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Saturday sports: Braves leading World Series; Blackhawks, soccer face sexual assault


And now it's time for sports.


SIMON: A shut out and a near no-hitter as Atlanta tops the Astros, but should they stop the chop? And an appalling story of an alleged sexual assault by a former Blackhawks coach. We turn now to NPR's Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: The Atlanta arm barn was untouchable last night, beginning with the starter, Ian Anderson, who went five innings without giving up a hit. What did you notice?

GOLDMAN: Him (laughter).

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: Ian Anderson, 23-year-old rookie, no-hit the best-hitting team in baseball, as you said, through five innings. We checked the record books, Scott, and the record book says - or say he went the second longest in history on a no-hit bid for a rookie pitcher in a World Series. The only guy who went longer was in 1912, which I think you covered for NPR.

SIMON: Yeah, I did. Yeah. Steam-driven radios in those days, but yes.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) And after Anderson left the game, Braves relief pitchers kept the no-hitter going until the eighth inning. In the end, Atlanta pitchers held Houston - Houston - to two hits...

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: ...And no runs and took a 2-games-to-1 series lead.

SIMON: Many Atlanta fans and even players continue to do the chop and chant during the game, even as many Native American groups - not just Native American groups say they find it offensive. I wondered last night, what if a great star, like Atlanta's Freddie Freeman, who caught that first pitch from and then hugged Henry Aaron's family last night...


SIMON: ...Just turned around and said to fans, come on, please don't?

GOLDMAN: Good suggestion - it would mean a lot. You know, Freeman is the face of this franchise, Scott, you know?

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: And it remains curious why, after 30 years, Atlanta continues to do this - chanting, doing the chop, hearing the drumbeat piped over the PA system - you know, especially now in 2021, when pro teams like the Washington Football Team in the NFL, Cleveland in Major League Baseball, all the way down to high school teams nationwide all finally are understanding, or at least being shamed into understanding, that having Native Americans as mascots is not right. But at least for the time being, it continues, as we heard last night and saw in the background. There were no direct TV shots of the chopping, as in the past. Fox certainly was aware of all the renewed criticism this week.

SIMON: Yeah. Former Blackhawks player Kyle Beach came forward as the John Doe in the team's sexual assault case. He says he was assaulted by Brad Aldrich, the team's former video coordinator. This is a sad and outrageous story.

GOLDMAN: And all too familiar. The televised interview this week of Kyle Beach was searing but, as he said, vindicating. He went public after an independent investigation. And then a report came out this week - basically confirmed what he told team officials back in 2010. As you said, a video coach, Brad Aldrich, of the Blackhawks, committed the alleged assault. Top team leaders pushed it aside for fear it would be a PR nuisance as the Blackhawks began play in the Stanley Cup Finals.

After Chicago won the cup, Aldrich was given the choice to resign. He did. And he went on to work with other teams and then in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct with a minor. And he did time. So this week the report came out. Three powerful men lost their jobs, including a highly respected head coach in Florida, Joel Quenneville.


GOLDMAN: He was coach of Chicago back in 2010. The NHL Players' Association was implicated. A union doctor knew about the allegation but didn't act. All of this avoidable, Scott, including Kyle Beach's anguish built up over 11 years of silence, if people had done the right thing in the first case.

SIMON: Yeah. NPR's Tom Goldman, thank you so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.