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.

  • The Mets are back, and they want to show they're the best team in New York

    Baseball is better when the New York Mets are good, when they're winning 11 straight games and sporting the best record in the major leagues and giving the Subway Series the sort of juice it warrants. Meaningful April baseball is a tried-and-true oxymoron, and yet here we are, with baseball's biggest, baddest franchise ready to play host to the little brother that may well be its superior.

    Not since 2008 have the New York Yankees and Mets faced off during a season in which both teams were playoff contenders, a drought attributable to the Mets and Mets alone. Rebuilding carries a particularly palpable stench, and it affixed itself to the Mets for far too long. Exactly zero Mets on the active roster played in that last Subway Series of consequence. The only Yankees are Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner.

    Their divergence since is stark, and it speaks to the care with which the Mets have constructed themselves. Forget the winning streak, which is dotted with mediocre opposing starters.

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  • 10 Degrees: Should Yanks pay A-Rod $6M bonus for reaching Willie Mays' 660 HR mark?

    Trouble always finds Alex Rodriguez, even when he's doing everything he can to avoid it. Of the many surprises since the baseball season dawned in February, among the unlikeliest has been A-Rod, good citizen. He took his punishment for steroid use, lying and general chicanery, mended his body and returned as an exemplary teammate who happens to be swinging like a near-prime version of himself.

    Every whit of success comes with a price, of course. With his four home runs this season – every one of them a no-doubter, lest anyone think he's just sneaking balls over the fence – Rodriguez stands two swings away from tying Willie Mays' 660 mark for fourth on the all-time home run list. Once he hits the mark, it triggers a clause in his contract that calls for a $6 million bonus. Alex Rodriguez is two homers shy of tying Willie Mays' all-time mark of 660. (AP) Alex Rodriguez is two homers shy of tying Willie Mays' all-time mark of 660. (AP)

    Lest you think it ends there, just remember: This is A-Rod, and these are the New York Yankees, and the sight of him wearing the uniform of a team he dislikes is just as amusing as the team that dislikes writing him

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  • 10 Degrees: The ugliness of the Dodgers' TV mess

    For the second straight season, the highest-paid baseball team in history can’t be seen legally by more than 70 percent of its viewing audience, and everyone involved seems more than content to let the impasse fester on. Every last bit of it reeks of greed from Time Warner Cable, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Major League Baseball, who have skipped past the stage of caring about the team’s fans and sequestered themselves inside a bubble where this is still a fight worth fighting.

    It must be lonely in there. Because the inevitability of change, of admitting this is a lost cause that needs to be remedied, grows more evident by the day. Time Warner promised $8.3 billion for 25 years of local TV rights for the Dodgers. It was a ridiculous overpay that forced an ask of around $5 a month from other Los Angeles-area pay-TV providers to carry SportsNet LA, the network that broadcasts the Dodgers. Every satellite and cable provider refused.

    Gridlock ensued, the sort that even for an Angeleno

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  • Not too early for 3-0 Royals to take pride in fast start

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Inside the clubhouse that housed the team still seeking its first victory in the 2015 season, Chicago White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton spoke for the winless and small-sample advocates everywhere when he intoned: "Who gives a crap about the first three games?" And he was right. To get worked up over 1.85 percent of the season is like jamming to the opening riff of "Under Pressure" only to keep listening and realize it's "Ice Ice Baby."

    Alcides Escobar crosses home as he scores in the second inning Thursday. (Getty)Alcides Escobar crosses home as he scores in the second inning Thursday. (Getty)Forgive the Kansas City Royals, then, for their tack following Thursday afternoon's 4-1 victory over Chicago, which pushed the defending American League champions to 3-0 while the overhauled White Sox, of the $150 million in spending and big-ticket trades, bore the wounds of a good beating. The Royals, it turns out, do give a crap about these three games, which count every bit as much as the ones in September do, even if the standings today mean nothing.

    The crap they give has more to do with the confirmation of what they believe

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  • How bad were the Yankees on opening day? Well, A-Rod was the bright spot

    NEW YORK – The finest moment of opening day for the New York Yankees came when their soon-to-be-40-year-old designated hitter, returning from a year-long suspension for copious steroid use, laced a single into right-center field. And because this was Game 1 of a six-month journey, and the Yankees have 161 more to rid the acrid taste of a 6-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, lending any sort of significance to a singular game is folly.

    But.

    The Yankees have more buts than Sir Mix-A-Lot. Their rotation could be great … but keeping it healthy is a chore. Their lineup could hit … but they spend too much time searching for their dentures. They do play in a wide-open American League East … but they picked the wrong year to start the season with weaknesses.

    Masahiro Tanaka allowed four earned runs in four innings Monday. (Getty)Masahiro Tanaka allowed four earned runs in four innings Monday. (Getty)Their Kardashian-sized but is instead a limb, simple and fragile, partially broken already, just waiting for the day the rest goes. It belongs to Masahiro Tanaka, and he was the greatest culprit Monday, yielding five runs in four innings

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  • Fans urinate in Cubs merchandise as season starts woefully for franchise

    CHICAGO – On the bright side of the 30-minute-long bathroom lines at an under-renovation Wrigley Field that forced desperate patrons to relieve themselves in empty cups and corners of the venerable old ballpark, at least they didn't have to watch what unfolded on the field beneath them.

