Fifteen Minutes In Flushing Our US Open Podcast Returns

More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Carl Bialik talks to ESPNW’s Jane McManus about the women’s semifinals, the tennis media gender gap and whether Kei Nishikori is on the verge of a breakthrough.Baseline No. 3 (Sept. 6) Carl Bialik previews the U.S. Open, highlighting FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts, our first of a tennis tournament. Guests are Caitlin Thompson, co-founder of the new tennis quarterly Racquet, which The New York Times’ T Magazine called “deliciously smart,” and Courtney Nguyen, senior writer for WTA Insider and a contributing editor for Racquet. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed We’re forecasting every match of the 2016 men’s and women’s U.S. Open tournaments. See our predictions here » Embed Code Embed Code Harvey Araton of The New York Times joins Carl to talk about Serena Williams’s upset loss in the women’s semifinals, the globalization of tennis and Jimmy Connors’s legendary run at the 1991 U.S. Open.Baseline No. 4 (Sept. 8) New episodes will also be added to the feed for our sports podcast, Hot Takedown. Subscribe in iTunes or your favorite podcast client so you don’t miss a show.Baseline No. 5 (Sept. 9) Carl Bialik chats with Louisa Thomas, a contributor to, about the U.S. Open’s new roof, the lost generation in men’s tennis and Angelique Kerber’s chances of winning the tournament.Baseline No. 1 (Aug. 29) Embed Code By Carl Bialik and Jorge Estrada More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Baseline No. 2 (Sept. 1) By Carl Bialik and Jorge Estrada By Carl Bialik and Jorge Estrada Eighteen-time major winner Chris Evert joins Carl Bialik today. They chat about Serena Williams, the depth of women’s tennis and what it takes to be the best in the world. Embed Code By Carl Bialik and Jorge Estrada By Carl Bialik and Jorge Estrada Even if you can’t make it to Flushing Meadows for this year’s U.S. Open, we’ll take you to the tennis tournament in New York via our mini-podcast Baseline, returning for a second season. Hosted by FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik and produced by Jorge Estrada, Baseline features guests from the tennis world. All five episodes, from a tournament preview to a preview of the finals, are below, and we’ll be updating this post with new episodes throughout the Open. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed read more

Leicester Citys Slim Chance Of Defending Its Title Is Already Getting Slimmer

Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed FiveThirtyEight Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Aug. 30, 2016), we preview the new English Premier League season with ESPN’s Mike Goodman and ask if Leicester City has any hope of repeating last year’s shock title win. Then we talk to FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik about the U.S. Open and hear how FiveThirtyEight is using Elo ratings to try to predict this year’s tournament. Finally, FiveThirtyEight’s Blythe Terrell makes her Hot Takedown debut to chat about what happened when her team, the St. Louis Rams, skipped town and how she’s enlisting the help of Neil Paine to pick a new favorite. Plus, we share a significant digit on the rookie quarterback about to take a starring role with the Dallas Cowboys.Hot Takedown also has a spin-off podcast about the U.S. Open for the next couple weeks. It’s called Baseline, and it can be found here.Links to what we discuss are here:ESPN’s Gabriele Marcotti explains why this season’s English Premier League is shaping up to be a battle of the managers.Here’s the Guardian’s interactive guide to the EPL summer transfer window.Ryan Rosenblatt on Fox Sports thinks Leicester doesn’t have a chance of repeating its 2016 title win.Carl Bialik explains the method behind FiveThirtyEight’s U.S. Open model. You can find our predictions here.FiveThirtyEight is forecasting that Serena Williams has a 55 percent chance of winning the U.S. Open.Allison McCann breaks down the numbers behind domestic violence cases in the NFL.Here are ESPN The Magazine’s standings for every sports team according to fan surveys and the value fans get for the money they spend on the team.Significant Digit: 135th. That’s the draft pick the Dallas Cowboys used to take their new starting quarterback, Dak Prescott, in the 2016 NFL draft. That’s the lowest draft pick for a rookie starting quarterback since Randy Hedberg started for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1977. Earlier this week, Chase Stuart wrote about how Tony Romo’s injury thrust Prescott into the starting role. read more

