Month:

September 2019

Griffey In His Prime Was The Second Coming Of Willie Mays

One hundred percent of public ballots have Ken Griffey Jr. going into the Baseball Hall of Fame, which should surprise exactly no one. The only suspense Junior’s election year was ever going to see was the question of how close he comes to unanimity, and whether or not the Baseball Writers’ Association of America conscripts an ordained bishop and a team of surveyors to find and consecrate center field at the site of the old Kingdome.It’s been a while since a position player of Griffey’s caliber went into Hall of Fame Day so certain of induction — Rickey Henderson in 2009 was probably the last — and a lot of the ink that’s been spilled over Griffey focuses on the more ethereal qualities that made him the face of a generation (a generation starving for Hall of Fame consideration, I might add): his style; his athleticism; that grin; that effortless, fluid, magisterial swing.If hall voters could vote in a GIF, I swear to God this thing would have a plaque by the second ballot.Statistically, though, Griffey isn’t talked about in exactly the same way as most players. His artistry was so unimpeachable, his heights so dizzying, and his fall so precipitous, it seemed, that talking about the full measure of his career in the persnickety, CPA-hued style of the modern baseball apparatus not only feels like stapling together two completely different players — The Kid and a mere, fallible mortal — but also carries a certain inevitable, Nearer, My God, to Thee sadness about the career he might have had.This is a mistake. The mystique of Ken Griffey Jr. doesn’t diminish any when held up to the lamp. If anything, panning reality out of myth only seems to grow the myth.Consider: If we break down Griffey’s skills1Adjusted for park effects. relative to the major league average — giving excess weight to his best wins above replacement seasons, to better capture what he was like in his prime — and look for players with similar profiles in their best years,2Generating similarity scores by summing the squared differences of any two players’ percentile ranks in five skill categories — contact rate, isolated power, walk rate, running ability (which includes speed score and baserunning runs) and defensive WAR — and weighting the differences according to each category’s influence on overall WAR. the prime version of Griffey was the closest thing the majors have ever seen to the great Willie Mays. Mays had a slightly better eye at the plate, made more contact and was a better runner. Otherwise, peak Griffey was the spitting image of the Say Hey Kid’s best years: a profanely powerful hitter and elite defensive outfielder with great speed and patience, and solid contact skills.(Griffey’s second-most similar prime-to-prime player was his former Mariners teammate Alex Rodriguez — no slouch in his best years, either.) But let’s say we give in and run the same exercise without giving extra weight to the most thrilling years of Griffey’s career. In that case, we find Roger Maris, whose single-season home-run record Griffey flirted with in 1994 before labor strife brought the season to an abrupt halt. This is a telling comparison. Over their respective careers, Mays and Maris boasted nearly identical marks in power, contact and plate patience, but they differed greatly in the most dynamic areas of the game: speed and defense.Likewise, late-career Griffey retained much of his familiar hitting profile, but he became unrecognizable in the field and on the basepaths. After stealing 167 bases in the first 11 years of his career, Griffey swiped only 17 over his final 11 seasons. He also joined the likes of Adam Dunn and Manny Ramirez as one of baseball’s least valuable fielders over his final major-league decade, an outcome that seemed unthinkable when Junior was pulling fly balls off the wall at a dead sprint and doing his “I got it” routine across the Great Lakes. The effect is so extreme that if we invert the prime-weighting scheme from above, instead giving excess weight to a player’s worst seasons, Griffey suddenly profiles like a lumbering slugger in the mold of Kevin Mitchell or Prince Fielder — a far cry from the sprightliness of his ’90s heyday.But here’s the thing: While Kevin Mitchell and Prince Fielder were and are, uh, hefty, they’re also pretty good players. Among non-pitchers since 19133The earliest season, continuous from 2015, for which FanGraphs tracks strikeout rate for batters. with 3,000 or more career trips to the plate, each ranks in the top third in WAR on a per-plate appearance basis. His skills may have been undermined by constant injuries, an ill-fated contract and geriatric napping, but even in winter, one of Griffey’s closest comps was a 31-year-old six-time All-Star.There are many faces to Griffey’s stardom. He might have been baseball’s last truly mainstream superstar, which takes on even more meaning in a sport with an ever-dwindling base of African-American players. The iconography of Griffey — the fun-loving, video game-endorsing, steroid-free natural athlete — always meant his case for the Hall rested on more than mere numbers. But as we all celebrate Griffey’s career this week, it’s worth remembering that Griffey’s numbers are no mere thing, and his statistical legacy isn’t so fragile as to topple over at the first gust of scrutiny. Even during his worst days, Griffey remained an All-Star-caliber player; during his best, he really was the second coming of Willie Mays.Read More: Mike Piazza Was More Than A Big BatBaseball’s Hall Of Fame Is Stuck In The ’60s read more

Trinidadian Sprinter KellyAnn Baptiste Tests Positive for Banned Substance

The banned substance saga has continued in the world of track and field.Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Kelly-Ann Baptiste has tested positive for a banned substance, according to the Trinidad Express. The sprinter ultimately withdrew from the World Track and Field Championships currently taking place in Moscow.“She has voluntarily withdrawn from the competition and is heading back to her base,” Trinidad and Tobago team manager Dexter Voisin told the newspaper.However, he refused to comment on what banned substance Baptiste had in her system. “I can’t disclose anything pertaining to that.”Baptiste trains with Tyson Gay, the U.S. sprinter who has seen success this year, after being sidelined by agonizing injuries in the past. Gay failed multiple drug tests this year causing him to withdraw from the championships as well. Baptiste was entered in the 100-meter, 200-meter and the 4×100 relay in the world championships with her first event, 100-meter, beginning with heats Sunday.The Trinidad and Tobago sprinter was the bronze medalist at the 2011 World Championship in the 100-meter. She joins a long list of track athletes including Gay, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Sherone Simpson who all recently tested positive for banned substances. read more

