We often hear about the NFL’s dominance in the mindshare of sports fans, and it’s hard to argue with the facts and figures floating around to support this notion. Pro football has been No. 1 in the annual Harris Poll survey of Americans’ favorite sports for three consecutive decades, and the NFL’s television ratings routinely trounce those of other sports. But, curiously, I was fooling around with Google Trends, and there is at least one area in which the NFL is not crushing the opposition: Google searches.The NFL is trailing the NBA by about 5 percent since Google’s Trends search data became available in 2004.There are a lot of factors that can cloud these results, including the possibility that not all search terms are being correctly attributed to each league. This is a particular issue for “football,” which is, as you probably know, what everyone outside the U.S. calls soccer. Recent improvements to Trends make this issue less problematic, but it’s still worth mentioning.The numbers also include worldwide searches; the NBA has a large global presence (particularly in Asia), and Google is, by definition, biased toward countries with a greater number of Internet users. For what it’s worth, the NFL is still tops by quite a bit within the U.S.Even so, it’s an interesting data point about the relative global reach of America’s biggest sports leagues. If we look at things from an international perspective, the NFL is not the behemoth it usually appears to be stateside.
Under a rare clear London sky, Allyson Felix shot around the track in the 200-meter race like a woman determined to not have a third failure in the event of her life.With 40 meters remaining to cover before the finish line – and the elusive Olympic gold medal – Felix burst pass Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce to glory.The disheartening results of previous Olympics mattered not. The gold was hers, and she left no doubt about it, either, winning by .21 seconds.Felix won the race in 21.88 seconds, topping Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, who won the 100 four nights earlier and Team USA’s Carmelita Jeter, who added a bronze to go with her silver in the 100 meters.One more spot back was Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, who defeated Felix in the Athens and Beijing Games and was trying to become the first woman to win the same individual track and field event in three consecutive Olympics.It was the third-place tie in 100-meter qualifying at U.S. trials last month that hovered over Felix’s run-up to these Olympics — forcing her to defend herself off the track for the first time in an otherwise-pristine career.Her tie with Jeneba Tarmoh for the third and final spot in the 100 forced USA Track and Field officials to scramble for a solution. One possibility was a coin flip; instead, they settled on a run-off. But Tarmoh begged off. Felix, never a serious medal contender for the 100, had to defend her decision not to give up the spot, and she went on to finish fifth.“Everyone just expected me to give up this spot, because I think lots of people … know me and they know that I’m seen as this very nice girl,” Felix said with a chuckle a few days before the start of track and field in London. “But it’s not just about me.”On this night, finally, it was.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both lost their opening-round matches in eight-man, match play field in the World Golf Finals in Turkey.The hope was that they would breeze through the field and meet in the ultimate head-to-head encounter for the $1.3 million first-place money. They will meet, but it will be on Wednesday with a lot less money at stake.Didn’t happen. Matt Kuchar easily handled McIlroy by six shots, while Woods fell to South African Charl Schwartzel by one shot at the Sultan course in Antalya.In the other group of the medal match-play format, a sort of continuation of the European dominance in the Ryder Cup took place. Lee Westwood beat American beat Webb Simpson by one shot and Justin Rose handled Hunter Mahan by four strokes.McIlroy and Woods – ranked No. 1 and No. 2 – face each other Wednesday in the last of their three group matches, but both could already be eliminated by then. The top two in each group will advance to the semifinals.In Wednesday’s morning matches, McIlroy will face Schwartzel and Woods will play Kuchar.Woods and Schwartzel were all-square going to the 18th when the American went into a greenside bunker and finished with a bogey.“It came right down to the wire, but I can’t believe how far that second shot flew into the back bunker and that was the match,” Woods said. “It means now that I have to play ‘Kooch’ and try and win that match before facing Rory in the afternoon.”McIlroy unraveled against Kuchar with a triple bogey at the 15th hole and double bogeys at 16 and 17.”I hit a drive into the trees on 15 and lost a bit of confidence,” McIlroy said. ”I need to win both of my matches tomorrow if I am to advance. I just struggled for a bit of motivation out there, so I need to go out and concentrate on both of my matches tomorrow.”Kuchar, after taking a bogey at the first, birdied the next two holes and was never behind.”I just thought I had to play mistake-free, and hopefully Rory wouldn’t get too hot,” the American said. ”There we are all-square with four to go, he hits it right and makes triple bogey, and I go three up with three to go and I think both of us lost a little interest at that point.”The event allows players to wear shorts, and Westwood, Schwartzel, Mahan and Kuchar chose to do so. All but Mahan won their matches. Westwood wore a red shirt and white shorts in tribute to his favorite soccer club, Nottingham Forest.Kuchar said he was happy to wear shorts again. He spent the week after the Ryder Cup loss to the European with his family in Greece.”Being able to come to an event like this that is a little more relaxed is just great to be able to throw shorts on,” he said.
ATLANTA – A man died after he fell approximately 65 feet from an upper level of Atlanta’s Turner Field during a Braves-Phillies game Monday.According to Atlanta police reports, at approximately 8:55 p.m., the unidentified man fell from the at the stadium and landed in a secure parking lot.Initial reports indicate that the fall appeared to be accidental and that it is too early to tell if alcohol played a factor. During the initial stages of the investigation police are questioning eyewitnesses to evaluate how the incident occurred.The game was scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m., but heavy rains pushed back the start time nearly two hours. The man fell during the rain delay.This is the second death from a fall to occur at an Atlanta sporting event over the last year. On Aug. 31, 2012, a Tennessee fan fell 45 feet to his death at the Georgia Dome during a football game between North Carolina State and Tennessee.
Cleveland Browns punt returner Travis Benjamin shined in Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills setting a Browns’ franchise record with 179 yards on punt returns in the 37-24 victory over Buffalo at FirstEnergy Stadium.Late in the second quarter, the Buffalo Bills were punted to the Cleveland Browns after a solid defensive performance from the Browns. Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin caught the ball and ran for 79 yards to score the touchdown. Benjamin was not shy showcasing his speed andelusiveness. He was able to run to the complete opposite side of the field and still get to the end zone to give the Browns the lead before halftime.“Travis was huge out there, man,” teammate Josh Gordon said. “We’ve never really even seen a guy who’s that fast and little. It’s great to have him on our team. He’s a builder for our offense, a huge, pivotal guy.”
