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Cabrera's Stunning Summer


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. I'm going to be on vacation for a couple of weeks and after today's show. You know what I'm going to miss? Our crew here and the chance to say: Time for sports.


SIMON: Thirty home runs, more than 90 runs batted in. That's great stats for a season, but Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers has done that before the All-Star break. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us to talk about baseball, more baseball and a few things that otherwise might have slipped from view. Morning, Tom.


SIMON: Now he was the - a Triple Crown winner last year, which is usually considered a career season. Miguel Cabrera is having arguably even a better season. I think it's time we pay this man some homage.

GOLDMAN: Let's. The record, you know, that he set Thursday - 30 home runs, 90 RBIs - by the All-Star break. Last night, in fact, he drove in a run for his 95th RBI. If he keeps going like this after the All-Star break, he will blow away those stats that earned him the rare Triple Crown last season with home runs, batting average and RBIs.

And interestingly, Scott, Baltimore's Chris Davis is practically matching Cabrera in home runs...

SIMON: He's having a great season. Yup.

GOLDMAN: ...and RBIs. And if he keeps it up it could be an amazing competition in the second half of the season.

SIMON: And let me just say this with respect for Miguel Cabrera, he doesn't look like he's using steroids, if you catch my drift.

GOLDMAN: I catch your drift. No allegations, you know, nothing kind of - no evidence of any kind toward. Right now just kind of admiration for what he's doing for second year in a row.

SIMON: Only Joe DiMaggio began his baseball career with more panache than Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

GOLDMAN: Or you.

SIMON: So...


SIMON: Thanks for remembering. So why is Senor Puig not on the National League All-Star team?

GOLDMAN: Because fans voted Atlanta's Freddy Freeman into the last spot rather than Puig. We have an almost presidential-like race this last week, both players exhorting fans to get out to vote. But Freeman ultimately won probably because he had a great first half of the season compared to Puig's electrifying five weeks, and also Puig took some PR hits this week.

Opponents were calling him arrogant and he's having kind of a tough start with the sports media in this country. But that should get ironed out and a good chance that Yasiel will end up in a lot of All-Star games in the future.

SIMON: Things are a little easier when you play in Cuba where they have a state-owned media. You don't have to worry about these difficult sports writer types. Any surprises on the American League team?

GOLDMAN: Well, tremendous story, you know, lost in the Freeman versus Puig race, is the selection of the final member of the American League All-Star team, Toronto relief pitcher Steve Delabar. A little over two years ago, he was substitute teaching, finishing up a college degree, doing some baseball coaching.

His playing career that never got higher than Class A minor league ball appeared to be over because he broke his elbow pitching in 2009. But through an amazing series of events he got a shot at the bigs, he made it, and how he's on the All-Star team. A friend who's set up Delabar's workout in front of a Major League scout calls it the greatest story in the history of Major League Baseball.

SIMON: And the movie, the movie of the week, I'm sure. World Cup of Softball has opened.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. Let's give women's softball a mention since the IOC dumped it from the Olympic Games after 2008, which is a shame. It's one of the most exciting team sports at the Games. The World Cup of Softball going on right now in Oklahoma City. The USA beat Australia last night. The Americans are 2-0 and have a big game today versus Japan, championship game tomorrow.

Finally, the Tour de Steroids been over in France. This is a bicycle race, right? And, and their checked within an inch of their lives.

Yeah. The 100th edition of the Tour going on and heading into today's fourteenth stage, your race leader was Chris Froome of Great Britain. He finished second last year, doing very well. No doping scandals at this year's Tour so far. The sport, at this level, obviously have had a lot of bad publicity to overcome. A clean race this year would certainly help the cause.

SIMON: NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Thanks so much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: Have a good vacation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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