- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
The idea for this column came five years ago, inspired by a dreadlocked malcontent with an ego problem. Joe Mauer and Ichiro were eyeing .400, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were the game’s best right-handed hitters and the Los Angeles Angels two weeks to the day earlier signed a high school kid named ...
1. Mike Trout without any idea that the baseball world would revolve around him half a decade later like it did Manny Ramirez back in July 2009. Following another out-of-this-world first half that he cherry-on-topped with an All-Star Game MVP award, Trout now can focus on taking the full-season hardware stolen from him twice and guiding the Los Angeles Angels to his first postseason appearance. Whether they can leap ...
2. Jeff Samardzija and the Oakland A’s in the AL West is one of the sport’s burning questions, particularly considering how good the A’s were in the first half before they acquired their new ace. He fits their team personality-wise and their gloves with a big groundball rate, though if he in any way falters he’ll forever be compared to ...Fri, Jul 257:05 PM PDTDetroit at LA AngelsPreview Game
MINNEAPOLIS – It's OK if Adam Wainwright grooved Derek Jeter a pitch in Tuesday night's All-Star Game. Really, it's more than OK. It's wonderful. It's great. It's the sort of canvas on which one of the greatest ballplayers of his generation, and one of the greatest New York Yankees ever, could paint another memory, which is exactly what Jeter did with a double down the right-field line. It's not unbecoming. It's not gauche. It's not beneath either of them. It's completely stinking perfect, because this is the All-Star Game, and the All-Star Game is, and always will be, an exhibition.
Mike Trout wins MVP, AL tops NL and everyone leaves wondering about Adam Wainwright's intentions vs. Derek Jeter
MINNEAPOLIS – Baseball's 2014 All-Star Game featured a national coming-out party for Mike Trout, a strikeout parade for Yasiel Puig and a 90-mph fastball that left Derek Jeter's final game shrouded in controversy.
National League starter Adam Wainwright admitted he grooved Jeter the first two pitches of night, the latter of which Jeter stroked for a double that highlighted a 2-for-2 evening. Trout drove him in with a triple, the first of two extra-base hits on his way to winning the game's MVP award for leading the American League to a 5-3 victory on Tuesday night that gives the AL champion home-field advantage in the World Series.
Wainwright's comments to a group of reporters following his appearance in the game only reinforced the dubious awarding of home-field based on a game in which the starting pitcher was more than content to feed Jeter, the New York Yankees shortstop and a surefire Hall of Famer retiring at season's end, two easy pitches to hit.
"I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it," said Wainwright, the St. Louis Cardinals starter. "I didn't know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind."
MINNEAPOLIS – Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game went about as well as possible, even if it included a little help from the opposing pitcher.
Jeter went 2 for 2, including a first-inning double on a 90-mph fastball National League starter Adam Wainwright told a group of reporters he threw over the plate intentionally.
"I was gonna give him a couple pipe shots. He deserved it," Wainwright said. "I didn't know he was gonna hit a double or I might have changed my mind."
Wainwright later told Fox's Erin Andrews he was joking when he made his initial comments, hoping to quash criticism he received on social media for giving Jeter a pitch to hit in a game that determines home-field advantage for the World Series.
"Sometimes my humor gets taken the wrong way," Wainwright said in a dugout interview in the eighth inning. "I feel terrible about this if anyone is taking any credit away from what Derek Jeter's done today or off me. It was mis-said. I made a mistake.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
MINNEAPOLIS – The new face of baseball sat in front of five people at a time, maybe 10 when it got really crowded, answering questions in the same manner as the old face. Baseball doesn't manufacture celebrities like the NBA or the NFL, and it rewards stoicism and humility above all, so of course Mike Trout would offer answers like Derek Jeter, which is to say ones about as boring as the Home Run Derby.
For two decades, Jeter rode the milquetoast train to superstardom on account of the city in which he played (New York), the championship rings on his fingers (a fistful) and his remarkable ability never to offend (a streak still intact). It is why the nebulous face-of-baseball title went to him more by default than his earning it. He was never the best player. He was just the coolest.
