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.

  • Yogi Berra: A celebration of baseball, life and a man's legacy of words

    One of the most beautiful lives baseball has known, full of accomplishment and achievement, of kindness and compassion, of malapropism and solecism, ended Tuesday night. Yogi Berra died at 90 and took with him a legacy inimitable in every way imaginable. More than his play on the field, his words defined him and will continue to do so long after his passing. Because nobody knew how to mangle the English language as gloriously – and prophetically – as Lawrence Peter Berra.

    “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

    Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto and catcher Yogi Berra in 1951. (AP)Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto and catcher Yogi Berra in 1951. (AP)Born to immigrants in St. Louis, storming the beach at Normandy, shot later in World War II, behind the plate for the New York Yankees, in the dugout for them and the New York Mets, kibitzing around New Jersey with his beloved wife, Carmen, Yogi Berra bebopped from place to place, moment to moment, his presence a vortex. Berra’s pull was gravitational, and it made his famous quotes all the more powerful. People didn’t latch on to what Berra said because of what he did.

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  • Sources: Korean outfielder plans to enter posting system this offseason

    Korean outfielder Ah-Seop Son plans to enter the posting system this offseason, sources told Yahoo Sports, paving the way for his arrival in Major League Baseball next year and continuing the expected infusion of Korean position players after the success of Pittsburgh infielder Jung-Ho Kang this season.

    Ah-Seop Son (Getty Images)Ah-Seop Son (Getty Images)Son, 27, is a left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing corner outfielder whose forte is more hitting for a high average and getting on base than the power-hitting Kang. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Son has hit better than .300 for six consecutive seasons with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization.

    His best season came in 2014, when he batted .362/.456/.538 and won a fourth consecutive Gold Glove, which is given to the best overall player at his position in the KBO. This year, Son is hitting .324/.412/.476 and shows enough power to quell concerns he’s simply a slap hitter.

    Before incurring a season-ending injury completing a double play last week, Kang had proven one of the

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  • 10 Degrees: Playoff possibilities could be a picture of pure chaos

    Considering the tectonic shift in the American League playoff picture over the last two weeks, the opportunity exists for pure, unadulterated chaos over the final half-month of the season. Technically, this scenario is feasible: Three teams tie for the AL West championship and four others outside the division match their record. It is like baseball drawn by Picasso, a thought so abstract that even MLB’s official tie-breaking procedures, all 2,366 convoluted words of them, do not bother to dream it up.

    And yet if the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros falter, the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins forge ahead and the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles surge, the seven-way tie for three playoff spots could happen. Reality, of course, reminds us that the chance of it is about the same as Yoenis Cespedes winning National League MVP.

    [Play a Daily Fantasy contest for cash today!]

    Still, it’s fun to dream of the Rangers, Astros and Angels finishing the season with

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  • 10 Degrees: Why Yoenis Cespedes may not come back to New York

    Finally, after a half-decade of slumming with the sort of payrolls reserved for teams in flyover country and acting like their parsimony wasn't a direct result of sharing a bed with the biggest schemer since Charles Ponzi himself, the owners of the New York Mets are less than two months away from the greatest challenge to their austerity. The man at the forefront of their playoff push is a free agent, and the future of Yoenis Cespedes with the Mets hinges on Fred and Jeff Wilpon spending like major league owners and not the paupers they've fancied themselves.

    Finally, a true referendum on the Wilpon ownership. Regularly among the highest-payroll teams in the major leagues over the first decade of the century, the Mets used their Bernie Madoff-induced poverty to enter into this unbecoming period where they don't even bother to meet with the marquee free agents because they wouldn't dare wade in that financial pool. The Mets were David Wright, Curtis Granderson and a bunch of guys

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  • All-Minor League Team: Astros, Dodgers, Cubs have plenty of stars of tomorrow

    Putting together the 2015 All-Minor League Team proved a bit trickier than last season’s incarnation thanks to what felt like an every-other-day promotion of top prospects to the major leagues. Still, even as baseball’s Year of the Rookie injected a surge of talent into the sport, plenty remains in the farm systems across the game.

    The Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies lead the team with seven representatives from across their minor league affiliates, with the Los Angeles Dodgers placing six. Following with five: Tampa Bay, Oakland, Milwaukee and the Chicago Cubs.

    This team isn’t necessarily representative of which teams have the best farm systems in baseball. It is based mostly on production, though age and level are also taken into account. Some, like Player of the Year A.J. Reed and Pitcher of the Year Blake Snell, are highly regarded prospects. Others hope 2015 serves as a springboard toward an even bigger 2016.

