College Footballs Bloated Bowl Season In 3 Charts

It’s a refrain almost as common as “Merry Christmas” this time of year: There are too many bowl games. While hardcore college football fans don’t mind watching, say, the Miami Beach Bowl on a Monday afternoon a full 10 days before the traditional bowlfest of New Year’s Day (guilty!), there’s also the sense that the bloated bowl season has taken away much of the meaning that used to be associated with playing in college football’s postseason.How much expansion has there been? This season will see a record 39 bowl games played, from the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl to the College Football Playoff National Championship. Compare that to 1968, when there were 11 bowls, or even 1984, when there were 18 — a total that would remain more or less static for more than a decade. But in the late 1990s (perhaps not coincidentally, when the Bowl Championship Series began), the bowl field began expanding rapidly, reaching 20 games in 1997, 25 in 2000 and 32 in 2006.In the chart below you can see the proliferation of the bowl field since 1982, the year cable television money and the departure of the Ivy League from Division I-A ushered in college football’s truly modern era:Some of the bloat is associated with an increase in the number of Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS) football teams, to 128 this season from 113 in 1982. (A chunk of these new additions have come in just the past few seasons, as part of what FiveThirtyEight contributor David Goldenberg calls a “recent trend of universities starting football programs from scratch with the plan to get to Division I as soon as possible, and reap the PR and financial benefits that come with a major football program.”)But the growth of the FBS only explains a small portion of the bowl explosion. Even as a percentage of all FBS schools, almost twice as many teams will go bowling this season as did in 1996:Economically, there are pros and cons to the inflated bowl field. And these games do matter football-wise, especially to a certain subset of mid-major programs looking for exposure any way they can find it. But, as a natural byproduct of expansion, the caliber of teams in bowls has plummeted over the past three decades.Using an Elo-like estimated version of ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) pre-bowl ratings, here is the progression of the average, worst, and 25th-percentile teams in the bowl field for each season since 1982:The average rating for bowl-bound teams is barely lower now than it was in 1982, and the fact that it crested in 1996 — right before the bowl boom — suggests that there were enough good teams to support some type of expansion in the late 1990s. (Why this change took place is up for debate, though it could point to the origins of today’s ongoing trend of reduced parity between college football’s haves and have-nots.)However, the trend lines describing the dregs of the bowl field (the minimum and 25th-percentile ratings) show how much the bar for bowl entry has been lowered since that time. Bad teams occasionally made their way into bowls before 1997, but that’s now commonplace, particularly since the number of bowl entrants has grown by 39 percent since 2005.Monday’s Miami Beach Bowl thriller, between Memphis and Brigham Young, showed that less prestigious bowl games can still provide excitement for fans that bother to tune in. But it’s also fair to question whether we really need to see FPI No. 95 South Alabama and No. 97 Bowling Green (both considered to be in excess of 8 points per game worse than an average FBS team) face off in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl — as happened on Saturday. Like so much in college football, the bowls are an as yet incomplete experiment in where to find a happy medium between tradition, money-making and the role of academic institutions in the world of high-profile sports. read more

17YearOld Ghanaian Becomes First Black Woman to Make Olympic

Maame Biney (1) falls as she reacts after winning women’s 500-meter A final race during the U.S. Olympic short track speedskating trials Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Kearns, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)KEARNS, Utah (AP) — Maame Biney became the first Black woman to qualify for a U.S. Olympic speedskating team with a pair of victories in the 500 meters.The 17-year-old native of Ghana cruised to victory in the first 500 final at the short track trials on Saturday, beating Olympians Lana Gehring, Jessica Kooreman and Katherine Reutter-Adamek.“I can’t believe it, aww geez,” she said after squealing with joy. “It’s a really good feeling, but it has to set in first because it takes me a while. I’m like, ‘Holy cow.’”Before the second final, her father sitting in the stands held up a sign reading: “Kick some hiney Biney.”She sure did.Biney set a blistering pace in taking an early lead that widened as the wild and wooly race went on. She crossed the finish line on the hockey-sized rink and began clapping and then pumping her arms so hard she lost her balance and fell.She went down laughing all the way.“When I realized that I made the Olympic team, I started cheering like crazy and then I made my epic fall,” she said.Biney will be the second black speedskater on a U.S. Olympic team. Shani Davis was 19 when he qualified for the short track team in 2002. He later switched to long track and won four medals, including two golds.Now 35, Davis will try to make the long track team at its trials next month.On the men’s side, J.R. Celski qualified for his third Olympic team despite a crash in the early rounds of the men’s 500. He rebounded to win the C final, finishing well ahead of the other three skaters.“I really couldn’t get control of myself after the first fall,” he said. “I fell into the pads a little awkward, kind of hurt myself a bit but fortunately my trainer and I took care of it.”In the second final, Celski finished second to John-Henry Krueger, who qualified for his second individual event in South Korea. He made the team Friday by winning the 1,500.“Last night I made sure not to get too excited and try to keep my composure,” Krueger said. “My goal was to keep a steady speed but to keep my track tight and make sure no one could pass.”Joining Krueger and Celski on the men’s team is 21-year-old Olympic rookie Aaron Tran, who won the first 500 and finished last among four in the second final.Tran attended the same middle and high schools six years apart from Celski in their hometown of Federal Way, Washington.“He’s a great role model, a great leader,” said Tran, who first met Celski when he came to their middle school for an assembly.Lana Gehring, already on the Olympic team in the 1,500, finished second in the first 500 and last among four in the second final.The men’s and women’s 1,000 will be contested Sunday at the Utah Olympic Oval.Thomas Hong, who was born in South Korea, and Ryan Pivirotto still have shots to make the men’s team, which will be comprised of five skaters.Former Olympians Kooreman and Reutter-Adamek, along with Kristen Santos, remain in contention for the women’s team, which only has three spots available. read more

How Tiger Woods Finally Put It All Together Again

2004-09+0.58–+1.34–+0.24–+0.73– Tiger’s back … for real this timeStrokes gained per round (relative to PGA Tour average) for Tiger Woods on each type of shot, across his career and during his win at the 2018 Tour Championship Resurgent narrative aside, it wasn’t unfathomable that one of the greatest golfers ever won another event. Woods has put together breathtaking performances throughout this season, indicating that the ability to capture tournaments hasn’t left him just yet. The guy played in 18 official events and finished in the top 10 seven times. Moreover, he’s been dominant in the southeast, where he’s won more than one-fifth of the tournaments he’s played in that region over his career.2It helps that Augusta, Georgia, is in the Southeast. To those who would define his latest victory as a flash in the pan, consider that Woods holds top-40 marks this year in strokes gained tee to green, strokes gained around the green, strokes gained on shots approaching the green, strokes gained with the putter and total strokes gained. Only six players on tour are scoring better, on average.Tiger will never be the same player he once was; no conditioning or late-night runs to the driving range will return Woods to those prime years. But he’s jumped more than 50 spots in the Official World Golf Rankings in 10 weeks for a reason. And there’s a reason why odds are beginning to tilt in his favor, why he will represent the country at this week’s Ryder Cup.Everyone loves a comeback. Event/SeasonOff TeeApproachAround GreenPutting 2018+0.45–+0.94–+0.37–+0.30– * Woods failed to qualify for official PGA Tour leaderboards for any years in these stretches. He also failed to qualify in 2008.The strokes gained statistic isolates the effect of each shot by measuring how much it adds to or subtracts from a player’s expected score on a given hole.Source: PGA Tour Tour Champ.+0.48–+0.29–+0.32–+1.28– 2012-13+0.22–+1.37–+0.22–+0.38– The feeling of inevitability Sunday was surprising. As Tiger Woods was decimating the small field at the Tour Championship to claim his 80th professional victory, ending a five-year winless drought, it felt simultaneously foregone and captivating.The 42-year-old with the fused spine held off the best players in the world in the prime of their careers, doing what so many said he couldn’t. After four back surgeries, four knee surgeries and off-the-course problems that chipped away at his reputation, Woods completed what could be called the greatest comeback in the history of sport. “I just can’t believe I pulled this off,” an emotional Woods said. “It’s been tough. It’s been not so easy the last couple of years.”Woods entered Sunday with a three-stroke lead, having torn up the course at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta during a Saturday round 65. By strokes gained, a metric that measures each shot a player takes based on how much it reduces his expected score on a given hole relative to the field average, Woods gained 4.07 total strokes on the field and 2.97 strokes with the putter on Saturday alone. For his career, he had taken a 54-hole lead of at least three strokes 23 times. He had never squandered it. That streak continued.Seemingly everything in his arsenal came together at exactly the same time.The putter that failed him so spectacularly at the Dell Technologies Championship was there. So too was the driver that couldn’t find a single fairway on the front nine of the PGA Open final round.During Woods’s heyday, he dominated the tee box, ranking inside the top 45 in strokes gained off the tee each season for which he qualified from 20041The first season the data is available. to 2012, including three top–10 stints. That hasn’t been the case this season. Woods entered the weekend ranked outside the top 100 in strokes gained off the tee and total driving efficiency. But at the Tour Championship, only five players gained more strokes off the tee than Woods’s 0.48. 2010-11*-0.23–+0.65–-0.09–+0.06– Woods cut his teeth with clutch play on the green, and he ranked no lower than 32nd in strokes gained with the putter in each season for which he qualified from 2004 to 2012, including four top–10 stints. This season, however, inconsistencies on the green led to club changes four times. But at the Tour Championship, Woods, who was walking in putts with gusto, gained the second-most strokes on the field with the putter (1.28). 2014-17*-0.44–+0.22–-0.49–+0.24– read more

