president clawed for her political life amid impeachment proceedings, the specter of superbugs and polluted water loomed and, to top it off, a cop killed a rogue jaguar on the Olympic torch route. It takes some kind of unmitigated disaster to make 150 experts recommending the cancellation of the Summer Games because of Zika virus look like the least of your problems.

    "I haven't been there to experience things going on in Rio," Yan Gomes said last week, "but if you pick up a newspaper, you're going to be scared of going." Cleveland's Yan Gomes is the first Brazilian native to play in the major leagues.  (AP) Cleveland's Yan Gomes is the first Brazilian native to play in the major leagues. (AP)

    Gomes is the Cleveland Indians' catcher and the first Brazil-born player to play Major League Baseball. Though he moved from Sao Paulo in sixth grade, Gomes' connection to the country hasn't abated, especially when the Indians play the Kansas City

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  • How the best pitcher in the AL got past the Adam LaRoche incident

    Chris Sale's body of work makes him the best pitcher in the American League. (Getty Images)Chris Sale's body of work makes him the best pitcher in the American League. (Getty Images)Seven years in, and Chris Sale still doesn’t know what October feels like. There’s emptiness there, a hole that goes to a deep and dark place. He tries not to think about it. Sometimes he fails.

    “It’s the only reason I play,” Sale told Yahoo Sports in a recent conversation. “I’ve done all the individual things I need to do. That doesn’t motivate me. I want to win. I want to win with this team. And I want it to happen now.”

    Seven years. It doesn’t seem like Sale has been around that long, doing his Gumby routine, long and lean, limbs flailing at impossible angles, fastballs kissing corners, sliders tilting like a pinball machine with one leg shorter than the rest. Sale is 27 now, still impossibly baby-faced and, at this point, somewhat inarguably, the best pitcher in the American League, when taking into account past and present production.

    Among his other achievements, Sale is also the most tenured player on a Chicago White Sox team whose mediocrity has created the cognitive dissonance

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  • 10 Degrees: Here’s why Bryce Harper might not be worth $500 million

    In addition to obliterating whatever prey the schedule tosses their way, the Chicago Cubs, ever merciless, can claim a less-obvious pelt: They broke Bryce Harper.

    Bryce Harper has hit 246/.383/.373 in his last 36 games. (Getty Images)Bryce Harper has hit 246/.383/.373 in his last 36 games. (Getty Images)Now, what is broken in baseball can be fixed, and plenty of players would love to be broken like Harper is broken. The six weeks since the Cubs series have made him human after a National League MVP season and start to 2016 in which he looked like some evolved baseball-whacking automaton.

    Before the four games in Chicago, Harper was hitting .266/.372/.649. Over the four-game series at Wrigley, Harper managed to raise his on-base percentage 60 points. In 19 plate appearances, Chicago walked him 13 times, including six in the series’ final game. Since then, Harper’s line: .246/.383/.373 in 36 games.

    It’s a bad stretch, no doubt, and for the time being has cooled the talk of Bryce Harper, $500 million man, though those talks might’ve been a bit overheated in the first place. One glance at the landscape of big-money contracts

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  • As Pete Rose tries to steal attention, let's appreciate Ichiro instead

    These days, Pete Rose is little more than the human embodiment of a comments section. A topic is proffered. He offers an answer that breaches the limits of obnoxiousness. The offended pounce. His defenders swarm. And all of it devolves into something ugly and nasty and so very typical when it comes to Rose. His act is Sleeping Beauty-level tired.

    This will not fall down that wormhole of ignorance. This will be a rejoinder to it. Because even if Pete Rose is correct that the 4,257th hit of Ichiro Suzuki's professional baseball career, laced down the right-field line on Wednesday afternoon, doesn't place Suzuki in Rose's all-time company because the first 1,278 came in Japan – and he is – making this about Rose is exactly what he wants.

    So forget the previous two paragraphs. Let's make this about Ichiro.

