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.

  • Inside the shocking trade of Troy Tulowitzki

    There was always an agreement between Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort and his star shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, spoken out loud so as to be abundantly clear: If the Rockies were to trade Tulowitzki, they were going to ask for his blessing first. Then came the blockbuster deal that sent him to the Toronto Blue Jays late Monday night, and Tulowitzki, according to sources inside the Rockies' clubhouse, found out not via a phone call but when teary-eyed manager Walt Weiss yanked him from their game in the ninth inning.

    The story of how Tulowitzki was treated, relayed by people aggrieved with his departure and how the Rockies broke their word to the longtime face of their franchise, is actually a fitting end to a multiyear trade-him-or-don’t saga that wound up with Tulowitzki fetching his passport and heading to Canada along with LaTroy Hawkins for shortstop Jose Reyes and a trio of right-handed pitching prospects: Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco.

    Fearful Tulowitzki

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  • 10 Degrees: A trade deadline primer, with the Royals going all in (yes, really)

    Not long ago, the Kansas City Royals never would’ve dreamed of making a trade like the one Sunday that netted them Johnny Cueto, the sort of legitimate frontline starter who instantaneously makes the defending American League champions much scarier than they ever were last season. The organization was so conservative it might as well have been funded by the Tea Party.

    Rather than glorify itself for two consecutive years of success, Kansas City has shown the sort of adaptive skills that weren’t present early in Dayton Moore’s tenure as Royals general manager. No longer are the Royals making decisions looking solely inward. Their place in the baseball world – atop the AL Central by 7½ games, better than the rest of the league by four – brought not a greater sense of security but one of urgency. The Royals could win a pennant with the team they had before Sunday. They should win it with the one they have after it.The Royals went for broke Sunday, sending three pitchers to Cincinnati for Johnny Cueto. (AP)The Royals went for broke Sunday, sending three pitchers to Cincinnati for Johnny Cueto. (AP)

    Here, as four days separate the baseball world from its non-waiver trade

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  • Pedro Martinez's poignant Hall of Fame speech perfectly sums up pitcher's brilliance

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    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – There is a man, a father to five and a son to a nation, a beacon and a pillar, an overflowing heart and an expansive brain, a deep, vivid human being who fulfills others more than they could ever fulfill him. And this man has 30 minutes to encapsulate a life so rich there's not enough fire in the world to boil it down to its essence.

    This is complex. This is real and tangible, life outside of the bubble in which the ability for a quarterback to read a Cover 2 defense or ornamental lettering on a diploma connotes intelligence. This was Sunday for Pedro Martinez, in front of his family and everyone watching back in the Dominican Republic, showing the world what he grew into and how others could do the same, digging into the deepest reservoirs of himself to imbue others with the sense that even the poorest kid could find himself here, at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, his face on a plaque alongside the finest players in the

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  • Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson appropriately enter 'Hall' together

    They are so different. One is right-handed and the other left-handed. One is uncharacteristically short and the other cartoonishly stretched out, like products of a funhouse mirror. One is Dominican and the other Californian. One is typically boisterous, bombastic, ebullient and the other measured, contemplative, surly.

    Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez (Getty)Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez (Getty)They are so similar. Both are mononymous, known simply as Pedro and Unit. Both turned batters into dithering fools. Both threw a baseball at speeds incomprehensible to those standing 60 feet, 6 inches away. Both turned craft into art through the unlikely pairing of intimidation and precision. Both ushered in the era of the strikeout. Both changed baseball forever.

    It's really quite perfect that Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, opposites in so many ways, brothers in so many others, are going into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at the same time. Their induction in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday afternoon, alongside John Smoltz and Craig Biggio, makes the Class of 2015

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  • Astros acquire left-hander Scott Kazmir from A's

    In 18 starts this season, Scott Kazmir is 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings. (Getty)In 18 starts this season, Scott Kazmir is 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings. (Getty)The resurgent Houston Astros traded for Oakland A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir on Thursday, kicking off a weeklong march to the July 31 deadline still teeming with gridlock because of persistent questions about which teams are buying and selling.

    The 31-year-old Kazmir, struggling in an independent league as recently as 2012, joins an Astros team in need of pitching depth as it tries to catch the red-hot Los Angeles Angels, who surged to the American League West lead on the back of a seven-game winning streak. For two months of Kazmir, a free agent-to-be, Houston sent Class A right-hander Daniel Mengden and catcher Jacob Nottingham to Oakland.

    In 18 starts this season, Kazmir is 5-5 with a 2.38 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 109⅔ innings. Because he was traded midseason, he will not be subject to a qualifying offer and thus will enter free agency unrestricted, a huge boon for him.

