TIME Baseball

Baseball Tips Its Cap to Derek Jeter in Farewell Video

Teammates, rivals, and fans both celebrity and local join in

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New York Yankees veteran Derek Jeter, who has announced that he’ll retire after the current season, earns a lot of respect in a new commercial from Jordan Brand, the Nike subsidiary that has endorsed him since 1999.

As Jeter gets ready to bat, he notices that he’s being saluted by the opposing pitcher, fans in the crowd, famous people in the crowd (including Spike Lee), New York City cops and firefighters, rappers Jay Z and Action Bronson, athletes Carmelo Anthony and Tiger Woods, begrudging players on rival teams, and, eventually, Michael Jordan himself.

This is Nike’s farewell to a player who’s been celebrated for his character both on and off the field for two decades. It will air during Tuesday’s All-Star game, which will be Jeter’s 14th, and last.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Athletes Should Not Play With Head Injuries, Say Doctors

Christoph Kramer of Germany receives a medical treatment during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro.
Christoph Kramer of Germany receives a medical treatment during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro. Shaun Botterill—FIFA/Getty Images

Germany’s decision to let midfield Christof Kramer keep playing in the World Cup final yesterday after being slammed in the head was understandable—if this were 1962, anyway. Back then, a little concussion wasn’t seen as much of a big deal.

That’s not true anymore, and given the fact that everyone from kids’ coaches to the NFL (if grudgingly) recognize that even mild head injuries can have serious consequences, that decision looks close to insane—especially given that Kramer “looked as if he was on another planet and had to be helped off the field,” as TIME’s Bill Saporito observed.

Of course, it’s possible that the German team didn’t realize that this sort of thing can cause permanent brain damage. Or maybe they think that what applies to American football is irrelevant to real football. Except that studies have shown that soccer players are equally at risk.

Clearly, they didn’t read the editorial in The Lancet Neurology published the day before the game reminding coaches and team officials that “cerebral concussion is the most common form of sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI), and the long-term effects of repeated concussions may include dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other neurological disorders.” The decision to let players continue in a game, wrote these learned medical experts, should be made solely by doctors.

It turns out that FIFA doesn’t have any clear rules about what to do in case a player suffers an apparent concussion. But the fact that Kramer stayed in the game, no matter how important a World Cup final match might be, was at best highly questionable. “I can’t remember very much but it doesn’t matter now,” the dazed player reportedly said after the game was over.

If the medical professionals are right about how serious concussions can be, Kramer and his teammates might well have a different take on things a few years down the road.

TIME Sports

Local TV Station Outrages World Cup Fans by Interrupting the Final Game With a Weather Report

No one cares about thunderstorms right now, you dummies!

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With six minutes to go in the final game of the World Cup, viewers in southern New York and parts of northern Pennsylvania got really angry. No, not because their team of choice missed a great opportunity to score or because their favorite player got hurt, but because a local TV station interrupted the game to provide a weather report.

The weather coverage from ABC affiliated WENY lasted for the remaining minutes of the game, Deadspin reports.

Naturally, fans were, uh, less than pleased. Many took to Twitter to express their unhappiness and even sling threats at the station.

(h/t Deadspin)

TIME

Reports: Luiz Scolari Out as Brazil Coach After World Cup Loss at Home

Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari watches his team during their 2014 World Cup third-place playoff against the Netherlands at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia
Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari watches his team during their 2014 World Cup third-place playoff against the Netherlands at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 12, 2014. Dominic Ebenbichler—Reuters

Reports in the Brazilian media are rife with news that the local football confederation has decided to drop Luiz Felipe Scolari as Brazil's head coach

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian media say the local football confederation has decided to drop Luiz Felipe Scolari as Brazil head coach.

Globo TV and other news outlets said early Monday that Scolari will not remain as coach after the national team’s failure to win the World Cup at home.

Scolari said Saturday after Brazil’s 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in the third-place match that he was handing over the team’s command and that it would be up to the Brazil confederation to decide whether he would continue.

Globo said the confederation’s official announcement would be made later Monday.

Delfim Peixoto, elected as a confederation vice presidents for 2015, confirmed the information to the UOL web news portal, saying he was told by top officials that Scolari will not stay as coach.

