World Series 2015: Games 1 and 2 summaries, Game 3 prediction

We take a look at the first two games in this year’s World Series, then have a look at predictions for game 3 and beyond. Will Escobar continue to do what he does best? How will Noah Syndergaard fare in game 3?

The Tuesday night game of this year’s World Series was the longest opening match in World Series history.

The Royals won 5-4 after 14 innings, with five hours played in Kansas City, finishing at 12:18am when Alcides Escobar ran home after Hosmer hit a sac-fly right and Curtis Granderson threw home. The game was a mix of thrilling play and antagonizing waiting.

The first pitch of the game resulted in an inside-the-park home run from Escobar, the first in a World Series since 1929 and the first leadoff one for more than a hundred years – 112 years to be exact.

The Mets led the game at the start of the sixth inning, 3-1, until the Royals did the unexpected and managed to tie the game. The eighth and ninth innings saw one-a-piece scored, which tied the game 4-4 until Escobar managed to run home in the 14th inning.

In Game 2, also held in Kansas City, the Royals dominated, winning 1-7 while Johnny Cuteo threw a complete game for the Royals. The first three innings were devoid of any runs, but finally in the fourth inning, Lucas Duda scored with an RBI two-out single, putting the Mets 1-0. Jacob deGrom’s grounding out of Salvador Perez ended the inning.

The fifth inning was where the Royals really got their game on, taking the lead 4-1. Esobar tied the game with an RBI, while Eric Hosmer had a two-run RBI, putting the game up to 3-1. Mike Moustakas then put the game up to 4-1 with another RBI. The sixth inning, meanwhile, saw Cuteo achieve his second 1-2-3 inning of the game, doing the same in the seventh inning as well. He’d got 13 consecutively hitters out, not allowing a baserunner since the 4th inning.

The eighth inning saw Escobar get an RBI triple, knocking the score up to 7-1. At this point, the Mets fans started to leave, knowing they’d lost the game and were going 0-2 against the Royals in the first two games of the Series. The ninth and final inning had Cueto pitching once again instead of the usual Royals closer Wade Davis. The game ended Royals 7, Mets 1, taking the Royals 2-0 up in the Series.

So what can we expect for the third game of the Series? Well, firstly it’s in New York, so the Mets will have that advantage up their sleeves. They also have one of the best rotations in Major League Baseball, seemingly managing to put a top-of-the-line pitcher out every night.

Rookie Noah Syndergaard will start the game this time; he has a great fastball at more than 100mph and a good season record. However, fastballs of this type don’t seem to faze the Royals. All the same, Syndergaard gives reason for Mets fans to be excited about this.

The Royals have great depth in their hitters, who can hit a ball anywhere at any speed and generally get good things out of it. Must pundits seem to believe the Royals will take Game 3 in New York, but if the Mets can make home advantage count, we might be in for a much closer Series.

Golden Oldies: 10 Sports Stars Who Improved After 30

Chronicling some of the best sportsman who achieved greatness past their 30th birthdays. Including boxers, soccer players, and golfers; these guys have proven that age really is just a number.

Hunched over and clutching the corner flag for support, ex-Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o’s impression of an elderly sportsman last year had soccer fans the world over chuckling. The Cameroonian had had his age questioned earlier that week, which had led to doubts over his continued ability at the top level. His goal against Tottenham that day proved otherwise.

Indeed, there have been hugely successful sportsman who achieved superstardom after they had entered their 30’s. Footballers, boxers, cricketers, golfers and cyclists; everyone loves a golden oldie, and those on this list certainly prove that it’s never too late for greatness:

1. Bradley Wiggins, Cycling

The now Sir Bradley’s career hit the heights in 2012 after he won the Tour de France at the age of 32, and was also entered into the Guinness Book of Records for becoming the first cyclist to win both the Tour and Olympic gold in the same year. Having started his career on the track, Wiggins proved to be one of the most accomplished riders on road.

2. Mark Ramprakash, Cricket

Having moved to Surrey in 2001 at the age of 32, Englishman Ramprakash’s cricketing improved markedly. He had for a time been considered a nearly man, capable of brilliance as a right-handed batsman, but all the while struggling for real consistency. But in both 2006 and 2007, he averaged over 100 runs per innings, winning PCA Player of the Year in the process. Known for his fiery temperament, Ramprakash is one of only 25 players to score 100 first class centuries in a career.

3. George Foreman, Boxing

While a World Heavyweight Champion in his early twenties, ‘Big George’ made the record books over twenty years after his first title in 1972, coming out of retirement in 1994 to regain the Heavyweight Championship at the ripe old age of 45. Finally hanging up his gloves (for good) in 1997, Foreman is remembered as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time – as well as championing his eponymously named grill!