After just six seasons and at just 26 years old, running back Rashard Mendenhall retired from the NFL. He spent five years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and one with the Arizona Cardinals. He’s quitting football with his health and mind intact. Here are his reasons, in his words:“I decided not to hold a press conference because I didn’t want to have to say things that were cliché. I’ve done enough of that since I’ve been playing football. I actually didn’t really plan on saying anything about my retirement at all. I just kind of wanted to disappear. The fact that I was done playing would’ve been clear once some time had passed, and I hadn’t signed back with the Cardinals or any other team. Maybe people would’ve thought I couldn’t get another job. Either way, I was okay with the idea of fading to black, and my legacy becoming, ‘Whatever happened to that dude Rashard Mendenhall? He was pretty good for a few years, then he just vanished.’“The truth is, I don’t really think my walking away is that big of deal. For me it’s saying, ‘Football was pretty cool, but I don’t want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!’ However, as I told the people around me that I wasn’t planning on signing again, there was a surprising amount of shock and bewilderment.“‘Why would you stop now? You’re only 26 years old! You’re just going to walk away from millions of dollars? Is your knee fully healed? You had a pretty good year last year,’ etc. After the initial shock response and realization that I’m not kidding, the question that would continue to arise is: Why?“‘Why do you want to stop playing football at 26?’“Honestly, I’ve really enjoyed my time in the NFL and have had tons of fun.“I feel like I’ve done it all. I’ve been to two Super Bowls; made a bunch of money; had a lot of success; traveled all over the country and overseas; met some really cool people; made lasting relationships; had the opportunity to give back to causes close to my heart; and have been able to share my experiences and wisdom with friends, family and people all over the world. Not to mention all the fun I had goofing around at work day after day with my teammates! I’m thankful that I can walk away at this time and smile over my six years in the NFL, and 17 total seasons of football — dating back to when I started pee-wee ball at Niles West in 1997, when I was 10. These experiences are all a part of me, and will remain in my heart no matter what I do, or where I go.“Along with the joyful experiences I had, came many trials. In my last piece, ‘The Vision,’ I wrote about traversing through dark and dangerous waters, working to attain peace and refuge. That intense journey described my personal life in the NFL. Journeying through those waters symbolized living a private life in the public eye. Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown. Having to fight through waves and currents of praise and criticism, but mostly hate. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been called a ‘dumb nigger.’ There is a bold coarseness you receive from non-supporters that seems to only exist on the Internet. However, even if you try to avoid these things completely — because I’ve tried — somehow they still reach you. If not first-hand, then through friends and loved ones who take to heart all that they read and hear. I’m not a terribly sensitive person, so this stuff never really bothered me. That was until I realized that it actually had an impact my career. Over my career, I would learn that everything people say behind these computer and smartphones actually shape the perception of you — the brand, the athlete and the person. Go figure!“What was more difficult for me to grasp was the way that the business of entertainment had really shifted the game and the sport of football in the NFL. The culture of football now is very different from the one I grew up with. When I came up, teammates fought together for wins and got respect for the fight. The player who gave the ball to the referee after a touchdown was commended; the one who played through injury was tough; the role of the blocking tight end was acknowledged; running backs who picked up blitzing linebackers showed heart; and the story of the game was told through the tape, and not the stats alone. That was my model of football.“Today, game-day cameras follow the most popular players on teams; guys who dance after touchdowns are extolled on Dancing With the Starters; games are analyzed and brought to fans without any use of coaches tape; practice non-participants are reported throughout the week for predicted fantasy value; and success and failure for skill players is measured solely in stats and fantasy points. This is a very different model of football than the one I grew up with. My older brother coaches football at the high-school and youth level. One day he called me and said, ‘These kids don’t want to work hard. All they wanna do is look cool, celebrate after plays, and get more followers on Instagram!’ I told him that they might actually have it figured out.“Over my career, because of my interests in dance, art and literature, my very calm demeanor, and my apparent lack of interest in sporting events on my Twitter page, people in the sporting world have sometimes questioned whether or not I love the game of football. I do. I always have. I am an athlete and a competitor. The only people who question that are the people who do not see how hard I work and how diligently I prepare to be great — week after week, season after season. I take those things very seriously. I’ve always been a professional. But I am not an entertainer. I never have been. Playing that role was never easy for me. The box deemed for professional athletes is a very small box. My wings spread a lot further than the acceptable athletic stereotypes and conformity was never a strong point of mine. My focus has always been on becoming a better me, not a second-rate somebody else. Sometimes I would suffer because of it, but every time I learned a lesson from it. And I’ll carry those lessons with me for the rest of my life.“So when they ask me why I want to leave the NFL at the age of 26, I tell them that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment. I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it.“As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me? I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city. I do have a plan going forward, but I will admit that I do not know how things will totally shape out. That is the beauty of it! I look forward to chasing my desires and passions without restriction, and to sharing them with anyone who wants to come along with me! And I’ll start with writing!”
DeMarcus Cousin Timberwolves (Kimani Okearah)NBA player DeMarcus Cousins offered to pay for the funeral of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, who was killed by Sacramento police.The former Sacramento Kings star reportedly reached out to Clark’s family to offer and pay for funeral expenses, a source confirmed to ESPN.Clark was gunned down by officers on Sunday in his grandmother’s backyard. The police mistook his cellphone for a weapon and reportedly released at least 20 shots at the unarmed victim. Clark’s family initially set up a GoFundMe page on Monday to raise money for the victim’s funeral costs according to Sacramento Bee. The 22-year-old’s family is demanding justice, along with many city protesters.Cousins’ kind gesture to the family of Stephon Clark came after protesters delayed a “Kings” game against the visiting Atlanta Hawks for about 20 minutes, ESPN reports.The NBA star is known for his generous acts and funded the funeral of Jaulon “JJ” Clavo, a local football player who perished in a shooting in 2015. He also hosted free basketball camps and bought a new scoreboard for Sacramento High School’s basketball gym.The now “Pelicans” basketball player was given the NBA’s first “NBA Cares Community Assist Award” for his charitable achievements in Sacramento; New Orleans; Mobile, Alabama and South Africa last October. He spent seven seasons with the Sacramento Kings and considers the city his “home.”
13Stanford def. Notre Dame43.435.7+7.7 13Auburn def. Alabama37.732.3+5.3 PENN STATE WIN % BY OUTCOME 11Rutgers99.996.3+3.6 10Michigan State99.4%79.2%+20.1 Which of Penn State’s games holds the most weight?PSU’s remaining 2017 matchups by the impact they have on the team’s playoff chances 10NC State def. Clemson41.530.6+10.9 WKOPPONENTMAKES PLAYOFFDOESN’T MAKE PLAYOFFDIFF. 11Miami (FL) def. Notre Dame42.035.2+6.8 13Michigan def. Ohio State35.419.2+16.3 WKRESULTMAKES PLAYOFFDOESN’T MAKE PLAYOFFDIFF. PROBABILITY BY PENN STATE OUTCOME Where they need help: As if losing to the Buckeyes wasn’t enough, Penn State fans now need to keep a close eye on every Ohio State game from here out. Because the teams share a division and because OSU now holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over Penn State, Ohio State will need to lose twice in conference play to give PSU a shot at winning the East. That’s not very likely; our model gives Ohio State a 44 percent chance of winning every remaining regular-season game, much less winning at least three of four. But OSU’s best chances to lose will come in its games at Iowa this weekend and at Michigan on Nov. 25, so those are also Penn State’s highest-leverage games left in the season (aside from the Lions’ own matchup against Michigan State on Saturday). The other games that need to go right for the Nittany LionsNon-Penn State matchups that have the biggest impact on the team’s playoff chances Each week in this space, we examine all the things a certain contending team needs to have happen in order for it to make the College Football Playoff. This week, we look at the Penn State Nittany Lions, who suffered their first loss of the season Saturday after a fourth-quarter collapse on the road against Ohio State.Current situation: Undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country, Penn State had a clear playoff path laid out in front of it — provided it could beat the Buckeyes, that is, in what was the program’s biggest game since the late 1990s. The Nittany Lions scored on the game’s first play and held control for three quarters, but Ohio State kept chipping away at PSU’s lead late, capping off a 19-3 fourth-quarter run with a go-ahead touchdown pass from which Penn State never recovered. Now ranked seventh in the first edition of the CFP committee rankings, the Lions have only a 14 percent chance of making the playoff, according to the FiveThirtyEight model.What the Lions can do: Because the loss came relatively late in the season, it left Penn State without much time to rebuild its playoff status. Even if the Lions win the rest of their games, our model gives them only a 20 percent chance of making the playoff. One important factor driving that number is a lack of opportunities for another signature win down the season’s final stretch: According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, Penn State’s future strength of schedule ranks just 67th in the country — easily the worst among the top 15 teams in the country by FPI. The only ranked team remaining on Penn State’s schedule (assuming it doesn’t go to the Big Ten championship) is Michigan State — and if PSU beats Michigan State, the Spartans will surely lose their ranking, which is currently only No. 24. With this weak slate of remaining games, it will be difficult for the Lions to impress the committee solely with their performance on the field before season’s end.Even so, here are the most important games left in the regular season for Penn State, based on the biggest difference in winning percentages between our simulations where the Lions make the playoff and ones where they don’t: Differences may not add up because of rounding. 