Month: September 2019

8 Times Charles Barkley Said Something Ludicrous About Black

Charles Barkley went the weekend without insulting Black people, which, at the rate he set in the last month, was an accomplishment. It’s also ironic that the former NBA star has been on so many media outlets firing off his right wing nonsense because he said last week: “I don’t like talking about race issues anymore to the media.” But he talked … and talked … and … in the process, has a portfolio of comments that offend many Black people.A Joke, But Was He Really Joking?“I can be bought. If they paid me enough, I’d work for the Klan.” Black People“We all have bad characters in our groups. Black is not always right, and white is not always wrong. We as Black people, we have a lot of crooks. We can’t just wait until something like (the Michael Brown shooting) happens. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. There is a reason that they racially profile us in the way they do. Sometimes it is wrong, and sometimes it is right.” read more

Do Toothless Offenses Like The Bengals Ever Recover

1990NOR17.17.518.518.8-0.3 The Bengals entered this year as playoff contenders with a retooled offense that was considered one of the fastest units in the NFL. But two games into the season, they’ve kicked three field goals. And that’s it, that’s all the points the team has scored. Cincinnati’s inability to score a touchdown in its first two games (both losses) has led to the quick dismissal of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese in his 15th season with the team.It may not sound like that big a deal to be held without a touchdown for the first two games of the season, but going back to 1970, this has only happened 15 times prior to 2017. Another eight teams registered only a return touchdown, failing to score with their offense.The 23 teams that got left at the starting gate should not give Bengals fans much confidence in this year’s unit. These offenses would go on to average 17 points per game for the remainder of the season. If you include the two clunkers each team had in Weeks 1 and 2, the group finished the season with a paltry 15.6 points per game. When compared to their previous season’s scoring output, teams — not counting the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were an expansion team and so did not have a previous season — declined by an average of three points. 1970NOR12.31.514.122.2-8.1 2001WAS16.01.518.117.6+0.5 1977BUF11.43.012.817.5-4.7 2016LAR14.04.515.417.5-2.1 1977TAM7. 1985PHI17. 2001SEA20. 2006TAM13.21.514.918.8-3.9 1982KAN19.614.021.221.4-0.2 1985BUF12.56.013.415.6-2.2 YEARTEAMFULL YEARGAMES 1-2REST OF YEARPRIOR YEARDIFF 2006OAK10.53.011.618.1-6.5 1990PIT18.311.519.316.6+2.7 1988CLE19.04.521.126.0-4.9 2004TAM18.88.020.318.8+1.5 1975NOR11.81.513.511.9+1.6 1978BAL14. AVERAGE POINTS PER GAME Excluding the 1976 Tampa Bay team, which was in its first year as a franchiseSource: 1997IND19.68.021.319.8+1.5 1996TAM13.84.515.114.9+0.2 2000DET19.214.519.920.1-0.2 1973OAK22.914.024.426.1-1.7 1974PHI17.38.018.922.1-3.3 Teams that started like the Bengals didn’t rebound wellHow the 22 past teams that didn’t score an offensive touchdown in Weeks 1 and 2 fared over the rest of the season, compared to the season prior All is not lost here for the Bengals. Eight of those teams that didn’t score an offensive touchdown in their first two games actually went on to score more on average in their remaining games than they did in the previous year. But all of these gains were modest, in many cases less than a point. The biggest rebounders were the 1990 Pittsburgh Steelers, who averaged 16.6 points in 1989, failed to score an offensive TD in Weeks 1 and 2, and then averaged 19.3 points for the rest of the year. The news is less rosy when you look at three most recent examples: The 2016 L.A. Rams, the 2006 Oakland Raiders and the 2006 Tampa Bay Bucs. The inauspicious starts for these three were a dark omen for what was to come. The trio combined to go 10-38.The hope of modest gains isn’t much for Bengals fans to cling to. This team was expecting its offense, which ranked 24th in the NFL last year, to get much better — not to plateau or fall off a cliff. Since history tells us to expect that teams in the Bengals’ position will score an average of three fewer points per game than they did in the previous season, and Cincinnati scored 20.3 points per game last year, we’d expect the team to post about 17 points per game in 2017. In the 16-game era,1Not counting 1982 and 1987 seasons, which were shortened by strikes. teams that average between 16 and 18 points per game are 871-1,635-6 for a .348 winning percentage that translates to between five and six projected wins this year for the Bengals.Of course, the Bengals could have just run into hot defenses in their first two games, against the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans. But even the great 1985 Bears gave up 22 offensive touchdowns that season, or 1.4 per game. Getting shut out from paydirt in two straight games is epic futility no matter who you’re facing. Cincinnati might pin Week 2’s offensive fiasco on the fact that is was playing a Thursday night game on short rest, but that likely had no effect given that in games through Week 2 since 2014, teams have actually averaged more points per game on Thursdays (23.3) than in the season as a whole (22.6).Some expressed worries that the Bengals’ attack would suffer after the team let 35-year-old Pro Bowl tackle Andrew Whitworth leave for the Rams in free agency, but the Bengals attempted to compensate for the loss by picking up even more skill players in the draft. Owner Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis selected world-class sprinter John Ross to be a game-changing deep threat with the ninth overall pick. And in the second round, the club added 226-pound running back Joe Mixon, who ran a 4.5 40-yard-dash at his Pro Day.And those players were added to a mix that already included three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton, perennial Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green and one of the league’s most efficient scorers in tight end Tyler Eifert, who since 2000 has the third most touchdowns per catch (minimum 20 touchdowns) among tight ends. The team has 11 offensive players who are home-grown first- or second-round draft picks.All of which makes the offense’s ineptitude even more perplexing. Which explains why the team took drastic measures: This is the first time in the Bengals’ 50-year history, all of which has been spent under the guidance of the Brown family, that an offensive coordinator has been fired during the season.But the bigger issue may be Dalton, who currently ranks last in the NFL in QBR with a rating of just 10. The league average QBR through Week 2 is 49; last year, Dalton’s was 52.3. There have even been rumblings about benching Dalton, including from a former NFL Executive of the Year.Either way, Cincy has no excuses this week — at least, that is, no excuses for not scoring a touchdown. The Bengals are in Green Bay facing a Packer defense that ranks 25th in yards allowed per play through Week 2 after finishing 28th in 2016.But perhaps the Bengals can look to one of their NFC counterparts for offensive inspiration. The Bengals were the 24th team to go through their first two games without scoring an offensive TD, but the 25th team, this year’s San Francisco 49ers, joined the club just a few days later. After a fortnight of grim, incompetent offense, Brian Hoyer and the Niners exploded for five touchdowns and 39 points in Thursday night’s loss to the Rams.Then again, when it’s only Week 3 and you are already trying to emulate the feats of the Niners, something has gone terribly wrong. read more

