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Tom Bradys Statistical Place In The Pantheon Of NFL QBs

19Bob Griese+356439Matt Ryan+1865 1Joe Montana+20768021Mark Rypien+39538 6Troy Aikman+11564826Jeff Hostetler+33862 Why? Under the leverage-weighted scheme, playoff games are given an incredible amount of emphasis. Wild card games are worth about 26 times as much as the average regular season game; that multiplier becomes 51 for the divisional round, 102 for the conference championship games and a whopping 205 for the Super Bowl (you can read more about this math at the end of the post).Because of the extreme weighting given to playoff games, Brady loses ground to Montana, whose three best Super Bowls were each at least 47 adjusted yards of value better than any of Brady’s Super Bowls. (Montana’s worst Super Bowl was also better than three of Brady’s Super Bowls.) Warner also gets a massive boost from his Super Bowl performances in 2000 and 2009 — the latter of which ranks as the single-best passing game of the Super Bowl era after adjusting for the strength of opponent and the leverage of the game — in addition to big games at lower rungs of the playoff ladder. Adding in the postseason hurts Brady.So, is Brady the best all of time? At his regular-season peak, he might very well be. And if he has a few more great seasons, he could pass Manning on career value over average. But for now, Montana reigns supreme among Super Bowl-era QBs when playoff performance is included in the calculations.Here’s how the math works out: The average regular-season game moves a team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl by about 0.24 percentage points. That’s because every team starts out with a 1 in 32 chance of winning it all, which inevitably moves to either zero (for the 20 teams who miss the playoffs) or 1 in 12 ( for playoff teams) once all 16 games are played. Meanwhile, the Super Bowl swings each team’s chances by 50 percent — either up from 50-50 to 100 percent, or down to zero. 19Daryle Lamonica+4287939Bob Griese+19743 13Roger Staubach+530333Phil Simms+2161 4Joe Montana+795124Daryle Lamonica+3008 6Aaron Rodgers+754526Jim Kelly+2669 18Boomer Esiason+394438Mark Brunell+1935 11Ben Roethlisberger+561531Joe Namath+2371 7Fran Tarkenton+742127Carson Palmer+2620 7Brett Favre+10093527Jim McMahon+32416 13Aaron Rodgers+6203133Donovan McNabb+23794 15Roger Staubach+5680335Joe Theismann+23474 QUARTERBACKWEIGHTED VALUEQUARTERBACKWEIGHTED VALUE QUARTERBACKREG. SEASON VALUEQUARTERBACKREG. SEASON VALUE 20Dan Marino+4023640Joe Namath+19573 17Jake Delhomme+4812337Matt Hasselbeck+22607 17John Elway+430037Daunte Culpepper+1936 2Kurt Warner+14377922Phil Simms+38564 9Drew Brees+686329Jeff Garcia+2442 8Ken Anderson+712628Roman Gabriel+2564 Of course, any good ranking of quarterbacks should also give credit for performance in the playoffs, and Brady’s trump card over Manning has always been the postseason. But here’s where the twist comes in: After crediting playoff passing value over average (according to the same formula described above) with weight given to each game according to how much it changes a team’s probability of winning the Super Bowl relative to the average regular season game — a form of leverage index for the importance of football games — Brady passes Manning but is surpassed by two others: Joe Montana and our old friend Kurt Warner: 14Bart Starr+6197034Dan Fouts+23589 18Russell Wilson+4311838Randall Cunningham+20142 16Joe Flacco+5043836Erik Kramer+23353 3Tom Brady+13135523Eli Manning+38401 4Terry Bradshaw+12641024Ken Anderson+37520 14Philip Rivers+520434Bart Starr+2155 15Brett Favre+502035Troy Aikman+2071 10Dan Fouts+686330Matt Schaub+2379 8Drew Brees+8710528Doug Williams+29832 10John Elway+7059330Mark Sanchez+28016 9Steve Young+7104529Len Dawson+28991 12Ken Stabler+6337232Philip Rivers+24280 11Jim Plunkett+6547731Bernie Kosar+25207 3Dan Marino+1035423John Hadl+3094 A vast amount of column space was spent this week debating whether Tom Brady had finally ascended to No. 1 in the all-time pantheon of quarterbacking greatness. (Many of the articles argued that, yes, Brady is now the best ever.)These assessments leaned heavily on the fact that Brady is tied with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most Super Bowl victories of any quarterback. But even Patriots fans have to acknowledge that “count the rings” isn’t the most nuanced argument in the world. So, what do the numbers say about Brady’s legacy?The common narrative is that early-career Brady wasn’t a statistical monster, to the point that his playoff wins over Peyton Manning in 2003 and 2004 were held up as victories for clutch, gritty winners everywhere. But the truth is that, in addition to his gaudy record as a postseason starter, Brady was one of the league’s top five to 10 regular-season quarterbacks statistically even before his transformation into a passing efficiency god in 2007.In other words, the “clutch game manager” phase of Brady’s career was never as game manager-y as his detractors made it out to be. And ever since, he’s been as efficient a regular-season QB as any in NFL history.To measure QB performance, I used Chase Stuart’s formula for passing value, which compares a quarterback’s adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) to the league average after adjusting for home-field advantage, weather effects and strength of schedule. By that metric, the late-career version of Brady owns practically every stretch of the best consecutive peak passing regular seasons in the Super Bowl era:Now, some of that is due to sheer passing volume; while shorter schedules have been prorated to 16 games, today’s passers drop back so much more often per game than their predecessors did that they have more chances to add value. Even so, Brady’s stats have risen far above those of his peers (including Manning) during the peak of his career once all the aforementioned adjustments are made.In terms of total career regular season value, however, Brady does not rank No. 1 among Super Bowl era quarterbacks — his 11,921 adjusted yards of value over average ranks second to Manning’s 13,791-yard mark: 12Tony Romo+540632Jim Hart+2303 20Len Dawson+354640Bert Jones+1852 5Steve Young+785425Donovan McNabb+2837 16Kurt Warner+434436John Brodie+1978 1Peyton Manning+1379121Trent Green+3512 5Peyton Manning+12247425Colin Kaepernick+35337 2Tom Brady+1192122Sonny Jurgensen+3145 read more

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The Patriots Look Finished So They Will Probably Win The Super Bowl

