An All-Star Week In Baseball, Golf And France

Though much of the globe spent the week suffering from World Cup withdrawal, we're more resilient here. We decided to hop back on that bike along with Lance Armstrong (and Tiger, too, for that matter). Host Scott Simon talks with NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman about the British Open, the Tour de France and the second half of the Major League Baseball season.

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WEEKEND EDITION: Time now for sports.

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: Much of the globe spent the week reeling from World Cup withdrawal. Ha, we're more resilient on this continent, aren't we? We said hey, get back on that bike, Lance. Tiger, you too, for that matter.

Baseball's National League responded. They won their first All-Star Game in about a zillion years. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us from his tricycle to fill in those headlines. Tom, thanks very much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, Host:

Scott, I look forward to this all week, and I don't say that to every weekend Saturday host.

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: Except when I'm away, of course. Listen, Lance Armstrong had, by his standards, a very rough week.

GOLDMAN: Yes.

: I mean, he can still buy you and me 100 times over, but he crashed, which is not something he usually does, and other factors.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, crashed several times last Sunday, in fact, and he - even he admitted after that that he had lost his chance to win. Then all the questions from the media turned to a nasty little federal investigation that's picking up steam.

It's not just the usual doping allegations against Lance Armstrong and then his denials. Actually, this is an international investigation involving Interpol into Armstrong's years with the U.S. Postal Service Team in the early 2000s.

And it stems from the Floyd Landis revelations from several months ago. Landis admitted he doped after years of denying it. Then he provided vivid details of how, he says, Armstrong and other postal teammates took banned drugs.

Armstrong, as I said, does deny everything. The investigation is heating up with a grand jury issuing subpoenas, including one announced yesterday for multiple-Tour-de-France-champion Greg LeMond.

And Armstrong said this week, Scott, that he doesn't want to take part in any witch hunt with this current investigation into alleged doping and fraud, but he really has no choice in what he does, if and when the Feds come knocking, and Armstrong says so far they haven't.

: Is one of the aspects of this investigation - I don't know why this intrigues me, but that they were, that the team was selling the Trek, some Trek bikes to pay for illicit drugs?

GOLDMAN: Yes, that is part of one of the allegations, and that's one of the reasons Greg LeMond has been subpoenaed, because Greg LeMond also had bikes sold by the Trek bicycle company, and Greg LeMond just had some recent litigation with Trek that was settled. So yeah, that is his involvement.

: British Open, Tiger Woods has made the cut. Is he back where he was last year, before his news - before his name got dragged into the news - dragged into the news, exploded all over the news (unintelligible)

GOLDMAN: Yeah. No, he's not back there, but he's getting there. You know, he's playing better than earlier in this year, for sure, when the sex scandal was white-hot. He came into this British Open as a favorite, and just like the old days, it was a recognition that he always does well on the Old Course at St. Andrews, also recognition that he is kind of grinding his way out of his mess, tournament by tournament.

He is in the hunt. His fortunes, like all the golfers, depend in large part on the weather. Will the wind and rain be whipping on the classic links course at St. Andrews? Will that have an effect this weekend?

So, but he is golfing better, the scandal receding a bit, at least in the public's mind, and good golf, winning golf, has always been Tiger Woods' ticket back.

: And in the 45 seconds we have left, we're past the midway season point in baseball, and three teams are surprising and delighting: the Texas Rangers, who I think are going to sign Babe Ruth next; the San Diego Padres, whose name usually doesn't come up in these conversations; and the old pale hose, the Chicago White Sox, who just concluded a nine-game winning streak.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. How about those teams, you know, three teams that didn't make the playoffs last year. The Padres, in fact, finished 20 games out of first place in the National League West.

All three playing great baseball, leading their divisions, as are - I hate to bring these guys up, Scott, but you always have to - the New York Yankees, who had one of those Yankee moments last night. Did you hear about that?

: Yeah, I got an email from a friend - you, I think - telling me how great it was.

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GOLDMAN: An emotional night. The Yankees remembered the Boss and the Voice. Former owner George Steinbrenner died this week. lone-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard died recently. The Yankees eulogized them, and then they went out and won a come-from-behind victory over their division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yanks won in the bottom of the ninth.

: They seem to do that a lot, but you know, the Cubs are experimenting with a new 11-inning game.

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: I think that might improve our chances, although I'm, you know, I'm rooting with the White Sox with my daughter. Tom, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

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