The Most Talented College Football Team In History

Two days after Thanksgiving, the Miami Hurricanes closed out another mediocre regular season with what the Miami Herald called a “dismal downer” of a game. They never led Pitt in the 35-23 defeat, and many UM faithful streamed out of Sun Life Stadium with almost an entire quarter left to play. Miami will appear in a postseason game this month because it has a just technically bowl-eligible 6-6 record (and it’s a well-known university). But the Duck Commander Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, is not exactly a destination befitting a program that was once college football royalty.Cycles of boom and bust, however, are nothing new in Coral Gables. This Saturday, ESPN is airing “The U Part 2,” a “30 for 30” by director Billy Corben that follows up on his 2009 documentary about the Hurricanes’ dominant, lawless football program of the 1980s. The sequel explores the process that rebuilt the scandal-ridden team into what would become, statistically, the most talented — if not quite the most dominant — team in college football history.Before the Hurricanes came back from the brink, they were as low as they are now. Miami’s mid-to-late 1990s deterioration reached its nadir at the end of 1997, the program’s first losing season in 18 years. When the final whistle blew on that campaign, Miami had a +3.8 Elo rating,1According to an Elo-like modification of ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) developed by FiveThirtyEight’s editor in chief, Nate Silver. which means Miami would have been favored by just 3.8 points against an average FBS team on a neutral field. To use 2014 teams as a comparison, Miami was the equivalent of this year’s Colorado State or Navy teams — a far cry from their dominant squads of the 1980s and early 1990s. (Although this year’s team is even worse, with a rating of +2.0.)This is what happens when a program transgresses enough NCAA rules to deserve its own documentary. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Hurricanes’ violations ranged from a pay-for-play scandal to a UM academic adviser helping players defraud the federal government of Pell Grant money. When the NCAA was finished handing down its penalties, the Hurricanes had been banned from the postseason for a year and stripped of 31 scholarships from 1995 to 1997.For college football teams, scholarships are currency. There’s a clear relationship between a team’s recruiting success and its on-field performance, and in the wake of the sanctions, Miami was unable to recruit as effectively as it had during the early 1990s.2Although it bears mentioning that, even in a relatively “down” recruiting year like 1996, the Hurricanes still hauled in four of the nation’s 100 best recruits.But under Butch Davis, the Hurricanes had figured out how to rebuild. From creative accounting to get around the scholarship limits — Davis persuaded wide receiver Santana Moss (among others) to run track on scholarship for UM while walking onto the football team — to rummaging through the recruiting bin for undervalued prospects, Davis amassed a talent collection better than college football has ever seen before or since. If we judge the players by where they were drafted in the NFL, tally the expected future approximate value for players picked in that slot, add it up for each school by each historical draft class, and assign a weighted sum of the previous four years to each college team-season,3The weights, in this case, are 4-3-2-1, derived from what combination best predicts a team’s FPI rating for the season in question. So, for instance, Miami players accumulated 103 points of AV in the 2002 draft, 86 points in the 2003 draft, 115 points in the 2004 draft and 46 points in the 2005 draft. That means the weighted sum for the 2001 Hurricanes squad is 4 times 103, plus 3 times 86, plus 2 times 115, plus 46 — which equals 946 points, the highest total any college team posted since the first NFL/AFL common draft in 1967. the Miami teams built by Davis and eventually coached by his successor, Larry Coker, are in a universe unto themselves.The single most talented college roster of the past 48 years, according to this measure, was the fabled 2001 Miami Hurricanes, who went 12-0 and won the BCS title while posting one of the best point differentials (+395) of any national champion. Davis-built Miami teams in 2000 and 2002 also rank third and fourth, respectively.The Hurricanes turned their unprecedented collection of talent into a one-loss 2000 team (which media-poll voters thought should have played undefeated Oklahoma for the national championship instead of Florida State, whom Miami had beaten earlier in the season); a historically dominant, unbeaten national champion in 2001; and a 2002 squad whose sole loss came in double overtime of the BCS title game.“You could have taken that 2001 [Hurricanes] team and put them in the NFL,” former Hurricanes safety Antrel Rolle told Corben, “and without a doubt they would have made the playoffs.”It’s probably the closest such a sentiment has ever come to actually being true. Then again, as stacked as the Davis/Coker Hurricanes were in terms of skilled athletes, and as impressive as their 34-game winning streak4Which stretched between Sept. 23, 2000, and Jan. 3, 2003. was, it’s difficult to argue they would have torn up the pros when they barely cracked the top 10 in terms of the highest modified FPI ratings by college teams in the past three decades.Under Davis, the Hurricanes’ Elo rating peaked at +24.3 after they beat Florida, the AP Poll’s No. 7, 37-20 in the 2001 Sugar Bowl — Davis’s last game as UM’s coach before leaving for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. After Coker took the reins, Miami’s rating would grow to +29.0 after thumping Nebraska 37-14 in the 2002 Rose Bowl, and crested at +30.2 before the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.That mark represents the 10th-highest rating achieved by any team since 1982, but it trails entries from some of college football’s other most celebrated dynasties — including the 1990s Nebraska Cornhuskers, the 2000s USC Trojans, the 2008 Florida Gators, the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide and even the 1988 Miami Hurricanes.There’s also the tricky matter of how the Hurricanes’ second golden era ended, marred by yet another scandal. While the program was ultimately assessed lighter penalties than it had received in the mid-1990s, in some ways that was due as much to the NCAA’s botched investigation as it was an absolution of Miami’s violations.And now the Hurricanes are back in the muck. But if there’s good news for Miami, Corben’s documentary underscores just how volatile this program has been over the past three decades. Of the top 18 FBS programs (by Elo rating) since 1982, Miami has by far the widest distribution of end-of-year Elo ratings.5In stats parlance, it has the largest standard deviation — 9.5 Elo points.In other words, the team tends to seesaw between greatness and mediocrity. And while life at “The U” has its peaks and valleys, if the story of Corben’s second Miami film is any indication, the next Hurricane dynasty might be just around the corner, no matter how bad things seem in the present. read more

Without Jeter The Yankees Improved More At Shortstop Than Any Other MLB

The other day, several of us in the FiveThirtyEight office were musing about the New York Yankees’ chances in 2015. Certainly the Yankees are no longer the dominant powerhouse they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, nor are they even the outrageously expensive (but championship-starved) juggernaut of the mid-to-late 2000s.1They’re still spending in excess of $200 million on payroll, but that no longer ranks No. 1 in baseball, nor is it anywhere near as far from average as their payroll was at its 2005 peak. Fangraphs’ projections — which, like all preseason predictions, come with a lot of uncertainty — see the Yankees as a slightly above-average team this season, and their 84-78 record last year fit that description as well.But another interesting note about the 2015 Yankees is that their position-player corps figures to be one of the most improved in the American League, according to the projected wins above replacement (WAR) listed on Fangraphs’ depth charts. And the biggest position at which they got better? Shortstop — former home of future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.We slagged on Jeter a bit last season for all the attention paid to his yearlong retirement tour despite his plainly awful numbers. The truth is that, according to WAR at least, the Yankees had the least-productive shortstop situation in all of baseball last year, so even a shortstop depth chart headlined by Didi Gregorius was bound to be one of the game’s most improved in 2015. And, sure enough, no team is projected to gain more WAR at shortstop this season than the Yankees, mostly because Jeter retired.Here’s an accounting of the Yankees’ projected gains and losses at each position, along with those of every other team going into the 2015 season:Of course, some teams improved even more at other positions than the Yankees did at shortstop. The St. Louis Cardinals, for instance, picked up WAR superstar Jason Heyward to man right field, a position that had been filled poorly by Allen Craig and the late Oscar Taveras in 2014. That change projects to be worth a net improvement of about 7 WAR for St. Louis this season (including 4.6 from Heyward himself, plus the additional bonus of getting rid of -1.8 WAR from Craig and Taveras).The following table represents a more specific breakdown of the Yankees’ shortstops, the Cardinals’ right fielders and the 28 other positional situations that are projected to improve the most in 20152Note that, in some cases, a team can show great improvement despite the same player being projected as the primary starter in both 2015 as in 2014. This could be due to a number of reasons, including the player having improved projected rate statistics (whether because of age-related improvement or regression to the mean after an out-of-character bad season) or even more projected playing time in 2015.: read more