11Michigan State def. Ohio State16.17.0+9.1 10Iowa def. Ohio State34.1%12.7%+21.5 Of course, it’s also possible that the committee could slot in both Penn State and Ohio State come selection day. (In 28 percent of simulations where the Lions make the CFP, the Buckeyes are also in, making OSU Penn State’s fourth-most-likely playoff “companion” behind Alabama, Georgia and Clemson.) But the chance of two Big Ten teams making the playoff is pretty remote; our model gives it an 8.3 percent probability of happening, mainly because it would require some major shakeups elsewhere in the country — most likely losses by Clemson, Washington, Notre Dame and/or one of the Big 12 front-runners — to clear space. And although the most common combination among those multiple-Big Ten-playoff-team universes features Penn State and Ohio State making the playoff together (47 percent of the times that two Big Ten teams make it), our model assigns a 27 percent chance to a scenario where Ohio State and Wisconsin are the Big Ten picks, and the Nittany Lions are left out.1And in 22 of our 20,000 simulations — or 0.1 percent of the time — three Big Ten teams somehow make the playoff.But maybe that’s also an area where the model doesn’t have enough information yet. If Wisconsin and OSU are on a collision course in the Big Ten championship (and they appear to be), then those Badger-Buckeye universes would mean that the committee selected a conference title-game loser for a playoff spot. That may not be very realistic: In 12 chances over three seasons, only once — Ohio State in 2016 — did the real-life committee pick a team that didn’t win its conference (and those Buckeyes didn’t lose their championship game but rather missed it entirely on a tiebreaker).That should give Penn State hope that its current odds are being slightly understated by our model — that if they just keep winning and get a little lucky, the Lions could slip in as a second Big Ten playoff bid at the very least. Then again, if college football’s playoff era has proven nothing else, it’s that the committee might do something we’ve never seen before. We’ll see whether that works in Penn State’s favor or not.Check out our latest college football predictions. Also, see what it will take for Notre Dame, Clemson, Washington and Oklahoma to still make the playoff. 13Georgia Tech def. Georgia29.522.9+6.6 13South Carolina def. Clemson27.521.2+6.3 13Maryland99.688.8+10.8 12Nebraska99.892.4+7.4 Based on two sets of simulations: one where the team makes the playoff and one where it doesn’t. Differences may not add up exactly because of rounding. 11Stanford def. Washington46.440.7+5.7
Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (Nov. 8, 2017), Neil and Kyle break down the news that the Phoenix Suns have agreed to trade Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks. We also get into what exactly is going on with the Cleveland Cavaliers — and just how their latest woes may affect their playoff chances. Next, Baxter Holmes joins for a discussion of ESPN’s “schedule alert” project, which identifies games that NBA teams are likely to lose because of the punishing 82-game schedule. Plus, a significant digit on the Detroit Pistons.Here are links to what we discussed this week:LeBron can’t do it all alone, writes Kyle.Baxter Holmes’s schedule alert project.Neil investigates the Detroit Pistons’ new, improved habits on offense. FiveThirtyEight Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed
Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. Neil, Kyle and Chris are previewing the NBA playoffs in a special two-for-one edition of the podcast. On Friday’s show (April 13, 2018), they break down the first-round matchups in the Eastern Conference, where the Toronto Raptors are embarking on their journey as the No. 1 seed while the Cleveland Cavaliers are the betting favorites. (For The Lab’s discussion of the Western Conference, check out the April 12 show.)Here are links to what the podcast discussed this week:Keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.Neil wrote a preview of the playoffs’ sleepers, favorites and best first-round matchups. Embed Code By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed
Before the 2018 World Cup kicked off last week at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, much had been written about why Russia was so bad at soccer. A convincing 5-0 opening match win over Saudi Arabia — Russia’s first win at the tournament since 2002 also matched its largest margin of victory at a World Cup — surely helped to allay some of those criticisms. But there was still no looking past the fact that the host nation ranked 70th in the FIFA world rankings and was looked at by bookmakers as a relative long shot to win the whole thing.Flash-forward a week, and Russia has already advanced to the knockout round thanks to another convincing win, this time 3-1 over Egypt. Forwards Denis Cheryshev and Artem Dzyuba are playing the best soccer of their lives. Russia’s eight goals are the most scored by a host nation through two games since the beginning of the modern World Cup in 1986,1With group play and a 16-team knockout tournament; 24 total teams participated from 1986 to 1994, then 32 from 1998 onward. and before that, only Italy managed to score as many when it did so in the 1934 World Cup (seven of which came against the United States). The Russians have buttressed all that goal scoring with downright stingy defensive play — they haven’t conceded a single shot on goal in open play.2The only shot they’ve allowed is a Mohamed Salah penalty, which was converted.It’s hard to deny the Russians’ early offensive onslaught or their potency on the defensive side of the ball. But they still face one big question: Are they actually this good?A huge factor here is quality of opponent: Russia hasn’t exactly played against a top side yet. Egypt was the sixth worst team in the field entering the tournament, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index, and Saudi Arabia was the worst. Between them, the Egyptians and the Saudis have put just six shots on target through four games and have managed to score just once.Russia’s shot conversion rate is also instructive. So far, Russia has had 10 shots on goal, scoring on an astounding eight of them.3Including an own goal. So they’ve been clinical when they’ve directed shots on target. But they’ve taken just 25 shots in two games (there are 14 teams taking more shots per 90 minutes than the Russians),4 Through the first two games of Day 9. while creating a just above average number of scoring chances per 90 minutes. This all makes it difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Russians remain on this blistering goal-scoring pace. They’ve roundly outperformed their 12th-best expected goals rate of 1.42 per 90 minutes — and they’re likely to regress.Russia also hasn’t possessed much of the ball, retaining it just 44 percent of the time. (Only 10 teams have worse possession percentages.) And when they have possessed the ball, the Russians have been sloppy: They’ve successfully completed just 71 percent of their passes — only two teams are worse. Iran126.96.36.199.50.7-0.3 Panama6.51.90.00.00.7-0.7 Uruguay188.8.131.52.91.5-0.6 S. Arabia6.50.90.00.00.4-0.4 ShotsGoals Australia8.42.3184.108.40.206-0.2 Belgium13.95.620.02.81.5+1.3 Peru12.43.70.00.00.9-0.9 Switzerland5.41.8220.127.116.11+0.0 Tunisia5.50.918.104.22.168+0.1 Sweden22.214.171.124.91.9-1.0 Spain126.96.36.199.91.8+0.1 Colombia7.42.8188.8.131.52+0.2 Senegal7.41.825.01.81.1+0.8 Brazil19.45.97.01.42.1-0.8 Portugal8.82.3184.108.40.206+0.8 Egypt220.127.116.11.50.9-0.4 Mexico18.104.22.168.01.3-0.3 Poland10.13.79.10.90.9+0.1 Croatia12.13.322.214.171.124+0.8 Serbia9.02.710.00.90.8+0.1 S. Korea4.60.00.00.00.5-0.5 Denmark126.96.36.199.90.8+0.1 Teamper 90 MIN.ON GOAL per 90 MIN.Shoot%per 90 MIN.Exp. per 90 MIN.Difference Argentina188.8.131.52.51.4-1.0 *Through the second game of Day 9.Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group France184.108.40.206.41.4+0.0 Russia is overachievingHow teams have fared in the World Cup so far* by offensive metrics including shots, shots on goal, shooting percentage (goals/shots) and expected goals Costa Rica5.81.40.00.00.5-0.5 England16.56.4220.127.116.11-0.9 Morocco12.83.20.00.00.9-0.9 Iceland18.104.22.168.51.1-0.6 Japan13.04.622.214.171.124-0.3 Russia11.74.732.0%3.71.4+2.3 Germany24.68.50.00.01.5-1.5 Nigeria126.96.36.199.90.9+0.1 Russia still hasn’t played Uruguay, the most difficult opponent in a historically lousy group. Unlike Egypt and Saudi Arabia, La Celeste have been playing positive soccer: Uruguay has managed seven shots on goal, and it (along with Morocco) has taken the fifth most shots among teams that have played two games. Limiting the chances of a Uruguayan side that boasts two of the world’s deadliest hitmen, in Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, might prove more difficult than stopping a Saudi side void of a world-class forward and an Egyptian side reliant on a hobbled Mohamed Salah.To this point, Russia’s goalie, Igor Akinfeev, has touched the ball in open play just seven times. And he’s had to make only one play on 27 crosses faced. These stats, coupled with the fact that the only shot he’s faced came from the penalty spot, suggest that his defenders have made life very difficult for opposing attackers. That’s the upside.Monday’s match with Uruguay won’t decide whether Russia gets to play more soccer this summer. It will decide which team Russia faces next — very likely either Portugal or Spain. But in some sense, that also doesn’t matter much — either opponent would represent a major upgrade in class. Ceding possession to teams with less than positive attacks hasn’t hurt Russia, but don’t expect the same to be true when faced with Suarez and Cavani, Diego Costa or Cristiano Ronaldo.Check out our latest World Cup predictions.
