Buehrle's Perfect Game; Can Vick Return?

The baseball trade deadline is less than a week away — who will go where? Host Scott Simon and sports guru Howard Bryant talk about Michael Vick's possible return to the NFL and Mark Buehrle's perfect game.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

And speaking of beer, time for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: The baseball trading deadline is less than a week away. Who will go where? For how much? Joined now by Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Howard, thanks for being with us.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (ESPN): Good morning, Scott. I'm not on the trading block, by the way, just so you know.

SIMON: Oh, my gosh.

Mr. BRYANT: At least I'm hoping I'm not.

SIMON: Did I have a deal set up for you.

Well, let's reconsider. Friday is the non-waiver trading deadline for major leagues.

Mr. BRYANT: Yes.

SIMON: Do you expect some major ones?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, obviously the big name out there is Roy Halladay, the pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. And any team that he goes to, any contender is going to be a World Series - a very serious World Series contender. Philadelphia is the team that most people seem to think that he could go to, the Dodgers as well.

It does seem, however, that there's also - you never know when the Yankees or the Red Sox are going to sneak in and do that thing they do with their hundreds of millions of dollars. But I think it would send a very bad message to the good people of Toronto to trade your best pitcher to a team that you play 19 times.

SIMON: Yeah. You know, I want to turn to football to talk about Michael Vick. He met with the commissioner, Roger Goodell, this week to talk about his future with the league now that he's out of prison and home supervision. Does he have a future in the NFL?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, it's a great question, and I think even the larger question is whether or not it's possible to pay one's debt to society when he had first been involved in these dog-fighting charges. Yes, he did lie to the commissioner, and he had been suspended indefinitely in August of 2007. And as we know, he then went to prison for two years.

And so now you have one school of thought - especially the players - who are saying, okay, he did his time, he paid his debt, he went to prison, and now he should be able to resume his life. Now the commissioner, Roger Goodell, is deciding whether or not to suspend him again as further punishment. And this is a great question.

Because here's the bottom line: If he does get - they're talking about a two- to six-game suspension, chances are he's not going to be able to play very effectively this year. He's going to miss out on parts of training camp, depending on what their deal is. And so I think that right now, the commissioner really has to decide if he's done his time.

I seem to think that if he - he's already done his two years in prison; what is the point of suspending him even further?

SIMON: And fan reaction has to be a factor, too.

Mr. BRYANT: Well, fan reaction and protest reaction. Let's not forget that PETA is a very strong, very well-organized organization, and there is no love lost between that organization and Michael Vick. And also, a lot of people still feel that what he did was heinous - and I believe that it was.

But in comparison, there are people who have taken other people's lives -Leonard Little killed someone in a drunk driving accident - whose punishments have been less than this.

SIMON: Mark Buehrle of the White Sox - did you know he pitched a perfect game against Tampa Bay on Thursday?

Mr. BRYANT: I heard.

SIMON: Yeah. And, of course, a great assist from DeWayne Wise.

Mr. BRYANT: Yeah.

SIMON: The outfielder. He's obviously a great pitcher. How can a guy who, God bless, might not be able to throw a ball hard enough to break a window be one of the best pitchers in baseball?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, because pitching isn't just the ability to throw the ball hard. You have to throw it where you want it, when you want it. And pitching really is an art. You have to be able - it's like a great game of chess, where you're trying to parry what your opponent is doing.

And in baseball, instead of trying to throw the ball as hard you can, you have to throw it at different speeds in different locations. I really loved Mark Buehrle's perfect game because it was one of the more democratic perfect games. He had only struck out six guys, and it had more action for the players. And I think when you go in and you strike out everybody, it's just you and the batter.

But this game, everybody contributed, and obviously DeWayne Wise's catch was a phenomenal catch. Not only did he stop a home run, but he caught the ball falling down, and it was a great, great accomplishment.

SIMON: And finally, Tour de France wrapping up this weekend. Lance Armstrong in third place; Alberto Contador, his teammate and sometimes rival, seems to be a real worthy successor.

Mr. BRYANT: Seems to be a worthy successor; it's got - we've got two days to go. Lance is trailing by about five minutes - I think it was 5 minutes and 21 seconds the last time I checked. And so it does look like there's going to be a new champion. And I think third place, for a guy who hadn't ridden, it's a pretty good accomplishment, although it does seem like Lance Armstrong is bigger than the Tour, and he's bigger than the news and all. But I think that Contador is very much worthy - and very combative in his own sense. I really - I do like watching him.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

Mr. BRYANT: My pleasure.

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