Tristan Thompson Isnt Worth Anywhere Near 94 Million

CARMELO looks at a player’s closest historical comparables to get a sense of how he will develop going forward, and it doesn’t see Thompson being anything more than an average player over the next few years.For instance, Thompson’s wins above replacement (WAR) projection over the next five years (9.1 WAR) ranks 114th among NBA players for whom we have a projection. At the league’s going rate per win (which adjusts for the coming salary-cap spike), that amount of WAR is worth a mere $36.1 million, a far (far!) cry from the $80 million that Cleveland offered — and Thompson rejected — for the same span of seasons. CARMELO also thinks Thompson’s next three years will be worth only $23.4 million, less than half of the $53 million he was seeking for the same term.With practically no leverage, Thompson will probably return to the Cavs sooner rather than later, and at a lower price than he’d previously been offered. But according to CARMELO, any cost higher than about $7.5 million per season will be too much for his services. Thompson isn’t a bad player, but he is a deeply average one — and was never worth even half the maximum contract he was seeking this summer.Read more:NBA player projections2015-16 NBA Previews After losing the NBA Finals in June, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to quickly turn their attention away from the court and toward their bank account. LeBron James was a free agent! (He re-signed with Cleveland for two years and $47 million.) Ditto Kevin Love! (He re-upped for five years and $110 million.) Not to mention Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, James Jones and finals folk hero Matthew Dellavedova, all of whom were brought back by the Cavs over the summer.But amid all the returnees was a glaring absence: power forward Tristan Thompson.Thompson, who made a name for himself during the Cavs’ playoff run with a solid performance in place of the injured Love, has turned down Cleveland’s contract offers all year long. He reportedly declined a four-year, $52 million extension in January and an offer of five years and $80 million this summer, supposedly because he wanted the league maximum of five years and $94 million. (He would later reportedly request — and be denied — a three-year, $53 million deal.) And despite threats that he’d accept Cleveland’s one-year qualifying offer of $6.8 million in order to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, Thompson eventually turned that down, too. Now Thompson is officially holding out, refusing to play until he gets a new contract.1On Thursday, collective bargaining agreement expert Larry Coon said he suspects that the Cavs have pulled their $80 million offer, further reducing Thompson’s options.You can appreciate Thompson’s dilemma. He became a free agent the summer before huge increases will reshape the NBA’s salary cap and maximum salary, thanks to the league’s gargantuan new TV contract. If Thompson takes the Cavs’ offers now, he’ll potentially be leaving a lot of money on the table, compared with what his peers will make starting next year. His holdout is the last resort in an attempt to inject what little leverage he can into his current situation.But all this talk kind of ignores the elephant in the room when it comes to Thompson: He isn’t all that good. Or at least, that’s the opinion of CARMELO, our new player-projection system. read more

