Signing Day Was Big For Unheralded Prep Footballers Too

All the attention and adulation for last week’s National Signing Day went to the country’s top players, like Robert Nkemdiche of Georgia, who chose Mississippi.But for Kris Smith of Flowery Branch High School near Atlanta, who has signed with Indiana University, the occasion was just as important and exciting, despite there being no ESPN cameras or significant gathering of media.The 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker Smith gave up football after the eighth grade to focus on basketball. But the urge was too great to not return to the field, and he resumed his football career in his junior year. In just two seasons, he flourished enough to earn a scholarship, making last Wednesday a special day.“I just can’t wait to play football when I get to Indiana,” Smith said.Smith’s father, Sean Smith, credits Rodrick Clark — a former assistant coach at Stephenson High School near Atlanta who co-founded Athletic Trust Advisers with Cosey Coleman and Tim Mason — for his son landing a Division I scholarship.Clark’s and Coleman’s company helps parents and young athletes navigate college options.“We were lost,” Sean Smith said. “We were a little behind. (Clark) told us what we needed to do as far as training, education and eating right. Kids had been getting letters since their sophomore year. I didn’t know that kids had to be registered to be recruited through the NCAA Clearinghouse.”Kris Smith was surprised at how much he learned from Clark about training and diet and that Clark was as committed as he was in the recruitment process.“It’s a blessing,” Sean Smith said when he learned his son was being offered scholarships. “We give God the credit and he orchestrated Coach Clark in our life.”William Koen Jr., a 6-foot-4, 270-pound offensive lineman, signed his letter to play with Bethune Cookman University, a small school in Daytona Beach, Fla., that plays in the MEAC. For Koen, it was like he signed with Alabama.Coming out of Mt. View High, he earned looks from some Division I and I-AA schools. But offers were not coming in. Koen and his family were hooked up with Athletic Trust Advisers. There was some skepticism by William Koen Sr. — until Clark provided examples of others he had mentored.“Their family went 110 percent no matter what,” Clark said. “They trusted the process.”The family celebrated when  they received word that their son would be receive a scholarship from Bethune Cookman.“It was a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Koen Sr. said. “One of the best things that could have happened to me. Me and my wife (Tracey) danced around the house and gave each other high fives.”It was similar for Archer High corner back Trevellous Cheek and his family. The 5-foot-10, 178-pound Cheek is expected to sign with California. Clark said Cheek’s work ethic has been his strength.“He would go 110 percent on anything,” Clark said. “Grades, working out. He would call and ask questions and was eager to learn. He wanted to be the best on and off the field, to the point where he would be drained.”“He not only encouraged, he kept my son reaching,” Leon Cheek said of Clark. “That guy is a blessing to me, my family and so many other families. He helped us build this young man.”Trevellous Cheek added, “I learned small things about what wide receivers don’t like, such as to be touched. Especially, if you keep (hands) on them all the way through five yards.”Cheek’s teammate Deondre Singleton, who played corner back and safety, signed with Duke. And the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Singleton said aside from football, he learned from Clark the importance of dressing properly and speaking clearly and with authority to coaches and the media.“I had to learn how to work on my body language,” Singleton said. “No matter what school it was, I had to show the same body language.”For Archer defensive end Antonio Riles, who signed with Florida, Clark’s work was more about helping him raise his grade point average to meet admission qualifications, which he did.Some other local Atlanta recruits who will be attending college in the fall on a football scholarship are: Ernest Alexander of Archer High (going to Navy), Sean Fowler of Archer (Shorter College), Jaypee Philbert of Archer (Alabama State), Brandon Goodson of Dacula (Wofford), Chris Palmer of Collins Hill (Navy), Kyle Simmons of Druid Hills (Stetson University), Jay Turner of Parkview (Coastal Carolina), Detavius Long and Demetrius McClendon of Tri-Cities (West Georgia Tech).Each player that Clark has helped has vowed to come back and be a testimony to other high school football players, but William Koen Jr. summed it up best as far the collective sentiments they had for Athletic Trust Advisers.“Without coach Clark’s help I wouldn’t be anywhere,” Keon Jr. said. “Without his help I would not be getting a scholarship to college. If you’re a good football player, with coach Clark’s help he will make you a great football player.” read more

Von Miller Says He Has Not Disappointed His Teammates

Von Miller is speaking out about the four-game suspension he received for undisclosed reasons and which is currently being reviewed on appeal by the NFL. The Denver Broncos linebacker met with the media Wednesday and said he does not believe he let his team down.“I don’t think I let my teammates down,” Miller said. “Everybody has tough moments.”According to reports, in addition to the undisclosed reason he has been suspended this year, Miller has tested positive for amphetamines and marijuana in the past.When asked whether he still smokes pot, the NFL star said, “Absolutely not.”The linebacker would not reveal any other details about his suspension.“I’m obviously aware of the situation surrounding me, but out of respect for confidentiality … I can’t talk about it,” he said. “I can touch (on it) in more detail when the situation is resolved.” read more

Cleveland Browns Looking to Ben Tate for Replacement

The Cleveland Browns has selected a new runningback for Trent Richardson’s replacement.The Browns has set their sights on Ben Tate, whose contract with the Houston Texans expires after this season, to replace Richardson.The Browns traded Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a very valuable first round draft pick next year. If the Browns ball club is able to come up with the capital, they could acquire both Tate and a first round pick for the price of Richardson.ESPN reported that Browns CEO Joe Banner said that the Richardson trade, which was completed Wednesday, was not reflective of anything negative about the star running back, and that the team simply seized an opportunity to improve with the deal.Despite the Browns interest in Tate, the Texans aren’t simply willing to give Tate up, especially when their backup running back Arian Foster is looking more and more injury prone.  In Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, the 25-year-old Tate rushed for 148 yards on just 18 carries, averaging 8.2 yards per carry. read more

LeBron James Media Platform Accuses Alabama Football of Stealing

.@KingJames doesn’t drive — unless he’s got a droptop and a Christmas Day game to get to. #TheShop pic.twitter.com/27n7Tq0WfZ— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) March 6, 2018Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James’ media company just dispatched a letter over to the University of Alabama, claiming copyright infringement.In the document obtained by ESPN, Uninterrupted is alleging the Crimson Tide football team of having a show way too similar to their own.A trailer for Alabama’s new show “Shop Talk” featuring football players Julio Jones, Eddie Jackson, and more getting their haircuts while talking about different topics is extremely similar to “The Shop”.Josh Tarnow, the head of Uninterrupted’s business and legal affairs listed in the letter that “”Shop Talk’” is clearly using the ideas, concepts and format previously created and exploited by Uninterrupted in connection with its program titled “The Shop,” and Uninterrupted believes “Shop Talk” infringes the copyright in “The Shop””.James’ media platform also claims “Shop Talk” “damages” the “commercial prospects” of their own talk show.“Your continued exploitation of “Shop Talk” infringes Uninterrupted’s copyright, trademark rights and other valuable intellectual property rights in “The Shop” and significantly damages Uninterrupted’s commercial prospects for “The Shop,”” the document stated.Tarnow also requested a “conversation” with the school before “getting into a ‘battle of legal letters’ or rushing into legal proceedings.” read more

