Though the object of just about any sport is to outscore the opponent, teams that finish a whole season with the biggest scoring margin don’t always emerge as champions. That seeming contradiction is common in leagues that decide their champions with playoffs because weaker teams sometimes overachieve in the postseason. But it also happens now and then in the major European soccer leagues, which crown their champions based solely on regular-season results.Usually, this sort of luck evens out. The club that wins all of its one-goal matches one season will have a good chance to win its league’s title without leading in goal differential. But it will find it tough to repeat the feat: Winning a title that way is like walking a tightrope, compared to the relatively straightforward path for the team with the best goal differential.That luck, though, has almost never played out in Liverpool’s favor. Its extended run of difficulty turning positive scoring margins into trophies demonstrates that there is more to winning titles than winning the scoreboard: Scoring at the right time and protecting slim leads are also important. Then again, considering this misfortune has persisted across many different Liverpool managers and players, it may also just be the latest evidence that sports often aren’t fair.At least one of the factors behind Liverpool’s 24-year title drought must feel like hard luck to supporters of the Reds. Liverpool leads major European clubs, by a wide margin, in failing to turn scoring margins into wins — the necessary ingredient for league points and thus titles — since the debut of the English Premier League, 22 years ago. One of its top Premier League rivals, Manchester United, has led the league in points relative to expectation based on goals scored and allowed. So Liverpool received little return on investment while Man U got a windfall.This season, that all could have changed. In soccer, a win typically is worth three points in the league table, while a draw is worth one. A couple of weeks ago, with a struggling United out of the title race, the Reds won their 11th consecutive league match, over Norwich, and led that other Manchester club — Manchester City — by five points, even though Man City held the better goal differential, +54 to Liverpool’s +52. Winning a title without leading the league in goal differential would have provided plenty of catharsis for Liverpool supporters.But ahead of its season finale Sunday at home against Newcastle, Liverpool has fallen off the pace. It blew a three-goal lead to Crystal Palace on Monday in the second half. City took control of the title race with a 4-0 win against Aston Villa on Wednesday. City leads Liverpool by two points and holds an unassailable lead of 13 goals in scoring margin, which determines the league champion if two or more teams tie for the points lead.1City won the league title two years ago, over Manchester United, based on the same goal-differential tiebreaker. If clubs have the same goal differential, then total goals decides the champion, and if they tie there, too, a one-game playoff decides things. To win the title, Liverpool must now beat Newcastle and hope West Ham upsets City in Manchester.Even if Liverpool doesn’t win the title Sunday, two of Europe’s other three strongest leagues, in Italy and Spain, could be won by a club that didn’t lead the league in goal differential.It would be unusual for two or more champions in England, Italy, Spain and Germany to trail a rival in goal differential. On average since 1992-93, it’s happened in one of the four leagues each year, and just once every other year in the last decade.Across all sports, the relationship between scoring margin and winning can differ subtly. In the last few paragraphs, I’ve been comparing soccer clubs by goal differential, since that’s the stat that commonly appears in league tables. But the difference between goals scored and goals allowed is an incomplete way of assessing team performance. The club that scores 50 goals and allows none will suffer no losses, and likely will have a better record than a rival that scores 150 goals and allows 75.Those who analyze the four major U.S. pro sports leagues for the connection between scoring margin and winning percentage look to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras as their muse. His formula for C, the length of the longest side of a right triangle, or the hypotenuse, is A^2 +B^2 = C^2, where A and B are the lengths of the other two sides, respectively. As baseball-stats pioneer Bill James first found to get a good first estimate of a baseball team’s winning percentage, you can draw a right triangle where one of the two shorter sides has a length equal to the number of runs scored by the team, A; and the other of the two shorter sides has a length equal to the number of runs allowed, B. Then the team’s winning percentage will roughly be the square of the ratio between A and C.That, again, is a starting point. For baseball the best exponent to use in this formula turns out to be lower than 2, closer to 1.8. Some analysts also prefer to adjust the exponent depending on the run-scoring environment. And other sports have different exponents — basketball’s, for instance, is much higher.Soccer presents a Pythagorean challenge because about a quarter of its matches end in draws, worth one point each in the league tables. Because wins are worth three points, the most accurate Pythagorean analyses overestimate most teams’ points totals, as soccer analyst Howard Hamilton has found. I got the same result when seeking the best exponent for the last 21 complete seasons of the big four European professional leagues, using data compiled by Opta, the soccer-stats providers and analysts. The best fit,2Using Microsoft Excel’s Solver function, and seeking to minimize the root mean square error. an exponent of 1.19, overestimated the average team’s final standing by 4.6 points.Advanced analysis in soccer is younger than its cousin disciplines for other sports, and there isn’t yet a consensus about how to solve this conundrum. Hamilton derived a formula — published in a peer-reviewed journal — to account separately for the probability of wins, losses and draws. Others have calculated formulas with three separate exponents. Depending on which approach analysts use, and which years and leagues they’re studying, the results can vary a bit, though typically they’re able to predict a team’s final points total to within three to five points.I tried several of these approaches with my Opta-supplied data set, and found the best balance between complexity and accuracy was one that used two exponents: one for teams’ goals scored, and one for goals allowed.3I was seeking a formula to relate goals scored and goals allowed to points percentage — points divided by available points, which I set to the number of matches multiplied by three, though some leagues in some seasons gave two points per win. The general form was: Points percentage = (goals scored)^A/(goals scored)^B + (goals allowed)^C. Setting A, B and C equal, as one does when using the formula for other sports, creates the problem of overestimating point totals in soccer. Letting each exponent be different yielded a root mean square error — roughly speaking, the typical miss in the forecast of a team’s results — of 4.3 points. I then tried a different set of exponents for each of the four leagues, and got hardly any benefit: an overall RMSE of 4.2. Then I forced A and B to be equal to each other, since they were being applied to the same base. That also had little change (RMSE = 4.3). So I stuck with that relatively simple model: Just two exponents, the same for each league in each season. The resulting exponent for goals scored was 1.18, and for goals allowed 1.23. The model worked well for each league and each season, not overestimating or underestimating for any league’s set of teams by more than half a point on average, or for any single year by more than a point on average. The model produced an estimate for each club, for each season, of how many points it should have received given its number of goals scored and allowed. And that let me to calculate which teams consistently outperformed or underperformed their expected records.Among the 73 clubs that were in their countries’ top tier for at least 10 of the 21 seasons between 1992-93 and 2012-13, Liverpool was by far the biggest underperformer, at 3.5 points per season. No other club underperformed by even two points per season. Atlético Madrid, which is now the club most likely to win a big league this season without leading it in goal differential, is another historic underperformer, by 1.4 points per season.Even this year Atlético has been more good than lucky. Though Barcelona and Real Madrid have better goal differentials, Atlético has conceded far fewer goals. For the very best clubs, a goal allowed is costlier than a goal scored is valuable, because the surrendered goal could turn a win into a draw and cost two points.4ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, developed by FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver, operates on the same principle, rating clubs that concede fewer goals — after adjusting for opponent strength — more highly than clubs with the same scoring differential but more goals conceded. For this reason, Chelsea, in third in the EPL this season in the table and in goal differential, could have expected to be ahead in the league table because it has been the stingiest in allowing goals. Based on my model, Atlético could have expected to be just ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid based on goals.Had Liverpool been just slightly better at turning goals into wins, it might have won three league titles in the last two decades. In 1995-96, Liverpool conceded one fewer goal than league champs Manchester United over the 38-match season, while scoring three fewer. According to my formula, that should have amounted to a near-tie at the top of the table; instead, United won by 11 points. By goals scored and allowed, Liverpool also should have been neck and neck with Arsenal in 2001-02: Arsenal scored 12 more but conceded six more, as well. Yet the Gunners outgunned Liverpool by seven points in the final table. It was United, again, thwarting Liverpool’s title hopes in 2008-09: The Reds scored nine more goals than United while conceding just three more, which should have been good enough for a one-point edge in the final table. United won by four points.Many of Liverpool’s goals have come when the club least needed them, with a match’s outcome already decided. For instance, in 2001-02, Liverpool was 13-3 in matches decided by two goals or more, with a goal differential in those matches of +29. In February, Liverpool faced a hot Ipswich Town club that had won seven of eight league matches. Liverpool won, 6-0. In the season finale, they met again, and Liverpool won, 5-0. Ipswich Town lost only two other matches all season by more than two goals.Even when Liverpool has been out of the league race, it’s often had hard luck. In 1998-99, the Reds scored 22 more goals than West Ham United, while allowing four fewer. Yet somehow the Hammers finished ahead of Liverpool.Liverpool didn’t deserve any of the titles it didn’t win. Clubs know their target is points, not goal differential. Those that win the league without leading in goal differential might be better at protecting one-goal leads, or less intent on running up the score on weak opponents. It turns out that winning is about as good a predictor of future winning as are any stats based on goal differential.5A club’s point percentage for a season, in the data set, had a higher correlation to point percentage the next season (0.66) than did the first year’s goal differential per game (0.63), and about the same as the ratio of goals scored to goals allowed (0.66), while just slightly trailing the correlation between the first year’s predicted point percentage and its actual percentage the next season (0.67). That doesn’t necessarily mean that a club’s points total is the best indicator of team quality. It could be that the better a club does, the better players it attracts in the transfer market. Also this comparison omits any clubs that were relegated to a lower division for a bad Year One performance. Nonetheless, there’s no evidence here that the basic goal-differential stats do a better job of predicting future results than do past results.Even so, for the same club to have such a poor record relative to expectations over 21 years suggests a spate of bad luck. The common threads over that long a period are Liverpool’s colors and its fans. And Liverpool supporters, by now, could reasonably feel they’re due some good luck — maybe even enough for their club to overcome Man City’s strong position, and strong goal differential, to win the league.Correction (May 7, 7:38 p.m.): Manchester City beat Aston Villa, 4-0, on Wednesday and now holds a 13-goal lead on Liverpool in goal differential. An earlier version of this article misstated the score and Manchester City’s lead in goal differential.
