Month: September 2019

Kevin Love Broke Hand Doing Knuckle Pushups

Well, at least Kevin Love did not do an Amare Stoudemire and knowingly thrust his hand into harm’s way. But how the Minnesota Timberwolves all-star and Olympic forward broke his hand is almost as bizarre.Unlike Stoudemire, who was so frustrated after a playoff loss to the Miami Heat that he crashed his hand through a glass fire-hydrant case, causing a huge gash, Love accomplished his injury by, of all things, excercising.Yes, Lowe, the team revealed, fractured his hand doing knuckle push-ups with trainer Rob McClanaghan at his condo prior to the team’s practice. No surgery will be required and Yahoo Sports reports that Love could miss less time than first expected six to eight weeks.Here’s Love via a statement:“Yesterday, I had a post-practice commitment and decided to work out at my home with my personal trainer before heading to Target Center. While doing various pushups, including knuckle pushups, which are part of my regular workout routine, I hurt my hand. I immediately knew something was wrong and called head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam.“Although I’m disappointed that this injury happened, I will work extremely hard to stay in shape and return to the court as quickly as possible. We have added a lot of depth to our roster this season, and I have complete confidence in my teammates and coaching staff that they will step up and we will be successful during this time. I’m looking forward to supporting our team and helping out any way I can until I get back on the court.”Coach Rick Adelme said, “”I was just shocked. I couldn’t believe it. Here we’re trying to get ready and then we have something like this happen. I learned a long time ago. I’ve had so many injuries to good players, I’ve started to think maybe it’s me.”Any missed time by Love will be detrimental to a young team looking to make noticeable advances this season. Second-year forward Derrick Williams of Arizona — who had moments of outstanding play as a rookie — will assume many of the minutes available in Love’s absence. read more

Ichiro Suzuki Will Not Play For Japan In WBC

Ichiro Suzki of the New York Yankees, the best player to play in the Major Leagues, told Japanese baseball officials on Monday he has decided not to take part in next year’s World Baseball Classic.“I appreciate being asked to play for Japan again at the WBC,” Suzuki said. “But after the second tournament in 2009 I never considered playing in the third event. My feelings have not changed to this day, and it’s where things stand.”The 39-year-old Suzuki, who was instrumental in helping Japan win the WBC in 2006 and 2009, joins fellow Japanese major leaguers Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Norchika Aoki of he Milwaukee Brewers in opting out of the March 2-19 tournament.Suzuki, a free agent, was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Yankees in July. Yankees’ pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, another free agent, also said Monday he would not play in the 2013 WBC.Suzuki hit .322 in 67 games for the Yankees and was one of the team’s most consistent hitters.In the final of the 2009 WBC, Suzuki drove in the winning run with a line drive to center in the 10th inning as Japan beat South Korea 5-3 to claim its second straight title.With many major league players opting out, Japan will likely field a team made up entirely of players from the domestic professional league.Japan beat first-round WBC opponent Cuba in two exhibition games on the weekend by scores of 2-0 and 3-1 with players from the Central and Pacific leagues.Japan opens defense of its WBC title on March 2 in Pool A in Fukuoka, Japan, where it will face Cuba, China and a yet-to-be-determined qualifier. read more

Bernard Hopkins 48 Oldest Fighter to Capture a Major

Bernard Hopkins became the oldest fighter to capture a major boxing title Saturday night, defeating Tavoris Cloud in a unanimous 12-round decision to claim IBF light heavyweight championship in Brooklyn.“It feels good. It feels real,” the 48-year-old Hopkins said after the fight. “I’m going to Junior’s (Restaurant and) I’m going to have cheesecake.”Hopkins broke the record that he set when he was 47 years old and defeated Jean Pascal for the WBC light heavyweight title on May 21, 2011. But Hopkins maintained that his fight against 30-year-old Cloud was bigger because he was older.“Tonight was one of the bigger fights (in my career).”Hopkins, who has said that he will not fight past the age of 50, is optimistic what the next two years of his career has in store for him.“I don’t believe anybody in the 175(-pound) weight class and possibly the 168(-pound) class can beat me.”Hopkins, who was in the main event of an eight-fight card at the Barclays Center, improved his record to 53-6-2 after fighting in his 19th title bout. The 30-year-old Cloud suffered his first loss, falling to 19-1.The old school fighting style of Hopkins was a little too much for the new school style of Cloud. Hopkins controlled the bout by forcing a more patient and technical match against Cloud. Cloud appeared to never be able to get into a consistent rhythm. Hopkins was able to land multiple jabs to his face eventually causing a cut above the left eye of Cloud.“I have to throw a lot of substance (into fights). I’m fighting old school in a new world,” Hopkins said. “(I) have to learn how to adapt to what (the judges) are looking for. We knew a 30-year-old guy was not going to run a 48-year-old guy.”Hopkins threw 417 punches and landed 169 of them. Cloud threw 650 punches and connected on 139 of them.“I was only average tonight,” Cloud said. “He hit me with an elbow but I’m not complaining. It is what it is.”For now, Hopkins can enjoy as much Junior’s Restaurant cheesecake as he wants until he defends his title against his next opponent, who has yet to be determined. read more

