Month: September 2019

How Bad Was the Cabrera Deal

How Bad Was the Cabrera Deal

The big news coming out of baseball Thursday night was that Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera had been re-signed to a 10-year, $292 million contract extension, the most expensive deal in the history of the sport. On the surface, the pact seems like lunacy on the part of the team’s general manager, Dave Dombrowski.Cabrera has been the best hitter in baseball over the past nine years. Over the last four seasons, he won two American League Most Valuable Player Awards and three AL batting titles. But his gaudy offensive statistics overstate his value: He is a below-average fielder and baserunner. More important, Cabrera will turn 31 in April, meaning the Tigers will be paying him through age 40. Players are typically in decline by the time they hit their early 30s.Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projection system expects Cabrera to generate about 35 more wins above replacement over the remainder of the contract (after rescaling BP’s value metric to the lower replacement level used more commonly by Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs). If the market rate for a single WAR was $6.5 million in 2014 (I split difference between this estimate and this estimate), and we add 5 percent in annual inflation to the cost of a win, Cabrera’s next 10 years will be worth about $275 million. By this rough math, the Tigers appear to have overpaid by something like $15 million to $20 million.It’s also worth noting that Detroit already had Cabrera locked up through 2015 under his existing contract. The $234 million it’s paying him beyond that season will deliver just $204 million in value, according to PECOTA.However, Dombrowski probably isn’t worried about the high likelihood that Cabrera will be overpaid (and vastly so) throughout the back half of this contract. Instead, he presumably put a premium on locking up the remaining prime seasons of one of the best hitters in baseball history. The Tigers were two wins away from a World Series berth last season with one of the AL’s oldest lineups, so the case can be made that the Tigers are discounting the long-term burdens of Cabrera’s huge contract in exchange for elite performance in the short-to-intermediate term.Indeed, before we lump this deal in with other onerous contracts, such as the ones handed to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, I’d like to look into modeling those deals against the players’ expected WAR. But for now, it appears the Tigers paid a huge premium for the tail end of Cabrera’s prime, banking on him remaining an MVP-caliber player into his mid-30s. read more

Its Judgment Day in World Cup Groups G and H

Its Judgment Day in World Cup Groups G and H

The World Cup has been a roller-coaster for the United States, which nearly drew with Ghana before beating it and nearly won against Portugal before drawing it. But overall, the Americans’ position is improved. It has about a 76 percent chance of advancing to the knockout stage — slightly more than double its odds before the tournament began.The U.S. will kick off against Germany at noon Eastern time in Recife, Brazil. By 2 p.m., its fate will be determined. If the Americans beat Germany, the math is simple: They’ll win Group G and will face the second-place team from Group H in the Round of 16. Their opponent would probably be either Algeria, whom the U.S. would be favored against — or Russia, against whom they would have about even odds.Draw with Germany, and the U.S. will also advance — but as the second-place team from Group G likely to face Belgium in the Round of 16. (The 2-1 and 1-1 scores in the chart below are some of the most common for wins and draws, respectively.)If the Americans lose, they’ll have to sweat the results of the other Group G match between Ghana and Portugal, which will take place simultaneously in Brasilia. They’ll get a reprieve if the Ghana-Portugal match is drawn, in which case the U.S. is guaranteed to advance in second. But a U.S. loss in Recife, coupled with a victor in Brasilia, could knock them out of the tournament.The table below describes what will happen if the U.S. loses its match, for all losing scores up to 4-0 Germany, and for all possible outcomes in Brasilia up to four goals scored by each team. For example, if the U.S. loses to Germany 2-0 and Portugal beats Ghana 3-1, the U.S. will advance over Portugal on the basis of FIFA’s goal-differential tiebreaker. Portugal, still disadvantaged from its 4-0 loss to Germany in its opening game, has to make up a net of five goals with the U.S. to make the knockout round.Although Cristiano Ronaldo might think otherwise, we can’t put it completely past Portugal to accomplish this: The Portuguese can score goals in bunches when in good form, and they have about a 5 percent chance of backing into the knockout stage. There’s even a remote chance that FIFA would have to draw lots to resolve a tie between the U.S. and Portugal: If Portugal beats Ghana 2-0 and the U.S. loses to Germany 3-0, both teams would be stuck on four goals scored and six allowed, and FIFA would resort to the luck of the draw.However, the bigger problem for the U.S. would be if it loses in Recife and Ghana wins in Brasilia. Then, any Ghana win by more than one goal, or any U.S. loss by more than one goal, would send Ghana forward. The U.S. does have the head-to-head tiebreaker against Ghana by virtue of having beaten it, but that will come into play only if the two matches finish with the same score line (there’s about a 2 percent chance of that happening).This could yield some interesting strategy and psychology at each venue. Say, for example, that about 75 minutes into Thursday’s matches, the U.S. trails Germany 2-1 while Ghana leads Portugal by the same margin. If those scores held, the U.S. would advance — so it might want to play quite defensively rather than seek an equalizer. But in Brasilia, the Portuguese would have almost nothing left to play for (merely drawing their match against Ghana or even winning it by one goal wouldn’t do them any good), and the Ghanaians would. If Ghana added a garbage-time goal against an indifferent Portuguese back line, the U.S. would be out.Incidentally, the Germans also have something to play for Thursday — at least in theory. They have not technically clinched advancement: They could be out of the tournament if they lose to the U.S. and there is a victor in Brasilia. However, the outcomes would need to be exceptionally lopsided given Germany’s +4 goal differential so far, which is why Germany has a 99.7 percent chance of going forward.Later Thursday, the final matches of Group H will take place. Belgium has clinched advancement but would do so as the second-place team if it loses to South Korea and Algeria beats Russia. Any other outcome advances the Belgians in first.Algeria clinches advancement by beating Russia, or if it draws Russia and Belgium beats or draws with South Korea. If Algeria draws Russia and South Korea beats Belgium, then Algeria and South Korea would be in a second-place tie — although Algeria would be strongly favored to advance on the basis of goal differential. If Algeria loses to Russia, Algeria is out of the tournament.Russia can advance only if it beats Algeria. In fact, it almost certainly will advance if it beats Algeria. The exception would require South Korea to beat Belgium by multiple goals.South Korea is not technically eliminated, but its chances of advancing are only about 1 percent. Its prospects require it, among other things, to beat Belgium by at least three goals in the event of an Algeria-Russia draw, or by at least two goals in the event of a Russian win.An interesting scenario might unfold in Group H if the U.S. beats Germany. Then Belgium might have an incentive to lose to South Korea and hope that Algeria overtakes it. That would set the Red Devils up with a Round of 16 match against the Americans instead of the Germans. read more