Steph Curry Takes a Stand After Under Armour CEO

Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry, who recently extended his contract with Under Armour through 2024, disagrees with CEO’s Donald Trump comment. (Noah Salzman/Wikimedia Commons)Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry took issue with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s support for President Donald Trump before learning he was only talking about businesses.On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the nonpolitical point guard responded to Plank’s comments to CNBC, where he said having “such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country.” When Curry was asked if he agreed, he told The Mercury News, he did, “If you remove the -et” from “asset.”Curry, who has a shoe line with Under Armour, went on to explain he believed he knew where Plank’s political allegiance was, so he was surprised to hear such praise for the president who has sparked controversy for his racist rhetoric and policies.“I spent all day yesterday on the phone with countless people at Under Armour, countless people in Kevin Plank’s camp, my team,” Curry told the newspaper. “Trying to understand what was going on and where everybody stood on the issue. Based off the release that KP sent out this morning and what he told me last night, that’s the Under Armour that I know. That’s the brand I know he’s built and one that, as of Wednesday afternoon, is something that I’m standing on.”After Plank informed Curry that he only praised Trump’s business acumen Feb. 7, Under Armour released a statement the next day saying it was part of a group of companies the president invited to discuss American job creation.Curry, who noted he did not vote for Trump, wasn’t worried about Plank working with the Commander in Chief, but he was concerned about the company maintaining its values outside of the president’s own.“There are going to be people that are tied to them,” he said. “But are we promoting change? Are we doing things that are going to look out for everybody? And not being so self-serving that it’s only about making money, selling shoes, doing this and that. That’s not the priority. It’s about changing lives. I think we can continue to do that.”He added he would have no hesitation about leaving the clothing brand if they cease to fall in line with his principles.“If I can say the leadership is not in line with my core values, then there is no amount of money, there is no platform I wouldn’t jump off if it wasn’t in line with who I am,” Curry said. “So, that’s a decision I will make every single day when I wake up.“If something is not in line with what I’m about, then, yeah, I definitely need to take a stance in that respect.” read more

