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World Series Preview

October 24, 2021
SOURCE: YES NETWORK/GIPHY
SOURCE: YES NETWORK/GIPHY

The apples have been picked, the leaves are falling, and there’s a feeling of magic in the crisp fall air because baseball’s biggest event — the World Series — begins on Tuesday.

  • So before the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves kick off their best-of-seven series, we’re diving into the history of the Fall Classic and what makes October baseball so special. How can you not be romantic about baseball?

QUOTE OF THE DAY

The only reason I don’t like playing in the World Series is I can’t watch myself play.

— “Mr. October” himself, Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, who won five World Series titles in his 21-year career. Good thing we have plenty of highlights.

📖 The history

SOURCE: MARK RUCKER/TRANSCENDENTAL GRAPHICS, GETTY IMAGES

The first World Series was played 118 years ago in 1903 as a nine-game series between the American League (AL) champion Boston Americans (who later became the Red Sox) and the National League (NL)–winning Pittsburgh Pirates, with Boston claiming the first World Series title.

  • While the Fall Classic still pits the AL and NL winners against each other, the first edition of the World Series actually marked the end of two years of bitter infighting between the leagues.

The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (which later became known as the NL) formed in 1876 but had to endure threats from other upstart leagues. One such league was the AL, which formed in 1901 and immediately started poaching players from the NL.

  • After two years of tension, the Pirates’ owner challenged the Americans to an interleague competition, creating the first World Series.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. The very next year, the NL winners (the NY Giants, now San Francisco) refused to play the AL champion Boston Americans, claiming the AL was an inferior league.

  • But they later regretted that decision, and in 1905 the leagues established the World Series as a formal event. It’s been played (nearly) every year since.

A major low point for the Fall Classic came in 1919, when eight players from the Chicago White Sox were bribed to lose the World Series as part of a larger gambling syndicate.

  • The participating players earned at least $5,000 ($78K today) for losing to the Cincinnati Reds, but when they were caught, they were banned from baseball for life.
  • Luckily, the drama in the years since has mostly happened on the diamond, with countless thrilling moments coming on baseball’s biggest stage.

👀 Memorable moments

SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES

Speaking of, here are just a few of our favorites from over 100 years of World Series history.

Jackie Robinson’s debut: In 1947, the same year he broke baseball’s color barrier, Brooklyn Dodger (who later became the LA Dodgers) Jackie Robinson desegregated the World Series. While his Dodgers lost that series, Robinson would compete for a title five more times, winning a championship in 1955. Legend.

The Catch: A play has to be pretty special to be referred to simply as “The Catch,” and Hall of Famer Willie Mays’ iconic grab during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series sure was. With the game tied 2–2, Mays’ catch provided a crucial first out for the New York Giants and prevented Cleveland from scoring on the play.

  • The Giants won the game en route to sweeping the series and hoisting the World Series trophy, with Mays’ catch forever etched in the memories of baseball fans.

Perfection: If Hannah Montana had been around when NY Yankee Don Larsen took the mound during the 1956 World Series, he would’ve scoffed at her “Nobody’s Perfect” single. In Game 5 Larsen pitched the first (and to date, only) perfect game in World Series history, not allowing any player to reach a base.

  • The win gave NY a 3-2 series lead, and they went on to win the title two days later.

Now walk it out: Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk waving his home run fair during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series and LA Dodger Kirk Gibson limping around the bases after hitting a walk-off while injured during Game 1 in 1988 are enduring images. But there’ve only been two walk-off homers to win the whole shebang.

  • In 1960, Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski hit the first. With the game tied 9–9 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Mazeroski sent it over the fence, giving Pittsburgh their first World Series title in 35 years. Couldn’t have written it better.
  • The other walk-off homer to win the World Series came in 1993, when Toronto Blue Jay Joe Carter belted one in Game 6 to give the Jays their second-ever (and second consecutive) title. Touch ’em all, Joe.

💃 Women at the World Series

SOURCE: AAGPBL/TWITTER

Women have made barrier-breaking strides at the World Series,both in the broadcast booth and on the diamond.

All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL): If you’ve seen A League of Their Own, you know some of the story of the AAGPBL. The league originated in 1943 as a (segregated) way to keep baseball in the national spotlight while most young men were fighting in World War II. Just like Geena Davis shows in the movie, these women could flat out play.

  • Despite the war, the MLB did host a World Series in 1943, but we have to shout out the winners of the AAGPBL’s inaugural “Scholarship Series,” the Racine Belles. It pays to hit like a girl.

Lesley Visser: The legendary broadcaster has been part of many notable firsts for women in sports (she literally wrote the book on it). One moment came during the 1990 World Series, when Visser became the first woman to cover the Fall Classic on national television, working as the lead field reporter for CBS Sports.