Why We Still Dont Know How Many NFL Players Have CTE

Over the past few years, the NFL has been haunted by the early deaths of some former players whose brains showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by memory loss, mood disorders, dementia and other brain-related problems. But how prevalent is CTE, and how likely are players to develop it? Those remain unanswered questions, despite ongoing attempts to answer them.A paper published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that among 111 brains from NFL players donated to a brain bank created to study the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma, 110 had CTE. Sounds bad. But as alarming as those numbers seem, they really can’t tell us much about the actual risk of CTE among football players, nor can they reveal how common the condition is among people who’ve played the game. If you wanted to know the true prevalence of CTE among NFL players, you’d have to check the entire population of NFL players for CTE. That’s impossible because right now, CTE can be definitively diagnosed only by looking at the brain post-mortem. And the the brains that were examined for the JAMA study didn’t end up in the brain bank by chance — they were donated, for the most part, because the deceased’s next of kin suspected he might have had CTE.So the statistical quandary remained: how to get a sense of the prevalence of CTE in the NFL? An analysis published last month in the journal Neurology tried to get around the problem of sample bias with what amounts to a thought experiment. Epidemiologists Zachary Binney1Binney co-wrote a story about the NFL draft for FiveThirtyEight in 2016. and Kathleen Bachynski took what we know — that 99 percent of the NFL brains in the brain bank had CTE — and then tried to figure out what that could mean about the prevalence of CTE among the entire group of 1,142 former NFL players who died during the eight-year time frame during which the brain bank collected its samples (February 2008 to May 2016).2The researchers used data from Pro-Football-Reference.com to determine the total number of deaths.The estimates vary depending on how completist you think the brain bank’s collection was. If you assumed that half of the brains from NFL players with CTE who died during the study period ended up in the brain bank, that would mean the prevalence of CTE in the broader group of deceased players was 19.3 percent, according to Binney and Bachynski’s calculations.3Here’s the math: If 110 cases is half of the total cases among people who died, the full number of cases is 220, and 220 is 19.3 percent of 1,142, the total number of people who died. On the other hand, if 90 percent of the brains with CTE were sent to the bank, the prevalence of CTE would be 10.7 percent. “I’m reasonably confident that it’s somewhere north of 10 percent, and I would not at all be surprised — and indeed it’s my best guess right now — that the prevalence is probably more in the 20 to 30 percent range,” Binney said.But even if that’s correct and as many as 1 in 3 NFL players who were in the league at the same time as the players whose brains ended up in the JAMA study had CTE, that doesn’t mean that those numbers also apply to the current pool of players, said Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician and epidemiologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. “The probability of developing CTE could be changing over time, because the protective gear and the style of play is changing over time.”And Binney and Bachynski’s numbers are still just “back of the napkin” estimates that should be taken with a grain of salt, said statistician Donna Stroup, a consultant on study design and statistical methods in Atlanta. The Neurology paper is a “contribution that’s helpful,” but it doesn’t tell us a lot about the true prevalence of CTE, she said. It’s just a guess.And it’s a guess based on ways of diagnosing CTE that are still evolving as researchers work to understand the condition. The study of CTE is relatively new, and researchers are continuing to work out some of the condition’s most basic details. So far, there’s no telltale symptom of CTE in a living person, and the diagnosis of CTE in brain samples is still subject to some debate. In a written response to the JAMA study, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine researcher Scott Zuckerman and some colleagues criticized the criteria used to diagnose CTE as potentially too lax. The study of the correlation between abnormal-looking features seen in brain samples and specific neurological symptoms is “in its infancy,” the researchers wrote. And if the original JAMA study overestimated the number of CTE cases, the prevalence ranges that the Neurology analysis calculated are overestimates too.“The uncertainty is still very large,” said Jesse Mez, a professor of neurology at Boston University and lead author of the JAMA study. His group recently secured funding for a study that will look for CTE in brains collected from the general population. But Mez said that to really understand the prevalence of CTE among NFL players, what’s needed are longitudinal studies that follow players throughout their careers.In the meantime, Mez and a working group of other researchers are holding a consensus meeting this spring to continue discussing criteria for the condition’s diagnosis. The long-term goal is to find biomarkers and other diagnostic tools that can be used to recognize CTE in living people. “We definitely have a sense that it’s the repetitiveness — the hits over and over and over again — that matters,” Mez said. But researchers are still a long way from being able to pinpoint exactly how CTE develops and how many players might be affected. read more

The LA Kings Rediscovered Their Offense Just in Time

During the 2013-14 regular season, the Los Angeles Kings were the NHL’s fifth-lowest scoring team, notching just 2.4 goals for every 60 minutes they were on the ice. On paper, no team headed into the postseason with as anemic an offense. Yet fast forward a month and a half and Los Angeles is on the verge of closing out the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals partly because the Kings’ offense is sizzling. They put together a five-goal barrage in Game 4 against Chicago, and Los Angeles’ 3.3 goals per 60 minute mark leads all teams in scoring during the postseason.How did the Kings’ offense suddenly become so potent? During the regular season, LA converted their shots into goals at a paltry 7.6 percent rate, which tied the Vancouver Canucks for the second-worst shooting percentage in the entire NHL. In the playoffs, though, they’ve upped their conversion rate to 11.3 percent (including 14.5 percent against the Blackhawks), which ranks second among playoff teams. Since they’re not shooting more often (to the contrary — they’re actually averaging 1.6 fewer shots per 60 minutes in the playoffs than during the regular season), the Kings’ goal-scoring increase can be traced to the huge uptick in shooting accuracy.The Kings’ increased shooting percentage hasn’t been driven by facing a particularly easy set of goaltenders. Weighted by the number of shots they had against each opponent, Los Angeles’ playoff foes have had a composite save percentage of .913 during the regular season, which is slightly higher than the overall league average of .911 — certainly nothing that would explain a 3.7-percentage-point leap in shooting percentage. Nor has it been fueled by more time on the power play, where shooting percentages are higher: during the postseason, LA spent about 28 fewer seconds per game with a man advantage than they did in the regular season.One other place to look is where the Kings’ goals have been coming from. For example, during the regular season, LA’s shooting percentage was well below the NHL average on shots from the high slot, the space between the two face-off circles and above the hash marks. And in their Game 1 loss to Chicago, the Kings attempted three shots from that area, missing all three. But ever since, they’ve scored three goals on eight shots (a shooting percentage of 37.5) from a zone of the ice where they usually turn only 6.7 percent of their shots into goals. Since goals are such rare events, even a shift like that on just one section of the ice can lead to a big overall increase in scoring.Likewise, the late-season addition of Marian Gaborik, who leads LA in shots during the playoffs, and whose lifetime shooting percentage of 12.9 percent is well above the league average over his career, explains part of the team’s scoring burst. But it bears mentioning that while shot quality — and converting those chances into goals — makes a big difference in retrospect, it’s hard to tell how much is luck and how much is skill.In other words, the biggest reason the Kings’ offense has caught fire in the postseason may simply be good fortune, with some regression to the mean thrown in for good measure. Los Angeles wasn’t ever as bad at shooting as their regular-season percentage suggested (they were in the middle of the pack the season before), nor are they as good as their postseason run would indicate. The truth lies somewhere in between, and as we’ve seen before with hockey stats, it’s a truth mixed in with a lot of noise. read more