Running Backs Are Finally Getting Paid What Theyre Worth

Relative to other positions, top running backs are slated to make around half as much in 2017 as they did at the start of the 2000s.So why is this happening? Perhaps NFL teams have consciously devalued the running back, or perhaps it’s just a multitude of decisions in many different circumstances that have happened to lead us here. But while the RBs’ new situation almost certainly results directly from the league’s shift toward pass-centric offenses, it may also stem from the league ever so slowly wising up to the fundamental math of its own game. Much like with the 3-point shot in the NBA, passing the football in the NFL has virtually always looked better on paper. And, like the midrange jumper, the NFL seems to be (perhaps more slowly) creeping in the direction of running just about as rarely as the situation and game theory require. Indeed, the history of offense in the NFL is largely a story of running less and getting more efficient: In 20172Note that the 2017 RB figure will likely go up a bit after rookie contracts are signed, since Leonard Fournette, the no. 4 pick, will likely count just under 5 million against the cap because of the rookie salary scale, making him the new 12th-highest paid RB in the NFL. The top 16 RBs are projected to have an average cap value of (just over) $6 million – up slightly from last year’s $5.9 million. Any remaining signings during free agency also may move 2017’s number, though most of the big names are off the market. the top 16 running backs (the league’s above-average starters, give or take a few) are slated to make less than any offensive or defensive positions — even tight ends and safeties, who were the bottom-feeders of the nonkicking game in 2000.3ESPN’s salary data isn’t guaranteed to be complete — particularly the further back you go – though it should be most accurate for top players whose contracts are widely reported. Additionally, running backs and six other positions – WR, DE, CB, LB, DT and OL — averaged between $3 and $4 million in 2000. In 2017, top RBs will average around $6 million — the other six positions will each average more than $10 million. And even this picture may be slightly rosier than it appears, because for several years Peterson bent the RB curve upward.4For example, in 2015 the top 16 averaged $6.1 million, while spots 2 through 16 averaged just 5.4 million.If we look at each figure as a percentage of all money spent on the top 16 players at each position, things look even worse for running backs: Over time teams have been passing more and more, and they have been picking up more and more yards as a result. Part of that is that teams are getting better at passing, but it’s also that they have gotten better at knowing when to pass. And, of course, those two trends play well together: As teams have gotten better at short, high-percentage passes, the rationale for running in situations where you need less-explosive but high-percentage plays has declined.That said, the NFL still has a long and easily demonstrable history of running way, way too much — even recently. We can tell because we know how every play in the NFL since 2000 has affected a team’s likely win percentage. The stat is called WPA, or Win Percentage Added. WPA allows us to look at the results of plays beyond just yards gained5As always, you shouldn’t take my use of this model as a suggestion that it’s perfect. No model is. But it does the job in this case perfectly well., which is helpful since a successful run should positively impact a team’s chances of winning even if it picks up fewer average yards, etc. Indeed, if every team played perfectly and everything was in game-theoretical balance, we wouldn’t expect to see much difference between runs and passes at all. This is not the case.For starters, let’s cut out a bunch of special circumstances and look at the most vanilla run/pass decisions possible: first and second downs, with 5-10 yards to go, outside the Red Zone, outside the last two minutes of either half — giving us about 278,000 plays to work with. This is where the traditional, workhorse, MVP-type running back butters his bread. Now, since the decision to run or pass is largely a function of how far ahead or behind a team is and how late it is in the game, let’s break our results down by quarter and score margin before the play: Basically, there is pretty much no ordinary situation in which running produces better results than passing. If a team is more than 10 points ahead in the second quarter, running has seemed to do OK. And that’s about it. Even situations where running a lot is pretty standard — like up fewer than 10 points in the third or fourth quarters — passing has done substantially better. Of course, some amount of run/pass balance is necessary, or defenses would completely tee off on the pass every time. But this issue is likely overblown: As a pretty straightforward application of introductory game theory, if one option keeps producing substantially better results than the other, you should do it more often.6Technically, you should keep doing it more until the two options have equal marginal expectations.Of course, running the football has ancillary benefits, such as burning time off the clock, avoiding turnovers, gaining positive yards more consistently, picking up shorter yardage a higher percentage of the time, keeping the defenses honest, and so on. (There may even be situations in which teams pass too often, such as with 2-point attempts.) That sounds like a lot of good uses for the run! But note that, when it comes to these things, the quality of your running back — at least by conventional measures like how many yards they gain — is of secondary importance.This is because even a great rushing attack is still worse at picking up yards than even a mediocre passing attack. The all-pro running back may gain a lot of yards as his team funnels its offense through him, but many (or even most) of those yards are picked up in spots — like when a team is slightly up or down in the third quarter — where passing would have been better (or at the very least, where teams should be passing more often). Indeed, much like with having a good punter, there’s a danger that a great running back could hurt his team, if he entices them to run too often. (Conversely, a potential problem with having a great run defense is that opponents may be bullied into passing!)None of which is to say that the running back position will die out, or that the league’s unwillingness to pay a lot for them will continue indefinitely. Running backs and rushing may still be an important part of the game, so long as you aren’t trying to use it to pick up a bunch of yards on the ground. There are better ways to do that, and better things you could be doing with that slot.For example, running backs who excel in short-yardage situations — such as Marshawn Lynch, Jerome Bettis or Marcus Allen7Super Bowl winners, all. — or “third down” or pass-catching RBs who can be legitimate multiway threats in a spread offense — may actually be more valuable than they seem. As the athletes who play “running back” get better at things like opening up the passing game and helping pick up first downs, the position may be leveraged more efficiently and see its value increase commensurately. Note the sole runner scheduled to make eight figures this year is Pittsburgh’s extremely versatile LeVeon Bell (whose one-year franchise player contract will earn him a little over $12 million in 2017).But committing money to “workhorse” running backs who provide little outside of their ability to grind out a large number of yards inefficiently — a description that arguably fits Peterson as well as any great RB — is like doubling down on buggy whips when everyone else is scrambling to make flying cars.CORRECTION (May 16, 1:32 p.m.): The “Why running sucks” chart in an earlier version of this article misattributed the source of its data. It was from Pro-Football-Reference.com, not ESPN Stats & Information Group. Being a productive rusher in the NFL takes a rare mix of skills and talents, such as speed, elusiveness, vision and anticipation. Those who have excelled at it have historically been rewarded with team-defining roles, league accolades, furious media attention and nice contracts to boot.Of late, however, top rushers have seen their roles diminished and their pay stagnate. In the modern NFL, teams appear reluctant to commit resources to ball carriers like they used to.Perhaps this reflects the new offensive landscape in the NFL, in which teams pass more and better than ever before. But it may also reflect a growing recognition that, for all their talent, traditionally great running backs probably don’t actually contribute that much to their teams’ chances of winning.Consider the case of Adrian Peterson — the 2012 NFL MVP and the only running back to win that award in the past 10 years. Peterson has made by far the most money for a RB in NFL history after the Vikings paid him more than $12 million each year for the past six years — during which the Vikings averaged just over seven wins per season. He’s 32 years old and spent much of 2016 injured but led the league in rushing as recently as 2015. As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Peterson signed with the New Orleans Saints for a modest $7 million over two years, with only $3.5 million guaranteed. In 2017, he’s slated to cost less than Bengals backup RB Giovani Bernard (who will cost $3.7 million against the cap) — not to mention 10 different kickers.1Dustin Colquitt, Thomas Morstead, Bryan Anger, Matt Prater, Stephen Gostkowski, Sebastian Janikowski, Justin Tucker, Graham Gano, Dan Bailey and Mason Crosby! (Have I mentioned kickers are awesome?)While Peterson’s situation has its own contours and meniscus tears, it’s something of an emblem for the NFL’s approach to RB talent right now. With top players at most positions getting paid more and more as the league’s revenues and salary cap have grown (and in some cases, exploded), the average pay for top running backs has stalled and even declined in recent years: read more