The Mystery Sabermetrics Still Cant Solve

We did everything we could.That was the sentiment coming from the Miami Marlins in the wake of this week’s devastating news that Jose Fernandez, the team’s brilliant 21-year-old ace, would likely be out for the remainder of the year with a torn elbow ligament requiring Tommy John surgery.“We’ve protected him,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said Monday. “We’ve been consistent in how we’ve used him, with his workload. We’ve given him extra days. [The injury is] a question I don’t think anybody has the answer to.”Redmond is right. Fernandez hasn’t been abused in the traditional sabermetric sense of the term: He’s seldom been allowed to throw more than 100 pitches in his starts and has only crossed the 110-pitch threshold once. (He’s also never started on fewer than four days of rest.) Miami pulled the plug on Fernandez as soon as data on his fastball speed removed all doubt that something was wrong.For all the progress made by science and mathematics in countless areas of baseball, the prediction and prevention of injuries — particularly those to pitchers like Fernandez — remain a frustrating mystery. In a game where everything is dissected with painstaking rigor, not even sabermetricians have been able to make much headway in reducing the rate at which pitchers get hurt. They’ve been at it for more than a decade, and they’re as stymied as the rest.Fernandez is just the latest ace felled by an arm injury, leading Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, for one, to say there’s an “epidemic” of lame arms sweeping the game. In addition to the Marlins’ phenom, former All-Star hurlers Matt Moore, Patrick Corbin and Josh Johnson were sidelined earlier this season with similar ailments, adding to a growing list of victims that’s included big-name pitchers such as Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Scott Baker, A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker (among others) in recent seasons.Bleacher Report injury expert Will Carroll reported last summer that a staggering third of all current major league pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery at some point in their careers, and the procedure has been performed more than ever before in recent years.1It should be noted that it’s unclear how much of the upward trend is because of increased injuries and how much is due to a combination of better diagnostic tools and the procedure becoming more widespread. And the spate of pitching injuries this year is causing the sports-media equivalent of a moral panic. It’s only mid-May, yet professional baseball has already seen Tommy John surgery claim 31 pitchers,2According to data compiled by Jon Roegele and Jeff and Darrell Zimmerman. a pace that threatens the record of 65, set in 2012. The most common month of the season for the surgery — June — is yet to come.3January is the most common overall month for TJ surgery among pitchers.As Bill James, the godfather of sabermetrics, has repeatedly noted, starting pitcher injuries haven’t really increased in recent seasons, despite our perceptions of the contrary.4Back in March, James wrote:“The durability of starting pitchers today is essentially in line with historic norms, but has trended downward slightly with the end of the steroid era. The durability of starting pitchers right now is essentially the same as it was in 1967, less than it was in the 1970s, and very slightly less than it was in the heart of the steroid era. The durability of starting pitchers now is distinctly greater than it was in the 1940s and 1950s.” But they aren’t decreasing, either.Sabermetrics has been able to solve a lot of baseball’s mysteries, but it can’t quite crack the pitcher injury question. As recently as a decade ago, the prevailing hope was that hurlers would see a significant reduction in injuries as more teams implemented data-driven policies for monitoring their starting pitchers. Now that suggestion sounds like a hopelessly naive relic of a different time.The most definitive early sabermetric attempt to solve the puzzle of injured pitchers was conducted at Baseball Prospectus in 1998 by Rany Jazayerli. His Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP) framework, which was later expanded upon by BP’s Keith Woolner, centered on a simple hypothesis: “Throwing is not dangerous to a pitcher’s arm. Throwing while tired is dangerous to a pitcher’s arm.” To quantify this effect, Jazayerli and Woolner set up a scale to separate ordinary starts5That is to say, those under 100 pitches. from high pitch-count outings that put tremendous strain on the arm, with a stress factor that compounds as more pitches are thrown.Whether MLB front offices were directly influenced by Jazayerli’s work or not, the underlying concept behind PAP has had a profound impact on the way teams treat their pitching staffs. For example, the 130-pitch outing — once a staple for major league starters — has all but disappeared from the game over the last decade-plus. Clearly, the behavior of teams has changed when it comes to their prized investments on the mound, but it’s not clear this change in attitude has translated to greater pitcher durability.Relatively recently, both Jazayerli and James offered some evidence that promising young pitchers are indeed burning out less frequently in the era of meticulous pitch-count management. But studies revisiting the predictive value of PAP itself, with the benefit of a decade’s worth of new data, have been inconclusive. In “Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers”, Corey Dawkins reported a failure to find any significant correlation between PAP and either short- or long-term future pitching injuries, while BP’s Russell Carleton could only find compelling support for the notion that eliminating 130-pitch starts reduces the probability of future injuries.Of course, pitch counts are a blunt instrument at best. They represented the most granular data available to Jazayerli and his Prospectus comrades in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but the installation of Sportvision’s PITCHf/x cameras in every MLB stadium during the mid-to-late 2000s promised much greater things. PITCHf/x can measure an array of details about any given pitch, including its velocity, movement, spin and release point. Armed with better tools, a new generation of analysts were eager to find correlations between these state-of-the-art data points and pitcher injuries.The newer, more data-rich models tended to settle on two factors as important predictors of a future injury: sudden, unexplained declines in a pitcher’s fastball velocity and increased variation in his release point. Not coincidentally, both elements aligned with existing biomechanical theories about the effects of fatigue and what puts pitchers at risk, and fit in with prior research like PAP. (As the hypothesis goes, tired pitchers — like those who have accumulated more abuse points — find it harder to maintain consistency in their release points.)But there’s hardly a consensus among analysts that PITCHf/x is providing useful data.6From a community knowledge perspective, it doesn’t help matters that some of the best practitioners of PITCHf/x analytics have since been swallowed up by major league front offices, their research never to be seen by the public again. Again writing in “Extra Innings,” Dawkins expresses a major concern about any findings that rely on PITCHf/x’s release-point data because there’s a large degree of measurement error inherent to the system. Attempts have been made to adjust for these kinds of inaccuracies, but only so much can be done about the fact that PITCHf/x is unable to precisely track balls before they cross a threshold 50 feet away from home plate. And after analyzing the data himself, Dawkins was unable to replicate a statistically significant relationship between velocity or release-point data and future injury risk.As BP’s Carleton found in a separate analysis, perhaps the most significant predictor of a pitcher getting injured in the future is simply whether he was injured in the past. On its face, that’s not especially useful,7Except to prove the old axiom true: “There are two types of pitchers — those who are injured now, and those will be injured soon.” but it plays into another old hypothesis that might be worthy of new life: the “injury nexus,” formulated by Carroll and FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver way back in 2003. The idea of the injury nexus is that pitchers are especially vulnerable to catastrophic damage during a very specific, formative time in their careers, before they hit the age of 24. One big medical theory as to why: Pitchers’ bodies aren’t completely mature until roughly that age, putting them at greater physical risk of injury.But there’s also the possibility that survivorship bias is at work.8As was acknowledged by the authors at the time. Pitchers who have bad mechanics (or any other flaw that would put them at greater risk of seeing their careers end early via injury) are automatically weeded out of baseball at a young age, leaving behind only the group of pitchers who made it through that initial checkpoint.If a pitcher like Fernandez was going to get hurt, it would be at this stage of his career, when the largest possible pool of pitchers is facing its first test of injury resistance. Keep pitching without incident, though, and Fernandez’s odds of future ailments would be significantly reduced, simply because the biggest test — whether he can handle a major league workload — would already have been passed.Of course, that’s just one theory. But when it comes to predicting pitcher injuries, theories are still all anybody has, despite mountains of research and nearly two decades of work from baseball’s brightest minds. And while they test those, Jose Fernandez will be recuperating somewhere, just as Harvey, Strasburg, Medlen and others before him. read more