Conventional and FancyStats Rate The NHLs Deadline Trades Much Differently

This year’s NHL trade deadline saw quite a few transactions — 74 veteran players switched teams in the month leading up to (and including) the March 2 moratorium — and some of the moves could shift the league’s balance of power with the playoffs a little more than a month away.In anticipation of Monday’s cutoff, we listed about 35 likely trade candidates and their possession metrics, to get a sense of who the advanced statistics would favor if any of them were dealt. But now that all the deals have been cut, how highly do the numbers regard the big names moved at the deadline?It totally depends on which numbers you look at. Conventional stats — such as goals, assists and plus-minus, as synthesized into point shares above replacement (PSAR) — favor players like newly acquired Detroit winger Erik Cole. Cole bounced back from a pair of down seasons to average a goal every three or so games with a +4 rating (on a Dallas team that’s -11 overall) before being traded. That performance was enough to lead all deadline acquisitions in 2014-15 PSAR. But as we’ve learned, the NHL’s #EnhancedStats movement emphasizes more than traditional counting statistics.Advanced metrics such as Corsi and Fenwick (ahem, “shot attempts” and “unblocked shot attempts”) started a trend in player evaluation of focusing on his ability to improve his team’s puck-possession rate while on the ice. If possession is a reliable path to team success, the reasoning goes, you want to stock your roster with players most associated with strong team possession rates when they’re in the game.Now, Stephen Burtch’s Delta Corsi (dCorsi) and Domenic Galamini’s Usage-Adjusted Corsi have pushed attempts to isolate a skater’s effect on his team’s possession rate even further. The relatively new twist provided by those stats? Attempting to account for player-usage factors — such as position played, teammate and opponent quality, zone starts and even faceoff winning percentages in dCorsi’s case — on a player’s possession rate in addition to looking at on-ice versus off-ice differences.In the past, you’d have to eyeball a player’s workload and usage as a means of context for, say, his relative Corsi. But these new stats attempt to bake those contextual factors into a single number by comparing a player’s actual possession rate to what we’d expect of an average NHL player at his position if placed in the same situations.1This is similar in theory to the way researchers have sometimes attempted to measure individual fielding in baseball, under which a defender’s actual plays made in the field are compared with expected play counts based on balls in play sent in his direction.You might think there’d be a decent amount of crossover between conventional numbers and these new possession-based advanced stats, but the correlation is practically nonexistent. Rescaling PSAR against an average baseline to make an apples-to-apples comparison, I found essentially no relationship with Burtch’s dCorsi Impact (which gives players more credit for maintaining strong possession rates relative to average in greater amounts of ice time) this season:Take Cole again. Despite his solid counting stats and a very good point share tally, Dallas’s possession rate when Cole was on the ice was actually lower than what would be expected from an average player in the same situations with the same teammates and opponents. Or take FiveThirtyEight favorite Jaromir Jagr, whose relatively down conventional stats belie a player still capable of driving play with the proverbial skills that don’t show up in the box score.They’re not alone among the bigger-name deadline acquisitions. Much was made when the Arizona Coyotes shipped away center Antoine Vermette and defenseman Keith Yandle. Both players were solid PSAR contributors for Arizona this season but also ranked among the least valuable dCorsi players at their respective positions.Meanwhile, Zbynek Michalek, another former Coyote, boasted extremely unimpressive counting numbers (8 points and a -6 rating in 53 games) even by the standards of his position but ranks as one of the best defensemen in hockey according to dCorsi Impact.In case it wasn’t clear by now, all this goes to show that it’s nearly impossible to guess whether a player is a possession star or scrub based on his conventional numbers. As is the case with most of these new-school-versus-old-school metric battles to recently crop up across almost all sports, a player’s true value probably lies somewhere in between. But in hockey, that fact just underscores how little we still know about who’s helping and hurting their teams. read more

