The Boston Red Sox conquered rivals the New York Yankees 6-2 in Tuesday's Wild Card Game to set up an American League (AL) Division Series showdown with the Tampa Bay Rays.

A playoff berth was on the line in MLB after the Red Sox and Yankees both claimed dramatic last-gasp wins on the final day of the regular season to finish in the AL Wild Card spots, ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners.

The Red Sox welcomed the Yankees to Fenway Park and eased to a comprehensive victory, securing an ALDS clash with AL East champions the Rays, starting Thursday in Tampa.

Boston got to Gerrit Cole as the Yankees ace endured a nightmare outing – Xander Bogaerts and Kyle Schwarber both homering off the four-time All-Star, while Red Sox counterpart Nathan Eovaldi allowed just one run on four hits after striking out eight batters in 5.1 innings.

Cole lasted just two innings after giving up three runs, two homers and two walks on four hits as the Yankees' season came to an abrupt end – the storied franchise have not reached the World Series since 2009.

Bogaerts hit a first-inning home run off Cole before Schwarber heaped further misery on the 31-year-old starting pitcher in the third to help the Red Sox move 3-0 ahead.

Anthony Rizzo homered in the sixth to finally get the Yankees on the board as he and Schwarber became the second pair in history to hit home runs in a postseason game as team-mates (2015 NLDS) then later home in another playoff contest featuring for different teams after Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth in the 2016 NLDS, according to Stats Perform.

But the Red Sox scored two unanswered runs in the seventh and while Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton homered in the ninth, it was too little too late in Boston.

Alex Verdugo ended the game with three RBI to become the youngest Red Sox hitter with a three-RBI performance in a winner-takes-all clash since Dustin Pedroia in the 2007 ALCS Game 7.

 

Cardinals at Dodgers

The St Louis Cardinals will visit defending World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers in Wednesday's National League (NL) Wild Card contest. It will be a battle between St Louis' Adam Wainwright and Dodgers ace Max Scherzer.

Former West Indies cricketer Marlon Samuels will contest recent charges made against him under the ICC anti-corruption code.

The 40-year-old former batsman retired from the sport in 2020 but was charged by the ICC on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for breaching the anti-corruption code during his participation in the 2019 T10 league.

Samuels was charged on four counts of breaching the code relating to:

A breach of Article 2.4.2 – Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official, the receipt of any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit that was made or given in circumstances that could bring the Participant or the sport of cricket into disrepute.

A breach of Article 2.4.3 - Failing to disclose to the Designated Anti-Corruption Official receipt of hospitality with a value of US $750 or more.

Breaches of Article 2.4.6 – Failing to cooperate with the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation.

Breaches of Article 2.4.7 – Obstructing or delaying the Designated Anti-Corruption Official’s investigation by concealing information that may have been relevant to the investigation.

Samuels who had 14 days to contest the charges has since hired legal representation and informed the ICC of his intent to content the allegations brought against him.

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has pulled out of Jamaica’s upcoming round of qualifiers after citing logistical and travel difficulties with the upcoming set of fixtures.

The in-form forward, who made his national debut against Panama in the previous round, was expected to be part of the team for three upcoming matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

With the USA game expected to kick off on Thursday, however, the player has communicated via a brief release that he will not be joining up with the squad as planned.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the Club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The news will come as a blow to a Jamaica forward line-up that will be somewhat shorthanded. The team will also be without Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey who remains unavailable due to injury and Philadelphia Union’s Corey Burke who suffered an ankle injury in training. Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.

 

West Indies bowling legend turned commentator Michael Holding has accused the England team of displaying ‘western arrogance’ following the decision to withdraw from the tour of Pakistan.

Last month, the England Cricket Board announced the decision to pull out of the tour of Pakistan, which was expected to include matches for both the men’s and women’s teams.  The decision came sharply on the back of the New Zealand’s team's choice to pull out of a similarly planned tour after citing security concerns.

The ECB cited a concern for "mental and physical well-being" as the primary reason for taking the decision particularly as the group had ‘already coped with a long period of operating in restricted Covid environments’.  Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chair Ramiz Raja accused the ECB of failing a fellow member of the cricket fraternity and Holding was also not convinced by the body’s reasons.

"The ECB statement doesn't wash with me," the always forthright Holding said. "No substance."

"Nobody wants to come forward and face up to anything because they know what they did was wrong,” he added.

"So they put out a statement and hid behind a statement. It just reminds me of the rubbish they did with Black Lives Matter.

"I won't go back into that because I've said enough about that. But what that signal sends to me, is the same Western arrogance.

