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.

  • How White Sox's Chris Sale went from anomaly to ace

    When it came time to talk about the tall, skinny kid who threw like nobody else, the debate wasn't much of a debate at all. The Kansas City Royals held the fourth pick in the 2010 draft. The top three picks were gimmes: Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Manny Machado. Where they would go at No. 4 they weren't sure. They just knew it wouldn't be the tall, skinny kid.

    Everyone in their draft room, recalled people privy to the conversation, agreed: Chris Sale was a relief pitcher. They loved what he did at Florida Gulf Coast, where he enfeebled batter after batter. They appreciated how hard he threw, the action on his changeup and slider, everything about him. They just weren't taking a reliever with the fourth pick in the draft. That would be like picking a utilityman.

    The greatest beauty of Sale, who may well be the best left-handed pitcher alive not named Clayton Kershaw, is the very thing that frightened off the Royals and the eight teams that followed them: that he is a complete

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  • Stop complaining about MLB's new replay system: It's working

    Enough already. We get it. Instant replay sucks. Managers are saying it. Ballplayers. Ex-ballplayers. Writers. The guy at the end of the bar. It's the sort of thing doctors pick up on to use as small talk. Bashing replay is cool. For those aboard the bandwagon, just know this: You are, and will be, on the wrong side of history.

    Not only does replay work theoretically, it is working in practice, despite the protestations otherwise. Like so many new ideas in baseball – the wild card, interleague play and other fundamental changes – the initial backlash is far greater than the actual problems. Most of the grievances are biased bellyaching, Luddism or downright ignorance, all three of which continue to push a narrative that's the least-surprising thing to happen this season.

    Of course people were going to complain about replay, and not just because controversy resonates and the Internet loves little more than a condemnation ceremony. The technology is fallible. Errors would be made. Calls

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  • Padres' Josh Johnson could need Tommy John surgery

    The Year of Tommy John surgery could soon add another victim to its docket.

    San Diego Padres starter Josh Johnson's injured elbow isn't getting any better, and the organization is increasingly concerned he will need Tommy John surgery, the latest blow in his injury-plagued career, club sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Johnson will visit Dr. James Andrews this week for a second opinion. It would be Johnson's second Tommy John surgery as well as his second elbow surgery within the six months, after he had bone spurs removed in the offseason. While Johnson could try to rehab the injury, attempts to do so since spring training have failed, and rarely do second opinions lead to suggestions against surgery.

    The Padres signed Johnson to a one-year, $8 million deal over the winter in hopes he would rediscover his dominant self from his occasional healthy years with the Marlins. Instead, Johnson hit the disabled list at the beginning of the season with a strained flexor mass and may never throw a

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  • 10 Degrees: How MLB's blackout policy hurts its already eroding fan base

    Almost eight years ago, Bud Selig vowed to do something about the local-television-blackout rules keeping tens of millions of fans from watching his sport. He said he did not understand the reason pockets of America who wanted to see ballgames on TV couldn't. Then he made a vow: "We have to do something about it."

    Here's what he and Major League Baseball have done: Fight like crazy to keep the blackouts in place, arguing the affected fans constitute a "very, very limited area" and that a world in which everyone in America can watch whatever baseball game they please is "completely implausible."

    In truth, the issue revolves around the exorbitant local-television dollars that regional sports networks have lavished on teams in the past five years and the concern that in a true free market with a-la-carte pricing for games, the local TV networks would not pay anywhere close to the tens of billions of dollars they have promised teams around the sport. The threat to the cash cow that has

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  • Pitchers' guide to cheating: How to do it right

    Kids these days. It's just shameful. They have no respect, no sense of history, no appreciation for their forbearers. Used to be pitchers in Major League Baseball treated cheating like an art form. Nowadays they're happy to act like finger-painting kindergarteners in a smock.

    Look at New York Yankees starter Michael Pineda on Thursday, with the giant mess of gloop on his hand – his pitching hand! – that he said, with a straight face, was "dirt." Note to cheaters: There is this thing called a high-definition camera. It shoots moving pictures at 1,080 pixels per square inch. Dirt is not viscous.

    It is a fairly well-known fact, by this point, that teams do not care if pitchers apply a foreign substance to a ball so long as it's for purposes of grip, which hitters reason keeps them safer. MLB doesn't seem to mind, either, rarely meting out discipline even though Rule 8.02(a)(4) says pitchers cannot "apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball." Whether it was pine tar or a

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  • Why MLB is ready for its first openly gay player

    There is a gay major league baseball player. The public does not know his name. I don't, either. He exists, though, and his world is so much different than one year ago.

