TIME Baseball

10 Not-to-Miss Moments From the MLB All-Star Game

Derek Jeter went 2-for-2 in his 14th and final All-Star Game performance and the American League defeated the National League 5-3

Fans gathered at Target Field in Minneapolis Tuesday night, to watch the American League face off against the National League in the All-Star Game. Here are 10 of the best moments from–and Derek Jeter’s last appearance at–the annual celebration of baseball’s finest.

TIME MLB

All-Star Game All About Derek Jeter

The Captain stole the spotlight at the Midsummer Classic

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He may not have won MVP (that honor went to heir apparent Mike Trout) but retiring New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter stole the show at the 85th All-Star Game Tuesday.

Cameras followed Jeter’s almost every move at his final Midsummer Classic from when his name was read during lineups to when he took a curtain call to a standing ovation. The Yankee shone on the field too, leading off the game with a double and and scoring as part of a three-run inning.

Most importantly, Jeter did what he always does, quietly helping his team win the game. Well, as quietly as they would let him.

TIME Baseball

Jeter, Trout Lead American League Over National League 5-3 in All-Star Game

American League shortstop Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, singles during the third inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, July 15, 2014, in Minneapolis.
American League shortstop Derek Jeter, of the New York Yankees, singles during the third inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, July 15, 2014, in Minneapolis. Jeff Roberson—AP

The MLB All-Star Game ended with a 5-3 American League win over the National League, in which Mike Trout was named the All-Star MVP

(MINNEAPOLIS) — Derek Jeter soaked in the adulation from fans and players during one more night on baseball’s national stage, set the tone for the American League with a pregame speech and then delivered two final All-Star hits.

Mike Trout, perhaps the top candidate to succeed the 40-year-old Yankees captain as the face of the game, seemed ready to assume the role with a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double that earned the 22-year-old MVP honors.

On a summer evening filled with reminders of generational change, the AL kept up nearly two decades of dominance by beating the National League 5-3 Tuesday for its 13th win in 17 years.

“I think let Mike be Mike. I don’t think people have to necessarily appoint someone to a particular position,” Jeter said. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him. I don’t know how much better he can get, but if he consistently does what he’s doing, then he will be here for a long time.”

Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer to help give the AL champion home-field advantage for the World Series.

No matter what else happened, from the start it seemed destined to be another special event for Jeter.

He made a diving stop on Andrew McCutchen’s grounder to shortstop leading off the game and received a 63-second standing ovation when he walked to the plate before his opposite-field double to right leading off the bottom half. He was given another rousing cheer before his single to right starting the third and 2 1-2 minutes more applause after AL manager John Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez to shortstop to replace him at the start of the fourth.

As Frank Sinatra’s recording of “New York, New York” boomed over the Target Field speakers and his parents watched from the stands, Jeter repeatedly waved to the crowd, exchanged handshakes and hugs with just about every person in the AL dugout and then came back onto the field for a curtain call.

“It was a special moment and it was unscripted,” Jeter said. “I was unaware of it.”

NL manager Mike Matheny of the Cardinals didn’t want it to stop.

“The guys on our side have the utmost respect for him and would like to have been standing out there for a little while longer,” he said. “I think Derek was the one that was uncomfortable with it.”

While not as flashy as Mariano Rivera’s All-Star farewell at Citi Field last year, when all the other players left the great reliever alone on the field for an eighth-inning solo bow, Jeter tried not to make a fuss and to deflect the attention.

Even during his clubhouse speech.

“He just wanted to thank us,” Trout said. “You know, we should be thanking him.”

A 14-time All-Star who was MVP of the 2000 game in Atlanta, Jeter announced in February this will be his final season. His hits left him with a .481 All-Star average (13 for 27), just behind Charlie Gehringer’s .500 record (10 for 20) for players with 20 or more at-bats.

While the Yankees are .500 at the break and in danger of missing the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in two decades, Jeter and the Angels’ Trout gave a boost to whichever AL team reaches the World Series.

The AL improved to 9-3 since the All-Star game started deciding which league gets Series home-field advantage; 23 of the last 28 titles were won by teams scheduled to host four of a possible seven games.

Detroit’s Max Scherzer, in line to be the most-prized free agent pitcher after the season, pitched a scoreless fifth for the win, and Glen Perkins got the save in his home ballpark.

