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'Fun' Teams Out Of Baseball Playoffs


It's time now for sports and we have to begin with the sad and tragic story. The two-year-old son of Adrian Peterson, the great running back of the Minnesota Vikings died this week apparently of abuse and allegedly by a boyfriend of the little boy's mother. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Good morning, Tom.


SIMON: Hard to know what to say.

GOLDMAN: Yes. South Dakota police did confirm that Adrian Peterson's son died yesterday from injuries after a reported severe beating. It's rare in this context, the story touching one of the biggest stars in pro sports, but it is a reminder, Scott, that this kind of child abuse really isn't rare. The organization Child Help says more than four children die every day as a result of child abuse in this country, about 80 percent of those kids who die are under the age of four.

SIMON: Let's go back to the field.

GOLDMAN: Yes, hard turn. The National League playoffs began last night - I didn't stay up, couldn't, we've got to work - to the end of a 13-inning game. The St. Louis Cardinals won 3 to 2. And what a game Carlos Beltran had.

I did stay up, Scott and I have to work too, but I'll just let that go.


SIMON: You're tougher than I am, yeah.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, I didn't want to say that. And I got to see Carlos Beltran do what he has done throughout his career. He is an eight-time all-star who has a knack for shining in the post season. It's earned him the nickname "Senor Octobre" in native Puerto Rico. And last night he drove in all three St. Louis runs including the winning run in the bottom of the 13th inning. He also made a key defensive play in the 10th inning, throwing out a Dodger player at the plate from right field.

You know, it was a fitting first game, in that the teams, all four remaining teams in the playoffs actually, including Boston and Detroit in the American League, are so evenly matched. They are power, winning teams. Sports Illustrated calls them baseball blue blood with big payrolls. L.A., Boston, and Detroit rank second, fourth and fifth in salaries. St. Louis a little bit of the outlier with a eleventh, but not that every game is going to be like last night, but expect close series in both these leagues.

And one thing I should add, Scott, one regret some baseball fans have is that Oakland, the Moneyball boys, and Pittsburgh with its great first time in the playoffs since 1992 story are out of the postseason, so no real Davids to play against the Goliaths unfortunately.

SIMON: Oh, well, speaking of David and Goliaths, of course you have the biblical figures that look like the Boston Red Sox with those long beards, but let me - let's hope they don't trip over them on the base pads I want to ask you a question that I hear from people - well, I hear from my wife, but a lot of people, about the Detroit Tigers, OK

How is it the Tigers have become one of the marquee franchises in sports - is there something odd, unbalanced, or admirable about a Detroit team spending millions of dollars to be so good in a city so bankrupt it can't afford streetlights?

GOLDMAN: Ah, but there's always room for sports, Scott. I talked to a couple of sports economists, Andy Zimbalist and Victor Matheson, about this seeming incongruity. They reminded me the Tigers are fortunate to be owned by Mike Illitch of Little Caesar's Pizza fame, a very rich man, and charitable I should mention, with the city of Detroit.

He keeps the Tigers well-funded. Also, the great Detroit metro area still has a fair amount of wealth, people who support the team. The Tigers have a relatively new stadium. Comerica Park is 13 years old, and that still generates good revenue. So. you know, a combination of factors keep this team thriving.

SIMON: Football, now we're at Week 6. There have been some real surprises. I'm thinking of the Cleveland Browns.


GOLDMAN: Well, before we talk about them, how about the Kansas City Chiefs, 2 and 14 last year...

SIMON: They're undefeated, yeah.

GOLDMAN: And one of the three remaining undefeated teams. Also Scott, how about a New York team that stinks and it's not named the Jets?


GOLDMAN: That would be the Giants, you know, Super Bowl champs as recently as two seasons ago.

SIMON: Well, they did play the Bears. What do you expect, OK?

GOLDMAN: The Jets, you know, an embarrassment in the last couple of years are actually not bad. But yeah, let's get to the Cleveland Browns and wipe the egg off our faces. You know, remember, we all had them dead and buried a few weeks ago when they traded supposedly their best offensive player, Trent Richardson.

Since then they've won three straight, which reminds us that running backs to not a team make, and an NFL team is made up of 53 men, not one.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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