"I will treat you how I feel like treating you, it doesn't matter what you think, I'll just do what I want."

 

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in association with CONCACAF, will be hosting a team from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Assist League Development Programme for a capacity-building workshop with clubs in the Jamaica Premier League.

The workshop begins on Tuesday, October 5, 2021, at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, and ends on Friday, October 8, with a closing session and Press Conference at midday.

UEFA’s key aims are to share knowledge and best practices to help UEFA’s sister confederations and their member associations develop and strengthen football within their respective territories as well as to respond to the needs of national associations and confederations around the world while increasing solidarity and facilitating football development globally.

The intensive programme will cover a wide range of topics on best practices in the modern league across several topics aimed at further developing the Clubs of the Jamaica Premier League.

"The clubs represent the main cornerstone for the development of football in Jamaica. We have come a long way in club development over the years but there is still a mountain to climb if we are to get to our destination,” said JFF President Michael Ricketts.

“This workshop will help to bridge the knowledge gap and introduce our clubs to best practices and methods in today's game. The JFF welcomes the assistance of both CONCACAF and UEFA and I implore the participants to capture as much knowledge as is possible.”

The capacity-building sessions are only a part of an overall League Development Programme and follow similar sessions conducted online last year for the JFF and with the participation of the then recently-established Professional Football Jamaica Limited, PFJL.

This week, the sessions are being delivered directly and in person with international experts to the clubs of the Jamaica Premier League, including the clubs for the 12th spot.

“Building the capacity of the Jamaica Premier League clubs is a vital step in the UEFA Assist League Development Programme. Strengthening their knowledge in key areas like income generation, governance and financial management will prove invaluable to ensuring the clubs remain sustainable over the long-term,” said Eva Pasquier, UEFA Head of International Relations.

“We are delighted to support this important initiative and help grow Jamaican football.”

Meanwhile, Howard McIntosh, ONE Caribbean Project Senior Manager at CONCACAF believes that strengthening the clubs’ capacity augurs well for regional football.

"Clubs are the heartbeat of football. Developing the clubs in Jamaica and the region is part of our commitment to improving the game in Concacaf. This is even more critical with the professional game,” he said.

“We remain committed to supporting our member associations and the clubs in our region. This workshop is one small demonstration of our continued support. I would encourage all the Clubs to take full advantage of this opportunity to learn about best practices in the professional game."

Seattle Sounders returned to the top of the Western Conference after ending the Colorado Rapids' 12-match unbeaten streak in a comprehensive 3-0 win in MLS action on Sunday.

Cristian Roldan, Jimmy Medranda and Joao Paolo scored in a three-goal first half to inspire the Sounders against the Rapids in Seattle.

The Rapids were enjoying their second-best unbeaten run in club history, only behind the 15-game undefeated streak from April 2016 to July 2016.

But Colorado came unstuck away to the Sounders at Lumen Field, where Roldan broke the deadlock in the second minute before Medranda and Paolo's moment of individual brilliance made it 3-0 prior to half-time.

The Sounders are top of the west, two points clear of Sporting Kansas City, who beat Houston Dynamo 4-2 behind Daniel Salloi's magical performance (one goal and an assist) and Johnny Russell's brace.

Entering the contest, Salloi and Russell had been directly involved, either together or individually, in Sporting KC's previous seven goals (Salloi three goals, Russell three goals and two assists). At least one of those two players had scored or assisted on 19 of the 23 goals Kansas City scored since late July.

David Beckham's Inter Miami and their hopes of featuring in the play-offs were dealt a blow following a 1-0 defeat to Portland Timbers.

Jaroslaw Niezgoda struck to extend Portland's unbeaten run to eight matches, including seven wins, and condemn Inter Miami to a fourth consecutive loss.

Inter Miami are eight points adrift of the post-season places in the Eastern Conference with seven fixtures remaining, while the fourth-placed Timbers are seven points clear of Real Salt Lake in the battle for home-field advantage.

Elsewhere, 10-man Philadelphia Union were 3-0 winners over defending champions Columbus Crew, Toronto defeated Chicago Fire 3-1 and New York City drew 0-0 with Nashville, while the El Trafico derby between LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC ended 1-1.

The 2021 Caribbean Premier League (CPL), the 9th edition of “the biggest party in sports,” reached an exciting conclusion on Wednesday, September 15. After 32 matches had been played for the first time ever at a single venue, St Kitts’ Warner Park, it all came down to the Tournament final. The result of which was a thrilling, last ball three wickets win for the St Kitts Patriots over the St Lucia Kings.