The New York Times on Wednesday published an op-ed with the headline “Don’t Let Statistics Ruin Baseball.” Some of the baseball nuts at FiveThirtyEight staff couldn’t contain themselves after reading it. Here’s an edited transcript of our Slack conversation.cwick: This is the kind of thing that gets our attention around here. A sample of the op-ed: “Thanks to ‘Moneyball’ and stats-driven fantasy leagues, advanced statistics have changed how fans think about the game. On the whole that’s a positive trend — but not when the numbers begin to eclipse a more nuanced appreciation of baseball.” Nate, you created FiveThirtyEight for all sorts of reasons, but surely it has no more sacred duty than to respond to this piece. What’s a sabermetrician to think about this op-ed?natesilver: One litmus test for any writer: Does he know his subject? Steve Kettmann might know a lot about baseball, but he doesn’t know very much about baseball statistics. For instance, he describes how wins above replacement compares a player against “some hypothetical median player, the ‘replacement.’” Actually, it compares him against a replacement-level player, who is way worse than the median major leaguer.He doesn’t describe fielding independent pitching (FIP) correctly. Its goal is not to provide a “broader measure of a pitcher’s performance than the traditional E.R.A.” Rather, it’s to measure how effective a pitcher is independent of his defense (fielding) — as its name implies!On the other hand, he favorably cites “a previously obscure statistic: batting average against relievers.” That statistic hasn’t become much less obscure — it’s not something that we stat geeks are talking about very much. And that’s because we know it’s probably just random noise. Batting average is noisy enough, let alone when you cut the sample size by two-thirds.The point being, the better advanced statistics are all about deepening our understanding of how the game is played. If a pitcher has a 2.85 ERA, is he really good — or is it the defense behind him? That’s what FIP can tell us (although there are better ways now to account for the impact of positional defense).By contrast, when statistics were cited in, say, the 1980s or 1990s, they were mostly just trivial crap. “Claudell Washington is 6-for-25 on cloudy days against left-handed relief pitchers with runners in scoring position.” Shit like that. Totally useless and distracting. And there were dozens of them on every broadcast.carl: Nate’s response shows how these debates are always about which numbers people arbitrarily approve and which ones they don’t. You can’t have baseball without numbers. How would you count strikes, outs, runs and wins?cwick: Right, there have always been stats in the game because the game is such a structured one. Baseball happens in discrete steps. There’s an action and there’s an outcome. Pitcher throws, it’s either a ball, a strike, a foul, a hit, or an out. (Or some other possibility I’ve overlooked.) That creates stats that are robust and complete. Stats can’t help but bubble up and out of those.benm: As I understand it, he is all for statistical advancement of baseball to enhance understanding of the game and quality of competition and other more utility-based purposes, he just objects to the obsession with statistics from an aesthetic perspective. He compares it to listening to a symphony: There’s nothing wrong with understanding how the tuba works or how many clarinets you need, but when you’re there in the audience, you should just let the music wash over you and appreciate it.I find watching baseball tedious in part because I feel like nothing I’m seeing in front of me matters — and I can trace this back to when I was young and learned the factoid that the difference between a good hitter and a bad hitter was “one hit a week.” So if I had a more robust appreciation of the non-statistical aesthetic quality of baseball, it might make it easier to enjoy a game.But the other way it cuts is that, without statistics, I probably wouldn’t be interested in baseball at all. Like many people, my fandom started out with baseball cards. Fast-forward 30 years, and while I’m not as nutty about the game as some of my colleagues, I still take time to follow the fascinating statistical developments in the league, and can appreciate Mike Trout or Billy Beane’s greatness in a way that has something of an aesthetic aspect for me.carl: Like with so many of these pieces, the headline and opening are more radical than the author seems to really be. For example, this is pretty hard to argue with, unless you’re a straw man: “There is a risk that numbers become an end in themselves, and arcane stats proliferate. A good rule of thumb is that the more a stat relies on abstraction, the less likely it’s going to be consistently useful to a wide audience.”rarthur: I agree with @carl. These pieces always boil down to, “This is the exact, right, perfect amount of numeric detail that should be permitted in the game.” And it’s never clear why we should have stopped at batting average/RBIs/saves, as opposed to moving on to more accurate and more descriptive statistics.carl: The related point is that the stats that seem “traditional” (to use his word) just have to do with familiarity, not how arcane they are. The definitions of saves — which itself seemed radical to some when it was introduced — RBIs and pitcher wins are arcane and arbitrary.cwick: @carl, I hear you, but I think there are some passages in here that are pernicious in their misinterpretation of sabermetrics. “When it comes to watching a matchup of, say, the Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, statistical analysis is about as helpful in deepening an appreciation of the human drama unfolding before us as it would be for a Pavarotti aria.” PITCHf/x data and Stanton’s BABIP have a ton to tell us about that matchupcarl: @cwick, that’s only pernicious if we assume that statistical analysis can’t help us appreciate an aria. The jury is out on that. Where’s opera’s Bill James?cwick: @carl that’s a story for you!ollie: You’ve all nailed the statistical points. I’d like to mention something else. Kettmann seems very concerned with our attention spans. Let’s take his analogy of music, and going to the symphony to hear Mahler’s Ninth. I need to pay attention. To clear my mind. How would I enjoy it otherwise? But if I knew that disease plagued Mahler’s mother and 13 siblings, or that he had an abusive father, or that he was obsessed with death, and that the last line of that symphony’s score reads “ersterbend” — German for “dying away” — I’m going to appreciate the piece of music more, not less. This echoes how I feel watching Anthony Rizzo bat knowing that he had an OPS+ of 163 against lefties last year, or whatever. Statistics are a complement, not a substitute.rarthur: Right, @ollie. Above and beyond that, I would never presume to tell a music theorist that it was incorrect to be thinking about notes and scales while listening to an aria. You can enjoy it the way you want to. If you prefer not to know the statistical underpinnings of baseball, no one is forcing you to learn them.natesilver: @rarthur: Actually the music theorists are pretty damned interesting when you corner them at a party!carl: @ollie and @rarthur — totally agree. His implication is that quantitative context is less valuable — less artistic, less charming — than qualitative context. That’s personal taste.cwick: Well, Kettmann’s point is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult not to pay attention to the stats, @rarthur. Which I sympathize with — I’m the words guy at a numbers site! But his argument comes across as a Luddite’s. “The art of hitting a baseball starts with emptying the mind. As Jonathan Fader, a psychologist who works with Mets players, told me: ‘Essentially, what we’re trying to do in sports psychology is helping people to not think.’ Fans and writers need to adopt a similar attitude.”natesilver: Some of this is just plain old anti-intellectualism. Us nerds want to understand how the world works. Statistics are one way to do that, but not the only one. @carl, you’ll remember when we were at the US Open last year and I was constantly peppering you with tennis questions. Some of them were stats-y questions and some weren’t. I just wanted to learn more about tennis. I’m curious about the world, both as a “fan” and as a journalist.carl: Yeah, @natesilver, I think we nerds are fine with people who don’t want to understand the sport or opera or whatever they’re watching. They should be fine with those who do. We can all sit side by side and enjoy the game. Except for those terrible tweeting/texting/Googling press-box reporters.ollie: Or the guy on his phone at the symphony, @carl.carl: @ollie probably checking operareference.com.carl: Which is available. We should buy it before Sean Forman does.cwick: opera-reference.com, obvs. (God, that might be the nerdiest joke I’ve ever made.)carl: Also available.benm: I know that a musician may appreciate Bach in a way that I can’t. But I think the visceral experience is still very immediate for them, so I don’t think that would be inconsistent with Kettman’s argument. I presume that in his ideal world, we all understand these stats but don’t let them be the main thing we appreciate when watching. They should be more like butter or MSG than like steak or fish.natesilver: @carl: I’m totally fine with the dude who just goes to the game with his friends and drinks about 5 beers and cheers when the home team hits a home run. Sometimes that’s me! I’m NOT fine with journalists who are incurious about the world, however.david: I think Ben hit on something important. This argument — and I can understand both sides — reflects opposing approaches to life. Some people appreciate these events — whether Mahler, Springsteen, or baseball — at the purely sensual, aesthetic level, and don’t see any need for their cerebral cortex to interfere in that appreciation. Others need to find deeper patterns and hidden movement in everything they see, and those patterns are usually there to be found. Each approach is legitimate, but the two sides will never really understand each other.rarthur: I would challenge the idea that the two sides can’t understand