What seemed destined to be an ongoing holdout saga between Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys came to an abrupt end Wednesday when the two sides reached a deal for a five-year, $70 million contract with $32 million fully guaranteed (with up to $45 million sort of guaranteed). Right around the same time, the Broncos re-signed Demaryius Thomas for an eerily similar amount.While not quite as precedent-shattering as the $100-million-plus with $50 million(ish) guaranteed that Calvin Johnson — perhaps the premier wide receiver of our time — got in 2012, these are still staggering numbers. This isn’t receiver money, it’s quarterback money. The contract’s $14 million per year average is right around the median for starting quarterbacks, and the guaranteed money is approaching the top 10. In March, two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger signed a new deal with the Steelers, with $31 million guaranteed. Can this possibly be worth it?Let me preface by saying that Bryant and Thomas have elite-level production. If we look slightly beyond the headline stats such as yards and touchdowns, we can see that their teams lean on them substantially and are rewarded with good results. Below is a chart of the average yards receivers gained each time they were targeted, plotted against how often they were targeted (for all qualifying receivers from the 2014-15 season). Keep in mind that teams typically throw at their better receivers more often, but they’re also likely giving those receivers worse opportunities on average (sort of like how high-volume shooters in basketball have to take more bad shots). So the better a receiver is, the more passes he gets, but the harder it is to consistently make catches and put up big gains.In that chart, the closer a receiver is to the upper right, the better he is. You can imagine a boundary connecting DeSean Jackson and A.J. Green, and anyone falling along or close to that boundary has a strong case for being top tier. Call it the “presumptively good” zone. Thomas has one of the largest target rates, yet is well above average in yards gained per target. That’s impressive given the more-passes-means-worse-passes dynamic I mentioned earlier. Bryant’s offense ran through him a little less than Thomas’s last year, but he gained more yards on average and is in the upper tier for both.But this is where the NFL gets hard (and/or fun, depending on your perspective). In baseball, statistical production is pretty much the same as actual production — either a player has high WAR or he doesn’t. In basketball, things are a little trickier: Good stats correlate strongly with good value — that is, take away a productive and efficient player, and a team is likely worse off, but we’re still just modeling value with statistical proxies. In football, however, individual statistics pretty much don’t exist. The statistical results for players are so hopelessly entangled with each other that it is often impossible to accurately assign credit (at least at the current level of granularity).Bryant and Thomas are particularly hard to decipher: First, they’re receivers, and trying to make sense of a QB/WR pairing can be frustrating at best, futile at worst. It can take a virtually unprecedented data set to conclude anything with much certainty. That they both play with amazing quarterbacks only furthers the difficulty. Tony Romo was an award-winning MVP candidate last year and had the highest passer rating and Total QBR in football. And having Peyton Manning throw to you is pretty much steroids for receivers (possibly even affecting legacies the same way suspicion of PED usage does). But more importantly, both quarterbacks were doing fine without them:Net yards per attempt doesn’t capture everything about an offense, but it captures about as much as any other metric. Manning has seen an improvement since playing with Thomas, but of course Manning has also been playing with an entirely new team. Romo’s 2014-15 season was the best he has had in a while, but Bryant has been producing at his current level for three or four years now, and Romo has been no better in those years on average than in years previous.Which brings us back to those big contracts. In general, my reflex is to think that most huge contracts given to non-QBs are too large. In addition to worrying about injury, aging, etc., a general manager also has to worry that he might be wrong about someone because of some other factor on the team. A seemingly great player may really be only kind of good, or worse (and you may never even know).The 2015 salary cap is set at $143 million, which means the yearly salaries for Bryant and Thomas will be close to 10 percent of the cap (and their guarantees are somewhere between 22 percent and 32 percent of the cap, depending on which guarantee you use). Filling out a 53-man roster with “replacement” players already costs $30-million-plus, and a good quarterback costs another $15-20 million.1And the great quarterbacks like Manning or Romo are likely woefully underpaid. That means these teams are choosing to exhaust somewhere north of 15 percent of their available cap space for one player on one side of the ball who will be one option in the passing game.A lot has to go right to make this strategy work. Even if a GM is right, and a player actually is that good, and the player doesn’t get injured, and he performs up to standard for the length of his contract, and he has enough impact to justify the cost, a team still doesn’t contend for championships by paying players what they’re worth. It does it by paying them less than they’re worth. Here’s a blueprint: top quarterback (because top QBs are underpaid), rookie contracts, veterans that everyone else undervalues, spare parts that work well together, and coaches that can make the most of it all. Sound like any team you know?Perhaps the Broncos and Cowboys are good enough elsewhere that their best shot of winning a championship is to let a significant amount of their cap space tread water (best case) for a few years. For 2015-16, all that matters is putting the best team they can on the field. But impatience has rarely been a successful strategy in the NFL.