    Back then, there was actually a question of whether athletes would accept a gay player, whether fans would rebel against a man on account of his sexuality. Were we that naïve? Did we have that little faith in ourselves? After Jason Collins and Michael Sam and the latest brave man to declare his truth in public, Derrick Gordon, it all seems silly, that sports – a place of transformative cultural change where the only necessary credential is talent – would reject someone on account of something so inconsequential to his ability to play.

    What a great affirmation that these fears were drowned out by not just tolerance, as if who someone loves is something to tolerate, but welcome. That the two dozen or so ballplayers to whom I've posed the question – "Would you be OK with a gay teammate?" – have given some variety of the

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  • RBI Baseball '14 is here in all its simple, perfect glory

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    The neighborhood kids couldn't understand what I was doing. I was not crazy. I swore to them I was not crazy. Though I suppose I understand why they believed otherwise. A grown man kneeling in front of a 28-year-old video game console blowing furiously into it and then doing the same to a poor cartridge does not exactly inspire notions of sanity.

    I wanted to show them one game. It sat on top of a stack. Beneath it was R.C. Pro-Am, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Super Mario Bros. 3 and the original Super Mario Bros. All of those were wonderful in their own way, and maybe we could play them some other time. Not before the one on top, though. And anyway, we needed to make sure the Nintendo still worked.

    Somehow, my original Nintendo Entertainment System, the old warhorse whose virgin run with Mario made me the happiest 6-year-old in the world, continues to function. She survived six moves and a fall from atop my dresser during a giddy celebration for crossing

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  • Seduction of 'donut contracts' has MLB players leaving millions on table

    Tampa Bay starting pitcher Chris Archer recently signed a six-year deal worth $25.5 million. (USA TODAY Sports)

    At one of the annual meetings of baseball agents this offseason, an official from the Major League Baseball Players Association tried to emphasize just how pervasive the trend of players accepting multiple club options on long-term extensions had gotten. If he worked for a team, he said, he would offer a player a deal with six club options, because he was sure someone in the room would take it.

    Some chuckled. Others seethed. Ceding ground to teams in contract negotiations has become a massive issue for the union, which must balance the reality of its situation – suggesting, in many cases, a player turn down tens of millions of dollars – with the reality that doing so often is an exceedingly difficult proposition. Royals catcher Salvador Perez is one of the best bargains in baseball. (AP)

    In a vacuum, the issue gets a big, fat #richpeopleproblems hashtag. If the MLBPA's biggest problems revolve around a guy not getting enough millions, whooptie damn do. At the same time, that ignores an important principle, and one the union is stressing as long-term deals

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  • The Red Sox are David Ortiz's team, and Boston is his city

    On anyone else, the shirt would have looked gauche. An unimpeachable sartorial rule goes: Thou shalt not wear any article of clothing with thyself's name on it. David Ortiz broke this edict two weeks ago. He is the sort of guy who would have taken a fat chomp off an apple in the Garden of Eden just because, so it wasn't a surprise that he paraded around the Boston Red Sox clubhouse in a T-shirt bearing the phrase that defined Boston during its worst times.

    – Ortiz

    Boston Strong was a rallying cry, an emblem presented in a neat, simple package. What Ortiz said on April 20 to the crowd at Fenway Park – to them, and to Boston, and to a United States shaken by the marathon bombing five days earlier – was something much greater. It was a million thoughts and emotions and feelings distilled to five words. It was the most persuasive reminder yet that life would continue. This wasn't their city. It was their bleeping city.

    [Fantasy baseball: It's not too late to

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  • Derek Jeter and the greatest trick 'The Captain' ever pulled

    The beginning of the end starts tonight, only Derek Jeter doesn't see it that way. One of his greatest qualities, maybe the greatest in allowing him to not only navigate the morass of celebrity in New York but emerge as its unequivocal champion, is that myopia. He doesn't see this as the beginning of the end because his eyes never deviate from the point on which they fixate.

    In the short term, that is his next plate appearance, and in the long term, that is his next World Series ring, and if that is too simplistic a notion, that his tunnel vision abates for nothing, allow the last 20 years to function as evidence affirming as much. His farewell tour is going to skimp on the farewell and look nothing like a tour. He's about as sentimental as a lamppost. Why that is Jeter never will say. Trying to understand him necessitates guesswork, because as much as we know of Derek Jeter, we still don't know much about Derek Jeter.

    [Also: Winners and losers from MLB's opening day ]

    Every now and

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