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Lots Of Baseball And A Little Soccer: The Week In Sports


In baseball, just four teams are left standing and running, hitting, scoring and spitting. The Kansas City Royals beat the Baltimore Orioles last night in the 10th inning. And tonight, the Saint Louis Cardinals will take on the San Francisco Giants. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Excuse me. Oh, yeah, go ahead, just spitting.

SIMON: (Laughter) Well, we're talking baseball.

GOLDMAN: A little chew.

SIMON: Oh, yeah. Does the K.C. win say anything about the rest of the series, potentially?

GOLDMAN: Oh, oh, absolutely not. Predicting is pretty much a dead art form, Scott, in this baseball postseason. Kansas City, the worst home-run-hitting team in the regular season - with 95 - had three last night, giving the Royals seven for the postseason, tied for the most among the remaining teams. Baltimore, the big boppers, hit the most during the regular season - 211. The O's had none last night. It's apparent, in this postseason especially, that what happens in the regular season stays in the regular season.

SIMON: (Laughter).

GOLDMAN: And a lot of fans are realizing that, and sadly for some teams that have been eliminated, it appears their managers are realizing that as well.

SIMON: Well, is there an art, if you please, to managing in the postseason that, it must be said, a couple managers may have missed?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Seems to be. You know, after the game in which the San Francisco Giants eliminated the Washington Nationals, which you know all about, from the postseason, rookie manager Matt Williams was asked why he used the relief pitchers he did. And he said he followed a formula that worked well in the regular season. The Nats had a great regular season, of course, most wins in the National League. But postseason baseball is about situations that can determine the difference between winning and losing and making decisions in those moments that might not fit the normal routine - you know, playing a player who you might not usually play, but he's best for that moment. And guys like Bruce Bochy for San Francisco and, to a lesser extent, Mike Matheny with St. Louis, have figured that out. And it's a big reason why, for the fifth straight year, either San Francisco or St. Louis will represent the National League in the World Series. But, Scott, also a very big reason - those two team's hitters are hitting and their pitchers are pitching. Let's not forget that's part of a winning formula as well.

SIMON: Yeah, quickly, any team have the edge going into that series tonight between San Francisco and St. Louis?

GOLDMAN: I would merely be predicting, Scott. I can't predict.

SIMON: Oh, right, of course.

GOLDMAN: It's two playoff-savvy teams doing the right things at the right time. And it should be good, smart, tense baseball.

SIMON: They know how to win, Tom Goldman, don't they?

GOLDMAN: That's right.

SIMON: And speaking of which - Landon Donovan, forward for the U.S. men's soccer team with his last game last night. How'd it go?

GOLDMAN: He played about 40 minutes in the first half in a 1-1 U.S. draw with Ecuador - love those draws. He had a couple of bona fide shots on goal, which just missed, so the soccer gods apparently weren't going to let the perfect ending happen. When he was substituted out, he came to the sideline, had an awkward half-hug with Coach Jurgen Kilnsmann, the guy who left Landon Donovan off the World Cup team this summer, but a nice send-off. He got the kind of rousing reception he deserved as the face of men's soccer in this country for the last 15 years.

SIMON: Yeah, NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks very much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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