CAR63CAR56CAR 31, CIN 21-7.3– 20024-5SD, MIA-56.9 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. 201512-13DEN, PHI-66.9 The worst two-game spells in the Belichick/Brady eraThe biggest declines in Elo rating after two consecutive games for the Patriots, 2000-18 200917-18HOU, BAL-65.3 JAX71JAX77TEN 9, JAX 6-11.2– MIN78MIN90BUF 27, MIN 6-20.9– 20083-5MIASF-66.1 NE64NE75DET 26, NE 10-17.2– PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.ResultREADERS’ NET Points Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 3Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 3 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game 20182-3JAX, DET-66.7 MIA68MIA60MIA 28, OAK 20-7.6– BAL68BAL59BAL 27, DEN 14-8.8– OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION The sky is falling in New England. The arm of Tom Brady suddenly seems every bit of 41 years old, with the future Hall of Famer unable to find receivers deep downfield as in years past. The Patriots have a losing record in the early season, and the obituaries are being written.If this feels like deja vu all over again, you’re not wrong. Brady was viewed as over the hill around this time in 2014, too. And the experts were also playing taps on the Patriots dynasty. The specific reason cited for Brady’s decline back then? An inability to throw the ball deep.Of course, we all know what happened next. The Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick responded to the panic after a 41-14 Monday night loss to the Chiefs in 2014’s Week 4 with the mantra, “We’re on to Cincinnati.” The Patriots won that game 43-17 and their next six, too, en route to winning the Super Bowl. From that week in 2014 through the end of the 2017 season, Brady was above average in both yards per attempt and Raw Quarterback Rating on deep throws.Eventually,1We assume. Brady’s NFL career and the Patriots’ dynasty actually will come to an end. Though we can’t know for sure when that will happen, we should pay attention when they struggle — even if we can’t write them off quite yet. What’s happened in the past two weeks is unusual for the Pats and warrants more than just a shrug as New England prepares to host the unbeaten Dolphins, the first of three straight games in Foxborough.The Patriots’ Elo rating sits at 1589 after their shocking 26-10 thumping at the hands of Detroit on Sunday night, which came on the heels of a 31-20 loss in Week 2 at Jacksonville. The last time New England’s number was this low was after that 2014 loss to the Chiefs. The Patriots have dropped 66.7 points since the 1656 they hit after their Week 1 victory at home against the Texans, who are still winless. That’s the fourth biggest two-week drop in Elo for the Patriots during the Belichick era.2 Since 2000. The three times the Belichick Pats experienced a bigger two-week drop carry asterisks. The biggest occurred at the end of 2015, when the Pats closed the season with two straight losses long after clinching the division. The next biggest drop happened earlier that season, after the team was 10-0 and reached its second-highest Elo mark in the past five seasons before dropping games to Denver and Philadelphia. The third biggest drop was in 2008 after Week 1 — when Brady blew out his ACL and was replaced by Matt Cassel for rest of the season.At a shocking 3-0, the Dolphins seem to be moving squarely in the opposite direction, setting up a rare opportunity for a team other than the Patriots to put a stranglehold on the AFC East. But Miami’s jump of 47.5 points over the past two weeks is just its 17th best since 2000. The Dolphins have been fortunate of late, being outgained from scrimmage by 105 yards against the Jets and 61 against the Raiders. The Dolphins’ 39 plays from scrimmage in the win over the Raiders are less than all but three teams since the 1970 merger.“Are we there yet? No,” Miami QB Ryan Tannehill said after the game. “But the patterns we’re establishing are going to take us there.”Brady will hope to get Josh Gordon on the field against Miami to rescue a passing game that’s bereft of weapons, which is allowing teams to fearlessly devote multiple defenders to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gordon once was one of the most explosive players in NFL history. But the fact that the best hope for New England’s offense is Gordon, a player who has been suspended or injured for all but 11 games since his historic 2013 campaign, seems uncharacteristically desperate for the Patriots. Julian Edelman is set to return after Week 4 following a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, but Edelman is 32 and coming off an ACL injury. If he can somehow return to form, his chain-moving ability will go a long way toward improving the Patriots’ 29th ranking in third down conversions (28.6 percent).But let’s not forget that the Patriots have issues on the other side of the ball, too. The defense has recorded just four sacks, has allowed an alarming 4.7 yards per rushing attempt and is 30th in third-down conversion rate allowed. Finishing near the bottom on both sides of the ball in third down efficiency would be unprecedented for the Brady-Belichick Patriots.A trademark for New England has been efficiency. In the NFL, that’s measured by converting yards into points and preventing the opponent from doing the same. This year, the Pats are middle of the pack on both offense and defense. Since 2013, they haven’t finished worse than seventh in offensive or defensive efficiency. (The offensive efficiency average across the NFL this year is 15.2 yards per point; it was 15.4 yards per point in 2017.) Red zone efficiency (13th on offense, eighth on defense), turnover differential (they’re even this year) and special teams success all play a part in boosting those numbers. These subtle strengths that have been a New England trademark are lacking thus far in 2018.The bigger problem is the lack of quality players. Some of this is their own fault, having traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams for a first-round pick. With Brady at 41 and the window to win closing, the Patriots should be the team trading first-round picks for veteran talent, not vice versa. Cooks, meanwhile, is fifth in the NFL with 336 receiving yards, or 71 more than all of Brady’s wide receivers have managed combined.In fairness to Brady, this situation is like someone took all the gadgets away from Bruce Wayne and then asked him to go out and still be Batman.But this wouldn’t be the first time that Belichick the GM was saved by Belichick the Hall of Fame coach. Perhaps struggling rookie running back Sony Michel can turn into a dangerous weapon. Brady could certainly figure out a way to build a passing game around Gronkowski and someone else. Heck, some were writing Brady off at the end of last season, only to see him post arguably his best postseason ever, with 1,132 passing yards in three games and eight TD passes with zero picks. It’s easy to imagine that when the regular season is done, the Patriots are again about to host a playoff game.FiveThirtyEight vs. the readersIn addition to our NFL Elo prediction interactive, which updates after every game to help you keep tabs on how your team stacks up, we’re also running a prediction game in which you make picks against our model (and your fellow readers). After the dust settles each week, we like to look at where Elo made its best — and worst — picks against the field. Here’s how it did in Week 3: 20025-6MIA, GB-64.1 ARI55%CHI63%CHI 16, ARI 14+14.7– LAR64LAR70LAR 35, LAC 23+2.2– SeasonWeeksLossWin2-Week Drop HOU59HOU62NYG 27, HOU 22-5.2– TB54TB52PIT 30, TB 27-0.9– Pats’ Results vs. SEA55SEA51SEA 24, DAL 13-5.2– NYJ62CLE51CLE 21, NYJ 17+11.4– 200215-16TEN, NYJ-64.0 PHI83PHI76PHI 20, IND 16-5.1– KC77KC76KC 38, SF 27-2.6– 20082-3MIANYJ-66.8 201516-17NYJ, MIA-73.0 Elo steamrolled through the week based on the losses from a pair of 1-1-1 teams from the NFC North.3Yes, the Vikings and Packers have the same record as the Browns. Let that sink in. Minnesota was a 16½-point favorite over hapless Buffalo, and our readers agreed with Vegas, giving the Vikings a win probability of 90 percent. But the Vikings found a new way to disappoint their fans, losing in “embarrassing” fashion to the Bills. Meanwhile, Green Bay went to soggy Washington and couldn’t get anything going, losing 31-17. Elo picked up 40.4 total points over the readers on just those two games — more than half of the 73.9 total points by which Elo beat a typical reader in Week 3.The readers weren’t shut out, though. They had more faith in Khalil Mack and upstart Chicago than Elo did, giving the Bears a 63 percent chance to beat the Cardinals, compared with Elo’s 55 percent. The readers also believed that Cleveland could finally win its first game since 2016, picking the Browns over the Jets. Those two games generated 26.1 total points for the readers.Congrats to reader Randy Renick, who led all identified users in points for Week 2; Renick is just behind Michel Rodriguez for the season lead. And thanks to everyone who played last week. If you didn’t play, remember that it’s not too late to get in on the game, even if you missed the first few weeks of the season. Make your picks now!Check out our latest NFL predictions. WSH57GB60WSH 31, GB 17-19.5– ATL66ATL57NO 43, ATL 37+9.3– 20026-8GB, DEN-63.8 Three-week stretches include a bye week for New England. Week 18 of 2009 was a playoff game.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com read more

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James Harden Gets Fouled On 3s More Than Any NBA Team

James Harden has become an occupational hazard for referees. Earlier this month, the Jazz were up seven on the Rockets with just over a minute to play, and Utah players were at their wit’s end with the officials. Following a signal that the Jazz had committed yet another foul, Joe Johnson threw his right hand up in disgust. Rudy Gobert shook his head in disbelief. Rodney Hood, who was charged with the foul, looked for a ref with whom he could plead. Joe Ingles had both palms out, confused as to how so little contact could prompt a call.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/jazz4thfoulagainstharden.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The whistle marked the fourth time that night that Utah had been charged with fouling Harden in the act of shooting a 3-pointer. And while that might sound unbelievable, it wasn’t even the first time this season that the MVP frontrunner had drawn four shooting fouls from the arc in a game.1He also drew four shooting fouls while attempting 3-pointers during a Dec. 31 victory over the Knicks.Harden has long been great at drawing fouls no matter where he is on the court, but he has taken the art form to new heights on his 3-point attempts this season. After drawing 27 fouls while trying to shoot a triple in 2014-15 and inducing 46 such fouls last season,2According to Basketball-Reference.com’s Play Index. Harden has drawn a whopping 108 shooting fouls from distance this year with 11 games left to play. For context, consider that, outside of the Rockets, no team has garnered more than 73 of those calls.3Amazingly, if you limit Harden to just the 12 games in which he drew at least three 3-point shooting fouls, his 38 fouls drawn in those contests would outpace 21 teams’ totals for the season so far.If you subtract Harden’s numbers from the rest of the league’s, the average NBA player has drawn fouls on 1.6 percent of his 3-pointers this season, according to BigDataBall, which tracks the league’s play-by-play logs. Harden is drawing 3-point shooting fouls at a 16.7 percent clip, or more than 10 times as often. How is he so good at this? PLAYER/TEAMSHOOTING FOULS DRAWN ON 3-POINT ATTEMPTS James Harden: This season’s MVP of drawing 3-point shooting fouls Russell WestbrookOKC482224.6 Lou WilliamsHOU3925012.8 Stephen CurryGSW682223.2 Mike ConleyMEM346236.6 Isaiah ThomasBOS550224.0 “As an opponent, no, I don’t admire it,” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony told reporters when asked about Harden’s tactics. “As a fan, [I] admire it. Because we as offensive guys, guys who like to score, always try to find tricks that can work in our favor. He found something that’s working for him. So no, as an opponent, I hate it.” (I asked a league spokesman about this issue as it relates to Harden — particularly since the NBA stopped awarding shooting fouls for a similar rip-through move years ago — but he said it’s against league policy to discuss how a particular player is officiated.)Harden isn’t oblivious to the perception that he draws more shooting fouls than he probably should. But the crafty guard makes no apologies, either, saying a defender making contact on a jump shot should merit a foul just like someone bumping a shooter near the basket would. “A foul is a foul no matter how it’s committed,” he told Time in a Q&A this season.Sometimes Harden’s strategy backfires in embarrassing fashion, as he’ll incorrectly anticipate contact and throw up a wild shot in hopes of drawing a foul that never comes.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/hardenflailing.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/hardenflailing4.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.But more often than not, it’s been a worthwhile gamble for Harden and the Rockets to go for the foul. That’s become even more true in the past month, since Houston traded for Lou Williams, the player who’s drawn the second-most 3-point shooting fouls in the NBA this season — trailing, of course, only Harden. I asked Houston general manager Daryl Morey about having both of the league’s top two guys in such an odd category, and he said he and others in the Rockets’ front office had noticed Williams’s unusual ability to draw contact from the perimeter, but that it wasn’t the overriding reason they made the swap with the Lakers.“We knew that both Lou and James are extremely good shooters that are hard to guard. So, going over the screen and being physical with them is one of the only ways to guard them, which causes them to get fouled more than others,” Morey said. “That said, we focused more on their overall efficiency than how people have to foul them to stop them.”Teams will do their best to stop Harden from using the trick once the postseason starts. But if last year’s playoffs are any indication, that may not work, either: Harden drew five whistles on just 42 3-point attempts. Three of those fouls came in one half, in a game against the Warriors.Neil Paine assisted with research for this story.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Nicolas BatumCHA347246.9 Harden has drawn more 3-point shooting fouls than any other NBA team PLAYERTEAM3PT ATTEMPTS3PT FOULS DRAWN3PT FOUL RATE Kemba WalkerCHA502244.8 Damian LillardPOR484255.2 Jeff TeagueIND2012210.9 Harden plays on the Rockets, who have drawn 132 total shooting fouls, including his 108. Stats are for the 2016-17 season as of March 21.Source: BigDataBall Hornets68 Trailblazers41 Goran DragicMIA248249.7 James Harden108 Lakers73 Stats as of March 21. Restricted to players who drew at least 20 fouls on 3-point attempts.Source: BigDataBall Raptors52 James HardenHOU64710816.7% The Rockets star has a couple patterns he uses to consistently get these calls. Unlike Jamal Crawford, who has drawn dozens of perimeter shooting fouls as players barrel into his legs during close-outs, Harden would seem to be the one initiating contact on many of his fouls.In particular, Harden has found a way to turn even solid, respectable defenders into victims. He generally waits until his man puts a hand up to defend, then locks arms with him and jumps to begin a shot, making the defender appear guilty. Harden basically forces perimeter defenders to play with their hands down along the 3-point line.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/harden4.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/harden101.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Back on New Year’s Eve, Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek vented about this after a loss in Houston, saying it’s impossible to defend Harden given his ability to trick officials. “He grabs with his left arm, has the ball in the right hand and wraps his left arm with your hand,” said Hornacek, whose team fouled Harden from 3-point range four times4He drew all four of them in an 18-minute span during the second half. that night while Harden racked up a 53 points, 16 rebounds and 17 assists. “To me, that’s an offensive foul. But he does it fast, quick — it’s hard to see.”Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/usethisharden16.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The other thing Harden does well: Stop on a dime and pop jumpers just as he’s navigating around screens. That trick makes life hell for the defenders who are sprinting to go over the pick to stay with him. Harden’s world-class ability to stop abruptly means that defenders frequently can’t hit the brakes as quickly as he can, which leads to players running into him from behind, prompting 3-shot fouls. This has been especially true this season, as defenders have tried to stay on Harden’s hip more than usual5Defenses have been guarding Harden more and more closely over the past four years. Opponents have been within four feet of him for 65 percent of his shots this season, up from 51, 61 and 62 percent, respectively, during the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, according to NBA.com. to prevent him from spraying the ball wherever he wants in Houston’s spacious offense. Kyle LowryTOR444306.8 Pacers51 Eric BledsoePHX309237.4 read more