Heres A Timetable For When Knicks Fans Should Run Out Of Patience

Heres A Timetable For When Knicks Fans Should Run Out Of Patience

By any standard, the New York Knicks’ 2014-15 season — team President Phil Jackson’s first at the helm — has been an unmitigated disaster.It’s a fact that Jackson himself couldn’t avoid acknowledging in a message he issued to fans (particularly season-ticket holders) this week. “While I know this has been a challenging season for our team on the court, I can also tell you that everyone in the organization is working tirelessly to get our Knicks back to a place where we are once again competing at the highest level,” Jackson said.In the message, Jackson requested that fans be patient as the team works on its long-term plans. (“I ask that you remain optimistic and hope you will join us on our continued journey as we build a team that once again reflects the spirit of being a New York Knick.”) But what should Jackson’s rebuilding timetable look like? The legendary former coach signed a five-year deal last March. Given the particulars of the 2013-14 Knicks team he inherited (their average age, Simple Rating System scores relative to the league and the Eastern Conference, and the wins above replacement of their top player), how quickly should Knicks fans have expected Jackson to turn things around?To answer that question, I ran a series of logistic regressions using every non-playoff NBA team since the league expanded to 27 teams in 1989-90, estimating the likelihood of a team like the Knicks eventually returning to the postseason and reaching various SRS milestones within the five years of Jackson’s contract. These probabilities should serve as a rough guideline for how quickly the Knicks should have expected to return to respectability when Jackson came on, and when patience with Jackson should start to wear thin if the Knicks continue to languish.In some ways, Jackson is already far behind schedule. Based on historical trends, we’d expect 68 percent of Knicks-like teams to return to the playoffs within one season. (Instead, New York is currently 19.5 games out of the last playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference.) But Jackson has also described his “ultimate goal” as bringing an NBA title back to New York after a 42-season drought, and to do that, a team typically has to be better than just a fringe playoff qualifier. The 25th percentile NBA championship team since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger had an SRS around 5 — a qualification that only five teams in 2014-15 met (after rounding up).That’s a level of performance our model says the Knicks are unlikely to attain, even within five years. But there was a 50 percent chance that the Knicks would reach the tier right below that, with an SRS of 3, by the end of Jackson’s contract. And progress toward that goal might be best judged three seasons in; while we’d expect a Knicks-like team to post an SRS of 3 within two seasons less than a third of the time, the probability of checking off that milestone within three seasons was 44 percent.In other words, while the Knicks have been absolutely awful this season, it’s still too early to ignore Jackson’s pleas for patience if building a contending team is the goal. We probably won’t really know what kind of progress he’s made in that direction for another couple of seasons. read more

Avery Johnson Joins Deron Williams For Birthday Dinner

Avery Johnson Joins Deron Williams For Birthday Dinner

If being a birthday dinner guest is an indication of Deron Williams’ intentions, then the Brooklyn Nets just might keep the coveted free-agent point guard.Among Williams’ small 28th birthday gathering in New York was Nets coach Avery Johnson. Nets fans are grasping any sign they can to feel good about Williams’ impending decision on where he will play next season. He is the prize free agent and reportedly has narrowed his choices down to Brooklyn, where the New Jersey Nets will move next season, or the Dallas Mavericks, who reside in his hometown.Williams made a flash appearance at Nets general manager Billy King’s news conference this morning at the team’s practice facility in New Jersey. He did not address the media; he smiled and left.King said he is not concerned about Mark Cuban attempting to court Williams to Dallas.“I’ve never wavered,” King said. “I’m not overconfident. I feel good.” read more

Tiger Woods Wins For The Third Time This Year

Tiger Woods Wins For The Third Time This Year

The talk of whether Tiger Wood is back to being, well,  Tiger Woods will not cease until he wins another major championship. In the meantime, Woods just keeps on winning, which was just what he did before a descent two years ago because of injuries and personal troubles.Sunday’s final round of the AT&T Nationals at Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C. was a pre-drama effort by Woods. With five players in contention, the 14-time major winner separated himself with a dose of the steady and spectacular. When he was done, he outlasted Bo Van Pelt in the final two holes to shoot a 2-under 69 for his third win on the PGA Tour this year.“Of course, your confidence wanes,” Woods said of his dark days. “I wasn’t able to practice; I was hurt (knee). And when you’re changing systems. . . it’s going to take time.”Perhaps that time has come.The win not only was a testament to what he has done this year, but also over his remarkable career. No one on tour has more wins this season. He is No. 1 on the money list and the FedEx Cup standings for the first time since September 2009. Additionally, Woods moved past Jack Nicklaus into second place for all-time wins with 74. He’s just eight behind career leader Sam Snead.“It feels great to get to 74 wins and past Jack, to do at 36 years old,” Woods said. “It’s something I’m very proud of.”Of course, Woods wants majors and some believe he will not “officially” be back until he gets his 15th. He goes for it at the British Open later this month.But this tournament showed Woods to be at his best, meaning he was rock solid but skilled and patient enough to recover from wayward shots. He hit a spectacular shot on No. 12, when his ball was so close to a tree that he warned the galley that his club might snap after he struck the ball. Well, his club did not snap, although he hit the tree, but he executed a beautiful hook shot onto the green.On No. 17 , when he was tied with Van Pelt, Woods sank a six-foot par putt to take a one shot lead going into the final hole. He followed that up by piping a drive 345 yards and then squeezing off a beautiful nine-iron from nearly 190 yards into the peninsula green to about 15 feet. He safely two-putted from there for the win.And so ended a wild week in Washington — record heat Friday, followed by a wind storm that topped dozens of trees at Congressional and forced the tournament to keep spectators out Saturday. They were back in force for the final round, and they were treated to Woods looking like Tiger Woods.“Some days it’s better than others,” he said. “Itry hard. It’s a game that tests our patience. I’ve been out here 17 years. I understand what it’s like to have to grind and fight. Each shot means something. The first shot of the first day means as much as a shot on the 72nd hole. I’ve always had that mindset.” read more

Exhibition Season Over Team USA Ready For Olympics

Exhibition Season Over Team USA Ready For Olympics

The USA men’s basketball team could face Spain in the Olympics on August 12. Tuesday, the Americans delivered the message that the gold is theirs to take.With Carmelo Anthony coming off the bench to score 23 points in the first half and Team USA’s defense clamping down, the U.S. backhanded the No. 2 team in the world, Spain, 100-78, in Barcelona.It was a win that signified Anthony and Co. are ready for the London Olympics.“We knew that this was a big game,” U.S. guard Chris Paul said. “We approached it like (was a big game) and it was a good win for us.”The rematch of the 2008 gold-medal game wasn’t much of a match. Spain led by nine points early and then were hit with a barrage by Anthony, the New York Knicks forward.“It was a good test for us tonight, but the exhibition games are over, the (niceties)  are over and we look forward to the real challenge of going to London,” said LeBron James, who had 25 points.Pau Gasol scored 19 points and Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka, a native of the Republic of Congo who became a Spanish national last year, had 16.They’re still the best two teams in the world and favored to meet again in the Spain would have a different look, as Marc Gasol was held out of this one while recovering from a left shoulder injury and backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez also sat out.Spain’s players said the bigger priority was preparing for London. The Americans responded that the Spaniards, playing in front of their home fans, would be compelled to go all out in hopes of a victory.Spain seemed to be playing for real, but was simply overmatched and the Americans eventually ran away from them.“Well, it was definitely a game that we would have loved to play better as a team,” Gasol said. “We made too many mistakes which they capitalized and they played their game. They’re a quick unit, very athletic and once they were able to convert a few fast-break opportunities due to our turnovers, it was hard for us.” read more

Mark Cuban Under NBA Investigation for Sexual Assault Allegations

Mark Cuban Under NBA Investigation for Sexual Assault Allegations

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stands on stage before a news conference in Dallas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins, File)DALLAS (AP) — The NBA is reviewing 2011 allegations of sexual assault against Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and the investigation that led to a decision by prosecutors not to pursue the case.League spokesman Mike Bass said Wednesday the NBA was looking into the matter, a day after a weekly alternative newspaper in Portland, Oregon, reported a woman’s claim that Cuban put his hands down her pants and touched her inappropriately while they were taking a photo at a Portland nightclub.“The NBA league office is reviewing the 2011 allegations against Mark Cuban and the subsequent findings from the Portland police investigation,” Bass said.The report Tuesday in the Willamette Week came about a week and half after a Sports Illustrated account that portrayed a hostile work environment for women in the front office of the Mavericks. While Cuban wasn’t implicated, the SI report raised questions about what he knew and when.Cuban flatly denied the woman’s allegations and provided a prosecutors’ report detailing the decision not to file charges.Prosecutors wrote that “there is no evidence to corroborate the complainant’s statement and there is evidence contradicting the claim.” The report also said the woman didn’t want to proceed with the allegation.The Portland weekly’s report included a transcript of Cuban’s phone conversation with a police detective, with the Dallas owner strongly denying the claim while expressing concern that he would have difficulty defending himself in court.In the SI report, former Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery was accused of making sexually suggestive remarks to several women. Ussery was investigated by the team over similar claims in 1998, two years before Cuban bought the team. He worked for Cuban for 15 years.Cuban told SI that he fired human resources director Buddy Pittman after learning details of the magazine’s report, which included claims that superiors were seen as unresponsive to complaints.The SI report said team website reporter Earl Sneed was twice accused of domestic assault while working for the Mavericks, including a guilty plea in a case that was dismissed when he met the conditions of the agreement. Sneed also was fired. read more