How The Warriors Should Adjust Their Offense Without Steph Curry

The Warriors are hurting. The latest bad news came over the weekend, when the team learned that superstar Stephen Curry, who was just returning from a six-game absence because of a tweaked right ankle, sustained a Grade 2 MCL sprain to his left knee. He joins three other hurt Golden State stars who are currently riding the bench: Kevin Durant has a rib fracture, Klay Thompson has a fractured right thumb and Draymond Green has a pelvic contusion.Coach Steve Kerr has already ruled out the idea of Curry returning for the first round of the postseason. But these other guys will be back. So, how will the Warriors’ offense function without Curry when the postseason starts up? And how should it?To some, these questions might seem pointless, considering that Durant, a fellow superstar, is also on the roster. After all, the possibility of a Curry injury was among the best arguments for signing Durant: Even if Curry goes down, there’d be two other stars (Durant and four-time All-Star Thompson) to count on.1This doesn’t even include Green, the reigning defensive player of the year, who logged a dominant 32-point, 15-rebound, 9-assist outing during Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. But any changes to a powerhouse lineup like the Warriors’ has some impact: Defenses now will have more resources to clamp down on Durant. The challenge then for Golden State is to navigate the increased attention on Durant while not making any wholesale changes to the offensive plan with only nine games left in the regular season. After all, the Warriors want Curry to hit the ground running when he returns, using the same pass-happy system that was in place when he left.There are a handful of things we can likely expect once the other banged-up Warriors rejoin the lineup as expected. The most important: It’s a safe bet that most of the key role players will shoot at least slightly worse without Curry in the picture — a majority of them have performed worse on offense in times when Curry’s been out and Durant’s been playing (compared with their performance when sharing the court with both Curry and Durant). Kevin Durant—63.055.5 PlayerWith Curry, w/o DurantWith Curry and DurantWith Durant, w/o Curry Stephen Curry62.261.7— JaVale McGee64.570.472.7 Effective field goal percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that accounts for 3-pointers being worth 50 percent more than 2-pointers.Sources: Second Spectrum, NBA Advanced Stats Andre Iguodala61.344.539.2 Nick Young51.674.048.6 Effective FG% Zaza Pachulia44.763.358.3 Klay Thompson63.067.549.0 Curry’s impact on the DubsEffective field goal percentage of Warriors with at least 30 shots taken in each scenario below, 2017-18 Draymond Green48.755.550.5 Durant’s offensive performance has also suffered when Curry isn’t playing. Despite being a top-three player in the world, Durant occasionally finds easy looks as a result of the fear that defenses have of Curry getting open along the arc. One indication of the boost Durant gets: Green has completed 16 alley-oops to him over the past two seasons — many of which were sprung while Curry was distracting defenses with fake backscreens. But those were all with Curry on the floor. Without Curry, Green hasn’t found Durant for a single lob during that time period, according to data from Second Spectrum and NBA Advanced Stats.Video Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Durant is still a dynamite scorer without Curry, though — as evidenced by his 45 points per 100 possessions (on 48 percent shooting and 42 percent from 3-point range) in the four games he played mostly without Curry recently. But the downside without Curry is that the free-flowing offense grows more stagnant as Durant isolates more to find his shots. The Warriors go from having 106.0 possessions per 48 minutes when Curry orchestrates the offense to 100.6 possessions per 48 minutes when Durant is on the floor without Curry. And the total number of isolations per 100 plays increases 43 percent, from 10.1 to 14.4, when Durant spearheads the attack without Curry, according to Second Spectrum. The high-octane club goes from scoring almost 122 points per 100 possessions with Curry and Durant to 108 when Durant plays without Curry.A few caveats: Those pace and offensive efficiency numbers, while down considerably, would still rank among the highest in the league. If anything, this merely speaks to how otherworldly the Warriors are at full strength, or at least when Curry is running their offense. Without Curry playing, they would still be favored against just about any team out West, perhaps except for Houston.The Warriors know that, too, and based on their recent history with knee sprains, it seems a foregone conclusion that they’ll take things slowly with Curry’s rehabilitation. Curry of course missed two weeks of the postseason in 2016 after suffering a less severe Grade 1 MCL sprain. He had a 40-point game in his return against Portland but then struggled in the finals (he later suggested that he wasn’t anywhere near 100 percent that postseason after the injury). The team took a different approach with Durant last season — and saw different results. He returned from a nearly six-week absence and Grade 2 MCL sprain to outplay LeBron James and earn the finals MVP.While Durant and the rest of the Warriors await Curry’s return, there are several tactics they could take to both take advantage of the line-ups they will have on the floor and to make sure that Curry can re-enter the offense seamlessly. For one, Golden State would be smart to push the tempo and to screen more on the ball using either Green or Andre Iguodala to set picks for Durant. (The Warriors set about 10 fewer on-ball screens per 100 possessions when Durant is running the offense without Curry.) Both Green and Iguodala are playmakers and are more likely to keep the ball moving than Durant. He’s a good passer but calls his own number for 1-on-1 scenarios far more often than most players do.This is why running more simple screen-and-roll sets could help Durant: Such plays give him a clearer opening for an occasional jumper when he wants one. But they also allow him to share the ball with confidence that he can get it back in perhaps his most lethal position: off the catch, where he shoots a far-higher percentage than when he dribbles several times before launching an attempt.It’s worth noting that the Warriors have generated more points per play out of Durant pick-and-rolls with Green setting the screen this season (1.18) than they have with Curry pick-and-rolls in which Green is the screen-setter (1.08), according to Second Spectrum.2Among NBA pairs who’ve run at least 100 direct pick-and-rolls — meaning that the player associated with the play either shot the ball, was fouled, turned it over or passed to a shooter within one dribble of receiving the ball.Video Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.For context, the Durant and Green combo ranks second in efficiency among NBA pairs who’ve run at least 100 direct pick-and-rolls, trailing only the unstoppable duo of Curry and Durant.So, no — there’s obviously no true way to replace everything Curry brings on offense. But playing a style that isn’t far removed from what he’s used to could help keep the team in rhythm for when he returns.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