This Is The First NBA Finals In 9 Years Without LeBron A

LeBron’s GOAT turnGoing into the summer of 2010, James’s future was as uncertain as it would ever be. He had just suffered the most high-profile failure of his career, inexplicably struggling as his Cleveland Cavaliers were bounced from the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. He faced a looming free-agency “decision” — would he betray his hometown Cavs? — and persistent questions about whether he could lead a championship team. Statistically, James’s career was off to a stellar start, but by the NBA’s ring-obsessed standards, his path toward GOAT status was wobbling.Nearly a decade later, James is still not universally hailed as the greatest ever. (Michael Jordan’s shadow looms large.) But he is generally placed right in the conversation with MJ. He answered postseason critics with eight straight conference titles and three rings, including one that involved: a) one of the greatest NBA Finals comebacks ever; b) upsetting the winningest regular-season team in history; and c) ending Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought. At the same time, James has climbed up the all-time statistical mountain in countless categories, including passing Jordan on points in March. If James isn’t the GOAT, he has at least become the defining player of his generation — and in some ways, he even redefined the role of a superstar and the criteria we use to judge all-time greats.The rise of the WarriorsThe 2009-10 Golden State Warriors won only 26 games and got their coach, Don Nelson, fired. (The team would go through two more coaches before finding current boss Steve Kerr.) Few vestiges of Nelson’s 2006-07 “We Believe” Warriors — the franchise’s high-water mark for postseason success since the early 1990s — were still on the roster anyway. Newcomer Stephen Curry finished second in Rookie of the Year voting but gave scarcely any clues that he’d eventually become a transformational player. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were still 20-year-old college kids. From these not-so-promising beginnings, the single greatest dynasty in basketball history1If not all of sports history, if you compare their run to those of greats from other leagues. would be formed.Every dynasty requires a series of unlikely breaks to fall its way, but it’s difficult to overstate just how surprising it was that Golden State would barge into an NBA championship club that included just eight franchises (the Celtics, Bulls, Pistons, Rockets, Lakers, Heat, 76ers and Spurs) hoarding the 31 titles up for grabs from 1980 through 2010. Before they added Kevin Durant in free agency, the Warriors were a testament to the power of drafting home-grown stars and locking them up on team-friendly contract extensions. After inking Durant, they became the scariest collection of talent ever assembled. And it would all come completely out of the blue, from the perspective of a neutral observer in the summer of 2010.The superteam craze gets crazierIn conjunction with James’s emergence as arguably the best player ever (see above), he also helped usher in an era of star players dictating the direction of the league on their own terms. The Age of the Superteam had already gotten underway with the 2008 Boston Celtics’ title-winning team-up between Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But James pushed the trend even further when he joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a trio of prime-age superstars on the 2011 Miami Heat. Ever since, most of the game’s highest-profile moves have been designed to either counterbalance or mimic James’s original flight of fancy made good.The league’s power balance, of course, has almost always been about an ever-escalating arms race between Big Twos and Threes. The difference this decade has been about who gets to choose both how and where those combinations form. Encouraged by a salary structure that prioritizes nonmonetary benefits and empowered by what strange quirks of the system do arise, superstars (and their agents) have become every bit as powerful in team-building as general managers. You can’t fault them for it, either: Rings are how players are judged, and star recruiting is the most sensible path to a title in the NBA. This was bound to happen eventually — and the past decade has only solidified the trend.Pacing and spacingThe Warriors didn’t just break the mold of dynasty-building — they helped redefine how a championship team plays the game. Before Curry and Co., the conventional wisdom was that a team who lives by the 3-pointer would eventually die by it before the playoffs ended. During the 2015 playoffs, former Lakers coach Phil Jackson famously tweeted a critique of jump-shooting teams during the 2015 playoffs; Charles Barkley voiced the same sentiment around the same time. The Warriors’ title that summer felt like a retort, invalidating any preconceived notions about what kind of great team could successfully win a title.Although the rise of the 3-point shot was set in motion long before Golden State formed its dynasty, the Warriors became its symbolic standard-bearer — even after they shifted away from small-ball lineups a bit and were surpassed by many other teams in their actual use of the 3-pointer. Whether influenced by Golden State or not, the league’s obsession with speed, spacing and shooting has intensified greatly over the past decade. Pace factor is up 8 percent since 2010, and 3-pointers per game are up 78 percent. (Huge dinosaurs still roamed the paint back in 2010; today’s game looks very different.) Offenses are the most efficient they’ve ever been, and the range at which players can reliably make threes is expanding constantly. James’s own development even mirrored these changes: Once criticized for a lack of shooting touch, he improved to eventually become one of the game’s best deep 3-point bombers by the end of the decade.The evolution of tankingIn addition to the LeBron-influenced spate of superteams, one of the league’s other primary off-court concerns this decade has been how to prevent teams from tanking — deliberately building bad (and often dirt-cheap) rosters in order to get high picks in that summer’s draft. The tactic is nothing new, but back in 2010, it still hadn’t been fully explored to its cynical conclusion — that wouldn’t truly come until Sam Hinkie took over the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013.2Perhaps the SuperSonics/Thunder of the mid-to-late 2000s could also be seen as a precursor to Hinkie’s Sixers, but even those teams were not as brazen in their tanking efforts as Philadelphia would become.Hinkie’s “Process” — designed specifically to acquire a franchise-altering talent like James — left a controversial legacy. It helped Philly eventually acquire many building blocks for their current contending squad, even after missing on a number of their high picks. It also produced some of the worst basketball ever along the way, and the results underscored the complete lack of certainty inherent in hitching a franchise’s fortunes to a randomized lottery system. Neither of this year’s NBA Finalists were built by tanking — in fact, Toronto methodically built a solid team until a superstar (Kawhi Leonard) fell into its lap. And the league readjusted its lottery odds this year anyway, flattening out the rewards for poor records and further discouraging intentionally bad roster construction. Unlike the dreadful 2002-03 Cavaliers team that drafted James, the next LeBron might not even enter the league with a team that lost on purpose to get him.The end of ‘Lakers exceptionalism’?Perhaps the starkest contrast between 2010 and the present is in the state of James’s current club, the L.A. Lakers. With a core of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Odom and young center Andrew Bynum, coached by Jackson, Los Angeles had just won its second consecutive title — and they appeared poised to contend for even more over the next few seasons. But Jackson retired from coaching in 2011; Bryant and Gasol got older; Bynum couldn’t stay healthy; Odom was traded; and the front office struggled to upgrade the supporting cast.An attempted superteam of Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Bryant and Gasol failed miserably. It also represented the last time the Lakers made the playoffs. Ever since, the team has tried desperately to replenish its once-endless supply of Hall of Famers, whether through the draft or in signing James, the game’s biggest star. But at the same time, L.A. has been hamstrung by ineffectual management, a story that extended to this week’s ESPN report about dysfunction between Magic Johnson, former president of basketball operations; general manager Rob Pelinka; James’s agent, Rich Paul; and the rest of the team and its staff. The Lakers still figure to aim for another huge star acquisition this offseason, but the era of what SB Nation’s Tom Ziller calls “Lakers exceptionalism” — the idea that L.A. is entitled to always dominate the NBA — is over, difficult as that would have been to believe in 2010. In many ways, it’s fitting that these 2019 finals would pit two of James’s longtime foils — the Raptors (who could never beat him in the playoffs) and the Warriors (whom he could seldom beat) — against each other. James’s shadow hangs over the series in absentia, if not simply for what his vacancy signals. He may return to the championship stage again sooner than later, particularly if the Warriors’ hegemony is threatened this summer. But for now, this series marks the end of an era — and the culmination of all the many changes that have remade basketball since the last time we weren’t debating James’s chances of adding another ring to his collection.Check out our latest NBA predictions. When Lamar Odom heaved the ball down-court to drain away what seconds remained between the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers and a championship, few realized that it marked the start of a new era. The period that followed was defined by who wasn’t in L.A. that June night: LeBron James. For each of the next eight seasons, a James-led team would make the NBA Finals — a streak of contesting the championship that won’t technically end until Thursday’s Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors.As the confetti filled the Staples Center air, there was little sense of just how profoundly the game was about to change — some changes because of James himself, others just moving on a parallel track to the game’s biggest star. With the benefit of hindsight, then, let’s take a look at exactly how many huge developments have transpired across the league since the last time we had an NBA Finals without LeBron James.From ABC News: read more

For Decades Relievers Pitched Better Than Starters Not Anymore

Over the years, bullpens have eroded the workloads of starting pitchers. This season, relievers have accounted for the greatest share of pitching workload in Major League Baseball history: They have completed 41.1 percent of total innings through Wednesday, up from last year’s record of 40 percent. There are a variety of reasons for this trend, including teams becoming more aware of how starting pitchers tend to do worse each time through the opposing lineup and the increasing specialization of the sport.For more than 40 years, relievers had outperformed starters on a per-inning basis. But this season, through Wednesday, starters’ ERA is 0.02 points lower than that of relievers. Starters have not posted an ERA superior to that of relievers since 1973, but that gap has shrunk rapidly, and this year it could be potentially erased. As recently as 2012, the overall ERA of relievers was half a run better than that of starting pitchers.Perhaps this suggests that the sport has reached the limits of bullpenning and specialization — there are too many relievers employed. Through Tuesday, 492 different pitchers who primarily serve in relief have appeared in games this season.1At least 90 percent of games pitched as relievers. That already breaks the record set last season (488) and is up from 381 relievers in 2010 and 297 in 1998, the first season that MLB had 30 teams.This change in personnel may explain relievers’ decline in performance the first time through opposing lineups, relative to starting pitchers, a trend that Ben Clemens at FanGraphs documented in May and has continued into the summer. For the first time this century, starters have been better than relievers in their first time through the order in back-to-back seasons. Craig Edwards, also of FanGraphs, found there have been more low-leverage innings this year and poorer performance within them,2According to Leverage Index (LI), which is a measure of the relative “pressure” a player has faced. speaking to less meaningful baseball and more poor teams. Those innings have presumably been pitched by lesser relievers, diluting the group’s overall performance. There have been fewer meaningful innings this season — and also a greater volume of lesser-skilled relievers.A key decision for managers in today’s game is deciding whether to stick with a starter a third time through the lineup or to use the bullpen. And the gap between starters in that position and relievers has shrunk to its lowest level since 2005, as relievers have an advantage of only 49 points of opponent OPS this season compared with a 64-point edge last season and a century-high, 88-point difference in 2007, according to Baseball-Reference.com.Another reason for the convergence between starters and relievers is that starting pitchers are gaining relative skill. For the first time in the pitch-tracking era, which dates to 2007, the average fastball velocity of starting pitchers (93.3 mph) is less than 1 mph (0.8 mph) slower than that of relievers (94.1 mph). In 2012, relievers’ average fastballs were 1.7 mph faster than those of starters, and the difference has generally been shrinking since. Relievers’ overall fastball velocity has even declined this season, for the first time since 2008. Moreover, starters so far in 2019 have posted a higher difference between their strikeout rate and walk rate (14.5 percentage points) than relievers (13.9 percentage points). This is the first time starters have had a greater difference than relievers in the two rates since 1986.New technology is also allowing pitchers to improve the efficiency of their pitches. Starting pitchers also generally have a greater variety of pitches — and better command — than relievers, which is arguably one reason why they are starting pitchers and not relievers. If starters close the velocity gap, where relievers have traditionally held an advantage, they are closing a significant portion of the performance divide.Perhaps the game has swung too far in favor of relievers. Managers might want to wait a little longer on that call to the bullpen, or at least consider whom they are calling upon.Check out our latest MLB predictions. read more