Cam Newton Leads Panthers to Playoffs For 1st Time

Photo by nola.comAll the talk of Cam Newton’s status as a top-flight NFL quarterback can cease. All that was left for him to quiet critics was to lead his team into the playoffs. Sunday, he did just that, and in dramatic, heroic fashion, too.Needing a touchdown to defeat the New Orleans Saints, the Panthers got the ball at their 35 yard line with just 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, with no timeouts. Throw in that Newton had a bad ankle and Carolina’s top receiver, Steve Smith, was out with a knee injury.Still, Newton was unfazed. He told his teammates in the huddle before the drive: “Let’s get it done.”With calm and talent, Newton did just that. He had passed for just 116 yards to the point, but completed a 37-yard pass to Ted Ginn Jr. Then he fired to Greg Olsen for 14 yards. Newton spiked the ball to stop the clock. Then he threw the game-winning 14-yard touchdown pass to seldom-used Dominik Hixon, who made a diving catch that produced a 16-10 win and the Panthers’ first playoff berth since 2008.The building rocked.“We just kept fighting, kept pounding, kept getting after it,” Newton said. “We really knew we were one drive away. We were one play away.”That play will be etched in minds of Panther fans for a long time, for its significance and how close it was to not being a catch. Newton fired a laser where only Hixon could get to it. He extended himself, got his hands under the ball and maintained possession as he rolled over. The play was reviewed. . . and confirmed.”I was 99 percent sure it was a catch,” Hixon said with a grin.Ultimately, the win was about Newton.”Cam was very resilient,” coach Ron Rivera said. ”He struggled all day and he knows that. But he came through when we needed him.” read more

