Saturday Sports: World Series
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
You know, there is one institution in Washington, D.C. that works well. Time for sports.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SIMON: Well, the Houston Astros tell the Washington Nationals, not so fast. And we mark the life of a great Paralympian athlete. We're joined now by NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: My pleasure, Scott.
SIMON: The Astros won last night 4-1. Nats now lead the series two games to one. I was at the ballpark scouting for the Cubs.
SIMON: Are the 'stros back on track?
GOLDMAN: I hope you got - I hope you took some good notes.
SIMON: Yeah. This guy Altuve, I think shows...
SIMON: ...A lot of promise and, you know...
GOLDMAN: Pitch around him.
GOLDMAN: Walk him a lot.
SIMON: Right, Scherzer Strasburg - you know, yeah, yeah. There's some - there's some good players. They'll be good Cubs. But go ahead. Yeah.
GOLDMAN: In answer to your question, let's say the Astros got their foot in the door. And we'll see if they can pry it open all the way in game four tonight. But yeah, last night was more like the Houston we expected going into the series. A very well-rounded win by the Astros. You know, most importantly when they got men on base, they got hits that drove in those men on base for runs...
GOLDMAN: ...As opposed to Washington, which, as you saw, squandered a bunch of scoring opportunities. The Nats left way too many men stranded on base last night.
SIMON: Yeah. Could they be let down by their relievers, as people were saying a few days ago?
GOLDMAN: Well, the bullpen is always going to be an area of vulnerability. Although, you know, it was starter Anibel Sanchez who gave up all four runs last night. I think more worrisome...
SIMON: Oh, that's right. Yeah.
SIMON: Thank you for pointing that out. Right, yeah.
GOLDMAN: Sure. Sure. Well, I was scouting, too. But...
SIMON: I was deep into a bag of peanuts at that point, yeah.
GOLDMAN: (Laughter). But I think, you know, more worrisome for the Nats is Houston's fearsome offense really hasn't appeared yet.
GOLDMAN: You know, even, you know...
SIMON: Even last night, yeah.
GOLDMAN: ...Last night, the Astros kind of dinked and dunked their way to those four runs. We'll see if the great Washington pitching of the first two games will prevail and hold Houston in check or if last night was the start of something bigger.
SIMON: Houston's supposed to be the embodiment of a modern, data-driven franchise. But they had to fire their assistant GM this week for a really ugly encounter with a great Sports Illustrated reporter, who happens to be a woman.
GOLDMAN: Yeah. And it's still lingering, you know, Scott. In fact, major league commissioner Rob Manfred said yesterday even with the firing, the league is still investigating the incident. After Houston won the American League pennant, the assistant GM Brandon Taubman directed some profanity-laced comments at a group of female reporters, comments supporting an Astros pitcher who'd been previously suspended for domestic violence. The Astros initially accused Sports Illustrated of fabricating a story about the incident, which was corroborated by several witnesses. After a public outcry, the team fired Taubman, admitted we were wrong. But that's not enough for a lot of people.
SIMON: Yeah. Marieke Vervoort, a great Belgian wheelchair racer, unfortunately died this week - Paralympic gold medalist lived with intense pain because of a degenerative spinal disorder. And she ended her life by euthanasia this week at the age of 40.
GOLDMAN: Yeah, an amazing person. The world became aware of her condition and her plan at the 2016 Paralympics. She talked about signing papers in 2008 to allow a physician to end her life when the pain from her disease became too much. Euthanasia is legal in Belgium. And for her, those papers became her freedom and her control, things her disease did everything it could to take away from her. But yeah, earlier this week, she decided she'd had enough. She reportedly gathered those closest to her, including her beloved service dog named Zenn, for a final evening. They drank her favorite sparkling wine. And then she ended a very painful but a very meaningful life.
SIMON: All right. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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