Miami Heat+21 The phenomenon that appears to have a chance of overtaking the Warriors’ box office supremacy is Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour with the Lakers, who are now 4-21. Bryant announced his retirement just before an eight-game Lakers road trip, and seven of those games were the biggest Lakers road draws of the year, relative to their hosts’ average ticket prices. The buyers weren’t there to watch the Lakers, but to see one of Bryant’s last visits to their town as a pro. The priciest ticket by far this season, according to StubHub, is the Lakers’ April 13 game in Los Angeles against the Utah Jazz, who are now 10-13. It’s Bryant’s last regular-season game and — barring the single unlikeliest playoff run in the history of time — his final game in the NBA as well. If public interest in squeezing the last drops of enjoyment out of Kobe’s senescence persists or even accelerates as the finality sets in, the Lakers could keep pace with the Warriors and Cavs, which is really saying quite a bit.Speaking of the Cavs, LeBron James remains a draw. Two of the 10 biggest box-office bumps for games this season have been Cavaliers road games. But the Warriors have five — four of those this month, as their win streak mounted.The excitement as the Warriors stacked win on top of win enriched ticket holders who decided to sell off their seats. SeatGeek sent us day-by-day median listed prices for each of the games the Warriors have played this season, from 60 days before tipoff to the day before. (Listed prices this time, not sale prices, because daily sales volume isn’t high enough — especially weeks before tipoff — to be a reliable gauge of market shifts.) For each date, we averaged the Warriors bump over each home team’s median ticket price for the season, for each remaining game. And we found that from opening night until days before the end of the streak, the average Warriors premium on ticket prices kept growing, until prices were being listed at more than four times the median sales price for the teams hosting the Warriors late in their just-completed road trip. Portland Trail Blazers-19 Dallas Mavericks-8 New Orleans Pelicans-9 12/12309151 Oklahoma City Thunder+19 VISITING TEAMPRICE INCREASE Denver Nuggets-30 Chicago Bulls+13 Los Angeles Clippers+10 Prices for Wednesday night’s Golden State home game against Phoenix fell steeply after the Warriors’ loss to the Bucks on Dec. 12 — though average prices on Tuesday were still $196 — or $21 more than the Warriors’ league-best average home ticket-resale price. Not bad for a team on a one-game losing streak.Read more:Stephen Curry’s Bombs Are Too Good To Be True*It’s Time To Take The Warriors’ Chances Of Going 73-9 SeriouslyStephen Curry Is The RevolutionHow The Golden State Warriors Are Breaking The NBANBA Predictions 12/8$286$141 Golden State Warriors+117% Utah Jazz-29 Atlanta Hawks-12 Brooklyn Nets-13 Toronto Raptors-24 Boston Celtics-17 12/11338137 Houston Rockets0 Charlotte Hornets-20 Detroit Pistons-21 Washington Wizards-16 Phoenix Suns-32 Minnesota Timberwolves-13 New York Knicks+1 12/13251124 The streak is over, which means Warriors ticket prices could regress to the mean — at least until late in the season, when demand could spike if Golden State’s march to 73 wins remains plausible.Average ticket-resale price for Dec. 16 Warriors game Memphis Grizzlies-23 12/15252116 Orlando Magic-29 Cleveland Cavaliers+102 12/14305121 SEATING LEVEL DATELOWERUPPER Los Angeles Lakers+90 Indiana Pacers-26 12/9274160 12/10282138 Sacramento Kings-24 Milwaukee Bucks-38 Golden State’s appeal this season is hardly a mystery. The Warriors are defending champs. Before they lost to Milwaukee on Saturday, they’d won their first 24 games, the best start for a team in a major U.S. pro-sports league ever. Stephen Curry is canning enough threes to tilt the NBA paradigm, often from 30 feet out, and drawing crowds for his warmups hours before tipoff. Several friends of mine in New York City have suggested getting together this season to watch the Warriors on TV; none has suggested we watch a Knicks or Nets broadcast. (Several people suggested that we go together to just one game: Warriors at Nets.)But while the Warriors’ magnetism is obvious, the NBA’s ticket-price standings aren’t as clear-cut as the win-loss column. According to sales data for games this season through Sunday — provided by SeatGeek at FiveThirtyEight’s request — the Warriors’ average road-game ticket-resale price of $144 trails the Cavs’ by $1 and the Lakers’ by $2. StubHub, a ticket-resale site, sent us data that also includes sales for the rest of the season’s games. That shows the Warriors ($173) trailing the Cavs by $9 but leading the Lakers by $17 in road-game ticket prices. Both data sets show that the Warriors are comfortably in first place in average home ticket prices. And they agree that Golden State’s box-office draw is way up from a few years ago.1So is its social-media following: Golden State had the league’s biggest percentage increase in Twitter followers on Nov. 30, 2015, compared with Nov. 30, 2012, according to data provided by social-media analytics company Socialbakers, and the second-biggest percentage increase in Facebook fans, after the Pacers.Merely looking at average ticket prices undersells how much of a draw the Warriors have been. They’ve made the box offices of usually sleepy arenas come to life. Of Golden State’s 15 road games, four have been against teams that rank in the bottom-five in home ticket prices on the resale market and eight have been against teams that rank in the bottom 11. Once you adjust for the teams that Golden State has visited, the Warriors have had by far the league’s biggest upward pull on road-game ticket-resale prices; ticket-resale prices for their road games are an average of 117 percent higher than the average resale price in those arenas this season. The Cavs are the next closest at 102 percent.Average ticket-price effect for road games, 2015-16 Philadelphia 76ers-28 It’s gotten a lot more expensive to watch the Warriors play basketball. Golden State fans are paying the highest prices on the ticket-resale market to attend home games this year. On the road, the Warriors are vying with LeBron James’s Cavaliers and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant retirement tour to be the league’s biggest box-office draw on the road.That’s a big change from previous years, according to data from SeatGeek, a search engine scouring dozens of ticket-resale sites. (Resale prices move more freely than face values, which depend on teams’ more-rigid pricing rules.) Last season, the Warriors ranked third in average ticket-resale prices both at home and on the road, despite winning a league-high 67 games and playing some of the most thrilling ball in the league. Two seasons before that, a 47-win Warriors team ranked near the middle of the league in box-office mojo, selling tickets at prices around one-third of what they’re getting this year. Since the 2012-13 season, Golden State has had by far the biggest jump in home ticket-resale prices and trails only Cleveland — which went from no-LeBron to yes-LeBron during that period — in increasing its road-ticket appeal. San Antonio Spurs+16
Serena Williams lost her No. 1 ranking at the U.S. Open Thursday. (Twitter)Serena Williams was knocked off the top spot after Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic beat her at the U.S. Open. Thursday night’s match caused Williams to lose her chance at making Grand Slam title history.USA Today reported Pliskova won in a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) upset.Williams told reporters she made many mistakes after the game at Arthur Ashe Stadium.“I don’t think much went well today,” she said of losing to first-time major semifinalist Pliskova. “I made a lot of errors. I didn’t play as well as I’ve been playing.”The Guardian reported Williams went up against Simona Halep Wednesday, and though she defeated her in three sets, some wondered if the less than 22-hour turnaround caused Williams’ upset Thursday.But Williams dismissed those claims.“We play every single week,” she said. “I have been in Toronto or Montreal or Cincinnati where I play Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I mean, if I’m not used to playing this, and I really should think of something different. I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse because that’s not me.”A bad knee is to blame for her poor performance.Williams called her ailment “serious” and said it flared up “after the second or third round.” She declined to detail the diagnosis.“I wasn’t able to move the way I wanted to move,” Williams explained. “When you’re injured you’re thinking of other things when you should be just playing and thinking of your shots. My mind was just a little bit everywhere. But it was what it was.”“I don’t remember having seen her move so slowly ever,” her coach Patrick Mouratoglou told reporters. “As soon as she started, it was terrible.”The resulting defeat cost Williams her 23rd Grand Slam. She’ll continue to share the 22 record titles with Steffi Graff. The tennis stars will also share the 186-week record for the No. 1 world ranking. Williams will lose the top spot to Germany’s Angelique Kerber once the new rankings are revealed Sept. 12.
