The World Cup final between international football powers Argentina and France was spectacular and unforgettable and the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. I don’t know if any one-off sporting event can ever top it. I know that qualifies as the kind of predictable and emotional declaration we tend to make in the immediate aftermath of witnessing something so extraordinary. But with billions watching this remarkable event around the globe, the world stopped for a few hours of relative peace and joy. Maybe that’s the real miracle of it all.

Argentina’s aging hero, the 35-year-old Lionel Messi, finally clutched his first World Cup trophy after so many failed lunges that left him flattened and devastated on the grass. If he needed a World Cup victory to certify his status as the G.O.A.T., then consider it done. (I must say, I’m a Pele loyalist.) This time, in his fifth and final World Cup – down to his last chance – Messi’s nation edged France and its uncontrollable 23-year-old powerhouse attacker Kylian Mbappé in a match overheated with fever.

Messi vs. Mbappé … I don’t know what to compare it too. Maybe Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird? Could it be Ali vs. Frazier? Or perhaps they gave us a duel that will stand alone, above all of the rest.

Two goals and the setup of a third goal by Messi, who artfully painted his name all over this epic final. Three goals by the unstoppable Mbappé, as France erased deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in highly charged counterattacks that twice put the stunned Argentines on the verge of disaster.

Putting an end to the maelstrom, Argentina settled the 3-3 draw and simultaneously raised heartbeats and lowered pulse rates with a confident sequence of penalty kicks, prevailing 4-2. No team in sports is happier than the side that wins the World Cup every fourth year. No team is left more wrecked than the team that loses the final every fourth year. There is so much at stake, the pressure can cut off oxygen.

Argentina manager Lionel Scolini said, “The match was completely insane,”

His counterpart, France’s Didier Deschamps, said, “We managed to come back from the dead.”

The best of Argentina, the best of France, and the two best football players in the world. We saw the best of sport, any sport. And it was such a tremendous gift.


What’s gotten into the Blues? Intensity? A sense of purpose? Enhanced mental clarity? It’s been a welcome respite from their depressing and maddening form. The Blues are 3-0-1 in their last four, collecting seven of a possible eight points. The best parts about the upturn? Three answers: (1) goal prevention, with only eight allowed overall during the last four games – including just four goals given up in 190 minutes of 5-on-5 play. (2) A formerly forlorn penalty-killing unit that’s terminated 13 of the opponent’s last 15 power plays. (3) Jordan Kyrou, with three goals and three assists and a +5 rating in his last three games. (4) Goaltenders Jordan Binnington and Thomas Greiss combining for a .958 save percentage at 5-on-5 over the last four games. That includes an exceptional .939 save percentage on high-danger chances at 5v5.

Twitter be buzzing: Speaking on MLB Network, former MLB general manager Dan O’Dowd suggested this trade between the Cardinals and Pirates: Pittsburgh trades outfielder Bryan Reynolds to St. Louis for outfielders Dylan Carlson and Alec Burleson and young starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore, the eternal prospect. A couple of things: (1) Reynolds has requested a trade from the chronic-loser Pirates; (2) the Pirates are under no obligation to trade him and a knowledgeable source tells me they don’t seem warm to the idea of moving him; (3) the Pirates would probably demand more from the Cardinals than other potential trade partners because they play in the same division as St. Louis. That’s what I think but am admittedly uncertain.

This one tweet about O’Dowd has bloggers wildly conjuring up trade packages. This is the season to play the role of fantasy GM. I offer no trade packages other than to say it would take more than Paul DeJong, Andrew Knizner and Drew VerHagen to land Reynolds. (Just kidding; I’m teasing y’all.)

Reynolds is a heck of a hitter. I’m tossing out the shortened 2020 season when he struggled at the plate for the only time in his four-season MLB career. Per OPS+, with 100 being the league average, Reynolds was 30 percent above league average offensively in 2019, and 36 percent above average over 2021-2022 combined. In 1,260 plate appearances over the last two seasons Reynolds has 51 homers, 54 doubles, 12 triples, 152 RBI, and a terrific 10.4 percent walk rate. (Plus he has a reasonable strikeout rate.) And over the past two seasons Reynolds is a .283 hitter with a good .368 OBP and .492 slug with a .861 OPS.

Reynolds, who bats from the right side, has performed well above average against RH pitching. For his career, in park-and-league adjusted runs created (wRC+) vs. righties, Reynolds is 30 percent above league average offensively.

Contract: Reynolds can’t become a free agent until after the 2025 season. Here’s what Reynolds can’t do: play center field. He was minus 5 defensive runs saved in CF in 2021, and an awful minus 14 defensive runs saved in center last season. Statcast agrees; last season Reynolds was the poorest-rated center fielder in the majors ranking 46th at the position with minus 7 Outs Above Average.

There you have it. I’ve provided a scouting report for a Cardinals-Pirates trade that won’t happen. My work is done here …

In the 3-0-1 run, the Blues have outscored opponents 7-2 with Kyrou on the ice (all situations.) Similar standouts over the last four games are Robert Thomas, Ivan Barbashev and Brayden Schenn; the Blues outscored opponents 5-1 when any of those guys are on the ice at any strength.

The Blues are back to level (15-15–1) for the season. Per Money Puck, they have a 11.4 percent probability of making the playoffs. We’ll know more after the final three games of the current road trip: tonight at Vancouver, Tuesday at Seattle, and Friday at Vegas … Monday’s game at Vancouver has added importance; the Blues are in the scrum for one of the two wild-card spots. They have 31 points, only two ahead of the Canucks. As of Monday morning here are the wild-card points totals in order: Edmonton 35, Colorado 34, Calgary 34, St. Louis 31, Vancouver 29.

NFL stuff: My top five favorite quarterbacks to watch on a typical Sunday if they’re all in action: (1) Josh Allen; (2) Patrick Mahomes; (3) Joe Burrow, (4) Jalen Hurts, (5) Justin Herbert. Just missed: Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa. My three quarterbacks who provide consistent entertainment with their rollicking style of play, even if it doesn’t lead to consistent success: (1) Justin Fields, (2) Daniel Jones, (3) Taylor Heinicke. Finally, quarterbacks who now bore me the most: (1) Matt Ryan, (2) Aaron Rodgers, (3) Tom Brady.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and Miklasz. It’s available on your preferred podcast platform. Or follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.