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Saturday Sports: World Series; NBA season; Super Bowl contenders

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Texas takes the lead. The NBA season tips off and confounding contenders in the NFL. Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media joins us. Howard, thanks for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Game 1 - Texas Rangers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6 to 5. Extra innings in Arlington. Adolis Garcia smashed the walk-off homer in the 11th. Look. Game 2 tonight - both these teams have been slightly mocked or more as wildcards, not having great regular season records. I like the way they play the game. That was a great game. There's attention to the fine points.

BRYANT: Two totally separate arguments, Scott Simon. Could not agree more. I'm not a fan of this. I have not liked the fact that in baseball, a 6 seed and a 5 seed play each other. What is the point of playing all these games if these two mediocre teams are going to go play each other? There's just really not that much of a point, although Texas had a better year. They won 90 games. However, let it be said, as it is always said - when there's competition, you will get compelling moments.

And last night was a terrific game. It was a great game, and I think it's important to separate the two. The format isn't great. It values - it's like the - it reminds me of the NCAA tournament, where you get buzzer beaters, and you get...

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: ...Sensation over historical greatness. But when two teams get on the field and go at it, we got a fantastic game last night, and I think we're going to get a really great series. And so I'm in. I just don't love the format itself, but give me postseason baseball every single time.

SIMON: Yeah. NBA regular season tipped off Tuesday. Fear the dear. You know, I'd say that. Giannis and Damian...

BRYANT: And you should say it.

SIMON: A great one-two duo. But there's also a lot of excitement over a young French rookie for the San Antonio Spurs, isn't there?

BRYANT: Yeah. It's Victor Wembanyama. And believe me - if you want to see something you've never seen before, watch the San Antonio Spurs this year of 7-foot-4 or 7-foot-5, however tall he is, with the agility of a guard and the shooting ability of a forward. It's - he's unbelievable. He's making - he's blocking shots. He's blocking three-pointers from 15 feet away 'cause he's got that much of a wingspan. It's really fascinating.

And, yes, Milwaukee's got Dame Lillard, and I'm really happy for Dame. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Garnett when he came to the Boston Celtics. He's been a great player for a long time in a town, which was Portland back then, which really just wasn't always competing for championships. And here he is now on the big stage. Wanted to go to Miami, but he ends up in Milwaukee. He's playing with Giannis, and the country's really going to see how great he's been for all these years.

SIMON: The NFL - it's getting into crunchtime, and it's getting confounding. Kansas City, Philly Eagles, you know, clearly having good seasons. The Bills, back-and-forth. The Detroit Lions are in first place in the NFC North. Of course, they have the tremendous advantage of playing the Bears twice. Do you see any clear favorite at this point in November?

BRYANT: I do see a clear favorite, and it's the Chiefs.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: I think that what's fascinating about when you're watching a transcendent player like Patrick Mahomes, you see that the difference between how good he is - and, of course, his wingman, Travis Kelce, which has turned the NFL into the Kelsey-Swift Eras Tour in of itself...

SIMON: Oh. Now, leave the man's personal life out of it. Sorry.

BRYANT: Personal life? They're - every time he touches the ball, there's a shot of her in the luxury box...

SIMON: Taylor Swift. I know. Yes.

BRYANT: Exactly. But, yeah, I think that when you - here's a great stat on Patrick Mahomes. This man has never played a road playoff game. That's how good Kansas City is. Buffalo is supposed to be a great team. They're up and down. But, you know, Philadelphia, the Chiefs and the Eagles played each other in the Super Bowl last year. I still think they're the two best teams. Who knows what the Lions are going to be? They got smoked a week ago. And it was like, maybe we needed that blowout. So once again, once we start to hit Thanksgiving, we'll start to see pretenders and contenders separate, as always.

SIMON: I'm kind of holding the torch for the Detroit Lions. But see...

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: We'll see where it goes. Meadowlark Media's - did I just say time will tell? Yeah, I did. I guess we can do that for the sports segment, too. Meadowlark Media's Howard Bryant. Howard, thanks so much for being with us.

BRYANT: Thanks, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF DR. DRE SONG, "THE NEXT EPISODE (FEAT. SNOOP DOGG)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.