The Dutch Own A Single Sport Like No Other Country In The

The Dutch do one thing very, very wellThe countries that have won the largest share of their medals in one sport at the Winter Olympics IranWrestling436863.2 CountrySportIn sportTotalshare of total IndonesiaBadminton193063.3 Trinidad and TobagoTrack & Field151979.0 Great BritainFigure skating515113345.545.5 JamaicaTrack & Field777898.7 Medals EthiopiaTrack & Field5353100.0% AustriaAlpine skiing351156122157.452.0 FinlandCross-country ski20774316446.547.0 SwedenCross-country ski31765515356.449.7 TurkeyWrestling639566.3 NetherlandsSpeedskating401144212195.4%94.2% Among countries that won at least 10 medals in a single sport. Through Feb. 14, 2018 (South Korea time).Source: Sports-Reference.com Things weren’t always this way. Looking at all the medals ever given out in speedskating, the Dutch have captured 21 percent. This is impressive, but it’s short of other countries’ performances in other sports: Canada has won 31 percent of all curling medals, and the U.S. has won 29 percent of all snowboarding medals, for instance. But much of this has to do with the fact that speedskating has a long history at the Olympics, and the Netherlands has only reached its current level of dominance relatively recently. The Dutch won 13.1 percent of all speedskating medals between 1924 and the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and all of those came after 1952. But since the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, the Netherlands has captured 36.6 percent of all podium spots.2Through the end of competition (Korea time) on Feb. 14, 2018. The Dutch dominance is so complete that it inspires wacky theories. NBC’s Katie Couric was mocked for her recent statement that the Dutch are so good because they have a longstanding tradition of skating from place to place on frozen canals. The problem: Those canals freeze only a few times a year, if at all, and when people skate on them, it’s for recreation. Dutch skeedskaters are also rumored to have an ideal body type for the sport, but while the country’s racers are often tall, so are many of their opponents from other countries. Nor do the Dutch use a proprietary method to glide past other competitors: While many members of the team have spectacular form, which includes bending low and skating with force and precision, the technique isn’t a secret.The real cause, more than anything else, is dedication. Starting in childhood, Dutch skaters train with excellent instructors. The Dutch team’s skating equipment is the best in the world, too. For the Olympics in 2014, officials from the host city of Sochi went to the Netherlands to learn how to build a top-of-the-line racing rink. By the time they are ready to compete, Dutch stars have been skating in ideal conditions and learning how to peak in time for the biggest races.The ultimate proof of a country’s prowess in an Olympic event is sweeping all three medals. The Netherlands managed it earlier this week, when Dutch women took gold, silver and bronze in a 3,000 meter speedskating race. In another race, the 31-year-old Ireen Wust won her fifth career gold medal and 10th overall medal, a speedskating record. That victory was a surprise, as the silver medalist, Miho Takagi of Japan, was a strong favorite. Wust is the first Dutch athlete to win five gold medals.The only champions who beat out the Dutch in terms of winning all their medals in a single sport in either the Winter or Summer Games3Among countries that have won at least 10 medals in a single sport. are Ethiopia and Jamaica, who excel in track and field races. Ethiopia has 53 summer medals, all of them in track and field. Jamaica, famous for the record-holding sprinter Usain Bolt, has won 98.7 percent of its medals in track. The Dutch are next on the list, at 94.2 percent. CountrySportGoldTotalGoldsTOTALGoldsTotal CroatiaAlpine skiing410411100.090.9 ChinaShort track930125375.056.6 BahamasTrack & Field121485.7 IN SportALL EVENTSShare of KenyaTrack & Field9310093.0 At the Olympics in South Korea, highly populated countries such as the U.S. can contend in a broad range of sports, including skiing, hockey, skating and more. But smaller countries have a harder time producing world-class athletes in so many disciplines, so they often concentrate on just a few. Then there’s the Netherlands, which owns one event alone: speedskating.Through the end of competition Wednesday (South Korea time) at the Pyeongchang Games, 40 of the 42 gold medals Dutch competitors have won in any Winter Olympics had come in speedskating — not to be confused with speedskating’s more exciting half-brother, short-track speed skating, which the Olympics count as a separate discipline. Just seven of the nation’s 121 total Winter medals came in a sport other than speedskating, a measly 5.8 percent. At the previous Winter Olympics in 2014, the Dutch claimed 24 medals: 23 in speedskating and one, a bronze, in short track skating. Eight of their medals were gold.In sports, a country’s dominance often fades — look at Romania in Olympic gymnastics or U.S. men in tennis Grand Slams. But Dutch speedskaters have sustained their superiority. In the 2010 Olympics, they won eight medals: seven in speedskating and one, a gold, in snowboarding. They won nine in 2006, all in speedskating. So far this Olympics, they’ve already won nine speedskating medals,1Not counting their two on the short track, or the silver speedskating medal the country won on Thursday. including five golds. The most impressive Dutch medal so far in these games: a third consecutive gold in the 5,000 meter race for Sven Kramer, who is 31 years old. He is the first man to win three straight golds in the same Olympic speedskating event. He won this year’s race by nearly two seconds. Among countries that won at least 10 medals in a single sportSource: Sports-Reference.com SwitzerlandAlpine skiing20595013940.042.5 The Summer Games’ one-sport specialistsThe countries that have won the largest share of their Summer Olympic medals in one sport SlovakiaCanoeing182864.3 South KoreaShort track2243275481.579.6 MoroccoTrack & Field192382.6 FranceAlpine skiing15483311545.541.7 So, will the Dutch team’s rule ever end? This seems impossible now, especially given the relatively low levels of attention the sport gets in powerful countries like the U.S. But you never know. As the U.S. and many other countries have shown, Olympic dominance usually doesn’t last forever. Enjoy it, those of you from the Netherlands, while you can. read more

Brad Stevens Makes The Celtics Better Than They Have Any Right To

Spurs6123.516106.89+16.7 These Celtics produced a lot more value than expectedActual vs. projected wins added (based on Box Plus/Minus) on offense and defense, for members of the 2017-18 Boston Celtics in the regular season Abdel Nader24SF522+0.2-1.3+0.5+0.7 TeamRkPts/100 poss.RkPts/100 poss.RkPts/100 poss. Kings13109.3170.01+39.3 Jazz7123.3387.32+36.0 Rockets4132.41097.93+34.6 Data up-to-date through games played May 8.Source: Second Spectrum Jarell Eddie26SF6+0.0+0.0+0.0+0.0 OffenseDefenseNet Raptors5131.319111.58+19.7 Jaylen Brown21SG2152-0.2+1.6+1.5+2.9 Greg Monroe27C496+0.7+0.6+0.9+1.8 Pistons12110.5689.87+20.7 Terry Rozier23PG2068-0.3+3.3+2.3+3.6 Nuggets10117.0894.75+22.3 Guerschon Yabusele22PF235+0.1+0.1+0.2+0.3 +15.3+18.8+22.3+35.1 Kadeem Allen25PG107+0.0-0.3+0.1+0.1 Shane Larkin25PG775+0.5-0.2+0.5+1.0 Marcus Morris28PF1447+1.3+0.7+1.5+1.1 Semi Ojeleye23PF1150+0.4-1.2+1.1+1.4 Celtics8122.0588.64+33.4 PlayerAgePos.Min.Proj.ActualProj.Actual Xavier Silas30SG7+0.0+0.0+0.0+0.0 The best teams on out-of-bounds plays (at both ends)Net efficiency on sideline or baseline inbound plays, 2017-18 NBA season Suns16105.1284.26+20.9 Even with home-court advantage, there was little reason to think the Boston Celtics should be favored in their conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers. As Boston was struggling to grind out a seven-game first-round victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Philly was resting up, having dispatched the Miami Heat with relative ease. And while the Celtics were down their best scorer (Kyrie Irving), the Sixers had center Joel Embiid back from injury to join all-around terror Ben Simmons as the series’ two headline players. On paper, the Celtics seemed to stand little chance — and the Las Vegas bookmakers agreed.In the end, though, Boston kept defying the odds like it’s done all season, closing out a surprising five-game series win over the 76ers Wednesday night. Al Horford outplayed Embiid, Terry Rozier continued his unheralded rise to playoff stardom and — perhaps most importantly — head coach Brad Stevens continued his yearlong project of spurring this team to play better than ever seemed possible. That’s been part of Stevens’s reputation since his days at Butler University, and the numbers bear it out, too: Stevens really does stand out in the ways we can measure coaching effectiveness.First, there are the X’s and O’s of Stevens’s playcalling, which got extra acclaim in the Philly series as the undermanned Celtics relied as much on tactics as talent to engineer the upset. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer did a great job of detailing them here: How Stevens repositioned his bigs to reduce Embiid’s impact; how he deterred Simmons’s forays to the hoop in transition; how his inbounds plays changed the course of the series. That last skill is one Stevens has been making good use of all season, with Boston ranking fourth in the league in net efficiency on sideline and baseline out-of-bounds plays (according to Second Spectrum): Gordon Hayward27SF5+0.0+0.0+0.0+0.0 Daniel Theis25C936+0.3+0.6+0.9+3.0 Jayson Tatum19SF2438+0.8+2.0+2.3+4.9 Off. WinsDef. Wins Al Horford31C2277+3.2+4.1+5.3+6.5 Jabari Bird23SG115+0.0+0.0+0.1+0.1 That’s only the sixth time since the dawn of the 3-point era (1980) that a team won at least 55 games while carrying a projected record under .500.2The others were the 1998 San Antonio Spurs (in Tim Duncan’s rookie year), 1993 Houston Rockets, 1990 Spurs (David Robinson’s rookie year), 1989 Phoenix Suns and 1980 Boston Celtics (Larry Bird’s rookie year). Granted, much of it was due to the instant contributions of rookie Jayson Tatum, dramatic improvements from Rozier and NBA sophomore Jaylen Brown, and an MVP-type season by Irving — but that’s also the point. The best coaches, such as San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, have a repeatable tendency to put up more wins than statistical projections say their roster should. With an average of 4.9 extra wins per season over his first five years on an NBA sideline, Stevens appears to be one of those coaches. And while Stevens’s value was clear to even the most casual NBA observers when Boston kept winning despite the injuries to Gordon Hayward and then Irving, it wasn’t so clear to the other 29 coaches in the league: Stevens received zero Coach of the Year votes from his peers.He’s taking it up an extra notch this postseason. The Celtics had a schedule-adjusted efficiency differential of +3.4 points per 100 possessions during the regular season (5.7 points/100 better than projected), but they’re up to +4.9 in the playoffs (8.3 points/100 better than projected). Sometimes, teams who overachieve in the regular season struggle to keep beating expectations in the postseason, where raw skill rules and the margin for error is much smaller. But Stevens and the Celtics have only gotten better at overachieving as the playoffs have gone on.Now Boston will have to face its toughest test yet, in the form of the team that eliminated them from last year’s postseason — the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs did their own overachieving (maybe …) by unexpectedly sweeping the East’s No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors, but that was only after they lost more regular-season games than teams like the Celtics despite superior talent. A month into the playoffs, that talent is beginning to round into form next to LeBron James, who could be playing the best basketball of his entire career.If that sounds like a problem that even superior game-planning and locker-room management can’t solve, well, it may prove to be. But if anyone is up to the task, it’s probably Brad Stevens.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Total Beyond drawing on the whiteboard, Stevens seems to already be a master of the art of squeezing wins out of a roster via intangible factors such as fit, chemistry and player development. If we use each player’s projected Box Plus/Minus (Basketball-Reference’s estimate for points added per 100 possessions) as a guide,1Based on a variant of Basketball-Reference’s simple projection system, which regresses each player (particularly rookies and other low-minute players) toward a below-average, rather than average, mean on offense and defense. (This improves the predictive value of the projections.) and if we plug in how many minutes each player actually logged this season — a big consideration for a team riddled with injuries — we’d have expected Boston to only win about 38 games this season.The Celtics won 55. Aron Baynes31C1485-0.6-1.7+2.2+3.5 Jonathan Gibson30PG40+0.0+0.2+0.0-0.1 Kyrie Irving25PG1931+7.3+10.2+0.0+1.3 Bucks9121.615105.710+15.9 Projections use a weighted average of the previous three seasons, regressed to the mean and adjusted for aging patterns.Source: Basketball-Reference.com Marcus Smart23SG1614+1.7+0.2+2.9+2.9 read more