each other. At its best, baseball (or perhaps sports more generally) bridges the gap and allows you to experience both a statistics-driven and purely aesthetic enjoyment. In the World Series Game 7 last year, as Madison Bumgarner pitched inning after inning, I was simultaneously trying to calculate whether it was a good idea to bring him back out and also just enjoying how awesome, how calm, how controlled he was. And I was thinking about him pitching up in the zone, and about how Sal Perez was tired and injured, and everything all at once.natesilver: On one level, I agree with Kettmann about the aesthetics of actually going to a sporting event. Some of the scoreboards — like the new Jumbotron at Wrigley — are overkill. They rarely abide by good principles of information design, which usually means clean, somewhat minimalist presentations that fit naturally into their environments.carl: My ideal world would not be one in which I or Kettman or anyone else decides how we should appreciate baseball, music or anything else. I think in our current, suboptimal world, there are plenty of ways for him and for like-minded fans to avoid the statistical distractions he dislikes — apparently, according to @natesilver, by avoiding Wrigley.natesilver: @carl: It’s really about distractions in general, and not statistical distractions. I like going to soccer games because it’s a very clean experience. At the World Cup at Maracanã in Rio, there weren’t a lot of statistics. But there also weren’t a lot of distracting PA announcements, or cheap gimmicks, or anything else.So give me a clean experience at the ballpark — I really don’t need to see Bumgarner’s FIP on the center field scoreboard. But also give me a fast Wi-Fi connection in case I’m in “curious nerd” mode and have something I want to look up.cwick: @natesilver’s prescription for baseball’s future: Wi-Fi in stadiums Bonus Podcast: Nate Silver Talks with Steve KettmannAudio Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/natesilver_stevekettmann.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.This conversation will also air in this week’s episode of “Hot Takedown” — FiveThirtyEight’s new sports podcast. We reached out to Steve Kettmann for a response to our conversation. It’s below:Thanks for seeking me out and asking me to offer a response. I see far more common ground between the view I articulated in the piece and your arguments than I might have expected. For example, I loved the discussion of how knowing more about Mahler only adds to the experience of listening to the music — but I’d point out that usually you read the program (and the biography) before the lights go down and the music starts. My piece does not argue against having statistical analysis in mind during the watching of a game; it argues against not even bothering to watch the game, because the action on the field is considered irrelevant. Benm states directly he finds “watching baseball tedious in part because I feel like nothing I’m seeing in front of me matters.” Wow! We can all enjoy baseball, even with differing perspectives on how best to understand it, but anyone who says they find watching events on the field to be “tedious” to me does not really love baseball, they love the playground of numbers the game provides. Are the players just numbers to you? That’s seriously what you’d like people to believe? I don’t buy it. My reference to Jonathan Fader and the mental side of baseball is characterized as anti-intellectual, because I talk about the importance of “not thinking.” It does not bother me if the esteemed crew responding to my op-ed has other areas of interest than the question of how baseball players do what they do, but in fact the mental side of performance is the big uncovered story in baseball and in sports. More and more teams, in all sports, are hiring mental-strength coaches and counselors. Ignore all of this, if you like, but others might find it thought-provoking.Nate Silver accuses me of being “incurious about the world” for daring to question how much is too much. I was an Oakland A’s beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1994 to 1998 and had a front-row seat to watch the unfolding relationship between the young Billy Beane and his mentor, Sandy Alderson, who introduced Beane to Bill James and Eric Walker and advanced statistical analysis. I’ve spent four years researching that period for my book “Baseball Maverick,” published this week by Grove Atlantic.My argument in the Times is in part based on a distillation of what Alderson himself would say. Alderson believes that the human side matters; that you learn from close study of advanced statistics, but you also tune into human elements. Talking today with Jonah Keri for his podcast, Alderson observed “most analysts believe the intangibles are subsumed in the numbers. But I’m not sure that’s the case.”Look, we’re all media savvy here and understand writers write articles, editors write headlines. I think, as I observed, that the application of advanced statistical analysis to baseball is a boon to the game, and is providing tremendous energy that is shaping the way the game is played — and the way the game is understood. Where I part ways with some of you is simply in whether it’s worth watching the games themselves: I was lucky enough to spend a summer at the New Yorker working with the great Roger Angell, and I will always be a fan of his close observation of the details of a baseball game. I’m saying: Can’t we have it all? Love stats, but don’t forget also to love the quirky little details of a baseball game as it develops in real time. Editor’s Note: For the record, all of us (except maybe benm) enjoy watching baseball.
For all those efforts, who to blame is simple: Federer and his cohorts. They’ve made the final two rounds an exclusive club since Federer won his first Slam in 2003. He’s now won 18, while Rafael Nadal has 15, Novak Djokovic 12 and Stan Wawrinka and Murray three each. Since 2004, only four other men have won a major title, and only one for each: Gaston Gaudio, Marat Safin, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic, who will play against Querrey in Friday’s semifinals. These top players tend to make it to the semifinals before they lose, making it difficult for anyone, let alone an American, to reach the semis.From the beginning of 2005 through the French Open last month, Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray accounted for 57 percent of all the Grand Slam semifinal slots. Querrey, as happy as can be, is being realistic about his chances.“Marin [Cilic] is ranked, like, five,” Querrey said. “He’s right outside of the big four. That’s going to be a tough one.”That’s about the only thing Querrey has done wrong so far: Cilic is ranked sixth.CORRECTION (July 14, 1:40 p.m.): A photo caption in an earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Querrey was the first American to reach a Slam semifinal this decade. He is the first American man to do so. A chart in this article also has been updated to clarify that the data pertains only to men’s tennis. WIMBLEDON, England — And on the 2,933rd day, an American man reached a Grand Slam semifinal.Sam Querrey, a 29-year-old from California, ousted defending champion Andy Murray at Wimbledon on Wednesday and became the first American man to reach the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament since Andy Roddick here in 2009.Happiness rarely graces American men’s tennis these days. Fourteen years ago, Roddick won the U.S. Open. No American man has won a major since. Only one American male player besides Roddick has appeared in a major final since Roddick’s win: Andre Agassi, who lost to Roger Federer at the 2005 U.S. Open. Roddick played four more Grand Slam finals until 2009 and lost them all to Federer, including a heart-breaking five-set defeat at Wimbledon in 2009.Agassi retired after the 2006 U.S. Open. Roddick left the game on his 30th birthday in 2012 (less than three months older than Querrey is now). And no American man has broken into the elite ranks of men’s tennis since. Querrey is the first U.S. player to make his debut in a Slam semifinal since Robby Ginepri reached the final four of the 2005 U.S. Open. Getting to a semifinal took him forever: This was Querrey’s 42nd Grand Slam main draw, now a record for a first-time semifinalist in the Open era. By comparison, Agassi made his first Slam semifinal in 1988, less than two years after his first major appearance. In the next nine years, eight Americans would make their semifinal debuts.1 Aaron Krickstein, Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, David Wheaton, Jim Courier, Patrick McEnroe, Todd Martin and MaliVai Washington. A handful of superstars has usually dominated men’s tennis. For a while, the U.S. had one or two of them, sometimes even more. Lately it’s had none, in part because the sport has become more global. Since the end of 2005, 24 non-American men from 19 countries have reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time, including Ivan Ljubicic (Croatia), Kei Nishikori (Japan), Fernando Gonzalez (Chile), and Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria).The globalization of tennis has slowed down America year after year. In the early Open era, beginning in 1968, into the 1970s and ’80s, America led the world in tennis training, practice and equipment. American men won loads of Grand Slam titles from 1968 through the 1990s, when John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Agassi, Pete Sampras and Jim Courier ruled. From 1990 to 1999, American men reached the semifinals or better 62 times at Grand Slams.All the while, though, foreign tennis training improved. By the time 2000 came along, diversity had climbed. American men reached the semifinals or better only 26 times from 2000 to 2009.And then, nothing. Players have rarely escaped the early rounds at the French Open, where clay feels foreign compared to American hard courts. Not that those hard courts help much. At the U.S. Open, American men haven’t looked like title contenders since Agassi and Roddick. The U.S. Tennis Association, so worried about that decline, has invested in a $63 million training center in Florida that has 100 courts.