As very keen observers of this year’s CPL having between us watched every single one of its 33 played matches, there were for us several discernible takeaways. The examination of which leaves plenty to ponder over.

First off was St Kitts’ highly laudable hosting of the entire tournament’s thirty-three matches at a single venue, the Warner Park stadium. Kudos of the very highest order are now deservedly due to the Curator and his ground staff, the Tournament Director and indeed everyone who was in any way involved in the hosting of such a very well organized and executed tournament as this year’s CPL was. Hats off also to all concerned for having managed the required Bio Bubble without incident and as well for getting the players and their attending family members in and out of St Kitts safely.

As successful as it was, St Kitts’ single venue CPL 2021 hosting should now fully open the door to the possibilities for other similarly equipped Caribbean territories to host future CPL tournaments. Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, and St Lucia can now be considered as CPL hosts following St Kitts’ conclusive demonstration, that the previously held conception that only countries with dual venues, a la Antigua, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago would be suitable, is now no longer valid!

Regardless of where CPL’s future editions are actually held, there should also be a marked improvement in the tournament’s marketing. Despite the allowance of fully vaccinated fans to attend its matches, this year’s CPL spectator presence at Warner Park was noticeably and dismally low. The validity of CPL’s self-ordained billing as “the biggest party in sports,” becomes highly questionable if its matches are only being viewed by television audiences, albeit in their millions, but not actually by fans in the stands! Furthermore, a massive part of the excitement that is usually associated withT20 cricket is directly derived from the participating players being cheered on by adoring onsite spectators.

It therefore now behoves CPL’s owners to seriously consider the adoption of some far more aggressive and innovative marketing initiatives, as a means of addressing this year’s paucity of spectator attendees. Allowing school-aged children to attend matches free, while offering their accompanying parents half-priced admission tickets is one such innovative practice that should be considered.

Knowledgeable cricket fans are, however, typically only willing to part with their well-earned monies to purchase match tickets, if and when they are confident that doing so will result in their witnessing a relatively high standard of cricket. Unfortunately, the standard of the cricket played at this year’s CPL was disappointingly low.

The tournament’s overall statistics provide irrefutable evidence of the generally poor batting that was far too often on display. Among the top ten batsmen only two, Royston Chase (446) and Evan Lewis (426), scored over 400 runs from ten or more innings batted. No one else managed to score 300 runs in total and six of the top ten batsmen finished with tournament averages of less than 35 runs per innings.

The overall bowling wasn’t that much better either. The tournament-leading wicket hauls of the top three bowlers, Ravi Rampaul (19), Romario Shepherd(18), and Odean Smith (18) were accumulated from either 10, in the case of the former or 11 matches for the other two, at an average of fewer than two wickets per match! Not that impressive at all by even the lowest standards.

Finally, the ground fielding was at times almost amateurish. Some of the catching, particularly during the last two weeks was even worse. Abysmal being the most complimentary description worthy of the numerous rudimentary catches that were spilt!

Far too many of the umpiring decisions were also highly questionable. So much so that the CPL must now seriously consider its adoption of the two reviews per innings that has become standard within other T2o tournaments.

Despite the overall poor quality of cricket played there were, however, some very encouraging performances from a few exciting young, talented Caribbean-born cricketers. As a 26-year-old, Romario Shepherd’s 18 scalps as the tournament’s second-highest wicket-taker was highly encouraging. So too was the 23-year-old Dominic Drakes 16 wickets as a left-arm, impressively quick seamer. Drakes was also the hero of the St Kitts Patriots Championship Final victory, striking a boundary off the very last ball to exceed the three runs that were required for victory!

The 22-year-old Jevan Royal’s 12 wickets with his left-arm spin was yet another encouraging CPL 2021 performance. Among the batters, the 23-year-old Sherfayne Rutherford’s aggregate of 262 runs, including three half-centuries, from 10 innings batted was also impressive.

As the tournament’s 10th Anniversary next year’s 2022 edition will be as fitting an occasion as any for the CPL to now seriously consider increasing the number of its participating franchises from 6 to 8. T20’s marquee Indian Premier League has recently announced its own intended 2022 expansion from 8 to 10 teams, thereby setting a most worthy example for the CPL to follow.

Our suggestion would be for the CPL to explore the possibilities for the participation of franchises based in Florida and Toronto. The expanded 8 team tournament could then be played in two groups of four, with respective preliminary round home and away matches leading to semi-finals between the two top teams from each Group.