March Madness Crib Notes for Thursdays Sweet 16 Games

Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions. No. 3 Notre Dame (53 percent win probability) vs. No. 7 Wichita StateLocation: ClevelandWhen to watch: At 7:15 p.m. EDT on CBSPower ratings: Wichita State 88.1, Notre Dame 87.2Upset probability: 47 percentPlayer to watch: Fred VanVleet, Wichita StateAfter prevailing in what was arguably the round of 32’s most exciting game, Notre Dame’s next hurdle will be a terrific all-around Wichita State team that is coming off one of the biggest victories in program history. These two teams are very evenly matched; the Fighting Irish are better offensively (according to KenPom.com’s ratings), but the Shockers have the better defense. There are a few peculiarities that could decide the matchup — Wichita State’s defense is good at gathering rebounds and stopping 2-point field goals, which should mitigate two of the Irish’s offensive strengths. Notre Dame, meanwhile, has the superior long-distance shooters. But this is such a tossup that it might come down to something as obscure as travel distance. Notre Dame is favored to win in part because South Bend is almost four times closer to Cleveland than Wichita is. Wichita State has the better power rating in the FiveThirtyEight model, but the travel is what makes the prediction tilt Notre Dame’s way. File it under “every little edge counts,” I suppose. After a three-day break, the Madness continues Thursday with the commencement of the Sweet 16. And according to the FiveThirtyEight power ratings of the teams involved, Thursday’s games are pretty clearly better than Friday’s slate of matchups. Headlining the action, as always: undefeated Kentucky, who’ll take the court against West Virginia in their sternest test yet (granted, the Wildcats still have an 87 percent chance of advancing). But the most intriguing game of the night might just be North Carolina versus Wisconsin in a battle of contrasting styles.Read on for more about Thursday’s NCAA tournament action …No. 1 Kentucky (87 percent win probability) vs. No. 5 West VirginiaLocation: ClevelandWhen to watch: At 9:45 p.m. EDT on CBSPower ratings: Kentucky 97.9, West Virginia 85.5Upset probability: 13 percentPlayer to watch: Karl-Anthony Towns, KentuckyWest Virginia is a deep, balanced squad with a great swarming defense, but its run likely ends Thursday night against the nation’s most talented team. While the Mountaineers do employ some high-variance strategies that could help their upset chances — particularly a pressing defense that specializes in forcing turnovers — there are plenty of weaknesses for Kentucky to exploit if it can adequately protect the ball. Kentucky had the third-best shooting efficiency differential in the country during the season, while West Virginia had the nation’s 30th-worst; the Mountaineers also allowed the highest free throw rate in the country on defense. (For its part, Kentucky’s offense ranked 30th-best in forcing fouls and 74th in free throw accuracy.) So if this game is decided by conventional means, West Virginia probably won’t win; the Mountaineers will need takeaways and a lot of good fortune to hand Kentucky its first loss of the season. No. 2 Arizona (87 percent win probability) vs. No. 6 XavierLocation: Los AngelesWhen to watch: At 10:17 p.m. EDT on TBSPower ratings: Arizona 94.8, Xavier 85.5Upset probability: 13 percentPlayer to watch: T.J. McConnell, ArizonaBy navigating past a tough Ohio State team with relative ease in the round of 32, Arizona earned the right to face Xavier in one of the Sweet 16’s easier matchups. The Musketeers aren’t a bad team, but they are among the weaker remaining squads in the field. And that’s not good when facing the second-highest-rated team in the FiveThirtyEight power ratings. There are stylistic reasons to think Xavier is overmatched here. The key to the Musketeers’ success has been their offense, particularly on 2-pointers (big men Matt Stainbrook and Jalen Reynolds both shot in excess of 62 percent on twos this season), but the Wildcats excel at short-circuiting opponents’ 2-point efficiency. And in the absence of its bread-and-butter, Xavier might have trouble knocking down enough threes or forcing enough turnovers to make life difficult for Arizona. The Musketeers shouldn’t feel too bad, though: Despite being the No. 2 seed, Arizona is a 58 percent favorite to emerge as the West’s representative in the Final Four. No. 1 Wisconsin (73 percent win probability) vs. No. 4 North CarolinaLocation: Los AngelesWhen to watch: At 7:47 p.m. EDT on TBSPower ratings: Wisconsin 93.6, North Carolina 88.0Upset probability: 27 percentPlayer to watch: Frank Kaminsky, WisconsinWorlds are colliding in Thursday’s most interesting pairing. The Badgers, known for slowing the pace of the game down to a veritable crawl, will meet the Tar Heels, one of the nation’s fastest-paced teams. During the season, Wisconsin’s average possession lasted nearly six seconds longer than North Carolina’s, while the proportion of UNC’s plays on which they had a transition opportunity was more than double that of Wisconsin. (The Badgers were at the bottom of Division I with a 7.5 percent rate of transition chances per play, according to Synergy.) The tempo of this game will be worth watching. Beyond that, the possibility of an upset might come down to whether UNC can get the 2-point shots upon which they thrive against a tough interior Wisconsin defense and — relatedly — whether the Heels can do any damage on the offensive glass versus the Badgers’ great defensive rebounders. read more

