National Pastime Radio: Doris Kearns Goodwin on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me

January 21, 2014

There was a disproportionate amount of baseball on the latest episode of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.

In “Who’s Carl This Time?”, we heard from Alex Rodriguez:

CARL KASELL: I think that Major League Baseball has done me a big favor because I’ve been playing for 20 years without a timeout.

PETER SAGAL: That was someone talking about how much he’s going to enjoy taking 2014 off from his job. He doesn’t have a choice. He’s been thrown out after he was caught doping. Who was it?

(Contestant) ROCKATANSKY: Oh gosh, it’s not A-Rod?

SAGAL: It is A-Rod. Why wouldn’t it be A-Rod? Yes.

P.J. O’ROURKE: Because we suspect about 2,000 other baseball players are doping is why it might not be A-Rod.

SAGAL: But he’s the one in the news this week.

LUKE BURBANK: Side note, if you want to know how much he doped, it’s the guy who doesn’t even know any baseball players’ names just picked A-Rod.

AMY DICKINSON: But you know what I love about his…?

SAGAL: What do you love?

DICKINSON: He just said, you know, hey, this is great. I have a year off. And he’s a guy who sees the syringe as half-full.

DICKINSON: He’s got a nice attitude.

SAGAL: Let this be a lesson to all of you aspiring athletes out there: Do not use drugs because after making $200 million, you might be forced to sit by the pool for a year before getting $50 million more. We also got this week to see all the evidence that had been established against him that he’d been using drugs. Major League Baseball said look, here’s the guy who testifies that he provided A-Rod with performance-enhancing drugs for years. And A-Rod’s response: Hey, you can’t believe that guy. He’s my drug dealer.

SAGAL: One of the interesting things about this is it wasn’t just drugs administered in such a way to increase performance but to evade testing. And so what would happen is – and they had this. They had endless texts between the drug guy, this guy named Bosch, and A-Rod, saying take this now, take this then. And one of the tests, this is true, Bosch says OK, I’ve got the drugs for you for today’s game. And A-Rod texts back, and he says dude, do not call them drugs.

SAGAL: Hey says we call them food, right, for plausible deniability. And Bosch is like OK, great, A-Rod. Hey, in about half an hour, I’ll be over to inject your food into your butt.

BURBANK: I mean, when – getting into the evidence, I mean, what the governmental body looking into it is saying this trumps Lance Armstrong in terms of…

O’ROURKE: Right, which is saying something.

BURBANK: Like when Lance Armstrong is like whoa, dude…

O’ROURKE: You’re overdoing it.

SAGAL: You did what?

O’ROURKE: That’s kind of cheating.

O’ROURKE: Yeah, when you’ve got Lance Armstrong saying that, you are in trouble.

I do have a bone to pick with my friend, Sagal, who was kind enough to write a blurb for my book. Rodriguez was not “caught doping.” If he had been, there wouldn’t be any of these lawsuits and appeals.

The second part comes from the guest on “Not My Job,” Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose memoir, Wait Till Next Year – A Memoir, is being re-issued this year.

DICKINSON: But she wrote – you wrote a baseball book and a novel, right?

A former assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Doris Kearns Goodwin has written several works on American presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.GOODWIN: Well, the baseball book was the one book that was the short book, thank God, “Wait ‘Til Next Year.” It was about growing up in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers and my father having taught me how to keep score when I was a little girl so that I could record for him the history of that afternoon’s Brooklyn Dodger game.

And I really did love doing that. I didn’t have to do tons of research. It was memory. It was my childhood, and it brought my parents back to life. You know, instead of bringing these big old presidents back to life, my parents died when I was young, so it probably meant a lot more to me than all these other ones put together.


DICKINSON: I love that book.

SAGAL: So I have to ask, Doris Kearns Goodwin, how about them Sox?

GOODWIN: Oh, it was the best summer of my life. It was so awesome. I mean just – you know, I promised myself as the summer was going along, because I was finishing this book, and I couldn’t even be on television talking about the news because I wasn’t even following it. The only thing I did was read the sports pages every day. Every day it seemed the Red Sox won.

So I kept telling myself I don’t care if they win the World Series. I don’t care what happens in the playoffs, they made me happy so long. But then of course they won the World Series. And I was at every playoff game and every World Series game. I even wore a beard one of the days.

SAGAL: Did you really?

SAGAL: And speaking as an esteemed historian, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, do in fact, in your scholarly opinion, the Yankees suck?

GOODWIN: Without a question.

SAGAL: Thank you.

And the program ended with panelist predictions:

SAGAL: Now panel, what will A-Rod do without baseball? Luke Burbank.

BURBANK: You know, New Jersey’s going to be looking for a new governor.

BURBANK: And if he was weirdly strong that would just be gravy I guess.

SAGAL: Amy Dickinson.

DICKINSON: He’s not quite sure what he’s going to do but he does know this. He’s really pumped up for it.

SAGAL: And P.J. O’Rourke.

O’ROURKE: God, I had the same answer as Luke almost, big steroid body’s going to run for governor of California.


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