World Cup Anxiety Reaches Its Boiling Point For The USMNT

Since 1990, qualifying for the World Cup has seemed like a birthright for the U.S. men’s national team. In the three decades since it last failed to qualify for a World Cup (1986), all of England, France, Portugal, Uruguay and the Netherlands have missed the cut at least once. In fact, largely because of the comparatively easy qualification process for teams from this part of the world, only six countries have a longer active World Cup streak than the U.S.1Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Spain.That run may come to an end this year. After taking just 1 point from its last two matches, the U.S. is running dangerously close to being left at home when the World Cup convenes in Russia next year. What happens in the Americans’ high-stakes match against Panama in Orlando on Friday night will go a long way to determining that. Here are three three factors that will bring you up to speed on the match.1) Make no mistake — this one is really important.ESPN’s Soccer Power Index projects that if the USMNT can win, the side will have a 93 percent chance of making the tournament. But a loss cuts the U.S.’s chances down to 44 percent. Certainly defender Omar Gonzalez’s missed tackle was the biggest problem on this goal, but he was put in position to make this mistake because the U.S. midfield allowed a pass to be picked out under absolutely no pressure. The 4-4-2 formation gives the U.S. one fewer player to challenge opposition passers in midfield. What’s more, the U.S.’s back line has been shaky, which puts more pressure on the midfield to prevent the sort of attacking moves that can apply pressure on the defense.And in the last two games, the two center midfielders — first Darlington Nagbe and Michael Bradley, then Bradley and Kellyn Acosta — have been unable to disrupt opposing midfielders, who have connected on many direct forward passes. Against Costa Rica and Honduras, the U.S. conceded 21 direct attacking moves driven by long, forward passes through midfield.3I am defining direct attacks as attacking moves in which at least 60 percent of overall ball movement is directly toward goal and long forward passes as passes that travel at least 15 yards forward toward goal. In the four previous matches, the U.S. had conceded just 22 of these direct midfield attacks.The USMNT should be favored against Panama no matter the lineup, but a susceptibility to direct, central attacks doesn’t bode well. One or two good counterattacks could be enough to get Los Canaleros their result. The solution here could be some sort of single-striker system. By not playing two out-and-out-strikers, Arena would have flexibility to get another presser into midfield without limiting Pulisic positionally. Of course, this puts more of the burden on the 19-year-old to create goals by himself, but ultimately, what else is a superstar for if not that?Whatever he chooses, Arena needs to get this game right because a World Cup trip — as well as his legacy — may hang in the balance.Check out our latest club soccer predictions. In the home matches, Pulisic received 40 passes in the central area of the final third.2This refers to the area of the penalty box extended out to about 35 yards from goal. In the qualifiers on the road, he received just 11 in that area. At home, he has been free to drop back in buildup, receiving 30 passes in the defensive half, compared with 12 while away. Pulisic is distinctly a winger in away matches, with 63 percent of all his away receptions (40 out of 64) taking place in wide areas; in home matches, that figure is only 35 percent (43 out of 123).This is by design. With half the teams in the CONCACAF “Hex” qualifying group reaching the World Cup, a pattern of home wins and away draws is more than sufficient for a berth. In the recent away matches, the USMNT has taken a more conservative approach and kept Pulisic in his assigned position to protect the wing and offer a counterattacking outlet. Looking for wins at home, Arena has freed Pulisic to make plays either early in buildup (dropping back into the defensive half) or around the box (receiving passes in the center).The U.S.’s attack has thrived with such tactics, outscoring its opponents 8-2 in home matches. Even in the 0-2 loss to Costa Rica, the Americans led the expected goals tally 1.3 to 0.8, meaning that they had more opportunities despite the result. Panama was able to slow Pulisic down in its home fixture (a 1-1 draw), but he will be much harder to contain in a less tactically restricted role on Friday night — assuming that Arena and Pulisic continue this recent pattern.3) The U.S. needs to plug the holes in midfield.The U.S. lined up in a 4-4-2 formation in both of its last qualifying matches, with a pair of strikers in each (Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood vs. Costa Rica; Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris vs. Honduras). Two strikers, plus the use of Pulisic in a more aggressive role, should strengthen the attack, but Arena will need to tighten his midfield at the same time. The opening goal against Honduras shows why U.S. fans should be a little worried. Among the group of six in CONCACAF, Mexico has already punched its ticket to Russia, and Costa Rica needs only a single point from two matches to join El Tri. That leaves two remaining spots for the region: Third place gets the last automatic qualifier while fourth place will play in an inter-confederation playoff against either Australia or Syria. Panama is currently a point ahead of the U.S. in the table, and every team has two matches left to play. Here is how the result of this game will affect the various scenarios::A win for the U.S. against Panama would boost the Americans into the third guaranteed qualifying place with only a relatively easy trip to Trinidad and Tobago remaining. Any other result will leave the USMNT scoreboard-watching.If the two countries draw in Orlando, Panama will need only a win over an already qualified Costa Rica team to secure the third qualifying spot.A win for Panama would clinch World Cup qualification for Los Canaleros for the first time in their soccer history, leaving the U.S. sweating Honduras’s results in hope of landing in the fourth-place playoff.2) Home Pulisic is the best Pulisic.In such a huge match, the U.S. will be looking to its young superstar to step up. However, Christian Pulisic has been a very different kind of star in home and away matches. Since Bruce Arena took over for Jurgen Klinsmann, he has kept Pulisic on the wing in the team’s three away matches in CONCACAF qualifying (against Panama, Mexico and Honduras). But during the three qualifying home matches (against Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and Costa Rica), the Borussia Dortmund attacker has been free to roam infield in a free, creative role — and this has been true regardless of formation. In the three home matches, Pulisic had three goals and two assists. In the away matches, he had a clutch assist against Panama but has otherwise been kept off the scoresheet.Here’s a look at all of Pulisic’s pass receptions (home and away) in those six World Cup qualifying matches. read more

