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Saturday Sports: Nationals Win World Series

Nov 2, 2019
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: A huge parade in Washington, D.C., today for the one enterprise in the nation's capital that gets the job done. Is D.C. now TitleTown USA? Also, another setback for Steph Curry and the Warriors and an overdue honor for Tommie Smith and John Carlos. We're joined by Howard Bryant of ESPN. Thanks so much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine. Thanks. And, of course, that's...

BRYANT: Are you reveling? Are you still reveling?

SIMON: Well, I'm a Cubs fan, but I'm happy for my friends who are - many friends who are Nats fans. And I, you know, I got to go to a game, and I thought it was great, a thrilling seven games, every win on the road, which has never happened before. The Nats - a truly thrilling series. Over 100-win club - the Astros...

BRYANT: Two of them.

SIMON: Pardon me.

BRYANT: Two of them. They beat the Dodgers as well.

SIMON: That's right.

BRYANT: It's just an incredible run.

SIMON: Yeah, yeah. It really is. My hat's off. And I'm happy for everyone. Of course, I...

BRYANT: Well, no doubt, this was one of those World Series where you go into it, and I didn't think the Nationals would win. I thought the Astros were just too strong. But on the other hand, this is one of the things we always say. Well, who's going to win? Who knows? This is why you play the games. And what you really saw out there with Washington was a team that caught fire.

And let's not forget that they were 19-31 in May. They were a week away from firing their manager...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...From Davey Martinez getting the ax. And then they played great baseball for the rest of the year. They really went under the radar, and nobody was really paying attention to them because they didn't spend a day in first place. But yet, they played excellent baseball. And this is what happens when you've got those two guys out front. When you've got Scherzer and Strasburg out there, anything's possible in a short series.

And I think what's great about baseball to me is that it's one of those sports - it's really the only sport where no matter who you're playing and what you're doing, at some point during the game, you're going to have an opportunity to do something. And this team took advantage of every late-game opportunity they had. And I think the beauty of this championship for Washington people, who haven't seen this in forever - since the '20s and the '30s, if you're adding the Negro League teams in there, too - is that this was one championship where this wasn't even their best team, but this was their toughest team, and they came through. And it was really something to see.

SIMON: And we have to note Mystics in the NBA - WNBA, the Caps in hockey and now the Nats. D.C. has suddenly become TitleTown USA. And I don't even have to mention that football team.

BRYANT: And you don't even have to mention them because they don't win. But the other ones - the Mystics - absolutely champions. You look at the Capitals. And let's not forget that the Capitals were in the same boat that the Nationals were in. Oh, our team can't win. We can't win. You hang in there. I think that the Nationals had one of the best slogans you could have - stay in the fight. And they did. And this was something that I think everyone can enjoy. And D.C. can now finally stop saying, we can't win, because everybody's winning now.

SIMON: Sean Doolittle, the pitcher, is apparently declining a White House team visit slated for Monday. Has the White House visit in this era become a point of controversy?

BRYANT: Well, I think it's become a point of controversy with this president. But let's not forget also that Tim Thomas with the Boston Bruins didn't go when Barack Obama was in office when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup back in 2011. So I feel like this is sort of the political protest that you - that's become part of sports.

But at the same time, Sean and Eireann Doolittle - they have pretty much made it clear for a long time that this was not going to happen. They've been very outspoken in terms of their politics and their desires for inclusion. And this wasn't a shock to me. And they have a lot of fans because of that.

SIMON: In the NBA, Steph Curry out three months with a broken left hand. Boy, Golden State, remember when people trembled?

BRYANT: Well, yeah.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And when you go to the finals five straight years, people don't have sympathy for you either. But this is how dynasties collapse. You have injury. You have competition. And you have attrition. And the Warriors got all three. The league is better. Kevin Durant left, and now Steph Curry's hurt. Durant got hurt in the final game of last year against Toronto. Klay Thompson's got an ACL. He's out. And now even Draymond Green, the last man standing, he's got ligament damage in his finger. But it's going to be a hard year. They're going to have a hard time making the playoffs, but an amazing, amazing run for them.

SIMON: Tommie Smith and John Carlos inducted last night into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame. Of course, they raised their fists in a Black Power salute at the '68 Olympics and were suspended for expressing an opinion. This recognition feels long overdue.

BRYANT: And it's long overdue. And I don't think the U.S. Olympic Committee deserves that much celebration for it, but John and Tommie certainly do. They've earned it. This is something that - they are international figures and as close as a vindication as they're going to get, and they've deserved every minute of it. Well-, well-, well-deserved.

SIMON: ESPN's Howard Bryant, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you.

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