DeSean Jackson Makes His Teams Better

Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com The numbers in Jackson’s last year with his teams are especially noteworthy. Among all teams since 1970 — that’s out of 1,445 team seasons in the period — they rank 57th (2013 Philadelphia), 32nd (2016 Washington) and 23rd (2018 Tampa Bay) in yards per pass play.2Using net yards per attempt, which counts sacks as pass plays and subtracts those yards from the total passing yards. This means each one finished in the 95th percentile or better.Each of Jackson’s teams immediately gained in passing efficiency once he arrived. And both Philadelphia and Washington significantly declined once he left, by nearly 1 yard net per pass play. To put that into context, ranking last year’s teams by that measure, just 0.9 net yards per attempt separated the ninth-ranked Colts (6.7) and the 25th-ranked Lions (5.8). Those teams were 10-6 and 6-10, respectively, which is not surprising given that teams that win the yards-per-pass-play stat by any margin have won about 74 percent of games since the merger, according to my reporting for The Wall Street Journal.Of course, it’s possible that these teams became more prolific at passing coincidentally upon Jackson’s arrival, via coaching, play-calling, quarterback performance or the skills of the team’s other receivers. Jackson has struggled with durability during his career, missing nine games in his first stint with the Eagles, eight with Washington and six with the Buccaneers. So if there is a significant Jackson effect, it should be apparent when looking at his team’s performance when he plays versus when he’s inactive. And it is: Philadelphia2008-1366.27.46.7 StatWithoutWith Pass yards5,53540,772 Jackson’s active-and-inactive effect is even more pronounced than the difference before and after he joined his teams, at 1.03 yards per pass play.Not surprisingly, given the impact of yards per pass play on wins and losses, Jackson’s teams with him inactive are 8-15 (.348 win percentage) compared with 75-76-2 (.497) when he plays.It’s also possible that the effect Jackson seems to be creating for his team is really just a result of his own efficiency. After all, he’s averaged 9.7 yards on the 1,057 passes he’s been thrown in his career, counting incompletions.But last year, Jackson’s ability to threaten defenses deep did seem to significantly benefit his team’s primary receiver. Mike Evans averaged a career-best 11.0 yards every time a pass was thrown his way, a startling 2.4 yards greater than his prior season high (in 2014). And Evans was thrown the ball 138 times, nearly twice as frequently as Jackson (74 targets). For Washington, Jackson’s tight end teammate Vernon Davis (2016) boosted his yards per target by over 3.0 yards from the prior year. And another Washington tight end, Jordan Reed, averaged 7.8 yards per target with Jackson from 2014 to 2016 and since has dropped to just 6.5. During Jackson’s last stint in Philly, Riley Cooper averaged 9.9 yards per target, 10th-best in the league that year. But the next year, without Jackson, that collapsed to 6.1. Cooper has been out of the NFL since 2015.The question now is whetherJackson can be expected to maintain his fleet feet entering his age-33 season. The Eagles sure seem to think so, awarding him a three-year, $27.9 million contract this offseason with more than half the money guaranteed.Jackson’s 18.9 yards per catch in his age-32 season was third-most since the merger (minimum 40 catches). The average age-33 season of the other seven receivers with more than 17.0 yards at age 32 was 53 catches for 769 yards. Two of them, Irving Fryar and Frank Lewis, subsequently made the Pro Bowl. Another, Steve Smith, had two 1,000-yard seasons. But unlike Jackson, none of these other seven receivers led the NFL in yards per reception even once, never mind a record-setting four times.While there’s no way to know for certain the player the Eagles have, there’s little question about what Jackson has been so far in his career. Pass attempts8615,478 Yards per pass by when Jackson joined the team DeSean Jackson makes the offense betterNet yards gained per team passing attempt for DeSean Jackson’s teams, by when he was on the team The splits on Jackson’s teams when he’s on and off the field Washington2014-165.76.77.66.5 Tampa Bay2017-186.46.87.7? TeamYearsYear beforeFirst yearLast yearYear after Net yards per pass attempt counts sacks as pass plays and subtracts those yards from the total passing yards.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com DeSean Jackson may seem like a pedestrian NFL wide receiver — very talented but far from spectacular in an era when wideouts regularly post 100-catch campaigns. Since he came into the NFL in 2008, Jackson is 17th overall in receptions and 15th in touchdown catches.But Jackson, now with Philadelphia, has led the NFL four times in yards per receptions, including last year for the Buccaneers at age 32. That’s more than any other player in NFL history.1Since 1932, when the NFL began keeping individual statistics. And his electrifying speed seems to dramatically enhance his team’s overall passing game. Having Jackson in uniform has boosted the yards per pass play of his teams. And when he’s gone, his former teams have quickly lost these games. That bad news for Tampa Bay, Jackson’s team last year, which had the 23rd best season in the statistic since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.Jackson’s newest quarterback noticed quickly that Jackson’s ability to take the top off the defense by getting behind the secondary makes the rest of the field easier to attack. Defenses have no choice but to play deeper.“(This) takes pressure off all the other guys,” Carson Wentz said. “He’ll open up a lot of things underneath, we truly believe. … He just threatens defenders in a different way.”Still, teams seem to have a hard time reconciling Jackson’s team value with his often underwhelming personal statistics. Since he broke into the league, he’s been on four squads, if you count his two stints with Philadelphia.Jackson’s nomadic career makes it easier to quantify his impact. This effect can be seen at the team level when looking at how they perform during Jackson’s stay there compared with before as well as immediately after he leaves. Net yards/pass play5.636.56 read more

Draymond Green Is Better Than Ever On Defense

Much like the regular season that preceded it, this NBA postseason has been marked by some eye-popping individual performances. As he tries to reach the NBA Finals for the seventh-straight year, LeBron James has been phenomenal, even by his own ridiculous standards. Meanwhile, point guards Isaiah Thomas and John Wall have been throwing haymakers at one another for the right to face James and the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.But perhaps no star has raised the level of his game in the postseason as much as Golden State’s Draymond Green. Yes, he was great on offense in Game 4, recording a triple-double as his team finished a sweep of the Jazz1He averaged 16 points, nearly nine rebounds and seven assists for the series.. But it was his defense — both in this series and all postseason — that made his performance as special, if not more so, as Stephen Curry’s or Kevin Durant’s.Utah scored a meager 95 points per 100 plays with Green on the floor (down from 105 points per 100 with Green on the sidelines), connecting on just 52 percent of its shots inside of five feet with Green on the court (down from a respectable 61 percent with him on the bench), according to NBA.com. But Green’s raw defensive numbers in the series weren’t the real surprise — the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner was statistically the best interior stopper in the NBA this season2Among players who played at least 50 games and defended three or more shots per game from close range — rather it was the emphatic way in which he repeatedly shut down the Jazz at the rim.On Monday night, Utah tried and failed to score on Green at the basket, shooting just 3 of 10 from close range with him nearby. You would have thought the Jazz had learned their lesson earlier in the series: In Game 2, they tried sneaking three alley-oops past Green, including two to Rudy Gobert, a skilled big and Defensive Player of the Year candidate in his own right. In all three instances, Green snuffed out the play.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/alleyoop1.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/draymondswat.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/greenswat2.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Those plays came on the heels of a series against Portland in which Green had a couple of similar rejections at the rim.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/greenrejection.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/greenrejection2.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.In all, he’s blocked four dunk attempts in 283 minutes this postseason, the most in the league. It’s important to remember here that blocking the dunks of 7-foot-1-inch NBA players is about as hard as it sounds. During the regular season, players were successful on better than 90 percent of their dunk attempts, according to Basketball-Reference.com. To give Green’s postseason performance even greater context, consider this: In his entire career — five seasons and 10,627 regular-season minutes — he had four such blocks, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group. Block percentage is a rate estimate of how many 2-point shots a player blocks while he’s on the court.Source: Basketball-Reference.com 2014-152.92.5 2012-131.83.5 Draymond Green’s block rate usually increases during the playoffs 2013-143.04.5 SEASONREG. SEASONPLAYOFFS 2016-173.4%6.4% 2015-163.03.8 Blocked dunks are not only difficult to accumulate, players also run the risk of becoming a potential poster. “There’s definitely a sense of urgency, but it’s also [me] not caring if I get dunked on,” Green said when asked by FiveThirtyEight about his spike in blocked dunks. “Because every time you do it, you put yourself in that position. I like the reward we can reap from getting a block. That outweighs getting dunked on. The way I see it, it’s still just two points. I try to read what the offense is trying to do and be a step early, if I can.”Green, who’s averaging just under five blocks and steals a game combined this postseason, knows his aggressive approach is inevitably going to cause some embarrassment. And that was on display in Game 4 when Utah’s Derrick Favors got the best of him on one play.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/draymonddunkedon.mp400:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.But more important than a few blocked dunks, the Warriors rely heavily on Green’s instincts to read the opposing team’s offense. Many times, his ball denial or ability to close out on someone like Gordon Hayward forces the opponent to look elsewhere to get a shot; a huge accomplishment in the postseason, when teams learn which role players can handle the moment versus which ones can’t.Earlier in the series, acting Warriors coach Mike Brown was asked to compare or contrast Green’s defensive ability with that of Ben and Rasheed Wallace, from the mid-2000s Detroit Pistons teams. In his response, Brown praised Green, saying he was more versatile than those two while saying that Green took a similar leadership role in terms of how much he communicated with teammates on the court.“They anchored whatever defense they were a part of, and they did a lot of things that were kind of on the fly, that they felt,” Brown said. “That’s something Draymond does. I mean, he has carte blanche. Steve [Kerr] has empowered him since day one to quarterback the defense, and he does a heck of a job in that regard.”And as long as Green keeps improvising the way he has, it will be tough for anyone to challenge the Warriors.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

