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Saturday Sports: CTE And Football, Baseball Trades

DON GONYEA, HOST:

Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GONYEA: All right, baseball fans. It is time to get serious. The summer is not endless after all. So while you get your amulets and good luck charms all lined up, you better hope your team is ready to write checks and cut deals. The MLB's trade deadline is fast approaching. And here to talk about the rumblings, the rumors - all of that with this high-transaction part of the season - is Howard Bryant of ESPN and ESPN The Magazine. Good to talk to you again, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: How are you doing?

GONYEA: I'm good. I'm good. So the trade deadline - it's Monday - Monday afternoon. What do we know so far? What do you have your eyes on?

BRYANT: Well, what we know is that we're in that great period where you try to separate the contenders from the pretenders and who's going to really make a run to determine whether or not they think they can win. I think one of the great things about the trade deadline is that it tells you a lot about the organizational attitudes of a lot of teams. Now that you have two wildcard spots, more teams than ever are involved in the pennant race, even if they're really not very good teams. So you'll find out whether or not a team really believes that they're championship ready, despite what their record is.

GONYEA: And the Chicago Cubs - they beat their...

BRYANT: Ah, yes, the Cubs. Even without Scott, the Chicago Cubs.

GONYEA: (Laughter) That's right. So they beat the curse last year but they played like the Cubbies of old at the start of this season. They've come back. They're in first place. They're in a pennant race with the Brewers. And they did at least some of that by making a deal, right?

BRYANT: Yeah, exactly. And they got Quintana from the White Sox. And I think...

GONYEA: A pitcher.

BRYANT: He pitched last night. And they're playing the Brewers this week. And they lost to the Brewers last night. So that's a really - you know, that's a - they're a half game in first place. And so I think that the Brewers are actually even more interesting because we know the Cubs are a great team. We know the Cubs have all kinds of talent. We know the Cubs have all kinds of money. And we know that if you put those two teams side by side, more than likely, 9 out of 10 times you would take the Cubs, if not 10 out of 10 times.

However, if you are Milwaukee, you haven't been to the World Series since 1982. And you really have a chance this year because the Cubs aren't dominant. Maybe you're the one to make the deal, even though you're not a big-money team. Maybe you're the one to surprise people and do something. You've got a bunch of young players that are playing over their heads. Maybe Milwaukee should go out there and make a big deal.

GONYEA: So anybody else to watch in these final hours before the trade deadline?

BRYANT: Oh, absolutely. Washington just made a deal for Howie Kendrick in Philadelphia. They're a very good team. They've got a lot of injured players. I think the Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball, are the team to watch because the great Clayton Kershaw is injured as well. So they may go out and get, you know, Yu Darvish from Texas. So I think there are a lot of teams out there that have an opportunity. Maybe the Red Sox will do something with David Price on the DL as well.

GONYEA: So let's turn to something more serious. This week, a report was published that analyzed the brains of 111 NFL players. One hundred ten of them had CTE, the degenerative disease that's been linked to the game and concussions. What was the reaction from players and fans when this came out this week?

BRYANT: Well, I think the reaction from fans has been the same reaction that we've had from fans, which is no reaction at all. I think people - if you look at the players, you've had John Urschel from the Baltimore Ravens retire to go on to MIT. He's going to try something different.

GONYEA: He's a man with options. And he's seizing it.

BRYANT: A man with options, yes. But you've had players over the past three years retire early. And I think from the fans - just to really say I think this is very much like smoking. There are people who have - they've decided that this is something that they want to watch regardless of the health dangers. And I think that they want their entertainment regardless of the risks.

GONYEA: Howard Bryant of ESPN and ESPN The Magazine, thanks so much.

BRYANT: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.