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Cleveland Has Taken The FlyBall Revolution To The Next Level

Kyle Seager182090.0 PlayerPulled HRTotal HRPulled HR % And then 2018: Mike Trout173056.7 Ryon Healy172373.9 Manny Machado182864.3 Maikel Franco192095.0 Source: Fangraphs Rhys Hoskins172568.0 Asdrubal Cabrera2020100.0 Alex Bregman182475.0 Jose Ramirez is baseball’s pull power kingMLB leaders in pulled home runs, along with the share of their total home runs that reflects Here’s Lindor’s swing density map in 2018: Edwin Encarnacion162564.0 Francisco Lindor182962.1 Mike Moustakas202290.9 Eugenio Suarez182864.3 Ramirez, Alex Bregman,5Another emerging undersized, pull-side power threat. Rosario, Carpenter and Betts rank first through fifth in total volume of air balls yanked to their pull side. Their averages on those balls are .593, .500, .600, .649 and .660, respectively. Lindor ranks 14th in volume with a .634 average.“Even though we are not big, it’s something we develop when we get to this level,” Rosario said of pull power. “I think when you feel comfortable at this level, power [develops].”In an era when so many have screamed out at the television for a player to hit the ball the other way, avoiding a defensive shift by pulling the ball — in the air — is the optimum path to offensive efficiency. It allows slap-hitting middle infielders to become MVP candidates.One reason that the Indians don’t preach about launch angle is Cleveland hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo’s philosophy that contact point largely takes care of that. While the launch angles of Lindor and Ramirez have changed dramatically since 2016, for them, it’s the byproduct of timing and leverage, of catching the ball out farther in front of the plate.“If you use the lower half correctly, and sequence the plane correctly, you don’t have to worry about launch angle,” Van Burkleo said. “Contact point is going to dictate launch angle. … If you contact the ball deeper, [the bat] plane is flatter. If you catch it out front, your plane is getting more on line with the ball.The numbers support this. Sportvision analyst Graham Goldbeck found for FanGraphs last August that home run probability is maximized about 10 inches in front of home plate. And to pull a ball, the bat almost always has to make contact out in front of home plate. At that contact point, the barrel is typically going to be on the way up in any swing path.“The barrel is going to drop” after the start of the swing, Lindor said. “It’s heavy. It’s going to drop no matter what.“That’s gravity. I focus on contact point. Launch angle then takes care of itself.”This explains the propensity of these hitters to rip the ball down the foul line — but only partially. Last Friday, facing Baltimore pitcher David Hess, Ramirez did something he has done so often this season: He took a fastball and pulled it into the right-field seats. It was his 37th home run of the season.Lindor and Ramirez — actually the Indians in general — avoid talking about “launch angle,” which has become part of the baseball vernacular since the launch of Statcast in 2015. What they do talk about is contact point.For decades, hitting coaches have talked about using the “big part” of the ballpark, going “gap to gap,” using the “whole field.” And in today’s game, with defenses shifting the infield more than ever, you might think hitters are increasingly incentivized to avoid pulling the ball. But Ramirez and Lindor (and Betts and Carpenter and others like Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks) are trying to pull the ball. They are trying to hook and yank pitches down the line for extra-base hits and home runs. After all, the shortest distance to record a home run is down the line.Of fly balls hit to the pull side this season in the majors, 32.7 percent have become home runs, according to FanGraphs. To center field? Just 8 percent. And the opposite field? Just a 3.8 percent HR/FB ratio.Lindor knows this. Before his locker at Progressive Field last week, wearing black sweats and white tennis shoes, he held an imaginary bat in his hand. Lindor mimicked where he wanted his contact point to be — out in front of the plate. That’s where his power is.Lindor noted that he and Ramirez are far from the strongest players on the team. Ramirez ranks 126th in average exit velocity of fly balls and line drives (93 mph) in the majors,4Among players with a minimum of 150 batted balls. according to Baseball Savant leaderboards. Lindor ranks 77th (94.3 mph). Yet they might combine for 80 home runs this season.Lindor, and particularly Ramirez and Betts, have become masters at lifting and pulling. Ramirez’s pull rate on fly balls and line drives rose from 28.5 percent in 2016 to 38.8 percent last season, and it’s at 44.7 percent this season, ranking third in the majors. Ramirez leads all hitters in total volume of line drives and fly balls hit to the pull side. Ramirez also tied Betts for the lead in the majors in pulled line drives and fly balls last season. Lindor ranked ninth. They seem to be reading from the same developmental plan.“We talk,” Lindor said, breaking into his iconic ear-to-ear smile. “[Ramirez] helps me, I help him.”Ramirez has hit 31 of his 37 home runs to the pull side, first in the majors. Carpenter is second, hitting 23 of his 34 home runs to his pull side. Betts is third. Lindor? Eighteen pull-side homers, good for 11th. Didi Gregorius192286.4 Joey Gallo193259.3 Mookie Betts222781.5 CLEVELAND — Few players have changed their profiles as dramatically as Francisco Lindor.As a minor league prospect, Lindor was not the masher who currently sits atop the Cleveland Indians’ lineup. While he was still the fluid and graceful athlete at shortstop that he is today, he was a completely different player at the plate. He lunged at pitches outside the zone. He often made weak contact. When evaluating Lindor as a minor league hitter, scouts typically capped his power potential between 15 and 20 home runs — something fitting for his slight, 5-foot-11 frame.To the left of Lindor in the Cleveland infield this season is an even more unlikely MVP candidate. As a minor league shortstop, the 5-foot-9 Jose Ramirez never hit more than five home runs at any stop. While Lindor was a first-round pick, it wasn’t clear if Ramirez could be a major league regular if and when Lindor pushed him off shortstop to another more bat-dependent position. Ramirez was never a top 100 prospect.In their first couple of years in the majors, neither showed a hint of extreme power potential. Then, a year ago, something happened. Lindor smashed 33 homers in his third season, and Ramirez hit 29 in his fourth.1Of at least 100 plate appearances. This year, Ramirez trails only J.D. Martinez in home runs, and Lindor is 11th in the league.While Martinez is one of many players who have made well-documented swing changes with the goal of lifting the ball in the air, he has always had a big frame and underlying raw power. Among the 336 hitters who have hit at least 25 fly balls this season, Martinez ranks fifth in average fly-ball distance at 350 feet.2Through Aug. 19. He can hit the ball out to all fields. Lindor and Ramirez, though, do not possess such elite raw power. The are tied, ranked 92nd, in average fly-ball distance (328 feet). They have to better direct the balls they do hit in the air to maximize their power.Lindor and Ramirez are also two of the unlikeliest sluggers in the game because of their size. In baseball history, there have been 335 individual seasons of 40 or more homers by 146 different players. Only 17 players 5-foot-11 or shorter have hit 40 home runs in a major league season, according to Baseball-Reference.com. If he hits just three more homers, Ramirez will tie Roy Campanella (1953) and Mel Ott (1929) for second on the list of shortest players to reach 40 homers in a season.3The shortest player? The 5-foot-6 Hack Wilson (1930). Their power-to-size output is even more impressive as players have gotten taller and stronger.“Nobody thought I could do this,” Ramirez told ESPN. “I was too small.”Said Indians assistant general manager Carter Hawkins: “My sense is there was one guy who felt this was going to happen, and that was Jose.”The Indians’ diminutive duo isn’t alone in smashing expectations this season. At 5-foot-9, Boston’s Mookie Betts (27 home runs) is also one of the slightest sluggers in major league history. And though he’s taller, at 6-foot-3, St. Louis’s Matt Carpenter has transformed from an on-base-focused player to one leading the National League in home runs. Those players and others all fit a specific mold, sharing traits that have allowed them to become unlikely sluggers.These players represent the next generation of the Fly-Ball Revolution. While the first stage is to get the ball up in the air, the next and more important step for many hitters is to get to the pull side. Elite contact hitters are learning to raise their offensive profiles, learning that it’s OK to be pull-happy. Some of the game’s smallest players are becoming home run kings. Matt Carpenter233467.6 Jose Ramirez313783.8% One challenge in today’s game for scouts — and projection forecasts — is evaluating future power grades. Power jumps can now seemingly materialize out of nowhere. How do you forecast the next Ramirez? FiveThirtyEight spoke to one NL evaluator who described Ramirez’s trajectory as the most baffling development story of his scouting career.It isn’t just human evaluators. Projection forecasts didn’t buy in to Ramirez or Lindor as power hitters even after their 2017 breakouts. FanGraphs projected Ramirez to hit 20 home runs this year in its preseason forecast. Baseball Prospectus forecast 13. For Lindor, those projections were 24 and 21.“The main thing for me is athleticism,” said the NL evaluator. “You have to have the hand-eye and feel for the strike zone.”Lindor and Ramirez were, and remain, elite contact hitters. They can contact the ball at will and manipulate the barrel and contact point. Since 2016, they have made contact on swings at pitches in the zone at a rate of at least 91.1 percent, ranking in the top fifth of qualified major league hitters.The trait suggests that of baseball’s five tools — hit, run, throw, power, field — the “hit” tool is now of even greater importance. The hit tool, more than ever, dictates how the power tool with develop.“It’s easier for you to go from [contact focus] to the other side, to pulling,” Lindor said.The Indians are placing more weight on contact hitting when working with their prospects, with the idea that they can teach power. Like many teams, the Indians have technology that can capture exit velocities and launch angles in their minor league stadiums and batting cages. Such tools help the teaching and skill-acquisition process. If the hit tool is in place, those tools can help build power.“What’s old is new,” Hawkins said. “I think if you ask any evaluator or coach and said, ‘Hey, would you prefer a guy who can hit the ball 500 feet or a guy that can square up any ball that is in the zone?’ They are taking the later.“It’s not like [power development] didn’t happen prior to it being able to be measured [via Statcast]. There were guys that were tapping into power later in their careers in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, we just didn’t have the launch angle measurements, exit velocity measurements. I think one commonality between all those guys [like Ramirez, Lindor and Betts] is they control the zone really well. None of them are high-strikeout guys. They are extremely low-strikeout guys. They are swinging at pitches they can [damage].”Perhaps the team that has turned high-contact, low-power middle infielders Ramirez and Lindor into power-hitting superstars is on to something. Maybe there’s a road map for hitters of any size in how to go from good to great.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Then consider a data-density map of Ramirez’s swings against fastballs from 2016: Eddie Rosario172277.3 The World Series champion Houston Astros have developed a teamwide philosophy of only offering at the pitches they can damage. The Indians preach something similar.“If it’s a pitch you can’t get your body into a leveraged position [to hit], then you probably want to take it early in the count, or when you are ahead in the count,” Van Burkleo said.For so long, “covering the whole plate” was considered an important hitting characteristic. It was something that was taught to Lindor as a younger player.“Yeah, that’s when I was a slap hitter,” Lindor said with a smirk. “When I try and cover the whole plate, that’s when I get in trouble. … I can cover the whole plate if I want to. I can put the ball in play any time I want. That’s not going to do any good for me or the team.”Lindor is now eschewing pitches he cannot drive. He is becoming more disciplined. He is focused on attacking pitches — often fastballs — he can damage.“I don’t want to cover the whole plate,” he said.When explaining what led to home runs in post-game press conferences this season, Ramirez has often quipped to reporters, “home run pitch.” While Ramirez hasn’t been willing to divulge changes to his approach, he has become better able to hammer pitches he wants to hit.It’s similar to a concept that Reds great Joey Votto defines as pitch funneling — being so patient and discerning that the pitcher eventually gives the batter the pitch he wants to hit. The overall swing rates for Lindor and Ramirez have dropped. They have concentrated their swings in certain zones. They have better avoided getting out in front and rolling over off-speed pitches for ground balls or making weak contact at out-of-zone pitches. They are now two of the best fastball hitters in the game. They hunt fastballs and crush them.Consider a Baseball Savant data-density map, indicating where a batter swings most often, of Lindor’s swings against fastballs from 2016. The rectangular outline represents the batter’s strike zone. Evan Gattis212487.5 Of course, such a transformation is easier said than done. While most ground balls are pulled (hence the proliferation of shifts), fly balls are distributed more equally, with a slight tendency to the opposite field. How do you identify which players can make the leap to launching and pulling? Travis Shaw192576.0 read more