FILE – This 2013 file photo shows New York Jets running back Joe McKnight. (AP Photo/File)GRETNA, La. (AP) — The man convicted of manslaughter in the 2016 road rage shooting death of former NFL running back Joe McKnight was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday.Ronald Gasser, 56, had faced up to 40 years in prison. Defense lawyers argued that Gasser fired in self-defense when McKnight walked up to his car following a 5-mile confrontation that began on a bridge spanning the Mississippi River in New Orleans and ended with gunfire in neighboring Jefferson Parish.McKnight’s mother testified Thursday during the sentencing hearing. Jennifer McKnight left the courtroom sobbing after angrily telling Gasser: “You didn’t have to do that.”Witnesses at the trial said McKnight had been weaving in and out of traffic at high speed before the shooting. Prosecutors acknowledged to the jury that he was, in the words of Assistant District Attorney Seth Shute, “driving like a jerk.” But they argued that Gasser escalated the conflict, following him down an exit that he would not ordinarily have taken moments before the shooting.Shute acknowledged that McKnight had a hand on the open, passenger side window of Gasser’s car before he was shot. But he said physical evidence proved Gasser lied during extensive police questioning when he claimed McKnight lunged at him.McKnight had been a high school football hero at Louisiana’s John Curtis Christian School. He signed with the University of Southern California in 2006. In the NFL, he played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.Gasser was indicted on a second-degree murder charge. The jury voted 10-2 for the lesser verdict of manslaughter.Gasser did not leave the scene of the shooting and he was released for a time after being questioned. He is white and his release after the shooting of the black athlete sparked protests from some who said race was a factor.Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who has since retired, denied that race played any role and noted that a thorough investigation led to Gasser’s arrest and indictment. Prosecutors later recounted a painstaking investigation, including an extensive search for witnesses and physical evidence that eventually led to Gasser being charged.The case in some ways echoed another New Orleans-area road rage shooting from 2016. Former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith was gunned down in that April incident. The shooter was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years.
FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (Jan. 24, 2017), we chat about last weekend’s NFL blowouts and begin to think about the Super Bowl. Next, we interview Duke’s Lexie Brown, who recently made 56 straight free throws, the sixth-longest streak in NCAA history and the new ACC record. Finally, the Philadelphia 76ers are suddenly on a hot streak. We investigate how the Sixers’ season has recently taken a winning turn and look at whether it’s too late for Philadelphia to be a playoff contender.Links to what we discussed:In case you missed it, ESPN recapped the Falcons’ 44-21 defeat of the Packers and the Patriots’ 36-17 AFC title win against the Steelers.FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine took a look at Matt Ryan’s incredible season and explained why it’s not a fluke.The Patriots won with less talent than usual, writes Ty Schalter.Duke’s Lexie Brown was named the ACC Player of the Week this Monday.espnW’s Mechelle Voepel reports on the NCAA committee’s early reveal of the top 16 women’s basketball teams.The Ringer’s Ben Detrick explores the Philadelphia 76ers’ surprising hot streak.Significant Digit: $4,045, the amount “The Fish Guy,” an aquatic services company, sought from Buffalo Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes in a lawsuit. The company moved Spikes’s tropical fish and aquarium to Buffalo from Rhode Island in 2014 after he joined the Bills.
Clutch Hitting: Success in the Win Probability Added “clutch” metric — which measures whether a player hits better in high-leverage situations — may follow from playing style more than mental fortitude. But whatever the reason, the voters enjoy a player who raises his game in crucial situations. A player whose clutch play added 0.45 wins per 600 PA more than another (despite equal WAR) receives a one-point boost to his BBTN 100 rating. The New York Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury might be the poster child here after leading baseball in clutch wins above average over the 2011-13 span; Ellsbury was rated eight points higher by BBTN than WAR suggests he should have been. All told, these results aren’t incredibly shocking. They exhibit a bias toward many of the traditional “tools” of scouting: hitting for average and power, speed, fielding and throwing. The voters’ bias isn’t conscious, but it is real. It’s indicative of all the factors that add up to our impression of a player, rather than his empirical value.Sabermetrics isn’t automatically the “correct” answer in these comparisons, but it does offer a rigorous, systematic way of valuing players. Examining where human biases conflict with the statistics is a useful way to determine where our eyes’ prejudices lie. Batting Average on Balls in Play: There are two possible explanations for the value placed by the BBTN 100 voters on BABIP. One is that the panel doesn’t seem to agree with the standard sabermetric view that much of a batter’s BABIP is driven by chance. (Remember, this isn’t to say success on balls in play is all luck, but it does take nearly two and a half years worth of plate appearances for an individual hitter’s BABIP to stabilize.) The other is that they strongly value those select batters whose playing style lends itself to a higher than normal BABIP — think speedy, ground-ball hitters like Ichiro Suzuki in his prime. With WAR held constant, a player would need a BABIP 14 points higher to see a one-point boost to his BBTN score. Two weeks ago, ESPN1FiveThirtyEight’s owner, for those unaware. released its “Baseball Tonight” (BBTN) 100, a player ranking based on votes from a panel of 40 experts. The panelists graded each of a group of 277 players on a 0-100 scale and then ranked them accordingly. For instance, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels topped the list with a score of 98, while his most valuable player foil from recent seasons, Miguel Cabrera, came in second at 96.2Ratings are rounded throughout.It’s just one group of ratings from one group of writers, former players and ex-pats of the game. But it’s a useful proxy to understand the difference between subjective valuations and empirical ones. I was interested in seeing what these experts’ preferences tell us about how they view the game. If the BBTN panelists were ranking players, surely some of their metrics would differ from more empirical measures. This isn’t to say that the experts didn’t look at statistics at all when voting, or that most of them aren’t knowledgeable about baseball’s growing culture of numeracy. Many of them are. But purely subjective votes like this bring out the emotional decisions inherent in evaluating players. I wanted to know where those emotions led the panel when — right or wrong — they strayed from the path of pure sabermetric orthodoxy.To that end, I broke down what caused players’ BBTN scores to differ from what would have been predicted from their wins above replacement marks, an advanced metric designed to statistically measure a player’s on-field contributions in a logical, structured way. Think of this as an investigation into where sabermetrics and the “eye test” disagree.For the 149 position players who logged at least 600 plate appearances from 2011 to 2013, I adapted per-plate appearance WAR rates to the same scale as the BBTN ratings.3For qualified players, the correlation between BBTN score and WAR per 600 PAs was just 0.42. But that’s kind of the point — we’re interested in investigating what correlates with the residuals between WAR and BBTN score. For instance, a rate of 6 WAR per 600 PAs, as Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays produced, would typically lead to a BBTN score of 78 — precisely the mark the panel gave Bautista. But not every player’s BBTN score lined up so perfectly with his WAR numbers.The Texas Rangers’ Prince Fielder generated just 3.3 WAR/600, which my calculations predict would lead to a BBTN rating of 62; instead, the voters deemed Fielder worthy of a 79, one of the most divergent ratings in the data set. Meanwhile, Craig Gentry of the Oakland Athletics created 6.7 WAR/600 — normally good for a BBTN score of 82 — but was rated a 45 by the panel.These divergences are a proxy for over- and under-ratedness, where — for the purposes of this concept — a player’s accurate rating is just his WAR rate. If a player was overrated, his BBTN score would be higher than his WAR implied it should be, and the opposite for an underrated player.But not every overrated player is overrated for the same reason. To understand if the experts are snookered by certain skills more than others, I gathered a bunch of numbers (including scouting-style defensive opinions) from Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs, looking to see which were significant predictors of how much a player’s BBTN rating diverged from his WAR.Seven factors turned up as having a real effect on how a player was regarded by voters, relative to his sabermetric output. Positional Scarcity: The voters tended to judge players’ offensive numbers without regard to the position where they were produced. It’s a lot easier to find a great hitter physically capable of playing first base than it is to find the same hitter who can also play competently at shortstop, but the BBTN rankings don’t reflect that.5The position adjustment in WAR is derived from changes in fielding performance when players move between different positions. For instance, the history of players switching from shortstop to second base suggests that players gain four extra defensive runs above average per 1,350 innings with the move, implying that second base is an easier position to play than shortstop. Holding WAR constant, for every 2.1 fewer runs of positional value that a player’s position was worth, his BBTN rating increased by one point. This sits in stark contrast to the sabermetric idea of positional scarcity, which Bill James gave voice to in the 1980s and, more rigorously, was popularized by Keith Woolner in the 1990s with the development of VORP. The effect is most evident with designated hitters, whose WAR totals are limited because they provide literally no defensive value. DHs like Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals and David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox rated 10 and 8 points higher, respectively, than WAR says they should have. Isolated Power: All else being equal, players with great power were significantly overvalued by voters. If a player somehow increased his isolated power by 11 points while keeping his overall value equal, he would have been rated one point higher by the BBTN panel. To wit: Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles is a fantastic power hitter (his .269 ISO since 2011 tied the Detroit Tigers’ two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera for third in our data set), but he rates as a below-average baserunner and a weak fielder at a non-premium defensive position. His three-year WAR should be equivalent to a 62 BBTN rating, but the panel gave him an 81. Contact Rate: Perhaps unsurprisingly, BBTN 100 panelists have a bias toward guys who put the bat on the ball when they swing. All else being equal, a 1.9-point increase in contact percentage leads to a player being rated one point higher in the voting. The Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes connected on 88.5 percent of swings, which coupled with a .321 BABIP to help give him a .306 batting average — and a BBTN rating of 71, seven points higher than his WAR would typically warrant. Defensive Runs Saved: Despite “Baseball Tonight’s” penchant for highlighting Web Gems, great fielders4At least, great defenders according to WAR’s fielding metric, Defensive Runs Saved. appear to be given short shrift in the ratings. Regardless of position, they were systematically underrated by the BBTN 100 panel. After controlling for other characteristics and overall WAR, a player who invests in his defense to the point where he saves 2.5 runs per 600 PAs gets dinged by one point in BBTN’s ratings. A great example is the Atlanta Braves’ Andrelton Simmons, who saved an astounding 40 runs per 1,200 innings in the field. His 7 WAR/600 suggested a BBTN score of 84; instead, the panel rated him a mere 76. Arm Strength: Sabermetrics is indifferent to the flair with which a player plays — its only concern is production. Arm strength is one of those pieces of flair most associated with raw athleticism (or “tools,” in scouting parlance) that the eyes appreciate even if the numbers are indifferent. That’s speculation, of course, but the regression is detecting some kind of real effect. It tells us that between two equally valuable players rated six points apart in arm strength, as measured by Tom Tango’s Fans Scouting Report, the more rifle-armed of the pair would score one point higher in the BBTN 100.