TIME World Cup

Germany’s Moment of Brilliance

Mario Goetze of Germany holds the World Cup trophy after winning the FIFA World Cup 2014 final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014.
Mario Goetze of Germany holds the World Cup trophy after winning the FIFA World Cup 2014 final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 13, 2014. Action Press/Zuma Press

Late goal by Mario Götze lifts team over Argentina

It was always going to take a moment of brilliance or breakdown to decide the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany, clearly the two best teams in the tournament, both tactically watertight from beginning to end. That brilliant moment would come in the second period of extra time, at 122:22, when German substitute Mario Götze ghosted behind Argentina’s central defender Martín Demichelis to collect a cross from André Schürrle — a substitute for a substitute — and direct the ball into the net for a 1-0 German win. It was Germany’s fourth World Cup title, its first since 1990, and ample reward for a team that had been rebuilding for this moment since 2000. Watch out, world, there could be more to come.

There would be no magic moment from Argentine star Lionel Messi, the four-time world player of the year who had hoped to make this his ultimate trophy and raise his profile to equal that of Diego Maradona’s, Argentina’s soccer deity. But Messi could only drag the ball wide on the two best occasions he was in on goal. And his last-gasp free kick floated miles over the bar as time ran out. A disappointing game without question for such a great player.

There was never any question that Argentina was going to defend deep and in numbers against a German team that routinely pulled opponents apart with its passing and swift counterattacks. Safety first is never a bad idea, particularly in a final and Argentina went 450 minutes without surrendering a goal. The idea was to defend with six or eight players and then have Messi run at the bigger but slower German defenders.

It could have worked. And it nearly did. Three times in the first half Messi unlocked the German defense with one pass, affording opportunities for Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuaín to run on to. Higuaín even put the ball in the net in the 30th minute from a Messi-to-Lavezzi combination, but he foolishly charged ahead of the play and the goal was called back for offside. “The soccer gods gave them a bunch a gifts, which they squandered,” noted ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas. None was bigger than the one presented by German midfielder Toni Kroos, who put Higuaín alone on goal with a badly timed back pass. But Higuaín sliced the ball wide off his right foot, and Argentina’s best chance of the half went begging.

Germany would produce a great opportunity of its own at the stroke of halftime when Benedikt Höwedes slammed a header off a corner kick against goalkeeper Sergio Romero’s left post. The ricochet bounced off of Thomas Müller, but he was in an offside position. Danger avoided.

The game was full of intrigue even before it started, with Germany’s starting midfielder Sami Khedira pulling up lame in the warm-up. German coach Joachim Löw chose Christoph Kramer, who had played all of 12 minutes in the tournament, to replace him. In the biggest game of his life, Kramer would last 31 minutes, of which he was fully conscious for maybe 25. After taking a blow to the head from the shoulder of Ezequiel Garay, Kramer appeared wobbly but returned to the pitch — FIFA doesn’t have much in the way of a concussion protocol. Minutes later, Kramer looked as if he was on another planet and had to be helped off the field, to be replaced by Schürrle. For Argentina, its fleet winger Ángel di María, didn’t recover from a thigh injury, which surely changed the team’s tactical thinking.

Although Germany had come closest to scoring, Argentina had been the more dangerous side for the first 45. And Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella tried to increase the danger by withdrawing Lavezzi and introducing Kun Agüero at the half. Within two minutes, Messi had a golden opportunity with the ball on his favored left foot, but his chance for glory would go harmlessly wide. And in the 74th minute, running right to left, he unleashed another bending shot that also went wide.

As the game progressed, the space began closing down, and in the 88th minute, Löw brought Götze on for Miroslav Klose, who closed out his German career admirably. Argentina would once again have a chance to win the game in the 97th, when sub Rodrigo Palacio settled under a pass into the box, only to misplay it momentarily and then rush a lob wide of Manuel Neuer’s net.

Argentina’s moment had gone by. And Germany’s was about to present itself.

TIME World Cup

Goetze Scores Late to Give Germany the World Cup

Germany's Goetze celebrates near Mueller after scoring a goal during extra time in their 2014 World Cup final against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro
Germany's Mario Goetze,left, celebrates near teammate Thomas Mueller after scoring a goal during extra time in their 2014 World Cup final against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. Dylan Martinez—Reuters

RIO DE JANEIRO—Mario Goetze volleyed in the winning goal in extra time to give Germany its fourth World Cup title with a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday.

Goetze controlled the ball with his chest and then shot past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 113th minute.

Argentina had created more chances, but failed to really test Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer throughout the 120 minutes of regulation and extra time.

The win is Germany’s first as a united country. West Germany won the World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990.

TIME swimming

Australian Swimmer Ian Thorpe Comes Out as Gay

FILE - Olympic Swimmer Ian Thorpe Reveals He Is Gay On An Interview With Michael Parkinson On Australian Television
Olympic Swimmer Ian Thorpe Quinn Rooney—Getty Images

"I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man," he revealed after years of denials

Australian swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe announced he was gay this weekend after years of denials, in a tell-interview that aired in Australia Sunday night.