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Being A WNBA Center Is Harder Than Ever So Sylvia Fowles Adapted

It’s a tough season to be a center in the WNBA.Foul calls are down significantly, dropping by 1.4 fouls per game from 2018. But the “big” bigs — the best fives the league has to offer — have been hit especially hard. Through 32 games, the number of free-throw attempts by Liz Cambage of the Las Vegas Aces, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury and Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx is down 37 percent.The results have been evident. Griner, tired of taking so much uncalled contact, was involved in an altercation last month that resulted in a three-game suspension. Cambage described it, in an interview earlier this summer, this way: “I don’t really see myself playing into my 30s because I don’t want to go to war.” Cambage is still having an elite season, but her overall production is down from last year — her field-goal percentage has fallen from 58.9 to 49.3 percent while her true shooting percentage has dropped from 64.3 to 55.2 percent.But Fowles, through a combination of inter- and intraseason adaptations, has kept her production remarkably consistent. Her career field-goal percentage is 59.3 percent. This season, her field-goal percentage is … 59.1 percent.Another year, same Syl. At age 33, Fowles is this generation’s greatest center, trailing only Lauren Jackson among centers in career Win Shares, but she doesn’t get enough appreciation, to hear her coach and teammates tell it.“Syl reminds me of myself, like no one recognizes her greatness,” said Fowles’s current Lynx and former LSU teammate Seimone Augustus. “But she continues to just get better, year after year. I mean, at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done and she retires, I think people are going to look back and go, ‘Wow.’”By the catch-all stat Win Shares, Fowles has quietly amassed more value than anyone else in the WNBA over the past three seasons. Elena Delle Donne, Griner and Cambage may get more headlines, but only Fowles has more than 20 win shares since the start of the 2017 season. No one else has cracked 19.But while the statistics — at least the topline numbers — would indicate that Fowles is simply the same great center she’s been since her rookie season in Chicago back in 2008, a closer look at how she’s been scoring her points in 2019 reveals the change she made to enhance her game.Fowles is 19-for-34 on shots 15 to 19 feet away from the basket, a 55.9 percent clip that ranks her among this season’s elite midrange shooters. For reference, Fowles was 2-for-6 from that distance in 2018.That didn’t happen by accident. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve told Fowles in their exit meeting at the end of 2018 that she wanted her to diversify her game, and Fowles worked with Lynx assistant Walt Hopkins all offseason. The daily routine was punishing: Fowles would shoot at the rim, in the paint, from the free-throw and three-point lines, and couldn’t advance to the next spot until she made five in a row, all swishes.Her success this season from all over the court has actually helped Fowles focus on her original strength — that endless array of post moves — and not settle for the jumpers she’s now sinking routinely.“I have to make sure it doesn’t take away what I do best,” Fowles said. “I have to make sure I don’t get too relaxed and shoot jumpers. When I’m open, I shoot. But when I’m not, it’s making sure I do what I used to do, and that’s going to the rim.”But even Fowles acknowledged a frustration with how much harder it has been to earn foul-line trips through contact. Fowles has gotten more than four free-throw attempts in a game just six times all season. In 2018, she shot more than four free throw attempts in 17 of 34 games.I asked Sue Blauch, the WNBA’s head of referee performance and development, about the reduction in both free-throw attempts originating out of the paint and player frustration with it. She acknowledged the decrease in offensive efficiency in the league this season and said “everyone should dig deep and explore” what might be the cause. “We certainly looked at our play-calling data and have addressed any contribution that officiating may have had,” she said.Refs across the WNBA did seem to take note of recent league office guidance. Before July’s All-Star break, the average number of fouls per game was 33.2. Since then, fouls are up to 37.3 per game — an increase of 12.3 percent. That shift toward more fouls in the paint required another adjustment for Fowles, who was sent to the bench early in several games with foul trouble herself.“Now everything’s a foul fest, the last couple of games it’s a foul fest, we have to adjust to that,” Reeve said after a Minnesota win in New York on Aug. 13. “All of a sudden there’s an about-face about how it’s being officiated. And so I told Syl, I said, ‘No complaints now. You know, you gotta get yourself to the foul line.’ Some of it is being patient and not racing through the move, give a defender a chance to foul you, type of thing. So I think she’s got to be a little more poised in the post.”It isn’t easy. Fowles said she huddled with Cambage and Griner during All-Star weekend in Las Vegas about how to handle all the physical abuse. She laughed when asked if she meditates.“Oh, yes,” Fowles said. “I meditate. I talk to therapists. It gets frustrating.” But she doesn’t want to talk about it with her teammates and coaches, to “put out that negative energy.” Instead, she just continues to be Sylvia Fowles.In the three games after that Aug. 13 win, she shot 63.6 percent. She took only one shot from the 15-to-19-foot range. And in her past four games, she’s shot 59.5 percent, going 4-of-7 when 15 to 19 feet from the basket.The rules change, the teams change, the players change. But Sylvia Fowles keeps on doing what she does. read more

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Dotting the i Mike Weber solidifying role in the offense