Hannah Storm: Another icon in sports journalism, Storm made history during the 1995 World Series as the first woman to host a World Series game solo and the first to preside over the World Series trophy celebration. Now that’s something to celebrate.

Jessica Mendoza: When we think of barrier breakers in baseball broadcasting, we think of Jessica Mendoza. In September, she was part of ESPN’s first-ever all-female MLB broadcast team, less than a year after becoming the first female World Series analyst on any national platform during the 2020 World Series. Stan is an understatement.

🔢 By the numbers

SOURCE: DIAMOND IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

With over 100 years of history, there’ve been countless records set (and broken) on baseball’s biggest stage. Here are some notable numbers from the Fall Classic.

1: The number of current MLB teams that have never played in a World Series. Six teams have never won the championship, but the Seattle Mariners have never even played for one. Don’t stop believin’, M’s fans.

2: The number of major pro sports championships Deion Sanders has competed in. Sanders is the only person to have played in both the World Series and the Super Bowl.

  • He competed with the Atlanta Braves in 1992 and won the Super Bowl in 1995 and 1996 with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, respectively. Get you a player who can do...everything.

14: The record number of games World Series Hall of Fame catcher (and walking quote machine) Yogi Berra played in, winning in 10 of his appearances.

27: World Series titles the NY Yankees have won, the most of any team by a wide margin. The catch? They haven’t won since 2009.

108: The longest World Series title drought. After 108 grueling years, Chicago Cubs fans finally saw their beloved Cubbies hoist the trophy in 2016.

📺 How to watch

SOURCE: MLB/TWITTER

The Braves and the Astros will look to make their own history when the World Series begins on Tuesday with Game 1 set for 7:30 p.m. ET. All games will be airing on FOX in the U.S. and Sportsnet in Canada. Play ball!

🏀Ben Simmons, explained

October 20, 2021
SOURCE: KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: KEVIN C. COX/GETTY IMAGES

The background: Simmons was drafted first overall by the Sixers in 2016, though his off-court demeanor stirred up some controversy. After starting his NBA career in 2017, Simmons won Rookie of the Year and is already a three-time All-Star.

  • Despite his usually stellar on-court performance, things took a turn when Simmons had a poor (read: brutal) showing during the 2021 postseason, and teammates and Sixers coach Doc Rivers were openly critical of Simmons’ performance.
  • In August, Simmons publicly declared he didn’t want to play for the team anymore, said he wouldn’t attend training camp and requested a trade. The 76ers wouldn’t grant that, and Simmons ultimately (and surprisingly) reported to Philly last Monday.

The latest: Simmons rejoined the team Friday, but his first interactions were tense. During Monday’s practice, he barely engaged with his teammates, put little effort into drills, carried a cell phone in his pocket and skipped out on a team huddle.

  • Yesterday, Rivers had enough. After Simmons refused to join a drill, Rivers threw Simmons out of practice, called him “a distraction” in a post-practice press conference and had him suspended for one game for “detrimental behavior.”
  • The team also fined Simmons $1.4 million for the four preseason games he missed and additional undisclosed amounts for missed practices and team meetings.

What’s next?: Simmons will miss tonight’s opener against the New Orleans Pelicans — which we’re sure his teammates are pretty happy about (exhibit A: Embiid’s quote above) — and he’ll likely face continued suspensions and/or fines if he doesn’t change his tune.

  • But the biggest consequence? Simmons’ behavior is causing his stock to fall, meaning a championship-contending team is pretty unlikely to trade for a guy who’s very obviously not a team player. He’s only hurting himself.

Preview of MLB Championship Series games tonight

October 20, 2021
Source: Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Source: Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

American League (AL): After the Boston Red Sox made (more) postseason history with their third grand slam of the ALCS in Monday’s rout of the Houston Astros, the Astros bats finally came alive in yesterday’s Game 4, as they defeated the Red Sox 9–2 to even the series at two games apiece.

  • Game 5 (and the final game in Boston before the series heads back to Houston) is tonight at 5:08 p.m. ET. It’s anyone’s ball game.

National League (NL): Down 2-0 entering yesterday’s NLCS Game 3, it looked like the LA Dodgers wouldn’t be able to turn their luck around at home, but an eighth inning rally lifted the defending champs to a 6–5 win over the Atlanta Braves.

