Baseball Playoffs Are Déjà Vu All Over Again

The 2004 baseball playoffs are underway. Three of the four division series, Yanks-Twins, Angels-Red Sox and Dodgers-Cardinals, are all repeat performances of five years ago. The Phillies and Rockies are also an encore, only from 2007. Which is also a year the Angels and Red Sox played in the playoffs. Host Scott Simon talks to Howard Bryant about the Major League Baseball playoffs.

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

SCOTT SIMON, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. We've been serious long enough. Time for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: The Los Angeles-Anaheim-West Covina - whatever they call themselves -Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox, 4-1 last night, and the two highest-paid New York Yankees hit home runs to defeat the Minnesota Twins, 4-3. The 2004 baseball playoffs are underway.

Yeah. Three of the four divisions are all repeat performances from five years ago. Phillies and Rockies are also an encore, only from 2007. Yogi Berra famously said it's d�j� vu all over again, just like it is when we hear from Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Morning, Howard.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (Senior Writer, ESPN.com, ESPN the Magazine): Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: And the Angels and the Red Sox, as we note, they faced off in division series three times in the last five years - the Red Sox always win. The Angels are up 2-0 now.

Mr. BRYANT: 2-0. I was going to tell you, Scott, the only difference between now and the d�j� vu scenario you set up is that now we don't have to listen to the Cubs getting knocked out every�

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRYANT: �(unintelligible) this year. So it is very, very, very different. No more first round flame-out for your team.

It's actually been great baseball, and last night wonderful games with the Yankees and wonderful games with the Red Sox and the Angels. And there is something different this year. The Angels actually have a two-nothing lead. They've done something this year they haven't done since 1986, which is to actually win two games in the same series from the Red Sox.

And it's been fascinating, watching this year. I think the Red Sox won 95 games but they have not looked this average in a very, very long time. They are not a very dangerous team right now. It wouldn't surprise me if they came back and won a couple of games because they do have great pitching. But offensively, they do not look like the dangerous, dangerous team of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz of yesteryear.

SIMON: The Yankees, by contrast, this year, finally look like they're getting their money's worth.

Mr. BRYANT: And what else is different this year? The Alex Rodriguez who can't hit in the playoffs hits a two�

SIMON: Yeah, in the ninth.

Mr. BRYANT: �two-run home run in the ninth when the Yankees looked finished. They looked like they were about to go to Minnesota tied 1-1 and the sky would be falling for their $1.3 billion ballpark and their $200 million payroll. And everyone in New York would say, how come we can't win? And that's not what happened. Obviously they come back last night. And then Teixeira hits a home run, getting his $180 million worth as well.

Wonderful baseball. It was a great, great game. David versus Goliath, but still great baseball.

SIMON: The Cardinals managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the Dodgers on Thursday night.

Mr. BRYANT: Tough day to be Matt Holliday. The game's over, and ESPN is telling me whether or not I have to go to St. Louis for Game 3, and you're watching the ball go up and it's like, okay, it's 1-1. And the ball hit him right in the stomach and he dropped it. It's something that you do, you know, 20 million times over your career as a baseball player. And the one ball he had to catch he said he lost it in the lights and there were too many of those white little towels waving in the background and he couldn't see the ball.

Wouldn't surprise me again if the Cardinals came out and won because those games have been so close. But it is pretty amazing to watch the Dodgers, who could not win a game, to clinch against the Padres or the Pirates - two of the worst teams in the league - and now they're on the brink of going to the National League Championship series.

SIMON: Howard, thanks so much.

Mr. BRYANT: My pleasure.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, senior writer for ESPN.com, ESPN the Magazine, and ESPN the hair restoration gel. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. BRYANT: Great to see you, Scott.

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.