A Look Ahead To The MLB All Stars
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
Time now for Howard.
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WERTHEIMER: Yankee Stadium hosts its last All-Star Game next week. At least the last for The House that Ruth Built since Mr. Steinbrenner is building a new stadium right next door. But will a pinstriped All-Star Game help the Yankees in the second half of the season? And how come there are so many Red Sox calling Yankee Stadium home on Tuesday? Joining us to talk baseball is our own Howard Bryant. Good morning, Howard.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Linda. How are you?
WERTHEIMER: I'm pretty good. Is it going to kill the Yankee fans to see their field dotted with Red Sox next week?
BRYANT: They think what hurts them more is the fact that the Red Sox have replaced the Yankees, at least recently, as the team in October. And what really will get to them too is the fact that a lot of their guys, they're fighting to make the All-Star Game. And then you have a guy like Jason Varitek who's not hitting his weight, and he is going to be on the All-Star team as well. So I think it's going to be a difficult night for the kids in Bronx.
WERTHEIMER: What about Tampa Bay? They're playing the best baseball in their team's short history. Is this real? Or is Tampa Bay going to crash?
BRYANT: They're the great story of baseball this season. You've got a team that every year of their 10 year existence they'd lost at least 90 games. And this year they're in the rarefied air of first place, and I hope they hang in there. I think they've got the athleticism, and I think they've got the pitching to do it. The thing I'd like about the race, staying in it, is if they do hang in there in September then somebody, Red Sox or Yankees, might not make the playoffs this year.
WERTHEIMER: A final All-Star question. How long do you think baseball will keep letting the league that wins have home field advantage for the World Series? It's been kind of one sided.
BRYANT: Well, it's been very one sided in the favor of the American League, and Commissioner Selig knows how I feel about this. So, Bud, stop it! Stop the madness right now, if you're listening. It is not ratings that is destroying the All-Star Game, it's technology. Everyone has the baseball package, and it's not the same punch that it used to have. It's bad for the sport to have an exhibition game determine who gets home field in the World Series.
WERTHEIMER: Well, now this is the time in the season when fans switch gears from lots and lot of games to seeing the end ahead. What are you looking forward to in the second half?
BRYANT: Well, especially in the National League, I'm looking forward to seeing whether Scott Simon's Cubs break his heart again. Bet the house on that. I'm actually looking forward to seeing what Philadelphia does. And I think the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League are the team to beat. I've really watched them all season, and yet for some reason the Phillies never quite do enough. And right now they're neck and neck with the Mets of all teams.
WERTHEIMER: Howard Bryant is senior writer for espn.com, ESPN the magazine and ESPN the rain poncho. Thank you very much.
BRYANT: Thank you.
WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.
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