    This is what progress looks like. It is ugly, it is unseemly, it is bumpy and it is uncomfortable. Rest assured: The ascendant Chicago Cubs will have plenty more nights like Sunday, when they opened the 2015 baseball season with a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals that saw them strand 13 runners in scoring position with nary a hit to show for it. Turning from an also-ran into a contender, which the Cubs assuredly will be in the coming years, does not follow a linear path.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon stands for a tribute to Ernie Banks before Sunday's game. (AP)Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon stands for a tribute to Ernie Banks before Sunday's game. (AP)Fixing the bathroom issue, on the other hand, is priority No. 1 as the Cubs begin the 2015 season trying to convince this city to love this team again after a lean half-decade of rebuilding. Even if the construction delays on the

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  • Sources: Carlos Carrasco agrees to 4-year contract with Indians

    In his final 10 starts of last season, Carlos Carrasco struck out 78, walked 11 and had a 1.30 ERA over 69 innings. (Getty)In his final 10 starts of last season, Carlos Carrasco struck out 78, walked 11 and had a 1.30 ERA over 69 innings. (Getty)Right-hander Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians agreed on a four-year contract worth around $22 million, capping the pitcher’s incredible rise and locking up another piece of a strong Indians rotation, sources told Yahoo Sports.

    The deal includes Carrasco’s 2015 salary of around $2.34 million and tacks on three more seasons, running through Carrasco's first year of free agency. It also includes club options for two more seasons, potentially keeping Carrasco with the Indians through 2020. The agreement, which is pending a physical, comes a day after reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber agreed to a five-year extension with two club options.

    A late bloomer like Kluber, the 28-year-old Carrasco was demoted to Triple-A by Cleveland in July 2013, the nadir of a long fall from top prospect to washout. He resurfaced in Cleveland’s bullpen at the beginning of the 2014 season, posted a 2.30 ERA and followed with a star turn over the final two months of the season:

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  • Sources: Corey Kluber, Indians agree to 5-year contract extension

    Right-hander Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians agreed on a five-year contract extension with two club options, tying the reigning American League Cy Young winner to the ascendant Indians, sources told Yahoo Sports.Corey Kluber was rewarded by Cleveland for his fantastic 2014 campaign. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)Corey Kluber was rewarded by Cleveland for his fantastic 2014 campaign. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Kluber, who turns 29 this week, is a late bloomer who still was not eligible for arbitration, prompting him to seek a long-term deal with the Indians. The interest was mutual, and after months of negotiations, they came to terms on a deal that could keep Kluber in an Indians uniform through his 35th birthday.

    After a season in which he went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings, Kluber got a raise to just $601,000 because he still was not eligible for arbitration. While the terms of the deal are unknown, it is expected to juice Kluber’s short-term earnings significantly while providing him the long-term security that even two years ago seemed altogether unlikely.

    Kluber joined Cleveland just before the trade deadline in 2010, the return from San

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  • Sources: Yordano Ventura in deep discussions with Royals on 5-year extension

    Fireballing starter Yordano Ventura and the Kansas City Royals are deep into discussions on a five-year contract extension with a club option for a sixth season that would guarantee him more than $20 million, sources with knowledge of the talks told Yahoo Sports.

    Ventura, 23, thrived in his first full season last year, flummoxing hitters with a fastball that regularly reached 100 mph and peaking with seven shutout innings in Game 6 of the World Series.

    Yordano Ventura threw 183 innings as a rookie last season. (Getty)Yordano Ventura threw 183 innings as a rookie last season. (Getty)Should they lock up Ventura, the Royals would be betting on his health despite a slight 6-foot frame and the incredible sort of fastball velocity that often portends arm issues. Twice last year Ventura experienced injury scares, first with discomfort on the outside of his elbow – the ulnar collateral ligament resides on the inside – and again in the postseason with soreness in his right shoulder.

    Neither stopped Ventura from posting 183 regular-season innings of 3.20 ERA ball and following with 25 1/3 more postseason innings at the same

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  • Josh Hamilton will not be suspended for drug relapse

    Josh Hamilton will not be suspended after an arbitrator ruled a binge around Super Bowl weekend that resulted in a positive test did not violate his drug-treatment program.

    Josh Hamilton played 89 games for the Angels last season. (AP)Josh Hamilton played 89 games for the Angels last season. (AP)

    After Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association deadlocked on whether to suspend Hamilton for self-reporting cocaine use to the league, an independent arbitrator considered the case of the Los Angeles Angels outfielder and agreed with the union’s argument that one-time use did not merit a suspension.

    Hamilton’s case hinged on what constituted a violation of the program. Under baseball's Joint Drug Agreement, an admission of drug use or a refusal to take a test constitutes a positive result. The failure to comply with the drug-treatment program – which Hamilton has been in for nearly a decade following long battles with cocaine and alcohol – was not undone by Hamilton’s episode, the arbitrator ruled.

    [Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today!]

    The league issued a statement Friday

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