Oddly enough, the Wolves have a fair amount of frontcourt depth, so Gorgui Dieng could see his playing time decrease despite being one of Minnesota’s more effective players last year. He has a relatively common profile for a big man, and one that tends not to age all that well: good defender, excellent shot-blocker, but limited by his inability to create his own shots. Sometimes CARMELO comparables are eerily resonant. Shabazz Muhammad, a former high school slam-dunk champion, draws comps including Harold Miner (his No. 1 overall comparable) and Cedric Ceballos (No. 6). Both Miner and Ceballos won the NBA slam-dunk contest but were minus defenders and otherwise never quite gelled as NBA players. At 23 this season, Muhammad is far from a lost cause, but the Wolves have a lot of other projects who might be higher on their priority list. So take CARMELO’s 29-53 projected record for the Wolves with a grain of salt. It’s a rough guess. More to the point, it doesn’t matter all that much. If the Timberwolves somehow hang around the .500 mark because of surprisingly good last-gasp seasons from veterans like Kevin Garnett and Kevin Martin, it’s not going to do much beyond worsen their lottery position. This year is more about how their young players develop, instead. No player is more important to their future than Wiggins, so we’ll start our CARMELO-guided tour of the roster with him: CARMELO likes the No. 2 pick in last June’s draft, D’Angelo Russell, slightly better than No. 1 Karl-Anthony Towns. But this is nonetheless a pretty good projection for Towns. True, his top two comparables (Andrew Bennett and Greg Oden) couldn’t be more discouraging, but that conceals some favorable names (Chris Bosh, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis) just a bit further down his list. A plus with players like Towns is that they can be average-or-better defenders almost as soon as they enter the league, even as they’re figuring out their offensive games. Although CARMELO sees high reward — coupled with high risk — for Wiggins, Rubio and Towns, it’s less convinced that Zach LaVine will ever become an above-average NBA player. As my Grantland colleague Zach Lowe explains, LaVine was simply overmatched last year, forced into playing more than 1,900 minutes as a pro after having been only a modestly effective amateur at UCLA. LaVine could turn into a league-average player like Monta Ellis — his No. 6 comparable — but even rebuilding teams like the T-Wolves will invest only so many resources in trying to develop the next Monta Ellis. The Minnesota Timberwolves are very likely to improve on their 16-66 record — and very unlikely to make the playoffs. Beyond that, almost anything is possible. If everything goes well, we could be mentioning the Wolves in the same breath as the New Orleans Pelicans in next year’s CARMELO preview: a team that’s on the verge of becoming a title contender. There really is that much upside on the roster among Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio.But they could also be a total disaster. For now the Wolves are a collection of misfit toys, full of players who are a little too young, a little too old, a little too one-dimensional, a little too injury-prone. They also don’t mesh particularly well together, leading to trouble finding good looks on offense and disorganized, lackadaisical defense. In many respects, we created our CARMELO projection system because we were curious about players like Wiggins. On the one hand, he was a regular starter in the league at age 19, which is usually a very good sign. On the other hand, though Wiggins scored 16.9 points per game, he was one of the least efficient regulars in the NBA according to advanced statistics such as Real Plus-Minus. Our assessments of Wiggins last year ranged from decidedly pessimistic to guardedly optimistic, often sparking ire from T-Wolves fans who were sure they were watching the league’s next superstar.But that was before CARMELO! Now we have CARMELO, and it’s on the optimistic side. CARMELO thinks Andrew Wiggins has a chance to be the next … Carmelo Anthony.Anthony, Wiggins’s No. 1 comparable, is a good example of what Wiggins’s upside could look like. In Anthony’s rookie year in 2003-04, he was a high-volume but fairly low-efficiency scorer, averaging 21 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Middling scoring efficiency is one of the more forgivable flaws for a young player, however. Both shooting technique and shot selection can (and often do) improve with practice and experience, especially for a player on a young, rebuilding team whose teammates are improving alongside him. Some of CARMELO’s breakout picks this year, like Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton, fit into exactly this category.But whereas CARMELO is enamored of Smart and Payton, it’s more tentative in its affection toward Wiggins. The reason is his defense, which cost the T-Wolves about 2 points per 100 possessions while Wiggins was on the floor last season. Wiggins’s D will likely improve, but he could wind up a lot like Anthony: very good, but between mediocre defense and average efficiency, not quite as good as his box score stats suggest. CARMELO slaps the “scrappy veteran” label on Kevin Garnett, which seems to woefully underbill his accomplishments as a 15-time All-Star. But that’s what Garnett is at this point, with his defense and rebounding skills still largely intact but no longer much durability or ability to contribute on the offensive end. His return to Minnesota as a sort of player-coach is a nice story, but he has just enough left that contending teams could eye him for frontcourt depth down the stretch.Read more:All our NBA player projectionsAll our 2015-16 NBA Previews Ricky Rubio is one of the NBA’s bigger outliers, ranking near the top or bottom of just about every statistical category: stellar passer, but turns the ball over a ton and is one of the league’s least efficient shooters. He is a good defender and is younger than you might think (25), having been drafted by the Timberwolves in 2009 when he was just 18, so he still has time to improve. Indeed, CARMELO’s projection for Rubio is fairly optimistic, relying on precedents like Jason Kidd and Rod Strickland, who developed just enough scoring touch to become cornerstone players. We’re inaugurating our NBA player projection system, CARMELO, with 2015-16 season previews for every team in the league. Check out the teams we’ve already previewed here. Learn more about CARMELO here. Kevin Martin has always been a miserable defender, so his offensive game has to be superlative for him to be a worthwhile rotation player. Instead, he’s showing signs of age, having posted his lowest true shooting percentage since his rookie season last year. Martin would have more value as a 10-minutes-per-game offensive sparkplug off the bench for a contending club than as someone who’s still logging starter’s minutes.