OSU redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber checks out his opponent before the Buckeyes game against Oklahoma on Sept. 17 at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes won 45-24. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorOhio State redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber came to Columbus after the Buckeyes won the 2014 national championship. Former OSU running back, and current member of the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott emerged as a star, and it was clear that the four-star recruit, Weber, was going to have to wait to become the featured back in coach Urban Meyer’s offense.Just one year later, Weber is quietly showing his potential as OSU’s next great running back.Originally committed to Michigan, then nearly decommitting from Meyer and OSU after former running backs coach Stan Drayton left for the Chicago Bears days after National Signing Day, Weber elected to hang tough and try to win the job in 2016.Weber progressed over the spring and summer. Redshirt senior center Pat Elflein and redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett talked at length at Big Ten Media Days in July about Weber’s maturity compared with a year ago. The two often worked out with Weber over the summer and noticed a new determination in the redshirt freshman.“(A year) makes a big difference. I lost a lot of weight and I got a lot stronger, faster and smarter,” Weber said after his first game as a starter against Bowling Green. “(Elliott) made sure he looked out for me. He saw potential in me and hopefully I make a lot of good plays for the team this year.”Last Saturday against Oklahoma, in Weber’s first true road game, he displayed the maturity and the strength coaches and players were raving about.Weber had his largest load of work against the Sooners, carrying the ball 18 times for 123 yards — good for an average of 6.8 yards-per-carry. Through three games now, Weber has 351 rushing yards and one touchdown. He ranks 13th in the NCAA in rushing yards and first in the Big Ten.Weber said after the Oklahoma game that he feels comfortable and confident on the field. “I actually learned a lot today … It was kind of fast. It was faster than what I expected,” he said. “It was faster than Bowling Green, faster than Tulsa. I’m pretty used to it. It’s just football at the end of the day.”Redshirting in 2015 after suffering a torn meniscus before the season began, Weber stood on the sidelines taking in the reality of his situation. But he decided to make the most of it and learn from Elliott every chance he could.When Elliott was on the sidelines, Weber was right there learning from the would-be No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft. Elliott played in a substantial amount of road and neutral-site games in his career at OSU — Michigan State, Michigan, Alabama and Oregon, just to name a few. So when it was Weber’s turn to produce in a hostile, boisterous environment like Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium, Weber used a few mental notes he took from Elliott.“Just sitting on the bench next to Zeke and him going back to the sideline saying this and that, I kind of learned that and kept it in my back pocket for when I started playing,” Weber said. “And now it’s working for me.”By comparison, Elliott didn’t rush for 100 yards in a game until his fourth career start. The former Buckeye ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns in his first three starts.Weber still has much to accomplish to be featured in conversation with the likes of Elliott, Eddie George, Archie Griffin and Carlos Hyde, but the redshirt freshman is making his statement early when he has the opportunity. With H-back Curtis Samuel as another player getting double-digit carries per game, Weber is bolstering OSU’s offense heading into Big Ten play. read more

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Cincinnati Reds week in review Pitching absent during mediocre week

The Reds gave up 47 runs in six games against West-coast teams this week, and still managed to win three of them.The Reds ended a five-game losing streak with an 11-9 win at home against the Dodgers Tuesday night. It was yet another win in their last at bat, the fashion in which they had won all six of their games up to that point.The Reds dropped the second game in the series with a sluggish 14-6 loss, but Mike Leake continued his impressive start to his rookie season in becoming the first pitcher in the Reds’ rotation to record a win this season in an 8-5 series-clinching victory.The Padres then came to town, and Adrian Gonzalez hit a home run in all three games as San Diego won the first two games of the series. However, late game heroics by Jay Bruce and Ramon Hernandez allowed the Reds to win the last game in the series 5-4, again in their last at bat.Studs: Mike Leake. The Reds’ rookie right-hander is the only starting pitcher to record a win thus far, and is batting .429 (In just seven at-bats).Duds: Aaron Harang. A lot of the pitchers in the rotation are deserving, but the player once considered the “ace” of the ball club has gone 0-3 in four starts with an 8.31 ERA this season.Next Week: The Reds are off Monday, but then embark on a six-game divisional road trip as they will open a series with the Astros on Tuesday, followed by a series with the Cardinals on Friday. read more

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Will the Ohio State Buckeyes be bowling this year

ANN ARBOR, Mich. ­— Ohio State football is used to success. In Jim Tressel’s 10 years as coach, he led the Buckeyes to eight BCS bowl game appearances and six consecutive Big Ten Championships. The 2011 season was different. OSU won just half of its regular season games, finishing with a 6-6 record and its first loss to archrival Michigan since 2003. It also dropped its final three games of the year. Senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, who was playing his second game of the year after serving two five-game suspensions, said the locker room felt “weird” after the loss. “We’ve never lost to Michigan,” Posey said, “It’s just an eerie feeling. You have a weird feeling in your stomach.” Despite the drop in success this season, the Buckeyes were reluctant to call the season a disappointment. “I think it’s a disappointment in terms of what the fans think and everything,” senior linebacker Tyler Moeller said. “Obviously you want to go out there and win every game. We fought and battled out there. Every game that we have lost, we were in them. We fought them. Sometimes in life that happens.” OSU has the minimum number of six wins to be eligible for a bowl game, but for the first time since 2004, OSU won’t be selected for a BCS bowl. Senior center Mike Brewster said dealing with all the losses has been difficult after having so much success in the past. “It’s hard,” Brewster said. “Just kind of shows you when you’re playing a team sport, decisions you make can affect your teammates.” OSU is still awaiting the decision as to whether or not they’ll be selected to play in a bowl game. Although six wins grants a team eligibility to participate in a bowl, it does not guarantee a team will be selected. Traditionally, OSU has had an advantage in the selection process because of the program’s reputation for traveling well to postseason games and drawing high TV ratings. One report from the Orlando Sentinel said representatives from the Gator Bowl are interested in choosing the Buckeyes to participate in the Jan. 2, bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., and pitting them against the Florida Gators. The hypothetical matchup would pit the team Urban Meyer coached from 2005-2010 (Florida) with the team Meyer will coach for the 2012 season (OSU). According to athletic director Gene Smith, current coach Luke Fickell will coach the bowl game and Meyer will no role in the team’s preparation. No matter what bowl game OSU is selected to or the coaching situation the team faces, junior defensive lineman John Simon said it won’t affect how his team will prepare. “We’re motivated,” Simon said. “We get excited for every game. We’ll make the corrections about this game tomorrow when we watch the tape and get back to work.” Moeller agreed. “Any game that we’re dealt, we’re going to work hard,” he said. “Just as hard as any other bowl game that we had. We’re going to try to win that.” read more

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Ohio State womens soccer slated for 2 Big Ten road games

Freshman forward Nichelle Prince (7) advances the ball during a game against Purdue Sept. 29 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU lost, 1-0.Credit: Michele Theodore / Copy ChiefComing off a season-high six goals in a senior day victory against Northwestern, the Ohio State women’s soccer team heads back on the road for two Big Ten games this weekend. The Buckeyes are scheduled to play at No. 21 Nebraska Friday afternoon and Iowa Sunday.“(This) week’s games we just have to win,” freshman forward Nichelle Prince said. “We have to go in hard, we have to go in even harder than (last) week.”With just three games left in the regular season, OSU currently sits at 3-3-2 in Big Ten play, good for sixth best in the conference. The Buckeyes have scored 11 goals in their past three games, compared to just 18 goals in their first 13 games. Coach Lori Walker is hoping the offense continues its run but is also making sure the defense is getting attention, too.“Consistency is our challenge,” Walker said. “My hope is we didn’t expend all the goals left in the box (on Sunday). We’re going to continue to work on our defending and not giving away transition goals, kind of like we saw today.”Sitting atop the Big Ten standings is OSU’s Friday opponent, Nebraska, who is 7-1 in conference play. Two Nebraska forwards, senior Jordan Jackson and freshman Jaycie Johnson, each have seven goals on the year to lead the Huskers in scoring.“These are two tough games and two very important games,” Walker said. “Nebraska is playing extremely well, and it’s always hard to play Iowa at Iowa, so everyone counts.”Hawkeye sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Clark has shut out seven opponents, tied for the most in the Big Ten this season.OSU freshman midfielder Alexis Degler said for the Buckeyes to be successful, they need to keep their composure and concentrate on the task at hand.“We really need to keep our intensity level and just celebrate the game,” Degler said. “We just really need to bring that the rest of the time, and our soccer will come with it.”Friday’s match at Nebraska is scheduled to start at 4 p.m., and Sunday’s match at Iowa is set to kick off Sunday at 2 p.m. read more

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Commentary Deaths in Brazil a cause for concern for World Cup

Note to readers: this story contains graphic and violent imagery.Brazil is home to the most successful national soccer team in history. As the only team to play in every FIFA World Cup, the Brazilians have won five titles, one ahead of Gli Azzurri from Italy.The country has fielded some of the greatest names in the sport’s storied history: from arguably the greatest player ever, Pelé, whose real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, to the likes of Roberto Carlos and Roberto Rivelino. Today, the squad features the phenomenon that is Barcelona forward Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, as well as stars like Chelsea midfielder Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior and Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva.The history is there; the talent is there. Brazil is my favorite to win the 2014 World Cup on home soil, but in what world is it acceptable to host one of the largest international affairs in a city rampant with near-warfare between police forces and drug lords?In recent years, numerous stories have come out of Brazil about gruesome murder and corruption. Some might say these issues have nothing to do with soccer, and will not affect the tournament itself.The thing is, the sport has begun to play a central part in these crimes.Back in July, 20-year-old referee Otávio Jordão da Silva stabbed Josenir dos Santos Abreu, a 30-year-old Brazilian soccer player, during a match. The player died on the way to the hospital, but the violence goes doesn’t end there. In retaliation, fans came onto the field and stoned Silva to death, before beheading him on the pitch.Two dead because of a game — no good reasons.Fast forward to Oct. 29 in Rio de Janeiro. The wife of former Brazilian soccer player João Rodrigo Silva Santos made the most horrifying discovery imaginable. Santos had not returned home from work the night before and his wife found his rucksack outside their front door. In the bag was Santos’ severed head.The first crime, the double murder on a soccer pitch, was a direct result of the sport. The death of Santos might not have any direct ties to his time as a soccer player, but the point is that the violence in Rio de Janeiro is out of hand.I never would have heard of these crimes had they not been related to a sport, but they are. In a country that is set to host the biggest event in soccer, violence runs rampant from fans, refs, players and even former players.I would love an opportunity to attend a World Cup, especially in a place which such a rich history in the sport. That said, I would not even consider an all expenses paid trip to the 2014 tournament.The risk is high, and the reward cannot compare.FIFA has made some questionable decisions in recent years, like rewarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, but there is no decision more absurd than allowing this event to take place in Rio de Janeiro.Rio de Janeiro is also set to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.While these stories are horrifying, I truly fear for the stories that will likely come out about crimes during the tournament. From locals in Rio, to those traveling in from around the world, how can one not fear for his or her life? read more