Target Field, a $545 million, limestone-encased jewel that opened in 2010, produced an All-Star cycle just eight batters in, with hitters showing off flashy neon-bright spikes and fielders wearing All-Star caps with special designs for the first time.

With the late sunset — the sky didn’t darken until the fifth inning, well after 9 o’clock — there was bright sunshine when Jeter was cheered before his first at-bat. He was introduced by a recording of late Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard’s deep monotone. St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove on the mound and backed up toward second, clapping along with the crowd of 41,048.

“I tried to tell him to pick it up — let’s go,” Jeter said. “But he took a moment and let the fans give me an ovation which I will always remember.”

When Jeter finally stepped into the batter’s box, he took a ball and lined a 90 mph cutter down the right-field line for a double.

“I was going to give him a couple pipe shots just to — he deserved it,” Wainwright said. “I thought he was going to hit something hard to the right side for a single or an out. I probably should have pitched him a little bit better.”

After those in-game remarks created a stir on the Internet, Wainwright amended himself: “It was mis-said. I hope people realize I’m not intentionally giving up hits out there.”

Trout, who finished second to Cabrera in AL MVP voting in each of the last two seasons, became the youngest All-Star MVP, about 3 1-2 months older than Ken Griffey Jr. was in 1992.

Playing in his third All-Star game, Trout followed Jeter in the first by tripling off the right-field wall. Cabrera’s homer — just the fourth in the last six All-Star games — made it 3-0, but the NL tied it on consecutive RBI doubles by Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy off Jon Lester in the second and Lucroy’s run-scoring double against Chris Sale in the fourth.

Trout put the AL ahead for good with an RBI double in the fifth — a bouncer over third base against Pat Neshek, the St. Louis reliever who grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs and started his career with the Twins. Jose Altuve followed with a sacrifice fly off Tyler Clippard.

Raised in New Jersey, Trout saw a lot of Jeter and said all week he felt honored to play alongside him.

“Growing up I was setting goals to myself that when I get — if I ever get the chance to get — to the big leagues, that’s how I want to play,” Trout said. “And the way he carries himself on and off the field, how he respects the game — always hustling, it doesn’t matter what the score is. If they are down 10 runs, he is always running the ball out. That’s how I want to play.”

TIME NFL

Pro Gay-Rights Former NFL Player Suing Vikings to Release Dismissal Report

Chris Kluwe
Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, pictured in a 2012 Minnesota Vikings NFL portrait. AP

Chris Kluwe, the outspoken ex-NFL punter, plans on suing his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, for discrimination

When former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe posted an explosive article on Deadspin in January, alleging that the team dumped him for being an outspoken supporter of gay marriage, he knew his career was pretty much over.

“I’m now known as the activist punter,” Kluwe tells TIME. “So when teams are choosing between a guy who has baggage and a guy who doesn’t, then it’s usually an easy choice for the team to make.”

What Kluwe didn’t expect was that the Vikings would open an independent investigation of his claims, and then, he says, keep those findings hidden.

So Kluwe announced Tuesday that he plans to file a discrimination suit against the Vikings, unless the findings of the investigation are made public. According to Kluwe’s lawyer, Clayton Halunen, over the past few months he and the Vikings have discussed terms of a possible settlement, which included the report going public, a donation of $1 million to two LGBT charities, and a public apology from special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who allegedly said in a meeting “we should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows.” (Priefer was retained as an assistant by new Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer).

Halunen said he talked to the investigators hired by the Vikings to probe the case, and they told him the report was finished and corroborated the gist of Kluwe’s allegations, including Priefer’s remark. On Monday afternoon, however, Halunen says he met with Vikings lawyers, and they told him the team wouldn’t release the report. “For six months, we were repeatedly told that the report would be made public,” says Halunen. “This news was very shocking.”

In a statement, the Vikings said, in part, that “in order to further maintain objectivity and integrity, the team engaged a nationally-prominent law firm — Littler Mendelson P.C. — to evaluate employment law matters and provide findings and recommendations to the Vikings. Those recommendations are to be provided to the team this week … the Vikings have never made or broken promises as Kluwe and his attorney Clayton Halunen have claimed … As we have consistently communicated throughout this process, the Vikings will have further comment when the investigation is entirely complete and the team has made determinations on next steps.” You can read the full statement here. The Vikings did not return a request for further comment. Halunen and the team’s lawyers are scheduled to meet on Thursday.