The No. 15 Ohio State field hockey team will square off with No. 8 Michigan State for first place in the Big Ten.The Buckeyes will head to East Lansing for their meeting with the Spartans Friday at 3 p.m.OSU is currently second in the Big Ten with a 3-1 conference record and the Spartans are alone in first with a 3-0 record. The winner will have the inside track to winning the Big Ten regular season championship and earning the number one seed for the conference tournament.Senior goalkeeper Lindsay Quintiliani and junior forward Jena Cacciatore have both stressed that winning the Big Ten is the team’s top goal this season.“We’re very confident this is our year,” said freshman forward Berta Queralt. A win over Michigan State would be a crucial step toward achieving that goal, she said.MSU holds the slight edge in the teams’ recent meetings, winning three of the last five. Both teams are riding hot streaks coming into Friday’s matchup. The Spartans are currently on a seven-game win streak, while the Buckeyes bring in a four-game win streak and have won 10 of their last 11.While the rankings seem to favor the Spartans, statistics are on the side of the Buckeyes. OSU leads the Big Ten with six shutouts this season — twice as many as the Spartans. Along with shutouts the Buckeyes are also atop the conference in goals against average with 1.38.The Buckeyes also edge out the Spartans in assists, due in large part to Queralt, who leads the Big Ten with 12.Queralt and forward Maria Briones have been named Big Ten Freshman and Offensive Player of the Week respectively. It is the second week in a row the teammates received the awards.Following Friday’s game, OSU will return home to face No. 13 Duke Sunday at 1 p.m. The game is Senior Day for the Buckeyes, as it is their final home game of the season.The Buckeyes will look to stay hot at home, where they are 8-1 this season, but a victory Sunday will be no easy feat.The Blue Devils enter the weekend with an overall record of just 8-7. However, their record is not a representation of their talent. Duke has played nine ranked opponents in their 15 games this season, including four games against the nation’s top three teams. Because of Duke’s tough schedule they have remained ranked in the top 20 all season.The Buckeyes are 2-3 this season against ranked opponents. The next two games will serve as a chance for OSU to prove it is among the nation’s elite.
Senior guard Aaron Craft (4) defends and Iowa player during a game Jan. 12 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 84-74.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorNo matter how you slice it, something just seems off with the Ohio State men’s basketball team.The mystery continued against Minnesota Thursday, as the No. 11 Buckeyes fell to the Golden Gophers, 63-53, for their third straight loss.It is the first time since February 2009 that the Buckeyes have lost three straight games.OSU (15-3, 2-3) never could get anything going on the offensive end, shooting just 11-29 from the field in the first half.Despite the shooting woes, the game was tied at 29 at halftime thanks to a basket by OSU junior forward LaQuinton Ross just before the buzzer sounded. The Buckeyes were unable to take advantage of 10 turnovers by the Golden Gophers in the opening 20 minutes.The cold shooting for OSU continued early in the second half, as Minnesota (14-4, 3-2) built a lead early. The Buckeyes had five straight possessions that ended in a turnover, until Ross hit a three to cut the lead to 36-35.Minnesota extended its lead to 57-46 after a turnover by senior guard Aaron Craft led to a wide-open layup by Minnesota senior guard Austin Hollins.A free throw by junior center Amir Williams cut the lead to 10, but OSU would never get within double digits before the clock ran out as the Buckeyes could simply not find the shooting stroke.OSU shot a dismal 18-51 from the floor, and were outrebounded by the Golden Gophers, 37-25.Ross, who finished the game with a game-high 22 points, did not have much help from his teammates, as the only other Buckeye to score in double figures was junior forward Sam Thompson with 12.Up next, the Buckeyes are scheduled to travel to Nebraska (8-8, 0-4) Monday. Tipoff against the Cornhuskers is set for 7 p.m.
Taver Johnson is returning to Ohio State.Ohio State officially announced the hiring of Johnson to take over as the team’s new cornerbacks coach and the 10th assistant on the team, according to an Ohio State spokesperson. He will be replacing Kerry Coombs, who left Ohio State to coach cornerbacks for the Tennessee Titans. Johnson had spent the previous season as the defensive coordinator for Temple.“I am really pleased to have Taver Johnson join our coaching staff,” head coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. “I’ve known Taver for a long time, going back to our days at Notre Dame, and I think he is a terrific coach and person. He’ll do an excellent job coaching our cornerbacks and mentoring the young men in our program.”Johnson is no stranger to Columbus, having served on former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel’s staff as the cornerbacks coach from 2007 to 2011. He and Meyer were also on the same staff back in 1999 when Johnson was a graduate assistant and Meyer was the wide receivers coach at Notre Dame.The Cincinnati, Ohio, native had been around the midwest before landing back in his home state of Ohio. He was a defensive line coach at his alma mater Wittenberg from 1994 to 1995 and served several roles at Millikin for three seasons. He later became linebackers coach at Miami (Ohio) from 2000 to 2003. He held a job in the NFL as the special teams coordinator for the Cleveland Browns in 2004 before returning back to Miami as the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for a pair of seasons. Then after leaving Ohio State following the 2011 season, Johnson was the cornerbacks coach at Arkansas for two seasons and the same role at Purdue for three more, before going to Temple. Johnson joins Alex Grinch as the only two new coaching additions made by Ohio State over the offseason. Grinch’s role has yet to be publicly announced.
Ohio State sophomore quarterback Justin Fields attempts a pass in the Spring Game on April 13 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorFor the first time since 2011, Ohio State football took the field for its annual Spring Game Saturday without Urban Meyer as head coach.While Ryan Day begins his first year at the helm, he and the Buckeyes will no longer be able to rely on the record-setting arm of Dwayne Haskins to start games under center at Ohio Stadium.Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields seemed to prove himself to be Haskins’ heir apparent as Ohio State’s starting quarterback Saturday, as he led Team Gray to a 35-17 win against Team Scarlet on 131 yards and 2 total touchdowns at the Spring Game.Day said both Fields and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin still have improvements to make.“They both did a good job today, they both flashed at times,” Day said. “It’s still a work in progress. We still got work to do.”After starting off 3-for-10, Fields displayed his playmaking ability when he uncorked a 98-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Binjimen Victor with under two minutes remaining in the first half to put Gray up 21-7. Matthew Baldwin played for both the Scarlet and Gray teams as he took snaps on the bulk of the possessions, going 20-for-36 with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble.One of those scores was an 18-yard dart hauled in by freshman wide receiver and five-star recruit Garrett Wilson in the corner of the endzone to tie it up 7-7.Wilson finished with four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown and seemed poised to factor into an Ohio State receiving core that seeks to make up for the 195 receptions lost to Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin.Redshirt freshman running back Master Teague started the scoring on Saturday with a 1-yard touchdown run. He showed another flash in the second half with an untouched 22-yard score to put Team Gray up 35-17.Teague put up a game-high 75 yards on the ground with two touchdowns.With Mike Weber foregoing his final year of eligibility for the Buckeyes, Teague will likely get more touches to help replace Weber’s 1,066 yards and six touchdowns from scrimmage in a backup role to junior J.K. Dobbins come fall, who recorded three carries for nine yards on Saturday.Fields showcased his speed on his first score as a Buckeye with a five-yard touchdown run on a read option to put Team Gray up 14-7 in the second quarter.The former Georgia quarterback frequently went to his legs as he finished just 4-for-13 passing and picked up 38 yards on the ground.“There were ups and downs,” Fields said. “That just comes with, as coach says, growing pains. So I just have to keep improving and keep working and I think it’ll be good.”Despite the “thud” tackling rule, implemented by Day to prevent injuries, the Gray defense was still able to generate turnovers in the first half. Junior safety Amir Riep picked off Matthew Baldwin on the first drive of the second quarter to set up a Team Gray touchdown and redshirt junior safety Jahsen Wint intercepted Baldwin and senior quarterback Chris Chugunov on consecutive possessions in the final two minutes of the first half.“We’ll just keep building from here, but there’s a lot of good pieces, a lot of good leadership starting to form out there,” Day said.Ohio State will open up its season on Aug. 31 against Florida Atlantic.Updated at 3:29 p.m. with quotes from Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and sophomore quarterback Justin Fields.