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Mens Lacrosse No 9 Ohio State drops comeback effort in overtime 109

Ohio State sophomore midfielder Justin Inacio (30) wins the face off against Rutgers at Ohio Stadium on Mar. 31. Ohio State lost 14-6. Credit: Willow Mollenkopf | For The LanternThe No. 9 Ohio State men’s lacrosse team fell to No. 2 Maryland in overtime in the Buckeyes final home game of the regular season with a goal from Maryland junior attacker and leading goal scorer Jared Bernhardt.Ohio State (8-3, 1-3 Big Ten) suffered its third Big Ten loss of the season after coming back from down four goals the second half, but ultimately lost 10-9. The win for Maryland (11-2, 3-1 Big Ten) was its third straight victory and second overtime win on the year.“Things just didn’t break our way, these are heartbreakers,” head coach Nick Myers said. Maryland’s sophomore midfielder Logan Wisnauskas was a key component to the Terrapins wins, scoring a hat trick and providing an assist on the day. Wisnauskas ended the game with 37 goals on the season.The matchup between a pair of faceoff specialists in sophomore Justin Inacio and senior Austin Henningsen was won by Inacio on 11 of 17 matchups. Inacio won 15 of the 23 total faceoffs for the entire game.Halfway through the first quarter, Wisnauskas opened the scoring with two goals before the Terrapins added on two more to come out to a 4-0 lead. Just before the end of the quarter, the Buckeyes found the net as sophomore attack Jackson Reid scored his 23rd goal of the season.The Terrapins scored midway through the second to increase their lead back to four, but freshman attack Jack Myers gave the Buckeyes a goal for his 15th on the season. Maryland’s senior midfielder Christian Zawadzki scored two make it 6-2 at the half.The two goals are tied for the fewest amount of goals scored in a half for the Buckeyes all season.Ohio State’s 10 turnovers and 2 to 17 goals-to-shots ratio hurt the Buckeyes in the first half, negating the faceoff play and ground balls that Inacio, who finished with eight ground ball pickups, was giving.“Offensively we finally got into a rhythm in the second half, started generating some really quality looks against a good defense,” Myers said.The Buckeyes started the second half by scoring 15 seconds in, and then scored two more straight, including one from Ohio State leading goal scorer junior attacker Tre LeClaire before Maryland was able to get a goal back.Myers, LeClaire, Reid and senior midfielder Jack Jasinski have now accounted for more than 67 percent of Ohio State’s points this season.In the fourth quarter, Ohio State gained momentum, scoring four goals in the quarter and taking the lead for the first time in the game with less than four minutes left. However, Wisnauskas tied the game with less than 24 seconds left, getting injured in the process of the game-tying goal.Overtime was over in 31 seconds, as Maryland’s Bernhardt found the net for his 40th goal on the season and ending Ohio State’s hope of another comeback this season.“This one stings,” Myers said. “We’ll have to get over this emotionally, and the best way to do that, is focus on the greatest rivalry in this university’s history.”The Buckeyes have Michigan as their final game of the regular season on Friday in Ann Arbor before the start of Big Ten tournament play.Saturday’s game was the last regular season game at Ohio Stadium for the senior Buckeyes, and even in the loss, Myers had nothing but for praise for his veteran players.“[I] just told them I loved them,” Myers said. “The seniors are a special group for sure, and a loss doesn’t reflect what they’ve done here.” read more

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Michael Parkinson says he has nothing to apologise for over 1975 clash

first_imgIn an interview with Event magazine, Sir Michael admitted that he might have been a "bit over-reactive" but defended his comments Sir Michael, who was then in his 30s, went on to tell her that she was an “in quotes, a serious actress” and asked if her “equipment” undermined her credibility. “Your figure”, he added when questioned by the actress what he meant. “Serious actresses can’t have big bosoms, is that what you mean?” she replied, outraged. He also quoted a review that described her as “projecting sluttish eroticism” during the encounter, which Dame Helen later described as “enraging” and “extremely creepy”.Yesterday, in an interview with Event magazine, Sir Michael admitted that he might have been a “bit over-reactive” but defended his comments. He also denied that his attitude was sexist, saying: “You have to judge it by what happened in that time. If you didn’t live in that time, you’re not allowed an opinion in my view.”He continued: “Am I a sexist? No, I’m Yorkshire. I’ve been married for 57 years so something must be going right.”Their television clash has prompted years of questions, with both Dame Helen and Sir Michael talking about it in previous interviews. The actress, now 71, later told The Telegraph: “That’s the first talk show I’d ever done. I was terrified. I watched it and I actually thought, bloody hell! I don’t want to make up and nor does sheMichael Parkinson 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. In an interview with Event magazine, Sir Michael admitted that he might have been a “bit over-reactive” but defended his commentsCredit:Bryn Lennon/Getty Images In the interview, he quoted a review that described her as "projecting sluttish eroticism" Recalling the spat with Dame Helen, which began when she appeared on his talk show in 1975, Sir Michael described their confrontation as “good television” and said it had not been resolved because: “I don’t want to make up and nor does she.”He also refused to accept his comments were sexist, arguing: “If you didn’t live in that time, you’re not allowed an opinion.” His refusal to apologise comes more than four decades after the uncomfortable exchange, which began when the talk show host introduced Dame Helen – then a young actress who had played lead roles in Miss Julie and A Midsummer’s Nights Dream – as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare Company.center_img He said: “She presented a provocative figure as she walked down the stairs carrying a feather boa, half dressed as I recall, with love and hate tattooed onto her knuckles. I would not have done my duty as a human being had I not reacted in a certain way.”I mean, we didn’t like each other. We have not done much since to repair the damage, but that sometimes happens in life.”When asked if there was a chance the pair could make up, he said: “I don’t want to. Nor does she. I don’t regard what happened as being anything other than good television. There is no need to apologise, not at all.”She didn’t want to do an interview and after about ten minutes I didn’t want to interview her. There’s no problem, it’s not World War III for God’s sake.” “I did really well. I was so young and inexperienced. And he was such a f—— sexist old fart. He was. He denies it to this day that it was sexist, but of course he was.”Last year, Dame Helen, who has described interest in her body as “prurient”, also reflected on how sexism remained a problem throughout the 1970s.She said: “That decade, after the sexual revolution but before feminism, was perilous for women. Men saw that as a sort of “Oh fantastic! We can f*** anything, however we like, whenever we like. They’re up for grabs, boys!” In the interview, he quoted a review that described her as “projecting sluttish eroticism” Their disagreement was first sparked more than 40 years ago, when Michael Parkinson dared to suggest to an up-and-coming Helen Mirren that her figure may undermine her credibility as an actress.   But the clash, which prompted a huge sexism row and saw the pair ignore each other for decades, has little chance of repair – at least according to the presenter, who claims he has nothing to apologise for.  Sir Michael introduced the actress as the "sex queen" of the Royal Shakespeare Company Sir Michael introduced the actress as the “sex queen” of the Royal Shakespeare CompanyCredit:Larry Busacca/Getty Imageslast_img read more

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Climate change could shrink animals warn scientists

first_img“Nutrient availability along with, and as a consequence of, rising temperatures and drought, may also have a direct effect on body size. Drought conditions have been known to lead to smaller offspring.“This suggests that dwarfing will be a likely natural response of some mammals to future global warming.”The research was published in the journal Science Advances. Evidence of mammalian dwarfing during the largest warming event on record, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), is already well-documented and some creatures shrunk by as much as one third as temperatures rose between 5C and 8C.But the impact of less extreme ancient global warming events on animals has remained unclear until now.  The animals shrunk during a warming period similar to what we are experiencing today Credit:University of New Hampshire  The researchers analysed tooth enamel from mammalian fossils collected in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming including Arenahippus pernix, an ancestor of modern horses. The teeth provided information on ingested water and consumed vegetation as well as acting as a proxy for body size.  The authors propose several warming-induced mechanisms that could have caused the mammalian dwarfing, including lower nutrient availability.“Body size change during periods of climate change is commonly seen throughout historical and geological records among mammals and other organisms,” added Dr Ambrosia. Dr Ambrosia with the fossil horse teeth Animals could start shrinking because of global warming, scientists have predicted, after discovering that mammals became ‘dwarfed’ in a similar episode of climate change 50 million years ago.Paleontologists discovered the fossil teeth belonging to an early ancestor of modern horses as well as a rabbit-sized hoofed mammal.The teeth revealed that during Eocene Thermal Maximum 2, a warming event of around 3C that occurred approximately 53.7 million years ago, the animals shrank in size by 14 per cent.Climate researchers currently estimate that the planet will warm between 2C and 4C by 2100.   Britain's smallest and tallest horse meet  Britain’s smallest and tallest horse meet Credit:Alamy  Dr Ambrosia with the fossil horse teethCredit:University of New Hampshire  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. “Dwarfing appears to be a common evolutionary response of some mammals during past global warming events, and the extent of dwarfing seems related to the magnitude of the event,” said lead author Dr Abigail Ambrosia, of the University of New Hampshire. “Abrupt perturbations of the global carbon cycle during the early Eocene are associated with rapid global warming events, which are analogous in many ways to present greenhouse warming.” The animals shrunk during a warming period similar to what we are experiencing today last_img read more

