Yankees Win, Ho Hum

The Yankees won the first in a three-game series against the Red Sox last night, 9 to 5. But who cares who won? The Yankees have already clinched a spot in the playoffs. Host Scott Simon talks to NPR Sports Correspondent Tom Goldman about last night's matchup between the Yankees and the Red Sox and the goings-on in the NFL.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Coming up, Barbra Streisand returns to a small club where her huge voice first got heard. But first, time for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: The New York Yankees won the first in a three-game series against the Red Sox last night, 9-5, but I mean, really, who cares? The Yankees have already clinched a spot in the playoffs. We're joined now by WEEKEND EDITION sports guy Tom Goldman. Morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: And the Yankees broke, well, they broke a record last night, didn't they?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, ho hum, another Yankee game, another record, record for most home runs at home. Alex Rodriguez, you remember him? Guy - drugs, all that stuff? Well, that's in the past, and he hit a home run, and it was the 127th home run at the new Yankee Stadium, where apparently you and I could hit home runs, Scott.

SIMON: I was going to point out, it's not the old Yankee Stadium.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: It certainly isn't.

SIMON: I mean, it makes Wrigley Field look spacious. All right, that's going far, but yeah.

GOLDMAN: Now, as exciting as that was, really the most important thing last night was about a pitcher. Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain, basically remembered how to win. He's an important part of the rotation and will be in the post-season, but since the end of July, he hadn't - he'd only won one game, but last night, after a talking-to this week from his manager, Joe Girardi, Chamberlain took it to heart. He looked strong. He won the game for the Yanks and gave himself and New York a shot of confidence.

SIMON: Tom, why do you think the Yankees, who you know, have always spent more money than the national debt, why are they spending the money and winning this year?

GOLDMAN: Well, those two go together in their minds, and they spent the money, and they are winning, and they are - while the L.A. Dodgers early in the season were the class of the league, now the Yankees, with a real strong showing, are the class, and they are the first to snag a playoff spot, and they have, with great delight, beat up on their rival Red Sox.

SIMON: Yeah, who'll be lucky to get the wild card.

GOLDMAN: Right, right. It looks like they're going to, and everyone, of course, is salivating about a potential Yankees/Red Sox matchup for the American League pennant. They've got to get through some other good teams before then: Detroit Tigers and the L.A. Angels. But that would be exciting.

This weekend is not so much kind of a there-will-be-blood series between the two, although the Red Sox would like to win a couple in New York because the Yanks have dominated the rivalry so much this year.

SIMON: Let me ask about the NFL. The New England Patriots are 1-1, which my gosh, I think that makes - gives them the same record as the Chicago Bears, but of course with the Patriots, that's alarm bells. The Bears say, hey, this season looks good, but the Patriots are going, what's wrong?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, panic time in New England? I don't think so, but it is a bit of a rocky start, and the way the New York Jets kind of pushed them around last weekend, cause for a little alarm among some Patriots fans.

But you know, they've lost a lot of their great defenders in recent years too. Retirement and trades, and super-quarterback Tom Brady is coming back from knee surgery, and like a lot of athletes who have their knees rebuilt, he's not altogether confident. So it's not panic time, not a must-win tomorrow, a home game against Atlanta, but people are watching closely and see if Brady can ride to the rescue as he's done in recent years.

SIMON: But let me just say he's no Jay Cutler.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: Which may be a good thing.

SIMON: Or at least not for one week.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, it may be a good thing, actually.

SIMON: I want to get you to us the story in - you're in Portland this morning, right?

GOLDMAN: Yes, sir.

SIMON: I have to double-check. The head coach of the University of Oregon football team responded to an outraged fan this week. Tell us that story.

GOLDMAN: It is interesting, and coaches at the college ranks and the professional ranks may want to take note, including Jim Zorn in Washington, who - he's getting booed a lot these days by Redskins fans.

The University of Oregon traveled to Boise first game of the season and laid an egg, basically. There was big talk that they were going to be in the BCS title picture, and Oregon lost that game, and their star running back punched a member of the Boise State team, and a fan wrote to the coach and said: I traveled all the way from Oregon to Boise, I want my $439 back. And you know, sent him an invoice.

And so the coach sat down, wrote him a check and sent a check to him for $439. The guy was so touched, he sent it back to the coach, said I love this guy. If he loses every game, you won't hear me calling for his head.

So you know, coaches take heart. Maybe that's the way to do it. Start cutting checks for the fans.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Buying their sentiment and tears, whatever. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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