Pennsylvania Is A Battleground State … In Football

TEN66TEN63TEN 30, JAX 9-4.0– HOU68HOU67IND 24, HOU 21-0.4– SEA62SEA60SEA 21, MIN 7-4.2– CAR62CAR56CLE 26, CAR 20+4.8– MIN56.817.9MIA20.211.358.41491 CIN0.40.3OAK0.00.02.41370 DAL59DAL58DAL 29, PHI 23-3.3– PIT78PIT81OAK 24, PIT 21-6.9– Team ACurrentAvg. Chg*Team BCurrentAvg. Chg*Total ChangeGame Quality DET3.53.3BUF0.00.010.11431 TEN34.519.1NYG0.50.540.81485 CAR8.99.4NO100.00.020.31605 Home teams are in bold.The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET PTS GB3.24.2CHI99.90.210.01527 DEN5.13.2CLE0.50.79.01445 GB53GB55GB 34, ATL 20-0.1– Playoff %Playoff % IND27.212.3DAL99.20.926.51546 OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION DEN63DEN68SF 20, DEN 14-9.0– BAL54.615.1TB0.81.132.81508 PIT62.3%+/-23.1NE99.3%+/-0.747.11617 LAR56LAR62CHI 15, LAR 6-8.9– Game quality is the harmonic mean of the Elo ratings for the two teams in a given matchup. Total Change adds up the potential swing in playoff odds for every team in the league (not just the two teams listed).*Average change is weighted by the likelihood of a win or loss. (Ties are excluded.)Source: WSH69%NYG51%NYG 40, WSH 16+21.1– BUF70BUF63NYJ 27, BUF 23+7.6– Pennsylvanians went into the 2018 season believing that it might be a banner year for the state’s NFL teams. The Philadelphia Eagles were league champs the season before, and the Pittsburgh Steelers had harbored their own championship aspirations before an upset playoff loss against Jacksonville. Although we’ve never seen a Steelers-Eagles Super Bowl, we’ve come close a few times this century — both teams made the conference championship in 2008-09 (Eagles lost), 2004-05 (Steelers lost) and 2001-02 (both lost). There was reason to think 2018 might bring another chance for a clash between Eastern and Western PA on the game’s biggest stage.Fourteen weeks later, that’s not looking so hot. The Steelers started strong despite a contract impasse with star running back Le’Veon Bell, but they’ve faltered recently in a three-game losing streak and now are in danger of missing the playoffs. And Pittsburgh is this year’s Pennsylvania success story. The defending-champion Eagles continue to suffer from one of history’s worst Super Bowl hangovers and are down to an 18 percent playoff probability after Sunday’s crushing loss to the Dallas Cowboys.In the midst of all of that turmoil, though, Pennsylvania will be at the center of the football universe for Week 15 of the NFL season. According to our combination of matchup quality (i.e., the harmonic mean of the teams’ Elo ratings in each game) and game importance (how likely it is to swing every team’s odds of making the playoffs),1Which adds up a game’s potential swing in playoff odds for every team in the league — including those not participating in the game itself. the Steelers’ game against the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon is the best of the week, while Philly’s Sunday-night clash against the Rams is tied for second-best: ATL0.10.0ARI0.00.01.51409 WSH10.58.6JAX0.00.019.81429 PHI17.614.7LAR100.00.030.81604 Elo beat the typical reader again in Week 14, but it was very close: On average, our predictions won the week by only 6.8 points. Relative to readers, Elo was rightly bearish on the Rams and Broncos, but the readers did get a huge victory over the model in the Giants’ 40-16 blowout of Washington. Knowing that the ‘Skins were down to Mark Sanchez at QB (who was later replaced by Josh “No, not that Josh Johnson” Johnson), readers preyed on Elo’s ignorance and picked Eli Manning and company to win. Although it wasn’t enough to win the week, it was the most lopsided single-game victory of the season by either readers over the computer or vice-versa.Anyway, congrats to Vyascheslav Tolbert (Mike Tolbert’s Russian cousin?), who led all users in Week 14 with 129.5 points, and to Greg Chili Van Hollebeke, who maintained his No. 1 ranking for the season with 963.4 points. Thanks to everyone who has been playing — and if you haven’t, get in on the action before it’s too late! You can make picks now and still try your luck against Elo, even if you haven’t played yet.Check out our latest NFL predictions. LAC84LAC85LAC 26, CIN 21-1.0– The best matchups of Week 15Week 15 games by the highest average Elo rating (using the harmonic mean) plus the total potential swing for all NFL teams’ playoff chances based on the result, according to FiveThirtyEight’s NFL predictions NO74NO79NO 28, TB 14+1.0– Despite their mind-blowing last-second loss to the Miami Dolphins — and their generally less-impressive-than-usual season — the Patriots don’t have a huge amount riding on their matchup with Pittsburgh. (Win or lose, our model gives them at least a 99 percent chance to make the playoffs.) But the game does have major implications for the Steelers’ postseason future. Right now, Pittsburgh is one of five AFC teams with between a 20 percent and 65 percent