- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports12 hrs ago
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – George Brett, skin forever bronzed, teeth whiter than a Phish concert, eternally the face of the Kansas City Royals, turned 61 this year, which, depending on the perspective, serves as a wonderful affirmation that heroes can age gracefully or a depressing reminder that the star of this tortured city's last playoff baseball team can collect Social Security next year.
In 1985, when Brett led the Royals to their only World Series championship, he was 32, still in the prime of his glorious Hall of Fame career, and coming off a spectacular decade in which Kansas City served as the archetypal baseball franchise. Consider that for a moment. The only other time Kansas City has played archetype for anything involves meat and smoke, and yet the Royals – the Royals more than a generation of people know only through stories – were the model.
Please understand, then, how odd this feels to those who live here, those conditioned, so sadly, to expect the worst from their local sports teams. If winning is like a drug, so is losing, a barbiturate to the mind and soul, one that fosters a permanent numbing that can be allayed only by what's happening Tuesday.Tue, Sep 305:07 PM PDTOakland at Kansas CityPreview Game
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports4 days ago
NEW YORK – The New York Yankees exist to make gods, to turn humans superhuman by virtue of their defining characteristics, real or imagined. Babe Ruth was the larger-than-life caricature, Lou Gehrig the classy figure felled by tragedy, Mickey Mantle the purest talent possible, Joe DiMaggio the essence of gracefulness, Yogi Berra the human malaprop. They live on in Monument Park, the center field homage at Yankee Stadium, to which people travel from around the world, as though on Hajj, to pay respects.
Derek Jeter arrived here with the No. 2 on his back, anointed before he'd taken a single swing with a single-digit number, which only Yankees greats wear. Before long, his sobriquet was clear: Derek Jeter, the epitome of clutch, the sort of legend that grew in his salad days and waned as the vagaries of time took with it most of his game.Sun, Sep 28NY Yankees9 - 5BostonGame Recap
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
The information age turned baseball into a marketplace of knowledge, the Internet a giant warehouse that could provide answers for voracious debates without the peril of an overserved know-it-all at the bar spouting off everything he knows to be correct.
Even so, there remains a surfeit of unplumbed gems waiting to be extracted and spread to the masses. And thus was born this annual.
Here is the part where we acknowledge that, yes, many of these are extremely small sample sizes and say little to nothing about a player’s skills or his long-term prognosis and fine print, fine print, blah-blah-blah. This is supposed to be fun. Please take it as such.
1. Aroldis Chapman is the hardest-throwing pitcher ever.
This is supposed to be 25 things you didn’t know about baseball, and everyone knows Chapman, the 26-year-old left-hander from Cuba, chucks a baseball at higher velocities than anyone in history. C’mon, Passan. You gotta do better than that.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
Atlanta Braves interim general manager John Hart can drop the interim off his title if he wants.
Braves president John Schuerholz offered Hart the option of taking over the team's GM duties full time, sources told Yahoo Sports. Before making a decision, Hart told Schuerholz he needed to give it serious thought, sources said.
The Braves fired GM Frank Wren on Monday and elevated Hart, 66, to the interim title. The architect of Cleveland's 1990s success and later GM with Texas, Hart joined Atlanta last year as a senior adviser.
Were Hart to accept the job, it's likely he would groom assistant GM John Coppolella, 35, whom the Braves retained. It's conceivable Coppolella could be elevated to the job now, too, though Atlanta could widen its search were Hart to turn it down. Hart had a similar situation in Texas, where he left the job in the hands of then-28-year-old Jon Daniels.
Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who spent more than a decade in the Atlanta organization, is also a favorite among the Braves' consortium of Schuerholz, Hart and adviser Bobby Cox. Moore has not commented publicly on his interest in the job.Sun, Sep 28Atlanta2 - 1PhiladelphiaGame Recap
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports9 days ago
After two years and thousands of words spent arguing on behalf of Mike Trout’s MVP candidacy, it’s nice to know that there’s really no argument this year, that Miguel Cabrera deigned to have a down season (by his lofty standards) and cede the honor to the best player in the game.
The Trout-vs.-Cabrera fight – and considering the vitriol that still pervades discussion over the last two American League MVP awards, fight is the kindest way to put it – spoke to the chasm that exists not just in pegging value but in what the award means.
