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.

  • Rob Manfred was the right choice, but he has plenty of threats to tackle

    Rob Manfred is the 10th commissioner of Major League Baseball, chosen Thursday after six rounds of voting and nearly blocked, thanks to the protests of Jerry Reinsdorf and his cadre of clowns, whose preferred candidate’s bona fides were producing a slew of laugh-track sitcoms in the 1970s and ’80s, running one franchise into the ground and serving as third banana in his current ownership group.

    This was a frightening peek into the sausage factory of rich-guy politics, the peel-back of a curtain that ensconces much of baseball’s dysfunction from the public. Toward the end, as Reinsdorf, the Chicago White Sox owner, did his best to torpedo a Manfred candidacy that should have sailed through unopposed, the whole thing played out like a bad Tom Werner pilot. Old guy. Pushing 80. Angry. Confrontational. Wants to fight a war he lost long ago. Turns on his best friend. Reinsdorf was like Archie Bunker, Statler and Waldorf, and every Clint Eastwood character of the last decade, dusted with

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  • King of Blackouts: Why Tim Brosnan keeps fans from watching games

    When the lords of baseball took to a Baltimore boardroom Thursday to vote on a new commissioner, the least-heralded candidate carried into the election a most unbecoming title: King of the Blackouts. Much of Tim Brosnan’s candidacy — one he aborted before the first vote was cast — rested on him turning baseball into a $9 billion-a-year monolith as executive VP of business on the back of fat television contracts that leave fans all over the country unable to watch the very sport he’s in charge of selling to the public.

    The fact that baseball owners revere this – that a sport hemorrhaging young fans actively chooses to black out local television games across the country in order to protect the supposed sanctity of the local TV deals that go into the billions – speaks to a certain tone-deafness. Consider the hilarity of the rogue candidate for commissioner, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, selling himself as the person who will spread the game best. The impetus behind Werner’s

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  • Jon Lester delivering greatest free-agent season for pitcher in more than 15 years

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Every start is worth another million, maybe more. Jon Lester doesn't think this way, because his parents, and the reality of beating cancer at 22 years old, taught him to savor the moment he's living and not the ones ahead. And yet baseball operates in a universe parallel to the one playing out in the standings column. It is forever stealing glances at crystal balls.

    If the Oakland A's maximize their rotation – and they didn't trade for Lester to baby him down the stretch – he's got 10 regular-season starts left, 10 he hopes fare as well as his first 24 this season, 10 in which the goal is to lead the A's to the American League West crown. Ten, perhaps most important, for his arm to stay healthy like it has for all of his 30 years.

    Because it's been a long, long time since a starting pitcher's fortunes have broken good in a walk year like Jon Lester's. He turned in his typical ho-hum performance Tuesday night, snapping the eight-game winning streak of baseball's

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  • Trade deadline winners and losers: The Price of doing business

    The craziest trade deadline day ever saw 12 deals, 37 players exchanged, two draft picks flipped, the reigning World Series champions completely overhaul their roster, the Red Sox and Yankees agree on a deal, the Tigers and A’s try to one-up each other, a fake Twitter account actually nailing the biggest trade of the day hours before its real-life version broke the news and the introduction of a mysterious man named Ralph.

    Everyone who followed along with the chaos was a winner. As for the teams that did and didn’t do the dealing Thursday, here are the winners, losers and a special category for one particular team.

    WINNERS

    Detroit Tigers: Not only does Dave Dombrowski have the finest head of hair in any room he frequents, he may well have the largest set of stones, too. To swoop in among the rest of the teams with larger troves of assets than his and steal David Price out from under them was classic Dombrowski. As Tigers general manager, he now has traded for Miguel Cabrera, Max

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  • The 100-mph-throwing art school kid: An incredible story of a scouting find

    About 10 scouts showed up last fall for the Academy of Art University baseball team's pro day. They munched on powdered donuts and sipped the gratis Sunny D and figured this was like any other small-college showcase: a waste of a morning. The position players finished running the 60-yard dash when up walked one more kid, a pitcher for the tiny San Francisco school, who asked the scouts if he could try.

    They looked up and nodded. Brandon Poulson stood 6-foot-7 and weighed 240 pounds with 8 percent body fat. "He's like Ivan Drago," said Elliott Strankman, a Minnesota Twins scout there that day. "You know that scene in Rocky IV – 'Whatever he hits … he destroys.' That's what he reminds me of."

    Poulson slipped off his spikes and stood in his socks. He wanted to run without shoes. The scouts cast weird looks to one another. He took off. The scouts clicked their stopwatches. He crossed 60 yards, the standard measurement for baseball players. The scouts didn't believe the numbers on their

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  • 10 Degrees: The Red Sox’s best move is to trade Jon Lester

    Two years ago, amid the chaos of a season crumbling around them and the eventual fire sale that paved the way for a championship, the Boston Red Sox very quietly let teams know that Jon Lester was available.