The 17 member respective rosters of the newly added Canadian and US franchises could also be comprised of nine local players, five who are Caribbean born and the remaining 3 being internationally based. In addition to providing both Canada and the USA with much-needed international T20 match exposure to a fair number (9) of their own local players, such a format would also allow similar exposure for 10 more West Indian cricketers. It will also most likely result in intense competition among the world’s very best T20 players for the remaining six available international spots.

Both Miami and Toronto are now replete with very rich cricket fanatical South Asian-born residents. Finding suitable and willing Owners for either franchise should not, therefore, be challenging. Neither should be enticing the respective franchises’ fans, likely to be in the thousands from among the resident Caribbean and South Asian communities, to actively support their teams with visits to the Caribbean as attending spectators of their away matches. Needless to say, the ensuing tourism bonanza would be highly beneficial and most welcome to the Caribbean hosting countries of all such matches.

Indeed, plenty for the CPL to ponder as it looks back on its concluded 2021 Season and forwards to 2022!

About The Writers:
Guyana-born, Toronto-based, Tony McWatt now serves as Cricket Canada’s Media Relations Manager. He is the Publisher of both the WI Wickets and Wickets monthly online cricket magazines that are respectively targeted towards the Caribbean and Canadian readers. He is also the only son of former Guyana and West Indies wicket-keeper batsman the late Clifford “Baby Boy” McWatt.

Guyana-born Reds (Perreira) has served as a world-recognized West Indies Cricket Commentator for well over fifty years. Reds made his broadcasting debut during the 1971 West Indies-India Test Series, and has commentated on hundreds of matches since then!

Members of Craig Butler’s Phoenix Football Academy, who play at the national and international level, are likely to be included under Jamaica’s Athletes Insurance Plan, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia Grange announced on Saturday.

Torquator Tasso pulled off one of the greatest horse racing shocks by winning the 100th edition of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp on Sunday.

The German underdog stormed up the outside for a stunning victory in Europe's richest race at odds of 80-1.

Torquator Tasso handled the heavy ground brilliantly under Rene Piechulek, giving trainer Marcel Weiss a sensational success with his first Arc runner to land prize money of €2.9million (£2.5m).

Tarnawa was second ahead of 3-1 favourite Hurricane Lane, with Adayar finishing fourth.

The four-year-old Torquator Tasso became the third German winner of one of the most prestigious races in the world after Star Appeal (1975) and Danedream (2011).

"That was beautiful. He's a very nice horse, he's all heart," said an elated Weiss.

Weiss added: "He's a very strong horse and Rene is a very cool jockey."

Torquator Tasso was bought for only €24,000 in what must go down as one of the most shrewd racing investments in history.

 

 

Vancouver Whitecaps boosted their MLS play-off chances with a Brian White-inspired 3-0 victory over San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.

White scored a hat-trick as the Whitecaps moved within just one point of the seventh and final post-season spot in the Western Conference heading into the last seven matches of the regular season.

A recruit from New York Red Bulls following June's trade, White – who has scored eight goals in his past nine games – opened the scoring in the 26th minute.

White doubled the lead with a header approaching the hour mark before completing his first career hat-trick 17 minutes from the end – using his head to get on the end of Ryan Gauld's corner.

Montreal topped fellow Eastern Conference play-off hopefuls Atlanta United 2-1 courtesy of Romell Quioto's double.

Heading into the fixture, twelve of the last 15 goals conceded by Atlanta had come in the second half of their games and none of those 15 goals were shipped in the first half an hour.

Quioto scored a five-minute brace inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half to lift Montreal up to fifth in the east, while striking a blow to Atlanta's post-season chances.

Atlanta are eighth and outside the play-off spots – level on points with seventh-placed Philadelphia Union, who have played two games less.

Elsewhere, Orlando City catapulted themselves up to third in the Eastern Conference after Daryl Dike's 97th-minute goal snatched a 2-1 win over DC United, the Red Bulls edged FC Cincinnati 1-0, Austin defeated Real Salt Lake 2-1 and Dallas played out a 0-0 draw with 10-man Minnesota United.

Cavalier eventually outlasted a resilient 10-man Waterhouse to claim the Jamaica Premier League crown for the first time in 40 years after a penalty shootout win at the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Saturday.

It was Cavalier who deservedly took the lead, after enterprising play early on, courtesy of a towering 17th-minute header from defender Jamoi Topey.  Waterhouse goalkeeper Zemioy Nash flew off his goal line to collect a high looping corner but failed to make any contact, which left Topey with a free header.

Things went from bad to worse for the Waterhouse squad when captain Nicholai Findlayson received one caution for a poorly time tackle and was then sent from the field of play for showing dissent to the referee, just one minute after going behind.  

