The 2014 Marlin Maniac Axe Grinder of the Year Award Goes to…Jeff Passan


We missed awarding the prize last year due to being overwrought by the certainty that Global Warming would make the Mayan calendar’s prediction of the end of the era of man seem horrifyingly prescient.  However, this year’s switch to Climate Change seems to be softening the blow, and who could actually pass up some well-deserved recognition for our old pal Jeff Passan?  Pitchers are just now starting to throw from the mound, and he has already plunged well below an already low bar with this piece from last night.

In 2012, Sean Gregory won the inaugural award for his shameful hit piece on Ozzie Guillen.  We took him to task for the piece due to the naked conflation of an offhand remark about his admiration of the despised-in-Miami dictator’s ability to hold the reins of absolute power for so many years. Purportedly a biographical piece on the outspoken and mercurial Guillen, Gregory’s decision to lead with the out-of-context quote was made solely to stroke the author’s ego.  It must have been a real treat for him to brand poor Ozzie with the scarlet letter and head over to the village armory to start handing out pitchforks and torches to his fellow “journalists.”

On to 2014.  Like so many of his cohort, Passan has been dazzled by the bright shiny lights of the Big City, and centers his writing around the teams with the highest payrolls, gleefully passing out his “See? I told you they would fail.” analyses and thinly veiled accusations of cheating.  This piece is a classic example, where he manages to not only sound like a gossip columnist, but to ridicule Pujols’ faith in the process:

"While there may be perfectly legitimate reasons Pujols returned so quickly – the break wasn’t bad to begin with, or he heals faster than most, or his pain tolerance far exceeds that of normal humans – he wants us to believe this is about a higher power. Nothing illegal. Nothing undetectable. Nothing nefarious. Good genes, hard work and faith.Faith is a tough sell in a sport where plenty of fans have lost it."

Past is only prologue for yesterday’s howler about the Marlins’ front office.  Committing the heinous crime of owning a team in a small market and having a small payroll is clearly a valid reason in Passan’s mind for laying out an accusation of overt lying. Additionally, Passan seems to feel that his press credentials entitle him to ignore any pretense of politeness or tolerance:

"Gone is GM Larry Beinfest, tired of bending to the dictator and his little friend"

Can anyone imagine the hue and cry that would be raised if Jeffrey Loria made a snotty comment about Ken Rosenthal’s height?

For Passan, possession of wealth turned Loria into a criminal. A conservative payroll made him a felon. Yes, the stadium deal is bad for the residents of Miami, but blame cannot rest on the Marlins front office. They are obliged to make the best deal they can to support their business. It was the city council that approved the deal, not Jeffrey Loria. Keep that in mind when you read criticism of the deal.

We here at Marlin Maniac agree that the Marlins front office could take some lessons on how to avoid meddling  in the clubhouse, but feel that taking cheap shots on someone’s physical stature is grounds for an old-fashioned blanket party.

The Marlins have assembled one of the best pitching staffs in the National league, if not in the MLB.  They made some excellent offseason trades to augment yawning gaps in their offense, and have done so with a meager payroll.  There is a lot to admire in a low-budget Cinderella story. Billy Beane did such a good job of it that it got turned into an A-list movie. Weighing in with a thinly supported screed like this one is the kind of thing that does nothing more than make Jeff Passan feel good about Jeff Passan.  For that, he’s earned our scorn and derision for 2014.