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Saturday Sports: Oakland A's big move, controversy in sports reporting

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: The A's get closer to Vegas. A reporter admits to fake news from the sidelines. And a movie-worthy soccer story for a father and son. Michele Steele of ESPN joins us with certifiable information. Morning, Michele.

MICHELE STEELE: Yes, Scott, I have actual news and information for listeners today.

SIMON: All right. Well, let's get to it.

STEELE: Yes.

SIMON: Baseball owners unanimously approved the Oakland A's moving to Las Vegas - only the second major league team to relocate in 50 years. Pro sports used to shun Las Vegas and gambling. Now they can't get enough of it. Oakland - I mean, the A's are a fabled franchise. Why? Why? Why?

STEELE: Scott, because John Fisher said so. John Fisher, the billionaire heir to the Gap clothing business...

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: ...He bought the team in 2005. He owns it, and he wants to leave Oakland. And that's about it. He let the A's in the ballpark they play in...

SIMON: If he wants to leave Oakland, fine. Leave the team there. Go ahead.

STEELE: (Laughter) I'm sure - well, his family has deep roots in the Bay Area. I'm sure he's going to remain living...

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: ...In the Bay Area. But the ballpark that his team plays in, he allowed to sort of languish...

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: ...Like a decaying house. And he finally got approval this week from the other owners in Major League Baseball, who certainly want to reserve their right to move their teams if they would like to. He got approval from them to move to Vegas. And the commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred - he's waiving the $300 million relocation fee, so paving the way for the A's to leave. They're all but gone.

Now, he did want a new stadium in Oakland, and it is hard to build in California. But the city says they were close, Scott, on approvals and financing. They say that Fisher just got tired of waiting. So at the end of the day, A's fans deserve much, much better than this. Hard to believe that 55 years of baseball history is going to be...

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: ...Gone in Oakland soon.

SIMON: Yeah. Shohei Ohtani won a second MVP award this week. Of course, he's a free agent. And according to reports, the Chicago Cubs...

STEELE: Oh, yeah.

SIMON: ...Are willing to sell Lake Michigan to sign him. What's the latest?

STEELE: Now, we have to say, we are kidding about that. They're going to throw The Bean into the deal, as well. I'm kidding about...

SIMON: (Laughter).

STEELE: ...That, too.

SIMON: Yes.

STEELE: But, yes, according to ESPN, the Cubs are ready to make another run at the two-way star. It feels different this time, Scott. You know, the Cubs spent big bucks to get Craig Counsell, the former Brewers...

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: ...Manager, right? The Dodgers are the clubhouse favorite to sign Ohtani still. And the Cubs really haven't gotten into bidding wars for free agents. But, you know, this is the biggest free agent in the history of baseball. Maybe something feels different now. You know, hope springs eternal in Wrigleyville.

SIMON: Oh, I know. Charissa Thompson, who covers the NFL for Fox and Amazon, admitted on a podcast that sometimes, in her previous job as sideline reporter, she would just make stuff up. How damaging is this?

STEELE: I mean, it's been the talk of sports reporters for the last few days. She is one of the most prominent media faces in football. She hosts a pregame show for Fox. She hosts Thursday games on Amazon. And she said on a podcast when she couldn't interview a coach at halftime when she was a sideline reporter - I looked up the quote - she said, quote, "I'd make up the report sometimes." Falsely attributing quotes about the game to a coach knowing he probably wouldn't call her out for it, right?

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: You know, like a lot of my colleagues, I'm floored - not just that she lied, but she was so casual about admitting she made stuff up. You know, the question here for me is, does the NFL think that the media who have the privilege of covering its games be seen as truthful? You know, the NFL has a lot of sway over these rights' holders. And now, in Charissa's defense, she did put out a statement saying she didn't do the thing she said she did. I watched Charissa on games before and never wondered, did she make that up?

SIMON: Yeah.

STEELE: But now I am going to be thinking about that.

SIMON: Yeah. Finally, Lucho Diaz, we told - story last week - his parents had been kidnapped. His father was returned, his mother. Colombia faced Brazil at home on Thursday for a World Cup qualifier. Let's listen to the moment he scored his first goal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Speaking Spanish).

(CHEERING)

SIMON: His father in the stands with tears in his eyes, is what they said. Boy, this is why we love sports, I guess, isn't it?

STEELE: Oh, tell you what, what struck me about watching that was his dad just collapsing with emotion - right? - in the arms of the other fans around him. He was just overwhelmed with joy, presumably. And I love this quote, Scott, that his son Lucho said after the game, "I have no doubt why I came out brave, responsible and kind. He always had the mentality and faith he was going to get ahead. I want to dedicate this victory to him."

SIMON: Michele Steele of ESPN, thanks so much.

STEELE: You bet, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) 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.