Buster Posey Has Quietly Become A Lock For Cooperstown

A few names come to mind when pondering the surefire Hall of Famers playing baseball today. Adrian Beltre, who recently broke the 3,000-hit barrier, is one, as is Mike Trout, despite his youth. But there’s another all-time great who is toiling away on one of the worst teams in MLB: San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey. The Giants’ record might make Posey easy to overlook, but his combination of hitting and defense makes him almost a lock to one day join the Hall. In fact, despite being only 30 years old, Posey might already have a Hall of Fame résumé if he retired today.It’s difficult to forecast whether any given catcher will find his way to Cooperstown. Only 18 backstops have made the Hall, and some did so in part because of accomplishments after their playing careers (as managers or executives).1For example, Rick Ferrell is listed by Baseball-Reference.com as having been inducted as a player, but he produced only 29.8 wins above replacement in his career (34th on the all-time list of catchers). However, Ferrell won two championships as an executive before his induction, which probably helped his Hall-of-Fame case. Perhaps because of the strain of constant crouching and the beatings they receive behind the plate, catchers are notoriously quick to decline, and historically great performers can become merely ordinary in the space of a few years.But Posey is special. In a nine-year career, he’s already amassed 37.5 wins above replacement (WAR),2According to Baseball Reference.com. which puts him 25th on the all-time list among backstops. If we look at how productive all catchers have been through age 303That is, up to and including a player’s age-30 season as defined by Baseball-Reference. — Posey’s current age — he looks even better, ranking 11th all-time in WAR.According to Jay Jaffe’s JAWS, a rough guide to measuring a player’s Hall-of-Fame qualifications,4JAWS (the “Jaffe WAR Score system”) determines Hall-worthiness by comparing an average of a player’s career WAR and his WAR in his seven best seasons with the typical mark for a Hall member at his position. Posey would have a decent chance to make the Hall even if he never played another game. I looked at the top 500 catchers’ JAWS scores and used them to calculate the probability that they would one day be inducted into the Hall.5I used a logistic regression model, with JAWS score as a predictor and Hall of Fame induction as the outcome. I excluded catchers who made the Hall as managers but not as players. Posey’s JAWS score is 36.8 — already only a little below the catcher average of 43.9. (Coincidentally, Posey’s current JAWS score is identical to the end-of-career score of stalwart backstop Ernie Lombardi, who made the Hall of Fame.) Based on this analysis, Posey would have about a 29 percent chance of getting to Cooperstown if he retired today — and as we’ll see below, those numbers probably understate Posey’s contributions.Why is Posey’s résumé so strong? It starts with his impressive numbers at the plate. Since 2009, Posey’s first season in MLB, he has the 17th-highest Weighted Runs Created Plus in baseball, and he’s the only full-time catcher in the top 50. Posey has power, to which his 128 home runs (in one of MLB’s least hitter-friendly ballparks) can attest. He also has patience, with a career walk rate of 9.6 percent, well above the MLB average of 8.1 percent.But Posey is much more than just a catcher who hits well. In addition to his power and discipline, Posey has been one of the best defensive catchers in baseball during his career — thanks to his particular knack for pitch framing.Catcher framing is the art of receiving a pitch so that an umpire is more likely to call it a strike. Before the debut of pitch-tracking technology such as PITCHf/x and Statcast, the idea of framing as a skill was unproven, but now it can be measured. And as Hall-of-Fame voters increasingly understand and recognize the importance of framing, catchers like Posey will probably benefit.Baseball Prospectus rates Posey as the seventh-best framer since 1988,6That’s the first year for which those statistics can be calculated. so he’s among the cream of the crop. And because framing isn’t factored into most versions of wins above replacement, Posey is somewhat underrated even by newfangled Hall-of-Fame yardsticks like JAWS.Baseball Prospectus’s version of WAR incorporates the number of runs a catcher saves via framing (which the version from FanGraphs does not, and the version from Baseball-Reference accounts for in a much smaller way).7The Baseball-Reference metric for catcher defense has a much smaller range of framing values than Baseball Prospectus’s does. For instance, it assigns Posey only 54 runs of value from his defense over the course of his career, while BP puts the value from Posey’s framing alone at nearly double that (104 runs). Unsurprisingly, Posey’s value under that measure is higher, shooting up to 49.8 WAR. If we recalculate his JAWS score using Prospectus’s version of WAR, then, Posey is already good enough to have an 85 percent chance of making the Hall, according to my calculations. Now, Posey’s framing value this year has been minimal, so it’s possible that he’s losing his touch (he wouldn’t be the only older catcher to forget how to frame a pitch). But even if you assume that he will be a league-average framer going forward, Posey’s JAWS could end up high enough to practically guarantee a Hall of Fame induction.8This is based on a series of career simulations described later in the article.In some ways, comparing Posey with the historic greats of yesteryear in this manner isn’t fair. We don’t know what kind of framer Johnny Bench was, for example, and it’s possible that his already-tremendous WAR total would just get more inflated if we did. But we do know that it’s rare for a catcher to have both offensive ability and framing skills. (The few catchers better than Posey defensively tend to be specialists like Jose Molina and Brad Ausmus.) Conversely, there are a lot of catchers who are not great framers but nonetheless have long careers because they excel at the plate. So it’s likely that at least some of the catchers ahead of Posey on the all-time list would see their total value decline if we could measure their framing ability.Add it all up, and Posey has likely already had a Hall-of-Fame career. And his playing days probably won’t end anytime soon — the average catcher who had 20 or more WAR through age 30 ended up playing another six and a half seasons. So Posey has plenty of years to improve upon his already impressive career. To get a sense of how Posey might end up finishing his run, I asked the folks at Out of the Park Baseball — a baseball simulation engine — to game out the rest of his career. Out of the Park came back with four simulations of Posey’s future. And according to each, the hypothetical Busters fared very well. In each simulation, Posey earned an end-of-career JAWS score of greater than 51, which would give him at least a 90 percent chance of making the Hall, according to my calculations. With an average of about 2,000 hits, 400 doubles and 250 home runs, Posey’s milestones weren’t overly impressive, so he didn’t make the Hall on the first ballot in the simulations — it usually took three to four years for him to get in — but he was eventually inducted in each universe that was played out. That sounds pretty similar to what will happen in our universe, too.Posey is one of the few catchers in history who can do it all. He can hit and frame, and he even provides extra value by blocking errant pitches and throwing out runners. When you combine his offensive and defensive skills, Posey might just be the most underappreciated Hall of Famer playing today.CORRECTION (Aug. 24, 10:02 a.m.): An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that Baseball-Reference.com’s version of wins above replacement does not incorporate the number of runs saved via catcher framing. It does, although Baseball-Reference’s method assigns less value to framing than Baseball Prospectus’s version of WAR does. read more

Opinion Ohio State mens basketball team has pieces to replace 4 transfers

OSU sophomore forward Jae’Sean Tate (1) looks to make a pass during a game against Northern Illinois on Dec. 16 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won 64-57.Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorWithout a single graduating senior, the Ohio State men’s basketball program has still managed to undergo its fair share of roster turnover since the season ended.Shortly after losing to Florida in the second round of the NIT, a trio of freshmen Buckeyes announced their intentions to transfer: forward Mickey Mitchell, guard A.J. Harris and center Daniel Giddens. Another freshman, guard Austin Grandstaff, transferred to Oklahoma in December, leaving OSU with one remaining player from its 2015 class in guard JaQuan Lyle.Despite the departures, coach Thad Matta welcomes back the main core of last season’s team with forwards Marc Loving, Jae’Sean Tate and Keita Bates-Diop joined by Lyle and guard Kam Williams. Center Trevor Thompson entered his name into the NBA draft, but given that he did not hire an agent and is not expected to be selected, he’ll likely return to school.Even though OSU should return its top six scorers, much of the depth it had last season is gone. Combined, the three most recent transfers only averaged 8.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, but each logged valuable minutes off the bench as role players.On a squad that didn’t have much of a presence in the post, Giddens was the team’s leading shot blocker (1.5 per game) and was widely praised for the energy he brought to the floor.Harris was one of only five OSU players to play in all 35 games and served as the backup point guard to Lyle, even cracking the starting lineup in four games in the middle of the season. Without him, there are some serious questions of depth at guard.Finally, Mitchell started the last seven games of the season after Tate was lost due to a left shoulder injury. He struggled to put the ball in the basket, but the former four-star recruit provided versatility with his passing and rebounding.How will Matta and the Buckeyes go about replacing what was lost?To help in the frontcourt, the program has a duo of incoming freshmen from Ohio.Derek Funderburk, originally from Lakewood, Ohio, is the highest-rated recruit in OSU’s 2016 class. At 6-foot-9, the center is ranked as the 10th-best player at his position and No. 69 overall in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports. He spent his senior season with Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia.Micah Potter, a native of Mentor, Ohio, should also log valuable minutes. Standing at 6-foot-10, he’s ranked as the No. 30 center in the country. He played his final high school season at Montverde Academy in Florida.Both big men are noted for being able to stretch the floor, to score from down low and 3-point range, which should provide more viable offensive threats to come off the Scarlet and Gray bench along with Williams. For a team that struggled to get consistent scoring from any post player other than Tate last season, they will be welcomed additions to the OSU squad.Some potential help on the perimeter is also on the way for Matta and company.Small forward Andre Wesson committed to OSU in mid-April after helping lead Westerville South High School to the Ohio Division I state championship in his senior season. Wesson’s dad, Keith, played for OSU from 1983 to 1987, and his brother, Kaleb, is a 2017 commit for OSU. With solid outside-shooting ability, he should provide a backup to Loving and Bates-Diop.In another recent addition, the Buckeyes got a commitment from junior-college transfer C.J. Jackson. In his freshman season at Eastern Florida State College, the guard averaged 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, while shooting 45 percent from three. Touted as a combo guard, Jackson can handle the ball as well as shoot it and will give OSU some much-needed depth in the backcourt behind Lyle and Williams.OSU will have a solid foundation of experienced players heading into next season. The only issue will be what the program gets from its bench, which was a problem area in the 2015-16 campaign. Teams are able to succeed with six-man rotations, but the margin of error is slim. Having depth is crucial if injuries strike or a key player gets into foul trouble.With the four newcomers, Matta seems to have found that depth, in spite of what was unexpectedly lost after the season. read more

