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Baseball's Regular Season Winds Down, Playoffs Days Away
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Baseball's Regular Season Winds Down, Playoffs Days Away

Sports

Baseball's Regular Season Winds Down, Playoffs Days Away

Baseball's Regular Season Winds Down, Playoffs Days Away
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A handful of Major League Baseball teams have clinched their divisions — others are in tight races. This is the final week of baseball's regular season.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The National Football League has been dominating the sports headlines, but this week that may finally start to change because it's the final week of the Major League Baseball regular season. Yeah, remember baseball? It's a good bet you will because between now and Sunday's finale, there is guaranteed excitement with teams battling for playoff spots. Joining us now is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Good morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: I'm excited, how about you?

CORNISH: I am. So let's first talk about the week to come and the races for the postseason because there's a bunch of contending teams that played last night. What's the latest?

GOLDMAN: You know, it's always fun to have teams in the playoffs that you haven't seen for a while, like Seattle. The Mariners haven't been to the postseason for 13 years, battling for a wild-card spot - but didn't help their cause with a 14-4 loss to Toronto last night. The Kansas City Royals haven't been in the postseason since Abraham Lincoln was president - no actually Ronald Reagan in 1985. They're in a division race with Detroit in the AL Central, only a game behind. And then Pittsburgh broke a long playoff drought last season and the Pirates are showing it was no fluke. They won 1-0 last night and they're only two games behind St. Louis in the National League Central.

CORNISH: All right, well, give me the long view. There's the potential for some rare regional match ups in the World Series next month, right? I mean, one in the Northeast and, of course, one in the Southwest.

GOLDMAN: Absolutely. One you're hearing a lot about - the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles. Fans are in a tizzy about a possible Beltway series, although, of course, technically they're not connected by the same Beltway, but it's close enough. They're both division winners. They have each won over 90 games. It could happen. So could a California freeway series - the Dodgers versus the LA Angels, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. And this one could be real eye-candy for baseball fans. Star-studded teams, the Dodgers have left-handed pitching genius Clayton Kershaw, the freakishly talented wild-child Yasiel Puig. The Angels have the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, and veteran slugger Albert Pujols and many, many, many more.

CORNISH: Finally, Tom, I do want to get back to that crisis in the NFL, obviously the league still dealing with the issue of domestic violence. Yesterday, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens met with the press for 45 minutes to defend his team's handling of the case involving former Ravens' running back Ray Rice. Now, the ravens, of course, cut Rice two weeks ago after the video surfaced of him assaulting his fiance. What did Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti say yesterday?

GOLDMAN: Well, he disputed an espn.com article from last week, saying the ravens misled - even covered up - what they knew early about the Ray Rice incident. The article says the team's head of security knew the details of the video that showed Rice punching his then fiance within hours after the incident happened in February. And that the security immediately relayed that description to Bisciotti and other Ravens' officials. Now, the security person and the Ravens deny it happened that way. Bisciotti said at his press conference what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said all along - they didn't see the tape until it was revealed publicly by TMZ two weeks ago. But Bisciotti regrets that fact, and here's what he said.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

STEVE BISCIOTTI: There is no excuse for me to have not demanded that video, except I wasn't concerned or interested enough to demand it. I'm sorry for that - deeply sorry for that.

GOLDMAN: Now, Audie, he said he wasn't interested because police and prosecutors in the case were going to - in his words - aggressively pursue justice. Now there's still a fair amount of skepticism about what Bisciotti and Roger Goodell last Friday have said. And this points to the current investigation by former FBI Director Robert Mueller and the hopes that he can find truths about what happened in the Ray Rice case.

CORNISH: Tom, thanks so much for the update.

GOLDMAN: You bet, Audie.

CORNISH: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.

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