  • 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger hit a clutch three-run homer to tie things up, then who else but Mookie Betts doubled to drive in the winning run.
  • Game 4 is tonight at 8:08 p.m. ET and the Dodgers will be looking to even the series while Atlanta, led by outfielder (and former Dodger) Joc “bad b!tch” Pederson, hopes to reclaim the momentum. Game on.
🏈🏀🏒

Sports Quick Hits: October 20th, 2021

October 20, 2021
SOURCE: STACY REVERE/GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: STACY REVERE/GETTY IMAGES

🏀WNBA: After losing the W title to the Chicago Sky on Sunday and skipping out on the postgame press conference, the Phoenix Mercury have been fined $10,000 for violating league rules. That’ll set them back.

🏒NHL: On Monday, San Jose Shark Evander Kane was suspended for 21 games (about a quarter of the season) for submitting a fake vaccination record to his team and the league. C’mon man.

🎓🏈NCAA Football: Five of Washington State’s football coaching staff — including head coach Nick Rolovich — were fired on Tuesday after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine (which is mandated for all state employees).

So congratulations to former defensive coordinator and new interim head coach Jake Dickert, who has a vaccine and has a Division I team to run! Good things come to those who get vaccinated.

🏀NBA Season Preview

October 19, 2021
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY
SOURCE: NBA/GIPHY

The WNBA season has come to a close (congrats again to the Chicago Sky!), but men’s basketball is here to fill some of the void. It’s time for the NBA season.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"When you're in the championships, it's never about what you do. It's always about what other people do."

— Four-time NBA champion-turned-basketball analyst Shaquille O’Neal on winning the Larry O’Brien trophy. Wonder what his NBA on TNTfrenemy and two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker has to say about that.

⚙️ Season setup

SOURCE: SARAH STIER/GETTY IMAGES

The last pro league to return to normal, the NBA is tipping off its October-to-April regular season tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET with a match between the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets.

But before we look ahead, here’s a quick overview of how the season is set up. The NBA is split evenly into two conferences — 15 teams in the Eastern Conference (EC) and 15 teams in the Western Conference (WC).

  • From there, each conference has three five-team divisions: The EC’s Atlantic, Central and Southeast, and the WC’s Northwest, Pacific and Southwest.

Each team will play 82 games — 41 at home and 41 away. The six teams with the best regular-season records in each conference move on to the playoffs, while the seventh through 10th seeds compete in a play-in tournament for the last two remaining playoff spots in each conference. Bring on the drama.

🏆 Reigning champs

SOURCE: JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES

Milwaukee Bucks: The defending champs are in a prime position to do it all over again, and that’s because their core roster hardly changed in the offseason.

  • Most importantly, NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (pronounced YAH-niss ah-det-oh-KOON-boh) is back to lead his team to greatness with the help of his brother and 2020 Olympic gold medalists Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

💪 The contenders

SOURCE: MITCHELL LEFF/GETTY IMAGES

Brooklyn Nets: According to the annual NBA general managers’ survey, the Nets are the team to beat, and TBH, we agree. Kevin Durant (KD) is somehow still at the top of his game as he enters his 15th year in the league, James Harden and Blake Griffin continue to produce, and unvaccinated Kyrie Irving can’t be a distraction if he’s not allowed in the locker room.

LA Lakers: With so much star power they could make NASA jealous, the best team in SoCal (sorry not sorry, Clippers) is looking to repeat their 2020 success. They have LeBron James at the helm, Anthony Davis at his side and former Washington Wizard Russell Westbrook set to make his hometown debut.

  • All the tools for a championship...as long as they stay healthy.

Utah Jazz: The good news? The Jazz haven’t missed the playoffs since the 2015-2016 season. The bad news? They haven’t made it past the conference semifinals (aka the second round) during that time.

  • But after posting the NBA’s best regular-season record last season, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert (pronounced goh-BEAR) and the boys have what they need to make a deep postseason run.

👀 Storylines to watch

SOURCE: CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

Swan songs: The Phoenix Suns’ Chris Paul is 36 years old. So is LeBron James, and his Lakers teammate Dwight Howard is 35. The Miami Heat’s Kyle Lowry, too. Some of the game’s best may play like they’re still in their prime, but their NBA days are numbered. Could this be the last season for some of these legends?

Trades: There are a lot of unhappy men in the NBA these days, meaning we could see some big-name trades early in the season. Kyrie Irving can’t play with his team at home, Ben Simmons wants out of Philadelphia ASAP (maybe), and the yet-again-injured Zion Williamson’s family is reportedly done with New Orleans. Spicy.

📺 How to watch

SOURCE: SARAH STIER/GETTY IMAGES

All the fun starts tonight. Tune in to TNT in the U.S. and TSN in Canada for the opening tip-off at 7:30 p.m. ET, and then check out the full schedule here to find out when your favorite team is taking to the court.