    Ichiro Suzuki is also closing on 3,000 hits for his MLB career. (AP)Ichiro Suzuki is also closing on 3,000 hits for his MLB career. (AP)Let's marvel at the singular way he plays baseball. The game is so full of sameness. Ichiro is Version 1.0 with 2.0 a physical impossibility. He is what it would look like if a swan

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  • 10 Degrees: MLB's economic disparity and why its top bargains are so valuable

    The $100 million payroll used to serve as the line of demarcation for baseball's super rich. In 2016, it's more or less the threshold of competitiveness, and as Major League Baseball and the players' association begin to hammer through a new collective-bargaining agreement, economic disparity looms as an issue of competitiveness as much as it has in years.

    Going into Sunday, 18 teams entered with records of .500 or better – and 16 of them started the season with $100 million-plus payrolls. Of the dozen sub-.500 teams, just four carried payrolls over $100 million. The correlation of payroll to winning percentage is almost twice as strong in 2016 as it has been in the other four years of the current basic agreement, and while it's still only moderate in its relationship, alarms are sounding across baseball, particularly in the front offices of the 10 teams with eight-figure payrolls.

    "In what other sport is it OK for one team to spend three times as much as another?" one GM said

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  • The reason why the Royals have considered trading Yordano Ventura

    Recently, inside the Kansas City Royals’ clubhouse, Yordano Ventura was talking about how he planned on hitting Jose Bautista with a pitch the next time he faced him. The people around Ventura rolled their eyes, tired of the bluster, done with the immaturity, hopeful he was playing fugazi instead of the on-field arsonist they’d seen too many times for their liking. Among his teammates and in the Royals’ front office alike, they’ve long waited for Ventura to grow up, only to end up amazed at how he manages to plumb beneath even his own low standards.

    The Royals are growing tired of Yordano Ventura's act. (Getty Images)The Royals are growing tired of Yordano Ventura's act. (Getty Images)Yordano Ventura, petulant child, roared back to life Tuesday night, when after missing Manny Machado twice with brushback pitches during his second at-bat he planted a 99-mph fastball in Machado’s ribs in the third. Were this some other pitcher, maybe any other, Machado would’ve shaken off the pain and hobbled to first base. That it happened to be someone who in three consecutive starts last season incited benches to clear provided the

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  • How a 157-pitch game in Kansas explains everything wrong with youth baseball

    LAWRENCE, Kan. – Outside of Hoglund Ballpark, where his team's season had ended via mercy rule moments earlier, Jeff Hoover stood behind a black fence, banned from the premises. A week earlier in a regional championship game, Hoover, the coach at Wichita West High, allowed a junior named Colby Pechin to throw 10 innings and 157 pitches. Kansas State High School Activities Association rules allow a maximum of nine innings in a day. It suspended Hoover and Pechin for running afoul of the edict.

    Wichita West High's Colby Pechin threw 157 pitches over 10 innings. (CatchitKansas.com/Ryan Tarletsky)Wichita West High's Colby Pechin threw 157 pitches over 10 innings. (CatchitKansas.com/Ryan Tarletsky)West won the game in 16 innings and headed to the state tournament. It was supposed to have been a triumphant day for Hoover. He had resurrected West from the dregs of Kansas high school baseball. The Pioneers didn't win a single game between 2008 and 2012. In April 2014, when Hoover took over the program, they snapped a 122-game conference losing streak that stretched back nearly a decade. Here they were just two years later, facing a Shawnee Mission East High team stocked with Division I kids

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  • The crazy backstory of the closer who doesn't close

    The closer who doesn’t close was almost the pitcher who doesn’t pitch. Before we get to Hector Rondon’s past, though, it’s important to highlight just how amazing his present is, considering it almost didn’t happen.

    Hector Rondon has saved nine of the Cubs' 35 wins this season. (Getty Images)Hector Rondon has saved nine of the Cubs' 35 wins this season. (Getty Images)Rondon is the Chicago Cubs’ closer, a job not dissimilar to a gardener in the Sahara. The Cubs are the best team in baseball, and the best team in baseball typically features a closer among the league leaders in saves. And yet Rondon finds himself tied for 23rd overall with just nine saves – two ahead of a pitcher who missed the first month of the season due to suspension, three in front of a guy who locked down his closing job last week, his opportunities lost not because of his failures but his teammates’ successes.

    “I don’t have too many chances this year,” Rondon said. “My teammates are hitting so well late in the game. But I don’t worry about it too much. I worry about the games we’re winning.”

    That’s 35 of their first 50 for those counting. And of those 35, nearly

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