NCAA suspends Posey 5 more games AD Smith calls penalty harsh

Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey has been suspended five games by the NCAA beginning with Saturday’s game at Nebraska, the NCAA announced Friday. Posey must also pay back $720 he received for work he didn’t do from former booster Robert DiGeronimo. The NCAA’s ruling comes after OSU athletic director Gene Smith announced Monday that Posey, along with Dan Herron and Marcus Hall, would be suspended for Saturday’s game at Nebraska, also for being paid for work they didn’t do. “I am extremely disappointed with the NCAA’s decision regarding Devier Posey,” Smith said in a statement released Friday. “This penalty is harsh considering the nature of the violation and the five game suspension already served by this student athlete.” Larry James, Posey’s lawyer, said the NCAA ignored documentation that showed Posey worked proper hours, but said the NCAA had made up its mind, according to a tweet from Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I believe they think he was dirtied by Terrelle Pryor,” he said. “That’s the only thing that could make sense.” Attempts to reach James by phone and email were unsuccessful. Posey’s suspension follows a prior five game suspension for improper benefits in the form of free tattoos. He was scheduled to make his return at Nebraska this weekend prior to the new suspension. The suspension means Posey won’t be eligible to return until OSU hosts Penn State on Nov. 19. The team will finish the regular season by traveling to Michigan the next week, and then could play in the Big Ten Championship and a bowl game afterward, if necessary. DiGeronimo overpaid Posey by $720, being paid for 70 hours of work, despite actually working only 21.5 hours. He also received $102 in impermissible benefits for a round of golf. Herron was overpaid $292.50. He was paid for 104 hours of work, even though he only worked 84.5 hours. Hall was overpaid by $225. He was paid for 66.5 hours of work, despite only working 51 hours. Melvin Fellows and Etienne Sabino were also involved, though Fellows is no longer playing due to a career-ending injury and Sabino has already been reinstated. DiGeronimo has since been disassociated from the university. read more

More pupils absent from school for family holidays

first_imgThe proportion of pupils skipping school for family holidays has risen, official figures have revealed.According to the data, 7.6 per cent of pupils missed at least half a day due to a family holiday in the autumn and spring terms 2015/16, up from 7.2 per cent the previous year.The statistics, released by the Department for Education (DfE), include holidays approved by head teachers as well as those that were unauthorised. MPs have since criticised the “confusion”surrounding the rules, saying that many councils have dropped legal action against parents or suspended penalties altogether.They urged clarity for the system, saying that parents and schools “need to know where they stand”.Despite coming under pressure to change the rules, Nick Gibb, the schools minister, defended the changes, citing evidence that leaving school during term time has a negative effect on GCSE grades.A DfE spokeswoman said: “Evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs.”Over the past decade absence rates have followed a downward trend and almost 200,000 fewer pupils are now persistently missing school than in 2010, thanks to the hard work of teachers, who are insisting on improved pupil behaviour and attendance.”Today’s figures show we are continuing to improve with the number of persistently absent primary and secondary school children, which is down from 11.1 per cent last year to 10.3 per cent this year.” 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. Under the new rules, head teachers can only grant leave in “exceptional circumstances” and parents face a fine of £60 if they take their child out of school without approval, rising to £120 if it is not paid promptly.This policy was challenged in May, when Jon Platt won a High Court ruling against a fine issued for taking his daughter out of school for a family trip to Florida.After the decision, ministers urged heads to continue the new policy, and requested that the Isle of Wight council, which issued the penalty to Mr Platt, appeal against the ruling. In total, 400,490 pupils were absent due to unauthorised family holidays in 2015/16, compared with  362,425 the previous year.However, the statistics show that the proportion of time missed due to authorised family holidays has remained static at 1.2 per cent.Illness accounted for 62.2 per cent of absent sessions, followed by medical appointments at 6.5 per cent and religious observance at 1.5 per cent.The latest figures come despite a Government crackdown on term time holidays, first introduced in autumn 2013. last_img read more

Police officers suffer an assault every four minutes

first_imgPolice officers in England and Wales have been subjected to more than 2.4 million attacks in just a year, according to new figures.Previous estimates had suggested that 23,000 police officers were assaulted every year but data from Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) welfare survey states it is a much greater problem.There is an assault every four minutes, according to the survey which questioned 17,000 officers. Researchers found that out of a total of 2,416,445 attacks, 40,009 had led to an injury from violence. Police suffered 2.4m assaults last year Police suffered 2.4m assaults last year Assaults included offenders struggling to get free, wrestling, hitting, kicking or spitting at officers.Under-reporting and differences in the way incidents are recorded have been given as possible reasons why the national picture has been incomplete.PPEW chairman Steve White said: “We always knew that 23,000, whilst bad enough, was not the true picture but 2.4 million is beyond anyone’s expectations and totally unacceptable.”Officers are out there doing a job in extremely difficult circumstances – this brings a whole new dimension to the very real dangers they are facing.”Without question, an assault of any kind should never be considered ‘part of the job’.”First and foremost, our officers should be afforded the support they need and deserve and this means that they are treated the same way as any other victim of crime and that those who attack police officers are not dealt with lightly.”In addition, Government needs to take action on these figures. Assaults on police officers and their colleagues in the emergency services is an utter disgrace and should not be tolerated.”center_img Credit: PA Archive/PA Images 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

Former TV weatherman Fred Talbot guilty of abusing boys on school trips

first_imgFred Talbot on a floating map in Albert DockCredit:PA sheriff court A succession of witnesses, now men in their 50s who cannot be named for legal reasons, told of their initial excitement at going on the trips, sometimes the first time away from their parents.Talbot was a young teacher at the time with a more relaxed attitude than others and would talk to the boys about topics such as pop music, alcohol and sex, the court heard.The men went on to recount how he abused his position of trust to attack them more than 35 years ago.One man said he was indecently assaulted as a teenage boy after a visit to the pub on a camping trip left him “very much the worse for wear”.The witness told of his “horror” when he awoke, after being “singled out” to go to the pub, to find Talbot touching him in a tent.Another witness gave evidence over a video link from Australia to recount how he awoke in his tent to find Talbot making sexual advances. A further witness said he was left “petrified” when Talbot indecently assaulted him on a trip to the Caledonian Canal in 1979.Ian Brown, the frontman of the Stone Roses, was not a victim but gave evidence at the trial that he had never forgotten the moment Talbot invited one of his young friends to sleep in his tent on a school camping trip. 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. He said Talbot would regularly talk about trips during class but would only invite certain people to go on the excursions.In February 2015, Talbot was convicted at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court of indecent assaults on two pupils from the same school and was jailed for five years the following month.After the verdicts, prosecutor Imran Bashir told the court Talbot was still serving the sentence imposed on him in England.Det Insp Bryan Lee said the former TV personality was a “sexual predator who hid behind a mask of respectability”, adding: “He used his position as a teacher to engineer situations which allowed him to isolate and target his victims. He took advantage of his position of trust to abuse young men in his care. “Thanks to the bravery of his victims, their courage in speaking to us  and their commitment and support throughout this investigation, and to close working with Greater Manchester Police, we have been able to secure this conviction today.”center_img The former television weatherman Fred Talbot has been convicted of a string of historical sex offences against schoolboys who were in his care during trips to Scotland.A jury found the 67-year-old, who was known as Fred the Weatherman, guilty of indecently assaulting seven teenage boys during camping and boating trips in the 1970s and 1980s while he was a biology teacher at a school in the Manchester area.Talbot, of Greater Manchester, denied the allegations but was convicted of seven out of nine charges after a nine-day trial at Lanark Sheriff Court in Scotland. fred talbot The former television personality, who used to appear on a floating weather map in Liverpool’s Albert Dock for ITV’s This Morning show, was previously jailed for five years in Manchester in 2015 for indecently assaulting two schoolboys.Talbot, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and tie, did not react as the verdict was delivered. He will be sentenced on June 15.The offences, against boys aged 15 to 17, took place between 1978 and 1981 and happened during separate trips to two locations in Scotland – the St Mary’s Loch area in Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, and the Caledonian Canal in Inverness in the Highlands. Lanark Sheriff CourtCredit:PAlast_img read more

