Sports Round-Up: More Kobe Drama
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
I'm Farai Chideya. And this is NEWS & NOTES.
It's time now for our weekly sports update with NPR's Tony Cox.
And, Tony, as you know, I'm not really into spots, but I do love good drama. So please, tell me you're going to be talking about Kobe.
TONY COX: Let's see. Kobe, Kobe, Kobe. Oh, yeah, we will be talking about that guy because he's starring in that long-running soap opera that we are now calling as the Lakers turn.
But before that, we have Joe Torre rising on the West Coast and the countdown to the battle of the NFL's two best teams. And, of course, to talk about all of that, we have New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden.
So Bill, how are you doing?
Mr. WILLIAM RHODEN (Sports Columnist, New York Times): The great Tony Cox. I'm doing great.
COX: Then let's start with baseball because the Yankees have taken over the headlines, even though Boston won the World Series, and that's because of the changes in the manager's spot: Joe Girardi coming in, Joe Torre going out.
Let's talk about Torre first. Coming to the Dodgers, not official, but, come on, you know it's going to happen. How big a deal is that going to be for the Dodgers?
Mr. RHODEN: Well, it's a big deal, Tony. And it's a fascinating entry, we're not transferring the drama of New Yorker and spilling over into L.A., which, of course, L.A. loves drama. And I got to tell you, they are going - you guys are going to have soap opera out there, right? I got to tell you, you know.
COX: So we're used to that already, you know.
Mr. RHODEN: Yes. It's going to be a soap opera. And, you know, I just think that it's almost - it reminds of a jilted lover, who then embraces somebody else on the rebound. And I think in this case, the Dodgers are the rebound team. And I think everybody is going to be in for a rude awakening because -you know, if you look at Joe - and Joe's a good guy and - like I said. But when he got to New York - remember, he was in the broadcast booth in Los Angeles.
COX: That's right, with the Angels.
Mr. RHODEN: With the Angels. And he was never known, Tony, as a great manager. He's been fired from three jobs, two jobs at least. And he fell into a wonderful situation in New York. He had a young team of Jeters and Barney Williams, Mariano Rivera, Posada. He had a team - a perfect team. That was -it's like you're playing a bit of risk and you got that Boston hand, and his team was on the rise.
COX: So they - you're saying they won not because of Joe Torre?
Mr. RHODEN: Well, I don't want to diminish him, but he was just a perfect complement. What do you bet(ph)? What Joe had to do is just steer the ship. He didn't have to fix the boiler. He didn't have to repair the engine. He didn't have to fix, you know - redo the deck. You know, it's just - Joe, we've got you a state-of-the-art ship.
Mr. RHODEN: All I wanted you to do is…
COX: Is drive.
Mr. RHODEN: …don't run into that iceberg, you know.
COX: Got you. Listen, let me jump in with one other thing on baseball before we move along.
Mr. RHODEN: Yeah.
COX: Because Gerardi, as we know, is moving into New York. One thing I thought was interesting - and your colleague at the New York Times, Murray Chass, wrote about it, that the Dodgers were able to interview Joe Torre without interviewing any minority candidates for the job like his rule says they were supposed to.
COX: Yeah. Tony, that's a horrible, horrible precedent. And I think it's just one more underlies, I think, Bud Selig's weakness, I believe as a leader, not as a commissioner, but as a leader. You just don't make those kinds of loophole because, as you know, those loopholes are going to get bigger and bigger. But he has now set a very dangerous precedent.
COX: Well, he did and he said because the Dodgers have what he said was a very good record as far as diversity in the front office.
But moving on, let's talk about one other - let's jump from baseball to basketball and Kobe Bryant and this free-agent issue. But my question to you is this. Kobe Bryant is making all of this noise, talking, yammering, yammering, yammering, and by contrast, Alex Rodriguez leaves the Yankees, and he has a mouthpiece in his agent. Scott Boras is doing all the talking. Why isn't someone else speaking for Kobe instead of Kobe doing all the talking himself?
Mr. RHODEN: Yeah. Kobe needs to shut up, really, with all due respect. He and his funny (unintelligible) because they're in the same situation. These huge talents with overprice contracts that will wreck a team's infrastructure if he'd take it. I mean, you're talking about Kobe going to Chicago? Well, Chicago is going to have to mortgage itself.
I think Kobe is just digging himself deeper and deeper and deeper in a public relations hole because the more you hear him talk and whine and cry, the less you like him, you know. And with A-Rod, I think A-Rod is doing - you pay your agent to be the bad guy. Okay? And Boris, that's his job is to be the bad guy. Kobe is becoming the bad guy. And I think it's going to really hurt him. You know, people - given all the stuff that he's been through, he just stays really just - just be quiet, let your agent do his job, let him do your bidding. Just be quiet, and they - because, you know, at the end of the day, there's no better place for Kobe Bryant than Los Angeles.
COX: Well you would think so. We'll have to keep our eyes on it because there is no telling. It's a day to day to day situation out here with Kobe and the Lakers.
One more topic before we get away. That's the big game coming up Sunday. New England versus the Colts.
Mr. RHODEN: Oh, yes.
COX: New England favored by four to five right now. Who do you like?
Mr. RHODEN: I like - I like New England to win the game. I like Indianapolis to repeat as Super Bowl champions. And I think that that's how Tony Dungee sees it. He sees this as a very big game, but it's only one stop along in the promise land. The promise land is the Super Bowl.
And I think he's been telling his team, listen. You know, we got bigger fish to fry. This is a big game, we want to win it, but we want to win the Super Bowl. And I think that because of everything that New England has been through with Cameron(ph) (unintelligible) and, you know, and Bill Belichick to being sort of playing as villain, I think this game means a lot more to Belichik than the Patriots than it does to the Colts.
COX: Well you're one of the few who thinks that way also if they lose, the Colts, that means they will have to probably go and play in New England in the cold weather where they haven't played so well.
Mr. RHODEN: Well, (unintelligible), Tony, we don't know that yet. It's a long season. There's a lot of football left to play. And New England has got a lot of - they've got some pretty tough games coming along. So it's not clear that -in this one it's not clear that if Indianapolis loses this then they lose home-field advantage. I just think that we're going to be surprised by how the season plays up. But it's a wonderful game, but I just think that the Colts are looking at a bigger picture.
COX: All right. I'll tell you what, we're going to talk about this after the…
Mr. RHODEN: Who do you think is going to win, Tony?
COX: Actually, I think the Colts are going to win.
Mr. RHODEN: Okay.
COX: All right. I'll call you and we'll talk about it.
(Soundbite of laughter)
COX: Bill, thank you very much.
Mr. RHODEN: It is always a pleasure, Tony.
CHIDEYA: That was NPR's Tony Cox speaking with New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden. Rhoden is also the author of the book, "40 Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete."
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