    [Play a Daily Fantasy contest for cash today!l]

    The rest of the pitching market will sort itself out in the

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  • Lorenzo Cain has the best smile in baseball and wore it for good reason against the Pirates

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In the 6.3 seconds between the time he released the ball and the umpire at home plate punched his fist to signal an out, Lorenzo Cain leaned against the center-field fence, lips pursed, silently cursing himself. It was the ninth inning of a late-July game between the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates that felt like it wouldn't at all be out of place in late October, and what unfolded in front of him existed only because of the rarest kind of play: a Lorenzo Cain misread.

    Cain in center field is baseball sonar, tracking every ball hit with precision and speed, and he had malfunctioned in the worst moment. Even after letting Jung Ho Kang's fly ball soar over his head, Cain managed to embody these Royals in six seconds of delirium. The perfect throw to shortstop Alcides Escobar. And his perfect relay to catcher Salvador Perez. And his perfect tag on Starling Marte for the first out of the inning.

    And, finally, the smile.

    The best smile in baseball belongs to

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  • 25 Degrees: It's Mike Trout's world

    Six years ago, the first version of this column grew from the kung-fu grip Manny Ramirez held on the baseball world. Everything revolved around him, swallowed whole by his immense orbit. The second half of 2009 started with him ready to carry the Dodgers and ended with him missing the ninth inning of a playoff game to shower.

    Today, the centerpiece of the baseball world is there for a different reason. It’s certainly tiresome after nearly four seasons of fawning over …

    1. Mike Trout to keep coming up with ways to describe what we’re witnessing. Perhaps it’s best to be simple with it then: This is perhaps the greatest start to a career ever. Trout’s evolution into a destructive slugger took time, but his 26 first-half home runs are almost as many as he hit in 2013, when he should’ve won the MVP award. He’s got 124 career homers, 30 shy of passing Mel Ott and Eddie Mathews for the most through an age-23 season. In fact, Trout’s numbers could practically mirror Alex Rodriguez’s by the

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  • It’s time for Rob Manfred to end All-Star Game’s absurd World Series tie-in

    The first six months of Rob Manfred’s tenure as baseball commissioner can’t be seen as anything other than a success, some his doing, some by happenstance. Among his welcome gifts were Alex Rodriguez playing good citizen and a ready-made excuse for Pete Rose’s continued exclusion from the game dropping in his lap and an unprecedented wave of great young players joining the major leagues. It’s like Manfred calling heads 25 straight times and staring at George Washington’s face every single one.

    Giving all the credit to luck would be wrong, though, because Manfred has positioned himself as a baseball progressive, thorough and open-minded, not resistant to change so long as the change is pragmatic. He oversaw the successful new Home Run Derby format. He has sliced nearly 10 minutes off the average game time. In anticipation of the upcoming collective-bargaining negotiations – the informal discussions will turn formal after this season, according to sources from both sides – Manfred has

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  • How a clock – and a free-swinging kid from Jersey – saved the Home Run Derby

    CINCINNATI – Clocks are supposed to be baseball's mortal enemy, forbidden at the ballpark, where time is immaterial, the game unfolding at its own pace. Baseball, of course, enjoys little more than holding onto its history and traditions until they're relics, and the introduction of the between-innings clock this year paved the way for an unexpected occurrence Monday night: a clock saved the Home Run Derby.

    Absent a Josh Hamilton reckoning, the Derby had fallen into a stale stasis, a few minutes of oohs and aahs yielding to a few hours of the same … thing … over … and over. Small tinkering in past years lent little improvement, so baseball this year overhauled the whole thing and watched its finest Derby since Hamilton took New York in 2008 and one of its best ever.

    Almost certainly that wouldn't be the case if Todd Frazier hadn't stormed Great American Ball Park with the backing of 43,587 fans who cheer him daily as one of the only things on the Cincinnati Reds worth cheering. The

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  • Three years later, Mike Trout vs. Bryce Harper is a one-sided knockout

    CINCINNATI – Here, in one simple thought experiment, the difference between Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.

    At Monday's All-Star Game media session, the best players in the world were given a hypothetical scenario. Brand-new team, starting from scratch. You're the GM and get to pick one player around whom to build the franchise. Who is that player?

    "Maybe Clayton Kershaw?" Trout said. "I like to watch Kershaw."

    Mike Trout (left) and Bryce Harper shake hands before a game last season. (AP)Mike Trout (left) and Bryce Harper shake hands before a game last season. (AP)Trout is 23 years old, the center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, reigning MVP of the American League, favorite to win this year's, too. He is, by most measures, the best player in baseball. And as he chose Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers ace typically seen as his pitching doppelganger, Trout was reminded he could select himself if he so desired.

    "Naw," Trout said. "I'm not gonna take myself."

    In 2012, Trout made his first All-Star team as a 20-year-old, and he looked positively wizened next to the 19-year-old Harper, he of the Sports Illustrated cover and skipping of his

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