With Jeter set to take his savoir faire off to retirement this season, it leaves baseball, already a sport with a cog or two missing from its star-making machine, in search of someone to fill the role for now – or, better yet, for good.
"Mike Trout would be a good candidate," Tim Hudson said.
"I've got to go Mike Trout," David Price said.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports11 days ago
MINNEAPOLIS – He's 17 years old. That's what gets everyone. It's not Julio Urias' 97-mph fastball, which is unforgettable because he fires it left-handed. Nor is it his left eye, which droops because of childhood surgery to remove a tumor. It's the fact that he can barely drive, can't vote, is almost half a decade from a legal beer and could very well pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers next year.
"This guy's got the ability to pitch in the big leagues at 18," Logan White said Sunday morning, a few hours before Urias threw that 97-mph gas and breezed through an impressive 14-pitch inning for the World team in a 3-2 loss to the U.S. in the Futures Game that kicked off baseball's All-Star week. White is the Dodgers' scouting director, and he understands the loaded nature of his words, how the last pitcher to debut in the big leagues as an 18-year-old was Tim Conroy in 1978 – and that was little more than a publicity stunt by Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley.Fri, Jul 257:15 PM PDTLA Dodgers at San FranciscoPreview Game
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports13 days ago
I was convinced this is a joke. I still am. This all sounds like the handiwork of an elaborate, incredibly realistic, indescribably evil, completely typical prank on Cleveland. Because if sports taught anything to those of us who grew up in Cleveland, it is that Mr. Murphy wrote his law with our humble city in mind.
Please understand the feeling that this is a hallucination, a dream. That the rumors of LeBron James considering coming back to Cleveland felt like a tease, and that the Cavs clearing cap space to accommodate his max salary was only ratcheting up the eventual disappointment, and that when people gathered last night near James' home, like white smoke was about to emerge from the chimney, it was mindless sheep being led to their emotional slaughter.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports14 days ago
It's too late to save this generation. At the highest levels of research into the pitching arm, almost all the top minds agree that baseball for the next decade, and probably more, is going to be a non-stop parade of injuries, disappointment and bewilderment. This horrifies them. It should.
And so they hold out for hope that this is the one, that maybe because it's Masahiro Tanaka's elbow, a $175 million hinge held together by a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, the industry will start to recognize the crisis on its hands and do more than talk about it. Perhaps they'll even acknowledge that it's not just a crisis because of what's happening, because elbows are blowing out with such frequency. It's a crisis because of what's not happening.
- Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports14 days ago
The Futures Game has been around for 16 years, long enough that almost everybody from the first version is gone from the game. Lance Berkman retired. Alfonso Soriano just got cut. The only leftovers on active rosters are A.J. Burnett, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Grilli and Aramis Ramirez.
It's worth keeping in mind when looking at the potential of the 2014 Futures Game's prospect haul, many of whom have been stamped with the CAN'T MISS tattoo of doom. Remember: Lots of them do miss, so it's fun to appreciate them now.
And that opportunity will present itself Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, when a group of prospects from the United States faces a team of players born outside of the U.S. It's not a real game so much as it is an individual showcase. In that spirit, keep this list of players handy. It's not a ranking of the best prospects in the game. It's the 30 most fun to watch, whether because of power, speed, velocity or any other number of enjoyable qualities.
10 Degrees: MLB All-Star Game needs to lighten up and acknowledge deserving players like Jeff SamardzijaJeff Passan at Yahoo Sports18 days ago
Jeff Samardzija should show up to the All-Star Game in one of those sewn-together jerseys that moms of professional athletes wear when their sons play against each other. On one side, he can sport the National League out of respect for the players who voted him in, and on the other, he can represent the American League since that's where he plays these days.
If Major League Baseball isn't going to let him play – and, as of now, it has ruled Samardzija ineligible for the July 15 game because he had the temerity to get traded between leagues – he should at least have some fun with it. Because that's when the Midsummer Classic is at its greatest: When fun is the imperative.