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.

  • How new laws banning chewing tobacco could change MLB

    In the 1990s, when airplanes went smoke-free, the ban did not extend to one place: the cockpit. Concern about pilots suffering nicotine fits or losing their ability to fly due to withdrawal prompted an exception. Then the federal government called Dr. Michael Fiore, asked him to apply his smoking-cessation magic and watched as pilot after pilot quit.

    (Getty Images)(Getty Images)“And that’s a great analogy for baseball,” said Fiore, the director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. “They’ve got similar concerns. ‘It’s going to distract me.’ ‘I’m going to lose my performance edge.’ If you follow tobacco control over the last 50-plus years, since the first surgeon’s general report in 1964, every step along the way we heard the same arguments. You can’t do it because it won’t work.”

    New laws are about to test Fiore’s theory that anti-tobacco measures can work – even in baseball, a sport whose history is pickled in tobacco spit. Ordinances banning chewing tobacco at stadiums in

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  • The Pablo Sandoval-Red Sox marriage could be coming to an end

    The broken, disastrous marriage between Pablo Sandoval and the Boston Red Sox, an ill-fated union exceeded in its dysfunction only by a Kardashian coupling, could be nearing its end. Here’s how ugly it has gotten, major league sources told Yahoo Sports: Sandoval wants to stay in Boston only if he can play every day, and the Red Sox have no intention of playing him unless he loses weight and others in their current lineup struggle.

    Pablo Sandoval could be on his way out of Boston. (AP Photo)Pablo Sandoval could be on his way out of Boston. (AP Photo)Facilitating an exit for Sandoval won’t be easy because of the more than $75 million remaining on his Red Sox contract and the team’s desire not to eat all of the money by cutting him. Sandoval’s trip to the 15-day disabled list Wednesday – a trip caused by a supposed left shoulder injury that took everyone, including the team, by surprise – buys the Red Sox enough time to explore all their options and determine whether any trade market exists before possibly jettisoning him.

    The curiosity of the DL move grew as the day went on. Sandoval complained of

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  • Baseball's slide rule isn't changing anytime soon, and players need to accept it

    Baseball's new sliding rules are not changing. Deep down, players know this. Already, teams have been told this. And though no one in the commissioner's office or the union's headquarters cares to publicly acknowledge it, sources told Yahoo Sports all parties are in agreement: None of the three controversies that came of the rule during the season's first week are worthy of discussion to amend the new edict.

    And this is exactly how it should be. Not because Major League Baseball is some Mount Sinai-like entity from which the laws of the world descend but because this rule, specifically, is a good one – well-intentioned, well-crafted and, as the violations thus far have shown, well-executed.

    The Nationals were awarded a double play after Nick Markakis (right) didn't maintain contact with the bag. (AP)The Nationals were awarded a double play after Nick Markakis (right) didn't maintain contact with the bag. (AP)Let's start with an important point: Rule 6.01 – better known as the Utley Rule, after Chase Utley's leg-breaking slide last year of Ruben Tejada – exists ostensibly for the safety of players. This is a noble pursuit. Baseball is not a full-contact sport, and irresponsible collisions at second base

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  • 10 Degrees: The secret virtual-reality project to honor Jackie Robinson

    Early last week, in the courtyard of a notorious Brooklyn high-rise, an oversized drill bored three holes into the concrete. One of the most important moments in baseball history, and a seminal event in American culture, took place on that very spot, and for it to have sat empty, without a whit of acknowledgement for decades, simply didn't seem right.

    About eight months ago, the impetus behind the drill holes started. As part of his new documentary on Jackie Robinson, documentarian Ken Burns started working on a project to be used with Google's Cardboard virtual-reality headset. The idea was to take people through Robinson's life and show them what he endured – including his first at-bat in Major League Baseball.

    On the site today stands the Ebbets Field Apartments, named after their architectural predecessor, the late, great home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. While the stadium is long gone, archival imagery gave Google engineers a sense of where everything stood. By overlaying that

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  • Noah Syndergaard stands by the statement made from ‘The Pitch’

    It took less than half a second: for the ball to whiz out of the pitcher’s hand at 97 mph, for instinct to implore the batter to get the hell out of the way before it kills him, for the New York Mets to recognize the leviathan on the mound was the very sort they needed that night and for the Kansas City Royals to understand their path to a championship would hit at least one pothole. One simple throw overflowed with meaning.

    The Royals' Alcides Escobar sits in the batter's box after Noah Syndergaard's purpose pitch. (AP)The Royals' Alcides Escobar sits in the batter's box after Noah Syndergaard's purpose pitch. (AP)Five months later, the most memorable pitch of the 2015 season is mostly just a memory to Noah Syndergaard, its author. One tinged with reminders of an incredible run to the World Series by the Mets and regrets of opportunities lost on every night but the one he pitched. And one that looms over the second game of the season, which just so happens to pit Syndergaard against the Royals again, with Alcides Escobar expected to lead off per usual.

    He’ll dig in just like he did during Game 3 of the World Series, by which time Syndergaard had tired of watching the Royals’

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  • As Royals raise World Series flag, what's stopping a repeat in Kansas City?