Skeptical Football Dynasties Perfect Kickers And A Weird NFL Rule

In last week’s column, I discussed why Peyton Manning’s comeback record is more impressive from a statistical standpoint than Tom Brady’s. Some people took issue with this — many Brady fans, of course, but also some disinterested parties who objected to using a binomial test to make a comparison between two above-average quarterbacks.1Let me rebut that objection as succinctly as I can: For Bayesian inference, understanding the prior probabilities of things is an important and necessary starting point, and getting beyond that is difficult (if possible at all). Some people suggested that I should calculate the difference between Brady and Manning using Brady’s comeback percentage as the baseline instead of league average. But I have no confidence in rates based on a sample of 25. I’m way more confident that Manning is better at comebacks than average than Brady is. And it’s not like that’s a meaningless thing to know: It correlates very well with other metrics that are more difficult to measure. In other words: Start with what we can know, and then go from there.And then, bam:Note to the Hacker Gods2According to Rene Descartes, if the creators of this universe are less than perfect, we have no basis to ever believe we know anything with certainty.: I can fight my own fights, OK? I don’t need your help — especially if you’re going to make it so obvious!If headlines are to be believed, Monday night could have been the beginning of the end: “Was this the end for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ dynasty?” asked Yahoo Sports’ Frank Schwab.This seems a bit premature to me. But the stakes are as high as they’ve been for the Patriots since, well, since Week 2. Since 1990, teams that won 12 or more games the previous year and started the season 2-2 have made the playoffs 52 percent of the time. That’s hardly the end of the world, but it makes next week’s game pretty high-leverage: Of those teams, the ones that won their next game made the playoffs 65 percent of the time, while those that lost only made it 30 percent of the time.But what’s at stake for the rest of us is pretty significant as well. We could be on the brink of losing the one thing in football we thought we knew with scientific certainty: that the Patriots are magic.These Patriots are one of the most interesting phenomena in modern sports. They’ve had 11 seasons with 10 or more wins in a row, good for the second-longest such streak in NFL history (and the longest in the salary-cap era):Understanding what’s been going on with the Patriots for the last decade and a half (particularly disentangling Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s effects on each other) is pretty key to understanding the post-salary-cap NFL.3Note that Peyton Manning is also riding a personal streak of 11 consecutive 10-plus-win seasons himself, over four different coaches between two teams — but it’s far more clear what’s going on with him.Chart of the weekIn their 41-17 thrashing of Tennessee, Indianapolis had exactly 41 pass attempts and 41 rushes. Balance! The Colts’ number of rushing attempts tied for third-most in the league last week, yet they gained only 2.56 yards per carry, good for fourth-worst.So let’s keep it simple and use this space for a fun demonstration of a football truism: How often a team runs the ball is mostly a function of whether it’s winning, rather than the other way around. In the chart below, I’ve organized plays by the quarter in which they occurred and what the score differential was at the time of the play, and showed the percentage of those plays that were passes as opposed to runs. (For example, the giant circle in the middle of the first-quarter plot tells us the percentage of passes called on plays from scrimmage when the game was tied in the first quarter: about 56 percent.)It’s like watching a trend line develop in the womb.As the game goes on, the pass-versus-run percentages become more and more a function of a team’s lead or deficit.Interestingly, the overall percentage of passes rises from about 56 percent in the first quarter to more than 64 percent in the second — regardless of whether a team is ahead or behind. That suggests that the trailing team tends to throw more often (presumably to help catch up), and the team that’s ahead also throws more often (maybe to try to put its opponent away). But this likely means there’s some inefficiency in there somewhere: If throwing more is better across the board, then coaches are probably calling too many runs in the first quarter. (Conversely, it’s technically possible that teams are throwing too often in the second.)In the third quarter, most teams are still throwing more often than they run, but the relationship between margin and play selection crystallizes quickly, and by the fourth quarter it’s very clear. Aside from some smallish outliers, there’s an incredibly steep (and mostly linear) trend between the two: Teams that are substantially down mostly pass, while teams that are way ahead mostly run.Bizarre NFL rule of the weekWhile contemplating San Francisco’s terrible decision to kick an extra point when down 2 points against Philadelphia, I came across an interesting stat: Since 2001, teams have scored on fourth-and-goal from 2 yards out only 38 percent of the time but have converted 2-point attempts (which occur at the 2 yard line) 