Ball Playing Over the Weekend

The BPP recaps the weekend's sports news with Will Leitch, editor of the renowned sports blog Deadspin.org.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Woo-hoo for my alma mater, by the way. That Brown. Go Brown. Lots of sports to come from the weekend. There was the NFL Scouting Combine, NBA action heating up, and Tiger Woods' total domination of all the pretenders. Here's what it sounded like when he nailed a ridiculous 70-foot putt.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Unidentified Announcer #1: Come on.

Unidentified Announcer #2: Look at that. There it is.

Unidentified Announcer #1: It's almost like he can't stop the flow. You just can't stop him.

STEWART: You can't stop him. Now here to break down all the action is another guy you just can't stop: Will Leitch, editor of the sports blog, Deadspin. Hey, Will.

Mr. WILL LEITCH (Editor, Deadspin.org): Hey, thanks for having me. You can't stop it.

STEWART: You can't stop it. Tiger Woods, can't stop him. He won the Accenture Match Play Championship. Okay, first off, why is a Match Play Championship different from any other run-of-the-mill golf tournament?

Mr. LEITCH: Because it's actually player - it's actually like a tournament, like you - basically, each player will play against another player throughout the day and the winner advances, as opposed to like the compiling of scores. So what's - and what's funny is that, usually, that's so random. Like, even the best players, you know, they'll have an off day or have someone just play a little bit better than them. So, usually, the best players in the world don't win those tournaments. It's usually just some random person that happened to get hot at the right time. That just goes to show just how good Tiger Woods is right now, that he's even winning those.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And he won by a lot, right?

Mr. LEITCH: Yeah, he's just out of control. It's really - yeah, it's - we've always wanted just one year, he would just win every single tournament. And this very well might be that year. It's pretty crazy.

MARTIN: For golf fans, does it reach a point where it's just - it's not interesting anymore to just watch him win all the time?

Mr. LEITCH: I don't think so. I think the reason is because, you know, in the past - it's really, really hard. It's not like a basketball team winning in the some, like, tournament. I mean, like, it's really incredibly difficult for a golfer to win any tournament, even if they're the best player that day or for that weekend. So for him to continuously win the way that he's winning, it's like you really are watching history happen each time.

And you can also actually, like, gauge other players against him. Like, which players shrinking in his shadow? Which ones step up to try to challenge him? We've never ever seen - I'm not inherently a huge golf fan myself, but I can watch Tiger Woods any time.

MARTIN: Not to get too far into this, but is he going to be the measuring stick for a long time, do you think?

Mr. LEITCH: Yeah. He may already be the measuring stick. That's what's scary about this. I mean, he's certainly - you can make an argument he's still on the uptick in his career. I mean, he's already close to breaking almost every record. So it's - not only will he be the measuring - he'll be the way that like back when Babe Ruth was hitting 60 home runs and the second place home run hitter was hitting 20…

MARTIN: Yeah.

Mr. LEITCH: …that's kind of what Tiger Woods is doing right now.

MARTIN: You can't stop him. Moving on, this weekend was the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. This is where all the players coming out of college worked out for the teams, and then the teams figure out who they want to draft. Now I had no idea this existed, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who listens to this show on a regular basis. But explain what this event is like.

Mr. LEITCH: I'll be honest. I think the Draft Combine is incredibly weird. Basically, what it is - I mean, there's never a time more in sports - and we try to convince ourselves in sports that's about heart and about devotion and about hard work and dedication. And basically, the Combine reminds you that it's really just all about meat. And that really…

MARTIN: About meat?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LEITCH: Yeah. Like, about that idea that, like, it's really all about - the Draft Combine, they don't care about heart. They don't care - they care about how fast you can run, how much you can bench press. And it's basically a bunch of like middle-aged men with whistles and clipboards watching, like, 20-year-old kids in their underwear running and lifting and jumping and things.

STEWART: Will, you just missed me doing my pantomime to explain what meat meant to Rachel. Meat's like - it's like meat, like steak? I'm like, no, like beefcake, like guys, meat.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: That was hilarious.

Mr. LEITCH: Oh, it's coming back around. It's really actually all about pork chops.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LEITCH: I thought we should mention that right now. No, I probably shouldn't tossed it out there without giving an explanation beforehand. Yes, but the thing is really about meat. It's about muscle. It's about talent. It's about skill. And it has nothing to do - it really is against what we think of -I'm always surprised people love the Combine so much, considering it's like finding out how the sausage is made. Like, I just want to assume the guy gets on the field, and it's just amazing. He's blessed with all these incredible abilities. But now you have to realize, oh, well - I essentially just sat for the last ten minutes and watched this huge man bench press, and that was my television entertainment for the weekend. I don't know. I find it very strange.

MARTIN: I have to say, it kind of sounds romantic to me, like getting back to basics, you know? Show me how fast you can run. Show me how much you can lift. That makes sense to me.

Mr. LEITCH: Yeah, I understand that. But like in its actual visual form - maybe it's better in HD, I don't know. But certainly, in actual visual form, you really are watching a man bench press.

The Combine has become such a big deal now that, actually, on the NFL video games, you can actually make a player and teach him to bench press more and teach him to run faster. And I was like, wow, it's really come down to the point that you could even train virtually, which I guess is a logical extension of all this.

MARTIN: That's a whole other conversation. Okay, before we let you go, Will, let's talk a little bit of basketball. There were a bunch of big trades in the NBA over the last couple of weeks. And now, presumably, there's been a chance to now see these players on their new teams. What's the word?

Mr. LEITCH: Well, some of the Lakers look - it's funny. Just a couple of years ago everybody was talking about how Kobe Bryant ran off Shaquille O'Neal and how they'll never win another title 'cause the Lakers will never have a good team to surround him. And now the Lakers look better set than any other team over the next two to three years 'cause they got Pau Gasol. And it's funny because what that trade did was it forced everyone else to make trades. And it made - and frankly, two teams to make dumb trades. The Suns traded for Shaquille O'Neal. Well, of course, you know, everybody loves Shaquille O'Neal, but he doesn't really fit with that team. That team does not look good at all right now. And the Dallas Mavericks did the same thing, traded for Jason Kidd.

And basically, the Lakers made such a good trade for Pau Gasol, that it scared everyone else in that conference into making very dumb trades that are dumb for them not only in the short-term, but definitely for the long-term. So…

STEWART: But don't you have to give these teams…

Mr. LEITCH: …yeah, also I - it's very possible this year we may have one of the old-time great '80s series of Lakers versus Celtics in the finals. Like, you know, Larry Bird against Magic Johnson.

MARTIN: Oh, my gosh. You're totally speaking my language.

Mr. LEITCH: That would be pretty cool.

MARTIN: That's the last time I watched basketball, was back when I was just young'un, and I watched that rivalry for many, many years. Kevin McHale, I love that Kevin McHale.

Mr. LEITCH: Exactly, exactly. Well, now, we could have Lakers versus Celtics again. And that - for the nostalgics in us, that would be a very neat series.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Hey, Will Leitch, thank you as always - editor of the sports blog, Deadspin. Breaking it down, sports weekend. Thanks, Will.

Mr. LEITCH: (unintelligible) always about meat.

MARTIN: Always, meat, meat, meat.

STEWART: Meat, meat, meat.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Thanks, Will.

MARTIN: Thanks, Will.

Mr. LEITCH: Thanks.

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