Do Toothless Offenses Like The Bengals Ever Recover

1973OAK22.914.024.426.1-1.7 2006OAK10.53.011.618.1-6.5 2000DET19.214.519.920.1-0.2 2001SEA20.06.022.021.1+0.9 All is not lost here for the Bengals. Eight of those teams that didn’t score an offensive touchdown in their first two games actually went on to score more on average in their remaining games than they did in the previous year. But all of these gains were modest, in many cases less than a point. The biggest rebounders were the 1990 Pittsburgh Steelers, who averaged 16.6 points in 1989, failed to score an offensive TD in Weeks 1 and 2, and then averaged 19.3 points for the rest of the year. The news is less rosy when you look at three most recent examples: The 2016 L.A. Rams, the 2006 Oakland Raiders and the 2006 Tampa Bay Bucs. The inauspicious starts for these three were a dark omen for what was to come. The trio combined to go 10-38.The hope of modest gains isn’t much for Bengals fans to cling to. This team was expecting its offense, which ranked 24th in the NFL last year, to get much better — not to plateau or fall off a cliff. Since history tells us to expect that teams in the Bengals’ position will score an average of three fewer points per game than they did in the previous season, and Cincinnati scored 20.3 points per game last year, we’d expect the team to post about 17 points per game in 2017. In the 16-game era,1Not counting 1982 and 1987 seasons, which were shortened by strikes. teams that average between 16 and 18 points per game are 871-1,635-6 for a .348 winning percentage that translates to between five and six projected wins this year for the Bengals.Of course, the Bengals could have just run into hot defenses in their first two games, against the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans. But even the great 1985 Bears gave up 22 offensive touchdowns that season, or 1.4 per game. Getting shut out from paydirt in two straight games is epic futility no matter who you’re facing. Cincinnati might pin Week 2’s offensive fiasco on the fact that is was playing a Thursday night game on short rest, but that likely had no effect given that in games through Week 2 since 2014, teams have actually averaged more points per game on Thursdays (23.3) than in the season as a whole (22.6).Some expressed worries that the Bengals’ attack would suffer after the team let 35-year-old Pro Bowl tackle Andrew Whitworth leave for the Rams in free agency, but the Bengals attempted to compensate for the loss by picking up even more skill players in the draft. Owner Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis selected world-class sprinter John Ross to be a game-changing deep threat with the ninth overall pick. And in the second round, the club added 226-pound running back Joe Mixon, who ran a 4.5 40-yard-dash at his Pro Day.And those players were added to a mix that already included three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Andy Dalton, perennial Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green and one of the league’s most efficient scorers in tight end Tyler Eifert, who since 2000 has the third most touchdowns per catch (minimum 20 touchdowns) among tight ends. The team has 11 offensive players who are home-grown first- or second-round draft picks.All of which makes the offense’s ineptitude even more perplexing. Which explains why the team took drastic measures: This is the first time in the Bengals’ 50-year history, all of which has been spent under the guidance of the Brown family, that an offensive coordinator has been fired during the season.But the bigger issue may be Dalton, who currently ranks last in the NFL in QBR with a rating of just 10. The league average QBR through Week 2 is 49; last year, Dalton’s was 52.3. There have even been rumblings about benching Dalton, including from a former NFL Executive of the Year.Either way, Cincy has no excuses this week — at least, that is, no excuses for not scoring a touchdown. The Bengals are in Green Bay facing a Packer defense that ranks 25th in yards allowed per play through Week 2 after finishing 28th in 2016.But perhaps the Bengals can look to one of their NFC counterparts for offensive inspiration. The Bengals were the 24th team to go through their first two games without scoring an offensive TD, but the 25th team, this year’s San Francisco 49ers, joined the club just a few days later. After a fortnight of grim, incompetent offense, Brian Hoyer and the Niners exploded for five touchdowns and 39 points in Thursday night’s loss to the Rams.Then again, when it’s only Week 3 and you are already trying to emulate the feats of the Niners, something has gone terribly wrong. 1988CLE19.04.521.126.0-4.9 YEARTEAMFULL YEARGAMES 1-2REST OF YEARPRIOR YEARDIFF AVERAGE POINTS PER GAME 2004TAM18.88.020.318.8+1.5 Teams that started like the Bengals didn’t rebound wellHow the 22 past teams that didn’t score an offensive touchdown in Weeks 1 and 2 fared over the rest of the season, compared to the season prior 2006TAM13.21.514.918.8-3.9 1978BAL14.90.017.021.1-4.1 1990PIT18.311.519.316.6+2.7 2001WAS16.01.518.117.6+0.5 1996TAM13.84.515.114.9+0.2 Excluding the 1976 Tampa Bay team, which was in its first year as a franchiseSource: Pro-Football-Reference.com 1985BUF12.56.013.415.6-2.2 1977TAM7.43.08.18.9-0.8 1985PHI17.93.020.017.4+2.6 1970NOR12.31.514.122.2-8.1 1982KAN19.614.021.221.4-0.2 1977BUF11.43.012.817.5-4.7 1975NOR11.81.513.511.9+1.6 1974PHI17.38.018.922.1-3.3 1990NOR17.17.518.518.8-0.3 The Bengals entered this year as playoff contenders with a retooled offense that was considered one of the fastest units in the NFL. But two games into the season, they’ve kicked three field goals. And that’s it, that’s all the points the team has scored. Cincinnati’s inability to score a touchdown in its first two games (both losses) has led to the quick dismissal of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese in his 15th season with the team.It may not sound like that big a deal to be held without a touchdown for the first two games of the season, but going back to 1970, this has only happened 15 times prior to 2017. Another eight teams registered only a return touchdown, failing to score with their offense.The 23 teams that got left at the starting gate should not give Bengals fans much confidence in this year’s unit. These offenses would go on to average 17 points per game for the remainder of the season. If you include the two clunkers each team had in Weeks 1 and 2, the group finished the season with a paltry 15.6 points per game. When compared to their previous season’s scoring output, teams — not counting the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were an expansion team and so did not have a previous season — declined by an average of three points. 2016LAR14.04.515.417.5-2.1 1997IND19.68.021.319.8+1.5 read more

Beside The Points For Monday Nov 13 2017

NBA Oh, and don’t forgetoh no I hope the poor guy is okay We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆  Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeI still can’t believe they televised itThe San Francisco 49ers beat the New York Giants 31 to 21 at home Sunday. This was a historically awful game. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it is only the third time in the Super Bowl era when two teams with only one combined win entered a game in Week 10 or later. This travesty was televised in two of America’s biggest media markets. New York is now 1-8 and San Francisco is 1-9. If anything, this hampers San Francisco’s quest for the top overall pick of the draft: Last week they were projected to finish the season with 1.6 wins, compared to the 1.5 wins projected for the Cleveland Browns and 4.0 wins projected for New York. But after Sunday, Cleveland is projected to get 1.4 wins, San Francisco is forecasted to finish with 2.4, and New York with 3.2. [ESPN]Awful challenges have a new godYesterday Chicago Bear Benny Cunningham caught a football and came quite close to the end zone with it. The refs said it was not a touchdown. Coach John Fox disagreed and challenged that call, arguing that it was indeed a touchdown. Upon review, the refs noticed that Cunningham actually fumbled the ball at the pylon and, thus, not only was the play not a touchdown, but indeed it was no longer even Bears ball, and that posession went to Green Bay. This single sequence of events reduced Chicago’s win probability by 20 percent. They’d lose 23-16. [ESPN, The Ringer]Notre Dame, outCongratulations to the University of Miami, who after routing Notre Dame now have 48 percent chance of making the college football playoff. I want to apologize to John Kelly of Jersey City, N.J. for elevating his hopes of Notre Dame’s playoff potential. That’s on me, buddy. [FiveThirtyEight]Badgers doing goodThere are 20 schools that rank among the top 50 all-time winningest schools in both men’s NCAA football and basketball. As it stands right now — comparing the harmonic mean of the basketball and football teams of those schools — the University of Wisconsin is currently the best two-sport school in the country. [FiveThirtyEight]Philadelphia has hope for the first time in city’s sporting history, let’s keep inflating thatThe Sixers look really solid. This is an absurd thing after what they’ve endured over the past several years. Through Sam Hinkie’s tenure as general manager, the 76ers plunged to a depth of Elo ratings that it’s rare to recover from, yet here we stand with a Sixers team in spitting distance of average, nay, good even. Only six teams in NBA history have pulled off such an awful nosedive and peeled out of it in a similar timely fashion. [FiveThirtyEight]U.S. Wins!Team USA has won the Four Nations cup in Tampa topping the women’s national hockey teams of Canada, Finland and Sweden with a 5-1 defeat of Canada in the final in Tampa on Sunday. This bodes very well for the team at the Olympics this winter. [USA Hockey, The Ice Garden]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!Big Number21.4 percentWith the 49ers win over the Giants, only one team in the league does not yet have a win, the Cleveland Browns. From now until week 11 through week 17, FiveThirtyEight gives the Brown’s opponents a respective 77 percent, 82 percent, 82 percent, 78 percent, 73 percent, 78 percent and 93 percent chance of beating them. Combine that and you get a 21.4 percent chance that each of the Browns opponent wins and thus Cleveland finishes 0-8. Still, that does mean that the team has an implied 78.6 percent chance of not going undefeated. The question is, how lucky does Cleveland feel? [FiveThirtyEight, Walt Hickey]Leaks from Slack: Men have some work to do College Football See more college football predictions See more NBA predictions See more NFL predictions emily:[11:24 PM]fun lil *A Tale of Two National Teams* going on with the USA W/M Ice Hockey teams. Circumstances are a lil different of course (no NCAA players called up yet, a big deal for a non-NHLer MNT), but both teams played in Four Nation Tournaments this past weekend, the WNT at the Four Nations against some big competition in Canada, Finland and Sweden. They left the champions and undefeated, beating Canada twice! The MNT played the Deutschland Cup against the not-so-big competition of Russia, Germany, and Slovakia. They left winless with a goal differential of 4-12. The WNT had a goal differential of 22-5.[11:25]I am immensely curious to see how this all pans out in PyeongChang both in performance and media coverage.Predictions NFL All newsletters read more