4. Gianfranco Zola, Soccer

Arriving at Chelsea in the English Premier League in 1997, aged 30, many presumed the little Italian wouldn’t last too long in arguably the most cutthroat league in the world. To their surprise, Zola lasted seven years, winning four major honours with the Blues. Named Chelsea Player of the Year twice, and the FWA Player of the Year in 1997 (having not even played a full season at Stamford Bridge), Zola is considered to be one of the best ever imports into the English League.

5. Evander Holyfield, Boxing

The famous ‘Bite Fight’ of 1997 remains one of boxing’s all-time clashes, with the 34 year-old Holyfield winning his World Championship rematch after Mike Tyson was disqualified for taking a chunk out of his opponent’s ear. The previous bout the year before was also won by Holyfield, and was named both the fight and the upset of the year. By winning the fight, Holyfield became the first heavyweight boxer since Muhammad Ali to win the world title three times. Not bad for a fighter who had retired the year before due to a supposed heart condition!

6. David Steele, Cricket

A little known English cricketer who made his international debut in 1975, at the age of 33. Named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year that same year, as well as BBC Personality of the Year; the prematurely grey Steele bagged over 22,000 runs in his career. He got lost on the way out to the field on that debut day in ‘75, finding himself in the basement toilets after taking too many steps down! Someone should have helped the old timer out!

7. Roger Milla, Soccer

The 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy introduced the world to the 38-year-old Roger Milla. Coming out of retirement to compete in his second World Cup, the aging Cameroonian smashed in four goals during the tournament, with his celebration for each a dance around the corner flag, which remains one of the most recognisable images in the history of the game. Four years later, aged 42, Milla became the oldest ever World Cup goalscorer after netting against Russia in Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto.

8. Edwin Van Der Sar, Soccer

The Dutch goalkeeper is widely regarded to be behind only Peter Schmeichel as the best ever Manchester United goalkeeper, but his tenure between the sticks at Old Trafford only started when he was 35. Winning the Premier League four years on the spin from 2006 to 2011, and a Champions League trophy in 2008; Van Der Sar was a real force to be reckoned with, and was in his forties when he retired. He also holds the English record for the longest time without conceding a goal, with 1,311 minutes.

9. Mark O’Meara, Golf

It took the American forty-one years to win his first major golfing championship, and they both came in 1998. His first, The Masters, came at his 15th attempt in the competition, still a record today. O’Meara had plenty of luck on PGA Tours, winning 16, and enjoyed an unusually broad career all around the world.

10. Phil Taylor, Darts

Opinion will forever be divided as to the legitimacy of darts as a sport, but Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, arguably the best player of all time, is still going aged 60. Winning his first world title aged 30 in 1995, he sneaks on the end of this list due to sheer longevity. And he’s pocketed over £6m in prize money over his career. That’s one golden oldie.

Klopp v Mourinho: Why Liverpool can beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea have endured their worst start in recent memory and no club has ever qualified for the Champions League after this bad a start. On the other hand, Liverpool’s new manager, their own bad start aside, has the right tactics to play and beat a team like Chelsea. Here’s why.

Struggling champions Chelsea, fronted by beleaguered manager Jose Mourinho and currently languishing in 15th place in the English Premier League, will take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, fresh from their first win under their new German boss during the week.

They say it’s better to be extraordinary than ordinary in life, but this Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge, being a normal one would seem to be preferable to being a special one.

Klopp, the former Borussia Dortmund manager, made a point of underlying his normality in the climate of celebrity managers, and he faces arguably the most show-stopping manager of his generation. But, if you believe the rumours, the Mourinho’s show could soon be drawing to a close, and Klopp could be the one to bring the curtain down. And not for the first time.

Five defeats so far in the English top flight, with their defence of the Carling Cup ending in miserable fashion during the week at the hands of Stoke; Chelsea are reeling and without direction. What was very recently an iron battleship of relentless determination is now a creaking rowboat, and the water is rising.

With striker Diego Costa a doubt for the game with a rib injury, Eden Hazard continuing to jog on the peripheries, and a defence scared of its own shadow; Chelsea are arguably there for the taking.

Klopp, having taken the reins at Anfield following Brendan Rodgers’ departure, is unbeaten in his first three games as Liverpool manager. Beating Bournemouth 1-0 in the Carling Cup midweek was the perfect warmup to Saturday’s showdown, with the Reds showing newfound grit and endeavour.

The industry of their central midfield against the struggling Nemanja Matic and potentially Ramires will be key, while the individual performances of Christian Benteke and Phillippe Coutinho have to be high throughout the 90. Klopp is a confidence builder, and he’ll have his players riding the crest of a wave heading down to West London.