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The tailgaters started filling the parking lot early in the morning Sunday because that’s how they do it here. Charcoal under the grill grates, meat liberally seasoned and ready to smoke, beverages swathed in ice, all of it an appetizer for the main course: a flag climbing a pole, a tangible reminder of a year nobody here would forget anytime soon.

    The 2015 and 1985 World Series championship banners. (AP Photo)The 2015 and 1985 World Series championship banners. (AP Photo)Before the ceremony in which the banner celebrating the Kansas City Royals’ 2015 World Series victory was raised, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer sat next to one another on the bench and peered out toward the reaches of Kauffman Stadium. It was perfect: the virgin grass of opening night a resplendent green, the fans packing every seat and then some, Mother Nature cooperating with an unseasonable 74 degrees. And Moustakas turned to Hosmer and asked a sincere question:

    “Did you ever think this would happen?”

    It’s a question that five months after it actually did happen seems easy to answer, and yet Hosmer just chuckled. He

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  • Source: Gregory Polanco, Pirates agree to five-year extension

    Gregory Polanco and the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed on a five-year contract extension with two club options that locks in the prime years of the young outfielder, something with which the Pirates have found significant success in recent years, a source with knowledge of the club’s dealings told Yahoo Sports.

    Gregory Polanco (AP Photo)Gregory Polanco (AP Photo)The deal is believed to guarantee Polanco in the mid-$30 million range, the source said, and should be announced this week. Polanco rejected Pittsburgh’s seven-year, $25 million offer that included three club options before his major league debut in June 2014. In the season and a half since, the 24-year-old right fielder has shown flashes of the brilliance that made him one of baseball’s top prospects before his debut.

    Those spells of success have been evened out by deep droughts, including the first half last season, during which he hit just .228/.290/.379. The Pirates believe Polanco’s second-half line of .284/.347/.383 is more indicative of the player he can be, and as they did

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  • Richard Linklater’s 'Everybody Wants Some!!' is a love letter to baseball

    Toward the end of Richard Linklater’s delightful “Everybody Wants Some!!,” a film that straddles the line between sending up and celebrating the macho ridiculousness of the short-shorted, pre-PC, early-1980s men comprising a baseball team, Finnegan, the spiritual heart of the squad, distills to its essence what it means to play baseball.

    Richard Linklater's new film, Everybody Wants Some!!, is about a college baseball team from the 1980s. (Viacom)Richard Linklater's new film, Everybody Wants Some!!, is about a college baseball team from the 1980s. (Viacom)“We all take turns being chumps around here,” he tells his teammates.

    In between the drinking and philosophizing, the shaking hips and school-record bong rips, “Everybody Wants Some!!” is a love letter to the power of a unified team. Whatever unifies it – be it cans of Lone Star or competitive ping-pong or a mosh pit or mud wrestling or any of the other scenes of college debauchery Linklater depicts with glee – matters not. Just that the sanctity of the team supersedes all.

    Even though the movie is set in 1980, so many of its basest elements continue to exist in modern Major League Baseball clubhouses, which themselves can be cauldrons of depravity.

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  • Excerpt: In ‘The Arm,’ a search for the new frontier of building healthy baseball pitchers

    From THE ARM: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports, by Jeff Passan. Copyright © 2016 by Jeff Passan. Reprinted by arrangement with Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

    The radar gun doesn’t lie. I learned this long ago, never to forget it, even when the numbers didn’t seem real. I was standing in a warehouse in middle-­of­-nowhere Washington state, watching someone named Casey Weathers, a guy whose elbow had no right to be pushing the limits of human performance, throw a baseball harder than any I’d ever seen.

    THE ARM: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports. THE ARM: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports. 105.8.

    When the numbers first flashed, nobody said anything. They were too high. Granted, this wasn’t a normal or legal throw – Weathers took a seven-­step running start, muscled into a crow hop and launched the ball as hard as he could into a net – but still, the fastest anyone had flung a five­-ounce baseball off a mound was then­-Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman at 105.1 miles per hour. Weathers left that nearly a mile in

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  • How the Dodgers' $8.3B TV deal turned into an unmitigated disaster

    Let’s get one thing straight, as the parties involved in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ unmitigated disaster of a local television deal invoke the unblemished name of an 88-year-old man in an effort to curry goodwill they themselves have spent more than two years flushing down the toilet: This is the consequence of greed, myopia and stubbornness, and no amount of pandering can placate the fans suffering because of it.

    Not many people in Los Angeles are able to hear Vin Scully. (AP Photo)Not many people in Los Angeles are able to hear Vin Scully. (AP Photo)The Dodgers, Time Warner Cable, the commissioner of baseball and even the mayor of Los Angeles on Wednesday orchestrated a four-pronged attack to try and shame DirecTV and others into offering to their customers the network that broadcasts Dodgers games. They said it would be wrong if Dodgers fans didn’t get to watch the final season of legendary play-by-play man Vin Scully, ignoring that most of them missed the previous two seasons because the $8.3 billion Time Warner promised the Dodgers for 25 seasons of local rights meant excessive costs transferred to the consumer.

    And

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