Value remains a nebulous word, one that divides even those who appreciate what advanced statistics explain. Most of the rift involves defensive metrics and just how accurately they peg true value, and in putting together awards this season, there is more of an emphasis on offensive performance and positional value than the defensive component in Wins Above Replacement. This isn’t to penalize the game’s elite fielders – some merit consideration – so much as to admit questions about how to divide the fielding-value pie. Questions that, when answered, may well prompt changes in results.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
The inning unfolded like a mirage, one unbelievable image after another, all adding up to the greatest delusion of all: Clayton Kershaw plodding off the pitcher’s mound, defeated. He is the best pitcher alive, on his way to becoming one of the best ever, though for 24 minutes on a hot afternoon on May 17, Kershaw was the guy getting pummeled by the worst team in baseball.
Inside the Arizona Diamondbacks’ dugout, they giggled. Not just laughed. There were actual giggles, giddiness come to life, grown men tickled at the history they were making at Chase Field. Kershaw, as Diamondbacks infielder Cliff Pennington said, “is barely human,” a 26-year-old maybe-cyborg who spits mid-90s fastballs and high-80s sliders and low-70s curveballs with little regard for those standing 60 feet, 6 inches from him. Since that day, he owns a 1.45 ERA over 22 starts, 200 strikeouts and 28 walks, and an opponent OPS of under .500. It’s a run unparalleled since Bob Gibson finished a full season with a 1.12 ERA, prompting the lowering of the mound to its current 10-inch height.Sun, Sep 28St. Louis1 - 0ArizonaGame Recap
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports11 days ago
The NFL’s descent into ugliness over the past two weeks taught the sports world the power and import of the whole truth, something apparently lost on the crisis-management team Ron Washington hired. The bizarre, uncomfortable news conference Washington held Thursday to shed light on his resignation from the Texas Rangers offered no such thing. It only prompted further questions, one of which will continue to linger: If Ron Washington is willing to stand in front of a dais and embarrass his wife of 42 years publicly by admitting he wronged her, just how ugly is the truth he’s not willing to tell?
Maybe this goes away. Secrets can vanish these days. Such instances are rare, and if this was Washington’s attempt to squelch rumors about the true reason, it failed miserably. Further confirming this were sources close to Washington who told Yahoo Sports that his apparent infidelity – he said he "was not true" to his wife, Gerry – was not the entire reason behind his resignation.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports13 days ago
Race burbles through so many of Ken Burns’ films, a predominant subtext in the great American stories he chooses to tell. Twenty years ago this week, as Burns’ epic “Baseball” miniseries debuted and served as a nightly reminder of embarrassment over the cancellation of the 1994 World Series, he introduced the world to a man named Buck O’Neil.
Nobody distilled life in the Negro Leagues to its disturbing essence quite like Buck, a player, manager, scout and, best of all, master raconteur. And yet he still radiated dignity amid cultural indignity, romanticized portions of our history that otherwise would’ve been relegated to the deepest and darkest corners of shame. There could be beauty in the Negro Leagues, this entity that never should have existed in the first place, because people like Buck brought shades of gray to a world that couldn’t bring itself to see black.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports15 days ago
Considering the Cleveland Indians have spent the majority of summer coming up with different ways to talk about how old Scott Atchison is, it's a minor miracle they haven't stumbled upon this little nugget of delight: Scott Atchison has had gray hair longer than he hasn't.
"The first one, where you have just one pop up, was probably my senior year in high school," Atchison said. "But they really started coming my last, maybe second-to-last year in college. It's been a gradual process."
There's more salt than pepper now atop the head of the 38-year-old Atchison, one of the 2014 season's greatest success stories in a Swiss Army knife role out of the Indians bullpen. He can do mop-up. He can do high-leverage. He can vulture up wins, as evidenced by the 6-0 record that sits alongside his 2.53 ERA. Best of all, he can weather a joke from his teammates, which is a wonderful talent for someone among the most wizened players in baseball.
If there is a Senior Olympics I know who I'm picking in the 100 meter dash. https://t.co/Rpv6KRH0W6Sun, Sep 28Tampa Bay2 - 7ClevelandGame Recap
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports17 days ago
Chris Davis knew exactly what he was doing when he started popping Adderall again. More than any sport, baseball’s relentless toll can ruin a player’s psyche, cause him to forget who he is and what he’s done, send him into the sort of spiral that makes him look for something, anything. Davis sought answers in a pill bottle.
The wonderment of his 2013 season had yielded to the misery of 2014, and when Davis’ troubles tracking the baseball out of the pitcher’s hand and concentrating continued, sources told Yahoo Sports, he turned to what he used in the past, well aware of the potential consequences. Major League Baseball on Friday smacked Davis with a 25-game suspension for his second positive test for amphetamines, a penalty that will bench the Baltimore Orioles slugger for the remainder of the regular season and eight postseason games, should the Orioles make the ALCS.