Ohio State redshirt junior cornerback Kendall Sheffield (8) intercepts the ball in the first quarter of the game against Minnesota on Oct. 13. Ohio State won. 30-14. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorMake that six consecutive years with a drafted Ohio State defensive back.Former Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield was selected No. 111 overall in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons Saturday. The Buckeyes have had a member of the secondary drafted each year since 2013.Sheffield came to Ohio State as a JUCO transfer from Blinn, and was originally a five-star recruit for the Alabama Crimson Tide.The former Buckeye finished a two-year career in Columbus with 75 total tackles, two interceptions and 15 pass deflections. Both picks occurred in 2018.The Texas product suffered a partially torn pectoral muscle during the bench press at the 2019 NFL combine, preventing him from testing in front of scouts.
HSE investigated the incident following a Ministry of Defence inquiry, investigations by the civilian and military police, and technical investigations involving the Military Aviation Authority and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch.Flt Lt Cunningham died after his ejector seat initiated during the pre-flight checks of his Hawk XX177 jet while on the ground and stationary at the airbase.Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, of Lower Road, Higher Denham, near Uxbridge will appear at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, at a date to be confirmed, to face a section three charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act.The alleged breach is Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.” Royal Air Force Red ArrowsCredit:Charlotte Graham/Guzelian An ejector seat manufacturer is to prosecuted over the death of a Red Arrows pilot at RAF Scampton in 2011.The Health and Safety Executive said it will be prosecuting Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd for an alleged breach of health and safety law.The charges relate to the death of Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham at the base in Lincolnshire.HSE’s Inspector David Butter said: “We have conducted a thorough investigation and consider there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.” 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.
Atheists may struggle to see anything positive about religion because unemotional logic rules their brains, a new study suggests.Non-religious people are more likely to be analytical thinkers, researchers say, while those who are intensely religious will have a strong sense of morality.They also found that decreasing empathy among non-religious participants in the study corresponded to increasing dogmatism.It suggests militant atheists “may lack the insight to see anything positive about religion [as] they can only see that it contradicts their scientific, analytical thinking”. A Buddhist monk stands outside a temple Credit:Reuters But while the analytical left side of the brain appears to rule the non-religious dogmatist’s mind, the opposite is true for those with staunch religious beliefs.“It suggests that religious individuals may cling to certain beliefs, especially those which seem at odds with analytic reasoning, because those beliefs resonate with their moral sentiments,” said PhD student Jared Friedman, a co-author of the study.Anthony Jack, associate professor of philosophy and co-author of the research, added “emotional resonance helps religious people to feel more certain”.“The more moral correctness they see in something, the more it affirms their thinking,” he explains.“In contrast, moral concerns make nonreligious people feel less certain.” In both groups, higher critical reasoning skills were associated with lower levels of dogmatism. Pope Francis Credit:EPA However researchers warned that untempered empathy can be dangerous, Jack said: “Terrorists, within their bubble, believe it’s a highly moral thing they’re doing. They believe they are righting wrongs and protecting something sacred.”The majority of participants in the study identified as Christian or non-religious; Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim participants also took part.More than 900 people completed tests assessing dogmatism, empathetic concern, aspects of analytical reasoning, and prosocial intentions.The study by Case Western Reserve University was published in the Journal of Religion and Health. 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.
Councillors in Greenwich have voted to bar Donald Trump from the borough ahead of his proposed state visit.At a meeting on Tuesday night, the Labour-run council called on the Government to abandon its plans to host the President in the new year.Greenwich Council said that it had adopted a motion for the state visit not to go ahead, and that “should a state visit go ahead, President Trump would not be welcome in the Borough.”Additionally, the council expressed “alarm at the decision of President Trump to retweet islamophobic propaganda” and “sadness at the President’s bigoted attitude towards women and ethnic minorities”.The leader of the council, Councillor Denise Hyland, said: “On a daily basis we work hand in hand with residents from all communities to ensure this borough is a peaceful and welcoming place that celebrates difference and diversity, but in the case of President Trump we are willing to make an exception. However, anti-Trump activists were outraged when the US ambassador,Woody Johnson, said he expected a working visit, during which Mr Trump is likely to open the new US embassy, to go ahead.Many said they would organise mass protests should the President make the visit.Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, suggested the visit could be delayed because of the row, telling MPs that “dates have not yet been agreed”.Responding to calls in the House of Commons to cancel the visit, she said: “I can only repeat what I have said before, that the invitation has been extended and accepted and we have yet to make the arrangements.” 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. “As one of the most multi-cultural London boroughs, we are a place that has worked tirelessly to break down barriers. We have no time for people who want to build walls, when we have done so much to break them down.”Some thought the visit would be cancelled after Donald Trump and Theresa May had a disagreement over the President’s retweeting of anti-Muslim videos posted by far-right group Britain First.Mr Trump subsequently posted an insulting tweet about the Prime Minister. Credit:Twitter “We are one of 32 London boroughs, all different, all individual but all home to people from across the world.”This diversity strengthens our borough. It enriches our lives on a daily basis. And it reminds us all that we have so much more in common than divides us.
Sleep onset is normally initiated by a decrease in core body temperature and an increase in skin temperature.Core body temperature continues to decrease until it reaches a stable lowpoint, rising as a person wakes up.Previous studies have found that a cold bedroom is particularly associated with rapid eye movement, where the activity of the brain is quite similar to that during waking hours.Findings from the first new study, reported in the journal Nature And Science Of Sleep, were released to mark Wool Week, part of the Campaign for Wool whose patron is the Prince of Wales.The second study, funded by the wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation, has not yet been published. The research was carried out in Australia over periods of nine and four nights and involved 17 students and 36 older adults.Participants were put to bed in British-level night-time temperatures of 17C (62.6F).Figures from the British National Psychiatric Morbidity Survey indicate that as many as four in ten people in England suffer from some form of sleep disruption or insomnia.The proportion has been steadily rising over the last 15 years, due in part to the increasing use of screens emitting blue light, which triggers production of melatonin and serotonin, the hormones that control wakefulness.Another report conducted by the Sleep Council found that the proportion of people who said that they “sleep very well most nights” fell from 25 per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent in 2017.Having the bedroom at the wrong temperature is also thought to play a role in sleep disruption.Experts recommend that a room temperature of just over 18C (65F). Wearing wool pyjamas to bed instead of cotton gives up to 15 minutes’ extra sleep, new research has found.Experts say wool helps keep the body in the “thermal comfort zone” most conducive to restful sleep.Scientists in Australia carried out two studies of young and older sleepers to test the theory.Students in their 20s in the first group nodded off four minutes faster on average when wearing pyjamas made from merino wool rather than cotton, taking 11 minutes instead of 15.They also enjoyed an extra seven minutes more sleep per night.The second study found that woollen pyjamas had an even bigger impact on older adults aged 65 to 70.They fell asleep after 12 minutes compared with 22 and 27 minutes for those wearing polyester or cotton.Researcher Dr Paul Swan, from the University of Sydney, said: “Not so long ago sleeping under wool bedding was the norm, and science is now rediscovering the benefits of sleeping in wool.”Maybe it is not a coincidence because wool regulates your body temperature far better, keeping you in what is known as ‘the thermal comfort zone’. You therefore not only fall asleep quicker, sleep longer, but also have deeper, better quality sleep.”Enjoying good sleep has become increasingly difficult in modern times, and so anything that helps is great for your mental and physical health.” 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.