Buckeyes rely on goalie play to snap skid

The Ohio State men’s soccer team has had success thanks to great play from its goalkeepers, especially from redshirt freshman Matt Lampson.“He has been playing very well lately,” coach John Bluem said. “I think Matt has taken the position now, it’s going to be his and he is going to try and hold onto it.”The freshman stepped up early in the season and helped guide OSU to its best start in school history.A week ago, the Big Ten named Lampson the conference’s defensive player of the week because of his stellar play against Michigan State.On the season Lampson has three shutouts and .93 goals against average.But Lampson is not the only goalkeeper OSU has on its roster, and Bluem is confident in every one of the young keepers. The Buckeyes have three solid goalies who could potentially take the starting job.Other then Lampson, the Buckeyes have redshirt sophomore Ryan Dalton, who has been seeing more and more play time because of his solid play.OSU also has a true freshman in Alex Wimmer, who is ready to go when his number is called. Had Wimmer not been injured at the beginning of the season, he would have challenged for the starting spot.Coming into the season, Bluem worried his team might be inexperienced at goalie.“No worries anymore,” Bluem said. “Wimmer is ready to go if we need him, Dalton has played really well in the times we used him and Lampson is in really good form right now. I am very pleased at the way they have been playing.”The Buckeyes, however, are in the middle of a tough stretch of games.The team has lost its last two games, 3-0 to Akron and 1-0 to Northwestern. After the Northwestern loss, Bluem questioned the team’s level of effort.“It’s a tough stretch. Hopefully we can address some things and come out with a more intense effort,” Bluem said.With a full schedule ahead, the team wants get back on the field quickly and perform better. OSU is hoping that is the case when they face Cleveland State on Friday.Cleveland State (3-4-3) comes into the game struggling on offense, scoring only one goal in its last three games.But with 11 seniors and the entire defense returning, the Buckeyes will have to be ready.Friday’s match will be played at 5 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Mens hockey team bonds over bowling

Ohio State men’s hockey coach Mark Osiecki wanted to let the team relax and focus a few days before the playoff series against Lake Superior State. So he took them bowling. Osiecki, in his first season as the Buckeyes’ coach, said he had done this with previous teams and likes the idea. “It’s something I’ve done in the past,” Osiecki said. “We wanted to create team togetherness.” The players, who say they had no idea Osiecki was going to do this, ended up bowling with the lower half of their hockey equipment on. “He made us wear our bottom-half gear, so a lot of guys had on their shin guards and pants and stuff. So it was a little awkward, but it was a lot of fun,” junior goalie Cal Heeter said. “Everyone was laughing and having a good time.” Senior forward Peter Boyd said he was surprised by the idea but thought the team did a good job of taking it in. “I thought it was a great idea,” he said, “and the guys really responded well to it.” The Buckeyes (15-16-4, 10-14-4 CCHA) have lost nine of their past 11 games. They will take on Lake Superior State (10-15-9, 8-12-8 CCHA) in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., in the first round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament. The best-of-three series will match up the ninth-seeded Buckeyes with the eighth-seeded Lakers. When the teams played each other Feb. 18–19 in Columbus, Lake Superior State winning the first game in a shootout, and OSU winning the second one, 5-2. But Boyd said he isn’t looking at what has happened this season, just what the team has ahead of it. “Playoff hockey is a new season,” he said. If the Buckeyes win the series against the Lakers, they could play Michigan, Notre Dame or Miami (Ohio), depending on who wins the other first-round series. Friday’s game is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Saturday’s and Sunday’s (if necessary) are scheduled for 7:05 p.m. read more

Police review surveillance video in Carlos Hyde alleged assault case

Lantern file photoThe Columbus Division of Police have obtained surveillance video of an alleged assault of a woman at a Columbus bar Saturday, in which Ohio State football player Carlos Hyde was named as a “person of interest,” Columbus Police Sgt. Richard Weiner confirmed Wednesday to The Lantern.Weiner said police are reviewing the surveillance video of the incident, which occurred at about 2 a.m. Saturday at the Sugar Bar 2, located at 303 S. Front Street, according to a Columbus Police report.The woman told police she did not know the suspect who allegedly assaulted her but could identify him, according to the report.No charges have been filed against Hyde, but the investigation is still ongoing, Weiner said. Columbus Police have not yet interviewed the woman.According to a Tuesday report from Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports, the surveillance video shows Hyde did not appear to make contact with the alleged victim. Weiner did not confirm or deny this information.Hyde has been suspended from all football team activities pending the outcome of student code of conduct and criminal investigations.Hyde, a senior running back, is expected to be a starter for the Buckeyes this season if he is reinstated. He finished second on the Buckeyes with 970 rushing yards last season, and led the team with 16 rushing touchdowns.Hyde was named to the 2013 preseason Doak Walker Award watch list, an award given to the top college football running back. read more

Ohio State defense ready to showcase improved skills against Navy

Then-sophomore linebacker Joshua Perry (37) tackles a player during The Game Nov. 30 at Michigan Stadium. OSU won, 42-41.Credit: Ritika Shah / Lantern TV News directorWith the first game of the 2014 season only days away, the Buckeyes are just recovering from one of the biggest overhauls of the offseason.Not only have they lost senior quarterback Braxton Miller for the year because of a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, but they’ve also seen a turnover at two defensive coaching positions — former co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers left for the head coaching position at James Madison University and former defensive line coach Mike Vrabel took a job with the Houston Texans as their linebackers coach.Co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash and defensive line coach Larry Johnson were brought in to overhaul a defense that gave up a combined 115 points in its final three games last season, and the players have responded to the new defensive style.Ash was brought in after one season as defensive coordinator at Arkansas while Johnson was a member of the Penn State coaching staff for 18 years before joining Meyer’s crew in Columbus.“I think that the scheme change — playing a more aggressive defense — it’s a little bit easier to grasp and has helped us a lot,” junior linebacker Joshua Perry said.Perry said the new aggressive style of play particularly helps the linebackers better play to their skill sets.“We have got some of those guys who played safety in high school. Kind of the hybrid guys who are a little bit lighter and they can hit which is really important,” Perry said. “We have got some of the other guys like (freshman Raekwon McMillan) and (senior Curtis Grant) and myself, who are a little bit of the bigger guys who can still run and cover.”Junior cornerback Armani Reeves said the new scheme has also helped out a secondary that let up an average of 378 yards passing in its final three games last season.“I am very excited,” Reeves said of the new defense. “Playing bump-and-run and playing physical, being able to use our skills — you got (redshirt-freshman Eli Apple), (redshirt-freshman Gareon Conley), (who are) big long corners, then you got me and (senior Doran Grant) that are really strong and really know how to manhandle the wide receivers.”Coach Urban Meyer said the corner position opposite Doran Grant is still up for grabs heading into the first game against Navy.“The other corner, it’s Eli and Gareon. They haven’t separated themselves yet either, which is a good sign,” Meyer said. “They’ll both play.”Then-sophomore cornerback Armani Reeves prepares for a play during a game against Florida A&M Sept. 21 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 76-0.Lantern file photoReeves said while the two young players continue to fight for playing time, they each have distinctive skills.“They both bring a different type of style to their game, but that’s what makes them special,” he said. “Gareon has really fluid hips, and he reads routes really well and Eli is a really strong and physical guy so they both play a little bit different.”The new style of play is set to be tested against an uncommon offensive scheme with Navy, a team that runs a triple-option wishbone look which features the quarterback and wing backs in a run-heavy style offense.While playing against such an unusual offense would normally be a tough challenge, Perry said having the entire offseason to practice for it has helped.“The really good thing for us is we have had all camp to prepare,” Perry said. “Whereas you would come in on a typical game week and you really only have four or five days to prepare.”The attitude and toughness that comes with playing against a U.S. military academy is something the Buckeye defense have also been preparing for, Perry said.“That is something we talked about in meetings today. These guys are guys who are trained to be fearless,” he said. “They are trained to be relentless all the time. We know that we have to go full go the whole game.”The Buckeyes are set to play Navy on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is scheduled for noon. read more