Baseballs Top Staffs Have Come Around On The HighSpin Fastball

Los Angeles Dodgers+1.12– But how can a player — or a whole team — develop high spin rates? Some players have high fastball spin rates innately, and others don’t — changing grip on a breaking ball can change spin rate, but it’s difficult to throw a fastball differently. Unlike velocity, which can be trained, a pitcher’s fastball spin ratio is thought to be extremely difficult to alter naturally.The unnatural solution is for a pitcher to apply a foreign substance. In May, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer drew the ire of the Houston Astros when he addressed the subject of sticky substances and their effect on performance.“There is a problem in baseball right now that has to do with sticky substances and spin rates,” Bauer said. “We know how it affects spin rate and we know how spin rate affects outcomes and pitches and movements that have a big difference in a game, a season and each individual player’s career.”“The people who choose not to do it are at a competitive disadvantage.” Chicago White Sox-0.80– Cleveland Indians+0.34– Major league rules state that no pitcher may apply “a foreign substance of any kind to the ball,” but the rule is rarely invoked — you’ll often see MLB pitchers tugging at their caps or touching their nonthrowing arms on the mound. When the rule is enforced, the offense is usually egregious — like in 2014 when Yankee Michael Pineda was ejected and ultimately suspended for putting pine tar on his neck and then on the baseball.We reached out to the MLB Commissioner’s Office last week, but it declined to comment on whether the league is investigating high spin rates.Opposing teams can ask umpires to check for substances, but that’s a rare occurrence. Indians manager Terry Francona actually apologized to Hinch in May for the spin-talk controversy on social media.“You’ve never seen me go out and challenge anybody because, if I feel like somebody is trying to grip the ball, I’m glad,” Francona said. A firmer grip might increase spin, but it also might prevent a pitcher from beaning a batter. “Yeah, they might make a better pitch, but there would not be a worse feeling than, as a hitter, knowing that this guy might let this one fly … What happens sometimes is when guys do stuff blatantly, it puts everybody in a tough spot, because it’s a rule, but he’s just trying to hold the ball.”Baseball has a long history of living with some common forms of rule-bending, such as sign stealing, scuffing baseballs and neighborhood plays. Even Bauer agrees that enforcing the rule isn’t the answer.“Allow it. I don’t see that there’s a way to enforce it,” he said in May. “So pick a substance that’s sticky … and just put it on the back of the mound.”MLB might have its own solution down the road: a tackier ball that is in development. The Indians were among the teams that tested the new ball this spring.“ I just hope that at some point, maybe we can morph into that,” Francona said, “because I think maybe it could be really helpful.”Of course even a tacky ball could always be tackier. Players and teams will probably always be looking for an edge, particularly now that they can quantify the power of spin.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Pittsburgh Pirates+0.54– New York Yankees+1.47– Seattle Mariners+0.46– San Diego Padres+0.33– * 2018 data through Sept. 20Source: Baseball savant Boston Red Sox+0.63– Houston Astros+0.90– When a thrown ball departs from a straight path, it’s because the speed of its spin creates a pressure differential. The ball moves toward the direction of lower pressure. In baseball, this phenomenon — known as the Magnus Effect — combines with the orientation of the ball’s spin axis to force a curveball to break downward and a slider to move more laterally. More spin equals more movement. The Magnus Effect forces a four-seam fastball in another direction: up.Just about every four-seam fastball is thrown in a similar manner, with the index and middle fingers of the throwing hand last making contact with the ball. Bauer, who’s known for taking a scientific approach to pitching, explained that to increase spin on four-seam fastballs, the pitcher’s fingers must maintain contact longer to form a more acute tangential angle with the ball. Bauer believes this is largely an innate trait — unless a sticky substance helps the fingers adhere to the ball for a fraction of second longer.University of Illinois physics professor Alan Nathan, an MLB consultant, agreed with Bauer’s theory.“It’s probably pretty hard to change that [fastball spin] ratio for an individual,” Nathan said of naturally changing spin rate. “I can see that you could do it for a curveball because a curveball involves some technique whereas a fastball is pure power. There is no finesse.”It seems like Bauer tried to prove his point with an on-field experiment. During the season, Bauer ranked 164th out of 495 pitches in average spin rate at 2,322 rpms. But in one inning of an April 30 start in Texas, Bauer’s average spin rate surged while his velocity remained steady. He came close to hitting 2,700 rpm with a fastball — more than 300 rpms above his average. Philadelphia Phillies-0.17– Minnesota Twins+0.28– Arizona Diamondbacks+0.55– St. Louis Cardinals+0.52– Miami Marlins-0.16– Tampa Bay Rays-0.17– Baltimore Orioles-0.14– San Francisco Giants-0.08– Atlanta Braves+0.22– Kansas City Royals-0.40– Detroit Tigers+0.22– Chicago Cubs+0.32– Colorado Rockies+0.53– Washington Nationals-0.06– New York Mets+0.78– Milwaukee Brewers+0.84– Oakland Athletics-0.62– Los Angeles Angels+0.37– Which MLB teams are prizing spin?MLB teams by change in average rate of four-seam fastball revolutions per minute/miles per hour between 2015 and 2018* When baseball welcomed the new Statcast technology to every major league stadium in 2015, the system’s Doppler radar began tracking an underlying pitching skill: spin rate. Teams and players were suddenly armed with new data to study and optimize. They were able to quantify long-held beliefs about pitch characteristics, like “late life” and “rise,” and challenge established practices, like always keeping the ball down as a pitcher.As batters have adjusted their swings lower to crush the sinking fastball, more and more pitchers have sought to go up in the zone, above uppercut swing planes, with elevated fastballs. In every year of Statcast pitch tracking, the average height of four-seam fastballs upon reaching the plate has increased. And adding spin to the four-seam fastball is what makes it a bat-missing weapon. The teams that harness those high-spin pitches seem to have an advantage in getting to October: The Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians are the top four teams in spin rate on four-seam fastballs, and the Boston Red Sox are ninth.Leaguewide batting averages offer a snapshot into the importance of spin. When pitchers threw fastballs between 93 and 94 mph with an average spin range of 2,240 to 2,300 revolutions per minute, hitters posted a .279 average this season. But against the same velocity range with an increased spin of 2,540 to 2,600 rpms, batting average declines to .255. The more spin a fastball has, the more it appears to rise and resist gravity, and that creates more swings and misses, as demonstrated by Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs. Cincinnati Reds-0.99– Texas Rangers+0.88– TEAMChange in average Fastball RPM/MPH, 2015-18 Teams can acquire known high-spin pitchers, but whether individual teams and players can improve their spin ratios is another question. If a team or individual can learn how to alter fastball spin naturally, they would have a major competitive advantage. (Driveline Baseball’s Kyle Boddy wrote on Twitter earlier this year that one way to increase fastball spin without substance would be to throw a hybrid four-seam/cut fastball.)Eno Sarris found for The Athletic that pitchers joining the Astros have enjoyed small spin gains on average, but not every pitcher has made gains. FanGraphs found that the Blue Jays, Yankees, Rockies, Tigers and Astros added the most spin to new arrivals, often modest gains.Gerrit Cole of the Astros and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers are elite pitchers who have made significant gains in spin. Only Jorge De La Rosa had a greater year-to-year Bauer Unit improvement on his fastball (+2.31 rpm/mph) than Cole (+2.01 rpm/mph), according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of Statcast data through Sept. 20. Since 2015, Kershaw has added the most spin relative to velocity. His spin rate has increased from 2,217 rpms on average in 2015 to 2,388 this season despite his average fastball velocity falling from 94.2 mph in 2015 to 90.7 this season. That helped Kershaw rank fourth in vertical fastball movement among starters, or average rise, with 10.9 inches this season.Cole has always had one of the top fastball velocities in the game. The pitch averaged 96.6 mph for him this season1Through Sept. 20. after he posted a 95.9 mph mark last season. But his average spin increased from 2,164 rpms last season to 2,374 this season. Cole ranks 34th in rise (9.7 inches vertical inches) among 176 starting pitchers to have thrown 200 fastballs this season and ninth in whiffs per swing (29.3 percent). Cole ranked 127th in vertical rise on his fastball last season (8.8 inches) and 37th in whiffs per swing (21.6 percent), among 189 qualified pitchers.In May, Cole told me that he learned to release the ball differently after working with Verlander, changing the pitch’s spin axis by looking for “true rotation and hop” and “staying behind the ball better.” Cole said the Astros also worked with him on pitch usage and location.Astros manager A.J.Hinch said in a radio interview that Cole is throwing fewer two-seamers, a lower-spin pitch that is sometimes mislabeled by Statcast, and that Cole has made “subtle tweaks.” Cole did record several high-spin fastballs in Pittsburgh that seemed to be outliers, so baseball blogger Saul Forman suggested that the Astros might have simply identified an untapped skill. Cole finished this season fifth in baseball in pitching wins above replacement.Statcast technology is imperfect. Hinch is right in saying that Statcast doesn’t label every pitch correctly. And its Doppler radar doesn’t read spin axis,2Rapsodo tracking technology does that. which means that Statcast does not differentiate between transverse spin — which is sensitive to Magnus Effect — and gyrospin, which is not. Transverse spin is front spin (for a curveball or slider) or backspin (for a fastball) that rotates around an axis that is perpendicular to direction of motion. Gyrospin is like that of a bullet or football thrown in a spiral. A gyrospin axis is in line with the direction of motion. Most pitches have an element of each type of spin. Still, of all pitches, the four-seam fastball has the most consistent spin axis, Nathan said, so it should be most accurate to evaluate via Statcast. Bauer was asked after the game if he had used a foreign substance in that inning, and he said simply, “No comment.” He did acknowledge testing different substances in the lab at Driveline Baseball in Kent, Washington, where he trains and researches in the offseason.“I’ve melted down Firm Grip and Coca-Cola and pine tar together,” Bauer told reporters in May. “I’ve tested a lot of stuff. At 70 mph, when we were doing the tests, spin rates jumped between 300-400 rpm while using various different sticky substances. The effect is slightly less pronounced at higher velocities … but still between 200–300 rpm increase.”Driveline Baseball has tried to make it easier to measure spin rate. It released a metric in November 2016 called “Bauer Units,” a measure for spin divided by velocity. That allows us to look across teams and isolate which players might be generating spin more than others. And some of the most analytically driven teams seemed to valued spin more as soon as Statcast began measuring.Raw spin rate generally increases with velocity, but it’s the spin-to-velocity (rpm-to-mph) ratio that is so crucial to determining pitch movement. For instance, a high-velocity fastball with just average spin will not have as great of a rise effect as a lower-velocity, higher-spin fastball will. The ideal fastball is high-spin, high-velocity, like that of Justin Verlander. The Astros ace ranks second in baseball in vertical movement of his fastball, at 11.2 inches, with an average velocity of 95 mph. His fastball generates 29.4 percent whiffs per swing, seventh in baseball. It’s that rpm-to-mph ratio that is considered difficult to improve in fastballs by those who, like Bauer, have experimented in lab settings.In recent seasons, the Astros added spin outliers in Verlander and Ryan Pressley, who rank fifth and 10th in raw fastball spin rate and fifth and 16th in Bauer Units. (Bauer ranks 162nd out of 348 pitchers in Bauer Units.) The Yankees acquired Aroldis Chapman and Sonny Gray. The Dodgers made a significant investment, three years and $48 million, in elite spin-rate artist Rich Hill after the 2016 season despite his lengthy history of injury and inconsistency.The Dodgers, Astros and Yankees rank first, third and fourth in Bauer Units this season. And since 2015, those same three teams lead in Bauer Units added, suggesting that they better prize and/or teach the skill. All three teams declined interview requests on how they evaluate and develop spin. Toronto Blue Jays+0.07– read more