When Ohio State junior long jumper Michael Hartfield takes off down the runway, he doesn’t merely jump — he soars. “I love long jumping,” Hartfield said. “It feels free. That’s the only way I can describe it.” Hartfield has exploded into the spotlight since his arrival at OSU. A transfer from Rend Lake junior college, located in Ina, Ill., Hartfield has already earned second-team All-American honors, yet he’s far from satisfied. Early in the season, Hartfield said he wanted to consistently hit 7.62–7.93 meters in the long jump. “The goal is still to be first-team All-American,” he said. “Hopefully get on that podium at nationals.” When Hartfield competes, he does so with passion and charisma, and those around him can’t help but notice. “Mike brings a lot of energy and fun to the team, along with a great amount of talent,” OSU junior long jumper Steve MacDonald said. “Our jump squad has become very close and we feed off each other’s strengths.” Hartfield’s pre-jump routine is almost as electrifying as the jump itself. Before each jump, Hartfield starts a steady, rhythmic clap that builds as teammates, competitors and fans join in. Then, Hartfield shoots down the runway to the rapid rhythm just before he lifts off. “It’s just something to get me hyped, you know, to get the crowd into it,” Hartfield said. “When you’re running you can hear the rhythm in the background, and one of the most important parts of your run up is having a rhythm.” His routine is working. When the track & field team traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, for the Drake Relays in late April, Hartfield finished second and set a new personal record with a jump of 7.95 meters. The jump even surprised Hartfield. “I was in shock,” he said. “One, I didn’t feel like it was that great of a jump. Two, I didn’t expect to PR because of all the traveling.” The track & field team’s journey to Iowa didn’t go as smoothly as it had hoped. “We were at the airport for 12 hours before we left, and missed our flight in Chicago,” Hartfield said. “And then had to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning, and we didn’t get to Iowa until that day.” The Drake Relays were a high point for Hartfield in what has been an up-and-down year. For Hartfield and his family, signing at OSU was a big deal. “When I first signed Ohio State, my dad was super excited,” Hartfield said. “He always told me to stay hungry, always compete no matter what.” But, shortly after Hartfield arrived at OSU, his father passed away. Despite the loss, Hartfield has used the memory of his father as inspiration. “I’ve kind of just been living through him and doing a lot of things for him just in his name because I know that’s what he’d want me to do,” Hartfield said. “It’s a big family thing that’s really pushing me this season, and it’s going to continue to push me.” The adversity Hartfield faced helped him grow as an athlete and as a person. Following high school, academic issues forced Hartfield to make changes. “I didn’t pass the NCAA Clearinghouse regulations,” he said. “My GPA from my core classes and SAT scores didn’t meet the regulations, so I had to go get my associate’s degree first before I could go Division I.” The experience helped Hartfield get back on track. Since transferring, Hartfield has raised his GPA to a 3.4. “I just had to get serious about the books like I was about track,” he said. “Definitely was a learning experience, and I definitely matured a lot because of it.” Hartfield said he knows part of the team’s success depends on his performance. Helping the team win pushes him to give his best effort. But when it comes to success, Hartfield doesn’t credit himself. Instead, he attributes his success to the people who surround him. “Definitely the coaches and the training, and just my whole team really. My training environment from this year compared to last year in junior college is 112 percent different,” Hartfield said. “Everybody’s attitudes toward the workouts, and the equipment … all the little things, they all add up and contribute to you getting better.”
After sending Ohio State baseball packing in a Thursday night game, the Purdue Boilermakers scrapped their way to a Big Ten title – literally. The Boilermakers defeated Indiana, 6-5, Saturday at Huntington Park to clinch the school’s first Big Ten Baseball Tournament championship since the tournament began in 1981. The Boilermakers took a 6-5 lead against the rival Hoosiers in the ninth inning, but a chaotic scene ensued when Purdue second baseman Eric Charles slid into third base and was tagged out to end the inning. After the play, players from each team left their respective benches and started a brawl in front of the Indiana dugout. Indiana coach Tracy Smith said it was an incident where testosterone got the best of players on each team. “The young whippersnappers wanting to buck up, all of them on both teams,” Smith said in a postgame press conference. “I’m 47 years old, so I kind of sit back and think someone is going to get hurt, me. You just realize that you’re dealing with 18, 19, 20-year-old kids who don’t have a lot of perspective.” Smith said it was tough for his team to refocus and try to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth after the fight, but was more worried about the ramifications the fight had on the Big Ten conference. “To me, it was not good for our conference,” Smith said. “How it started, how it happened in the middle and how it finished I think is a big-time black eye for our conference. I’m embarrassed for our conference, but it was important that win, lose or draw, Indiana was going to shake hands at the end of the game because that’s much more important than a baseball game.” After the game, no Indiana players were made available for comments and when the Purdue players spoke, coach Doug Schreiber told them not to answer questions about the brawl. Before the fight, Schreiber was coaching Purdue from the third base coaching box and was caught in the middle of the brawl. A punch was thrown and hit an Indiana player during the fight. During the postgame press conference Schreiber was asked if he threw the punch. “Absolutely not,” Schreiber said. “I had a hold on Charles. I had a hold of Charles the whole time, guaranteed. If anybody wants to say or prove anything else, bring it on. That’s very unfortunate and people are going to say things; that’s absolutely not the truth. I grabbed my player and was holding my player and he was defenseless.” Schreiber said he will not allow people to think he threw the punch. “Anybody who wants to implicate that, I’ll go after legal issues,” Schreiber said. “Guaranteed, 100 percent if they want to try to defame me. That’s ridiculous.” During the game, Charles was kicked out for a flagrant slide, as Schreiber said the umpires described it to him, but no other players were removed after the fight. Both coaches said more suspensions might be forthcoming. Despite the fight, Purdue emerged the regular season and tournament champs, a feat never accomplished by the Boilermakers. The No. 15 Boilermakers (44-12, 17-7 Big Ten) won the regular-season championship and many of the Big Ten’s individual awards as well. Schreiber won Big Ten Coach of the Year and junior catcher Kevin Plawecki won Big Ten Player of the Year and was named to the First Team All-Big Ten team. Senior pitcher Joe Haase won Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and First Team All-Big Ten honors. The Boilermakers won their first regular-season title since 1909 and Plawecki said it was nice to win the tournament. “It feels good because we won the conference in the regular season,” said Plawecki, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. “Then for us to come out and win it in the tournament, you can’t really ask for much more but to come out and prove it that way.” Senior outfielder Andrew Dixon said winning the tournament left him speechless. “We’ve had a great year so far,” Dixon said. “Our goal at the beginning of the year was to break the wins record and we did that. Next goal was to win the Big Ten outright and we did that. Next was to win the Big Ten Tournament and we did that (Saturday). So we’re just checking things off the list and we’ll see what happens moving forward. We’re really excited with what we’ve accomplished so far, but in no means are we ready to be done.” Purdue was selected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and will host a regional in Gary, Ind., according to a release from the Big Ten on its website Monday. Purdue will play Valparaiso in the opening game of the NCAA Regionals, which begin Friday. During Purdue’s run through the Big Ten Tournament, the Boilermakers knocked off Ohio State (33-27, 11-13 Big Ten) 5-4 Thursday for their first win of the tournament. The loss was OSU’s first loss