Why does Kluwe want the report to go public?

“For one, it corroborates my claims, obviously, or else they would have made it public by now,” says Kluwe. “And two, it shows the kind of atmosphere that could be allowed to happen if steps aren’t taken to correct that kind of culture. We want to make people aware that what they’re saying has consequences, and can be potentially hurtful to other people.” He also hopes the NFL can learn lessons. “Even though you are the NFL, you are still a business, and you are required to abide by the law,” Kluwe says. “You can’t say, just because this is football we don’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else, which I think is very important when you’re talking about a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry that frequently takes public funds to construct stadiums and host events.”

In his Deadspin piece, Kluwe wrote, “If there’s one thing I hope to achieve from sharing this story, it’s to make sure that Mike Priefer never holds a coaching position again in the NFL.” Kluwe wants that one back.

“I was being too harsh there,” Kluwe says. “What I would like to see is coach Priefer suspended for a period of time, subject to the personal conduct policy — I mean, that’s something we all have to abide by — and then to get training and work with the LGBT groups to understand why what he did was wrong. Because that way, he can serve as a positive role model to other potential coaches or managers out there who might be thinking of doing the same thing he did.

“The NFL is all about redemption stories, right?”

Lately, Kluwe spends his days as a stay-at-home-dad and science fiction novelist. He’s currently shopping a book, entitled “Genesis Prime,” which he co-wrote with friend and bandmate Andy Reiner (Kluwe plays bass for Tripping Icarus, a Minneapolis-based group).

“It’s essentially a very human story about what happens with those in power, as power always corrupts,” Kluwe says. “You can start out with the noblest of intentions, but then along the way you get to a point where you might think you’re doing things for the right reasons, but you’re not.” Hmmm. NFL metaphor, anyone? “No so much the NFL, just large structures in general,” Kluwe says. “You can look at what’s happening with the NSA, you can look at what’s happening with our drone program, even what’s happening with the Catholic Church.”

While Kluwe is comfortable pursuing a writing career and looking after his two young daughters in their Huntington Beach, Calif. home, he still wants an NFL job. He has eight years of punting experience, and was in the top-10 in yards-per-punt during three different seasons. Kluwe says he’s been kicking balls, and is in game shape. Still, since the Deadspin story posted, no NFL team has called. He doesn’t regret writing the piece, but is still disappointed.

“In the NFL, it’s okay to commit crimes or beat your wife or get caught drunk driving, but when you speak out for something, that’s the line you can’t cross.

“Apparently, I can’t be redeemed.”

TIME Soccer

Here’s the Winner of the World Cup’s Golden Dive Award

In case you were having World Cup withdrawal

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Only one team can win the World Cup. Only one player can win the Golden Boot or Golden Glove award. And only one lunger extraordinaire can win a completely separate, unofficial award: The Golden Dive.

If you’re reminiscent for World Cup action, the above YouTube video shows all of the flips and flops that were worthy of a “nomination.” The winner was none other than The Netherlands’ Arjen “The Flying Dutchman” Robben.

TIME MLB

1964 All-Star Game: Putting the ‘Classic’ in Midsummer Classic

Legendary names, drama, and a come-from-behind finish - the '64 MLB All-Star Game had it all.

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Crowds that skipped the ’64 Worlds Fair in order to see the thirty-fifth MLB All-Star Game were treated to one of the best games of all time.

While sports pundits whine about how the All-Star Game has become a joke and broadcasters report lower and lower viewership, match-ups like the ’64 contest remain a shining beacon of what the game could be.

The big names like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Roberto Clemente showed up to play (with Mays even laying out for a hard-hit ball).

In the end it came down to a bottom of the ninth two-out, two-strike home run to decide the game, putting the “classic” in Midsummer Classic.

TIME Sports

Economist: LeBron James Worth Almost $500 Million to Cleveland

Cleveland Celebrates LeBron James Coming Home
A Cleveland Cavaliers fan watches news coverage of LeBron James' return at Panini's Bar and Grille in downtown Cleveland on July 11, 2014 Angelo Merendino—Getty Images

But a lot would have to go exactly right

When LeBron James announced that he was coming home to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he did more than give long-suffering fans reason to believe the city could soon win its first championship in any major sport since 1964. King James also boosted Cleveland’s bottom line.