UK weather Thunderstorms cause flooding in Cornwall as lightning lashes London and south

first_imgThunderstorms are continuing to affect parts of Britain, with lightning and heavy downpours expected to hit both the morning and evening rush hours.Torrential rain could cause some localised flooding, and people are being warned of the risk of disruption to power networks from lightning strikes. South WalesLargely dry initially, but then rather cloudy and wet with outbreaks of rain at times, generally light. Further rain is expected during the evening too. Cooler with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 21-24C (70-75F). Lightning storm over the English Channel seen from Brighton beachCredit:Max Langran We are experiencing problems with the 101 lines due to the weather,999 lines are ok you can also contact us via the website if you need us— East Cambs police (@EastCambsCops) July 19, 2017 “Then just in time for the evening rush hour, a different location, this time across parts of northern England, north-west England in particular by the looks of it, will see the worst of the weather in places.” Adam Paynter, leader of Cornwall Council, told BBC Radio Cornwall: “With things like this, money won’t be a problem – we do have reserves we can use for this type of incident.” Cornish Coastguard Services attend the scene following a flash flood  LincolnshireIt looks set to be generally bright with spells of hazy sunshine, but there is a risk of a thundery shower later. Moderate south-easterly winds. A very warm and humid day. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F).Herefordshire/Staffordshire/ShropshireAfter thundery showers at first, it will become mostly cloudy with grey skies and the chance of a thundery shower during the afternoon. A dry but still rather cloudy evening. Moderate southerly winds. Very warm and humid again. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F).Channel IslandsAn increasingly windy day once more. Largely dry initially, but then rather wet with rain and drizzle for a time. Some sunshine later, but still the chance of an isolated thundery shower. Fresh south-westerly winds. Warm and humid. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).Somerset/Dorset/Devon/Cornwall An increasingly windy day. It will be a rather unsettled day with grey skies and outbreaks of showery rain, mostly light. Remaining wet through the evening. Brisk westerly winds. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F), but cooler along the north coast due to an onshore wind. ShetlandA generally fine day, as it will be dry and bright with sunny spells and variable amounts of cloud. Moderate easterly winds. Max temp 13-16C (55-61F).Northern IrelandIt is expected to be cloudy with the chance of patchy light rain for a period. Hail and thunder showers during the afternoon. Persistent rain developing again through the evening. Cooler with a moderate south-easterly breeze. Max temp 18-21C (64-70F).Republic of IrelandAcross much of the country, it is going to be very unsettled and thundery throughout the day with frequent heavy showers or more persistent heavy rain. Just the odd spot of rain by evening. A cooler feel with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 18-21C (64-70F), but cooler along the west coast due to an onshore wind.What will the weather be like tomorrow?A much drier and brighter day on Thursday for many, but it will feel fresher. Rain over Northern Ireland will move into western areas later. A council spokesman confirmed some properties in Coverack and one of the roads suffered structural damage and are due to be inspected by structural engineers. A lightning bolt lights up the night sky over PortsmouthCredit:Steve Parsons/PA Scottish BordersIt will be an unsettled day with showers or longer spells of rain, mostly light at first but becoming increasingly heavy and thundery later. Brisk south-easterly winds. Max temp 18-21C (64-70F).Central/Edinburgh/Fife/TaysideIt is going to be unsettled and wet for much of the day with showers or more persistent rain, mostly light in the morning but heavier with thunderstorms likely later. Cooler with a moderate easterly wind. Max temp 16-19C (61-66F).Grampian It is expected to be dry for a time, but mostly cloudy. Sun and scattered showers during the afternoon. More persistent rain by evening. Cooler with a moderate south-easterly breeze. Max temp 17-20C (63-68F).Dumfries & Galloway/Ayrshire & LanarkshireIt will be very unsettled and thundery through the day with frequent heavy showers or more persistent rain. Staying wet during the evening but the rain should ease. Moderate easterly winds. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).GlasgowIt is expected to be very unsettled with overcast skies, heavy showers and thunderstorms for much of the day. Some torrential downpours are likely. A wet evening too. Cooler with a moderate easterly breeze. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).HighlandsFollowing a clear start, it will be mainly dry with hazy sunshine, but also the chance of an isolated shower later. Moderate south-easterly winds. Staying warm. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F). Lightning flashes near the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth A man looks at a damaged driveway caused by water from flash flooding in the coastal village of Coverack in CornwallCredit:Ben Birchall/PA The British Airways i360 is lit up by lightning in Brighton Lightning storm over English Channel seen from Brighton beach A lightning bolt over the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth Emergency services work on the scene of flash flooding in Coverack, Cornwall “This morning it’s probably going to be parts of the Midlands and eastern England that see potential for some heavy rain, some thunderstorms, and then a bit of a lull,” he said. The lightning storm captured over GuildfordCredit:Richard Waters/REX/Shutterstock Water had to be pumped out of a number of properties in Tunbridge Wells, the fire service said, after it received more than 60 calls to the 999 line within one hour. Crews from Kent Fire and Rescue Service attended but, despite two of the calls stating that people were trapped inside properties, no rescues were needed.Residents and business owners affected by the flooding in Coverack have been told council reserves will be used to help repair the damage. An entrance to a bed and breakfast property is block by rocks and debris from flash flooding in the coastal village of Coverack Lightning flashes near the Spinnaker Tower in PortsmouthCredit:Steve Parsons/PA Debris in the village of Coverack after flash flooding East AngliaIt is expected to be dry for much of the time with hazy sunshine, but there is the chance of a thundery shower later. Moderate south-easterly winds. Feeling hot and muggy. Max temp 26-29C (79-84F). Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said crews remained in Coverack on Wednesday morning.”Cornwall Fire and Rescue remains in attendance on scene, working with the community to salvage,” a spokeswoman said.”Reliefs are being arranged for crews on scene. It is expected that the fire service will remain in attendance until midday, assisting the community.”UK weather forecast: Wednesday, July 19center_img Speaking from the west Cornwall village, he added: “It’s been absolutely unbelievable to see. I think it’s going to take a little while to get this sorted out and tidied up but obviously the main thing is that nobody’s been injured and everybody is okay in the village.”The council and the emergency services have done a great job, they’ve been here all night to ensure that everybody is safe and they are doing what they can to make sure everything can get back to normal as soon as possible.” Emergency services work on the scene of flash flooding in Coverack, CornwallCredit:LEAHLILY11/Twitter Sitting up with the dog who’s freaked by the storm and snapped these pic.twitter.com/7ySE4gJVYP— Bill Bailey (@BillBailey) July 19, 2017 A man looks at a damaged driveway caused by water from flash flooding in the coastal village of Coverack in Cornwall The British Airways i360 is lit up by lightning in BrightonCredit:Max Langran Debris in the village of Coverack after flash floodingCredit:Matt Cardy/Getty Almighty #Thunderstorm in #Kent! Always amazes me. This is from the bedroom window!! ☇⛈☇⛈☇ #lightning #thunder #thunderstorms #StormWatch pic.twitter.com/Mt94IbowAz— Rich Walters (@therichwalters) July 19, 2017 An entrance to a bed and breakfast property is block by rocks and debris from flash flooding in CoverackCredit:Ben Birchall/PA Flash flooding hit the coastal village of Coverack in Cornwall He said the nature of the thunderstorms would be “hit and miss” and that the showers should move through the country “relatively quickly”.After a warm night, temperatures are expected to remain high on Wednesday for parts of eastern England where the mercury could rise to the low 30s, Mr Keates added.Cambridgeshire police said the adverse weather conditions have caused problems with its non-emergency 101 service. KentIt is going to be mainly cloudy in the morning. Sunny periods later, but the chance of an isolated thundery shower too. Cooler with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F). Berkshire/Surrey/HampshireIt will be mainly overcast with cloudy skies and the chance of a heavy shower in the afternoon. Cooler with a moderate south-westerly wind. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).EssexA clear start. It will then be mostly cloudy in the morning. Brighter spells later, but the risk of an isolated thundery shower too. Moderate southerly winds. Very warm and humid. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F). A lightning display over the Brighton horizonCredit:Max Langran lightning storm over Guildford Here’s what the weather is expected to be like in your region today. LondonIt will be dry with bright or sunny periods, especially during the course of the afternoon. Moderate south-westerly winds. Very warm and muggy again. Max temp 24-27C (75-81F). North WalesIt is expected to be a generally unsettled day with a lot of cloud and showers or longer spells of rain, mostly light. Remaining wet into the evening. Cooler with a brisk south-westerly wind. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).Lancashire/MerseysideIt will be unsettled and wet for much of the day with showers or more persistent rain, heavy at times with thunderstorms likely. Further evening rain. Fresh easterly winds. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).CumbriaIt is expected to be very unsettled with overcast skies, heavy showers and thunderstorms for much of the day. Some torrential downpours are likely. Rain easing by evening. Brisk easterly winds. Max temp 21-24C (70-75F).Isle of Man/Irish SeaIt looks set to be very unsettled and thundery throughout the day with frequent heavy showers or more persistent heavy rain. More persistent rain by evening. Fresh easterly winds. Max temp 17-20C (63-68F).East MidlandsEarly thundery showers will generally clear. Then overcast with cloudy skies and scattered heavy showers, mostly later, with the small chance of thunder. A dry end to the day with some late spells of sunshine. Moderate south-easterly winds. Humid. Max temp 22-25C (72-77F).Yorkshire/Humberside/NorthumberlandIt is going to be mixed with patchy light rain in places, clearing to leave scattered thundery showers. Persistent rain developing again through the evening. Moderate south-easterly winds. A very warm and humid day. Max temp 23-26C (73-79F). Cornish Coastguard Services attend the scene following a flash flood Credit:Matt Cardy/Getty Flash flooding hit the coastal village of Coverack in CornwallCredit:PA Two people were rescued by a coastguard helicopter, and one witness described the flooding as “quite horrendous”.A meeting for residents, attended by council officers, will be held at a local hotel on Wednesday.Commuters in the Midlands and east of England could be caught up in downpours on Wednesday, while those in north-east Wales and the North West will bear the brunt in the afternoon, Steven Keates from the Met Office said. A lightning display over the Brighton horizon North SeaIt will be largely dry and bright with spells of sunshine and variable amounts of cloud. A wet evening though with light rain or drizzle. Moderate easterly winds. Warm again. Max temp 19-22C (66-72F).Northern ScotlandA windy day. It is going to be dry with sunny intervals and variable amounts of cloud. Damp during the evening though with patchy rain and drizzle. Strong south-easterly winds. Warm. Max temp 19-22C (66-72F), but cooler along much of the coast.Argyll & ButeIt will be cloudy with the chance of patchy light rain for a period. Hail and thunder showers possible during the afternoon. More persistent and heavy rain during the evening. Cooler with a moderate easterly breeze. Max temp 16-19C (61-66F).West Scotland/Western IslesIt is going to be bright with sunshine and light showers, more especially during the afternoon. Showers merging into more persistent rain by evening. Moderate easterly winds. Warm despite the showers. Max temp 20-23C (68-73F).OrkneyA windy day. After a bright start, it will be mostly cloudy in the morning. Brighter spells later, but with isolated showers too. A dry but cloudy end to the day. Strong south-easterly winds. Max temp 14-17C (57-63F). The silent #storm is still looking amazing from #camberwell. Here’s my view across central #london #lightning @LondonSnowWatch pic.twitter.com/eXiJO06sfj— Tim Walker (@electricfoto) July 18, 2017 A yellow weather warning is in place right through the day for large swathes of England and Wales, with the Met Office predicting a month’s worth of rain could fall in some places in a matter of hours.The intense conditions caused flash flooding in a coastal village in Cornwall on Tuesday, with some 50 properties affected and several people having to be rescued from their homes. 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