    More than a dozen scouts, executives and analysts

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  • 10 Degrees: How baseball is to blame for Matt Harvey, and what he should do going forward

    In the decade or so since baseball found itself in the throes of omnipresent Tommy John surgery dread, almost nothing has changed. Buck-passing rules the landscape. Competing interests married with a paucity of facts leads to ruinous consequences. And this entire Matt Harvey debacle – so easy to telegraph, so difficult to prevent – highlights how baseball not only fostered this sort of environment but isn't doing enough to prevent another generation of players from facing the same wasteland of decisions.

    Harvey is a victim and a culprit simultaneously, reared in a sport that leaves its youngest arms to profiteers who ignore arm care and now a professional in a landscape that runs away from what it fears as risk because it's the easiest thing to do.

    This is a complicated, heady subject, impossible to boil down to good and bad, smart and stupid, all of the black and white that dominated Labor Day weekend as the story trickled out in increments. First it was superagent Scott Boras

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  • Manager Matt Williams isn’t the only one to blame for Nationals’ mess

    In a world governed by rigidity, titles matter. There is comfort in the duty of an assignment and the name that goes along with it. So in Matt Williams’ sphere of the universe, where a closer exists only to close games, the extrapolation of such a philosophy unearths two questions he ought ask himself: What good is a manager if he can’t be bothered to manage games, and, even more, what’s the point of having a general manager like Mike Rizzo, who would rather serve as an enabler than someone who will hold accountable the manager that struggles to manage?

    While a Washington Nationals victory Wednesday night stanched the wound of two disastrous losses the previous two nights that trained focus on Williams’ inability to properly manage a bullpen, it did nothing to make up the 6½-game deficit Washington faces, some of which, surely, is owed to Williams’ blundering. During a radio appearance with D.C. radio station WJFK-FM on Wednesday morning, Williams used the following logic to

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  • Royals clubhouse hit by bout of chickenpox

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A chickenpox outbreak struck the Kansas City Royals clubhouse over the weekend, infecting All-Star reliever Kelvin Herrera and starting right fielder Alex Rios. The team has scrambled to ensure its other players are inoculated against the disease, which is expected to sideline the affected players for two weeks.

    Kelvin Herrera has been quarantined from the team. (Getty)Kelvin Herrera has been quarantined from the team. (Getty)The news, first reported by The Kansas City Star and confirmed by Yahoo Sports, is not expected to severely distress the Royals, whose 13-game lead in the American League Central is twice as large as any in baseball. Still, the club asked players to contact family members and inquire about their immunization status and whether they contracted the disease as a child, according to the Star.

    The severity of chickenpox is higher in adults, who can develop pneumonia, among other complications. Rios, who was diagnosed with the disease first, and Herrera have been quarantined, according to the Star.

    Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease, and a vaccination did

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  • 10 Degrees: The postseason contenders, ranked from easiest schedule to hardest

    Technically speaking, every team in the American League not named the Oakland A’s remains in the playoff hunt. Yes, even the Boston Red Sox, who at 60-70 are a mere 8½ back of the second wild-card spot. Scoff at the idea that postseason dreams still exist in Boston, but make sure not to forget the 2011 Red Sox, who showed exactly how to lose 8½ games in the standings over one month.

    Still, to include the Red Sox and the rest of their sub-.500 brethren in this supersized 10 Degrees felt wrong, because let’s face it: If you can’t muster a .500 record at this point in the season, you probably don’t deserve a playoff spot, not even with the extra wild card turning a Bud Heavy postseason into Bud Light.

    The break-even threshold yielded 14 playoff contenders, some of whose spots are essentially locked up, some of whom will continue fighting in a race not yet ripe with drama. Two weeks from now, perhaps it’s there, and much of that depends on the schedule of each contender, with some teams

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  • The Pirates pitcher who succeeds by not throwing strikes

    If only they didn’t swing. That should be the strategy against Francisco Liriano. Lope into the batter’s box, sling bat over shoulder and play statue. Stare at every ball that whizzes by. And chances are, if temptation doesn’t take over, if the almost pheromonal scent of Liriano’s pitches can’t cajole a swing, the exercise will end in a leisurely stroll to first base.

    Because in a pitching world whose mission boils down to a two-word statement repeated ad nauseam – “throw strikes” – Liriano serves as the literal and figurative wild child. Nobody in baseball delivers fewer pitches in the strike zone than the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 31-year-old left-hander, and his mastery of effective wildness has grown into wild effectiveness.

    Francisco Liriano gets whiffs 31.5 percent of the time a batter offers at a pitch. (Getty)Francisco Liriano gets whiffs 31.5 percent of the time a batter offers at a pitch. (Getty)In the last 10 years, since baseball started tracking the strike zone through its PITCHf/x system, only one time has a pitcher thrown fewer baseballs in the zone than Liriano’s 36.8 percent this year: Liriano last season, at 35 percent. That’s exactly what it sounds

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