Winning 10 Straight Put the Royals Playoff Chances at Even Money

Winning 10 Straight Put the Royals Playoff Chances at Even Money

These playoff percentages mean that about 58 percent of all win streaks that passed through 10 games came from teams that eventually made the playoffs, a slight increase from before.The Royals are right at the previous season average (they went 86-76, which gets you a regressed winning percentage around .522), but their pre-streak record was slightly below the standard for other 10-win-streak teams; their “at the time” regressed winning percentage was .488. How much does that matter?To determine whether these Royals could be a playoff team, we set up a logistic regression predicting make-the-playoffs odds from streak length, at-the-time regression winning percentage, and prior-season regressed winning percentage. This also helped us figure out how much of the chance of making the playoffs comes from the streak itself, and how much is just that good teams are more prone to run up these kinds of streaks. Causation versus correlation, basically.After running the regression, it told us that the Royals are 23.2 percent less likely to make the playoffs than a normal 10-game-win-streak team because their record before the streak was 29-32, whereas the typical 10-gamer would have been 32-29. That looks like a very strong effect for just a three-game swing; we might be seeing a big inflection point here. At any rate, as you would expect, pre-streak record certainly matters.Once we take their 10-win streak into account, the Royals have a little better than even odds of making the playoffs. Baseball Prospectus’s Playoff Odds Report gives KC a 42.3 percent chance of getting there. So if you want to peg the Royals somewhere around 50-50, that’s a decent place to start. And if you think about Kansas City’s roster — one with strengths but also significant weaknesses — that makes even more sense.On the plus side, the Royals are an elite defensive team. According to Baseball Info Solutions’ Defensive Runs Saved stat, KC has fielded the second-best defense in the American League. By Ultimate Zone Rating, the Royals actually lead all of baseball, and by a wide margin. The outfield is particularly impressive: The combination of Jarrod Dyson and Lorenzo Cain has been extremely effective in chasing down fly balls in the gaps. Meanwhile, Alex Gordon has been a force of nature in left field, the best in all of baseball by pretty much any advanced metric. He’s pretty good by Fancy Plays Over Replacement too.Your browser does not support iframes.That airtight defense has made an already strong pitching staff look even better. Closer Greg Holland and righty setup men Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera have combined to allow just one home run in 89 innings pitched this season.Davis in particular has been a revelation. Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the controversial December 2012 blockbuster, Davis was viewed as a throw-in, with James Shields and Wil Myers being the keys to the deal. After messing around with Davis as a starter last year, the Royals plopped him back into the role in which he excelled with Tampa Bay two years ago. So far this year, he has been right there with Sean Doolittle, Koji Uehara, Dellin Betances and one or two others for the title of best reliever in the American League. His season line: 31.1 innings pitched, 1.15 ERA, 52 strikeouts, and zero extra-base hits allowed.The starting rotation has flourished lately, too. Shields has been steady as expected, though his numbers are actually down slightly from recent years. But he’s received ample support, from 23-year-old fireballer Yordano Ventura (who leads all KC starters in fielding independent pitching), free-agent pickup Jason Vargas (tops in innings pitched), and Danny Duffy (tops in beating long odds, having come back from Tommy John surgery, and at one point nearly quitting baseball entirely).The big question revolves around the team’s offense. Just 13 days ago, the Royals sat in last place in the AL Central, and also last in the AL in slugging percentage, home runs and runs scored. Some of the team’s biggest slumpers came alive during the streak, especially Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas. Still, those players, along with talented but disappointing first baseman Eric Hosmer, have fallen well short of expectations in 2014, and KC still owns the third-lowest-scoring offense in the American League even after its recent explosion. The Royals almost certainly won’t be sellers any more at the trade deadline, not after this streak. Whether they’ll be buyers — to the point of possibly benching or jettisoning current players once viewed as future franchise cornerstones — remains an open question.Still, it’s a great question to get to ask. After nearly three decades in the wilderness, the Royals now have a legitimate shot to see October’s spotlight. It’s about damn time. The Detroit Tigers nipped the Kansas City Royals 2-1 in the final game of a four-game series Thursday. That win snapped a 10-game winning streak for KC, but even with that setback the Royals lead the American League Central Division by half a game. In late June. This is not a drill.If the baseball world seems shocked by the Royals’ sudden success, the franchise’s recent history may explain why. When the Royals beat the Tigers on Tuesday in the second game of their showdown for AL Central supremacy, the victory marked the first time the Royals had owned sole possession of first place since May 1, 2013.Of course, downtrodden teams always have a better chance to claim bragging rights early in the season, when hot starts and small sample sizes can skew what we’re seeing. So consider this: The last time the Royals were in first place after June 1 was all the way back in 2003. That year, Kansas City preyed on a weak AL Central — one dragged down by a 119-loss Tigers squad and no elite teams — to own a share of first as late as Aug. 20. They ended the season seven games off the pace at 83-79, a lukewarm showing for most franchises. For the Royals, the finish was almost something to celebrate. Kansas City hasn’t made the playoffs since 1985, the longest postseason drought for any major league team by a span of eight years.Now here’s the good news for Royals fans: Teams that win 10 straight games in a single season stand a good chance of making the playoffs. Which means that for the first time since “Careless Whisper” wasn’t at all ironic, the Royals could crack the postseason.Going back to 1995, the first year of the wild card,1The wild card was supposed to debut in 1994. But … well, you know. we looked at all teams that had a streak lasting at least one game (you gotta start somewhere), to see how often those streaks portended October baseball. Here are the results:As you can see, every team passed through streaks of one, two and three wins, and all but four teams passed through a streak of four wins. By this measure, with a 10-win streak the Royals have about a 55 percent chance of making the playoffs.2You’ll notice that it appears that a team is more likely to make the playoffs if it’s had an 11-game win streak than if it’s had a 12-game win streak. That’s just one of those weird quirks that can happen due to randomness in a small sample.It’s not quite that simple, though. Before their streak began, the Royals’ record only stood at 29-32, so they may not be totally representative of the type of team that tends to have 10-game win streaks. To examine that further, we looked at historical winning streaks of a given length since 1995 and tracked what each team’s regressed winning percentage was before the streak started (that is, we added 67 games of .500 baseball — 33.5 wins and 33.5 losses — to each team’s record at the time).3Regressed winning percentages add 67 games of .500 ball because that’s the number of games necessary for a team’s observed record to be half skill and half luck. (We know this by comparing the distribution of actual baseball teams’ records to the spread we’d see if every team was equal and each game was decided by a coin flip.) We used regressed winning percentages here so that every pre-streak winning percentage would be on the same footing, no matter when in the season the streak began. Otherwise, if one team started its streak early in the season, and another started it late, a straight average would weigh the two winning percentages equally even though the latter is much more indicative of what we’re trying to measure than the former. By regressing the records, we can make an apples-to-apples comparison between the streaks, no matter when in the season they occurred. We also recorded each team’s regressed winning percentage from the previous season. The results: read more

