On her 22nd birthday this summer, Sarah Wagner of suburban Wheaton, Ill., who describes herself as a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs, opened an email to find an incredible surprise — a recorded message from her favorite Cubs player:
"Hey, Sarah! Kerry Wood here! Thanks for your message and I hope you're having a great summer!"
"When I heard for the first time, I instantly smiled," says Wagner. "I think my hands probably went over like my mouth, like, 'Oh my gosh, Kerry Wood is talking to me, even though he has no idea who I am!' "
Traditional baseball autographs are getting an upgrade thanks to a new startup. For around $50, fans can get an autographed digital picture, a handwritten note and a personalized audio message from major leaguers. The company has signed up about 130 players so far.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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SIMON: Major League Baseball premiered its new high-stakes, single game wild-card playoff round last night. But a controversial call involving a famously vague old rule is at the center of attention today. The - eh-eh - defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in that game. The Baltimore Orioles put away the Texas Rangers. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us now. Morning, Tom.
A lawsuit against the University of Tennessee and its athletic director has revealed that earlier this year legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt felt that the school official was trying to force her to step down from her job.
That stands in contrast to statements Summitt made last spring. The coach, who is dealing with early-onset dementia, said then that it was her decision to become "head coach emeritus."
Summitt also says in an affidavit, however, that her feelings might have been due to a misunderstanding.
American speedskater Simon Cho says what he did was "wrong" when he yielded to what he claims was persistent pressure from a coach to tamper with another skater's blades at the World Short Track Team Championships in Poland last year.
"Tampering with someone's skates is inexcusable," Cho told NPR in his first interview about the incident."And I'm coming out now and admitting that I did this and acknowledging that what I did was wrong." The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune also spoke with Cho earlier this week after the NPR interview.
The Major League playoffs begin tomorrow, spinning off a dizzying last day of the regular season, and there's a ton of drama to talk about with Joe Lemire, baseball writer for Sports Illustrated. Welcome, Joe.
JOE LEMIRE: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: That dizzying last day featured a remarkable finish by the Oakland A's. They won the American League West, but they were all but dead three months ago. They were 13 games behind the Texas Rangers. What happened?