Buckeyes look to stand out during Pro Day under shadow of Tressel

Eight Buckeyes will have one of the most important days of their football lives Friday when their talents are showcased for NFL scouts and executives at Ohio State’s Pro Day. Running back Brandon Saine, wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, guard Justin Boren, linebackers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle and defensive backs Chimdi Chekwa, Devon Torrence and Jermale Hines will be going through drills and interviews at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center similar to what they experienced at the NFL Scouting Combine two weeks ago. The players will be working out amid coach Jim Tressel’s recent suspension by the school for allegedly failing to report e-mails from attorney and former Buckeye football player Christopher Cicero, indicating players gave football memorabilia to Eddie Rife, the owner of Fine Line Ink Tattoos. The failure to report the e-mails is in violation of both his contract with OSU and NCAA Bylaw 10.1. The university conducted a self-report on the infractions, and is awaiting the results of a report from the NCAA. OSU notified the NCAA of Tressel’s violation Feb. 3 after becoming aware of the Jan. 13 violation. Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, once regarded as a first-round pick, will not participate because he’s rehabbing an elbow injury he suffered in the Sugar Bowl win against Arkansas. He received Tommy John surgery in mid-January. Heyward has been working out at the Woody Hayes center with the Buckeyes, supporting his former teammates while undergoing treatment. “I can’t remember a time we haven’t had representation from all 32 (NFL) teams,” said Eric Lichter, OSU’s director of football performance, at Monday morning’s practice. “We’ve got a pretty good group. … We had a lot of combine invites this year, so I’d imagine we’ll have a pretty good showing.” Chekwa is coming off a strong combine, in which he ran a 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.4 seconds. Homan’s bench press highlighted his workouts in Indianapolis. He put up 225 pounds 32 times — tops for any linebacker. Pro Day workouts begin at 10 a.m. read more

Halls helping hands Ohio States Fickell rewarded by decision to stay with

College football coaches have their play-calling and decision-making skills frequently scrutinized, but first-year Ohio State football head coach Luke Fickell’s decision to stick with junior running back and kick returner Jordan Hall, despite two fumbles, factored heavily into the Buckeyes’ 33-29 win Saturday against then-No.12 Wisconsin. With OSU trailing, 7-3, Hall fumbled a Badgers’ punt as he bent over and braced for a collision with another player in the second quarter. Hall scrambled to recover the ball on the Buckeyes’ 8-yard line. “He caught (that punt) inside the 10,” Fickell said after the game. “I’m not saying those are things we designed up.” Momentum shifted as play continued, and the Buckeyes took a 10-7 lead early in the second half. Hall added to the lead at the 9:26 mark with a two-yard touchdown run. But Hall’s adventurous night as punt returner wasn’t over. A second punt-return fumble by Hall was recovered by Wisconsin redshirt senior defensive back Andrew Lukasko, and led to a 1-yard touchdown run junior back Montee Ball that sliced OSU’s deficit to 17-14. Hall said he was anxious to make a play. “The drops I had, that’s not usual for me,” Hall said. “I’ll be making sure that doesn’t happen again.” Fickell stuck with Hall for the remainder of the game, though, and it paid off. OSU stretched its lead to 26-14 before Badgers’ senior quarterback Russell Wilson connected with sophomore wide receiver Jared Abbrederis for two touchdowns, the second of which gave Wisconsin a 29-26 lead with 1:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Senior center Michael Brewster said his first thought after the Badgers retook the lead was that OSU would need a good return on the ensuing kickoff. “We have got to get a good return to help us out,” Brewster said. “At least get in field goal range, at worst.” Hall agreed. “On the return, I knew I just had to make a play to help our offense out,” he said. Hall collected Wisconsin sophomore Alec Lerner’s kick and returned it 42 yards to OSU’s 48-yard line. “After (Hall) got that big return, I knew we would get at least three points,” sophomore receiver Corey “Philly” Brown said of Hall’s return. Just four plays later, freshman quarterback Braxton Miller heaved a 40-yard pass to fellow freshman and receiver Devin Smith who waited in the end zone to collect the pass. The rest is history. Fickell said he wanted the ball in Hall’s hands. “Just because (Hall) makes a mistake here or there, he doesn’t make them often,” Fickell said. “We’re going to stick with him.” Hall said the win was big for OSU, (5-3, 2-2) which improved its position in the Big Ten Leaders Division standings. “It (the win) will give us more confidence,” Hall said. “It’s up to us. Time to get back to work.” OSU returns to work Saturday against Indiana at noon in Ohio Stadium. read more

Mens Hockey Ohio States Freddy Gerard began career as a gamer off

The Ohio State men’s hockey team celebrates a goal from Freddy Gerard in a game against Michigan on Nov. 24. Credit: Ric Kruszynski | Ohio State AthleticsThe idea of playing video games as a career is a dream for many teenagers. It is a thought that will always be there but most of the time will never become a reality.Not many could do it, but Freddy Gerard achieved this dream at the age of 16.Gerard, a junior forward on Ohio State’s men’s hockey team, played “Call of Duty” just like many other kids — except he quickly turned this time-killer into a skill.“I wanted to see how good I was. So then I started doing little online tournaments,” Gerard said. “I started meeting better players I was playing against and playing with, and after a while I ended up finding a pretty good team, a set of guys to play with, and we ended up being pretty good.”Gerard joined OpTic Gaming, one of the biggest names in video games, at 16 years old under the name “Folsom.”“Folsom’s actually my middle name,” Gerard said. “I wasn’t sure if it would be cool at first.”Gerard made YouTube videos for two years under OpTic, which became very popular. It became so well-known, in fact, that some of his current Ohio State teammates watched him without even realizing.“I actually saw one of his YouTube videos, but I didn’t realize it was him until I played with him on Xbox,” Ohio State sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski said. “I think that was pretty cool that a pretty well-known guy in the video game world was on my team.”Gerard’s YouTube videos with OpTic continued to grow a following while he balanced school and practiced for a junior hockey team. He said he went to school at 8 a.m., then had practice after school for most of the afternoon until he resumed gaming at night.Hockey and gaming became integral parts of Gerard’s life. That only grew when he moved from YouTube to competitive gaming and began traveling across the country.“I didn’t quite expect the jump of how good these kids actually were, because I thought I was pretty good. I’m the best kid in every public lobby I play in by miles,” Gerard said. “I found out real quick how much I need to improve so it was an adjustment for sure, but after sticking with it, I knew I had something.”From an outside perspective, hockey and competitive gaming might seem like two talents on opposite sides of the spectrum, but Gerard said there are more similarities than one would think.“I don’t think people understand how team-oriented it is to play competitive video games like that. There’s four guys on your team, you and three other guys, and you are communicating nonstop,” Gerard said. “On the pressure side of things, yeah, absolutely. I remember my first time playing in front of a huge crowd like that. It’s nerve-wracking. You’re not sitting in your room anymore. There’s a spotlight on you, so that took an adjustment.”While the gaming was taking off, Gerard found himself traveling for hockey, as well. He first moved to Boston to play on the Junior Bandits. Then in 2014, he moved to play for the Madison Capitols in Middleton, Wisconsin, where Ohio State eventually discovered and recruited him.In Boston, however, Sally Gerard, Freddy’s mom, said hockey and professional gaming became too much to handle all at once, and it left Freddy with a decision to make.“I think that was hard for him to do both, at that point,” Sally said. “This was kind of like the cross in the road.”Hockey was his passion his entire life, Freddy said, and gaming was slowly becoming a second priority. Especially with his hopes of going to college, Freddy knew it wasn’t entirely his decision to quit gaming back in 2013.Freddy said he was cut by his gaming team a month before a major event, and this was the eventual breaking point for him.“I was like, ‘All right well hey, hockey it is, let’s do it,’” he said.While she was supportive of Freddy’s passion for gaming, Sally said she had no complaints about her son’s ultimate decision.Ohio State junior Freddy Gerard competed both in the rink as a forward on the men’s hockey team and in the spotlight of the competitive gaming community. Credit: Courtesy of Freddy Gerard“We were happy about him choosing hockey, I have to say. I think he is too, at this point. I don’t think it was, probably, an easy decision for him at one time,” she said. “I think he saw that it would be a big market, that gaming was going to be a big deal, and he was kind of ahead of it.”Moving to hockey full-time is a choice Freddy said he doesn’t regret, but he will always look back fondly at his time at the top of the gaming world.“It was definitely a different experience than most kids I would say, because for a while you’re kind of like a little celebrity,” Freddy said. “I went out to an event in Anaheim and I was signing autographs for half an hour, me and like three of my other teammates, so it was cool…I’m a 16-, 17-year-old kid and I’m signing autographs.”Freddy eventually found his way to Ohio State when he said it approached him after the 11th or 12th game of the season in Dubuque, Iowa, a game Freddy remembers because of how exciting it was for him. Though the Rocky River, Ohio, native took some time to think about it, Freddy said it was a no-brainer to accept the Buckeyes’ offer.“I had finally been told that my dream was going to come true and let alone at Ohio State,” he said. “It’s my state school. It’s a couple hours away from home. It’s an awesome place to be.”In his junior campaign for the sixth-ranked Buckeyes, Freddy has 10 goals and 17 points, more points than his first two seasons combined. Plus, Ohio State should have a NCAA tournament bid on the horizon.It’s been a long road for Freddy, who has seen the ups and downs of two unique fields that both took one major component: hard work.“I worked all my life to play hockey. That was my first love, and I did it every single day for as long as I could,” Freddy said. “I worked my ass off for that year-and-a-half, two years in my last couple years of Juniors to make that happen, and I did it and I made it here, and I’m just trying to love every second of that.”Freddy still plays video games from time-to-time, not with professionals, but with his teammates on the ice.Freddy doesn’t have any plans to return to competitive gaming, at least not while at Ohio State. He might have loved competitive gaming at a time, but Freddy said there are just some things hockey has that gaming does not.“There’s just no feeling like playing hockey,” Freddy said. “That was my first love. I fell in love with it right away. I loved the feeling you get when you score a goal or even just when you’re out there playing, you forget about everything. There’s not a care in the world.” read more

