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Giants Say Goodbye to Bonds

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Giants Say Goodbye to Bonds

Sports

Giants Say Goodbye to Bonds

Giants Say Goodbye to Bonds

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Scott Simon talks with ESPN.com's senior writer, Howard Bryant, about why every game still counts in baseball, and about the Giants' decision to let Barry Bonds go.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

The Yankees rallied to the ninth last night only to lose to Toronto in the 14th. Josh Beckett saved the Red Sox from a total slide and won his 20th game of the year, first pitcher to do that this season. And the Chicago Cubs clobbered Pittsburg but Milwaukee also won last night. Ahh, just one more week left in baseball's regular season, every game counts.

We're joined now from New York, where he's covering the Yankees this weekend, senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine, Howard Bryant, the man.

Good morning, Howard.

Mr. HOWARD BRYANT (Senior Writer, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine): Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: Fine. Thanks. I saw the Yankees. Was it Tuesday, Wednesday night when they won 12-nothing. When they're good, they look unstoppable.

Mr. BRYANT: They do look unstoppable, and they also have this thing going on right now where they don't feel like they can lose. This is the best time of the year, and it's going to be very interesting to see how this whole thing plays out especially - and the only problem with it, in the East at least, is that because the Detroit Tigers fell off and because we have a wild card, it seems that both the Red Sox and the Yankees are going to get in. And just once, it would be fun like the old days to know that whoever didn't make it at the end of this season wasn't going to the playoffs, but now it looks like both teams are still going to get in.

SIMON: The Phillies in the meantime are more than creeping up on the Mets.

Mr. BRYANT: The Phillies are the fun story of Major League Baseball. I know you love your Cubs, but the Phillies - the Phillies have come so close for the past four years. No team in baseball…

SIMON: Four years, four years, ohhh(ph), my heart is breaking. I'm sorry. Proceed, Howard, yeah.

Mr. BRYANT: Well, at least, your team has…

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. BRYANT: At least your team has gone to the World Series five or six times. This team had one World Series victory in 124 years. Even the Cubs can't say that. The Phillies are a great, great story this year because maybe, maybe this year. I mean, it's very hard to do, Scott, to have two chances to get in to the playoffs and win as many games as the Phillies have over the past four years and not get in. Maybe this is the year.

SIMON: I want to talk about Barry Bonds in a moment but let me get you to look forward and say - who - what teams do you see going to the playoffs?

Mr. BRYANT: I think the Cubs are going to get in. I think…

SIMON: Mm-hmm. They are a game and half up on Milwaukee.

Mr. BRYANT: They are a game and a half up on Milwaukee. I think it's going to be the Diamondbacks in the West.

SIMON: Yeah.

Mr. BRYANT: I think the Padres are going to stay hot. And believe it or not, I hate to say it, I think the Phillies are going to overtake the Mets and the Mets will not make the playoffs.

SIMON: Well, lots of luck leaving that studio this morning, all right, Howard.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BRYANT: I'm glad I'm in studio.

SIMON: Yeah, well, that's right. And a quick question about the Red Sox, do you think they're going to make it to the playoffs certainly?

Mr. BRYANT: Oh, absolutely. I think they're going to make the playoffs, and I do think they'll hold on. I think they'll win the division. I think that it's unclear right now who's going to win that best record, but I think you're going to see Yankees, Red Sox, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

SIMON: Mm-hmm. Okay. I want to ask about Barry Bonds. It was officially made yesterday that he and - the San Francisco Giants aren't going to ask him back for next year now that he set the, obviously, the contested home-run record. And Mr. Bonds says on the Web site, my quest for a World Series ring continues. But the guy hits a lot of home runs, obviously brings a lot of people into the park, is another team going to pick him up?

Mr. BRYANT: Well, I think that another team will bring him in the park. But I think what's very disappointing is, I mean, don't be fooled by what the San Francisco Giants said. He outlived his usefulness to them because he broke the record. He's not bringing fans into the seats anymore because the record phase is over. I think that this is another example of what - how much the Giants have to answer for, for the steroid crisis as well as Barry Bonds himself.

If the Giants had really, really cared about the record and if they had really cared about the history instead of trying to pay off their stadium, they wouldn't have brought Bonds back in the first place. He's no worse a player this year than he was coming in to the season. He can still hit, he can do all the things that he did before, but now that the record's gone, I think that he outlived his usefulness to the Giants.

SIMON: What team would want a 43-year-old - I think it's safe to say home-run-hitting-occasionally head case who cost $15 million a year.

Mr. BRYANT: Sure, absolutely. However, he cost them $15 million a year this year. I don't see…

SIMON: Well, I mean, what team might want him if…

Mr. BRYANT: Oh, what team might want him? Well, he certainly has to go to the American League, and I think maybe a team like Anaheim. Who knows, if the Yankees Alex Rodriguez, maybe they might make a play. The key is anyone who needs a guy in the middle of their lineup.

SIMON: Okay. Howard, thanks so much.

Mr. BRYANT: Thank you.

SIMON: Howard Bryant, joining us from New York this morning. You can read his column on ESPN.com. And while you're surfing, you can also go to npr.org/podcast and listen to WEEKEND EDITION at your leisure. I believe that's our podcast.

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