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Relax English language test for foreign nurses say hospital execs

first_imgIf we could get those nurses in it would solve our problem overnightRachel Overfield, Nursing Director, Walsall Manor Hospital 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 trust has had unfilled vacancies for more than 100 registered nurses for more than a year, part of a 600 nurse shortfall across the Black Country, according to Ms Overfield.In May the NMC indicated it might introduce easier language tests, admitting it was embarking on a “stocktake” of standards following lobbying from senior managers and recruitment agencies.Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: “We can’t afford to have nurses who don’t understand what you are saying.“We already have some nurses who don’t understand what you are saying and that is a concern.“We need to work hard to make sure they get to the right standard before they start work.”The NMC said the English language test for foreign nurses is on a par with equivalent assessments in Australia, Ireland and Canada. Under Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) rules, all foreign nurses must pass an International English Language Testing System exam, which comprises listening, reading, writing and speaking assessments.The hospital’s nursing director, Rachel Overfield, said she was “really confident” the 115 nurses who had failed the language test would be capable of working in the NHS.However, she conceded that these nurses had not yet passed a mandatory practical examination, also required by the NMC for staff coming from outside the European Economic Area.”We went overseas to the Philippines twice in the last year. We have offered posts to in excess of 100 nurses there,” she said. “Three have arrived.””The reason is we just can’t get them through the International English Language Test. And the reason for that is the UK sets the standard to pass that higher than anywhere else in the world.” Hospital bosses have called for the English language test for foreign nurses to be relaxed after just three of 118 Filipino applicants at one NHS trust passed.Managers at Walsall Manor Hospital in the West Midlands said their chronic staffing shortfall could be solved “overnight” if watchdogs slackened standards, however patient safety campaigners have demanded the existing pass mark remain in place.The complaint was made as it emerged executives from the trust made two trips to the Philippines last year in an attempt to recruit more staff.last_img read more

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Police accused of helping criminals by selling old items of uniform on

first_imgPolice are selling old items of uniforms on eBay to plug a funding gap, as campaigners accused the force of helping criminals to impersonate officers.Sussex Police, which has a £26.5million funding shortage, is listing items including used police high-visibility jackets on the auction website, it has emerged.A group representing victims of crime has raised fears the equipment could be used by fraudsters targeting the elderly.It has emerged just weeks after an elderly couple in Brighton, East Sussex, which is covered by the force, were scammed out of £9,000 by two bogus police officers.Stephen McCarthy, the director for England of the Action on Elder Abuse charity, said: “It’s not going to be bringing in an awful lot of money and it seems a bit strange – why take that risk for such small amounts of money?”Sussex Police said the items have “police branding and insignia removed”, with profits going back to the force. Other listings on the police eBay page include items found or confiscated by the force during police raidsA Sussex Police spokesman defended the force’s decision to sell the surplus equipment. Items for sale on the Sussex Police Auctions eBay pageCredit:eBay When it comes to things seen to be identified with police officers, it seems to be sending the wrong messageStephen McCarthy, director for England of Action on Elder Abuse He said: “As these items are assets all the money goes back to Sussex Police towards the running of the eBay shop and back into areas such as the uniform stores.”By selling these items we have been able generate significant income for the force which would not previously have been available as well as being able to save a significant amount on our waste costs.”The spokesman added: “Items sold are no longer suitable to be re-used by Sussex Police and all items have any police branding and insignia removed.”Without this branding they are just generic items which can easily be purchased – standard hi-vis jackets and combat trousers etc.”We remove the blue and white hatching from uniform even though these items can be purchased elsewhere on eBay.”He said “contentious items” such as armour and handcuffs are never sold online and the eBay site is approved by senior officers and the force’s own professional standards department.What do you think? Join the debate by leaving a comment below. Items for sale on the Sussex Police Auctions eBay page Police branding has been removed from the clothes, but Mr McCarthy feared it makes fraud “that little bit more easy” for crooks.He said: “We regularly see stories about people impersonating police officers as a way to commit scams against older people.”There’s an argument I think the police would make that these items can possibly be found elsewhere if you want to buy them, and we would not want to disagree.”When it comes to things seen to be identified with police officers, it seems to be sending the wrong message. I think they should probably be restricted from selling these sorts of items.”If Sussex Police stop selling these garments today it’s not going to stop people committing these crimes, but why make it that little bit more easy?”It’s fine to say the insignia is removed, but often when we see these cases the uniforms that have been worn aren’t exactly precise replicas.”In December two criminals dressed as police officer convinced two pensioners, a 72-year-old woman and a 74-year-old man, to hand over £6,000 and £3,000 respectively. One item is listed online as a “Gore Windstopper Tornado Fleece Jacket Large Short Black Security Yaffy”. The new and unworn black jacket is described as Sussex Police equipment, which is “surplus to requirement”.There is also equipment such as UV flashlights and hi-visibility jackets listed for as little £9.99. 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.last_img read more

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Diesel cars marketed as cleanest in history still belching out dangerous levels

first_imgAlthough car companies have not broken the law, campaigners said they were misleading customers by claiming their vehicles were greenCredit:Tobias Schwarz REUTERS 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. Paul Morozzo, Greenpeace Clean Air Campaigner, said: “Carmakers, backed by the industry lobby, are yet again knowingly misleading their customers and the public at large by marketing new Euro 6 diesels as the ‘cleanest in history’.“Their own data shows that more than half of the very newest, top selling, Euro 6 diesel cars pollute far above the latest standards.“They’re still dirty and they’re still putting peoples’ health at risk. It’s time the industry took responsibility and stopped investing in diesel.”The data also showed that some manufacturers had managed to produce diesel cars well below the limit such as  Opel/Vauxhall’s 2 litre Grandland-X which recorded overall NOx emissions of no more than 35.5mg/km.Almost all of the strongest performers were fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, which converts nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water by injecting urea into the exhaust. However experts said most companies would choose to simply ditch diesel in future rather than adopt expensive methods for lowering emissions.Dr James Tate, Associate Professor at the Institute for Transport Studies , at the University of Leeds, said: “It is evident that controlling NOx emissions from diesel cars is challenging and expensive, with only a handful of manufactures of new models currently being found to emit NOx at a lower level.“The result is most manufacturers are already stepping away from manufacturing smaller diesel cars, with Fiat Chrysler declaring they’ll ditch diesel altogether from all its cars by 2022, and all Volvo cars launched from 2019 onwards will be partially or completely battery-powered.”Fiat declined to comment on the investigation. Renault said all but two of its diesel vehicles now fell within the new nitrogen oxide levels, while Opel/Vauxhall said the cars highlighted in the report did not need to meet September levels.center_img Diesel cars marketed as the ‘cleanest in history’ are still belching out more than four times the legal limit of harmful nitrogen oxide, an investigation has found.A study of the newest models of the greenest Euro 6 diesel cars on sale across Europe by Greenpeace investigators found half of cars recently approved for sale would not be allowed on the market if tested today.Although car manufacturers were ordered to clean up their emissions following the Volkswagen ‘dieselgate’ scandal in 2015, limits for nitrogen oxide did not come in until September last year.When campaigners tested cars between April 2016 and September 2017 they found half emitted nitrogen oxide gas above the new legal limit of 168mg/km NOx.The worst results were for the 1.6 litre Fiat Tipo, which recorded overall emissions of 561mg/km – 3.3 times the current legal limit – and 753mg/km in urban driving – 4.5 times the limit.Other cars with poor results for emissions include the Renault Scenic Energy dCi 95 which was 2.4 times over the limit and  Opel/Vauxhall’s 1.6l Crossland-X at 2.3 times the limit.And because they were tested before the new limit came into effect, manufactures are able to label their cars as Euro6 – the greenest category. Although car companies have not broken the law, campaigners said they were misleading customers by claiming their vehicles were greenlast_img read more

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Measles alert issued after holidaymakers return from Europe with bug

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. Dr Yvonne Doyle, London regional director for Public Health England, said: “We are seeing a concerning increase in measles cases across  London which could lead to a wider outbreak in unvaccinated children and adults.“Those who have not received two doses of the vaccine in the past – or who are unsure – should speak to their GP. There’s no harm in receiving an additional dose where there is any uncertainty.“It’s crucial pregnant women have been vaccinated with MMR, as rubella in particular can cause serious complications during pregnancy.”Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease which usually starts with cold-like symptoms, fever and red, sensitive eyes. It can spread very easily and can be caught by breathing in droplets from an infected person when they cough or sneeze. Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security  A measles health alert has been issued after unvaccinated holidaymakers returning from Europe lead to a surge in cases.Public Health England have urged people to protect themselves from the viral illness after more than 250 cases have been reported since the start of the year.A further 90 laboratory tests are also underway, meaning the number could be higher. Last year, just 243 cases were reported.Health officials suspect the rise can be attributed to holidaymakers returning from the continent. In Europe, there has been a large outbreak in measles this year. It’s crucial pregnant women have been vaccinated with MMR – rubella in particular can cause serious complicationsDr Yvonne Doyle, Public Health England In rare cases, complications can include deafness, blindness and swelling of the brain, leading to brain damage, and in even more rare cases, a progressive disorder. read more

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Noisy bagpiper arrested on the Royal Mile for playing too loudly