48 percent of the time.I posed this to Twitter, and got many interesting responses, but here’s the money one:This led to a long discussion of exactly how “to-go” distances are measured.If you’re an NFL rules nerd (we are legion) but the official Rulebook just isn’t complicated or strange enough for you, there’s apparently a whole separate 37-page Guide for Statisticians. Here’s the relevant section:If any point of the football rests on or above any yard stripe, future action is to be computed from that yard line. However, if all of the football has been advanced beyond any yard stripe, future action is computed from the first yard line in advance of the football. The principle is to be followed on all spotting situations, regardless of down, with the following exceptions:1. In certain situations where there is less than a yard to gain for a first down, it may be necessary to spot the ball back one yard to conform with the principle that there must always be, for statistical purposes, at least one yard remaining to be gained for a first down. This principle also shall be applied when a team loses the ball to its opponent on downs.Well that explains it!OK, not really. But it’s interesting that the “yard stripe” is used to approximate the location of the ball and first-down line, rather than rounding or truncating the actual distance between the two. It’s unclear how these things are recorded in real life, but if stat-keepers are using the stripe instead of the chains, that means that identical to-go distances may be recorded differently depending on where the ball is on the field. And, in fact, shorter distances may be recorded as longer than longer ones.For example:A team carries the ball to the 43.9 yard line for a first down. For statistical purposes, the virtual ball location is at the 43, and the virtual first-down marker is at the 33. On the next down, the team carries it to the 36 exactly. Despite being only 2.1 yards from a first down by the chains, this is recorded as a second-and-3. So far so good, right?Now say the team gets the first down by rushing to the 32 yard line exactly. The new first-down line is the 22. On the ensuing play, a player runs to the 24.9 yard line. This will be recorded as a second-and-2, despite being 2.9 yards away.So in the one case you’ve left only 2.1 yards, but it is recorded as “and 3,” and in the other you’ve left 2.9 yards but it’s recorded as “and 2.” The only difference is where, between the stripes, the line of scrimmage is located. This makes no sense.But this shouldn’t be a problem anywhere near the goal, since the end-zone line is fixed. Therefore it does offer a hint at the fourth-and-goal-from-the-2 versus 2-point-conversion discrepancy. These fourth-and-2s could demand anything from 2 yards to 2.99 yards for a first down. But 2-point conversions are always 2 yards exactly. The difference between 2.99 yards and 2.00 yards is huge, making this a likely contributor to why 2-point conversions are successful more often.Kicking awards for Week 4I’ve had kickers on my mind a lot lately, so I came up with a fun way of rating MVK (“most valuable kickers”) for a given week. By plotting their points gained above expectation4This is similar to “Expected Points Added” or similar stats you might have seen, except this one is based only on the length of the kick and how often the kicker is expected to make it (not taking other factors like field position into account), based on a binomial probit regression. versus the amount they contributed to their team’s margin of victory, we get a chart like so:Most valuable kickerOur most valuable kicker of Week 4 is Randy Bullock of the Houston Texans. He converted three of three field goals — including ones of 50 and 55 yards — in a game his team won by 6 points, and led the league in points above expectation this week with 2.7. This performance was also pleasantly out of character for Bullock: Last year, in his first playing season, he made only one of five field goal attempts from the 50+ distance.Least valuable kickerThis is how good kickers are these days: Our least valuable kicker of the week is Shaun Suisham of Pittsburgh, who went one for two with his only miss coming from 50 yards. But that single miss was enough to make him the second-worst kicker of the week by expected points (the worst was Shayne Graham, who missed one from 41 yards) — and his team lost by 3 points, meaning his kick made the difference.Perfection watchIn 2003, Mike Vanderjagt — the “idiot kicker” who spent most of his career playing with Peyton Manning’s Colts — made 40 of 40 field goal attempts and 58 of 58 extra points (including the playoffs).5Granted, with a high-scoring Manning-led offense, he only made one attempt of more than 50 yards. This was only the second “perfect season” by a kicker over a full slate of regular-season games in history (the first was Gary Anderson in 1998), and we haven’t seen one since.Kickers now may have a harder time getting there, since they’re being asked to take shots from downtown way more often. But modern kickers have gotten so good that they’re up to the challenge, and that will just make it all the sweeter when one of them accomplishes it. Four games into this season, there are still 10 players who have a shot:Gunslinger of the weekPhiladelphia QB Nick Foles did not have a good day against San Francisco. He completed under 50 percent of his passes, for