Oath of allegiance to British values would make migrants play positive role

first_img“These are the values we should live by, these are the values civil servants hold dear and against these values the Tories are falling woefully short.” Dame Louise’s report warned the country was becoming more divided as it became more diverse and highlighted that in some communities women were the subject of “abuse and unequal treatment of women enacted in the name of cultural or religious values”.In her report she acknowledged that elements would be “hard to read”, particularly for Muslim communities which already felt under pressure, but she said the country had to face up to “uncomfortable” problems.The review recommended that schoolchildren should be taught “British values” of tolerance, democracy and respect to help bind communities together amid growing “ethnic segregation”.The review was originally commissioned by then prime minister David Cameron in 2015 as part of a wider strategy to tackle the “poison” of Islamic extremism.It found that while Britain had benefited hugely from immigration and the increased ethnic and religious diversity it had brought, there had not been sufficient emphasis on integration. Demonstrators from Muslims Against Crusaders protest against democracy outside the US Embassy in London in 2011Credit:Eddie Mulholland /The Telegraph “We should be talking about the universal values that unite us, not using nationalistic terms that exclude people.”A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union declined to say if it would encourage civil servants also to take the oath.He said: “To us, British values mean investing in our communities and our public services to make society more cohesive and to support everyone who needs help.“They mean not pitting neighbour against neighbour, the young against the old, the sick and disabled against those in work.  Every public office-holder may have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values, Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, has signalled.The loyalty pledge would be expected to cover elected officials, civil servants, and council workers.However Labour frontbenchers attacked the idea and civil service trade unions declined to say if they would encourage their members to agree to the oath.Mr Javid’s proposal comes in response to a report on social cohesion by Dame Louise Casey, which warned some sections of society did not accept British values such as tolerance. He said he was “drawn” to Dame Louise’s recommendation to bring in an oath of allegiance for holders of public office because it was impossible for people to play a “positive role” in public life unless they accepted basic values like democracy and equality. Mr Javid said: “If we are going to challenge such attitudes, civic and political leaders have to lead by example. “We can’t expect new arrivals to embrace British values if those of us who are already here don’t do so ourselves, and such an oath would go a long way to making that happen.” Mr Javid said his aim was not to create a “government-approved one size fits all identity” where everybody listens to the Last Night of the Proms, but “without common building blocks of our society, you’ll struggle to play a positive role in British life”.  The oath could include phrases such as “tolerating the views of others even if you disagree with them”, as well as “believing in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from abuse … a belief in equality, democracy, and the democratic process” and “respect for the law, even if you think the law is an ass”. Mr Javid also wants all migrants to swear an oath of allegiance, not just those seeking UK citizenship,he told The Sunday Times.Former chancellor George Osborne hailed the idea as a “great initiative”, and ex-culture secretary John Whittingdale also said he supported the oath. But Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the move would not combat radicalisation. She told Sky News: “I have nothing against it in principle, but it will not make a difference to the problems of radicalisation, or integration. “I don’t think the oath will make any verifiable difference.” Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Lord Brian Paddick said: “Forcing public servants to swear an oath to British values would be both superficial and divisive.  Dame Louise CaseyCredit:Geoff Pughcenter_img Demonstrators from Muslims Against Crusaders protest against democracy outside the US Embassy in London in 2011 We need more effort to be put into integration policies to help communities cope with the pace and scale of immigration and population change in recent yearsDame Louise Casey Dame Louise Casey Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Send killer who tied wife to kitchen sink and dropped her in

first_imgA murderer who killed his wife, tied her body to a kitchen sink and dropped her in a reservoir should be sent back to jail, campaigners have said. Michael Bowen, 61, murdered his wife Sandie following a row in 1997. He never revealed where he had hidden her body but was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1998. Last year her body was found at the bottom of a reservoir which had been drained, tied to a heavy ceramic sink.  Helen McCourt who was murdered by pub landlord Ian Simms 25 years ago, She said: “I just think it’s horrendous. This is why we need this law.”This man should be brought in and questioned about it and given the opportunity to admit what he did,” she said. Mr McGinn will introduce the measures as a proposed amendment to the Government’s Prisons and Courts bill, which is at the Committee stage, this week. He said: “I fail to see how someone who committed a murder and who won’t give any information to police could be released.” 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. Helen McCourt was murdered by pub landlord Ian Simms 25 years ago. Her mother Marie McCourt is campaigning for a change in the law. Credit:PA Wentwood reservoir, where her body was foundCredit:Haakon Dewing Michael Bowen center_img Mr Bowen had already been released after serving 15 years of a life sentence. At an inquest on Monday Gwent coroner David Bowen recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.Gwent Police said that after consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service no further action would be taken against Mr Bowen. Marie McCourt, 73, who has been campaigning for a law which would prevent killers like Mr Bowen from being released, condemned the decision.  Mrs McCourt’s daughter Helen, 22, an insurance clerk, went missing in 1988 after getting off a bus in Billinge, Merseyside. Pub landlord Ian Simms was convicted of the murder in 1989, but has never revealed where he hid her body. Helen’s Law, introduced by Mrs McCourt’s MP Conor McGinn as a private member’s bill in October last year, would prevent a killer from being released on parole unless they reveal the location of the body of their victim.  Mrs McCourt’s online petition calling for the law change has more than 390,000 signatures.  Wentwood reservoir, where her body was found Michael Bowen served 15 yearsCredit:Wales News Service last_img read more

