MLB Trade Deadline, Deflategate Fallout: The Week In Sports
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Now it's time for sports.
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SIMON: The NFL upheld time Tom Brady's four-game suspension because he smashed his cell phone. Well, who wouldn't? Is this headed to court? And a flurry of trades in baseball as the season heads towards a long, hot stretch towards the finish. Howard Bryant of espn.com and ESPN The Magazine joins us now from the studios of New England Public Radio. Howard, thanks for being with us.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: Good morning. Now, Deflategate again, I prefer Ballghazi. Has it moved from the locker room and sidelines to the boardrooms and the owners' suites?
BRYANT: Well, I think that's where it always was. And I think that this entire on-field element of this is nonsense. And I think it makes the league look even worse, considering that they're trying to fight to keep Tom Brady at a four-game suspension when they gave Greg Hardy four games for domestic violence. And I don't think that plays very well and nor does it make a great deal of sense. I always thought this was going to go from a four-game suspension down to two if anyone used common sense. But really, the fight here is owner versus owner. I think that the league wants the Patriots to be held to the same standard as other teams - the teams themselves, the Saints, which lost a full season due to Bountygate - another gate - the Falcons and the Browns were all sanctioned by the commissioner for various infractions. And I think they think the Patriots received special treatment. And I think the other thing that is really going on here is this battle between the ownership and the commissioner in terms of the commissioner's power. The union has been fighting for years to try to reduce the commissioner's power. And I think that if he loses in court again outside of his own jurisdiction, if he loses in federal court, then I think you're going to see some real changes in the NFL because it's the one sport where the commissioner is pretty much all-powerful or at least has been.
SIMON: Let's get to baseball's trading deadline. Not so long ago, we would've asked if the Yanks and Red Sox improved their chances for a title run. This year, we wonder what have the Royals, Astros and the Blue Jays done?
BRYANT: (Laughter) Well, the Blue Jays were great. They traded language yesterday. And for the first time in a long time, they were players in the postseason - the run to get to the postseason. It's really impressive, and I really like it. I think it's great for baseball. We saw, last year, the Kansas City Royals, they made the World Series having never made the playoffs since 1985, since they were in the World Series. The Houston Astros are in first place right now. They haven't made the playoffs since they lost in the World Series in 2005. And now the Blue Jays, they haven't made the playoffs since they won the World Series back in 1993.
SIMON: Yeah, that's astonishing, yeah.
BRYANT: I think the thing that I love about this, which is really good for baseball, is I think so many fans have been co-opted into thinking like general managers. They think about the rebuilding plan and the rest of the stuff when you really should be a fan. Your team - you root for your team so your team can win. And I think that's the thing about baseball. The Blue Jays are now in it. Now you have something to think about. You have something to spend the next two months being part of, which is what being a fan really is all about. I think one of the hard things about being a fan, especially with a sport like baseball, is knowing that your team, for so long, has no chance starting in January and February. Now you've got a chance. And let's remember how much fun it was when Toronto was getting 4 million fans a year. That's a great baseball town.
SIMON: Yeah. Howard, can I take a moment to remember Billy Pierce?
BRYANT: Of course, the great Billy Pierce.
SIMON: The great Billy Pierce, left-hander for the Chicago White Sox, went on to play, I guess, for the San Francisco Giants, too, one of the best left-handers in the American League. When I was a kid, I thought I was Billy Pierce. I wouldn't answer to Scotty. You had to call me Billy. When his career ended in the mid-'60s, he went to work for the Continental Envelope Company. A few years ago, I wound up as a pallbearer at Jack Brickhouse's funeral, alongside Billy Pierce. He was so gentlemanly, funny and interesting. I loved him. And at the end of the day, we embraced. And Billy Pierce said to me, I'll tell you what, kid, for the next few years, I'm going to pretend to be you.
SIMON: It was one of the classiest things that I had ever heard.
BRYANT: Good, old-time baseball, love those guys.
SIMON: ESPN's Howard Bryant, thanks so much for being with us. Talk to you soon.
BRYANT: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.