Sammy Sosa's 'Surprise,' More Backfield Chatter

No more basketball, no more hockey, what's left to talk about? Oh right, baseball. Guest host Alison Stewart talks to Howard Bryant about this week in sports.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

STEWART: No more basketball, no more hockey - what's left to talk about? Oh, right, baseball. We're joined now by our own slugger, Howard Bryant. Hi, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Alison, good morning.

STEWART: So Sammy Sosa slammed 609 home runs, he had three seasons with more than 60 homers, and now the New York Times reported he was one of those 104 players anonymously drug tested back in '03 - and guess what, he tested positive for enhancing drugs. Is this surprising to you?

BRYANT: Well, it's not surprising to me and it's clearly not surprising to Scott Simon, since this has to be the reason why he's stuffing(ph) me this morning.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRYANT: His beloved Cubs dirty, just like the rest. No…

STEWART: I'm not confirming or denying that.

BRYANT: Exactly. Well, I think that it's not a surprise to people, but I do think it's extremely disappointing because, once again, it seems like this era - it's the guest that wouldn't leave. And I think that when you look at what has happened over this period, I think people have a basic numbness to it. But at the same time I still think it's extremely important because once again to me the major underpinning of it is that these players, sure, may have been caught up in a culture, but that culture was really created by the superstars.

And I think that's the one thing that really does strike me over the past 15 years is that you've got the best players with the most talent who made the most money create this culture of anabolic steroid use when it was really completely unnecessary. And they got to keep their money and they get to keep all of their fame and everything else. And yet once again, when we talk about the Hall of Fame, I think that people - at least Hall of Fame voters like myself - I'm not going to vote for any of these guys. And it really does - it's going to create a very interesting tableau over the next 25 years or so when you have Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds - a lot of these great, great players who may not even get into the Hall of Fame.

STEWART: Let's get your thoughts on penalties, given someone like Pete Rose was banned from baseball for life for gambling, which presumably he did off the field. Should baseball consider similarly harsh penalties for players found to have altered the game by using performance-enhancing drugs?

BRYANT: Well, it's either one of the other, I would think. Because the more scandal that we have, the more evidence that we have that these players altered so much of their abilities by using these different drugs, the more Pete Rose looks sympathetic.

I've spoken with the commissioner, with Bud Selig, on numerous occasions, and I've told him that there's a great incongruity there. If you're going to - if these guys are going to be able to get in because of what they've done, which we all have acknowledged is cheating, then why can't Pete Rose get into the Hall of Fame? And of course Pete Rose is the great kryptonite that nobody wants to touch, but the bottom line is, is that there is an incongruity there and I think baseball has to address it.

To me personally, I think that baseball - this has been a money story all along. I think baseball has to hit these guys back in their wallet by telling them that they're not going to be able to get into the hall. And for lesser players that don't have Hall of Fame talent, well, then they should be on the ineligible list and shouldn't be able to make a living from baseball when their careers are over.

STEWART: I've got about 30 seconds.

BRYANT: Sure.

STEWART: Let's talk about games. We're in the middle of inter-league play. How will these games affect the pennant race?

BRYANT: Well, the games affect the pennant race greatly, especially when you look at teams like Philadelphia that can't seem to win at inter-league play; they've lost seven out of 10. And then on the other hand, teams like the Angels, who were struggling all season and they've won nine out of ten.

It's been a great season so far. The Yankees haven't been able to beat the Red Sox all season this year. You've got Milwaukee in first place, which I think is a wonderful story. Texas, of all teams, is in first place - another wonderful story. And the Cubs can't seem to get out of their way. Cincinnati actually has a better record than they do. Who would've thought that?

STEWART: Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, thanks a lot.

BRYANT: My pleasure.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.