Ruth Davidson signals possible move to Westminster if she loses 2021 Holyrood

first_imgRuth Davidson has been touted as a replacement for Theresa MayCredit:Reuters Asked what went wrong with the Tories in England in the general election, she appeared to have a dig at Mrs May’s “strong and stable” mantra, saying: “I’ve got a bit of experience in campaigning. Part of the issue is a belief that you can say the same thing every day for seven weeks and the media will just report that.“Voters don’t like results being declared before they have cast their votes, thanks very much. There was a bit of a backlash there. Corbyn was seen as a safe receptacle because everybody had written off his chances. Well, he won’t be a safe receptacle next time.“I don’t believe that Jeremy Corbyn is unstoppable. I think he’s eminently beatable in 2022. People who are so afraid of him do need to get their act together and start making that case now.” They are also the second party at Holyrood and Ms Davidson aims to become First Minister after the 2021 vote.  Her popularity was clear at the party conference two months ago following a spectacular result in the general election in June when the Scottish Tories won 13 seats – 12 more than the last time round – including Alex Salmond’s constituency. theresa may Ruth Davidson has given the clearest signal yet that she could stand for a Westminster seat in 2022 if she fails to win the next Holyrood election.The Scottish Conservative leader has repeatedly been touted as a possible replacement for Theresa May, and was backed by the Tory grandee Lord Heseltine in October as someone who has “begun to qualify” for the job.She previously insisted she had no plans to become an MP, but has admitted in a new interview that if the Tories fail to win the 2021 Scottish Parliament election she will consider her options.Ms Davidson also said she believed that Jeremy Corbyn would be “eminently beatable” in the next election.She told The Spectator that she had been the Scottish leader for six years, and her two predecessors lasted around six and a half years each.Ms Davidson added that after that “we can start other conversations”, and when asked if that meant coming to Westminster, she replied: “I haven’t ruled it out. If devolution is going to work, then actually there has to be the ability to move between chambers and parliaments.” 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

Put GPs in gyms to tackle Britains obesity crisis say health experts

GPs should be based in gyms in a bid to tackle Britain’s growing obesity crisis, public health experts say. Basing family doctors at fitness centres means GPs could prescribe fitness classes and persuade exercise-shy patients to sign up on the spot, they said.Patients are more likely to take up their doctor’s recommendation to exercise if they are given specific advice – like taking a weekly Zumba class – and it is easy for them to access low-cost facilities, the senior figures said. The joint report by the Royal Society for Public Health and ukactive, a leading not-for-profit health body, also said basing doctors at leisure centres would benefit gym-goers, who would be more likely to call into the GP for vital health checks if they could do so as part of their regular routine.Steven Ward, CEO of ukactive, said: “Getting Britain moving is paramount if we are to stem the tide of preventable diseases burdening the NHS.  More than one in four adults in the UK are now obese and obesity-related conditions cost the NHS more than £1billion a yearCredit:Gareth Fuller/PA More than one in four adults in the UK are now obese and obesity-related conditions cost the NHS more than £1billion a year Having drop-in GP centres within gyms could also encourage people to visit a doctor if they had a health concern without having to alter their routine, the report said. This could increase the number of people undergoing basic health checks and taking part in screening programmes to spot cancer and other potentially life-threatening disease. The report, Going the Distance: Exercise professionals in the wider public health workforce, recommended GPs refer more patients to exercise classesCredit:Lynne Cameron/PA “Anything that makes visiting a GP that bit easier should be welcomed, and this report shows there is a demand among the public for that opportunity.” 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. Now experts believe making access to exercise easier could encourage more people to take it up, reducing the burden of obesity on the NHS.The report, Going the Distance: Exercise professionals in the wider public health workforce, recommended GPs refer more patients to exercise classes.Doctors should also work closely with fitness instructors to make sure patients knew what to expect and were engaged in exercise programmes, it said.It asked clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and public health leaders to “explicitly factor in” fitness centres into their local health and wellbeing plans, to make sure funding was available for exercise classes. “Locating GPs in fitness facilities offers a clear and simple pathway from doctor’s office to gym floor for patients who could benefit the most from regular physical activity. “GPs could prescribe exercise plans to patients and point them next door to a fitness professional for a gym induction – making it as easy as possible to get inactive individuals moving again. A survey of 858 gym-users for the report found the majority would support having a GP drop-in centre and NHS smoking cessation services at their leisure centre.More than three quarters would also welcome exercise classes aimed specifically at improving mental health and wellbeing.Shirley Cramer, RSPH chief executive, said: “In a climate of ongoing cuts to public health budgets, it has been acknowledged for some time that the public health challenges currently facing the nation are too great to be tackled by the core public health workforce alone.“Exercise professionals have a great opportunity to be an active part of this wider public health workforce… The co-location of services such as GP drop-ins are an exciting part of this vision, with the potential to make gyms and leisure centres convenient one-stop-shops for the public’s health where we can make every contact count.”Mr Ward added: “People lead busy lives – a GP in every gym could give pressed workers the opportunity to fit vital health checks around their regular workout schedule.  “For too long the NHS has shouldered the burden of society’s unhealthy lifestyles. A radical and imaginative move like this could empower people to take responsibility for their own health and move towards an NHS focused on prevention over cure.”More than one in four adults in the UK are now obese and obesity-related conditions cost the NHS more than £1billion a year.Studies have shown British adults lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles, which is fuelling the obesity crisis.Last month, University of Liverpool researchers revealed that living a “couch potato” lifestyle and staying desk-bound all day at the office for just two weeks triggered a decline in health which could spiral into weight gain and health problems like diabetes. But exercising and being active throughout the day reversed symptoms within a fortnight. The report, Going the Distance: Exercise professionals in the wider public health workforce, recommended GPs refer more patients to exercise classes read more