To their credit, however, despite being a man down, Waterhouse pressed to get back into the game.  With time running out and one hand on the trophy Cavalier goalkeeper Jaedean White was forced to make back-to-back saves to prevent a fierce shot and header from Colorado Murray from levelling the tie.  He could, however, do nothing to prevent a calmly and assuredly placed penalty Damion Binns, which got Waterhouse back on level terms with the final kick of the ball, after a Cavalier defender was deemed to have handled the ball during a last-ditch Waterhouse barrage on goal.

With neither team able to break the deadlock in extra time, the game headed to a shootout.  Shaquille Bradford, Shevon Stewart, Andre Leslie and Ricardo Thomas scored for Waterhouse, while Richard King, Jamoi Topey, Melvin Doxilly, Marlando Maxwell and Jamar Purcell scored to give Cavalier a final 5-4 advantage.

In the third-place play-off, Tivoli Gardens triumphed over Mount Pleasant also via another penalty shootout.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard believes the team’s overall experience will be a critical factor in the bid to successfully defend its World T20 title.

The final 15 selected to represent the West Indies, for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, has stirred up considerable debate in the Caribbean, with several questioning the age of the squad.  At current, the team boasts four players over the age of 35, with an average age of 30.6.

Pollard, however, sees the likes of Chris Gayle, Ravi Rampaul, and Lendl Simmons in the squad, several of who have won multiple World Cups, as a major advantage, particularly in tight situations.

“It’s great to have all these guys and myself playing together again,” Pollard told India.com.

“This hasn’t happened in a very long time. No matter which way you look at it you can’t beat experience because we have seen different scenarios time and time again,” he added.

“We react (to those scenarios) and we get the other players to react and understand the magnitude of what we are in and what we are about to do. Having guys like that to lean on is great, and guys that can get you out of situations where people might think, or you might think as well, that you can’t get out of.

“The younger guys get to learn and get to understand some of the things that are needed to be successful, especially from a T20 aspect. As I’ve said before, we would have seen it time and time again all over the world, different situations, different conditions, different bowlers – having guys like that to help the younger guys, I think you can’t ask for anything better than that.”

 

 

Kolkata Knight Riders captain Eoin Morgan insists the franchise is monitoring the fitness of West Indies star Andre Russell on a day-by-day basic but remains unsure of exactly when the player will return to action.

The bit-hitting all-rounder was forced to leave the field after making a good save on the mid-wicket boundary and jumped himself off the field as soon as he threw back the ball.  The 33-year-old did not feature for the team against the Dehli Capitals, or Friday’s encounter against the Punjab Kings XI.

Despite Russell missing the second game in a row, Morgan did not shed any more light on the player’s current injury status.

“Lockie and Russell are being monitored day by day. They have to rehab extremely well in order to be fit,” Morgan said.

Earlier, David Hussey, KKR’s team mentor, had described Russell’s injury as a hamstring injury but expressed hope that the player could return to the line-up soon,

“He said he felt something pop in his leg, his hamstring. We’ve got the best medical staff in the business so they’ll tend to him and hopefully, it’s nothing too serious, because he’s a key part of our team,” Hussey said.

In addition to the Knight Riders, the West Indies will also be closely monitoring the situation, with the player expected to line up for the World T20 later this month.

 

 

Former West Indies batting coach Toby Radford has expressed concern that Cricket West Indies' (CWI) current system of allowing for medical exemptions for some players could present the illusion of unfairness.

The debate has continued to rage around the selection of the squad after the selection panel was unable to even considered some players for the World Cup squad after they had reportedly not made the requisite CWI fitness standard.

Among that crown were batsman Sherfane Rutherford, promising fast bowler Odean Smith and spinner Sunil Narine. With that considered, for some, the selection of players like Chris Gayle and Ravi Rampaul proved problematic, but both players were given exemptions by the CWI’s medical committee.

At current, all players are required to pass the popular Yoyo fitness test, but the results of the tests are graded on a sliding scale.  The CWI has repeatedly insisted that its policy, along with the exemptions is a standard international practice.  It has, however, continued to stir debate.

“You have to be seen to be fair across the board.  Either everybody does it (meet fitness standard) or nobody does it,” Radford told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“You can’t choose who gets tested and who gets an exemption, it doesn’t seem to be a fair system.  I think it either all the players are tested and they all need to pass it or they don’t,” he added.

“Otherwise, it makes a mockery of the test.  You’re leaving out players who are on form and younger and fitter, generally, saying they haven’t passed the test and you are taking people 10 years older who struggle to run between wickets and the field.”

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