Big Ten Championship window open but not for Urban Meyers Buckeyes

Heading into the 2012 season, Ohio State’s ban from the Big Ten Football Championship Game didn’t seem so bad. Coming off its first losing season since 1988, turning around to win the conference title in one season seemed like a very tough task in a conference with four other teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. However, three of those four teams have already lost one game just two weeks into the college football season. Now, the Big Ten looks very winnable for the Buckeyes ­­- except for the fact that they are still ineligible to win. The Big Ten’s top-ranked team in the preseason, Michigan, which was ranked No. 8 in the preseason Associated Press top 25 poll, has gotten off to a very rough start. Michigan was blown out by a score of 41-14 in its season-opening game against Alabama, and struggled to a 31-25 victory over Air Force last Saturday. While Michigan at least won its game last week, two other Big Ten favorites were not so lucky, losing road games to Pac-12 Conference opponents. Wisconsin suffered a 10-7 defeat in a close game at Oregon State, while Nebraska lost 36-30 at UCLA. The Big Ten’s stature among major conferences has taken several hits over the first two weeks, but the Buckeyes are off to a 2-0 start, and have risen to No. 12 in the AP top 25. Only one Big Ten team, No. 10-ranked Michigan State, still stands ahead of OSU in that poll. Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska all still have teams strong enough to regroup and win the Big Ten, but behind Michigan State, the conference already looks wide open. Now, what could have been a blessing in disguise for the Buckeyes in gearing up for a more realistic championship run in 2013 instead seems like a missed opportunity. This is especially true because of how weak the Leaders Division looks. There are only four teams in the Leaders Division eligible to play in the conference championship game, as Penn State, which does not look like it would have factored in anyway after a 0-2 start, is also ineligible, while in its first season of a four-year postseason ban. That leaves Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Indiana as the only four teams that could represent the Leaders Division in the conference’s championship game on Dec. 1 in Indianapolis. Wisconsin came into the season as the overwhelming favorite, but its loss follows a struggle to a 26-21 win in its season-opener against Northern Iowa. Among the other three teams, only Indiana stands at 2-0 thus far, and although it has already won one more game than it did in all of 2011, both wins have come against teams that did not play in the Football Bowl Subdivision last season. Unless Wisconsin has a drastic turnaround from its first two games of the season, the Leaders Division has set up perfectly for OSU to finish first. The Buckeyes can still earn a trophy and the distinction of being Leaders Division champions, but that hardly matters in the big picture of the situation, because when December rolls around, they still will not be representing the division in the conference title game. Buckeyes coaches and players are unlikely to admit it, but it has to sting to see a window of opportunity opening wide for them to play for their conference’s biggest title, but be barred from capitalizing upon that opportunity. Instead, it appears increasingly likely that the winner of the Leaders Division will be in for a defeat at the hands of Michigan State, or whichever team finishes atop the Big Ten’s Legends Division, when the championship game comes around. read more


Without Big Ten title Ohio State mens basketball coaches miss out on

The Indiana men’s basketball team’s Sunday win at Michigan clinched the outright Big Ten regular-season championship. By virtue of that result, Ohio State was denied a share of the title as well as almost $80,000 in bonuses paid to its four coaches. OSU coach Thad Matta would have received $20,000 for a share of the league’s regular-season title on top of his base salary of $3.2 million, as well as an additional year added on to his current contract, according to OSU athletics spokesman Dan Wallenberg. Matta’s contract expires in July 2019. The three OSU assistants – Dave Dickerson, Chris Jent and Jeff Boals – missed out on a combined $58,334. Each of Matta’s assistants would have received “supplemental compensation in the amount of one month’s salary” had OSU won a share of the Big Ten title, Wallenberg told The Lantern in a Monday email. For Dickerson, the team’s associate head coach and highest-paid assistant, a Big Ten title would have resulted an additional $21,667. Jent and Boals would have received $20,000 and $16,667, respectively. OSU, which defeated Illinois, 68-55, Sunday afternoon to improve to 23-7 overall and 13-5 in the Big Ten, needed a Michigan win to claim a share of the regular season title for the fourth consecutive year. The Wolverines, which led by as many as five points during the final minute of play against the Hoosiers, collapsed down the stretch before eventually losing, 72-71, in Ann Arbor, Mich., hours after the Buckeyes defeated the Illini. Wallenberg did not immediately respond to The Lantern‘s Monday afternoon request for information regarding whether these or other bonuses would be awarded if OSU wins this weekend’s Big Ten Tournament. Matta, who is in his ninth year at OSU, has led the Buckeyes to two Final Fours and five Big Ten titles. He and the Buckeyes will chase their third Big Ten Tournament title in four seasons when the team, seeded No. 2, begins play Friday against the winner of Purdue-Nebraska. OSU’s game against either the Boilermakers or Cornhuskers is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago. read more


2018 Big Ten Preview Michigan State Spartans

Location: East Lansing, Michigan  2017 Record: 10-3 (7-2 Big Ten) Head Coach: Mark Dantonio  2018 Record: 2-1 (1-0 Big Ten) All-Time Record vs OSU: 15-31What has happened thus far in 2018: The Michigan State Spartans took a surprising loss in the second game of the season as the Herm Edwards-led Arizona State Sun Devils knocked off the then-No. 15 ranked Spartans with a field goal during the expiring seconds of regulation to secure the 16-13 victory. Michigan State bounced back versus Indiana in Week 3 with a 35-21 victory.  Impact Player:  Senior running back L.J. Scott is the most experienced player on the roster, but a slow start mixed with an ankle injury has limited his production thus far in 2018. Scott is a three-time letter winner with the Spartans and is a physical downfield runner with the capability of making an impact in the red zone against the Buckeyes. Strengths:  Creativity has helped Michigan State win its two games this season. Trick plays against Indiana were the decisive plays that allowed Michigan State to pull away with the victory against the Hoosiers last week. Quarterback Brian Lewerke made a quick pitch in the red zone to make a seven-point lead into a 14-point lead, which lasted for good. Lewerke also hauled in his first career reception during the game in a unique sequence of play calls that caught the Hoosiers off guard.  Weaknesses: Sloppy play has dug the Spartans into some holes this season that has made its path to victory harder than it needs to be. Lewerke has again been plagued by interceptions with four already this season after seven last year, and the offense has looked stagnant at times, such as in the loss to Arizona State. Michigan State also committed nine penalties in its opener against Utah State, flaws that it was able to make up for in Week 1. But those flaws could come back to bite them later in the season. read more