“I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man,” he told British interviewer Michael Parkinson on Australia’s Channel Ten, the ABC reports. “And I don’t want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”

Thorpe, whose swimming success earned him the nickname “the Thorpedo,” had earlier denied being gay in his 2012 autobiography. “For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight,” he wrote.

Thorpe now says he had wanted to come out for a long time but “didn’t have the strength,” and was concerned about reactions from friends and family, who were surprised by his news but have been very supportive.

“I’m not straight, and this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe said keeping his sexuality a secret contributed to the depression he battled, sometimes by abusing alcohol, since he was a teenager. He said he decided to come out because “the lie had become so big” and he “didn’t want people to question my integrity.”

“A part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay,” Thorpe said, The Guardian reports. “I am telling not only Australia, I’m telling the world that I am and I hope this makes it easier for others now.”

TIME Soccer

What Sports to Watch After the World Cup

The World Cup may be over, but your summer of sport isn't

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The World Cup comes to an end on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to switch off ESPN until the fall.

There’s still great baseball, football, tennis, golf, and even soccer (you still like soccer, right?) to watch this summer.

Sports are about to kick into high gear for the high summer season, so get your jersey and call in sick because TIME has put together a list of sporting events so good, you’ll quickly forget that soccer tournament thing even existed.

 

 

 

TIME Sports

Why LeBron Can’t Go Home Again

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images

LeBron can never go home to the Cleveland he once knew

In his essay in Sports Illustrated about his return to play for Cleveland, LeBron James announced, “I’m coming home.” While his very personal and emotional explanation will resonate with many, others will find it disingenuous and self-serving. Because the awful truth is, as Thomas Wolfe titled one of his best-known novels, “You can’t go home again.”

Wolfe, who took that title with permission from writer Ella Winter, used it to mean that after we leave home and are battered about by our adventures in life, we are changed. And in our disillusioned mind, “home” becomes a romanticized symbol of our innocence, in which we dreamed limitlessly and were loved unconditionally. But that home, too, has changed because of our absence. The residents are more wary.

So it is with LeBron and Cleveland.

To some skeptical residents, LeBron’s return to Cleveland is less that of the prodigal son’s triumphant return home than the straying husband who abandoned his longtime partner to chase a younger, hotter, firmer slice having second thoughts. After realizing he traded a deep love for a sweaty romp, he’s coming home with a bouquet of roses in one hand and a diamond bracelet in the other, begging forgiveness for his foolish mistake of lustful youth.

All that doesn’t make LeBron’s desire to return any less sincere. Who hasn’t at some time or other hurt those we loved? And it takes a lot of courage to return to what many Clevelanders might consider the scene of the crime. LeBron is one of the best players in the world. He could have gone anywhere, but he chose Cleveland knowing he would have to endure a firestorm of criticism. Had he stayed in Miami or gone elsewhere, he would have been hoisted on shoulders and paraded through the streets. That testifies to his sincerity.

I’ve had some experience with wanting to go home. After playing with the Milwaukee Bucks for a few years at the beginning of my career, I had a longing to return to New York City. Oscar “The Big O” Robertson had retired, and without him we came in last, with no significant draft picks and little hope of turning things around the next year. I didn’t go to the press to negotiate for more money or a better deal. I went to the owner, and we had an amiable chat. We shook hands and kept it between ourselves so the team could make the best deal for both parties, because we each felt loyalty to the other.

My attempt to return home failed because New York didn’t have any players whom Milwaukee wanted. Instead, I went to Los Angeles (a second home, since I attended UCLA) along with Walt Wesley, and the Bucks got four players in exchange: Dave Meyers, Brian Winters, Elmore Smith and Junior Bridgeman.

When LeBron left Cleveland, he celebrated the move as if it were the exodus from Egypt and enslavement, and that arrogance left a bitter taste in his fans’ mouths. It was like showing up at a party with a new girlfriend knowing an ex would be there. Tacky. Even his return to Cleveland might have been seen as more from the heart, as he states in his essay, if it had just been announced as a fait accompli instead of leaving the press and fans to wait in anticipation for the word to come down from the mountain inscribed on tablets.

LeBron’s return to the Cavaliers is good for basketball. Each game will now come with a movie narrative attached: underdogs, redemption, forgiveness. I certainly will be watching. But the “coming home” narrative has been a little too orchestrated to silence the critics and slighted fans. But I think this passage from Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again sums up LeBron’s dilemma: “He had learned that in spite of his strange body, so much off scale that it had often made him think himself a creature set apart, he was still the son and brother of all men living. He had learned that he could not devour the earth, that he must know and accept his limitations. He realized that much of his torment of the years past had been self-inflicted, and an inevitable part of growing up. And, most important of all for one who had taken so long to grow up, he thought he had learned not to be the slave of his emotions.” In that way, LeBron can go home because he has grown up and realizes that being away from home made it that much more valuable.

