I’ve got World Series fever. We’re 36 hours from Game 1, so let’s get you ready for the Fall Classic. Plus, more NFL trades and Champions League drama grabbed the headlines. And is the LeBron James era finally nearing the end?
The World Series Primer
Previews, Predictions & Breaking Down the Phillies-Astros Fall Classic for the Ages
It’s time for the big one! After 162 games of baseball and an October for the ages, two teams are still standing. The 2022 MLB season began amid a power struggle between the league and the players. The disagreements that put the season in question have since been forgotten, and now it’s Phillies-Astros (who would’ve guessed?) for all the marbles. Seven games in nine days will decide the 2022 World Series champs. Here’s everything you need to know heading into baseball’s grand finale between the dynasty-driven Astros and the underdog Phillies.
The Sportsletter Team Picks
Yesterday, we asked readers who they thought would win the World Series (and in how many games). The Astros are the clear favorite with 55 percent of the vote (Phillies: 45%). The majority of readers think the Fall Classic will go six games, with 22 percent picking Astros in 6 and 18 percent thinking Phillies in 6. Editor’s Pick: Phillies in 7
The Astros (-185) are the favorites, but the Phillies (+150) are getting more love than expected from the oddsmakers. Houston started the season with the fourth-best odds to win it all (+1000) while Philadelphia was 14th at +3000.
Key Players to Watch
Both teams enter the World Series with clearly stacked rosters, but the two superstars to watch are Bryce Harper (PHI) and Yordan Alvarez (HOU). Both players hit massive home runs in the Divisional Series to propel their teams to the Fall Classic. Beyond those two, the Astros boast more weapons in Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, as well as the ace in the hole with Justin Verlander. Philly has a greater 1-2 punch from the hill with Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, and their success in the series could come down to them.
Astros’ rookie SS Jeremy Pena has been on a tear through his first postseason, batting .303 with 3 HRs and 5 RBIs and a .991 OPS. He’s stepped in to fill the void left by Carlos Correa in the Houston lineup. For Philly, LF Kyle Schwarber could make a difference with one swing. Many forget Schwarber was second in HRs this season with 46. He’s hit three jacks in the postseason.
Houston Astros (AL 1-Seed)
Regular Season Record: 106-52
Postseason Record: 7-0
Team Batting Avg: .248 (12th)
Team Home Runs: 214 (4th)
Total Team Scoring: 737 Runs (8th)
Team Pitching: 2.90 ERA (2nd)
Astros History: Houston has reached the World Series just five times, but this year will mark their fourth appearance in the last six seasons. They won it all just once (2017).
Philadelphia Phillies (NL 6-Seed)
Regular Season Record: 87-75
Postseason Record: 9-2
Team Batting Avg: .253 (8th)
Team Home Runs: 205 (6th)
Total Team Scoring: 747 Runs (7th)
Team Pitching: 3.97 ERA (18th)
Phillies History: Philadelphia will make their eighth World Series appearance with the last occurring in 2009. They’ve won it all twice (1980, 2008).
World Series Schedule
Gm 1: Phillies at Astros (Fri. 8:03 pm ET)
Gm 2: Phillies at Astros (Sat. 8:03 pm ET)
Gm 3: Astros at Phillies (Mon. 8:03 pm ET)
Gm 4: Astros at Phillies (Tues. 8:03 pm ET)
Gm 5: Astros at Phillies (Wed. 8:03 pm ET)
Gm 6: Phillies at Astros (Next Fri. 8:03 pm ET)
Gm 7: Phillies at Astros (Next Sat. 8:03 pm ET)
It’s Aaron Nola (PHI) against Justin Verlander (HOU) to kick things off Friday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Let’s get it started!
FOX Sports: MLB Odds: 2022 World Series & MVP Lines
CBS Sports: 2022 World Series Predictions
Rounding Up the Champions
Liverpool, FC Porto & Inter Join the Champions League Knockout Stage With Group D Still Up For Grabs
Another day of matches over in Europe gave us a clearer picture of the Champions League bracket-to-be. Matchday 5 of the Group Stage saw three more teams punch their tickets to the knockout rounds — including Liverpool, FC Porto and Inter — with a trio of shutouts. Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen were eliminated by day’s end, and one group remains a stalemate with one matchday left. Group D has no official winners just yet, and all four teams are separated by just two points after Tottenham and Sporting played to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.