Baseball Ohio State brings inexperience and talent to 2019

Ohio State then-freshman right fielder Dominic Canzone bats in the bottom of the seventh inning against North Carolina Greensboro. Credit: Edward Sutelan | Editor in ChiefUnproven talent has the potential to either burst onto the scene or fall to the wayside.The 2019 Ohio State baseball team’s success will depend on the play of its inexperienced but talented pitching staff and veteran players. The new-look team will try to build on its 36-24 record and NCAA Tournament berth from last season.In the 2018 campaign, the Buckeyes had a plethora of experienced arms to put on the mound. Three of the team’s starters and the closer were upperclassmen. The five most-used pitchers from last season, three of which had the lowest ERAs on the team, have moved on from the program, but the openings in the rotation will give younger players the opportunity to prove themselves this season.“As a coach, I am really excited about the talent level that we’ve got with the pitching staff,” head coach Greg Beals said. “[I am] apprehensive about the fact a lot of them don’t have a track record.”Among the Buckeyes’ more battle-tested pitchers are junior Jake Vance and sophomore Griffan Smith, both of whom logged more than 30 innings pitched in 2018.Along with Smith and Vance, sophomore catcher and captain Dillon Dingler said redshirt freshman Seth Lonsway and freshman Garrett Burhenn were among the best pitchers he has ever caught and been with.“They have a lot of confidence in themselves, a lot of poise when they are on the mound, so it should be good,” Dingler said.But Beals noted that the entire load is not on the pitching staff.“We’ve got some experience in that infield,” Beals said. “We’ve got to play good defense to support that young pitching staff.” Beals said the infield will likely consist of junior first baseman Conner Pohl, senior second baseman Kobie Foppe, junior shortstop Noah West and freshman third baseman Zach Dezenzo.Foppe, who had a .335 batting average in 2018, was a key contributor to last year’s team, which posted the most runs scored in Beals’ eight-year stint with the team.But utility Noah McGowan is no longer on the roster after posting a team high .351 batting average. Outfielder Tyler Cowles, who posted a .322 batting average, has also graduated from the program.Even with the loss of such offensive weapons, junior outfielder and captain Dominic Canzone said the team is confident it can continue the offensive momentum from last season.“They were huge pieces, obviously, last year, but we have other guys that are going to step up,” Canzone said. “Then obviously, some of our leaders can produce more. Just top to bottom I feel really strong about our hitting in our lineup.” The leaders of the team will be a crucial component of developing a young team. Dingler said it will be important for the older players to make sure the younger guys remain even-keeled throughout the season.“Just sticking behind guys,” Dingler said. “Baseball is a very tedious sport. You go through a lot of lulls. Go through a lot of highs and lows. Just sticking with kids. Making sure they are not getting too high, not getting too low. Leaving them alone too. Helping them out when they need help.” Canzone emphasized the need to stick together and respond positively to adversity in order to successfully navigate the season.Supporting one another is something that Dingler feels will come easily and propel them forward throughout the season.“I think we’re really close this year,” Dingler said. “Like Dom [Canzone] said, the brotherhood is very close this year. We’re always together at the field and off the field. I feel like us having each other’s back and us bonding together will really set us apart this year.” The team’s confidence is evident in its goals for this season, viewing the previous season as a leaping-off point.“The biggest thing for us is winning regionals this year, making a super, and winning a Big Ten championship,” Canzone said.Ohio State will open the season Friday against Seton Hall in the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. read more

Sniffer dog recruited by Derbyshire Police to help catch rapists

first_imgBillie the cocker spanielCredit:Derbyshire Constabulary Police in Derbyshire have employed the services of new crime fighter with a knack for sniffing out rapists.While his canine colleagues are off hunting for drugs or explosives, Billie the cocker spaniel’s nose is trained to find DNA evidence used in sex cases.Billie does it by tracking down traces of human semen. Dogs are believed to have a sense of smell that is about 10,000 times more acute than that of humans meaning Billie can detect as little as a millilitre of sperm more than a year after it was deposited indoors.Well-trained dogs can pick up some smells when they are diluted down to a few trillionths of a litre. This is the equivalent of identifying a pinch of salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.Since March this year Billie has carried out 13 live searches, according to a document drawn up by Derbyshire Constabulary, The Times reported. Billie the cocker spanielcenter_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. In one case involving a suspected peeping Tom, the investigation team had found nothing at the crime scene but removed some items, including boards recovered from a loft, to the garden for searching.”Despite CSI not being able to see any stains via the crime light, the dog indicated several areas on one of the boards. That board has now been seized for laboratory analysis,” the police briefing reads.Superintendent Dick Hargreaves, of Derbyshire Constabulary, said Billie was “a real asset”.”He’s already been used in numerous investigations and has found further evidence that has resulted in crime scene investigators identifying DNA profiles,” he said.”We are always looking for innovative ways to improve our service and we’re hoping that Billie’s skills will lead to more convictions.”last_img read more

Jeremy Paxman I felt hatred for my estranged father

first_imgFormer Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman has admitted in his memoir to feeling “passionate hatred” towards his late father at times.The broadcaster revealed in his new book, A Life In Questions, that typewriter salesman Keith Paxman left the family to move to Australia when his eldest son was a 24-year-old BBC trainee. 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. Did I love my father? My feelings ranged from resentment to passionate hatredJeremy Paxman As a presenter, Paxman spent 25 years fronting the BBC’s flagship political programme, earning a reputation as a hard-bitten interviewer before he hosted his final show in summer 2014.And the 66-year-old said he did not want to be portrayed as “poor little me” following the revelations in his memoir.He said: “There comes a point, about the age of 40, when you have to stop saying how you are is a consequence of how you were brought up. And particularly when you are 66, it is pathetic to say, ‘I am as I am because of things that happened in my childhood’.”The Leeds-born broadcaster, who studied at Cambridge University, has already authored a string of books including studies of Victorian Britain, politics and fishing, and continues to host quiz show University Challenge.In 2014, he reportedly signed a three-book deal with publisher William Collins for almost £1million. After tracking his estranged father down a decade later, Paxman said he was “astonished” when the older man showed no interest in reconciling with him.In extracts from the book, published in The Times Magazine, Paxman said: “Did I love my father? My feelings ranged from resentment to passionate hatred.”In an interview with the newspaper, he added: “I was astonished by his lack of curiosity. I mean there were grandchildren he’d never seen, spouses he’s never met.”It seemed as if we were part of a life he’d put behind him.”last_img read more

Drowned postman climbed out of bed at 3am to begin his round

first_imgMr Sullivan on the right with his son Paul Sullivan and wife Rose Anyone lucky enough to still have their dad in your life, tell him how much you love him. It really hurts when you can’tPaul Sullivan She told an inquest on Friday that the 66-year-old, who had worked as a postman for 20 years before retiring in 2014, had suffered from bouts of sleepwalking and had been found “outside the house on occasions not knowing how he had got there”.Mrs Sullivan, 64, explained that she had woken up on February 22 around 3.20am to find her husband missing, along with his bicycle and helmet. At that point she believed Mr Sullivan, who had been having difficulty sleeping, was having “one of his episodes”.Knowing that he had used the bicycle to complete his postal round, as well as for leisure after retiring, Mrs Sullivan travelled the route he normally took before calling the police when she could not find him. Mr Sullivan on the right with his son Paul Sullivan and wife RoseCredit: WALES NEWS SERVICE A post-mortem examination carried out by a pathologist at Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny found Mr Sullivan, who was also a grandfather, died as a result of drowning.Gwent Coroner David Bowen returned an open verdict. He said no other conclusion could be made as there was “no evidence” into just how Mr Sullivan had gone into the water. The death was never treated as suspicious.Sleepwalking – known as somnambulism or noctambulism – is a combination of sleep and wakefulness. Its cause is not known but it can happen at any age, with some people carrying out complex tasks such as driving or cooking.After the hearing, Paul, 31, said the family were hoping the hearing would bring “closure”. Mrs Sullivan told The Telegraph she did not want to make any further comment and added that it had been a “very difficult time”. Show more She told Newport Coroner’s Court she knew Mr Sullivan, who she had been married to for 39 years, “was not dressed appropriately for a bike ride at that time of the morning” because he had left his fluorescent jacket behind.Mr Sullivan’s bike, along with his helmet, was spotted by a dog walker on the river bank near the Llanfoist Bridge around a mile from their link-detached property in the morning. A police officer attended the scene but called in a helicopter after he found initially no trace of Mr Sullivan. His body was pulled from the fast-flowing river between 300 and 400 yards (360 metres) downstream at around 10am.Neighbours and friends paid tribute to the postman after his death. One wrote on Facebook: “What a kind and amazing man, so gutted.” His son, Paul, added on social media: “Anyone lucky enough to still have their dad in your life, tell him how much you love him. It really hurts when you can’t.” The river in Castle Meadows, Abergavenny, where Mr Sullivan’s bike and helmet were foundCredit:WALES NEWS SERVICE Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A retired postman is feared to have been killed after setting off on his bike to complete his old delivery round while sleepwalking in the middle of the night, an inquest has heard.John Sullivan’s body was pulled from the River Usk less than a mile away from his home in Abergavenny, south Wales, after he was reported missing by his wife, Rose. The river in Castle Meadows, Abergavenny, where Mr Sullivan's bike and helmet were foundlast_img read more