of the tournament. Then a 6-2 loss to the Michigan State Spartans knocked OSU out of the tournament. OSU scored first, with two runs in the top of the fifth, but the Spartans scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game. The Spartans scored three more runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 5-2 lead and added another run in the eighth. The Buckeyes, playing their third game in 24 hours, were out of starting pitchers and turned to true freshman Trace Dempsey against Michigan State. The start was just the second of Dempsey’s career and he went four and two-thirds innings allowing two runs on five hits and four walks with two hit batters. OSU coach Greg Beals said he was proud of the effort the team gave, but was disappointed with how the season ended. “Game two didn’t go the way we wanted to,” Beals said. “We started to run out of gas. Tough 24 hours, going from 7:05 (Thursday) to noon (Friday), a doubleheader. I was really proud with how our guys competed in this tournament, but I felt like we ran out of gas (Friday) and that’s no excuse.” The Michigan State game was the second game Friday for the Buckeyes. Game one was a 6-2 win against Nebraska. Junior shortstop Kirby Pellant led the Buckeyes with two triples. The Buckeyes lost to Purdue Thursday night in a 5-4 game against the No. 1 seed. The Buckeyes were tied 2-2 in the seventh before Plawecki hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Purdue added an insurance run in the eighth and the Buckeyes scored one in the ninth to make it a 5-4 final. For the No. 6-seed Buckeyes, the tournament began Wednesday with a 12-5 win against No. 3-seed Penn State. The Buckeyes trailed 5-1 going into the sixth inning before scoring two in the sixth, three in the eighth and six in the top of the ninth inning. The tournament was Beals’ second tournament appearance in as many years with OSU. In the 2012 tournament the Buckeyes went 2-2, compared to 1-2 the year before. Beals said he is pleased with the direction of the program, but expects more from his team. “On a scale of one to 10, I’d call it a six,” Beals said of how successful a season it was for OSU baseball. “I think par, maybe. I have very high expectations and we need to keep working for that. We need to get tougher; we need to get physically tougher. We need to get mentally tougher, we need to get deeper in our program and if we have more depth and we’re going to do that. With depth we’ll get physically tougher, and practices will be harder with more competition in practice. We just need to beef up the depth in the program in my opinion.”
Upon the conclusion of Monday night’s NCAA men’s basketball championship game – and as an aside, thank you, Louisville, for beating Michigan – many of my fellow Buckeyes immediately flipped their internal switches to the next sport on the docket – football. In Columbus, it seems we only have three seasons: football, March Madness and spring football, and despite Ohio State men’s basketball coach Thad Matta’s best efforts, the March Madness season is usually grouped together with winter football conditioning anyway. Such is life at a university that doubles as a football powerhouse. Be honest. I know what you were doing last night. You were sitting there, watching “One Shining Moment” put a nice little bow on the basketball season while you planned your road trip to Cincinnati for this weekend’s spring football game at Paul Brown Stadium. But stop. Stop it right now. Put Urban Meyer on the backburner for – gasp – two weeks. That’s it. I understand football is awesome. I love football. I love football more than my unborn future children, who will undoubtedly be twins and will undoubtedly be named Scarlett and Grayson. I’m not telling you to forget about football. I’m not telling you to bail on the Spring Game. But I am asking you, the OSU student who is probably wearing some article of OSU-branded clothing right now as you read this, to expand your taste palette a tad. Show that Buckeye loyalty exists outside the gates of Ohio Stadium and the Schottenstein Center. Challenge yourself to use these last two weeks of school and go watch a so-called “minor” sport here at OSU. Some of you, myself included, only have two more weeks left on this campus as a student. Use it wisely. Go see student-athletes who work just as hard as our football and basketball players but who receive a fraction of the glory and recognition. Take a few hours and watch senior attacker Logan Schuss and the No. 13 men’s lacrosse team in action at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Come see the No. 5 ranked men’s tennis team, led by coach Ty Tucker, play a home match. Odds are you’ll see them win, because they haven’t lost at home in a decade. Yes, a decade. Take a trip to Buckeye Field and watch sophomore pitcher Alex DiDomenico dominate some hapless batter for the softball team. Come to Bill Davis Stadium and see redshirt senior pitcher Brad Goldberg do the same for the baseball team. Support the men’s and women’s golf and track teams. Show up for women’s tennis and rowing. Men’s volleyball, too. They’re all Buckeyes. They all deserve attention. You consider yourself a big Buckeye fan, right? Prove it. OSU doesn’t just play football and basketball. Come watch some of your fellow students do what they love. Come support some athletes who compete every bit as hard as junior quarterback Braxton Miller and junior guard Aaron Craft. There are 36 different varsity teams on this campus, and they all call themselves Buckeyes. Let them know this university’s fandom runs deeper than football and basketball. They deserve it.
Sophomore Kyle Skinner gets ready to serve the ball on at the game on Jan. 18 at St. John Arena in Columbus. Credit: Ethan Clewell | Senior Lantern ReporterFollowing a trip to the West Coast, the Ohio State men’s volleyball team will try and earn a win after losing three straight when the Buckeyes travel to Missouri to take on Lindenwood Friday, and Quincy on the road in Illinois Saturday. The Buckeyes (4-8, 0-2) are looking for their first win since their four-set victory against Lincoln Memorial at home on Feb. 2. They’ve lost nine straight sets since then to then-unranked Purdue Fort Wayne, No. 6 UC Santa Barbara and No. 1 Long Beach State. Ohio State is also going for its first league win after losses to the Mastodons and then-No. 13 Ball State earlier this season.Head coach Pete Hanson said he’s trying to get his young team to find ways to keep momentum when the match is on the line. “We’re still just making some young errors at really critical times that can keep momentum going,” Hanson said. “A lot of times, that’s what this game is all about: Can you keep a scoring run going or can you stop a scoring run by the other team? We’re just struggling to kind of find ways to get those two things accomplished and a lot of that is youth right now.” Both the Lions and the Hawks share identical records with the Buckeyes. Lindenwood (4-8, 0-2) comes into the match on Friday fresh off losses to No. 10 Lewis and then-No. 8 Loyola Chicago. The Lions are led by redshirt sophomore Charley Hlavin, who has accounted for 103 kills, 52 digs and six aces this season. The Lions and the Buckeyes have had two common opponents this season: Penn State and Saint Francis. Both teams are 1-1, with the Buckeyes having beaten Penn State at home, while the Lions have a five-set road win against the the Red Flash. Quincy (4-8, 0-2) will face the Buckeyes Saturday after having played against league foe McKendree two nights before. The Hawks are currently on their own three-match losing streak, featuring straight-set defeats against then-No. 8 Loyola Chicago and No. 10 Lewis and a four-set loss to Lourdes. The Hawks are led by junior outside hitter Omari Wheeler, who has amassed 160 kills, 60 digs and eight aces this season. Both the Buckeyes and the Hawks fell in straight-sets to their only common opponent: No. 1 Long Beach State. Ohio State will have to lean on the youth on its roster to come up big this weekend. Injuries to major contributors such as senior setter Sanil Thomas and sophomore opposite hitter Jake Hanes have given some younger players more opportunities. Freshman outside hitter Jack Stevens, a serving specialist for the Buckeyes, said he’s been learning a lot from the upperclassmen about how to adjust to playing at the collegiate level. “All the older guys have taught me a lot about just the hard work and dedication it takes to succeed at this level, whether it’s in the practice gym, the weight room, or in the classroom,” Stevens said. “All these guys have been working hard for four or five years. It’s really cool to learn from them.” Ohio State will face Lindenwood at 8 p.m. Friday in Saint Charles, Missouri, and Quincy at 8 p.m. Saturday in Quincy, Illinois.