LeBron May Know Best About When The NewLook Cavs Have Gelled

LeBron May Know Best About When The NewLook Cavs Have Gelled

LeBron James predicted the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, featuring himself and new Cav Kevin Love, would take a while to hit their stride. (“A couple of months and maybe a few,” as he put it last month.) He appears to have been correct: After starting 19-20 — with enough ups and downs that at times some commentators prematurely declared the Cavs to have gelled — Cleveland has won eight straight games, including impressive victories against the Clippers, Bulls, Thunder and Trail Blazers.We’re pretty sure that when James made that prediction, he wasn’t running regressions on historical NBA data. That’s because we tried, and we couldn’t find much evidence to back up the conventional wisdom.It makes sense that teams with lots of new players in major roles would get better during the season, as the new teammates get used to playing with one another. There just isn’t much statistical evidence to back up that theory — partly because it’s unusual for a team as good as Cleveland to rely so heavily on new arrivals.To study whether teams like Cleveland gel later in the season than more stable clubs like San Antonio, we looked at the fate of 939 older teams — those that played 82-game seasons back to 1978. To estimate how much of their contribution they were getting from newbies, we divided the total wins above replacement (WAR) of new players by the team total, omitting players who were below replacement value. Then we divided up the first 80 games of each season into 10 eight-game buckets — omitting the last two games because some teams rest starters — and checked how each team did, in each bucket, based on their opponent-adjusted point differential.There wasn’t a meaningful pattern. For instance, teams that peaked earliest, in the first eight games of the season, got an average of 20 percent of their WAR from new players. Teams that peaked in the middle of the season got an average of a little over 25 percent of WAR. But then teams that peaked between Game 49 and Game 80 averaged a contribution of about 21 percent of WAR from newbies.Part of the problem we had is that there haven’t been many teams that relied on new players as much as the Cavs do. They’ve gotten 63 percent of their WAR from new guys. That’s more than all but 48 teams in our data set — a group that doesn’t include James’s first Miami team, which got 57 percent of WAR from new players (the Heat peaked between Games 17 and 24). And most of those teams were lousy clubs, presumably rebuilding with rookies and cheap castoffs. Their average Pythagorean winning percentage was 36.3 percent.We nonetheless zoomed in on teams similar to Cleveland and found there is a small pattern of playing worse early and better at midseason, which fits the conventional wisdom. But it’s likely just noise. The only statistically significant difference was for the final 10-game chunk we studied, in which teams like the Cavs did a lot worse than average — which runs counter to the conventional wisdom of gelling and improving with time playing together.The lesson seems to be that a team starring James, Love and Kyrie Irving playing together for the first time might really need some time to gel, but there aren’t enough teams like the 2014-15 Cavaliers to say that their experience is typical. (One other possible reason it’s hard to detect much of a relationship: Some teams — like the Cavs — get new contributors at the start of the season, while others start playing rookies and midseason trade acquisitions late in seasons that are lost causes.)As is often the case in sports analysis, we have to trade off precision for sample size, and in this case the sample of teams like the Cavs is too small for the stats to beat the intuitive prediction of James. read more

Barcelona vs Juventus Is The Strongest Champions League Final Ever

Barcelona vs Juventus Is The Strongest Champions League Final Ever

1999Man. U.England Barcelona will take on Italian side Juventus in the Champions League final Saturday, and it may well be the strongest Champions League final ever. The sum of Barcelona and Juventus’s Elo ratings, according to the Football Club Elo Ratings, is higher than any final in history. (We love Elo around here — we’ve used it to explore the NBA, the NFL, chess and even Scrabble. Teams gain points for wins and lose them for losses. The higher your rating, the better.) You can see all this data from Champions League — known as the European Cup before 1992 — finals in the table at the top of this post.1One may suspect that some ratings inflation is responsible for the strength of this and a few other recent finals. However, a simple regression reveals only a very weak inflationary trend. One reason for the strength of many recent finals may be increasing inequality — the gulf between the great teams and the average ones is likely widening. Also note that the 1974 final was replayed, hence its appearing twice. And if a few totals look off, that’s because of rounding.Juventus won Serie A by a full 17 points over second-place Roma, and its average league game was a 1.3-goal victory. And it’s fourth in the world according to Elo — only Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are rated higher. This would be Juventus’s third title.But Barcelona is beyond strong — so much so that it’s nearly unprecedented. It’s currently top-ranked in Europe and, by Elo, the strongest team to ever appear in a Champions League final. This would be Barça’s fifth title. 1988PSV EindhovenNetherlands 1972AjaxNetherlands 2009BarcelonaSpain YEARTEAMCOUNTRY 1967CelticScotland 2010Inter MilanItaly 2013Bayern MunichGermany And both teams are at near-historic peaks. Unsurprisingly, given the trophies it’s won already this year, Barcelona has shot up since the beginning of 2015 and is just about one win away from achieving the highest Elo rating in club history. Ditto Juventus, which is in its finest form in more than 15 years. It helps that both teams have won two major trophies already this year — whoever wins the Champ League final will complete a rare “treble.” (This has happened only seven times in European soccer, including once for Barça, shown in the table.)Oh, right, and there’s this Lionel Messi fellow, who plays for Barcelona. The game could serve as a popular referendum on his status as the greatest footballer of all time. If he scores in the match, he’ll be the first to do so in three Champions League finals, and he will lead outright this year’s competition in scoring, edging out Cristiano Ronaldo. And after seeing this Messi goal in the Copa del Rey final last Saturday, I’m tempted to just throw all these spreadsheets out the window.The market odds for the game have, as I write, settled around 4-to-11 for favorite Barcelona and 9-to-4 for underdog Juventus — implying a roughly 70 percent chance of a Barça victory. That’s right in line with what the Elo ratings imply — about a 71 percent chance of a win for Barcelona. Just because it’s the strongest Champions League final ever doesn’t mean it’ll be the most competitive. read more

Ohio State athletics selfreported nearly double violations compared to others in Big

Ohio State athletics selfreported nearly double violations compared to others in Big