Strauss investigation nearing its conclusion as mediation search continues

The investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former Ohio State doctor Richard Strauss is “nearing its conclusion,” Provost Bruce McPheron said at Ohio State’s full Board of Trustee meeting, while noting that the university is still seeking to reach mediation with accusers in federal court.Richard Strauss, a former wrestling team physician and an assistant professor of medicine, is being investigated by Ohio State on allegations of sexual misconduct. Credit: Lantern file photoMcPheron also said that counseling has been offered to alumni and will be paid for by the university. According to court documents in early February, there was disagreement between the plaintiffs in Brian Garrett et. al, v. Ohio State and Steve Snyder-Hill et. al, v. Ohio State, a pair of class-action suits led by Strauss accusers. Garrett and Snyder-Hill, the leading plaintiffs, requested former mediators of both the Penn State and Michigan State sexual abuse cases.Ohio State opposed both proposed mediators, and instead suggested a former district court chief judge and an appeals court chief mediator. The plaintiffs opposed the two, arguing that neither had experience handling sexual abuse mediations in the past.A mediation was supposed to begin within 30 days after the initial court order came in on Jan. 17, which would have been on Feb. 16. According to court documents citing a meeting of the two sides on Feb. 19, the two parties now have until March 12 to agree on a mediator.In Steve Snyder-Hill et. al v. Ohio State, the plaintiff proposed an alternate mediator in Judge Steven Rhodes if the other two are not selected. Rhodes is a retired judge who presided over the City of Detroit bankruptcy case in 2013. He has also served as mediator in a second phase of the Michigan State sexual abuse case involving Larry Nassar.Strauss, a doctor at Ohio State from 1978 to 1998, is accused of sexually abusing former student-athletes during his time as a team physician at Ohio State, as well as students while serving as an employee at Student Health Services. Ohio State investigators are also looking into claims as to whether he abused students at a private clinic after leaving the university.Strauss died by suicide in 2005. In a letter sent to 115,000 alumni in February, Ohio State said it would cover the cost of professionally certified counseling from Praesidium for any students affected by Strauss. In a past Board update, it was revealed that more than 150 individuals had come forward with allegations of misconduct from Strauss.McPheron said Friday that Praesidium is a “leader in responding to incidents of sexual abuse.”At the last full Board meeting in November, a number of accusers, including both Garrett and Snyder-Hill, spoke before the board with their stories of sexual abuse from Strauss.Ohio State opened an investigation into Strauss in April 2018 with Porter Wright Morris & Arthur serving as legal counsel to Ohio State, as appointed by then-attorney general and now-Governor Mike DeWine. The firm originally hired Bricker & Eckler to lead the investigation, but turned to Seattle-based Perkins Coie in May due to a legal conflict with Bricker & Eckler.Facing lawsuits from accusers, Ohio State has been represented by Carpenter Lipps & Leland. Ohio State attempted to have both the court cases dismissed, but Judge Michael H. Watson put both the motion to stay discovery and motion to dismiss on hold. “Ohio State remains steadfastly committed to learning about Strauss’ conduct,” McPheron said, noting that the university will address the past when the investigation is concluded and will continue to improve in the future. read more


Hamilton musical proves the golden ticket for its investors

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. When the creators of the musical Hamilton were trying to drum up money to fund the staging of the show they were initially met with incredulity.Ron Chernow, the author of a 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton, said: “When we would tell people about a hip-hop musical about the Founding Fathers, they would laugh in my face.”Who’s laughing now?Around 100 investors who agreed to put up a total of $12.5m (£9.35m) when it was being prepared for Broadway have reportedly made “unprecedented” returns of roughly 600 per cent.They now expect to reap similar profits from the London production, which opened on Thursday. Given its subject matter and hip-hop format the story of Hamilton, the first US Treasury secretary, has been an unexpected success, praised by critics and selling out on Broadway, in other US cities and, most recently, in London.Among the investors was Robert Greenblatt, the NBC Entertainment chairman, publicist Ken Sunshine, billionaire theatre mogul Len Blavatnik, the Broadway producer Brisa Trinchero and her fellow producer Amy Nederlander.   Hamilton investor Brisa Trinchero (left) at the 'Only Ever Yours' book launch party, New York, Jamael Westman as Alexander Hamilton (centre) at the newly rebuilt and restored Victoria Palace Theatre  Theatre producer and Hamilton investor Amy Nederlander Along with her fellow ‘angels’ – as theatre investors are known – she quickly recouped her investment.From mid-2015 Broadway tickets sold for $139-$549 (£104-£410), generating gross sales of about $88m (£65m). In the year to date, the New York show has grossed about $293m (£219m) .Hamilton’s initial backers were invited to put up half the funds for the London show, with the rest coming from Cameron Mackintosh, the British theatre impresario, and other local investors. Hamilton investor Brisa Trinchero (left) at the ‘Only Ever Yours’ book launch party, New York, Credit:Deitch/ But it’s not just the investors who stand to make money from the show’s improbable success.Jeffrey Seller, the lead producer, a veteran of other Broadway hits, including “Rent”, splits 42 percent of the net profits from the show with its other producers, Jill Furman and Sander Jacobs. Hamilton’s director, choreographer and orchestrator, as well as the show’s costume, lighting and sound designers, are entitled to royalties, and are all likely to make millions of dollars over the life of the show.In tune with the democratic impulse of Hamilton’s plot the profit-sharing extends not only to actors and dancers but also stage managers, who are likely to receive around $10,000 (£7,400) a year return from the Broadway production alone – a significant sum for performers who are usually paid relatively low salaries. “I went to the first workshop [of Hamilton] and I couldn’t believe what I saw,” said New York based Ms Nederlander. “I thought, this is phenomenal on so many levels and I want to be a part of it.” Jamael Westman as Alexander Hamilton (centre) at the newly rebuilt and restored Victoria Palace Theatre  But Ms Trinchero and the others were reassured by the fact Hamilton’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda had already impressed Barack and Michelle Obama when The Hamilton Mixtape, an early version of the production, was performed at the White House.Miranda developed the project into a full-length musical and Ms Trinchero and the others agreed to come on board.”If you want to be involved and somebody brings a project to you, know that you might lose that money,” says Ms Trinchero. “But know that also it’s really the only way to get in – there’s a real badge of honour for that.” Backing a musical is not without its risks, of course. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, reportedly lost investors $60m (£44m) Theatre producer and Hamilton investor Amy NederlanderCredit:Cindy Ord/Getty Images North  Americalast_img read more


Dont buy a flashy car if youre looking for a serious relationship

In his theory of evolution, Charles Darwin suggested that showy traits such as peacock feathers, which do not improve survival, must instead give a reproductive advantage for them to persist through natural selection.But a new study suggests similar ostentatious displays in humans may actually be detrimental to finding lasting love.US researchers have found that driving a flashy car, is a turn-off for both men and women who are looking for a life partner.Despite the hefty price-tag and pleasing aesthetics, both sexes when seeking a long-term relationship are unimpressed by extravagant vehicles, viewing their drivers as less reliable and more sexually promiscuous, according to the research.In fact, the study suggest that people who are seeking marriage should ditch the sports car and instead choose something sensible.It follows recent research which found that women believed Porsche Boxster owners were less likely to want a committed relationship than Honda Civic drivers.“This contrasts with the notion that men’s conspicuous resource displays are attractive to women because they reliably signal expected future resource investment in partners and especially in offspring,” said study author Dr Jessica Kruger, of the University of Buffalo.Compared to women, men have a greater tendency to conspicuously display their wealth. But a woman’s preference for such displays reflects the type of partnership she is seeking. For example physical qualities are more important when she has a brief fling in mind, while a man’s wealth is more influential when she is deciding on a suitable life partner who can provide for her children.In the new research, the psychologists aimed to find out how men’s display of wealth is interpreted by others. Researchers at the universities of Buffalo and Michigan in the US asked 233 people of both sexes to state their preferences in two different scenarios. They first read through the description of two men who were buying cars for around £20,000 and then rated them on perceived parenting skills, dating, interest in relationships and attractiveness.In the first scenario ‘Frugal Dan’ bought a new car based on efficiency and reliability, which comes under warranty for the first few years. In contrast ‘Flashy Dave’ bought a used car and spent money on new paint, bigger wheels and more powerful sound system.The results showed that on a scale of how attractive the men were for a long term relationship, Flashy Dave was only rated as 43 points out of 80, while Frugal Dan received 67 points.The researchers concluded that when a man throws money around on fancy cars, people intuitively interpret it to mean he is more interested in a short-term dalliance than a romantic commitment. Sticking to a Honda Civic might be advisable if looking for a long-term partner Credit:Paul Harmer Photography Ltd  Sticking to a Honda Civic might be advisable if looking for a long-term partner  “Participants demonstrated an intuitive understanding that men investing in the display of goods featuring exaggerated sensory properties have reproductive strategies with higher mating effort and greater interest in short-term sexual relationships, as well as lower paternal investment and interest in long-term committed romantic relationships than men investing in practical considerations,” said Dr Daniel Kruger, of the University of Michigan.The authors, who are married came up with the idea for the study while driving in their“We lived in a historic district in an inner-city area, and there was a store nearby that sold enormous car wheels and had them hanging in the window,” he added.“That was our inspiration for this study.”The research was published in Evolutionary Psychological Science. 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. read more


