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Saturday Sports: Major League Baseball Hires Its First Female General Manager

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: And a week for history. Major League Baseball hires its first female and first Asian American general manager. Kim Ng has been hired by the Miami Marlins. We're joined by ESPN's Howard Bryant. Howard, nice to be with you again.

HOWARD BRYANT, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: I'm fine, thanks. Kim Ng - this is a huge breakthrough. What does it mean for sports?

BRYANT: Well, it's - hopefully what it means is that the idea of the meritocracy is actually going to be followed for once. I think that anybody who's been in baseball - I've been in the game, right now, for 26 years, somewhere in there, and I remember Kim with the Yankees working under Brian Cashman. If you work under Brian Cashman, you work under Ron Schueler, you work under Ned Colletti with the Dodgers, you work at Major League Baseball, it's more than enough of a resume to have a chance to run a major league team. And this is a great opportunity for that.

People have been talking about this - as we speak - people have been talking about Kim Ng being a general manager since the early 2000s. So this is almost 20 years overdue - clearly a great time for celebration. It's a great thing, also, because when she was with the Yankees, Derek Jeter was with the Yankees. And now Jeter runs the Marlins, so there's always that connection. But this is what it's supposed to be. We talk constantly about having the - given the opportunity and then doing the rest. Hank Aaron used to say that all the time. The limits of your opportunity is the only thing standing in the way of your capabilities. You know, Buck O'Neil used to say it as well. I remember when I met the great Buck O'Neil in Kansas City - give me the chance, and I'll do the rest.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And now Kim Ng has the chance to do what she's wanted to do ever since she got into the game.

SIMON: Quick question about the MVP award - Freddie Freeman of Atlanta won the National League, his first, and Jose Abreu of the Chi Sox in the American League. Two fine players who might well win it again, but what does an award mean for just a 60-game season?

BRYANT: Once again, a great question, and even true as well with the Cy Young. When you essentially - it was less than half a season. We get to the All-Star break, we're at 81 games. And there have been many, many, many players who have had a great half-season. And I think that - when we talk about the championships, I think the championships might be a little bit easier, in a strange way, to accept because you're still - it's complete competition. Your team is going up against other teams for the length of however long that season is going to be. And at the end of the day, you crown a champion.

The season awards are a tiny bit different simply because you haven't compiled the sort of numbers comparatively. So when you look at someone like Trevor Bauer, who won the Cy Young in the National League, people were comparing his 60 games - I think it was a, you know, 12 or 14 start-season against a Bob Gibson start, or a Sandy Koufax, or a Roger Clemens, or a Greg Maddux full season. It's just not the same. At the end of the day, this is what it is. And the awards don't have asterisks, but there's something a little different about them.

SIMON: So I have to ask - college football, fifteen of today's games either canceled or postponed, including No. 1 Bama versus LSU, No. 3 Ohio State versus Maryland, obviously because of the pandemic. Is this a real season?

BRYANT: Well, we talked about this last week, Scott, with the NBA in terms of everyone just looking at the numbers and deciding we're going to do everything we can to try to have something. And I think that, once again, it's - it feels reckless to me. And you look at 30% of the games being canceled, and you say, what are we doing?

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And I don't know how much - how sustainable this is, but it certainly looks very strange to have that many games canceled and still act like nothing's happening.

SIMON: Howard Bryant from ESPN. Thanks so much, my friend. Talk to you soon.

BRYANT: My pleasure, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARIEL PINK'S "NONSEQUITUR SEGUES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.