And while Liverpool haven’t beaten Chelsea in their last six encounters, in Klopp, they have a manager who knows how to topple Jose Mourinho.

History is very much on the side of the German rather than the Portuguese. As Dortmund and Real Madrid managers respectively, Klopp has faced Mourinho on four occasions, with two wins, one draw and a loss under his belt. Indeed that solitary loss, a 2-0 Champions League semi-final second leg tie in 2013, still proved to be enough to take his Dortmund side through to the final, having convincingly won the first leg 4-1.

Jose Mourinho didn’t last too much longer in Madrid, having failed to deliver La Decima in his third season in the Spanish capital.

Dortmund tackled the fearsome attacking threat of Madrid by matching the Spaniards’ style. Mourinho prefers a counter attacking game, allowing opposition errors to hand the initiative to his sides. Dortmund had the defensive structure and presence of mind up top, serving up a horror evening for Real at the Westfalenstadion, with four-goal Robert Lewandowski the chief tormenter.

Two years on at Stamford Bridge and things are eerily similar. Klopp is once again the underdog facing a Mourinho under mounting pressure to deliver. There is little to be lost for Liverpool, and everything to gain. Freedom will be the optimum word for Klopp going into the game. Go out and impress.

Jose Mourinho, meanwhile, will struggle to downplay the importance for his side not to lose. But would a draw be enough for a stay of the axe?

The Death of the One-club Footballer

Where have all the one-club footballers gone? Just a few years ago we were celebrating the careers of Giggs, Puyol and Maldini, but many modern one-club footballers have jumped ship for a last payday. Will we see another one-club footballer ever again?

Given the widespread following of modern-day football, there is little debating the fact that the sport has become the global game – with the money on offer as a result nothing short of staggering.

While the best players on the planet naturally flock to Europe for fame and fortune, the growth of football across other continents continues to gather pace, collect followers and receive more and more financial backing.

Major League Soccer, the Australian A-League and the Qatar Stars League are just a few examples of footballing divisions that are able to attract an ever-increasing higher calibre of player as the sport grows in their respective nations.

While the increase in popularity in these leagues can only be a good thing for the health of football globally, it also threatens to spell the end of a prestigious club, with inductees having a very special bond.

One-club men, or players that only represent one football team throughout the entirety of their career, have a certain mystique; an unbreakable allegiance to the cause that turns them from fans’ favourites to club icons due to their loyalty.

Over the years there have been plenty, some more distinguished than others, but all held in the absolute highest regard by the fans that have the unique pleasure of being the only supporter group to sign that player’s name.

One-Club Footballers: Giants of Football

Some of the more noteworthy include Paulo Maldini, Ryan Giggs and Carles Puyol, who have all retired from the sport now – but they hung up their boots in the same place that it all started.

Maldini, and Franco Baresi for that matter, only wore the black and red of AC Milan and achieved widespread success and iconic status with the Rossoneri as a result.

Giggs was part of a glorious generation of Manchester United youth graduates, the class of 92, that defined Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford and propelled the club to English and European football’s elite over many years.

While other members of the same fabled school such as David Beckham sought challenges elsewhere, Giggs and fellow one-club men Gary Neville and Paul Scholes are held in much higher regard in the Stretford End due to their unwavering dedication to the Red Devils’ cause.

Barcelona is quickly becoming another hub of potential one-club men, with Blaugrana stalwart, talisman, captain and leader Puyol retiring having only played for the Catalan side.

Of the current Camp Nou contingent, the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and a host of other La Masia graduates could well follow suit – but the chances are being reduced as the wealth behind football in second-tier competitions grows.

Thinking about the afore-mentioned three growing leagues, the allure of a challenge in foreign climes and the inevitable lucrative last pay day that comes with it have robbed football of a host of potentially legendary one-club men.

The lure of MLS

The MLS was Steven Gerrard’s preferred destination after ending a career-long affinity with boyhood club Liverpool, with the former England captain now wearing the white and yellow of LA Galaxy.

For many members of the Kop, not having the blood-and-thunder midfielder in the heart of the team this season has still not truly sunk in.

Although Liverpool fans will always love Gerrard for his decision to shirk interest from other major clubs whilst he was in his prime, there is a feeling that had he ended his career as a Red, like Jamie Carragher did, forsaking all others, it would have been more fitting.

Australia and Qatar – attracting European stars

The A-League’s biggest-ever transfer coup saw Italian wizard Alessandro Del Piero step out for Sydney FC after 17 years as a Juventus hero came to an end.

The sublimely gifted attacker captured the imagination of Australian audiences with his ability and helped to build the increasing popularity of the sport Down Under – he also became the country’s highest-ever paid sportsman in the process.

