SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And now it's time for sports.
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SIMON: The Bo Sox and the Yankees this weekend - great rivals wherever they sit in the standings - and the loss of a football great brings back concern over concussions. ESPN's Howard Bryant joins us. Good morning, Howard.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you?
SIMON: I'm fine. Thanks, my friend.
SIMON: Yeah - Cubs 6-2 in case you wondered - OK...
SIMON: ...Over Milwaukee yesterday. Yanks won 4-2 last night - doubleheader today. These two great teams are in the same division but, this, year kind of in different leagues, aren't they?
BRYANT: Yeah. This one's getting away from the Red Sox pretty quickly. They're the defending champions. And they lost again last night. They lost their fifth in a row. They haven't lost five in a row since 2015 July. And so you're looking at a team right now that is going in the wrong direction, if you want to be a champion or even have a chance to to make the playoffs. You don't want to get too far ahead of yourself in the first week of August because you've got two wildcard spots now. In the old days, they - 13 games out of first place in the lost column, and they would be over. But with two wild card spots, they can still make a run. But as Yogi Berra would say, it's getting late early around here for the Red Sox.
SIMON: Major League trade deadline was Wednesday. And I want to know, coming up on an election year, why hasn't the U.S. Congress passed a law to prevent the Houston Astros from acquiring yet another great starting pitcher?
BRYANT: Isn't that great that we can actually talk about the Houston Astros having an embarrassment of riches considering that they hadn't been a great team for about 45 years? And all of a sudden, the last few years, they have really done it the right way. They went out a couple of years ago and got Justin Verlander and won the World Series. And now this year, they may go out and get Zack Greinke. And so they've got the best pitching staff in baseball right now. They've got the best record in the American League. They're right with the Dodgers with the best record in baseball. We might get a rematch of the 2017 World Series with the Dodgers and the Astros. You've got Verlander. You've got Gerrit Cole. And now you've got Zack Greinke. And there's not a whole lot of pitching in the game right now anyway, as we know.
BRYANT: So to have those three starters go up against anybody...
SIMON: I half-expect them to sign Sandy Koufax.
BRYANT: (Laughter) I bet you Sandy can still throw as well...
BRYANT: ...Because he always could. And it's incredible, too, when you watch some of these teams, whether you're looking at the Dodgers or the Red Sox or even the Yankees, these hundred-million-dollar teams, $200-million teams that didn't make any moves. And then you see the Astros who just seem to have a way about them when it comes to going to the trade deadline. They went for it. And they're going for another World Series.
SIMON: And we'll note, they hit six home runs last night - 10-2 over Seattle. Nick Buoniconti died this week. He was 78, middle linebacker on two Super Bowl Miami Dolphin teams. He became a lawyer when he left football, an activist for medical research after his son Mark suffered a spinal cord injury playing college football. Nick Buoniconti was a smart, honorable good man. And he suffered dementia in recent years and said it was because he'd taken - and he estimated it - 520,000 hits to his head.
BRYANT: Yeah. And as a linebacker, when I heard that number, I was surprised that it was that low. You're looking at every single play you're making contact with your head. Every single play in football whether you're looking at it from the pro level all the way down - this is the conversation, Scott, that we've been having for a really long time on this program, that the problem with football is football. And we keep talking about whether it's possible to make it safer. You think about these end of life - the quality of life that these players have at a very - you know, 78's a good run, obviously. But it's not 80s or 90s. And so you're looking at the price that a lot of the players are paying. I'm actually reading a book right now called "Brain Damage." And it's all about the price that parents have paid for the kids that they've lost playing football in some of these contact sports. And when you look at it, at some point, you do have to look at a - there's a lawsuit with Pop Warner coming up next year.
BRYANT: And at some point, football is sort of having a conversation about whether or not this sport can last.
SIMON: Howard Bryant, thanks so much - talk to you soon.
BRYANT: Thank you.
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