Saturday Sports: MLB Moves All-Star Game From Georgia Due To New Voting Law
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And now it's time for sports.
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SIMON: Major League Baseball says Truist Park might as well book a demolition derby 'cause they're not going to bring the All-Star Game there in July. And the women's NCAA championship game set for tomorrow, Arizona versus Stanford - men's Final Four is tonight.
ESPN's Howard Bryant joins us. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.
HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. How are you?
SIMON: Fine, thank you. You and I were on a Zoom call, my friend, yesterday when we got the news that Major League Baseball is pulling the All-Star Game out of Georgia. This is a big step, isn't it?
BRYANT: Yeah, it's a big deal. And it's obviously caused a great deal of consternation. But I think that what we're looking at here - I think there were two things that really jumped out at me. One is that this was not a player-driven movement. This was something that Major League Baseball and its corporate sponsors and the powers that be at the top of the game decided that this was bad for business. And I think that this was something that really does go back - to me, I think it really does go back to the election. It goes back to January 6. It goes back to the fact that I think people want to turn the temperature down on the rhetoric and the narrative of election fraud. And I think Major League Baseball just realized that this was not the place to do this. This was not the right venue for the All-Star Game.
And I think that what was really interesting is that we've been here before. We've - we remember 2017 in North Carolina with the so-called bathroom bill. If you go back into the '80s when there was pressure on the state of Arizona to turn MLK Day into a national holiday, and the Super Bowl was threatened back in '87. So we remember that these things have happened, even if you go back into the 1960s as well and beyond that. So it's going to be a difficult thing for people to handle in Georgia. And we don't really know who has been really helped by it necessarily because a lot of poor...
SIMON: Oh, yeah.
BRYANT: ...Working poor folks who are affected by the bill are going to be hurt by this by not having the business there as well. So this is a tough spot for everybody involved.
SIMON: Let's - women's NCAA finals are set now. Arizona Wildcats beat UConn decisively by 10 points. Stanford eked out a single-digit win over South Carolina - kind of heartbreaking for South Carolina. What do you foresee in the finals?
BRYANT: Well, I don't like to make predictions, Scott Simon. You know that. However...
SIMON: I ask just what do you see, yeah.
BRYANT: (Laughter) What do I see? Yeah, I see Stanford really close to finishing the job. I think they've been the best team all season. And I think they're really, really close to showing it. However, I think that in having an all-Pac-10 - Pac-10, I'm dating myself - Pac-12 final, you really never know. It's hard to beat a team three times in a season. And I think that...
BRYANT: ...Arizona, they really put it on (laughter) UConn. So I think that if they can handle, let's call it, that underdog mentality that they really showed last night, then it's going to be a great game. But I do think that there is a significant difference right now between Stanford and Arizona.
SIMON: On the men's side, Final Four, we have UCLA versus Gonzaga, Houston versus Baylor tonight. What do you foresee there, Howard Bryant?
BRYANT: What do I foresee there? You know, what I will tell you - one thing, Scott - what I foresee is that - what a year it's been in terms of basketball from the Midwest out to the West Coast. You've got a Final Four that is, essentially, the West Coast and Texas - you know, Houston...
SIMON: Yeah, that's right.
BRYANT: ...Baylor. Then you've got Gonzaga, and you've got UCLA. And so it's really been this way for almost - early through the tournament, where you've got these - it's been a regional thing. But I kind of think - Gonzaga as well, they've been really close. They've been the best team all season as well. UCLA is the...
BRYANT: ...Sentimental team. And it's nice to see Houston there. We haven't seen them there since the Phi Slama Jama days in the '80s.
BRYANT: So I am going to say, let's enjoy. But if we stick with the No. 1 teams, I think Stanford was the best team before on the women's side, and I think Gonzaga's been the best team all season on the men.
SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much.
BRYANT: Thank you.
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