At Last, The Rangers Are Going To The World Series

The Rangers are headed to the first World Series in team history after beating the Yankees 6-1 Friday night. Host Scott Simon talks with Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine about the Yankees' defeat and looks ahead to the remaining games in the National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

And time now for sports.

(Soundbite of music)

SIMON: Last night the stars at night were big and bright.

(Soundbite of clapping)

SIMON: You know where.

(Soundbite of sports broadcast)

Unidentified Man (Announcer): The Texas Rangers are the 2010 American League champions.

SIMON: In a stroke of poetry they struck out Alex Rodriguez, who left the Rangers for the Yankees to get back last out. The Texas Rangers going to the World Series. Their first in team history. They beat the Yankees 6-1 at the ballpark in Arlington last night.

Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine was there. Joins us from Dallas.

Morning, Howard.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (ESPN): Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: Fine. Thanks. So how did a team that went through a bankruptcy filing in August beat the Yankees and get into the World Series? This is great.

Mr. BRYANT: Well, by beating the Yankees like a drum. That's how. I mean, they went out and certainly - this series went six games, but it really wasn't close at all. They outscored the Yankees 38-19. They were up 5-0 in the first game and ended up losing that game.

And then when everyone thought their knees were going to be shaking going into the great mystique of New York, they shut them - they beat them 7-2 in game 2, 8-0 in game 3, 10-3 in game 4 and then 6-1 last night. And the Yankees scored their only run on a wild pitch. And so the knees were not shaking at all. The Yankees looked old. They looked slow.

And this young upstart team with the manager Ron Washington, who was a losing streak away from getting fired after testing positive for using cocaine last year, they stuck together. The MVP - Josh Hamilton - had his own drug and alcohol addiction problems for years.

And, as they said, they stuck together as a team and they believed in each other and all of those other sports clich�s. And they demolished the Yankees in a pretty stunning six games.

SIMON: Let's just note. The top four starting pitchers for Texas make $13 million combined.

Mr. BRYANT: That's right.

SIMON: That's less than CC Sabathia's salary alone.

Mr. BRYANT: The Yankees payroll is $206 million. The Texas Rangers payroll is $55 million. And that gives you a little bit of an idea of how much of least a financial upset this might've been.

And sure, there was a great deal of poetry last night, because I think that the people in this town - and especially at the stadium last night - were more excited that they finished it with the $252 million man, Alex Rodriguez, to strike him out.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRYANT: And to end the playoffs with the Yankees was poetic, to say the least.

SIMON: Who do you see in the Phillies-Giants series that continues tonight? Giants are ahead 3 games to 2.

Mr. BRYANT: Well, I think that the Giants can win a game in Philadelphia. And if not, then the Phillies are certainly going to be very worthy of winning, because they're only hitting .214 going into these last two games. I think the Giants are going to win.

I think you're going to have the San Francisco Giants, who have never won a World Series since arriving in San Francisco in 1958, and the Texas Rangers, who have never won a World Series, obviously, since coming here in 1972. So I think somebody's going to win for the first time. And what fun that'll be for them.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, for - yes, absolutely. And for us, too.

Mr. BRYANT: But not for you, Scott.

SIMON: No. No. No. And I - and Joe Girardi, former Cub, made some very questionable pitching choices as Yankee manager. And I - it's the ex-Cub factor, right?

Mr. BRYANT: Always.

SIMON: Have to ask you about football, because you're apparently preparing a piece where you say a number of recent events could mean the end of pro football as we know it.

Mr. BRYANT: Well, you've got this collision - no pun intended - between whether people would watch this sport when you take the violence out of it. The sport has lost its moral legitimacy right now because you've got critical mass. This sport - you cannot name another sport where paralysis is a routine risk.

It's not a question of whether or not the players are taking the risk on their own. It's simply the fact that we know that this sport is unsafe. We know that driving a car without a seatbelt - we know the risk involved, but that doesn't mean that you're allowed to do it.

This sport is in a lot of trouble. And we all thought it was be performance-enhancing drugs that did it. It's actually safety and concussions that are bringing this sport to a real confrontation with itself. And I'm sure Congress will get involved very soon.

SIMON: Well, Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine, thanks so much for being with us.

Mr. BRYANT: My pleasure.

SIMON: And you're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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