The Ohio State athletic department self-reported 24 minor violations in the latter half of 2013, about double the amount reported by any of five other Big Ten schools.The Lantern requested all self-reported NCAA violations occurring from June to December 2013 for every Big Ten school except Northwestern, March 16. As of Monday, records were received from Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois and Minnesota.Northwestern is a private university and is not required to provide public records.Representatives from Michigan, Indiana and Iowa acknowledged and were still processing The Lantern’s request as of Monday. Penn State representatives did not respond to multiple emails requesting the records. Nebraska denied the release of records.“Such records are not subject to disclosure under the Nebraska public records statutes, and therefore, will not be provided to you,” John Wiltse, acting records director for the University of Nebraska said in an emailed statement.Of the records received, the vast majority — totaling 22 violations — were for impermissible contact to prospective student athletes and/or prospective athletes’ parents by an athletic department staff member. BenefitsAside from communicating with prospective student-athletes, there were eight reports of NCAA violations related to athletes receiving impermissible benefits. OSU did not report any violations involving impermissible benefits during the final six months of 2013.At Wisconsin, four incoming freshmen men’s and women’s golf student-athletes participated in a free round of golf before classes began, thus they were still considered potential student-athletes.Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota each reported two violations related to benefits.An Illinois women’s tennis coach provided a prospective athlete with a personalized cookie cake who then tweeted a picture of it resulting in a reported violation.Also at Illinois, a university employed tutor loaned a book to a non-scholarship football student-athlete.Purdue reported an incident in which a student-athlete shipped personal belongings using a university-expensed FedEx account and a second where the university paid for lodging for the parents of a prospective student-athlete before the athlete’s official visit.A Minnesota men’s golf coach bought a meal for a club coach and a women’s golf coach gave a prospective athlete’s father a shirt during a visit. However, the father sent payment for the shirt the following day.Michigan State reported one benefits violation where a high school coach received more than two complimentary admissions to a home athletics event.Though OSU did report any improper benefits in the second half of 2013, the university is familiar with this type of violation.OSU created an Office of Compliance in February 2012 following the “Tattoo-Gate” scandal, which led to the resignation of football coach Jim Tressel, the departure of former Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a list of NCAA sanctions which included a one-year bowl ban and vacated all wins from the 2010 season.On Dec. 23, 2010, the NCAA suspended Pryor, running back Dan Herron, receiver DeVier Posey, offensive tackle Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas – all of whom played for the Buckeyes at the time – for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling memorabilia and receiving improper benefits from Eddie Rife, owner of Fine Line Ink tattoo parlor. Linebacker Jordan Whiting also received a one-game ban. Text messagesIn addition to phone calls, 10 reported violations from the five other schools in the conference were for text messages, compared to one for OSU.A women’s volleyball coach reportedly replied to a text message from a prospective student-athlete, mistakenly thinking the message was an email.Wisconsin and Purdue each reported one impermissible text message, while Minnesota and Illinois each reported two, and Michigan State reported three. VisitsNine violations were reported in relation to prospective student-athletes’ official visits. Purdue reported one. Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan State and OSU each reported two violations.Illinois, Michigan State and OSU reported visits with prospective student-athletes that were made public through social media, in violation of NCAA policy.Don Gerard, the mayor of Champaign, Illinois, and a facilities manager at the university, tweeted about a men’s basketball recruit visit.Members of the OSU synchronized swimming team posted photos of a prospective student-athlete they were hosting on Facebook and Instagram that a coach also commented on.In addition, Purdue and OSU both hosted potential athletes on official visits before those students were registered either with the NCAA Eligibility Center or the university’s institutional request list. Email and social mediaIn the way of digital communication, OSU, Illinois and Wisconsin each reported one email correspondence in violation of NCAA policy.Minnesota also reported two incidents of coaches reaching out to prospective athletes on Facebook prior to the allowed date for communication to be made.Similarly, OSU reported a women’s golf coach accepting a Facebook friend request from a 2016 prospective student-athlete before the permissible date for such communication. MailOSU reported two impermissible mailings sent to prospective student-athletes while Minnesota reported one.An OSU men’s volleyball coach sent letters to two prospective athletes that promised them athletic-related financial aid before they were high school seniors and a field hockey coach “inadvertently” sent recruiting materials to a 2016 prospective student-athlete.Minnesota marketing sent impermissible recruiting material to a potential student-athlete. Phone callsThere were 11 total reported violations for impermissible phone calls, six of which were reported by OSU.The OSU Compliance Office determined there were multiple phone calls by football team staff members to prospective student-athletes and/or their parents. The report says they were the result of inadvertent “pocket dials.”OSU’s women’s soccer, wrestling, women’s lacrosse, field hockey and women’s volleyball teams all reported at least one occurrence of an impermissible phone call to a prospective student-athlete.Minnesota reported two events of impermissible phone calls to prospective student-athletes and Illinois reported one which was an accident.Michigan State reported two impermissible phone calls, one for an assistant women’s track and field coach who exceeded the number of permissible phone calls to a prospective student athlete.A Michigan State assistant coach also placed an impermissible call to a prospective student-athlete. Other ViolationsThe Minnesota Office of Student Finance did not have squad lists signed and on file prior to the first competition for women’s tennis, women’s golf and men’s golf.A Wisconsin assistant coach posted a link on an online wrestling forum to an article stating that a potential student-athlete made a verbal commitment to the university.A member of the OSU football coaching staff reportedly used smokeless tobacco product during a game, violating NCAA bylaws.Michigan State reported a violation after a news article involving a prospective student athlete were posted to Michigan State’s Pinterest page. EligibilityWisconsin reported two violations in relation to players’ eligibility while Illinois and OSU each reported one.Two incoming prospective OSU student-athletes, one in men’s soccer and the other in women’s volleyball, participated in voluntary workouts conducted by an OSU strength coach while not enrolled at the university.An Illinois football player competed in the first five games of the season while not eligible because he didn’t have the necessary percent of degree completed to meet requirements.A football player and a member of the men’s basketball team at Wisconsin each competed while enrolled in less than 12 credit hours. At Wisconsin, a member of the women’s swimming team practiced with the team more than 45 days after she did not have certification of amateur status. read more

Frank Epitropoulos leaves Ohio State football program

Frank Epitropoulos leaves Ohio State football program

As Ohio State’s 2014 training camp continues, one Buckeye’s career has ended.Redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Frank Epitropoulos, an Upper Arlington, Ohio, native, has decided to end his time with the OSU football team to focus on his pre-medical/dental academic program, according to an OSU press release.In the release, Epitropoulos expressed his gratitude before explaining his decision to leave the team.“I want to thank my teammates and coaching staff for all of their help and support. I wish them the best this season,” Epitropoulos said. “I love being an Ohio State Buckeye, but I am also competing to get into medical school and that is very important to me and my family. I am already in my third year at Ohio State and the process to begin applying to medical schools is not far off. After consulting with my family, I have therefore decided to end my athletic career so I can focus solely on academics.”Epitropoulos played in four games for the Buckeyes during his redshirt-freshman season in 2013.OSU also confirmed a couple of training camp injuries in its most recent release.Following a tweet from the linebacker yesterday, OSU confirmed that freshman linebacker Kyle Berger has torn his ACL and is set for surgery next week. In addition, OSU confirmed that freshman defensive lineman Dylan Thompson has a knee injury that will not require surgery.According to the release, both players are out indefinitely.OSU is set to continue training camp from the Ackerman Road fields throughout the remainder of this week. read more

Mens Soccer Buckeyes back home to battle South Florida

Mens Soccer Buckeyes back home to battle South Florida

Ohio State head coach Brian Maisonneuve speaks to the media during his introductory press conference on April 26, 2018. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State AthleticsThe Ohio State men’s soccer team is back on the pitch Friday to take on the University of South Florida at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.The Buckeyes (1-3-0) will hope to bounce back after dropping two games last weekend at the Dayton Classic.“We’re still improving. It’s a long process, so [we’re] really trying to bounce back. I think we were unfortunate not to get at least one win this past weekend,” redshirt senior midfielder Brady Blackwell said. “We played pretty well overall, we just couldn’t put a goal away.”Head coach Brian Maisonneuve also cited a mix of concussions, injuries and sickness as things that his team is trying to overcome at this stage of the year.On the other hand, Maisonneuve said these injuries have given some of the younger players on the team a chance to step up.“The good news is some guys are getting some minutes that will definitely pay off down the road,” Maisonneuve said. “The hard part is we’ve had to shuffle a couple things around, which is part of the game, but, again, we got a pretty young team, so when we have to make those changes, there’s going to be some growing pains.”South Florida is winless on the year, but Ohio State must caution against taking the Bulls lightly. South Florida’s schedule has played a large role in the team’s record, opening the season with losses to Michigan, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Creighton.The Spartans are ranked third in the nation, according to the United Soccer Coaches Poll. Creighton was ranked 20th at the time of their match with South Florida, but have dropped out of the top 25 this week, while Michigan received votes for a top 25 ranking.“They’re the best 0-4 team I’ve ever seen in college soccer,” Maisonneuve said. “They’ve been in every game if not outplayed other teams, so they’re going to be the biggest challenge we’ve had so far this year, for sure.”Senior forward Tomasz Skublak tallied the only goal of the season thus far for the Bulls, scoring in their most recent match against Creighton.Junior goalkeeper Harrison Devenish-Meares, a native of Australia, has compiled a 1.50 goals against average through their first four matches.“They’re a good possession team, they’re very mature in what they do, physically they’re soccer strong, if that makes any sense, and they make good decisions,” Maisonneuve said.As far as assessing his own team, Maisonneuve stressed the feeling of improvement that he and his players have noticed.“Training’s are better, games are better, our shape is better, our decision making is better, so we’re definitely improving, and they definitely feel it coming,” Maisonneuve said.Ohio State will face South Florida at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. read more

