ESPN’s Jeff Passan apologizes for Shit Sandwich crack on MLB owners

After nine straight days of negotiations between Major League Baseball owners and players that did not result in a new CBA last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced his sport was scrapping games from the regular season due to a labor dispute for the first time in 27 years.

Assigned to cover the negotiations for ESPN, MLB insider Jeff Passan was aware of the final offer made to the players by the owners and Manfred before the first week of games of the season was canceled. Passan, who would likely much rather cover games than boardroom feuds, called the offer a “shitty sandwich.”

“I looked at the offer the next morning and texted a few players and texted a few agents and said to all of them, ‘Are you really going to have that sandwich?’ Passan said on the Pablo Torre podcast ESPN, which is an MLB broadcast partner, edited the commentary from the audio he posted online and called on Passan to apologize.

“On a podcast recently, I took the phrasing of a source and mistakenly did not specify that they were his words, not mine,” Passan said in a statement. “ESPN and the fans rightly expect me to be objective, and my record shows that I’m extremely committed to portraying all sides of a story. In this case, I didn’t meet that standard.

ESPN, which follows a journalistic thin line with its coverage because it is a financial partner to many of the leagues it reports on, also released a statement on the matter.

“We have addressed the situation with Jeff directly and as you can see from his statement, he understands his mistake,” an ESPN spokesperson said. The New York Post. “We are fully confident that in the future he will cover this important and sensitive topic fairly.”

All things being equal, we don’t know how important or sensitive the subject of MLB labor negotiations is, nor are we convinced that what Passan said wasn’t fair. He’s a journalist. He is informed. He has the right to have an opinion. And it turns out that his opinion is shared by the majority of baseball fans who pay attention.

In a new Morning Consult survey of self-identified MLB fans, respondents were more than twice as likely to say landlords are most responsible for failing to close a deal (45%) than to say that players deserve the lion’s share of the blame (21%) for the lack of a new CBA. The last time the two teams were at odds was in the summer of 2020 as they tried to figure out how to get play back amid the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, 33% of MLB fans blamed the owners for the no deal while 24% said the players were at fault.

The owners’ slice of the pie will only get bigger if another regular-season game week is canceled, an outcome that will happen if a new CBA can’t be achieved by Tuesday night.

Neal T. Doss