only 195 yards, two interceptions, and one glorious stalled drive that could have given his team the win but came up short. His Passer Rating was 42.3 and his QBR just 22.0.But Gunslinger of the Week doesn’t discriminate against QBs who have a bad day — and Foles slung it!His first interception came with 3:07 left in the third quarter with his team down 2 points on a second-and-2 throw that he chucked 48 yards downfield from his own 28. Forty-eight yards downfield is the best place to throw an interception: The pass is practically a punt! San Francisco started its next drive on its own 26 — likely farther back than if Foles had thrown incomplete twice and the Eagles had punted. And counterfactually, if the pass had found an Eagles receiver, the Eagles could have kicked a go-ahead field-goal (at the very least). Also second-and-2 is a great time to throw downfield. With all options on the table, second-and-short is the hardest down to defend.Foles’s second interception cost his team no more than an incompletion, coming on fourth-and-24 with just 47 seconds left, and I doubt anyone would criticize him for it. But I’d also like to praise the fact that he at least threw the ball 27 yards, meaning he would have gotten a first down if it had been completed. Quarterbacks who face fourth-and-long with the game on the line and dump it make the Gunslinger of the Week trophy weep.When Foles is behind, he throws downfield. This is sound strategy — it carries bigger rewards, smaller risks, and takes less time off the clock. And of all QBs in Week 4 who had 10 or more attempts with their teams behind, Foles threw the farthest downfield on average, and had the second-highest percentage of his pass attempts going past the first-down marker6Adjusted yardage for plays between the 20 yard line and the 10, and excluding plays inside the 10.:Gunslinger of the quarter-seasonAnd without further ado, the Gunslinger trophy for the first quarter-season goes to …Nick Foles.There have been some very good gunslingers so far this year, but none has been as successful as Foles, who led comeback wins of 17, 14 and 10 points in his first three games. Here’s a plot of how many times a quarterback won versus how far he threw downfield while trailing (for the 10 quarterbacks with the most trailing passes attempted):Foles’s passes travel the most yards downfield per attempt by far; Joe Flacco is second in that ranking (and he has also managed three wins).Gunslinging is how good QBs in bad spots still manage to win games.Rookie QB watchThis week we finally got a full slate of starting rookies, plus an appearance by a (probably) long-shot contender. Here’s how the “best rookie QB career prospects” leaderboard stands:Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles didn’t have a jaw-dropping day, but his 253 yards and a touchdown (Reminder: For rookies, interceptions and wins/losses matter little) in a loss to San Diego kept him on track.7If anything, that 78 percent completion percentage is too high! (Half-joking: Completion percentage has a negative coefficient in a predictive regression, but causation is unclear.) He’s in the game and he was drafted the highest — those are the dominating factors for now.Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater had a great win against Atlanta in which he threw for 317 yards and ran for a touchdown. But the data is still sketchy on how much a rookie quarterback’s ability to run is predictive of future success.And in a shocking rise from clipboard-holder to this hallowed list, the Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo went six for seven for 70 yards and a touchdown in garbage-time play in the Patriots’ loss to the Chiefs. This has some people writing what ought to be patently ridiculous articles about how Tom Brady may be done. The Patriots won 12 games last year, but starting 2-2 has people calling for heads. Buuuut … Belichick has pulled the trigger before. From dumping Randy Moss, to letting Wes Welker walk, to benching All-Star Drew Bledsoe for a young … Tom Brady. Could this be Brady’s “Showgirls” moment? Unlikely, but not impossible. But even good spot duty increases the chances that Garoppolo is a legit heir to the throne, and being the next leader of Belichick’s squad would be great for the rookie’s career prospects.Things aren’t looking great for Derek Carr, who would have topped this list a few weeks ago, but is now out with an injury. And he and his team have been playing so badly that his coach just got fired. Carr threw for just 146 yards against a not-great Miami team, his worst yardage of the season. But he also hit the four starts threshold that has — at least historically — been very predictive, so I won’t dismiss him entirely.Johnny Manziel had a bye.Most empirically significant game of Week 5All that rumination on the Patriots wasn’t just for show. The most empirically significant game of Week 5 is the Pats vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, in New England. In addition to all there is to learn from seeing the crossroads Patriots in action against a potentially very strong team, the Bengals are a worthy mystery in their own right.Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum.CLARIFICATION: We’ve clarified the text to show that Gary Anderson had a perfect kicking season in the 1998 regular season. (He missed a field goal in the playoffs that year.) read more