Dog gets lightsaber stuck in stomach after wolfing down Star Wars birthday

first_imgAmber and MarkCredit:ncjMedia Ltd Amber the German Shepherd was stuck in a very uncomfortable situation after naughtily wolfing down 2/3rds of a birthday cake.The six-month-old dog from Newcastle fancied crossing to the Dark Side when she stole a Star Wars themed birthday cake.She had a lucky escape when a vet found she hadn’t just eaten the cake, she had also managed to swallow the decorative lightsaber on top.Her owner,  Mark Collins, had bought the cake for his son’s eighth birthday and it was topped with cake decorating wire. Amber and Mark The lightsabre He accidentally left the cake uncovered, and the dog took the opportunity to stick her snout in and gobble it up.Amber then became incredibly ill, having to lie down to drink and vomiting more than 11 times.Vet Robert Norris, who treated Amber, said: “When Amber first arrived we were concerned firstly that the lightsaber could still be inside Amber and secondly that the cake was likely to upset Amber’s stomach and intestines.“When we X-rayed Amber, we could clearly see the lightsaber in her stomach – time was now of the essence as an obstruction in the digestive system can cause potentially life-threatening complications.“After explaining the situation to Amber’s owners, they agreed to elective surgery and we were able to remove the lightsaber safely.” The lightsabreCredit:ncjMedia Ltd Mr Collins said:  “I’d hidden the cake upstairs as Amber is not allowed up there, however the door was left open and she must have found it.“When I discovered Amber standing over the cake, I couldn’t believe how much she’d eaten, and when I couldn’t find the lightsaber I feared the worst. “We hoped that she had just eaten the cake and would bring all of it up, however as time passed it was obvious she was becoming more and more unwell so my wife and I decided the best thing to do was to take her straight to Westway.“We were so worried about Amber – it’s terrifying to think how things could have turned out if we hadn’t acted quickly. From now on we are going to make doubly sure there is nothing left around for Amber to sink her teeth into.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Police accused of wriggling at every single turn after having to release

first_imgWiltshire Police have been accused of “wriggling at every single turn” after they were forced to release the only two people arrested in connection with the Sir Edward Heath child abuse inquiry.The force has spent almost two years and more than £1 million probing claims against the former Prime Minister who died more than a decade ago.Earlier this week the only two people to be arrested during the inquiry were told they face no further action. He said: “These arrests were used by the police as a justification for the continuation of Operation Conifer and the implication was that they were in some way connected to Sir Edward Heath.”The police certainly did nothing to dispel that impression . Now that those people have been released without charge the police ought to make clear whether there was in fact any connection.” The police have been on a fishing trip with thisDr Richard Hoskins 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.center_img Dr Hoskins said some of the claims that had been made against Sir Edward, including allegations of ritualistic murder, were “clearly absurd”.Lincoln Seligman, who is the godson of Sir Edward Heath, said there was no evidence the arrests had anything to do with the former Prime Minister and called for the police to publish whatever findings they had. But a spokesman for Wiltshire Police insisted the investigation, called Operation Conifer, remained live and ongoing with numerous strands.Dr Richard Hoskins, a criminologist, who was called in by Wiltshire Police to review the inquiry, said he was now convinced there was not a shred of credible evidence against the late former Tory leader and called for it to be shut down.He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “Wiltshire Police are wriggling at every single turn here. Whenever part of their investigation falls down this is their fall back, saying there is another strand.”He added: “The police have been on a fishing trip with this. They quite outrageously, I think, stood outside Ted Heath’s home and called for people to come forward.”last_img read more

David Davis says UK legally locked into general election on June 8

first_imgAmong others supporting a suspension were the actress and activist Anna Friel, who said the election should be delayed.However, political leaders will be reluctant to cancel voting on June 8 for two main reasons.The first is that, while there is a government, there are currently no MPs and no Parliament and the prospect of there not being a parliament for a sustained period of time will be resisted by many.Secondly, many will want the election to go ahead in defiance of the attacks and to show that the democratic process cannot be derailed by terrorism.In 2001, Tony Blair had to postpone an entire election by a month because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.Mr Blair had let it be known that he had pencilled in the election for May 3 to coincide with local council polls. But he delayed the vote until June 7 because of the difficulty of campaigning while the animal disease was being contained. His views were shared by many on Twitter.One user, called Matt, said he genuinely felt it was no longer safe to press ahead with voting. David Davis said the UK is legally “locked into” holding a general election on June 8 amid calls to postpone the vote in the wake of the London Bridge terror attack.The Brexit Secretary suggested that, to change the date of the election, the current laws would have to be changed and that was likely to be impossible because there are currently no MPs and no parliament.Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said the election “will go ahead as planned” as she delivered a statement in Downing Street later on Sunday morning.  Within hours of the attack on London Bridge, which cost the lives of seven people and injured dozens more, there were calls on social media for Thursday’s vote to be postponed. “We don’t know, at least I don’t know, I am not briefed this morning on this, but I don’t know whether or not they are deliberately trying to disrupt the general election or whether this is a coincidence of timing.”Mr Davis said he thought suspension of national campaigning would be “relatively brief” which Mrs May confirmed as she said that the election fight would resume in full on Monday. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said: “The Labour Party will be suspending national campaigning until this evening, after consultations with other parties, as a mark of respect for those who have died and suffered injury.” He said: “For those of us seeking to serve the people of this country, it is our duty to drive the dialogue on how best to confront and defeat this brand of terrorism. That is what Ukip will be doing today and beyond. Therefore, I refuse to suspend campaigning because this is precisely what the extremists would want us to do.”Mr Farron said: “The election must go ahead as planned. It is right that we suspend our national campaigning for a short while out of respect for those affected by these tragic events, but local campaigning can and must continue.”The remainder of this campaign must be a collective showing of defiance and pride in our democratic values.” But Paul Nuttall, the Ukip leader, said his party will continue to campaign.  Brutal and shocking incidents reported in London. My thoughts are with the victims and their families. Thank you to the emergency services.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 3, 2017center_img It is the second time that national campaigning has been suspended during the current election campaign. It was suspended for three days after the Manchester bomb attack on May 22.The call for political activity to be put on hold was made on social media by Mark Oxley in a petition he posted on the Change.org website.”I and I’m quite sure a high percentage of the UK population agree that now is not the time to have a general election, after a second devastating attack I believe it is time to prioritise the safety of our country and its people, that’s why I ask you to call off the general election for the foreseeable future,” he wrote. He said: “Well, let me do it the other way round. I’m not sure it can be legally done. In order to do this, you would have to have some change in the law I think and who is going to do that? Parliament no longer exists, I am not a member of parliament for the duration, as are none of the other people who were Members of Parliament. The Conservatives, Labour, the Green Party and the SNP have all suspended national campaigning with the rest of the major political parties expected to follow suit.However, Ukip has refused to suspend campaigning.Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the election “must go ahead as planned”. Mr Davis was asked by Andrew Marr on BBC One whether the election should be extended and if there is a legal process to do so. 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. “I think we are locked into June 8. I think actually the public would want us to be locked into June 8.“There is a balance of things here. On the one hand, clearly we want to respect people who have been injured and killed. We will want to pay proper respect and, therefore, we don’t want to carry on across it. But, on the other hand, the people doing this are doing this because they despise the freedoms we have and those freedoms can be the freedom to go out on a Saturday night or the freedom to cast a vote.last_img read more