Who murdered Sarah Payne

first_imgSarah’s naked body was found by a farm worker 16 days later after a massive police hunt involving 1,300 officers. She had been buried in a shallow grave in a field about 12 miles away from where she disappeared, near Pulborough, West Sussex.  Roy Whiting Roy Whiting's Fiat Ducato van Michael and Sara Payne outside then Home Secretary Jack Straw's office prior to presenting him with 700,000 signed petitions in favor of Sarah's Law in 2000. Roy Whiting was jailed for life in 2001. Credit:PA Michael and Sara Payne outside then Home Secretary Jack Straw’s office prior to presenting him with 700,000 signed petitions in favor of Sarah’s Law in 2000.Credit:PA What is Sarah’s Law?Sarah’s Law, or the Child Sex Offenders Disclosure (CSOD) scheme, was launched in 2011 following years of campaigning by Sara Payne and her late husband Michael.It allows parents to ask the police if someone who might have contact with their children has a criminal record for child sex offences. Police will reveal details confidentially to the child’s parent or carer if they think it’s in the child’s interests.Sara Payne was made an MBE for services to child protection in 2008. However, Michael died in 2014 after losing his battle with alcohol. Sarah Payne: A Mother’s Story will be screened on Channel 5 on Wednesday at 9pm. Prime suspectPolice quickly turned their attention to Whiting, knowing that he was a convicted paedophile and drove a white van. He was questioned over the abduction almost immediately but provided an alibi – claiming he’d been at a funfair in Hove. However, after searching his flat in Littlehampton, West Sussex, where he lived alone, police discovered a receipt indicating that he had bought diesel fuel at a garage near where Sarah’s body was found – nowhere near the funfair. Later, a strand of Sarah’s hair was found on Whiting’s sweatshirt and fibres from his van were found on her hair and shoe.The trial judge awarded £500 from public funds to Deborah Bray, who found Sarah’s right shoe by the side of the road. It was the only item of Sarah’s clothing recovered and provided a vital forensic link to enable the case to go to court. Sarah Payne (bottom right) with brothers Lee and Luke (top left and right) and sister Charlotte.Credit:PA Sarah Payne (bottom right) with brothers Lee and Luke (top left and right) and sister Charlotte. What happened to Whiting?Labourer and unemployed car mechanic Whiting denied having anything to do with Sarah’s murder throughout the three week trial. However, jurors found otherwise and he was jailed for life in January 2001. Who was Sarah Payne?Sarah Paynewas eight years old when she was abducted and murdered by jobbing builder Roy Whiting in West Sussex 17 years ago. The schoolgirl had been playing near her grandparents’ home one summer’s evening in July 2000 when she was snatched by the convicted sex attacker in a white van. Her body was found 17 days later. Whiting, now 58, was sentenced to life in prison at Lewes Crown Court in 2001 in what became one of Britain’s most high profile child murder cases. 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. Revelations of his history of child abuse prompted a nationwide debate about paedophiles and the justice system. Had he been in trouble with the law before?Yes, after Whiting was convicted, jurors were told that he had kidnapped and sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl five years earlier.Whiting had snatched the girl from a park in Crawley, West Sussex forcing her to strip and made her commit indecent acts on him while he sexually assaulted her. He later dumped her at the roadside near her home.However, before he was sentenced, Whiting was assessed and was said in a psychiatrist’s report to be “not a paedophile”. He was jailed for four years but was freed after only 30 months.  He is currently serving time at Wakefield Prison where he spends most of his time in his cell due to fear of attacks from other prisoners. He is not eligible for parole until at least 2041.During the trial jurors heard how the divorced father-of-one lived a solitary life, visiting the same cafe almost every evening, ordering the same meal of a hamburger and two mugs of tea, and always eating alone.They also heard how he had been out hunting for children and that he had turned his van, in which he had abducted Sarah, into a “moving prison” complete with a rope, knife, ties and soft materials. Judge Mr Justice Curtis described him as “an evil man, every parent’s nightmare”. What happened on the day she disappeared?Sarah was abducted by Whiting from a country lane close to her grandparents’ home at Kingston Gorse, West Sussex on July 1, 2000.She had been playing hide-and-seek in a cornfield with her younger sister Charlotte and brothers Luke and Lee when she dipped through a gap leading to a road on the edge of the field to head back to her grandparents’ house. However, Whiting was waiting on the other side and snatched her. Roy Whiting’s Fiat Ducato van which he used to abduct Sarah.Credit:Chris Ison/PA Thirteen-year-old Lee, who had run after his little sister, saw Whiting speed away smiling and waving, but had no idea his terrified little sister was in the back of the van.After Sarah’s parents reported her missing that night, Lee mentioned to officers that he’d seen a scruffy-looking man in a white van drive away from the scene. last_img read more

Mental health patients should have more rights to refuse treatment senior judge

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Mentally ill people should have more power to decide whether or not they want to receive treatment, one of Britain’s most senior judges has said. Judge Mark Hinchliffe, who oversees England’s mental health tribunals, said patients should have the “right to self-determination, even if their decisions seem unwise”.He suggested that those who had the capacity should be able to refuse treatment, even if they have been diagnosed with mental health problems which currently mean they can be treated without their agreement. The law has not been reformed in a decade, he added, questioning whether it incorporates “the sort of respect and regard for modern principles of non-discrimination, autonomy, personal choice and self-determination that, in this day and age, should underpin the way we look at someone with a mental health problem”.In a speech made at the University of Hong Kong, he said: “We have, perhaps, given insufficient attention to the right of people who have capacity to weigh up the pros and cons and make important decisions for themselves.”Adults who require mental health intervention can be given treatment without consent if they are detained under some parts of the Mental Health Act, even if they have the capacity to make their own decisions. But Mr Hinchcliffe suggested that forcing treatment on someone who has capacity simply because they have been diagnosed with a certain mental disorder could be seen as “paternalistic”. Under the Mental Capacity Act, someone who is deemed not to have the capacity to make their own decisions can be given treatment without consent if a health professional such as a doctor decides it is in their best interest. He also cited recommendations from mental health charity Mind which he said saw detaining those who had not committed any crime as “unfair, discriminatory and disproportionate”. “Yes, if honestly and truly we can say that the person’s mental disorder has not seriously and significantly affected their capacity to make a decision about whether or not to accept treatment, then – so long as we consider dangerousness to others – it may be possible to stand back and allow the patient to determine for themselves whether to engage,” he said. However, he added that society should be “cautious” about making reforms which allowed all those with capacity to refuse helpful treatment. “Serious mental disorders insidiously twist reality and distort truth. They can destroy insight and create fear, anger, delusion and pain. The disordered mind can see threat and conspiracy where, in reality, the world is offering help, support and relief,” he added. “Fear, suspicion and the innate urge to either fight or flee from perceived danger can all too easily damage someone’s life and undermine a perfectly good treatment plan and care pathway.”last_img read more

Arctic tern numbers soar after National Trust babysits chicks roundtheclock for four