Police to treat gangs like terror suspects with tough new laws

Police will treat gang members like terrorism suspects if they use YouTube music videos to incite violence on the streets, under new proposals to tackle the soaring murder rates.The measures, if taken forward in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), will mean officers won’t have to prove that specific videos or social media posts were linked to an act of violence.Currently, police need evidence to specifically link them to certain crimes.The move will echo terrorism laws, as under the Terrorism Act the offence of inciting a person to commit an act of terrorism does not need to be linked to a particular attack.Commander Jim Stokley, Scotland Yard’s most senior officer responding to gang crime, told The Times “there isn’t specific legislation” for gangs, adding: “Clearly we can’t use terrorism legislation [but] in consultation with the CPS, we have found some existing legislation which we are going to use.” It comes after repeated warnings from Cressida Dick, the Met Police commissioner, who singled out Drill music, an extremely graphic form of rap, as having “a terrible effect” on gang violence.In London, more than 60 murder probes have been opened this year alone. Some cases have been linked to the genre of music on social media.Earlier this week, it was revealed that YouTube has removed more than 30 music videos at the request of the Met Police after the force linked them with gang violence. The move would be reliant on getting approval from the judiciary.Should that fail, attempts to force through a new law could be pursued through the Home Office. The murder of Dean Pascal-Modeste, 21, was fuelled by a feud between two London gangs played out over social media 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 murder of Dean Pascal-Modeste, 21, was fuelled by a feud between two London gangs played out over social mediaCredit:CENTRAL NEWS read more


Youngest ever Costa Book Prize winner Sally Rooney claims victory following Booker

Sally Rooney has become the youngest author to win the Costa Novel Award, four months after she was omitted from the Booker Prize shortlist.  The 27-year-old Irish novelist won the prize for her coming-of-age tale, Normal People, described by the Costa judges as “a trailblazing novel about modern life and love that will electrify any reader”.Miss Rooney was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year and tipped to win. But Normal People did not make the shortlist in what many saw as a snub for a novel that was both critically acclaimed and a commercial hit.Her Costa win is the latest milestone in a career that began with her first novel, Conversations With Friends, written while she studied for an MA at Trinity College Dublin. It was snapped up by a publisher in a seven-way auction.She has variously been hailed as “the first great millennial author” and “Salinger for the Snapchat generation”, and Normal People is now being adapted for BBC Three with the Oscar-winning Lenny Abrahamson as director.It is the story of an on-off romance between Marianne and Connell, who grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland and begin a tentative relationship that continues through the years. Stuart Turton won the First Novel Award for his debut, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, a crime novel. Bart van Es, a professor of English Literature at Oxford University, won the Biography Award for The Cut Out Girl, set during the Second World War. It tells the story of an eight-year-old Jewish girl taken in by his grandparents, who were members of the Dutch resistance, and examines a dark period in the history of the Netherlands.The Poetry Award went to JO Morgan for Assurance, a war poem inspired by his RAF officer father’s work in maintaining Britain’s Airborne Nuclear Deterrent, which was chosen as a Telegraph poetry book of the year. And Hilary McKay received the Children’s Book Award for The Skylark’s War, a novel of family and friendship that takes place against the backdrop of the First World War.The awards, previously known as the Whitbread Prize, are open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland and are now in their 47th year. The Costa Book Awards are divided into several categories, and the overall winner will be announced on January 29. Show more 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. read more


16 suspected migrants caught attempting to enter UK on dinghies after crossing

Last year, at least 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the same sea. So far, no suspected migrants are believed to have been killed crossing the English Channel. A group of migrants huddled in blankets after being picked up by Border Force officials Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said that so far only three of the suspected 120 migrants on-board had been found alive.Already in 2019, 83 deaths had been reported as a result of people trying to cross the Mediterranean, but that number is now much higher.  In a rush of activity on the Kent coastline on Sunday morning, the Home Office confirmed that at approximately 7:00am, Border Force received notification of a RHIB and six males on a beach at Kingsdown. The males presented themselves as Iraqi and Iranian and were transferred to immigration officials.Shortly afterwards, at 8:15am, Border Force was deployed to Warren Beach, Folkestone, after receiving reports of an unattended RHIB. No people were found in the vicinity, however two males (who presented themselves as Iranian migrants, were detained at Folkestone Police station. Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered two Border Force cutters, Protector and Seeker, to be re-deployed from overseas to the Channel on New Years Eve.In the meantime, the Royal Navy’s HMS Mersey, has been deployed to the English Channel as an interim measure to support Border Force and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in their efforts to patrol the stretch of water, keep the UK border secure and prevent loss of life. Sixteen suspected migrants on three separate vessels have been picked up by British authorities after crossing the English Channel on Sunday morning, as fears mount that more people will try to reach the UK this week.Two of the dinghies made landfall on the Kent coast, at Kingsdown and Warren, with a total of eight men presenting themselves as Iranian or Iraqi.A third boat, carrying eight men was intercepted by Border Force officials heading towards Dover and was escorted by CPV Speedwell into the port.All sixteen received a medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.The crossings are understood to have frustrated officials on both sides of the Channel, who have bolstered their presence in the busy waterway this year. Then at approximately 09.35am, Border Force intercepted an inbound vessel off the coast of Dover. The boat contained 8 males (who presented themselves as Iranian) and was escorted into the Port of Dover. The MP for Dover and Deal, Charlie Elphicke said: “The best way to stop these crossings is for migrants and traffickers to know they won’t succeed in entering the UK.”That’s why there needs to be round the clock aerial surveillance to ensure the French authorities are alerted to any small craft leaving the French coast so they can be helped safely back to France.”Only yesterday we saw a terrible tragedy in the Mediterranean. Only by taking a strong stance can we ensure tragedy is avoided in the English Channel.”The incident in the Mediterranean saw a boat carrying 120 people, including a baby, a child and a pregnant woman, sink off the coast of Libya. French authorities have sent Le Pluvier, a 25-crew navy patrol boat to the same stretch of water.The vessel is 54 metres long and can hold nearly three times as many crew as the British cutters.But despite this extra effort, questions have been asked of border officials on both sides of the Channel as to how these small dinghies continue to cross the sea undetected.There is a worry that more crossings will be attempted this week as low winds, calm seas and slightly higher temperatures are expected in the Channel.One witness said on Sunday: “It was a full moon last night and calm waters. It was an ideal night for anyone trying it.”Tonight also looks like it will be calm. I wouldn’t be surprised if more arrived again tonight and tomorrow morning.”   A group of suspected migrants were given blankets to keep warm after being rescuedCredit:Sky News A French gendarme patrols the beach in Wissant French and British authorities have stepped up their surveillance of the ChannelCredit:REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol 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. 47 migrants aboard an unflatable boat react after learning that they are being rescued by the Dutch-flagged Sea Watch 3 off Libya's coast Large numbers of migrants are still attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea from Africa to Europe. Credit:FEDERICO SCOPPA/AFP read more