But in another way, LeBron can’t go home again. At least not to the home he once knew. The residents may be grateful and joyful, but they are also wiser. Like the betrayed spouse, they will have to wait and see, they will have to be wooed, they will have to be convinced that his sincerity, to quote Porgy and Bess, ain’t a sometime thing.

TIME World Cup

Will the Germany vs. Argentina World Cup Final Be Any Good?

Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final
From left to right: Thomas Mueller of Germany controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Lionel Messi of Argentina controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte. Getty Images

Lionel Messi doesn’t take up much space on the field, given that he’s all of 5-ft.-7 in. tall, if that. Then again, he doesn’t need much. Messi is one of those performers who, like a sunbeam splitting through thickening clouds, produces a moment of brilliance when things are getting dark. He did it against Nigeria, Iran and Switzerland to keep Argentina marching toward the final.

Argentina is likely to need such a Messi moment to be able to win its third World Cup title in this, its third World Cup final against Germany. The Argentines won 3-2 in 1986 on the chubby legs of Diego Maradona, equal parts devil and delight in that tournament, delivering the pass that created his team’s winning goal, and enshrining himself in his nation’s history.

Four years later, a fading Maradona and Argentine team got rolled by a multitalented German team that included current U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann. It was a match widely considered to be one of the worst finals ever because Argentina went into a defensive shell, never to emerge. Too bad only one team came to play, noted the acerbic German coach Franz Beckenbauer after the game.

You couldn’t blame current Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella one bit if he were tempted by that approach this Sunday at the famed Maracanã stadium. Given the way Germany stormed past Brazil 7-1—with multiple scorers and multiple points of attack— taking shelter could prove the wiser strategy than throwing caution to the wind.

Please don’t, Alejandro. This World Cup final deserves both teams on full display at both ends of the pitch. We certainly know that Argentina can defend. Against the Netherlands in the semifinal, a Javier Mascherano-marshaled back line repelled Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie as if they were tropical mosquitos, leaving Dirk Kuyt to launch clueless crosses to nowhere.

That was by design.

“They think about what they’re doing and they’re not easy to break down,” noted the French great Bixente Lizarazu, a World Cup winning defender about the Albiceleste. “Their forwards’ speed, liveliness and technical ability are impressive, but what has struck me the most about them is the way they break up their opponents’ rhythm.”

Without Angel di Maria in the lineup against the Netherlands due to injury, Argentina clearly lost some of its own rhythm. The Dutch supplied Messi with a pair of escorts whenever he got on the ball and Germany will pay similar attention. DiMaria’s ability to exploit defenders with his speed down the flank has to be respected–which could yield the little man a little more breathing room. If di Maria isn’t available, the return of a fully Sergio Agüero will also make things easier for Messi.

“But we can’t burden him with all that responsibility,” said Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez. “We know he’s a game changer, but we have to support him. The upside is that the group is well drilled: everyone knows their role, “

Argentina might profit by considering the two teams that gave Germany fits in this World Cup: Ghana, which drew 2-2 with them in the group stage, and Algeria, which went out 2-1 in extra time in the round of 16. Both teams shared a go-flat-out philosophy of pressuring the Germans all over the park, and attacking wide and furiously. It worked so well that Germany coach Joachim Low had to change formations and move Philipp Lahm back into defense from midfield.

This approach for Argentina would not be without risk. “The German outside wingers will track defensively for the entire match,” says former Iranian assistant coach Dan Gaspar, whose team lost 1-0 to Argentina. “My concern about Argentina is that when they fly forward their tendency is not to have the same willingness to recover as the Germans. As a result, Argentina may find itself down in numbers defensively.”

And that, notes Gaspar, is a very bad thing.

In scoring four goals against Portugal and seven more against Brazil, Germany’s midfield trio of Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos demonstrated how quickly it converts defense into attack. At the same time Miroslav Klose was able to set the World Cup career scoring record. Germany is about options, all of them good.

“I think Germany can and will contain Messi,” notes Gaspar. “And they will be able to pierce the Argentina midfield and defense through the middle unlike the Dutch, who only seemed to play from the wings in the semifinal”

But like a lot of fans, he’s also pulling for La Pulga, the flea, as Messi is known. The four-time world player of the year will always be one of the greatest players the game has known. But there’s nothing like a World Cup trophy to confirm it.

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