Baseball Ohio State falls big to Lipscomb in 93 loss Saturday

Baseball Ohio State falls big to Lipscomb in 93 loss Saturday

Ohio State junior Noah West (8) runs towards third base as he scores the first run of the game against the Lipscomb Bison on March 15, 2019 at Bill Davis Stadium. Credit: Sal Marandino | For The LanternThe Ohio State baseball team was plagued by sloppy play, as it dropped Game 2 at home to Lipscomb.Ohio State (8-10) fell to Lipscomb (10-7) 9-3. In a game that included 17 walks, Bisons sophomore pitcher Max Habegger provided consistent pitching to keep the Buckeyes at bay to record his second win of the year.  Habegger entered the game in the sixth inning, with Lipscomb leading 5-2. He would go on to strikeout six batters in three innings of work.“Their guys came in and executed and we got out pitched in the backend of the ballgame,” Ohio State head coach Greg Beals said. After sophomore starting pitcher Noah Thompson walked five batters and provided the Buckeyes with multiple scoring opportunities, Habegger did not surrender a single walk.“We were offensively in a couple positions where we could’ve made a difference,” Beals said. The Ohio State pitching staff hit two batters and walked 12, the most this season.Beals noted that his team only surrendered four free bases in the win on Friday. Two walks and an error put Ohio State sophomore pitcher Griffan Smith in a one-out jam in the first inning. With the bases loaded, a hard ground ball hit to redshirt junior second baseman Matt Carpenter resulted in a double play to prevent any damage. Three consecutive walks loaded the bases for the Buckeyes with one out in the bottom of the second inning. Thompson struck out the next two batters in order to keep the game scoreless. A diving catch by Lipscomb sophomore center fielder Maddux Houghton kept the game hitless after three innings. After Thompson’s fifth walk of the game, the Buckeyes had the bases loaded for the second time in the game. A sacrifice fly ball by redshirt senior designated hitter Nate Romans broke the deadlock and allowed senior left fielder Brady Cherry to score the first run of the game. Thompson was able to prevent any further damage in the inning. He would finish the game with one run allowed and one hit in four innings pitched.A pair of walks brought Smith’s total up to six walks on the day and put runners on first and second with two outs. A double off the wall in left center field by redshirt senior left fielder Tevin Symonette brought in two runs to take the lead.Symonette scored off a double by senior third baseman Zeke Dodson to increase the score to 3-1 before Smith could record the third out by strikeout to stop the bleeding. Smith would finish the game with three earned runs and two hits in five innings pitched. Coming into the game with only five walks allowed on the season, he walked six against Lipscomb. Ohio State junior right fielder Dominic Canzone was able to bring in junior shortstop Noah West with a sacrifice fly ball to right field, cutting the deficit in half. After a wild pitch allowed another run to score, a blooper to center field by junior catcher Jarrett O’Leary resulted in a single and another run, increasing Lipscomb’s lead to three heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. A one-out double off the wall in right field by West put a runner in scoring position for the Buckeyes. Canzone produced a big two-out triple off the center field wall to make the score 5-3 through seven innings. A silver lining for the Buckeyes came in the eighth inning when senior second baseman Kobie Foppe pinch hit for Romans and recorded his third hit of the season on a two-out single. “I’ll take anything at this point right now. I just want to see something go through. Anything. A little bit of confidence will help out,” Foppe said.Foppe had come into the game hitting only .056 on the season. After a single and a pair of walks loaded the bases with no outs, Lipscomb senior first baseman Cade Sorrells crushed a grand slam down the right field line to balloon the score to 9-3 in the ninth inning. Ohio State and Lipscomb will play for the series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. read more

Football Ohio State quarterbacks flash potential but lack consistency in Spring Game

Football Ohio State quarterbacks flash potential but lack consistency in Spring Game

Sophomore quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs down the field in the first half of the 2019 Spring Game on April 13. Gray beat Scarlet 35-17. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorSophomore Justin Fields and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin traded their final blows of the spring in the quarterback battle Saturday, although the “blows” were few and far between.Fields completed less than half his throws but flashed great running ability, while the Baldwin fared better through the air in terms of yardage and completion percentage, but threw two interceptions and recorded a fumble.“They both flashed at times, still a work in progress,” head coach Ryan Day said. “I thought that they gave some of the receivers a chance at times.”Both athletes provided inklings of their full potential.Fields connected with senior wide receiver Binjimen Victor for a 98-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The pass traveled 38 yards downfield, thrown up the right sideline directly into Victor’s arms overtop diving sophomore cornerback Lloyd McFarquhar.This came a few drives after Fields showcased his running potential by outracing Team Scarlet’s defense for a five-yard read option touchdown run. “I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface,” Fields said. “I know I can be better, I’ve done better at practice, of course there’s always room to improve so I’m just gonna continue to work.”Baldwin threw a solid downfield pass of his own in the back of the endzone to freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson, and finished the more accurate passer, connecting on 20 of his 36 pass attempts.Inconsistencies persisted in a number of Baldwin’s throws, however. A 40-yard pass to redshirt senior wide receiver K.J. Hill was underthrown, even though it was caught. Another ball intended for Wilson went sailing out-of-bounds a few plays later.That’s without bringing up the two interceptions, one thrown behind freshman H-back Jaelen Gill and another ill-advised toss into double coverage.“I thought Matthew made a couple really nice throws down the field,” Day said. “We turned the ball over, threw it to them, which is good for the defense.”While Fields threw likely the best pass of the day on the Victor touchdown, a 4-of-13 finish through the air leaves much to be desired. The “thud” tackling design of the Spring Game also limited what he could do on the ground, but Fields finished with 38 yards rushing, 30 of which came on one play, and the score.“Sometimes it’s hard when you’re not in the tackle situation, is it a sack, is it not,” Day said. “Justin, he can kinda create on the edge a little bit, didn’t get a chance to see that as much.”Baldwin’s never taken a snap in a collegiate game, and Fields hasn’t started in any. Consistency takes refinement, and Day recognizes both quarterbacks are still new to the collegiate game.That greenness likely contributed to many of Saturday’s struggles in the passing game.“It’s one thing to say it, it’s one thing to see it on film, it’s another thing to do it in the 7-on-7 when there’s no rush, and then when the rush is going,” Day said. “There’s nothing that replaces experience. The more these guys get a chance to play and run the offense, the better they’ll be.”Both quarterbacks will try and continue improving heading into the fall. Day says the competition is still open.“I don’t really know right now [who the leader is],” Day said. “I don’t think, right now, that we’re gonna make a decision on that. I think it’ll continue through the preseason.” read more