During an interview with Good Morning Britain in June, Meghan’s father Thomas Markle also let the cat out of the bag: “She’s wanted children for a long time,” he revealed. “When she met Harry and she spoke about how much she loved him, there’s got to be a child in the making there somewhere soon.” It came after her former agent Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne has declared in an interview: “Meghan said to me, ‘I would absolutely love to have children, and I can’t wait to be a mother’.” Kensington Palace has announced that Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are expecting a baby in Spring 2019. Credit:Chris Jackson/Getty THE DUKE and Duchess of Sussex made no secret of their desire to start a family – even addressing the possibility of having children in their engagement interview.Asked if they had plans to try for a baby last October, Harry replied: “Not currently, no,” garnering a laugh from his then wife to be. “Of course, one step at a time and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future,” he added.Around the time she met the prince in the spring of 2016, a then Miss Markle gave a telling interview to Best Health Canada when she said becoming a mother was “on her bucket list”, adding: “I can’t wait to start a family, but in due time.”A few months later the 36-year-old royal opened up to Lifestyle magazine, declaring: “I also dream to have a family. It’s all about balance, and I have so much happiness in my career and am fortunate to travel the world and see so many amazing things — it will also be nice to be anchored to something grounded and in the same place. Raising a family will be a wonderful part of that.” Much was made of Meghan lingering at a baby products stand during a visit to Northern Ireland in April and commenting: “I’m sure at some point we’ll need the whole thing.” She was also photographed crouching down talking to a little girl at the Coworth Polo Club in Ascot in July- around the time the couple are thought to have conceived. Harry, 34, has been unashamedly broody for years, declaring in an interview in 2010, when he was just 25: “I’m obsessed with children.”He also spoke of his desire to settle down during a tour of New Zealand in 2015.Then aged 30, he said he was waiting for the right moment – and the right woman – to come along. “Of course, I would love to have kids right now,” he said. “But there’s a process that one has to go through.” Having had to play gooseberry to William and Kate between his break up from Cressida Bonas in 2014 and meeting Meghan two years later, Harry watched with increasing admiration – and a small degree of envy – as his brother settled into married life as a father of three.The Sussexes very much wanted their children to be close in age to the Cambridges as they grow up as neighbours at Kensington Palace. Now their first baby is due in Spring, meaning he or she will be just a year younger than Prince Louis. Meghan has been a focal feminist since the age of 11, when she spoke out against a sexist washing liquid commercial, saying: “I don’t think it’s right for kids to grow up thinking these things, that just mom does everything. It’s always mom does this, and mom does that … I said, ‘Wait a minute, how could somebody say that?’” She followed it up with a punchy speech at the UN in 2015, calling for women’s empowerment. Keep up to date with all that’s happening in the Royal family by signing up to our weekly newsletter, Your Royal Appointment.
They announced this year that the child remains cured of the disease.Mr Colin Hopper, a maxillofacial cancer surgeon at University College London, said: “We should be told why things are moving slower than expected at the Christie centre. NHS patients are being denied.“Children will benefit and shouldn’t have to go to other countries for this treatment.”Costing a projected £250 million in total, the new proton beam centres are arguably the most complex technological projects ever undertaken by the NHS.The Christie machine alone requires 10km of servicing pipework and 20,000 cubic metres of concrete, meanwhile engineers at UCLH are attempting to embed a similar design into one of the most crowded sections of subterranean London.Dr Karol Sikora, former chief of the World Health Organization’s Cancer Programme, who now runs a private PBT provider in Wales, Proton Partners, said that while the larger £125 million Varian system selected by the NHS can be more comfortable for children, the health service should have opted for a greater number of simpler machines costing around £20 million each.“I think they have simply got the wrong machine,” he told The Telegraph. “They should have got smaller machines and disseminated them round the country.”Since 2008 the NHS has paid for around 200 patients to be sent abroad for PTB each year, mainly to Florida. Hundreds of children with cancer are resorting to inferior treatment because of a failure to open two flagship specialist centres, experts have warned.NHS officials have admitted that no patient has yet received state-of-the-art proton beam therapy (PBT) at either its new London or Manchester sites, despite a Government pledge to be treating 1,500 a year by 2018.Leading oncologists have called for transparency after two promised opening dates at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust were missed this year and the deadline quietly pushed back.The centre represents the best hope for more than thousand patients denied funding to be treated abroad, as delays at the sister site at University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Trust mean that will not be ready until at least 2020.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––A type of radiotherapy, proton beam uses a precision high-energy beam of particles to destroy cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unaffected. It is particularly valuable for children, who face higher risks of permanent side effects such as hearing loss and reduced IQ from conventional methods.The technology came to public attention in 2014 when the parents of a five-year-old cancer sufferer, Ashya King, were briefly jailed after removing him from an NHS hospital where he was due to receive chemotherapy and taking him abroad for proton beam treatment. 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. Documents obtained by Freedom of Information suggest that only one in five patients have their application approved.Last month a 20-year-old student, Sabina Makaranga, whose GP mistook her pelvic cancer for a vitamin D deficiency, revealed she had been denied funding despite doctors believing PTB could improve her survival chances by 80 per cent.While the NHS in Wales is beginning to pay for patients to be treated at a handful of private PTB clinics, English commissioners have preferred to continue sending patients abroad while they wait for their two flagship centres to come on line.A spokesman for the Christie said: “The Christie proton beam therapy centre has been operational from 20th August 2018 and is running patient selection and assessment, treatment planning, scanning and clinics to prepare patients for their treatment.”The trust said that the first patients would begin their PBT before the end of “autumn”, but refused to define autumn due to “patient confidentiality”. NHS England told The Telegraph that autumn ends on December 21.
Paramedics were called to the Ife household at 9am on 22 August, when Harry Ife rang to say his brother had “gone a bit cold” after feeling “dehydrated” and “a bit weary”. Attempts were made to save his life but Kennedy had suffered a cardiac arrest, and was pronounced dead just over an hour later.Police arrived shortly on the scene shortly afterwards, and were told by the family that Kennedy was very religious and would often quote bible verses, jurors heard.His brother Colin Ife is said to have explained to officers that Kennedy had become aggressive in recent days, shouting about the “mark of the beast 666”.Police then watched the family chant and pray in what the court heard was an “attempted resurrection of Kennedy Ife’s body”. Colin was allegedly heard by officers to say “Kennedy in the name of Jesus arise in the light of God”.Following his death a pathologist counted more than 60 injuries, all consistent with forceful constraint, including a possible bite mark, the court heard.All seven defendants were arrested and later examined by a doctor. Five members of the family had visible grazes, including the father Kenneth who had a bite injury to his right shoulder. Kenneth Ife, a prominent public policy analyst, is charged alongside members of his family with killing Kennedy Ife during an attempted execution. Pictured outside the Old Bailey.Credit:Ed Willcox/Ed Willcox A family of “charismatic Christians” killed their marketing executive son during an attempted exorcism at their home, a court heard.Kennedy Ife’s parents and brothers mistakenly believed he was “possessed by evil spirits” and set about “curing” him with prayer and restraint, jurors were told.Mr Ife’s parents, Kenneth and Josephine, and five brothers Roy, Harry, Colin, Samuel and Daniel appeared at the Old Bailey yesterday charged with his manslaughter.They allegedly used cable ties, rope and handcuffs to restrain the “vulnerable” 26-year-old at home in Enfield, north London, in the days before his death in August 2016.Prosecutor Tom Little QC said the Ife family held deep religious beliefs, described by one of the defendants as “charismatic Christians”.When Kennedy showed signs of illness, they allegedly believed he had become possessed and decided to restrain him, jurors heard. Mr Little told jurors: “Whether this was some form of exorcism will be a matter for you in due course.”In short, the Ife family took the law into their own hands.”The family lived together on Lancaster Avenue, where properties can fetch well over £2million. According to his LinkedIn page, Kenneth Ife is a prominent public policy analyst who has previously advised the World Bank and the British government. 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 a police interview, Colin Ife stated that Kennedy was behaving normally up until eating a Chinese buffet on 13 August, when he started complaining of pain in his throat and was finding it hard to sleep, the court heard.Five days later Kennedy “complained about a seed in his stomach” and a “python or snake inside him”, his brother told police. He added that Kennedy believed that he had a “demon inside his body waiting to kill him”, the court heard.Kenneth, Josephine, Roy, Harry, Colin, Daniel and Samuel, all of (37) Lancaster Avenue, Hadley Wood, Barnet, all deny manslaughter, false imprisonment and causing or allowing the death of a vulnerable adult between 19 and 23 August 2016.The trial continues.