playoff probability, according to our model. If the Steelers win, their number goes from 62 percent to 85 percent; if they lose, it drops to 38 percent.Gone are the questions about whether the Steelers could maintain their offensive output without Bell. With James Conner carrying the load at RB instead, Pittsburgh’s offense ranks roughly the same in expected points added per game (fifth) as it did a year ago (third) and has improved from 21st to 11th in EPA on the ground. Even without Conner against the Raiders — and with backups Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley combining for just 32 yards on 16 carries — Pittsburgh’s offense exceeded its usual weekly EPA average (although most teams do that against the Raiders). The real issue has been on defense, where the team ranks fourth-to-last in EPA over the past three weeks, including dead last against the pass. When Derek Carr is shredding your D for a 122.4 passer rating, there are some problems that must be addressed by Mike Tomlin and staff.And Steelers-Patriots has ripple effects that stretch far beyond just Pittsburgh’s chances. The Baltimore Ravens’ odds will go up or down by 13 percentage points depending on who wins in Pittsburgh; Tennessee and Indianapolis will also see their odds shift by multiple percentage points based on the outcome. Three other teams — Miami, Denver and Houston — will get changes of about 1 percentage point apiece. All told, about 47 points of playoff probability will move around on the basis of New England and Pittsburgh’s contest.For the Eagles, their playoff chances all but evaporated after falling to Dallas. While they were able to beat Washington (which is now also sitting at 6-7, two games back of the Cowboys, and now auditioning quarterbacks who walk in off the street) two weeks ago in the most important game of Week 13, Philly was unable to replicate that feat in overtime Sunday, losing the most crucial matchup of Week 14. There are still scenarios left whereby the Eagles can make the playoffs, most of which involve them winning out — while facing winning teams in the Rams and Texans over their three remaining games — and the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers losing games down the stretch. But Philadelphia has dug a deep hole for itself with three weeks to go.As we noted in late October, Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ offense were above average throwing the ball, but that wasn’t enough to offset a suspect running game and a disappointing defense. Since then, Wentz has basically held steady, but the rushing attack has gotten even worse, and the defense has done nothing to turn its season around. After weeks of waiting for the real Eagles to show up and play like champions, it’s probably time to admit that these are the real Eagles — and their hopes of repeating are slim.A win over L.A. would drag Philadelphia’s playoff chances up to 42 percent, so there is plenty on the line for at least one of the two teams involved Sunday. But with the Rams having locked up their division earlier this month, the game’s second-biggest stakes belong to the Vikings, who would lose 14 points of playoff probability with an Eagles win and gain 6 points if Philly loses. In addition, Washington, Seattle, Detroit, Dallas, Green Bay and Carolina will see at least 1 point of movement to their postseason odds depending on whether the Eagles win or lose.But most of all, it should be a good game. For all their mediocrity this year, the Eagles are still probably better than their 6-7 record, while the Rams are locked in a fight for the No. 1 seed in the NFC and have something to prove offensively after a weak Sunday-night showing against the Bears in Chicago. The Steelers and Patriots are in similar positions — both teams rank among the best in the AFC yet have a lot of questions to answer. Add it up, and the state of Pennsylvania figures to be a key battleground in the playoff ace, even if its teams aren’t exactly as intimidating as they seemed three months ago.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersWant more playoff probabilities? Check out FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings in our NFL prediction interactive, which simulates the rest of the season 100,000 times and tracks every team’s odds. You can also pick against the Elo algorithm in our prediction game. Try your hand and attempt to climb up our giant leaderboard.Based on data from the prediction contest, here are the matchups in which Elo made its best — and worst — picks against the field of readers last week: SEA99.31.1SF0.00.03.31481 LAC99.70.2KC100.00.04.01656 NE72NE75MIA 34, NE 33-7.0– Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 14Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 14 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game KC71KC72KC 27, BAL 24-1.1– ARI51DET55DET 17, ARI 3+4.6– HOU96.14.9NYJ0.00.012.71440 read more