Coroner criticises Army over support for soldiers after traumatised Corporal took his

It was heard the 35-year-old disappeared from his home in May last year and his body discovered in woodland after a desperate four-day search.Now, assistant coroner for West Sussex James Healey-Pratt is urging defence secretary Gavin Williamson to improve support for military personnel suffering with mental health issues.The coroner said: “Our service personnel need to be looked after and protected to a greater extent than they are.”In many ways, Danny’s tragic situation is an example of that. It’s the duty of this court to protect future people from that similar outcome.” Viv Johnston, mother of special forces hero Danny Johnston, fought back tears at his inquestCredit:Solent News & Photo Agency Viv Johnston, mother of special forces hero Danny Johnston, fought back tears at his inquest 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. A coroner has criticised the Army over ‘inadequate’ support offered to soldiers after a Corporal took his own life when he became traumatised in Afghanistan.Danny Johnston, 35, killed himself after 14 years of service which saw him deployed to war zones across the Middle East, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.Mr Johnston had been part of the UK’s elite Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), sister regiment of the famed SAS.An inquest heard the experienced soldier was traumatised by a tour in Afghanistan, leaving him unable to sleep, but the military offered him no support despite “obvious red flags” about his mental health.Mr Johnston was even discharged by the Army after he was caught secretly taking prescription drug valium to deal with his problems. Mr Johnston’s mother Viv Johnston fought back tears as Mr Healey-Pratt said he would be writing to Mr Williamson to pressure them to make changes.Representing the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Rotchell admitted the military must do more to help those suffering mental health issues.He said: “I joined the military in 1997 and the changes have been staggering from where we were then to where we are now.”But there’s still a huge amount of work to do surrounding the taboos of coming forward [for help].”Reaching a conclusion of suicide, coroner Mr Healey-Pratt said the support for Mr Johnston ‘wasn’t adequate’ and said, despite attitude changes at the MOD, more must be done to help veterans.He said: “If a special forces operative has sleeping problems, potentially due to combat tour in Afghanistan, they should feel safe and entitled to seek proper assistance without fear of jeopardising their military career.”Danny had been an effective and highly-valued member of his special forces unit the SSR. He served his Queen, he served his country, he served his regiment.”You can contact the Samaritans at 116 123 or read more


1 dead others injured in EBD accident caused by unlicenced speeding

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedMinibus driver charged with causing death of 52-y-o woman, remandedApril 16, 2018In “Court”Update: Driver in EBD fatal accident in police custodyJanuary 7, 2015In “Crime”Pedestrian dies in accident at Pearl, EBDApril 30, 2018In “Crime” Police say they are investigating a fatal accident, which occurred about 17:45hrs on Friday April 13, 2018, on Land of Canaan Public Road, East Bank Demerara (EBD), which resulted in the death of Yvonne Mohan, 52, of Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara.Initial investigations, according to the police in a statement, revealed that minibus, BWW 4542, driven by a 24-year-old unlicenced driver of Sophia, was proceeding south on the East Bank public road allegedly at a fast rate, lost control negotiating a turn, turned upside down and collided with an electrical pole.The driver along with passengers were taken to the Diamond diagnostic center, where Yvonne Mohan was pronounced dead on arrival.Two passengers were transferred to Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and admitted for injuries they sustained.The driver is in custody assisting with this investigation. read more


Cops probing shooting of GRA officers at Bee Hive

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Related Police say they are investigating a shooting incident which occurred about 21:50hrs last night at Bee Hive, ECD during which two Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Officers received gunshot injuries to their right and left hand, respectively.The Enforcement Officers received treatment at a private medical institution and were sent away. Up to this time no arrest made, the Police said in a statement.Investigations revealed that soon after the Officers arrived at a house and were making enquiries of its owner, two vehicles approached and the occupants discharged several rounds at them who adapted tactical positions and returned fire; as a result the vehicles sped away. read more


Oz Minerals makes good progress in local employment

first_imgIn an OZ* Minerals’ Century mine first, from 10-17 July 2008, all the leading hands on the Mine Operations supervisory team running the bulk waste for Panel B (crews 4, 5 and 6) were indigenous employees from the surrounding Gulf Communities. OZ Minerals Century operates under the Gulf Communities Agreement (GCA), a landmark agreement between Century Mine, the Queensland Government and the local Native Title groups whose traditional lands are affected by Century’s operations. An important part of the GCA is the commitment by OZ Minerals to train and employ local Indigenous people. The Century mine in Queensland’s remote Gulf of Carpentaria has actively recruited, trained and retained local indigenous people since the GCA was signed in 1997. The mine has devised a successful training and employment system for local indigenous people who want to work at the mine. The mine employs a greater proportion of Indigenous Australians than any other mine in Australia – up to 20% of employees being local Indigenous people.Mining operations Superintendent David Cook said, “This is a big achievement for Clayton Snow, Brenton Murray and Troy Logan. Safety and performance on their shifts were outstanding. The people who signed the original Gulf Communities Agreement had big hopes that local people would have career paths at Century. Our GCA people are really moving up into the supervisory positions now.”Gulf Communities Agreement Manager, Lloyd Jones, said, “It’s terrific to see the GCA people in Mine Ops carving out futures for themselves in this industry. Century’s achievements under the GCA are unique in the mining industry, and I’m really proud of the team.”Also, OZ Minerals Century has congratulated Northern Project Contracting (NPC) on the opening of its Mobile Mining Training School on August 14, 2008 in Brisbane. The Mobile Mining Training School will provide important training and employment opportunities for young indigenous people to participate in Queensland’s booming mining industry. NPC one of six indigenous-owned and operated businesses that was formed at, and has operated from, OZ Minerals Century mine at Lawn Hill, northwest Queensland for the past three and a half years.NPC’s mining school is modelled on the training and employment system used with local indigenous people at the Century mine.General Manager of OZ Minerals Century, John Lamb, said, “Employing Indigenous Australians in the mining industry is not an altruistic act. Our Indigenous employees give OZ Minerals Century clear competitive advantages. Local people have a deep knowledge of the land they are mining and a vested interest in caring for it. They are keen to work on country, which improves retention rates. As a remote operation, it makes sense for us to employ people who live near Century.“We wish NPC’s Mobile Mining School every success, and are keen to explore opportunities to work with them to increase our Indigenous employment and retention rates.”*OZ Minerals is a new company created by the merger of Zinifex and Oxiana read more