first_imgIn 2016 just two Arctic terns and five little terns managed to take flight because of the threat from stoats, foxes, marine pollution and tidal surges.But this year numbers have surge. The vigil is part of ongoing conservation efforts to protect the birds, which flock to the Northumberland Coast each summer to breed.This summer, the National Trust bought 200 acres of saltmarsh, woodland, hedgerows, pasture and sand dunes at Tughall Mill, to make sure the birds were undisturbed. Arctic tern numbers are soaring after National Trust rangers babysat fledgling chicks round-the-clock for four months to make sure they were protected from high tides and predators.More than 500 Arctic terns, and five internationally threatened little terns, have flown their nesting sites in Northumberland unscathed after wildlife experts set up a non-stop vigil,  between May and August.Erecting tents close to breeding areas, the team have monitored the birds 24 hours a day. In caring for the land, the National Trust will link up hedgerows to create wildlife corridors as well as improve woodland areas through the removal of non-native invasive species.The ranger team will also plant native woodland and hedgerow trees, and through careful grazing management, encourage native plant species found in the dunes and grasslands, including rare calcareous plants such as purple milk vetch and autumn gentian. This work will also allow the shorebird colonies, farmland birds and declining waders such as curlew, lapwing and ringed plover, to flourish. Simon Lee, General Manager of National Trust Northumberland Coast, said: “We are passionate about looking after special places for the benefit of people, wildlife and nature.“We already care for 12 miles of the Northumberland Coast. Now we will be able to look after the wider landscape helping wildlife and nature flourish, as well as safeguarding the site for future generations.”Only around 1,800 breeding pairs of Arctic terns return to the Long Nanny from Antarctica each year, between May and July. Last year one tagged tern from the Farne Islands clocked up 59,650 miles in one migration, more than twice the circumference of the planet.The land was acquired through the Trust’s Neptune campaign which, for more than 50 years, has enabled the conservation charity to care for Britain’s coastline. 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. National Trust Rangers Jane Lancaster and Kate Bradshaw on new land purchased by the National Trust by Long Nanny Reserve on the Northumberland coast. National Trust Rangers Jane Lancaster and Kate Bradshaw on new land purchased by the National Trust by Long Nanny Reserve on the Northumberland coast.Credit: Paul Kingston/NorthNews The birds fly in from the Arctic to breed in the summer Credit: Paul Kingston/NorthNewcenter_img The rangers have been monitoring the birds since May David Feige, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Officer for the Northumberland Coast, said: “The site at Tughall Mill is a very significant part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, especially as it hosts such an important colony of little and Arctic terns, and fantastic dune grassland.“It also has great potential to support a wide range of other declining wildlife, and so the AONB Partnership is delighted that the National Trust has been able to buy this site and we look forward to seeing it flourish in the Trust’s care.” Fewer than 10 chicks fledged last year  The rangers have been monitoring the birds since May The birds fly in from the Arctic to breed in the summer  Fewer than 10 chicks fledged last year last_img read more

White coat syndrome is real blood pressure readings at home 50 per

Prof Williams said: “This research is a clear game-changer, as for the first time, it definitively shows that blood pressure measured regularly during a 24 hour period predicts the risk of heart disease, stroke and death much better than blood pressure measured in a doctor’s surgery or clinic.“Quite simply, measuring blood pressure over 24 hours is what doctors and medics should be using to make clinical decisions about treatment.“With a much more accurate assessment of a patient’s blood pressure, doctors will be able to provide the most effective treatments at the earliest opportunity, which will save many more lives.”Earlier this week, Australian medics suggested US proposals to redefine blood pressure – meaning patients could be diagnosed at levels currently considered healthy – could backfire.Researchers from the University of Sydney said that a diagnosis could itself increase anxiety, which can cause spikes in blood pressure.Prof Anna Dominiczak, Regius Professor of Medicine, Vice Principal and Head of College, University of Glasgow, said: “This is a good quality study on a large number of patients and the conclusions are based on solid data. It shows that in the Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) over 24 hrs is a better predictor of cardiovascular mortality as compared with clinic blood pressure measurements.“This is in line with previous small studies and confirms previous observations but with a larger numbers of patients and thus stronger evidence. The data on masked hypertension and white coat hypertension are particularly important,” she said. She highlighted the fact the study was observational.  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. White coat syndrome is real, confirms a new study, showing blood pressure measurements taken by a doctor are 50 per cent less accurate than those taken at home.The research confirms theories that readings taken in a doctors’ surgery bear little relation to the true state of heart health.Experts have long surmised that anxiety in medical settings could cause a spike in blood pressure, meaning cases will be overdiagnosed.The new study which tracked 63,000 patients for 10 years, tested their blood pressure first at a medical clinic, before giving patients pocket-sized devices to take home, checking levels for the next 24 hours.The research found that the measurements taken at home were a far better predictor of mortality rates from heart disease than the reading from the clinic.Around 10.4 per cent of cases experienced a spike in blood pressure rocket in front of their GP – yet readings were normal at home. Meanwhile, 3.6 per cent were told their levels were within a healthy range – only for 24-hour monitoring to show otherwise.The accuracy of each measure was assessed by comparing it with death rates over the subsequent decade.The research, the largest ever cohort study of its kind, is published in the New England Journal for Medicine.Author Professor Bryan Williams, from University College London Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, said the study was a “game-changer” and showed the need for surgeries to offer more self-testing at home.“For decades doctors have known that blood pressure measured ‘in-clinic’ could be masked or elevated, simply because the patient was in a medical setting, and this could lead to the wrong or a missed diagnosis,” he said.High blood pressure is the leading preventable cause of death globally.Around 12 million patients in the UK have the condition, which is the biggest cause of heart disease and stroke. read more

A fifth of 1624 year olds spend more than seven hours a

“It is not just about it affecting relationships and productivity but also mental health. An Oxford University study last year showed self-reported mental wellbeing peaked for 15-year olds at four hours a day on screens. After that further screen time had a negative effect on their wellbeing.”For a generation born around the turn of the millennium when the first camera phone was launched and Sony Playstation 2 was taking the world by storm, smartphones are the main mode of accessing the internet.Even the oldest of the 16-24 year-olds were just 13 when the iPhone was launched. Now 95 per cent of that age group use their smartphone to go online, compared to 70 per cent of all adults and just 22 per cent of 65 to 74-year-olds.Young women appear to be more addicted to their smartphones than young men, with texting (53 per cent), logging on to social media sites (44 per cent) and browsing the web (34 per cent) the most popular activity while commuting. The only downside, she admitted, was that her husband Chris, 56, “didn’t like it” when she used her phone when watching TV. Keita Eriawan, 20, a student at Hult international business school in London, said he downloaded the app because of his frustration that his habit of constantly checking his phone was distracting him from his studies.He said it helped him become aware of how much time he wasted: “I used to check my phone every five minutes for social media and football updates. That would be over eight to nine hours a day. Now I would say it’s about half that time.”By contrast, Martin Lock, chief executive of Silversurfers, said he expected a sharp increase in older people’s time on the internet in coming years as the government took more services online and more tech-savvy middle-aged users got older.Margie Savory, 69, a former TV producer from Bridport, admits she is addicted to her phone, using it to keep in contact with family and friends, and up to date with community news. “I use it to keep in touch, through Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter,” she said.“We have a WhatsApp group with neighbours who are older than me where we can send each other pictures if we do something fun or are on holiday. We keep an eye on each other’s gardens when we are away.” Almost a fifth of young people aged 16 to 24 are so addicted to their smartphones that they spend more than seven hours a day online, new Ofcom data reveals.The exclusive analysis for The Telegraph shows young people in that age bracket  are twice as likely as the rest of the population to be online for what is equivalent to over two full 24-hour days a week.The data also reveals a generational digital divide as just 1 per cent of over 65s and only 6 per cent of 55-64 year olds spend over 50 hours a week online, compared to the 18 per cet of 16-24 year olds, equivalent to more than 1.1m young people.Ofcom provided the inter-generational breakdown of heavy users after revealing earlier this month that Britons are on average spending a day a week online and check their smartphones every 12 minutes.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––Online experts expressed concern that such heavy use of phones, tablets and PCs could be having a negative impact on relationships, productivity and even mental health.One in seven (15 per cent) of younger users admitted they were more productive when they lost access to the internet, and one in five (19 per cent) said they were less distracted. More than half admitted their devices interrupted face-to-face conversations with families and friends. For all adults, the proportion spending over 40 hours online has quadrupled, from 5 per cent to 19 per cent since the iPhone was launched in 2007. Among 16-24 year olds, it rises to 33 per cent. Three-quarters of the age group spend more than a day a week online.The young generation is more tolerant about using smartphones during activities with family or friends, with just 21 per cent saying it is unacceptable while watching TV with others, compared to 41 per cent of all adults. Half thought it was acceptable to check their phone for notifications during a meal compared with just 17 per cent of all adults.There are signs, however, of a nascent backlash among the young – just as there is a tandem drive by the government to get more older people online so they can more easily access services and care.Hold, a Norwegian social enterprise company, claims to have signed up 100,000 young Britons to an app which uses similar psychology to the social media giants by rewarding students for the time they stay off, rather than on, their phones. In Norway, 125,000 students use it. Women aged 16-24 years old on average spend a full hour longer each day on their phones than men of the same age, four hours a day compared to three by the men. The rewards such as drinks, food or travel are provided by sponsors of the company, which has been backed with £250,000 by Brent Hoberman, who works with Princes William and Harry to counter cyber-bullying, and Henry Lane Fox, who was his co-founder at LastMinute.Com. “I feel that age group are aware of their digital dependence and are making efforts and attempts to cut down,” said Tanya Goodin, founder of digital health consultancy Time to Log Off. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more