Serviceman killed in firearm incident at Highland weapons range

Serviceman killed in firearm incident at Highland weapons range

first_imgThe family of the victim has been informed and police confirmed that he was not from the local area.Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, said it was a tragic incident, adding: “My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the person who has died.”It is another important reminder of the often difficult and dangerous job our Armed Forces do every day.”Theresa May used Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons to pass on her condolences to the serviceman’s family.The training facility is used by the RAF and the Army and has a rifle range and small arms range, as well as bombing ranges for aircraft. It is also used by US and other Nato air forces for bombing and strafing practice.Alasdair Rhind, deputy leader of Highland Council, said the site had a very good safety record.But Dr Paul Monaghan, the local SNP MP, said he was concerned that staff cuts at the base could have increased the risks to the general public.He added: “Since the year 2000, 135 deaths have taken place involving military personnel on training or on exercise. Eleven of these deaths have taken place during live fire exercises. RAF Tain Police speak to a driver at the gates of RAF TainCredit:Reuters 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 red flag flies at RAF baseCredit:Reuterscenter_img RAF Tain “I have some outstanding concerns about the management of RAF Tain and staffing reductions that appear to increase risks and reduce safety levels to the general public.”The death comes a little more than two months after a soldier was shot dead during a live-firing exercise at Otterburn Training Area in Northumberland.Pte Conor McPherson, 24, from Paisley, a member of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, was killed on August 22.Just over a month before that, a soldier died on a training exercise on the hottest day of the year in Brecon, South Wales. Joshua Hoole, from Ecclefechan, near Lockerbie, was training for the Platoon Sergeants’ Battle Course when he died on July 19. A soldier who was shot dead at an RAF weapons range was taking part in a night-time training exercise involving around 20 servicemen.Emergency services were called to RAF Tain, north of Inverness, at around 6pm on Tuesday and a cordon was set up around the base following the incident.Police Scotland, which is leading the investigation, would not say if the death was being treated as accidental and around 30 officers are involved in the inquiry at the base on the Dornoch Firth.Chief Insp Iain MacLelland, who confirmed a firearm was involved, said the nature of the incident would require a continued police presence in the area in the days ahead.He added: “We are keeping a very open mind into the cause of the incident. It is the very early stages of the investigation and as the investigation progresses we’ll continue to release further information into the nature of that inquiry.”last_img read more

Ministers set to announce plans for compulsory sex education lessons in schools

Ministers set to announce plans for compulsory sex education lessons in schools

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. Education Secretary Justine Greening  The Prime Minister has backed plans in make SRE part of the curriculumCredit:ANDY RAIN / POOL  Maria Miller MP has been leading the campaign for SRE in schoolsCredit:Amer Ghazzal/REX/Shutterstock Four-year-olds are likely to be taught about online safety, and about telling a trusted adult if they are asked to keep a secret that they are uncomfortable with. As part of the classes, it is understood that children will learn that “no means no”, and about exploitative relationships. Maria Miller MP, chair of the women and equalities select committee who has led the campaign  for sex education to be modernised, said it is “absolutely vital” to introduce sex education into primary schools.She told The Telegraph: “The average age of a child to have its first mobile phone is nine and we have to make sure that children understand the importance of relationships when dealing with the online world.  “Many children will be having smart phones and it is entirely right that children of that age should get age appropriate relationship education.”She said 46 MPs – including 25 Tory MPs and three select committee chairmen – now supported amendments to the Children and Social Work Bill to modernise sex education and that MPs would vote for the measures if the Government did not act.It follows a Daily Telegraph campaign which called for better sex and relationship education in schools, with the teaching materials that reflects the changes in technology affecting young people. A survey earlier this week by  Plan International UK, the children’s charity found that the vast majority of parents are in favour of educating children about sexual consent, pornography and “sexting”. Seven out of ten parents also backed the inclusion of education about different sexualities.  Jonathan Baggaley, PSHE Association Chief Executive: “We hope any announcement by Government this week will be a significant milestone to ensuring all children and young people receive the broad and balanced education they need to be prepared for life in modern Britain”Rachel Krys, co-director at the charity End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “This will represent a big step forward, it has been needed for years. Previous governments have been too scared to act in this area.” The Prime Minister has backed plans in make SRE part of the curriculum Education Secretary Justine Greening Credit:Mark Thomas/REX/Shutterstock Maria Miller MP has been leading the campaign for SRE in schools The Church of England will announce on Wednesday that they support the introduction of statutory sex education in schools.However, Andrea Williams, chief executive at Christian Concern, said that teaching SRE to four-year-olds would be “devastating” and risks “robbing them of their innocence”. “Children of four are should not be introduced to this. Schools need to be safe places where the innocence of children is protected,” she said. “Very often sex education introduces children to concepts far too soon, destroying their innocence. This is not something that the state should be laying down. We are very concerned about this.”On Tuesday the Prime Minister gave her backing to system to recognise threats to children from social media and sexual images on the internet.Asked if the PM was concerned that teaching in classes had not kept pace with threats from the internet, a Downing Street spokesman said: “There is a threat online and that threat we would all recognise has grown.“That does mean that now is the right time to look at how we can ensure children have the access they need to the teaching in those subjects.”Sarah Champion MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and one of the leading campaigners for SRE, said it is a “significant shift” that Downing Street now backs the plans.  Under the Government plans it will be compulsory to teach SRE in primary and secondary schools, although parents would be able opt their children out of classes. A Westminster source told The Daily Telegraph that the Government plans include provisions to ensure that “all education will need to be appropriate to age and religious background of pupils”.It comes after a group of MPs, including five former ministers, backed a change to the law that would see SRE made a compulsory in the National Curriculum.The change would see teenagers being what consent means in sexual relationships and how to protect themselves from sexting and online exploitation in compulsory classes. Currently only council-controlled secondary schools are required to teach children about sex in biology classes.There is no such requirement on academies or free schools which make up the majority of secondary schools in England.Ministers have faced mounting pressure from across the political spectrum to bring about the change following concerns children are being left ill-equipped to cope with the new realities of online porn, cyber bullying and sexting. Children as young as four will be given sex and relationship education to warn them about the dangers of the internet, under plans set to be announced by ministers.Teenagers will also be taught about how to protect themselves from “sexting” and porn, under the biggest overhaul to sex education in 17 years.The Government will table an amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill that will make “age appropriate” sex and relationship education (SRE) part of the national curriculum in primary and secondary schools, The Daily Telegraph understands.last_img read more