The greatest player on the planet could be an economic catalyst for the Rust Belt city. More fans will flock to Quicken Loans Arena to see James play, more staff will be needed at the arena to handle those larger crowds, more money will be spent during games at local bars and restaurants, and all of that will get pumped back into the region. The result, says LeRoy Brooks, a professor of finance at the Boler School of Business at John Carroll University in suburban Cleveland, could be nearly $500 million added to the local economy. Call it the LeBron Effect.

Of course, that forecast is preliminary and depends on a number of variables. Here’s how Brooks found his way to $500 million (or so):

Cleveland’s home-ticket prices last year averaged $68.17, according to TiqIQ. In 2009–10, the last season James played in Cleveland prior to leaving for Miami, Cavs ticket prices averaged $195. Last season, Cavs fans paid $202.74, on average, to watch Miami beat Cleveland.

Miami had the NBA’s highest average ticket price last season, at $245. To account for the lower cost of living in Cleveland, let’s make what still might be a conservative estimate: Cavs tickets go for $210, on average (remember — this doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of seats for far less). Cavs attendance last year averaged 17,329 per game. With James, the Cavs are likely to fill up their arena’s capacity of 20,562. Spread over 41 home games, James could bring in $129 million in additional ticket revenue for Cleveland.

According to Brooks, Cleveland’s leisure economy — think hotels, bars, restaurants, shops — lost $48 million in annual revenue after James left, as fans and media lost interest in the team and spent less money. Brooks assumes that money is recovered, adjusts it for inflation, and adds a 10% premium for James’ increased popularity since 2009–10 — after all, he’s now a two-time NBA champ, and a player more on par with Michael Jordan than he was when he was last in Cleveland. That’s $57 million in local spending James brings in. Brooks estimates that money will trickle through the greater northeast Ohio area, to the tune of another $114 million. So add that amount to the haul, and that brings in $171 million of non-ticket-related economic activity generated by James. In all, we’re at $300 million.

Now, add the playoffs. Each home game generates around $15 million in economic activity, according to data collected by Brooks. Vegas has already made Cleveland the favorite to win the NBA title. For fun, let’s roll with the oddsmakers and assume the Cavs make it all the way to the finals. Let’s give them home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs — that could give them three home games a series if they don’t sweep, or if they don’t need a Game 7. Let’s say one series does need a Game 7, and a fourth home game — that’s 10 home games for the three-playoff series. In the finals, say they face the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs, who have a better record, but take the series to a least a sixth game. That’s three more games. That’s 13 home playoff games in all, or $195 million from the playoffs.

Under this scenario, James delivers $495 million to northeast Ohio.

Brooks is the first to admit these are educated guesses. Cut down the number of playoff games or the average ticket price, and the economic impact will be significantly lower. Plus, the Cleveland metro area has a $111 billion GDP. At around $500 million, James’ impact would be worth just 0.42% of Cleveland’s overall economic activity.

The city has come a long way since it was known as the “Mistake by the Lake.” A booming biomedical sector, fueled by the Cleveland Clinic, has helped recover some of the jobs lost in the decline in manufacturing. The arrival of another hyped star, rookie Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, and the GOP’s announcement that it will hold the 2016 Republican National Convention in the city have also created some momentum. And the metro-area unemployment has fallen to 6.8%, down from a recession-era high of 10% in January 2010.

Still, that rate is higher than the 6.1% national average. And the Cleveland area ranked in the bottom fifth in the country in job growth from 2012 to 2014, according to USA Today. But James’ return is welcome news in Cleveland no matter the size of the economic benefit — something even an economist can recognize.

“The Cleveland fan can expect the LeBron Effect to provide a lot more positive and less negative experiences then most of them have had in any prior year, or imagined that they would ever see in the future prior to LeBron’s announcement,” says Brooks. “Many would view this as priceless.”

TIME Soccer

World Cup 2014 by the Numbers

400 million tweets, 3.4 million fans, and 171 goals add up to one great tournament

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Footie fans may be leaving Brazil now that the World Cup’s over, but the numbers on one of the biggest events in the world are just coming in.

The World Cup easily became the most tweeted event in history, but the amount of posts, tweets, and selfies (even by the players) is just overwhelming.

Add those numbers with a tie for most goals during a World Cup, a monstrous budget, and some odd team regulations and you have yourself one very exciting sporting tournament.