Charlie Gard doctor denies financial link to experimental treatment

first_imgCharlie Gard’s parents have ended their fight to take him abroad for treatmentCredit:PA  His comment comes one day after GOSH told a court hearing it was disappointed to find the professor had some financial interest in the treatment suggested for Charlie. In his first public statement since their decision, Dr Hirano said on Tuesday: “I became involved in Charlie’s case when I was contacted by his parents, and I subsequently agreed to speak with his doctors to discuss whether an experimental therapy being developed in my lab could provide meaningful clinical improvement in Charlie’s condition.”As I disclosed in court on July 13, I have relinquished and have no financial interest in the treatment being developed for Charlie’s condition.”Unfortunately, a MRI scan of Charlie’s muscle tissue conducted in the past week has revealed that it is very unlikely that he would benefit from this treatment.” Charlie is being cared for at Great Ormond Street HospitalCredit:PA  The statement added: “Further, GOSH was concerned to hear the professor state, for the first time, whilst in the witness box, that he retains a financial interest in some of the NBT compounds he proposed prescribing for Charlie.”Devastatingly, the information obtained since 13 July gives no cause for optimism.”Rather, it confirms that whilst NBT may well assist others in the future, it cannot and could not have assisted Charlie.” Charlie Gardcenter_img Charlie Gard and parents In its positioning statement, the hospital submitted that Dr Hirano contacted it in December last year about NBT (nucleoside treatment) and at the beginning of this month said he had new information.It expressed concerns over his July 13 evidence to court that at this time he had not examined Charlie, read his latest medical records, or the opinions of experts who had seen him. The American doctor at the heart of legal arguments over Charlie Gard has denied having any financial interest in the experimental treatment considered for the baby.Dr Michio Hirano, professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, travelled to London last week to examine the youngster. He also discussed the case with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) doctors.On Monday, Charlie’s mother Connie Yates and father Chris Gard abandoned attempts to persuade a judge to let him travel to America for experimental 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.last_img read more

Power cut warning for Britain as south east and London brace for

Frank Saunders, chief meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “The heavy rain is likely to reach southeast England and parts of East Anglia later today and then spread north and west overnight, reaching much of eastern, central and southern England by Monday morning and then expected to last much of the day.“Many areas will see between 25 and 40 mm of rainfall with isolated pockets perhaps seeing as much as 50 to 70mm [which is well in excess of the whole month’s average].”This could increase the risk of flooding and hazardous driving conditions. The heavy rain will be accompanied by strong to gale force northerly winds – the unusual direction could increase the likelihood of localised impacts from wind too, with some damage to trees for example and likely closure of some bridges. “Lastly it will be an unseasonably cold day – perhaps cold enough to produce some wet snow on high ground although this seems unlikely to settle.” Britain has been issued a power cut warning as the London and the south east is set to be hit by a barrage of torrential rain, gales, closed roads and flooding.The Met Office warned temperatures will drop to 4C on Monday, but  a wind chill in the air will leave it feeling as cold as -1C, and there is also the possibility of snow appearing in high areas.Meteorologists are predicting gale-force winds and around two-and-a-half inches of rain starting Sunday night and could lead to major travel disruptions across the south and east of England.Severe flooding and sudden power cuts could strike Monday, with a yellow weather warning in place from midnight through to Tuesday.Several flood warnings and alerts have been issued Sunday, with heavy rain and strong winds expected in many southeastern areas of England, London and the South East on Monday.The East Midlands, East Anglia and Yorkshire and Humber are also expected to be affected.Flooding and spray on roads is likely to lead to hazardous driving conditions and even some road closures, as well as delays or cancellations to train and bus services, the Met Office say.Homes and businesses also could be flooded, causing damage to buildings, along with power cuts and transport services hit. Trees and other structures could also be damaged, leaving roads and bridges closed, experts warn.Officials at the Environment Agency warned residents to be “prepared” for the possibility of flooding on the River Kennet and the Lower Avon in Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire.After temperatures hit 26C earlier this month, next week is predicted to not rise above 5C in most of the country. The heatwave of last week will become a distant memory as the temperature plummetsCredit:Hugo Michiels/London News Pictures Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The heatwave of last week will become a distant memory as the temperature plummets read more

Spandau Ballets new frontman was born 11 years after the band was

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The new lead singer of Spandau Ballet has admitted he is intimidated in taking up the role of front man in a band whose greatest hits were released before he was born.Ross William Wild, 30, a singer and actor, was unveiled as the replacement for Tony Hadley, who left the group a year ago.Asked if he found his new job intimidating, he replied: “Absolutely, they’ve got a legacy and it’s a responsibility of mine to pay homage to that legacy, but also [to] do it my own way.”Wild – who is just 30 – was born 11 years after the band was formed.Spandau Ballet had huge hits with singles including ‘Gold’ and “True” in the early 1980s.Brothers Martin and Gary Kemp remain in the band.  read more

Gulags were compassionate educational institutions say trans rights campaigners

In its Tweets, Goldsmith LGBTQ said: “The ideas of TERFS and anti-trans bigots literally *kill* and must be eradicated through re-education.”Ms Graham said: “I said that I thought their choice of language, in talking about lists and purging people was intended to shut down debate about trans people and the law. I then received unpleasant and dehumanising threats about being sent to the Gulag. I feel bad for other trans people because this kind of response by some makes them seem so extreme and intolerant.”Goldsmith LGBTQ subsequently attempted to justify the threat to send Ms Graham to the Gulag by stating that “sending a bigot to one is actually a compassionate, non-violent course of action.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who survived eight years imprisoned in a Gulag incarceration, brought its horrors to the world’s attention in his 1973 book The Gulag Archipelago.Soviet files show that 1,053,829 people died in the camps between 1934 and 1953, mostly as a result of deliberate starvation.The historian Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History, said: “It was an incredibly brutal system designed to eliminate Stalin’s’ enemies and terrorise the wider population. Most of the inmates were innocent of anything we would regard as a crime.”Ms Graham said: “The LGBTQ group’s interpretation of the history of the Gulag system is madness.”Goldsmiths Students’ Union has now suspended the group and withdrawn its support for its activities, saying the Gulag threat – and subsequent refusal by the group to apologise for it – clearly breached the students’ union code of conduct. The original Twitter thread from Goldsmith LGBTQ, since removed In a statement backed by Goldsmiths University the students’ union said: “We condemn the abhorrent content of the tweets and they are in complete opposition to the views and values of the Students’ Union.”Members of Goldsmiths LGBTQ refused to comment when approached by The Daily Telegraph. The rest of Goldsmith LGBTQ's Twitter thread justifying the Gulag system 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. Students at a leading London university have been condemned as blind to reality after defending the system of Soviet Gulag labour camps where thousands perished as “compassionate” places of rehabilitation.Trans rights campaigners at Goldsmiths University described the Gulags as benign places where inmates received education, training and enjoyed the opportunity to take part in clubs, sports and theatre groups.In fact most historians agree they were a brutal network of labour camps used by Stalin’s Soviet dictatorship to incarcerate internal opponents and so-called “enemies of the state”, resulting in the death of more than an estimated 1.05 million people.During a bizarre exchange on Twitter the LGBTQ group at Goldsmiths Student Union described life in the Gulags as “rehabilitatory” and “educational”.Paradoxically the thread was written as an apparent justification for an earlier post by the same group which threatened to send a political opponent “to the gulag”.The threat was made against Claire Graham, a special education needs teacher, who wrote objecting to LGBTQ Goldsmith’s threat to target feminist academics who they claimed were prejudiced against transgender individuals.Tans activists refer to these women by the derogatory term TERFS, claiming they are guilty of hate crimes for their opposition to allowing men undergoing gender transition to use women’s toilets and other female only spaces. The Twitter thread went on to state that the CIA had spread “lies” about the Gulag system, adding: “First myth to debunk: ‘u work until u die in gulags!’ The Soviets did away with life sentences and the longest sentence was 10 years. Capital punishment was reserved for the most heinous, serious crimes.“The penal system was a rehabilitatory one. The aim was to correct and change the ways of criminals.”It added: “Much like wider Soviet society, everyone who was ‘able’ to work did so at a wage proportionate to those who weren’t incapacitated and, as they gained skills, were able to move up the ranks and work under less supervision. The rest of Goldsmith LGBTQ’s Twitter thread justifying the Gulag systemCredit:archive.today “Educational work was also a prominent feature of the Soviet penal system. There were regular classes, book clubs, newspaper editorial teams, sports theatre and performance groups.”In contrast, mainstream historians have concluded that the gulag system, which reached its peak under Joseph Stalin’s rule, was a system of forced labour camps used to incarcerate a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners – including Stalin’s left-wing, Trotskyist opponents and gay men and women. The original Twitter thread from Goldsmith LGBTQ, since removedCredit:archive.today read more