SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
And now it's time for sports. And today, the Final Four to settle who'll play for the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, and baseball's first week with instant replay is almost over - wait, are we sure? Hey, I want to - go to the tape. Let's take another look. Also, Golf Digest finally puts a women on its cover. What a shame it couldn't be a woman golfer. We're joined now by Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the magazine from the studios of New England Public Radio. Hi there, Howard. Thanks for being with us.
HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: So Florida plays UConn, then Wisconsin, who hasn't been there for 150 years or something, will play the kids from Kentucky. Who do you see as the favorites? Who do like overall?
BRYANT: Well, I think the two favorites are Florida and Kentucky to play in the championship. I think they're the two best teams right now. I like Wisconsin. Florida's the number one team in the country. UConn's going to have a battle. I think that - the reason why I really like Wisconsin is because they're actually the true underdog there. They haven't won a championship in over 70 years. UConn, Florida, Kentucky - they've all won championships within the last 15. In fact, Florida went back-to-back just, you know, '06, '07 I believe. And so it's not as though we haven't seen these teams before. But I like the fact that you've got a team in there, in Wisconsin, that their fans - you've got to be pretty old to have remembered that last championship.
SIMON: I - yeah, I think there'll be celebratory cheese balls being sold all over the badger state - I hate to use that cliche - by the - you know, within just a few days - by the end of Monday night.
BRYANT: Yeah, and UConn also - yeah, and, Scott, it's an interesting thing. I mean, even though, you know, UConn, Florida, Kentucky, they're the big dogs. You also have a very interesting story with Kentucky, in that if they win, they'll be the first team in college history - I don't know if this is a good thing or not - but to have five players, all freshmen in their starting lineup to win a championship. Of course, with the system being what it is, most of those guys will end up going pro after one year anyway. So you wonder how much continuity you're going to get. But it's going to be fun tonight.
SIMON: Let me ask you about the Golf Digest controversy. Their next issue has Paulina Gretzky on the cover in a sports bra. She is a well-known model. She happens to be the daughter of the greatest hockey player who's ever drawn breath.
SIMON: And she is engaged to a professional golfer. But I don't think sh's known for her own mastery of the game. Why don't they put a woman golfer on the cover? There certainly are a lot of great women golf champions.
BRYANT: Yeah, because they're making a huge mistake. And I think because - it's not great on the part of the Golf Digest editors to do this. I understand the demographics. Eighty-one percent of their readers are men. I understand that. But once again, the LPGA is a legitimate league with superstar players. And I don't think this would be a controversy if they had had a female golfer on the cover some time in the last few years. It's been since 2008 - it's been almost six years since they actually had a pro-female golfer on the cover. I think if you're going to do things like this and you're going to balance business between, you know, the cold aspects of business and doing the right thing - and also promoting the female sport. They're great players.
BRYANT: Then I think you should have more balance on the cover, and then this wouldn't be that big a deal.
SIMON: We'll note, the editor-in-chief of Golf Digest, Jerry Tarde, says - he says Paulina has a compelling story to tell. So we will note that. I want to ask you about baseball's first official week with coaches being able to call for instant replay challenges. Let me put it in a very neutral way. What do you think of this incomprehensible, dreadful idea?
BRYANT: It's comprehensively, understandably dreadful. And look, this is where it's at. Everyone's got 60-inch TVs at their house. They've all got DVR. They've all got different instant replay...
SIMON: I don't have a 60-inch TV in our apartment. But go ahead.
BRYANT: You don't?
SIMON: No, I don't.
BRYANT: OK. You've got a flat screen, Scott. You know it, I know it. The American people know it.
SIMON: All right.
BRYANT: Look, there's no way out. Technology has pushed the game in this direction, and you can't have blown calls. Look at the Yankee game last night. There's a third out at first base. They overturn it, and all of a sudden the Yankees get two runs out of it. So it would've been a bad call and the Yankees would've trailed. I get it. I understand the necessity of it, but it just does not feel like baseball to me.
SIMON: Does it make - we've got another extra 20 seconds - does it make the game even less watchable for those people who...
BRYANT: It makes the game less watchable for me because I like the human element of it. But once again, I understand you can't have missed calls on national television...
BRYANT: ...In super slow-mo. You just can't do it.
SIMON: Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Thanks so much for being with us. Talk you soon, Howard.
BRYANT: Thanks, Scott. And Bobby Orr's the best of all time.
SIMON: Oh, of course someone from Boston would say that. Well, you know, OK - yeah, Patrick Kane, too. OK. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.