Saturday sports: Bucks, Celtics in playoffs; NCAA president leaves; Bauer suspended
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Now it's time for more sports.
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SIMON: The NBA playoffs. A major-league star gets a two-year suspension. And the first no-hitter of the year thrown by five different pitchers. Is that fair? NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Scott.
SIMON: Second round of the NBA playoffs begin tomorrow with a great matchup, the Boston Celtics versus fear the deer. No surprises in the first round, but it was still a fun one, wasn't it?
GOLDMAN: I never get tired of that. I think the deer may need to fear the leprechaun, actually, because Boston really looked good after sweeping Brooklyn. But yes, there was some fun in the first round. And a special salute, Scott, to the vanquished New Orleans Pelicans, a team with three fantastic rookies playing like playoff veterans, a rookie head coach who cried after his gutty team came up short against the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns. The Pelicans gave it a great fight and with potentially their best player injured, Zion Williamson cheering from the bench. He sounds eager to rejoin this young, dynamic team. And when he does, they will be title contenders, guaranteed.
SIMON: Another big story this week - Mark Emmert, the NCAA president, announced he's going to step down. Does he want to spend more time with his family?
GOLDMAN: I think he wants out of a crummy job, Scott. Emmert has picked up a lot of critics in recent years as the face of an organization that's endured some very public defeats by the Supreme Court, by state legislatures. Public opinion of the NCAA has soured, and it is seen by many as an out-of-touch organization, especially when it comes to its long-held tenet of absolute amateurism in college sports. Even the NCAA understands change is coming. It's taking steps to rewrite its constitution, and now it's looking for a new president to preside over what many hope is a reimagined NCAA.
SIMON: Reimagined - certainly introducing an amount of professionalism, isn't it?
GOLDMAN: Well, yeah. You know, a lot is happening right now with this name, image and likeness deals for athletes really taking off. More college athletes in the major revenue-producing sports are entering the so-called transfer portal, which allows them to switch schools and not have to sit out a season as in the past. They're becoming more like free agents, and some college officials worry about things becoming semi-professional. One of the big questions as a result - how much amateurism should college sports retain?
SIMON: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer suspended for two seasons after accusations of sexual assault. How did the league reach that decision?
GOLDMAN: Yeah. Well, after its own investigation, there don't have to be charges or a conviction - and there weren't in this case - for the Major League Baseball commissioner to hand down punishment. Two full seasons is the longest suspension since baseball enacted its domestic violence policy in 2015. The case is also of note because Trevor Bauer is the first player who will appeal his punishment in a domestic violence case. He has always denied committing domestic violence and sexual assault in two incidents of what was described as consensual rough sex with a woman. The woman says Bauer crossed lines. Bauer denies it, and we will see what happens on appeal.
SIMON: Five pitchers, five New York Mets defeated no-hitter against the Phillies, 3-0 last night. We have enough time to read their names, right?
GOLDMAN: Oh, yeah. And I was ready for that question. Starter Tylor Megill and then four relievers - Drew Smith, Joely Rodriguez, Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz - you know, maybe it's more impressive than a single pitcher doing this...
GOLDMAN: ...Because it shows five of them were on their games at the same moment. It is just the second no-hitter in Mets history and 17th combined no-hitter in Major League Baseball history.
SIMON: Most beautiful moment in sports of the week, maybe in life - William Contreras, little brother of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, called up to the major leagues this week by Atlanta. They played the Cubs. And these brothers, who grew up playing baseball in the streets of Venezuela, came out to present their teams' lineups at home plate. See that video. There is crying and hugs in baseball.
GOLDMAN: And Wilson Contreras said the tears were because he's so proud they both made it to the majors, considering how hard it is to make it because there's so much competition among young Latin American baseball players. He said his whole family back in Venezuela was crying, too.
SIMON: Yeah. And I was for sure. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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