Tennis champion Boris Becker declared bankrupt

Tennis champion Boris Becker declared bankrupt

first_imgAdditional reporting by John Kite Boris Becker stretches to make a diving backhand return during the Men's singles semi final at Wimbledon in July 1985 In 2001 he was landed with divorce and paternity settlements totalling more than £20 million to his first wife, Barbara, and Angela Ermakova, the Russian model who had his baby following an encounter in the broom cupboard of a London restaurant.The following year Becker received a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion and was ordered to pay £2.5 million in back tax, fines, and costs after claiming Monaco as his main residence while spending much of his time in Munich. To a generation of tennis fans he will always be ‘Boom Boom’ Becker, the explosive young German who won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon three times – the first in 1985 as a mere 17-year-old.But after a sparkling tennis career, followed by one as a TV pundit for the sport, he has now added a rather less than glorious chapter to his CV, that of bankrupt.Becker, now 49, was declared bankrupt on Wednesday over undisclosed sums of money he has owed to the London-based private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co, since October 2015.And it must have come as little comfort to him that the judge who handed down the ruling reminisced over seeing him in action on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. And in 2012 a Spanish court judge ordered a house Becker had built for him in Majorca should be auctioned to pay a debt of £225,000 he owed a local landscape gardening company.In a separate civil court hearing, also in Palma, a judge ordered him to hand a further £345,000 to a local building firm that complained its bills for carpentry, electrical and plumbing jobs, and the laying of a basketball court, also went unpaid.Yesterday Arbuthnot Latham’s barrister Matthew Abraham argued there was a lack of evidence backing up Becker’s claims that the remortgaging of his current Majorcan property would shortly go ahead and enable him to pay his debts.Ms Registrar Derrett concluded, “with a degree of regret”, that there was a lack of credible evidence that his “substantial” debt would be paid soon and she refused to adjourn the case for a further 28 days.Agreeing to make an immediate bankruptcy order, the judge said: “I am not persuaded on the evidence before me that it can be described as credible evidence.”“It is not often the case that a professional person has a judgment (debt) outstanding against them since October 2015. This is a historic debt. Then in 2011 the Dubai property development to which he had lent his name, the Boris Becker Business Tower, went bust. Ms Derrett added of the former champion: “One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand.”When she was told during the hearing that Becker was now a television commentator, Ms Derrett replied that she knew perfectly who he was, adding: “I remember watching him play on Centre Court, which probably shows my age.”But even her memories of seeing Becker in his prime were not enough for her to allow for what his lawyers described as “a last chance” to pay the debt.When Mr Briggs argued that someone in Becker’s position would not benefit from being declared bankrupt, as it would have a detrimental impact on his professional image, she commented: “He should have thought about that a long time ago.”Becker himself questioned why Arbuthnot Latham were pursuing the claim against him, saying he would have paid the debt next month. In a statement he said: “My earnings are well publicised and it is clear that I have the means to repay this debt.  ​ The value of the asset in question far exceeds the debt owed to Arbuthnot Latham.​”​I intend to make an application to have this order set aside immediately. ​ ​ In the meantime, I will concentrate on my work and in particular my presenting duties at Wimbledon for the BBC and other international outlets. ​” John Briggs, Becker’s advocate, told the bankruptcy judge, Christine Derrett, that it was expected the deal would be approved by a Spanish bank in around a month.”I don’t want to play around in court. It is clearly in the interests (of Arbuthnot Latham) for there to be refinancing,” said Mr Briggs.Becker, who was the youngest player to win the men’s singles championship and went on to win it again in 1986 and 1989, was once estimated to be worth upwards of £100 million.But Mr Briggs conceded: “He is not a sophisticated individual when it comes to finances.”Indeed Becker’s abilities when it comes to financial matters have not been on a par with his skill on the court. Boris Becker, the German former tennis player  Following the bankruptcy declaration Becker’s remaining assets and property will be disposed of to pay his creditors.There is also the possibility they will seek any earnings he makes as a commentator at next month’s Wimbledon Championships to be used as payment towards his debts.The Bankruptcy and Companies Court heard that Becker, who has a home in Wimbledon, had offered to remortgage his €6 million property (£5.2m) in Majorca as part of a deal to pay off the debt. Boris Becker stretches to make a diving backhand return during the Men’s singles semi final at Wimbledon in July 1985Credit:Bob Martin/Getty Images Boris Becker, the German former tennis player Credit: EPA/JASON SZENES 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

Thousands of savers to unlock smallest pensions without paying fees

Thousands of savers to unlock smallest pensions without paying fees

first_imgFinancial adviser Alistair Cunningham said: “You shouldn’t need to get advice at all if the paperwork from providers was sufficiently clear. “There are three values which should really be made clear – the current value, the transfer value, and the value assuming the guarantees apply – which would be the open market cost of buying those benefits now.”A spokesman for the DWP said the documents would be “very clear” on what the pension-holder was giving up but could not say exactly what information the document would include.Annuity rates are currently extremely low, meaning savers would get a much smaller annual income with the same amount of cash under modern conditions compared to the amount paid out by the guarantee schemes, most of which are based on rates calculated in the 1980s and 1990s. The schemes also sometimes also provide benefits such as a spouse’s pension should the holder die.  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. Thousands of pensioners with the smallest pots will no longer have to pay for advice to transfer out of their scheme, the Government has announced. New rules which will be laid out in Parliament today will exempt thousands of people from rip-off advice fees which can reach more than £1,000.Savers with “guaranteed annuity rate” pensions worth less than £30,000 will be given a simple valuation of their pension and will be able to transfer out without receiving advice. The Government estimates that the change will save 12,000 people a year around £900 each. Around 1.5m savers have the “guaranteed annuity rates” in their pensions, which normally means they receive a much higher amount each year than they would with annuities calculated based on current rates.Those with more than £30,000 in one of these pensions must receive advice if they want to use pension freedoms to unlock their cash.But a lack of information from providers meant many of those with smaller pots were also being forced to take advice to find out what their pensions could be worth. The new rules mean all holders will receive a document setting out one figure for the cash value of their pension, as well as information about the benefits they would be giving up by transferring out.The “personalised risk warnings” will be short documents sent by providers to their customers. Those with larger pensions will also receive the documents but will still have to take advice if they decide to transfer out. The first batch will be sent out to 61,000 savers in April next year.The Department for Work and Pensions said it aimed to simplify the process and give holders more control over their savings. Minister for pensions and financial inclusion Guy Opperman said: “I want everyone to have freedom and choice when it comes to financing their retirement plans and this includes being able to choose whether or not advice is right for them.“The steps we are taking today will empower savers to take control of their options whilst still receiving the right level of information from their providers.”But experts warned that savers needed more information to make an informed decision.The new documents will not set out the projected overall value of the pension which the holder will be giving up by transferring out.last_img read more

Philip Hammond to launch public consultation on plastic waste tax

Philip Hammond to launch public consultation on plastic waste tax

first_imgA recent study estimated that nine in 10 of the world’s seabirds have pieces of plastic in their guts.The most durable plastic items, such as bottles, disposable nappies and beer holders, can take 450 years to biodegradeThe UK generates an estimated 35 million every year. Mr Hammond will also use his statement in the Commons to unveil a £20 million innovation fund for businesses and universities to develop the new technologies and approaches that will be needed to achieve their goal.”Single-use plastics waste is a scourge to our environment. From crisp packets to coffee cups, each year the UK produces millions of tonnes of waste which is neither recyclable nor biodegradable,” he said. Mr Hammond will also use his statement in the Commons to unveil a £20 million innovation fund for businesses and universities to develop the new technologies and approaches that will be needed to achieve their goal.  Credit:AFP Philip Hammond is to launch a public consultation on how the tax system can be used to tackle the nation’s plastic waste timebomb.It comes as Theresa May pledged to scrap all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 in the government’s 25 year Environmental Place.The Chancellor is set to use his first Spring Statement on Tuesday to call for evidence from green groups, industry and individuals as to how the Government can build on its plastic bag charge.In November he announced in the Budget that ministers would be looking at how the tax system could be used to help deliver the Government’s target.Each year more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced globally, and at least eight million tonnes ends up in the sea.  It is estimated that there is now a 1:2 ratio of plastic to plankton and, if left unchecked, plastic will outweigh fish by 2050. “We cannot, indeed must not, allow this situation to continue… I do fervently pray that you will all do your utmost to work together in the coming year to make real, substantial progress.”It could not be more critical that you succeed.”There are thought to be more than five trillion pieces of microplastic in the world’s oceans and the equivalent of one rubbish truck of plastic waste is being added to the sea every minute. By 2050 that will increase to four trucks every minute.  Philip Hammondcenter_img “We are determined to create an environment that is fit for future generations. By working with industry, innovators and the public I am confident we can bring about real change.”It is estimated that seafood eaters now ingest 11,000 pieces of plastic each year.Earlier this year the Prince of Wales spoke about the “nightmare” of plastic waste polluting the world’s oceans and said he feared it will get worse.In a speech at a meeting of environmentalists and business leaders at The British Academy in London, the prince spoke of his “deep frustration” at the world ignoring the problem and called on companies to make changes to cut their plastic waste. “The nightmare result of eight million tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year is set to get worse rather than better,” he told delegates.  plastic 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. Plastic trash on Kuta beach near Denpasar, on Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali.Credit:AFPlast_img read more