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.

  • Royals roll past Giants to force Game 7 in World Series

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ned Yost wanted a seven-game World Series. Now he's got it.

    The Kansas City Royals pummeled the San Francisco Giants 10-0 in Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday night, setting up a winner-takes-all one-game championship showdown Wednesday night at 8:07 p.m. ET at Kauffman Stadium.

    Earlier in the week, with the series tied at two games apiece, Yost, the Royals' manager, professed that he secretly wanted a seven-game series, just for the thrill of it. And now baseball has just that, its absolute apex, a World Series game that will crown a champion for 2014.

    Before the game, when asked about a hypothetical game Wednesday, Yost said: "There is tomorrow." It was not defensive so much as definitive, and behind a seven-run second inning and seven shutout innings from rookie starter Yordano Ventura, the Royals embodied Yost's prophecy.

    The second inning began with an Alex Gordon single, followed with another from Salvador Perez and unknotted the scoreless tie with a Mike

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  • Royals fans hoping for more Game 6 magic, just like 1985

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Nobody here is worried, at least not the people who know better. It is worth worrying about a baseball team without an owner, as the Kansas City Royals subsisted for almost seven aimless years. It is worth worrying when your first baseman lacks the fundamental awareness to realize he is about to hit his own pitcher in the face at point-blank range with a throw. Trailing the World Series three games to two with the most energized fan base in baseball awaiting Game 6 does not constitute reason to worry.

    "I'm certainly not," Elliott Hollub said. "I've seen too much to worry about this."

    In the fall of 1968, before the Kansas City Royals officially existed, Ewing Kauffman sent a letter to the leading businesspeople in the city. The owner wanted his baseball team to be a public trust, and that meant involving entrepreneurs in something far more quaint than the sponsorship that passes for support today. Kauffman asked them to sell tickets.

    Hollub was 29 years old, a

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  • Juan Perez delivers key hit after learning his good friend Oscar Taveras died

    SAN FRANCISCO – Juan Perez didn't believe it, didn't believe his friend was dead, so he ran back to the San Francisco Giants clubhouse and swiped his phone on. He saw the text messages, at least 20, more coming in, all with the horrible news that Oscar Taveras, fellow ballplayer, fellow Dominican, was gone. Then he saw a text with the picture that confirmed it: Taveras at the morgue, on a table, blood everywhere, a horrible image Perez couldn't shake.

    He started to cry. Giants closer Santiago Casilla told Perez to shut his phone off, to stop looking at the photo. And Joaquin Arias implored him: "Stay strong. Stay strong." The Giants might need him. And Gregor Blanco said: "I know it's not easy. Let's just try to do it."

    For Juan Perez, a 27-year-old utilityman playing in his first World Series, there was no time to grieve Sunday. This is an awful burden, inconceivable, the consequence of a show-must-go-on mentality pervasive in sports. Taveras, the 22-year-old St. Louis Cardinals

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  • Oscar Taveras remembered: He 'had a chance to be a huge, bright star'

    Oscar Taveras just wanted to hit, to swing his bat all day and all night, because it's what he loved to do. He wanted to hit in a cage or on a field, wherever there was baseball to be played, his unorthodox left-handed stroke connecting with a thwack just a little bit louder than everyone else's. He didn't understand that baserunning and fielding mattered as much as they do, and that was OK, because he was 22 years old, still just a kid. He had time to learn.

    Taveras died Sunday in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic, news that rocked his family, his friends, his home country and his adoptive world, baseball, which five years after weathering the loss of Nick Adenhart to a wreck tried to wrap its head around another player leaving far too early.

    Sadness clouded Game 5 of the World Series, the death of Taveras and his girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, starting as a rumor out of the D.R., rat-a-tatting around the Twitter echo chamber and eventually receiving confirmation from

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  • Inside the mindset of the most crucial play of Game 4 of the World Series

    Alcides Escobar cannot reach the ball on a single by San Francisco Giants Juan Perez. (AP Photo)Alcides Escobar cannot reach the ball on a single by San Francisco Giants Juan Perez. (AP Photo)SAN FRANCISCO – There is no time to think. The bases are loaded, and the game is tied, and 43,066 people are pulsing, and the call comes in from the dugout, and there's a guy busting down the first-base line at 21 mph, and the ball takes two hops straight into Alcides Escobar's glove, and as much as he wants to think, to consider his optimal play, he cannot, because the baseball player who takes time to think is too late already.

    Escobar, 27, has fielded tens of thousands of groundballs in his life, maybe 100,000, from all-dirt playgrounds in Venezuela to the finely manicured infields of stadiums like AT&T Park, where he stood at 8:01 p.m. local time Saturday. They readied him for this moment in the World Series, shaped his instinct so he didn't need to think in a key Game 4 situation, inured him to the second-guessing that may accompany it with lesser fielders, cocooned him from blame when that tie game devolved into an 11-4 loss by his Kansas City Royals against the San Francisco

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  • Giants pummel Royals bullpen to even World Series

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    SAN FRANCISCO – The rout grew like a wave, building up, cresting and then crashing down on the Kansas City Royals. The San Francisco Giants did what no one else this postseason had done: Not just beat the Royals' impermeable bullpen but pummel Kansas City in doing so.

