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Saturday Sports: Mikaela Shiffrin's ski record; college basketball coaches retire

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

I wait all week to say, and now it's time for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Mikaela Shiffrin skis into history. The World Baseball Classic highlights unlikely stars. And college basketball bids farewell to a legendary coach. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks so much for being with us.

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

SIMON: Mikaela Shiffrin - all-time record today. Tell us the latest.

GOLDMAN: Wow. A big day in alpine ski racing, Scott. Shiffrin did it. She won the 87th World Cup race of her career, which means she's now the all-time record holder. She tied Swedish legend Ingemar Stenmark yesterday with a giant slalom win. Today, she moved past him with a win in her best discipline, the slalom. She turns 28 next week, and if she stays healthy and keeps racing, she could get to at least 100...

SIMON: Wow.

GOLDMAN: ...World Cup wins. She's an amazing athlete, a really engaging person, really fast on skis. A lot of people happy for her today.

SIMON: Yeah. Let me ask about the World Baseball Classic. Going on now, 20 nations competing, games have already begun in Japan and Taiwan. What teams are you looking at?

GOLDMAN: Well, watch out for Japan. Today, the Japanese whomped...

SIMON: Boy, were they great? But go ahead. Yeah.

GOLDMAN: They whomped the Czech Republic 10 to 2.

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: That means Japan scored 31 total runs in its three wins so far. It's a really talented team that includes the amazing Shohei Ohtani, the American League MVP in 2021. And he says he's not even the best on this team. I'm looking...

SIMON: He's modest. He's a great player, and he's modest. Go ahead.

GOLDMAN: He - amazing, yeah. I'm looking forward to the first games today for a couple of the other favorites. The Dominican Republic is stocked with MLB stars in their primes like Juan Soto and Manny Machado. The U.S. is the defending World Baseball Classic champion and led by superstar Mike Trout. Now, his presence is significant. There's been a little bit of arrogance by some U.S. players about this event. They said it wasn't really significant, and they didn't want to risk injury by playing in it. But Trout watched the U.S. win in 2017. He got fired up to play for his country. And when he signed up, a flood of other stars like Mookie Betts, Pete Alonso...

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: ...They all followed him. I should mention, Scott, part of the fun are the non-contenders, though, where baseball still is a bit of an oddity, like the Czechs with their largely amateur roster, including a firefighter, a high school teacher. The manager is a neurologist. Although they did win. They beat China.

SIMON: I - as you know, I kind of root for the Netherlands.

GOLDMAN: Yes.

SIMON: And I'm not going to make any jokes about how hard it is to run in wooden shoes.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Thank you.

SIMON: But they have a team with several major league stars, including...

GOLDMAN: Yeah.

SIMON: ...Xander Bogaerts.

GOLDMAN: Yes, there are a lot of fun teams to watch here.

SIMON: MLB wants a world audience, right?

GOLDMAN: Yeah. You know, this is baseball's World Cup. Since there's no baseball in next summer's Olympics, this is sport's big biggest international competition. U.S. baseball fans don't put it on the same level as, you know, the MLB postseason and the World Series. Much of the world loves it. And Major League Baseball is trying to tap into what it sees as a hugely lucrative global market, and it thinks the WBC helps that effort in a big way.

SIMON: Before March Madness begins in earnest, goodbye to a great coach this week, right?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, absolutely. Jim Boeheim - after 47 years coaching at Syracuse, he wraps up a career having the second most wins of Division I men's coaches after Mike Krzyzewski. Boeheim took the Orange to five Final Fours. They won the national championship in 2003. And we must mention, Scott, that he left a trail of wounded reporters at his often sour press conferences. Longtime college basketball writer John Feinstein once wrote about Boeheim, if a hemorrhoid could talk, it would sound like Jim Boeheim. But those who covered Boeheim...

SIMON: Ooh, ooh.

GOLDMAN: ...And knew him - like Feinstein said, there was a lot more to the man than his sourpuss demeanor. A lot that basketball fans, especially in Syracuse, are honoring this week.

SIMON: Yes. That's quite - I didn't know - John wrote that? Oh. Well.

GOLDMAN: But apparently Boeheim told him, you know, John, you're probably right.

SIMON: Oh, well, that's - all right, a classy guy. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much for being with us.

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

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.
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.