Group D Standings
Tottenham (8 points)
Sporting (7 points)
Eintracht Frankfurt (7 points)
Marseille (6 points)
Matchday 5 Highlights
Teams Advanced to Knockout Stage (12)
Napoli, Club Brugge, Bayern, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester City, PSG, Benfica, Liverpool, Inter, FC Porto, Dortmund
Teams in Contention for Remaining 4 Spots (10)
Sevilla, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, Milan, RB Salzburg, Tottenham, Sporting, Eintracht Frankfurt, Marseille
The Guardian: Barcelona Humiliated, Relegated, Then Defeated by Bayern
Eagles Make A Splash
Eagles Stack the D-Line With Acquisition of Bears Pro Bowl DE Robert Quinn
Another blockbuster hit the NFL on Wednesday when the undefeated Eagles pushed their chips all in and acquired DE Robert Quinn from the Bears. Philly gave up a 4th-round pick in next year’s draft to nab the three-time pro bowler from Chicago, effectively adding another piece to their already dangerous defense. Quinn had 18.5 sacks a year ago, but he has just one sack in 2022. It’s just another example of how Eagles GM Howie Roseman has used his excess of draft picks to build a dominant roster. The deal marked the fifth trade in the last week as the NFL nears next week’s trade deadline. More deals are coming…
Trades Already Completed
DE Robert Quinn (Bears → Eagles)
RB Christian McCaffrey (Panthers → 49ers)
WR Robbie Anderson (Panthers → Cardinals)
RB James Robinson (Jaguars → Jets)
DT Jonathan Hankins (Raiders → Cowboys)
Hot Names at Trade Deadline
TE Mike Gesicki (Dolphins)
RB Kareem Hunt (Browns)
WR Chase Claypool (Steelers)
WR Brandin Cooks (Texans)
OT Andre Dillard (Eagles)
RB Cam Akers (Rams)
WR Elijah Moore (Jets)
NFL Trade Deadline: Tuesday (Nov. 1)
End of the King’s Reign?
Lakers Start 0-4 for First Time Since Before LeBron James Era (2015-16)
Another night, another loss for LeBron James and the Lakers. Los Angeles lost their fourth straight game to open the season last night to the Nuggets (110-99) thanks to a third-quarter explosion from the Denver offense and a near triple-double from Nikola Jokic (32-13-9). LeBron had a season-low 19 points, and the end of an era might be sooner than we thought. James is still dominant on the court — averaging 27-11-7 through four games — but his Lakers team is shooting at an atrocious clip. One year after missing the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season, LeBron’s team is off to a tumultuous start that hasn’t happened in L.A. since before he arrived in 2018. We’ve always looked at LeBron-led teams as Finals or bust. Is the King’s reign finally coming to an end?
Other NBA Highlights
Giannis’s 43 Keeps Bucks Unbeaten: The Bucks and Nets met in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals, and the Bucks rallied in the second half behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 43 points and 14 rebounds for a 110-99 win. Nets coach Steve Nash also got ejected for the first time as a head coach. The Bucks are 3-0 and the Nets fell to 1-3.
Sixers Fall to 1-4: Philadelphia’s ugly start continued with a 119-109 loss to the Raptors last night despite 31 points apiece from Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid. It’s their worst five-game start since 2017. The 76ers have three more road games to finish out an awful opening month.
Banchero’s Blazing Start: The Orlando Magic might be 0-5 as they continue to rebuild, but rookie Paolo Banchero (29-8-5) had another 20-point performance in last night’s loss to the Cavs (103-92). Banchero is the first No. 1 overall pick to score 20-plus in his first five games since 1968 (Elvin Hayes).
Nothing steers NFL teams quite like quarterbacks. It’s possible, not probable, to win in spite of them. It’s preferable, not easy, to land the best of them. They are, more than anyone else, the ones who shape the football landscape, week in and week out. (CBS Sports)
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is so close and the countdown is well and truly on ahead of the first-ever World Cup tournament to be held in the Middle East. 32 nations have qualified and all eyes will be on them for 29 days from mid-November to mid-December. (NBC Sports)
The 2022-23 NBA hierarchy already saw a few shake-ups in its first week. The Blazers got off to a 4-0 start. The Lakers limped to 0-3. And a number of teams are still trying to get their rosters to gel. Here’s an early look at the NBA hierarchy. (ESPN)