TIME World Cup

Riots Erupt in Argentina Following World Cup Final Loss

Vandals threw rocks at storefronts and attacked police officers

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What began as a peaceful celebration of Argentina’s performance in the World Cup final against Germany on Sunday incited police response of tear gas and water cannons just a few hours later after the Albicelestes lost the game.

At least 30 people were arrested in downtown Buenos Aires Sunday, CNN reports, following outbursts of vandalism and violence.

Tens of thousands of fans were gathered around the Obelisk to commemorate the first time the team advanced to the World Cup finals since 1990. But the country’s dream of winning the tournament was dashed in the game’s 113th minute, when Germany scored the game’s only goal.

TIME World Cup

Messi’s Legacy Debate Continues

Lionel Messi 2014 World Cup
Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup match against Germany on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mike Hewitt - FIFA—Getty Images

Messi missed the free kick in the 120th minute of play against Germany, sealing Argentina's fate

sportsillustrated

By Brian Straus

RIO DE JANEIRO – Time was slipping away, yet Lionel Messi still had plenty.

Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, who committed the 120th-minute foul that offered Messi the opportunity for one last look at goal, was receiving treatment a few feet away. The Argentine maestro took advantage of the pause. He stood quietly for a moment then bent over and pressed his fingertips into the ball, testing the air pressure.

On Top of the World: Germany Tops Argentina, Claims 4th World Cup Title

Messi was calm and deliberate, as if he hoped the measured pace of his movement would help clear his mind and calm any nerves. He was about 25 yards away and to the left of Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Argentina trailed, 1-0, in the dying seconds ofthe World Cup final at the Estádio do Maracanã and its fading hopes for a third title rested where they always had – at Messi’s feet.

It was an opportunity he’d surely rehearsed countless times – maybe as a boy in Rosario, where he was born the year after Diego Maradona carried Argentina to its second world championship. It became more realistic as Messi’s own star ascended in Barcelona, where he won every team trophy there is,along with a record four FIFA World Player of the Year awards. This was supposed to be Messi’s World Cup, the tournament where the sport’s most spectacular player, in his prime at 27, would end any debate about his place in soccer’s pantheon and in the hearts of his countrymen.

The free kick missed by miles, soaring over Neuer and into the crowd. Messi looked up toward the sky with an ironic, resigned smile on his face. That was it. The sport’s greatest goal scorer would be shut out for a fourth consecutive match, one he called “the most important of our lives” in a Facebook post. Argentina would lose the final and Messi, perhaps, his place alongside Pelé and Diego, if that ever was at stake.

Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi unworthy of Golden Ball

It could have been so much simpler. Messi already has accomplished at the club level what Maradona never could, and he played this World Cup under a spotlight that his predecessor couldn’t have imagined 28 years ago. Win it, dominate it, and the argument is over.

Maradona was regarded as supremely gifted – Barcelona bought him from Boca Juniors for a world record $7.6 million in 1982. But he hardly was a legendwhen that fateful World Cup rolled around in ‘86. He’d escaped the slums of suburban Buenos Aires andwon a couple of South American player of the year awards, one Argentine league title and a FIFA World Youth Championship. But he’d struggled with injuries and chemistry at Barcelona and hadn’t yet lifted Napoli to glory. No one expected or demanded a title when La Albiceleste arrived in Mexico. At 25, he wasn’t chasing immortality.

Messi was playing under a different sort of pressure here in Brazil and he rose to the occasion during the group stage. He scored in the opener versus Bosnia-Herzegovina, beat Iran with a stoppage-time goal then tallied twice against Nigeria. Messi then turned playmaker, setting up Ángel di María’s gorgeous game-winner in the round-of-16 matchup with Switzerland.

But as the tournament wore on and the opponents got tougher, Messi’s impact waned.Under manager Alejandro Sabella, Argentina has focused first on defense, starting with goalkeeper Sergio Romero and inspired by midfielder Javier Mascherano, who remains the squad’s soul if not its captain. Argentina’s soccer is far from the rhythmic, high-pressure, possession-based sort that Messi enjoys at Barcelona. Argentina had only 40 percent of the ball on Sunday, a statistic that might cause a riot at the Camp Nou.

Brazil Falls Short, but its World Cup Provides Unforgettable Theater

Messi’s contributions in the knockout rounds were intermittent and tactical. Set up to stymie Argentina’s primary threat, opponents made sacrifices in the attack. Games tightened up and scoring chances were at a premium. Sabella oftendeployed Messi in a deeper position. Hemight find the ball a bit easier there, but he was further from goal once he had it. In the semifinal against the Netherlands, Messi was shadowed effectively by Nigel De Jong and then Jordy Clasie.