Mr Justice Hayden said his “overwhelming impression” was that the woman “believes herself to be to fighting for [her son’s] right to express himself as a girl”. He said the woman had told him how the boy “expressed disdain for his penis”. The judge added: “I consider that [the mother] has caused significant emotional harm to [her son] in her active determination that he should be a girl.”Mr Justice Hayden said: “I have noted from reports that [the boy] has become interested in Power Rangers, SpongeBob, Superheroes and is constantly finding new interests …“It is striking that most of [the boy’s] interests are male-oriented. I am entirely satisfied, both on the basis of the reports and [the father’s] evidence at this hearing, that he has brought no pressure on [the boy] to pursue masculine interests. [The boy’s] interests and energy are entirely self-motivated.”He said a report by the council’s social services department showed that concerns had been raised about the boy in 2013. Later in 2014, a health centre had added to a “clamour of concern”. A GP had requested that a social worker visit the child due to concerns around the boy possibly having gender identity disorder. No further action had been taken. 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 boy aged seven has been removed from his mother’s care following concerns that she was forcing him to live “life entirely as a girl”.Mr Justice Hayden said the woman had caused her son “significant emotional harm” after becoming “absolutely convinced” that the youngster “perceived himself as a girl” and was determined that he should be a girl.Complaints from the father prompted a three-year legal battle, the details of which emerged yesterday in the judgment of the Family Division of the High Court in London.The boy’s parents had separated some years ago but after the courts became aware the father was being denied contact a “wide ranging” inquiry was ordered and local authority social services staff had begun investigations.“[His mother] told me that [he] was ‘living in stealth’, by which was meant, she explained, that he was living life entirely as a girl,” said Mr Justice Hayden in the written ruling.“He dressed, at all times, like a girl and, it transpired, had been registered at a new general practitioner’s as a girl.”The judge added: “I was also left in no doubt that [the mother] was absolutely convinced that [the boy] perceived himself as a girl.” He added: “This local authority has consistently failed to take appropriate intervention.”
Wind turbines may also attract insects and so encourage bats to feed near blades 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. Wind farms are probably killing tens of thousands of bats a year, even where risk assessments have been carried out to prevent the deaths, a study has found.Researchers at the University of Exeter used sniffer dogs to locate the bodies of stricken bats near turbines to find out the scale of the problem.A survey of 29 wind farms showed that 194 bats a month were killed, although the figure is likely to be higher because many of the dead creatures would have fallen prey to scavengers. The main casualties of wind turbines were two common species of bats: the Common Pipstrelle and Soprano Pipistrelle, tiny bats with reddish-brown coats and blackish-brown ears. Bodies of the Noctule, one of the larger European bat species which sometimes come out before sunset to feed on moths, beetles and other large flying insects, were also found around turbines.A dead Nathusius’s Pipistrelle, which has recently been found to be migratory, was also found, raising concerns about whether onshore and off-shore wind farms could pose a threat to their navigation route. A Nathusius’ pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii)Credit:Wikimedia Bats may not turn on their sonar at the height of wind turbine bladesCredit:John Taylor If the figure was extrapolated to all of Britain’s onshore wind farms it could mean that around 80,000 bats are being killed each year by turbines. The research also showed that the risk of bat death increased by 18 per cent for each extra metre of blade length. Some individual turbines were found to kill around five bats a month. Dr Fiona Matthews, of Exeter University, who led the research, which was partly funded by the government, said operators should be encouraged to switch turbines off during peak migration and breeding seasons, such as summer nights.The scientists think that bats may turn off their sonar when high up because they don’t expect anything to be blocking their path. They may also be attracted to insects which gather round the blades so an area that seemed clear in a pre-construction risk assessment could end up having any bats.“An open field might not be very interesting, whereas once new structures are built the bats may investigate it or feed around it,” said Dr Matthews.“It may be possible bats actually alter their behaviour once the turbines are built.“Bats have been around for at least 30 million years and during that time have been able to fly happily without the risk of colliding with a spinning object.“There are effective ways of preventing bat deaths. Unfortunately we have found that assessments conducted when wind farms are being planned are very poor at identifying whether a site is likely to be risky.” First author on the Current Biology paper, Dr Paul Lintott, said that although wind farms do kill bats it is important to remember the wider benefits of renewable energy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the positive impact that this will have on global biodiversity.Dr Lintott said: “By focusing resources on stopping turbines during high risk periods we should be able to minimise the collision risk to local bat populations whilst also benefiting globally from the transition to a greener economy.”The research, which was published in the journal Current Biology, was part funded by the Department for the Environment, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
“Their children are usually here with us and it’s been very hard on my son, but we are helping him through it.”Lisa’s third and latest marriage is now legally void. So she and Elliott will have to divorce if she wants to do it properly.”Outside court, Mrs Everard said: “I have been through enough now. This has been unbelievably stressful and tough on me and my kids.”I have been punished enough without this going public and everyone knowing my private business. I just want to move forward.”Bigamist ‘hanged himself’ after third wife discovered another affair The court heard her salesman husband had lost a stone in weight after discovering his wife’s second wedding in July this year.The judge said the impact on Mr Everard was not just emotional but financial as he was providing for their two children by himself. Mrs Everard also has two children from a previous marriage. But Mr Everard checked the marriage records at the register office to discover the truth that she had illegally married her secret lover Michael Hughes.Cardiff Crown Court heard Mrs Everard then confessed to her bigamy – and left their large country home to move into a terraced former council house with Mr Hughes.Prosecutor Mark Battrick said: “Mr Everard was devastated. He was distraught at what he had seen. “He described feeling numb and said his world had turned upside down.” After the hearing Mr Everard’s father, John, 67, said: “It’s such a sensitive issue for Elliott and for us as a family. 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. Peter Donnison, defending, said Mrs Everard had no previous convictions and said her new husband Mr Hughes is sticking by her.He told the court Mrs Everard said she the relationship with her husband Mr Everard was over “some years prior to her re-marrying”. A bigamist wife who claimed she was a bridesmaid for her friend when she was actually the bride was discovered when her husband saw the wedding pictures on Facebook.Lisa Everard, 35, was still married and living in the same house as her husband when she walked down the aisle with her new partner. Her husband Elliott Everard, 38, was shocked when he spotted pictures of her dressed in a white wedding gown online.The mother-of-four lied to her legal husband claiming she had been a bridesmaid at her friend’s wedding – and he had nothing to worry about. This was not an act of naivety. This was a deceptionJudge Philip Harris-Jenkins Everard now lives in a terraced former council house with Mr HughesCredit:Wales News I have been punished enough without this going public and everyone knowing my private business. I just want to move forwardMrs Everard Judge Philip Harris-Jenkins said: “You should have bore all of that in mind before you acted in the selfish way that you did.”This was not an act of naivety. This was a deception.”The Everard couple – who wed in Gretna Green four years ago – have two children aged two and three.The court heard Mrs Everard, who worked as a carer, has suffered postnatal depression after the birth of her youngest child. Mrs Everard, of Chepstow, Gwent, pleaded guilty to one count of bigamy.But the judge spared her prison by saying it was not in the public interest to impose an immediate custodial sentence.Instead, Mrs Everard was made the subject of a rehabilitation requirement and she will have to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.