Breakfast cereal boxes criticised for depicting portions that are too big

It concluded that claims about whole grains, vitamins and folic acid “might mislead consumers into thinking the cereals are healthier than they are”.The study said: “Dental and other health professionals need to be aware of the high sugar content of these cereals and the marketing techniques that are used by their manufacturers when giving advice to children and their parents.” Breakfast cereal portions are depicted as too big as experts say pictures on the side of boxes are unrealistic.Images of Frosties, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, Coco Pops, and other UK cereals show bowls “brimming to the top with cereal and milk” and containing as much of 90g of cereal, while their packaging recommends a portion size of just 30g.“This suggests that if the imagery on the cereal packet is imitated, children aged 4 to 10 would be exceeding their daily limit of free sugars by 12.5% by eating one bowl of cereal,” the study published in the British Dental Journal found.The study investigated 13 breakfast cereals and analysed the content of the packaging with regard to imagery, health claims and nutritional content.Several cereals were found to be more than one third sugar by weight.The investigation also found that even if the manufacturer’s suggested portion size was used 8 of the 13 cereals provided over half of the recommended daily sugar intake for a child between the ages of 4 and 6. Several cereals were found to be more than one third sugar by weightCredit: Betsy Cole / FOAP/Getty Images  Maria Morgan, a Senior Lecturer in Dental Public Health at Cardiff University and an author of the study, said: “It’s impossible to know if manufacturers are deliberately tricking people, but the end result is a misleading image that encourages overconsumption of sugar.”“Ultimately, it is young people from deprived areas that will be worst impacted by these images.”The Association of Cereal Food Manufacturers said: “Breakfast cereals are an important source of fibre, vitamins, and minerals.”Last month, the head of the NHS in England called for manufacturers to review the sugar content of their products.Giving evidence to the Commons health and social care committee, Simon Stevens said that the breakfast cereals were contributing to increased childhood obesity in the UK.“On average children are having the equivalent of three sugar lumps at breakfast. For poorer children that is often much worse. That is obviously contributing a lot to the childhood obesity epidemic,” he said.In June the government published a plan that aims to half childhood obesity in England by 2020.Mr Stevens added: “It obviously matters for the NHS, but frankly it matters to us as parents. It is our children who are inadvertently on the receiving end of what you think is a healthy breakfast cereal but often turns out not to be.” Several cereals were found to be more than one third sugar by weight 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

University diversity drive has led to more students feeling under pressure to

Universities’ efforts to boost their intake of disadvantaged students has led to more feeling under “psychological pressure” to cheat due to financial woes, the new chair of higher education quality watchdog has said.     In recent… Prof Simon Gaskell, chair of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), said that the temptation to “cut corners” is linked to how stressed students feel and this is now “significantly higher” than it used to be. In his first interview since taking up the post earlier this month, he said that students feel under a “great deal” of pressure these days including financial pressure and the pressure to do well in their degree and go on to get a good job.  read more

Homes under the Hammer presenter claims he was unable to give drink

“Yet I wasn’t even in my car, or anywhere near it, when I was stopped by police.”Nicholas Lee, prosecuting, said the saga unfolded after security man Paul Sharp spotted Roberts at 2.08am in Bath.Mr Sharp thought Roberts looked a “little unsteady” and tracked him on CCTV.The court was shown footage of how Roberts walked to his Volvo, leaned on the boot and then drove off.As he reversed he nudged another car and headed for the exit.Such was Mr Sharp’s concern that he locked the automatic barrier, preventing Roberts from exiting the car park, and he called police.Police sergeant Andrew Mundy told the court he arrested Roberts on foot in Manvers Street.The officer said: “I invited him to the police vehicle for a sample of breath.”He was slurring his words, speaking in a repetitive manner and you could smell alcohol.” Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts attempted to avoid a drink driving conviction by claiming his asthma stopped him from giving a breath sample. The 56-year-old, who has failed to get his conviction overturned, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol last year, after failing to provide a breath test.But Roberts insists this is because of his chronic asthma, and said that he tried several times to provide a sample of breath.He denied failing to provide a specimen of breath but in March Bath Magistrates convicted him, fining him £3,461 and banning him from driving for 23 months.Police accused him of sucking rather than blowing and, after only one successful test which showed him to be almost twice over the limit, they charged him with failing to provide a specimen of breath.Roberts maintains the reading could have been contaminated by his asthma inhaler.He appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Friday, where he failed to have the conviction and sentence overturned.The recorder Mr Noel Casey, who heard the appeal with two magistrates, dismissed the appeal against conviction, retained the sentence and imposed £520 costs. 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. Mr Casey told Roberts: “We accept the appellant suffers from asthma but not to an extent much greater than many other sufferers.” Martin Roberts attempted to avoid a drink driving conviction by claiming his asthma stopped him from giving a breath sample Speaking outside the courtroom, Roberts said: “This is a bad day for me. But it is also a terrible day for asthma sufferers.”How can it be fair that someone that has a lifelong history of asthma, that declares that asthma to police, is only offered a breathalyser test that involves exhaling effectively – and is not offered any alternative way of providing a sample – such as giving blood or urine?”Mr Roberts stressed his doctor said it was very likely he would not have been able to provide the required breath test.He said: “My failure to provide a sample was for genuine medical reasons. I would have happily provided a blood or urine sample but was never offered the opportunity to do so.”I believe the law needs to be changed to protect other asthma sufferers like myself from being prejudiced against in this grossly unfair way, by making it mandatory that they are offered an alternative way of providing a sample.”This matter has caused me and my family unbelievable stress and worry and I am now being faced with a 23 month driving ban and a big fine – equivalent to being ten times over the limit and crashing into a street full of parked vehicles. Martin Roberts attempted to avoid a drink driving conviction by claiming his asthma stopped him from giving a breath sample read more

653754 ounces of gold declared in 2017

The Guyana Gold board will soon undertake a public awareness campaign to improve gold declarations after 653,754 ounces were declared in 2017.Gold declarations for 2017 fell short of the 700,000 ounces projected in last year’s national budget.General Manager of the Gold Board, Eondrene Thompson, told the Department of Public Information that the shortfall was as a result of setbacks in the industry.Eondrene Thompson, General Manager of the Guyana Gold BoardPoor roads and inclement weather were singled out by Thompson for the decline in declarations. “The roadways into the interior…were bad and as such persons were unable to buy their supplies to take into the interior. A lot of operators said they parked their dredges and were waiting on the roads to be done,” she said.This year, the government has budgeted some $1.5B for hinterland roads which include roads used by miners. The Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, previously stated that his Ministry hopes to involve the miners and communities as it works with the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to improve the road networks in the six mining districts.Meanwhile, the Gold Board will also be engaging the mining community with the aim of improving declarations in 2018. “We will embark on PR work, let the miners know the importance of selling their gold to the Guyana Gold Board,” Thompson said.Thompson said the awareness campaign is to encourage persons to sell their gold to licenced agents or the Gold Board itself. “We have persons around who they sell to or who they are working for and still not declaring to the Guyana Gold Board so we intend to educate the miners and let them know it is good, it is right to sell to the Guyana Gold Board.”The Gold Board is examining providing incentives to miners who sell to the Guyana Gold Board. Additionally, the Board will also be educating miners on the importance of having the necessary documentation when selling their gold.Thompson explained, “Our regulatory overseas body would like to know that. They would want to monitor the gold from the mine to the market so we will have persons educating the miners and showing them the advantages of producing documentation where they mine”.Starting next week, the Gold Board will be sending out text blasts as part of its public relations strategy to educate miners on these issues. Staff stationed in the interior will also facilitate awareness outreaches. (DPI) Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGovt hikes processing fee for gold declarationsJuly 18, 2017In “Mining”Gold Board appoints new GMJanuary 2, 2018In “Business”2018 gold declarations 6.2% lower than 2017January 9, 2019In “Business” read more