    He was in the midst of his worst season, coming off the beer-and-chicken mess of 2011, stifled by manager Bobby Valentine, and after initial discussions with the Atlanta Braves didn’t go far, the Red Sox found a more-than-willing trade partner: the Texas Rangers.

    The talks went beyond tire kicking, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations told Yahoo Sports. Names were exchanged. Permutations went back and forth. And for the second time, the Red Sox were threatening to deal Lester to the Rangers. The first time, of course, was as the third piece of the 2003 trade that almost sent Manny Ramirez to Texas and Alex Rodriguez to Boston.

    Eventually, the 2012 talks fizzled. Texas got bounced in the wild-card game. The Red Sox rode Lester’s rebound year into the 2013 postseason,

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  • 25 Degrees: Let the Mike Trout hardware parade commence

    The idea for this column came five years ago, inspired by a dreadlocked malcontent with an ego problem. Joe Mauer and Ichiro were eyeing .400, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were the game’s best right-handed hitters and the Los Angeles Angels two weeks to the day earlier signed a high school kid named ...

    1. Mike Trout without any idea that the baseball world would revolve around him half a decade later like it did Manny Ramirez back in July 2009. Following another out-of-this-world first half that he cherry-on-topped with an All-Star Game MVP award, Trout now can focus on taking the full-season hardware stolen from him twice and guiding the Los Angeles Angels to his first postseason appearance. Whether they can leap ...

    2. Jeff Samardzija and the Oakland A’s in the AL West is one of the sport’s burning questions, particularly considering how good the A’s were in the first half before they acquired their new ace. He fits their team personality-wise and their gloves with a big

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  • Save the hate for MLB's silly All-Star Game rule, not Adam Wainwright

    MINNEAPOLIS – It's OK if Adam Wainwright grooved Derek Jeter a pitch in Tuesday night's All-Star Game. Really, it's more than OK. It's wonderful. It's great. It's the sort of canvas on which one of the greatest ballplayers of his generation, and one of the greatest New York Yankees ever, could paint another memory, which is exactly what Jeter did with a double down the right-field line. It's not unbecoming. It's not gauche. It's not beneath either of them. It's completely stinking perfect, because this is the All-Star Game, and the All-Star Game is, and always will be, an exhibition.

    We say "if" because Wainwright swore up and down that his comments after exiting the game – that he "was gonna give him a couple pipe shots," or groove Jeter a pair of fastballs to start the bottom of the first inning – were wrong. And that he "made a mistake" saying them. And that he was "an idiot." Which is silly, because Wainwright actually is one of the most intelligent, accountable, candid men in the

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  • Mike Trout put in work Tuesday night to help the AL defeat the NL. (Getty Images)Mike Trout put in work Tuesday night to help the AL defeat the NL. (Getty Images)

    MINNEAPOLIS – Baseball's 2014 All-Star Game featured a national coming-out party for Mike Trout, a strikeout parade for Yasiel Puig and a 90-mph fastball that left Derek Jeter's final game shrouded in controversy.

    National League starter Adam Wainwright admitted he grooved Jeter the first two pitches of night, the latter of which Jeter stroked for a double that highlighted a 2-for-2 evening. Trout drove him in with a triple, the first of two extra-base hits on his way to winning the game's MVP award for leading the American League to a 5-3 victory on Tuesday night that gives the AL champion home-field advantage in the World Series.

    Wainwright's comments to a group of reporters following his appearance in the game only reinforced the dubious awarding of home-field based on a game in which the starting pitcher was more than content to feed Jeter, the New York Yankees shortstop and a surefire Hall of Famer retiring at season's end, two easy pitches to hit.

    "I was gonna give him a couple

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  • Adam Wainwright says he grooved pitch for Derek Jeter then says he was joking

    MINNEAPOLIS – Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game went about as well as possible, even if it included a little help from the opposing pitcher.

    Jeter went 2 for 2, including a first-inning double on a 90-mph fastball National League starter Adam Wainwright told a group of reporters he threw over the plate intentionally.

    "I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it," Wainwright said. "I didn't know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind."

    Wainwright later told Fox's Erin Andrews he was joking when he made his initial comments, hoping to quash criticism he received on social media for giving Jeter a pitch to hit in a game that determines home-field advantage for the World Series.

    "Sometimes my humor gets taken the wrong way," Wainwright said in a dugout interview in the eighth inning. "I feel terrible about this if anyone is taking any credit away from what Derek Jeter's done today or off me. It was mis-said. I made a mistake.

    "I hope people realize I'm not

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