Mens Volleyball No 5 Ohio State comes back to knock off Ball

Then-junior opposite hitter Maxime Hervoir spikes the ball during the NCAA championship on Saturday. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterThe No. 5 Ohio State men’s volleyball team (8-2, 1-0 MIVA) was victorious in its first conference match of the season against long-time rival Ball State (5-6, 0-1 MIVA), winning 3-2.Throughout the night, the Buckeyes’ offensive distribution differed from the past. Head coach Pete Hanson said Ball State’s defense caused some issues for redshirt freshman opposite Jake Hanes, which forced Ohio State to use more of its other offensive options. “[Senior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen] was pretty good throughout, although there were times that they game-planned for Nic. They knew that we set him in critical situations,” Hanson said. “Maxime [Hervoir] had a great night offensively. He became the guy that kind of carried us down the stretch.”Hervoir hit a .400 and topped the leaderboard with 19 kills.The first set started slow with both teams struggling to establish tempos. Though the Cardinals did not stand out in attacks, they wielded a solid defense with four blocks and 11 digs in the opening set and managed to shut down Ohio State’s offense. The Cardinals won 25-21.Hanes was off his game for the first set, hitting a -.007, despite entering the match with a .642 hitting percentage. As a team, the Buckeyes had a match-high nine attacking errors and hit a .121.Ohio State redshirt junior middle blocker Blake Leeson brought the Buckeyes back to life in the second set with four key blocks across the net and aggressive attacks from the middle. Leeson scored nine of the Buckeyes’ 25 points in the set. Szerszen also came out with increased gusto, hitting a .800.The Cardinals had only two digs the entire set and hit a -.059, losing to the Buckeyes 25-13 to even the match at one set apiece.The third set served another loss for the Buckeyes with Ohio State falling 25-18. The Cardinals bounced back after their loss with high energy and the Buckeyes struggled to keep up. Ohio State’s hitting percentage dropped to .346 from .706 in the previous set, and it committed nine hitting errors. Although Ohio State struggled in the third set, Hervoir picked up some momentum, scoring six kills.“After the first set, I was really pissed. I started to bring energy because I saw the guys needed energy and I told them to get pissed off and to be aggressive,” Hervoir said.He said in the first set, Ohio State struggled with its serves. The team’s issues allowed Ball State to have an aggressive offense.The Buckeyes entered the fourth set trailing 2-1, in danger of dropping their first conference game of the season. The Cardinals jumped out of the gate fast and kept the Buckeyes at arm’s distance away for a while, maintaining a consistent one or two point lead early.Trailing 7-3 the Buckeyes sided out and scored the next three points to catch up to the Cardinals. Leading 7-6, Ball State disrupted Ohio State’s run with a kill from and maintained the lead until the two teams knotted things up at 22. Ohio State pulled away though and won 27-25 to tie the match at two sets apiece. Hervoir and Hanes combined for 11 kills in the set.Hanson said there was a point during the fourth set that he could see the match going either way. “I think it was finally at about 17-all where we finally got the add-point where we were in the lead and we were playing ahead,” he said. “That makes all the difference in the world mentally and up until that point in time, yeah, it was a pretty dicey match.” With the game on the line in the fifth and final set, there were many long rallies with aggressive attacks and consistent defense from both teams. But the Buckeyes reached eight points first, switching court sides with a three-point lead. Ohio State junior setter Sanil Thomas had a four-serve run towards the end of the set until the Cardinal sided out, trailing 14-10. A quick set from Thomas and powerful kill by Leeson won the set 15-10 and gave the Buckeyes a 15-10 victory. read more