On Sunday, he started behind one forward rather than two but still had lots of ground to cover when the ball came his way. And there were significant stretches when it didn’t. None of his four shots was on target, he was late arriving on a couple of counterattacks and he saw two promising first-half crosses cleared from danger after runs down the right. Messi’s best chance came in the 46th, but his left-footed shot whizzed across the face of the German net and past the far post.

Sabella refused to respond directly to a post-game question concerning Messi’s fitness, saying that he thought his captain had an “extraordinary” tournament and deserved the Golden Ball award handed by FIFA to the World Cup’s top player. Indeed, Messi led the competition in scoring chances created (21) heading into the final, a testament to his skill and efficiency. But that’s hardly a statistic they’ll be singing from the stadium terraces in Buenos Aires, and the glum look on Messi’s face as he accepted that trophy was clear indication that his dream had been dashed.

He described it in Saturday’s Facebook post.

“My dreams and my hopes are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one,” he wrote. “We want to win, and we are ready.”

2018 World Cup odds: United States 33/1 to win tournament

He could have made it easier for the public and the pundits by scoring a couple goals on Sunday and carrying the more important hardware back to Buenos Aires. There’d be a three-way tie for GOAT. But it already was pretty simple for Messi, who’s famously shy and the polar opposite of the outspoken, effervescent Maradona. He doesn’t play for the history or the trappings. He’s been known to sulk when benched at Barcelona, which can happen during a game that’s out of hand or meaningless. He simply wants to be on the field.

“The only thing that matters is playing. I have enjoyed it since I was a little boy and I still try to do that every time I go out onto a pitch. I always say that when I no longer enjoy it or it’s no longer fun to play, then I won’t do it anymore. I do it because I love it and that’s all I care about,” he told ESPN’s E:60 in an interview prior to the World Cup. “I want to be world champion but not to change the perception of others towards me or to achieve greatness like they say, but rather to reach the goal with my national team, and to add a World Cup to my list of titles.”

Some Argentines feared his loyalty lay with Barcelona, or even Spain, where he moved at 13. His goalless 2010 World Cup (when Maradona was the coach) didn’t help. Messi suffered from a growth hormone deficiency as a child, and his family was unable to find an Argentine club willing to pay for his treatment, which cost more than $10,000 per year. The Catalans offered, so he left. He owes Argentina nothing but has continued to profess his love for his country. He’s already been capped more than Maradona and still has years left to play.

“I believe he’s in that pantheon. But he was there before,” Sabella said Sunday. “He’s been there for quite a while already, in the pantheon of the big ones.”

Germany coach Joachim Löw said he told substitute striker Mario Götze during the brief break before extra time, “Show the world that you’re better than Messi and that you can decide the World Cup.” Götze decided it, scoring the game’s only goal on a brilliant volley in the 113th minute.

Germany’s World Cup Title a Result of Revamped Development, Identity

But no one believes he’s better than Messi. He’ll never come close. Lifting theWorld Cup is about far more than a given shot, a single game or the bounces during a month-long tournament. Champions are forged in the long term through persistent work at the grassroots and league levelsand a focus on culture and player development.

Löw said Sunday that Germany’s route to the trophy started in 2004, the year he and Jurgen Klinsmann took over Die Mannschaft and Messi made his senior pro debut. The talent and depth on display in Rio was a decade in the making. As Germany accepted the trophy, Götze held up the jersey of injured winger Marco Reus, who many considered the team’s most dangerous player.He missed the tournament. Götze was a substitute. The man who passed him the ball, Andre Schürrle, also was a reserve. He’d relieved Christoph Kramer, who was the replacement for late scratch Sami Khedira. Messi has nowhere near that reservoir of talent with which to work. His silver medal is the reflection of a whole lot more than his (in)ability to master the moment.

Messi will move on. The next game will be the most important of his life. His legacy may be murky for some, but that’s the fun of sports. Those who want to debate it can do so. Those who are happy to let it go and are able to relax — or sit on the edge of their seat — and enjoy the remaining years of one of soccer’s most transcendent, exciting careers alsocan do so.

Messi will keep on motoring.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

Watch Every World Cup Goal in 1 Minute

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