LUSAIL, Qatar (AP)Lionel Messi is back in the World Cup final with Argentina on his mission to win soccer’s biggest prize for the first time.
And, at 35, he could hardly be playing any better.
Messi converted a penalty and had a hand in the other two goals by Julian Alvarez, leading Argentina to a 3-0 win over Croatia that set up a meeting with either France or Morocco in Sunday’s title match.
It will be Messi’s second World Cup final – Argentina lost the other one to Germany in 2014 – in what might be his last appearance at the tournament.
CHICAGO (AP) – Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin became the third NHL player to reach 800 career goals when he scored three times in a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ovechkin scored on his first two shots, beating Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek 24 seconds into the game before stuffing one home on a power play with 11:46 left in the first period. The 37-year-old winger then completed his 29th career hat trick when he sent a rebound over a sprawled Mrazek 6:34 into the third.
Ovechkin moved within one goal of Gordie Howe for second all-time. Wayne Gretzky holds the record with 894 goals.
Star shortstop Carlos Correa and the San Francisco Giants agreed to a $350 million, 13-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was subject to a successful physical.
Correa also was a free agent one year ago after leaving the Houston Astros, and he reached a $105.3 million deal with the Minnesota Twins. That agreement gave him the right to opt out after one year and $35.1 million to hit the market again.
And the 28-year-old Correa indeed moved once more, this time to a Giants team that recently missed out in its bid to sign free agent Aaron Judge.
Correa hit .291 with 22 home runs and 64 RBIs in his one season with Minnesota. His $350 million guarantee will be the fourth-largest in baseball history.
– By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum.
ST. PETERSBURG., Fla. (AP) – The Rays finalized right-hander Zach Eflin’s $40 million, three-year contract, the largest deal for a free agent in Tampa Bay history.
Eflin, who spent portions of seven seasons with the Phillies, joins a rotation that includes All-Star lefty Shane McClanahan, and right-handers Tyler Glasnow and Drew Rasmussen.
The 28-year-old pitcher began last season in Philadelphia’s rotation but made his last start on June 25 and was sidelined by right knee soreness. He returned on Sept. 14 and made seven appearances out of the bullpen with a 1.17 ERA, then had a 3.38 ERA over 10 2/3 innings in 10 postseason relief outings.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Free agent right-hander Ross Stripling reached agreement on a $25 million, two-year contract with the Giants.
He expects to be a starter in a rotation featuring Logan Webb, newcomer Sean Manaea, Alex Cobb and Alex Wood. Stripling’s contract allows him to opt out after next season.
The 32-year-old Stripling set career bests of 10 wins, a 3.01 ERA, 24 starts and 134 1/3 innings with the Blue Jays last season.
CLEVELAND (AP) – The Cleveland Guardians reached agreement with free agent catcher Mike Zunino on a $6 million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.
Zunino will sign once he completes medical tests, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been finalized.
The 31-year-old Zunino is a 10-year veteran and All-Star in 2021 who spent the past four seasons with Tampa Bay. He hit 33 homers and drove in 62 runs in 109 games for the Rays in 2021. However, he played in just 36 games last season before being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and undergoing surgery.
– By Tom Withers.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Aledmys Diaz and Jace Peterson, who both can play the infield and outfield, reached agreements with the Oakland Athletics on two-year contracts through the 2024 season.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Pirates signed right-hander Vince Velasquez to a one-year, $3.15 million contract in an attempt to give their young starting rotation a veteran presence.
The 30-year-old Velasquez spent last season working primarily as a reliever with the Chicago White Sox. He went 3-3 with a 4.78 ERA in 27 appearances, including nine starts.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Free agent left-hander Ryan Yarbrough signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals after spending the past five seasons with Tampa Bay. The 30-year-old Yarbrough was 3-8 with a 4.50 ERA in 20 games last season, making nine starts.
The NBA MVP award has been renamed The Michael Jordan Trophy, the league announced.
Jordan is a five-time MVP so he has five trophies named for Maurice Podoloff – the league’s first commissioner. But after six decades of the award bearing Podoloff’s name, the NBA decided the time was right to rebrand.
The Jordan trophy will stand 23.6 inches tall and weigh 23.6 pounds – nods to his jersey number and six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls – but is not a depiction of him. The chairman of the Charlotte Hornets approved the design, one that symbolizes someone reaching for excellence, but did not want the statue to be of himself.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray has a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed the extent of the injury during his news conference.
The news is not a surprise after the 25-year-old Murray injured his knee on the third play of Monday night’s 27-13 loss to the New England Patriots.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Wide receiver Cole Beasley ended a brief retirement to take one more shot at extending his career by reuniting with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.
Beasley was signed to Buffalo’s practice squad, rejoining the team that cut him in March for salary-cap reasons and after failing in their bid to trade him. The 11th-year player was out of work until being signed to Tampa Bay’s practice squad in late September.
The 33-year-old Beasley had four catches for 17 yards in two games with the Buccaneers before announcing his retirement on Oct. 5.