Finally, Xavi opted not to follow Puyol’s lead and end on a high, instead being lured to Qatar for a final pay day before retirement.

A crowd of less than 2,500 was in attendance to witness his Al-Sadd debut earlier this year and although the Spaniard’s bank balance will be thriving, his sense of self-worth given the stellar achievements from days past will not exactly be soaring.

Others such as ageing Roma pair Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti will have the choice to make in upcoming years – but it is hard to criticise the players in truth.

With only a season or two left in the tank before the inevitability of retirement, why not bolster the coffers before a new life away from the pitch begins?

The reduction in importance at their beloved clubs as the frailties of age set in must surely be another heart-wrenching factor, with the chance to be a superstar all over again, albeit at a significantly lower standard of play, having its appeal.

Although the players that opt for the riches of a final payday in the sun should not be given too much of a hard time, the romanticism of the one-club men is slowly being weaned away as a result, with this prestigious and venerable group potentially struggling for new noteworthy members.

Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton in near-impossible battle for Premier League top-four

The top Champions League spots in the Premier League are a foregone conclusion with Arsenal, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs regularly occupying the top four spots. Will the other Premier League clubs ever get a chance to play in the Champions League?

Champions League football is quickly becoming the highest echelon of the global game, with an argument to suggest that Europe’s top club competition has even usurped the World Cup in the prestige stakes in the modern era.

While the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele will be remembered for their legendary exploits for their countries, the current superstars of the game such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly save their best performances for their clubs.

Champions League football brings a definite allure; the best players want to play in the competition, with a club that qualifies for it given a springboard to increase the quality in their squad as a result.

However, despite the prestige of playing in the competition on the pitch, away from the action the financial boost from participation has become staggering.

Last season, beaten finalists Juventus are said to have netted an estimated €86 million from their progression through the tournament, topping the monetary charts of earners through their performances.

As such, the battle to qualify for participation in the Champions League is a vicious one, with qualification being the ultimate goal for a host of clubs across the continent.

Looking at English football as an example, the race for the top four each year is just as eagerly contested as the one to win the title or to avoid relegation.

Club fans want their teams to be playing in the Champions League to see them progress on the pitch; club owners will be motivated by the windfall that comes with it.

However, looking at the Premier League in reality, qualification for Europe’s top tournament is more difficult than ever for teams that historically have not been in the top four.

The mega-wealth of Chelsea and Manchester City have dominated the Premier League title race in recent years and the duo seem perennially destined to command half of the available spots, even if the current English champions have started this season in underwhelming fashion.

Arsenal have qualified for the Champions League for a staggering 17 season in a row under Arsene Wenger, with no indication that the North London club are set for anything other than a top-four berth again this term.

Finally, Manchester United have splurged in recent transfer windows in an attempt to fill the void left by legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, with their financial power eclipsing most other clubs on the planet.

Premier League race: Three teams, one spot

Looking at the other contenders, despite the strong starts to the current season of Crystal Palace, West Ham and Leicester, it will surely be one of another three clubs that breaks into the established order if it is to occur.

Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton have all finished in the top four in fleeting campaigns over the last decade or so, but face a more sizeable challenge in doing so now than at any time in the recent past.

The Reds even won the competition in 2005 and finished second in the Premier League under Brendan Rodgers in 2013-14, but this was initially before City’s newfound wealth and latterly in the same campaign as United’s fall from grace.

Spurs had their solitary Champions League season in 2010-11, beating the likes of Inter and AC Milan along the way, but have not qualified since; fifth place has become a familiar finish.

David Moyes led the Toffees to fourth place in 2004-05, but the Merseysiders were beaten by an impressive Villarreal outfit before they even made it to the group stages.

Looking at the current day, the challenge is huge.

All three clubs have smaller stadiums than the current elite, hence less gate revenue, while the calibre of player they can attract is not at the same level as the top four.

As a result of not regularly playing in the top tournament, the best players from these three clubs quite rightly have eyes on moves to a side that does, as Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez have all done.

However, probably the biggest obstacle to one of these clubs becoming a regular finisher in the top-four is the growing gap between the teams that play in the Champions League and those who do not.

Not only is the prize money significant, but extra gate receipts and television money make it a notable payday for any side in the group stages.

As such, while the rich effectively get richer, those not in the competition stagnate and as a result are being left behind.

Unfortunately money talks in the modern game and the richest teams are those that play in the Champions League – fact.

There is nothing stopping Liverpool, Everton or Tottenham from finishing in the top four this season if elements on the pitch correlate, but doing it consistently like Arsenal or Chelsea have becomes decidedly more difficult in the respective clubs’ current structure.