    Never mind that the Royals didn't deploy any of their three ace relievers. The Giants so thrashed Kansas City's middle-relief corps en route to an 11-4 victory that locked up the World Series at two games apiece, the Royals didn't bother summoning Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis or Greg Holland.

    Gregor Blanco scores in front of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez. (AP Photo)Gregor Blanco scores in front of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez. (AP Photo)Using them in a game like this would've constituted a waste. San Francisco piled run after run on top of one another, 10 consecutive after falling behind Kansas City early in the game. Every Giants starting position player pounded out a hit. The top five batters in the Giants' lineup went 10 for 22 with eight runs and eight RBIs. Hunter Pence drove in three, Joe Panik a pair.

    How on were the

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  • It’s becoming the abnormal norm: How the Royals celebrate a typical victory

    SAN FRANCISCO – The Winning Light is a sad little thing, a shadeless 60-watt bulb attached to the simple sort of lamp base familiar to anyone who took eighth-grade shop. It accompanies the Kansas City Royals on every road trip and glows only after victories. The light is the Royals’ beacon. When illuminated, it calls for chaos.

    In the case of Friday night, that meant two cans of Silly String emptied straight to the grill of Jeremy Guthrie, one for each side of the duality that defines these Royals. For all of the composure and maturity that belies age, experience and the other factors that are supposed to matter this time of year, they’re mostly just a bunch of kids who want to blast each other in the face with 1,000 feet of aerosolized fluorocarbon.

    Ned Yost, talking to Jeremy Guthrie on Friday night, has pushed all the right buttons this postseason. (AP) Ned Yost, talking to Jeremy Guthrie on Friday night, has pushed all the right buttons this postseason. (AP)  Considering how the Royals party after every victory, it’s frightening to think what they’ll do with two more wins. Their latest, a cardiologist’s dream of a 3-2 triumph over the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of the World Series, gave

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  • Royals slip past Giants to take 2-1 World Series lead

     

    SAN FRANCISCO – The perfect Kansas City Royals victory included every morsel that encapsulates this run to the World Series. Dynamic pitching. Pristine glovework. Enough hitting. And completely curious, illogical managing from Ned Yost that somehow works out for the best.

    The Royals' Eric Hosmer hits an RBI single to score Alex Gordon during the crucial sixth inning of Game 3 Friday night. (AP)The Royals' Eric Hosmer hits an RBI single to score Alex Gordon during the crucial sixth inning of Game 3 Friday night. (AP) An early lead that yielded to a tense stretch in the middle of the game crescendoed with a 3-2 victory for Kansas City on Friday night that gave the Royals a 2-1 series lead over the San Francisco Giants. The win ensured the Royals would return to Kansas City – either for a Game 6 or, with two more wins here at AT&T Park, as world champions.

    While the postgame focus for the Giants will center on whether to bring ace Madison Bumgarner back on three days’ rest to start Game 4 on Saturday, the Royals will bask in their second consecutive win and 10th in 11 postseason games.

    At the center of it all – always at the center, really – stands Yost, the Royals’ maligned manager who in the most tense moments of the game turns

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  • Wade Davis, a fishing pond and the story of a guy who wanted to be great at something

    Most of the people who live in the neighborhood don't use the pond. And that's a shame, because in the summer, it's a gem. Dragonflies dance above. Frogs linger on the edges. Geese teach their goslings about life in the Kansas suburbs. Crappie and bass and bluegill and catfish swim about, waiting for a snack, oblivious to the hook that accompanies it.

    Nothing beats a day of fishing, Wade Davis believes, and considering he's in the middle of among the most brilliant relief seasons in baseball history, one culminating with a World Series appearance for the Kansas City Royals, he very much appreciates what the pond offers. Davis, 29, grew up in Lake Wales, Fla., and spent summers with his dad on a johnboat. Three or four days a week he'd bake in the sun, red as the seams on a ball, and not care because he was catching fish.

    Davis moved into the neighborhood a couple years ago. He arrived as the secondary piece in what's widely known as the James Shields trade. To call it the Wade Davis

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  • As tempers flare, Royals get even, and the World Series finds some drama

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Nobody quite understood what was happening. Salvador Perez cocked his head askew. All the players on the Kansas City Royals' bench suffered from a case of celebratus interruptus. The umpiring crew raced toward the burgeoning mob at home plate. And after tempers cooled and the detritus of an almost-brawl in the World Series cleared, everyone realized the entire scene mushroomed from the tired act that is Hunter Strickland getting a little sore after another meltdown and just wanting to fight.

    The 2014 World Series jolted to life in the sixth inning of Game 2. Until that point, it registered similar to the sloppy Game 1, a runaway San Francisco Giants victory. Then the Royals of every prior day in October arrived, slapping hits, shooting gaps, running bases and frustrating a pitcher badly enough that machismo replaced wits.

    Along with Strickland's composure went any chance the Giants had, a tie game devolving into a 7-2 victory by the Royals in front of 40,446 at

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