However the incident prompted an immediate response online, with many criticising the authorities for “pandering to a tiny percentage of Edinburgh’s public”.Scott Cockburn wrote: “If you rent or buy in High St, do you think it’s a quiet flat? Ridiculous. Council should be representing majority and tourism rather than handcuffing pipers. Madness.”Marion McLaren, said it was “ridiculous” to use the hard-pressed resources of Police Scotland to chase buskers when the force did not “have enough officers and money to tackle real offences”.There was also some support for the action of the police, with Wes Murdiff saying that that in order for a yellow card for noise pollution to be served, personal details are required.He added: “To refuse to give your details is…obstructing a police officer during the course of their duties.” Police and the city council launched the card scheme last summer to help tackle anti-social behaviour, including excessive noise levels.One survey last year found Edinburgh was the fifth worst city in the UK for complaints about noise, with Kensington and Chelsea at the top of the list.Over 14,300 complaints were made in the Scottish capital between 2015 and August 2017.Joanna Mowat, a Tory councillor in the city centre, said at the time that the problem was how to “balance residents’ rights to enjoy peace and quiet in their own home with the desire to make Edinburgh a vibrant city”. He was cuffed by police in front of shocked tourists  Officers engaged with the buskers asking them to consider only playing on six days of the week to give local residents some respite on one dayPolice Spokesperson He was cuffed by police in front of shocked tourists  “On Sunday June 4 officers from the city centre Community Policing Team observed a bagpiper busking at Castlehill.“The noise level was clearly excessive. The busker concerned was told to stop playing and issued with a ‘yellow card’ warning which outlines the relevant legislation. A noisy bagpiper was arrested in front of shocked tourists after playing “too loudly” in the centre of Edinburgh.John McDonald was busking on the Royal Mile on Sunday, one of the city’s busiest tourist thoroughfares, leading from the castle to the Queen’s official residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.He was approached by officers as part of a crackdown on noisy street performances and warned about his sound levels.He is understood to have been arrested after refusing to give his details to officers from Police Scotland.A police spokesman said they actively encouraged responsible busking on a street that is popular with performers throughout the summer, especially during the city’s festivals in August.She added: “Police in Edinburgh have received complaints from local residents and a councillor about excessive noise from bagpipe buskers on the Royal Mile over the last month.“Officers engaged with the buskers asking them to consider only playing on six days of the week to give local residents some respite on one day. 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. “Once a recorded police warning has been issued, officers are required to record the busker’s details. The busker refused to comply with this and he was arrested. He was released later in the day.”Thomas Wilson, 28, another piper who saw Mr McDonald being detained, told the Sun the incident was “disgraceful”, adding: “None of us want hassle from the police.“When they asked him for his details he refused, rightly in my opinion as he had done nothing wrong.“Buskers on the Royal Mile know neighbours don’t always appreciate it so we try to keep the level below 80 decibels.“We all play with bagpipes that output at half level, that’s the noise of an ambient street. We are trying to respect the local businesses.” read more

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GK Chesterton could be first English saint since 17th century amid claims

The last English saints to be canonised were the so-called Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, who were executed for treason and related offences between 1535 and 1679. Although the the seventeeth-century martyrs were recognised by Pope Paul VI only in 1970, if Chesterton’s clause is successful he would be the first English saint to have lived for more than 300 years.The process of canonisation must begin at least five years after a person’s death, except for in exceptional circumstances decided by the Pope, such as the canonisation of Mother Theresa. It usually takes at least fifty years, and the Vatican must find evidence that at least two miracles have been performed.Chesterton’s grave is in Beaconsfied, Buckinghamshire, and has become a landmark of local interest, although Canon Udris said that residents “wouldn’t have conceived of him in any sense as a candidate for a sainthood”, and that much of the pressure for his canonisation had come from abroad. Members of the Argentinian Chesterton society and supporters in the United States and Canada were the first to petition the Bishop of Northampton to begin the canonisation process in 2013. After the report is published, the Bishop will decide whether to open a ‘cause’ with the Vatican, which begins the formal investigation into the extent of Chesterton’s holiness and the sanctity of his life. Pope Francis may look favourably on the application, having reportedly been a member of the G.K. Chesterton Society in his home country of Argentina.At a later stage of the canonisation process, the Vatican will look for evidence that he has performed posthumous miracles by answering prayers. The report’s findings show that infertile couples, in particular, are said to have singled out Chesterton, himself childless, to ask for miracle conceptions, said Canon John Udris, who compiled the report.“Very interestingly, I have noticed people saying that they are praying for him,” he said.“Because they didn’t have any children, Frances and Gilbert [Chesterton], so they are finding him as a bit of a go-to person, if for example a couple is infertile and looking to have a child.” “[Miracles] will be, if the cause is opened, down the line, what will people be looking for. And of course, people have already been feeding back,” Canon Udris said.Chesterton was an eminent writer, and produced hundreds of stories, books, essays and plays.His works of Christian apologetics are highly regarded, and he was eventually knighted by Pope Pius XI before his death in 1936.Opponents of G.K. Chesterton’s canonisation point to alleged anti-Semitic views he expressed in his lifetime, including the presentation of Jews as greedy or cowardly in his literary works. Later in his life, Chesterton said that Jews should have to wear distinctive dress so that they could be identified, and opposed the defendant Alfred Dreyfus in a trial widely perceived to be an anti-Semitic miscarriage of justice.Canon Udris told The Daily Telegraph that while presenting the views of “people who have hesitations, reservations, and actually who are dead set against the cause” is crucial to his report, his personal view is that “wasn’t a racist bone in his body”. “I won’t be making any recommendations, although he [Bishop Doyle] knows and I’ve made no bones about my personal hopes that the cause will be opened,” he said. A renowned author may become England’s first saint for 300 years after Catholic couples claimed he answered their prayers for “miracle” children.G.K Chesterton is best known for his short stories featuring the character Father Brown, a crime solving priest loosely based on the man who was involved in his conversion to Catholicism in 1922.But now he could become England’s first Roman Catholic saint since the 17th century, after an official report examining the strength of his case is published next month.The Daily Telegraph understands that the document, commissioned by the Bishop of Northampton, will show that Catholics are praying to Chesterton and asking for intercession – his intervention in their lives.It will also dispute claims that Chesterton held anti-Semitic views and used Jewish character tropes in his work.  Author G K CHESTERTON Many oppose Chesterton’s canonisation, pointing to anti-Semitic views he expressed in his lifetime.Credit:Getty Creative 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

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63yearold slashes swimming pool in neighbour dispute over childrens noise and laughter

A photograph showing the damage to the side of Jason Little’s poolCredit:DorsetPolice/BNPS She said that the CCTV footage appeared to show Mr Gee carrying something heavy in his right hand as he approached the pool. In an apparent attempt to cover his tracks he then left a note in the Little’s porch, explaining how he had woken in the night to the sound of flowing water and found their garden flooded Mr Gee, who worked in the aviation industry for 25 years, pleaded not guilty to criminal damage, claiming that he had been woken up by his dog barking and had gone out to investigate when he noticed his garden was flooded.He claimed the pool was dilapidated and suggested it emptied after an old tear finally split.Finding Mr Gee guilty, district judge Stephen Nicholls said his evidence lacked consistency and logic.He said: “His account is not credible or believable and I am satisfied he entered the land and caused damage to the pool, causing water to escape.”Mr Gee, who has no previous convictions, was fined £500 and ordered to pay £650 prosecution costs and £250 compensation to Mr Little.Judge Nicholls also issued a restraining order banning Mr Gee from contacting the Littles for five years and from going onto the curtilage of their property.Speaking after the case Mr Little said: “He threatened my children and tried to tell them they were not allowed to use their own garden and said many times they were going to force us to leave. I’m just relieved the judge gave him a restraining order and he won’t be able to make nasty comments to my family anymore.” 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 photograph showing the damage to the side of Jason Little's pool Disputes between neighbours over noise are not uncommon, but a rift in one Dorset village was so bitter it culminated in a man sabotaging a children’s swimming pool after growing fed up with the excited cries and laughter coming over the garden fence.Stephen Gee, 63, crept into his neighbour’s garden and cut a hole in the metal wall of the pool, causing 4,000 litres of water to gush out.The retired engineer was only caught because his neighbour, a decorated army officer, had installed a covert camera in the garden, capturing Mr Gee’s night-time raid.Jason Little, who won the Military Cross for displaying inspirational leadership in battle in Afghanistan in 2008, returned home after a few days away with his wife Avril to find their pool empty and their garden flooded.A court heard yesterday that when Mr Little reviewed the video from his hidden CCTV camera, he saw his hooded neighbour tiptoeing up his garden path at 4.30am, past his herbaceous border and towards his pool.Mr Gee, a retired engineer, was seen disappearing behind the 10 metre long pool for 16 seconds before re-emerging and sneaking back to his house. Stephen Gee outside Poole Magistrates, Dorset Stephen Gee outside Poole Magistrates, DorsetCredit:LeeMcLean/BNPS Poole Magistrates Court heard how the attack in June 2016 was the culmination of a four year dispute between the two neighbours over the noise made when the Little’s two daughters, then aged eight and 10, used the pool.Although the oval swimming pool was already in place when Mr Little and his wife moved into their  large detached house in the village of Puxey in 2012 Mr Gee quickly took offence at their children using it.Mr Little, 46, told the court: “Whenever they used the swimming pool, they shouted over the fence at them and would play loud music and stare at them. Before we had CCTV things happened to the swimming pool that I couldn’t explain, so we had cameras installed to the rear of the property.”He said his children had not yet used the pool that summer, but that he had carried out maintenance so they could do so and that when he checked the pool before he left for the weekend the water level was full and there was no leak.PC Charlotte Goddard told the court that the wall of the pool looked as if it had been hit with something heavy and the cut was wider at one end, suggesting it had been struck with an axe blade or similar. read more