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Two Wildcard Teams Meet In World Series

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

BJ Leiderman writes our theme music. Want to hear it?

The World Series of baseball opens on Tuesday. Two wild card teams, each won less than 90 games during the regular season, but they've been burning up the base paths in October. This will be the third World Series in five years for the San Francisco Giants. Don't rub it in. The Kansas City Royals haven't been in the Series since 1878. Well, that's an exaggeration - 1985. Anyway, not since Madonna sang "Like A Virgin."

NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks for being with us.

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TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: A pleasure.

SIMON: We are in that time of the season where we might see that, while managers don't get paid as much as shortstops, they earn their keep in the playoffs and the Series, don't they? First up - let's talk about Bruce Bochy of the Giants.

GOLDMAN: Yes and I will correct you on one thing - San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford made $560,000 this year. Bruce Bochy made in the neighborhood of $5 million. And in Bochy's case, the consensus is it is very much earned. I'm sure you're right on the other teams. But we have seen...

SIMON: Cut Mr. Goldman's mic. Oh - I'm sorry, go ahead, Tom. I'm enthralled now.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) We have seen great moves from Bochy over and over in this postseason - the way he manages his pitchers, the way he doesn't follow a set of rigid rules, as in, I only pitch this guy in this or that inning. The way he's evolved to trust his younger players. He gives San Francisco a distinct advantage in the dugout.

SIMON: And Ned Yost of Kansas City - he's had his problems sometimes, hasn't he?

GOLDMAN: The anti-Bruce Bochy is the way he's being portrayed. You know, he has shown too much rigidity at times - gotten him in trouble. In recent years when things weren't going well for the Royals, Yost had became the term of art when one of his manager moves went awry, as in, the Royals got Yost-ed. Of course, that's changed over the last couple of weeks, since KC has won its first eight playoff games. That's a streak that's never been matched in Major League baseball history.

So we'll see which Yost-ed emerges in the World Series.

SIMON: Tom, dropped my pocket comb on the way to work this morning and Lorenzo Cain, the Royals centerfielder, picked it up and threw it to home.

What a series he's having.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) I'll bet it was a diving catch too, right? He's been a great story. He didn't play baseball until the sophomore year of high school and only after he got cut from the basketball team. That was his first and only sports love. He took to baseball and listen to this story from a great Kansas City Star profile of Cain - talked about his insatiable work ethic in high school combined with this innate skill of tracking down baseballs. He'd ask his high school manager after workouts to help him practice fielding. And here's a quote from the manager, Barney Myers, "when I got tired and I wanted to go home, I would hit the ball as far from Cain as I could so that he had to run. I tried to wear his butt out so I'd get to go home. And that's why I see him making some of the most amazing catches in the playoffs."

SIMON: You know, I had hoped we'd get through the week without talking more about - having to talk more about - domestic abuse in football, but we just can't. An article in The Washington Post this week was just staggering.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, harrowing account by two former wives of NFL players talking about physical abuse and how teams, the league, police even, encouraged them to keep things quiet. And they say their stories are the tip of the iceberg - so many other NFL wives going through the same thing.

SIMON: And this follows Jerry Angelo, the former general manager of the Chicago Bears who said the NFL covered up hundreds of domestic abuse cases and he knows because he used to help them do that.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Angelo later said his comments were taken out of context. Whether that's true or he's doing damage control - you know, we are getting a sense, Scott, that the NFL may be entering a phase similar to the concussion crisis. You know, "League Of Denial" was the book and documentary about how the NFL denied and covered up the dangers of head trauma for years. You wonder if someone's writing a book as we speak about a domestic violence crisis called maybe "League Of Silence."

SIMON: Yeah. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks very much for being with us.

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