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Latest In Sports: Cubs In MLB Playoffs, Colin Kaepernick To Start For 49ers


Finally time for sports.


SIMON: American and National League Championship Series are underway - LA, Chi-Town, Cleveland and Toronto. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Morning, Tom.


SIMON: Last night, the Cleveland Indians handcuffed the Toronto Blue Jays, didn't they?

GOLDMAN: Oh, boy, they did. You know, they won - I'll wait till the theme song goes away. They won...

SIMON: That's for you, my friend, yeah.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) They won - they being the Indians - won two to nothing. Zero runs for a Toronto team that averaged seven runs a game in its first round sweep of Texas. And, you know, in the first few innings, Toronto repeatedly threatened to score, but Kluber and the Cleveland defense snuffed out each threat.

SIMON: Corey Kluber, yeah.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, very, very impressive.

SIMON: I'm beginning to think that Cleveland just finds a way.

GOLDMAN: You know, last night was only game one of a best 4 out of 7 American League Championship Series. But, Scott, maybe it is time to start paying attention to the Indians. You know, remember, they swept Boston in the first round, pretty much shut down the best hitting team in baseball, the Red Sox. So the Indians are undefeated so far in the postseason. Their pitching and defense is neutralizing opponents - opponents' offenses. They haven't won a World Series in 68 years, Scott. Is that the drought that is going to end?

SIMON: Well, there are droughts and there are droughts - 68 years versus 108 years. National League Series starts tonight. Dodgers versus Cu Cu Cu Cu Cu Cu (ph) Cubs. And I believe this is the latest in the season that they've played for a title in Illinois since the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Ba-boom (ph) 108 years - yeah. Well, of course, you know, they played in the National League Championship Series last year. Likewise in 2003, 1989, 1984, but, you know - so they were a round away from the World Series. But of course, 108 years without a title - the mother of all baseball droughts compared to Cleveland, which - I don't know what - the father of all droughts. But I will tell you, Scott, our David Schaper, reporter in Chicago, has been out talking to Cubs fans, and he says they're pumped and most are not thinking about billy goats and black cats and other superstitions and curses. So come on, are you anxious? Are you anxious?

SIMON: I ain't afraid - I ain't afraid of no curses, no, no. This is a - this is a genuinely great team, win or lose. And, you know, I think we ought to get past that damn goat. What can I tell you? You know, I think I want to go to a Greek restaurant (laughter) and have a little - maybe some cabrito at Rick Bayless' place. Listen, I want to go to the NFL because after after Colin Kaepernick, after weeks of being known for his protest during the national anthem, is going to be the San Francisco 49ers' starting quarterback on Sunday - significance of this please, doctor.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Doctor - you know, it'll raise his visibility more. It'll give his political messages a new bump. That's good news for those who consider him a hero; bad news for those who consider him an anti-American traitor. It'll be fascinating if he does play well and gets back to his 2012-2013 forum. It'll be a challenge because the 49ers are not a good team. Their problems go way beyond quarterback. But if he does get the team going in the right direction, what'll it do for his reputation in NFL front offices, which right now is not good. He's considered a distraction, a troublemaker. If after the season he becomes a free agent, will teams go after him if he plays well now? I'll bet they would. Nothing makes you less of a pariah than winning.

SIMON: Right, distraction, troublemaker, who wins? I want that guy. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks very much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
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