Football No 5 Ohio State looks to assert dominance over Oregon State

Ohio State then-redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) prepares to throw a pass in the second quarter of the Ohio State-UNLV game on Sep. 23. Ohio State won 54- 21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for DesignFollowing a summer full of investigations and allegations surrounding head coach Urban Meyer and former assistant coach Zach Smith, the Ohio State football team opens its 2018 season at home against Oregon State.Ohio State starts the season ranked No. 5 in the AP poll, making the Buckeyes the second-highest ranked team in the Big Ten, trailing only No. 4 Wisconsin.The Buckeyes return following a 12-2 record last season, winning the Big Ten Championship and earning a Cotton Bowl victory over USC after missing the College Football Playoff.Through the offseason, the off-the-field allegations and controversy surrounding the program, junior defensive end Nick Bosa said it is all being used as motivation.“Hate always drives you, and when people are hating, then you just want to prove them wrong even more,” Bosa said. “We’re excited to go prove that we’re the same team.”While Ohio State hopes to prove it is the same team that found success a season ago, Oregon State comes into its opener trying to prove the exact opposite.The Beavers finished last season with a 1-11 record, the program’s worst record since finishing 1980 winless. Oregon State’s only win came by a field goal to FCS opponent Portland State.Following that victory against the Vikings, Oregon State dropped its next 10 games, failing to win a single game in the Pac-12, including a 38-10 defeat to USC.The Beavers allowed 43.0 points per game, the third most in the nation, while scoring only 20.7 per game, the 17th fewest in the nation.Among all the weaknesses, the biggest came in the Beavers’ rush defense. Oregon State allowed 235.8 rush yards per game, giving up 35 touchdowns on the ground. Both numbers were in the bottom 10 in the NCAA rankings.Oregon State’s hopes come in the hiring of Jonathan Smith at head coach. Smith was the quarterbacks coach at Washington for the past four seasons, helping senior quarterback Jake Browning earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors and become an O’Brien award semifinalist each of the past two seasons.Acting head coach Ryan Day has praised Smith, and said he is expecting a defense very similar to one of the top teams in the Big Ten.“Jonathon comes over and obviously has had a great career and he’s going to come in with a lot of energy,” Day said. “They’re going to be instituting that Wisconsin system of some three-down, some four-down, and they’re very, very aggressive.”Senior quarterback Jake Luton will start under center for the Beavers. The 6-foot-7 quarterback started the first four games last season for Oregon State before going down with a back injury, completing more than 61 percent of his passes in his four starts.PredictionRunning backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber should take advantage of one of the weakest run defenses from last season. This will make redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ first collegiate start a more manageable one, where he can control the tempo and play more relaxed.If the weak run defense isn’t enough, Oregon State also was tied for the sixth-worst turnover margin in 2017, ending at minus-14. With junior defensive end Nick Bosa, redshirt junior defensive tackles Dre’Mont Jones and Robert Landers and a rotation of sophomore defensive end Chase Young and junior defensive end Jonathon Cooper on the other side, there will be mistakes made by this Beavers’ offense under a new head coach.Day said he does not see this game as his head coaching debut. He is simply filling in for Meyer while he is serving his three-game suspension.“This isn’t one of those things where I’m becoming the head coach,” Day said. “This is just something that I’m holding the place for coach until he gets back and the goal is to win the game against Oregon State.”Whether it was going to be Day or Meyer on the sidelines, it wouldn’t have mattered. Ohio State is coming into this game angry and ready for football.Wyatt Crosher: 66-3 Ohio StateColin Gay: 56-7 Ohio State read more

Sea cadets join in Trafalgar Day celebrations in London

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Captain Phil Russell of the Royal Navy explains the importance of celebrating Admiral Nelson’s famous victory.last_img

Killer who shot his wife and daughter was controlling vitriolic bully say

first_imgA father who shot dead his wife and daughter dominated and bullied the family for their whole lives, his two surviving sons have disclosed.Lance Hart, 57, killed his wife Claire, 50, and daughter Charlotte, 19, outside a swimming pool in Spalding last July, before turning the gun on himself following the breakdown of his marriage.His sons, Luke, 27, and Ryan, 26, who work in the oil industry, have described the “inexplicable anger” they have had to deal with in the wake of the murders, stating: “For us it was a culmination of a lifetime of struggle.”Luke said: “He was vitriolic and a bully who would be verbally abusive and threaten us.” An inquest into the deaths last October heard that Mrs Hart, who worked on the meat counter at a Morrisons supermarket, left the family home in Moulton, Lincolnshire, on July 14, saying she had “put up with enough for the past 15, 16 years.”Hart knew his wife was due to go swimming four days later and had arranged to meet her afterwards to exchange some belongings.But the builders’ merchant ambushed his family in the car park, shooting them with a single barrel shotgun, which he had to reload between shots, before killing himself. Lance HartCredit:SWNS In a 12-page suicide note on a USB stick left in his car, Hart wrote: “I had to do this. You destroyed my life without giving me a chance. Revenge is a dish served cold. Karma is a b—-.” Lance Hart “(The killing) was the result of decades of abuse and controlling and intimidating behaviour.”Coroner Paul Cooper concluded the deaths of Charlotte and Claire were unlawful killings and Mr Hart’s was suicide, adding: “He knew exactly what he was going to do. Charlotte Hart and her mother, ClareCredit:SWNS Charlotte Hart and her mother, Clare Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The Harts had just sold the detached five-bedroom home where they had lived for the last 15 years Luke wrote on Facebook in April: “Our father was a terrorist living within our own home; he had no cause but to frighten his family and to generate his own esteem from trampling and bullying us. The Harts had just sold the detached five-bedroom home where they had lived for the last 15 yearsCredit:Stephen Daniels Luke told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme: “Someone like our father was a terrorist. He was planning to kill all of us three weeks before killing them.”The brothers said he controlled the household by restricting money and isolating their mother from support networks.”In a way you feel pity and sympathy and feel weakness and think he needs help. When we tried to get him help he’d refuse,” Luke added.”He held traditional masculine beliefs and a lot of people think that is normal. He thought he owned us and saw us as protected by him but we were entirely oppressed by him.”The boys had moved their mother out of the house so “she would be safer” while the couple’s divorce went through.last_img read more