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Baseball Not Cooling Off With The Weather

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Baseball Not Cooling Off With The Weather

Sports

Baseball Not Cooling Off With The Weather

Baseball Not Cooling Off With The Weather

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Baseball's post-season is here, and it's getting warmer at the ballparks with some smokin' pitching. And I've heard of cold duck, but what's all this about hot ducks in Oregon? Host Scott Simon talks to NPR Sports correspondent Tom Goldman about the baseball playoffs and college football.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Baseball's playoffs have begun, and the pitchers are smoking. And in college football (unintelligible) cold duck, but what about the hot Ducks of Oregon? Tom Goldman joins us. Morning, Tom.

TOM GOLDMAN: Hi, Scott.

SIMON: And usually, you know, after a long regular season, you go into cooler postseason weather and pitchers can suffer from tired arms. But boy, have we had some great pitching. Of course the classic, the no-hitter that Roy Halladay threw the other night against the Reds, and then Tim Lincecum's almost equally classic shutout for the Giants.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, amazing stuff. It was Halladay's second no-hitter of the year too. He's a meticulous planner. He's very measured; you can see that in his demeanor too. Lincecum's performance versus Atlanta, the 14 strikeouts and he allowed only two hits - some said that was even more impressive than Halladay's no-hitter, if you can believe that.

And Lincecum, Scott, appears to be a polar opposite, with his shoulder-length hair and the skateboarder clothes. Now, he certainly prepares. But meticulous isn't exactly the word that comes to mind. A Sports Illustrated article describes Lincecum eating Philly cheese steaks or ice cream before he pitches.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: And he never...

SIMON: That's Babe Ruth's training regiment.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: And he doesn't have the same girth though. And he never ices his arm after pitching. Lincecum quotes his father, who says ice is made for two things: injuries and my drinks.

And let's not forget Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee. He was fantastic in the Game 1 victory over Tampa Bay.

SIMON: I want to ask you about just one of my favorite moments. What a week it's been. In last night's game, let me just say, you know, the Reds kind of fell apart against the Phillies.

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

SIMON: Rick Ankiel of the Braves, who used to be a pitcher for Cardinals - one of the most famous tragic flame-outs in baseball history, 10 years ago - the 2000 playoffs against the Braves, he was with Cards - fell apart on the mound, went back into the Minor Leagues. Came back as an outfielder and last night he hit the game-winning homerun in the 11th inning.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: They don't make movies like that, Scott. Actually, they kind of did make a movie of Tim - of...

SIMON: Oh, "The Natural."

GOLDMAN: ...Rick Ankiel. Of Rick Ankiel. Well, "The Natural" but also "Bull Durham." Remember Nuke LaLoosh, when he's throwing the ball all over the field and hitting the mascot?

SIMON: Yeah, that's right. Yeah.

GOLDMAN: I mean it wasn't that bad for Ankiel but it was pretty close. And, as you say, he didn't quit the game. He reinvented himself as an outfielder and he clawed his way back and reached this high point last night, with that towering homerun that left the stadium in San Francisco and splashed down on the Bay -quite an amazing scene.

SIMON: Out to your neck of your woods for some college football. The Oregon Ducks are third in the nation. I want to ask you what's behind their success, while also noting, I think by my count they've got five players going through the criminal justice system now, as we say.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: And not small charges: DUI to assault.

GOLDMAN: I know. Well, first, let's talk about the good stuff - an offense that is devastatingly efficient. Here's some pertinent statistics. The Ducks gain more yards and score more points per game than any team in the nation. They are ranked 98th in the country in time of possession, which means they strike quickly.

And as you say, the excitement in Oregon couldn't come at a better time. Actually close to a dozen players got into varying amounts of off-field trouble in the off-season.

But hey, Scott, winning sure helps fans forget the brawls and the robberies and the DUIs and the physical harassment charges, don't they?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Fans there, I don't forget about it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: Right.

SIMON: You know my favorite? I don't mind - you know my favorite team at the moment? And has been for a...

GOLDMAN: What is it?

SIMON: I love Boise State.

GOLDMAN: I know, the field, right? The blue field.

SIMON: I like the blue field. I don't know why they're ranked only number four. Is there some bias against small schools?

GOLDMAN: Well, now, the BCS critics certainly allege bias and it's hard to prove. But nothing could be better than if Boise State, or TCU - another non-major conference school, ranked fifth in the nation currently - if one of them or both of them landed the national championship game at the end of the season. And if that happens, it could really shake up college football and this current system that's criticized each year because of the lack of a post-season playoff.

SIMON: Yeah. I would love to see Boise State. I think they've earned the number one ranking for...

GOLDMAN: Go Broncos.

SIMON: Yeah, exactly. All right, Tom, we have a few seconds left. So who's going to win the Braves - I'm forgetting...

(Soundbite of laughter)

GOLDMAN: Braves-Giants?

SIMON: Yes, thank you.

GOLDMAN: Well, the Braves now go home. It's one-all and the Braves are the best team at home this season. So watch out for the suddenly resurgent Atlanta Braves, thanks to Rick Ankiel.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman.

You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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