Katie Ledecky Is The Present And The Future Of Swimming

The black line is the average of the 50 best times at each distance since 2000. The top 200 times for each distance since 2000 are also plotted, with light orange lines each representing one swimmer.As you can see, Ledecky is pretty much the Secretariat of swimming.It’s a shame that the Olympic Games don’t include the women’s 1,500-meter event. Ledecky is so fast that her pace over 1,500 meters is faster than any other woman in history has managed over 800 meters. Wrap your head around that for a second: If Ledecky’s 1,500-meter record in 2015 were her only swim, she would have broken Rebecca Adlington’s 800-meter world record — that had stood since 2008 — in her first 800 meters.2Possibly in her last 800 meters, as well. I don’t have the 100-meter splits for that race, but her pace over both the first 800 and the last 700 meters was slightly faster than Adlington’s.With no real competition at distances of longer than 400 meters, we need new points of comparison. As I’ve written about before, her 800-meter record is marching its way through history as among the fastest swum by man or woman. She’s faster than the 1960 Olympic gold medal-winning men’s 800-meter relay (4×200) team, and she’s faster than any single person in history through 1975. She has cleared Tim Shaw and most of Stephen Holland’s records and could soon erase the Australian legend completely.There’s dominant and there’s dominant and there’s dominantEntering these Olympic games, at just 19 years old, Ledecky is already the most dominant freestyle swimmer in the modern era.3FINA’s downloadable archives go back to 2000. To demonstrate, I looked at the top swims by the 50 top male and female swimmers at each distance. Using those as a baseline, I charted the top swims by the top 200 swimmers for each gender at each distance, relative to the top 50 (in standard deviations). In essence, this shows us how good each swimmer is relative to the best that each event has had to offer this century, and allows us to compare across events and genders: The gray dots each represent one of the 500 swimmers (of any age) at each distance who posted the fastest times5The data goes back to 2000, though only those who posted their fastest times since 2010 are shown in this chart. and reflect those times versus the dates they were posted.Ledecky has favorable-looking trends — both over all races and for her personal bests — at every distance. She has set personal bests in the 100, 200 and 800 this year already, after having personal bests in the 50, 100, 800 and 1,500 last year. Her best events are flattening out a bit (as we would expect), but even there it is difficult to gauge because she has been so far ahead of the pack that she hasn’t been pushed.Even if Ledecky’s progression is normal, at 19 she should have years of improvement ahead. Generally, top female swimmers peak at older ages over shorter distances. The average age of a swimmer posting a personal best in the top 50 in a distance event (800m-1,500m) is 20. At middle distances (200-400m) it’s 22. At sprint distances (50-100m) it’s 25.6Specifically, those swimmers with one of the 50 best times since 2000 who posted it before 2014Ledecky’s consistent improvement at sprint distances, combined with her continuous, almost nonchalant dominance over longer distances, leaves me highly intrigued about the future possibilities.Could she be the first woman to swim 800 meters in under 8 minutes? How about the first person to set world records at four different distances since Tim Shaw more than 40 years ago? Those are both fair bets for the future — and unlikely but still on the table for these games.Beyond that, who knows? How about 1,500 meters in 15 minutes? Or becoming the first person to hold all five major distance records simultaneously since Shane Gould?She has a chance.We’re on the ground in Rio covering the 2016 Summer Olympics. Check out all our coverage here. “She has a chance.”That was the best the commentators at the 2012 Olympics could muster for the introduction of 15-year-old Katie Ledecky, who entered the finals of the 800-meter freestyle event as a virtual unknown. She had the third-fastest time in qualifying, but had no track record and no other medals in a year when the vaunted United States swim team ultimately won 31. Eight minutes, 15 seconds later, she was a gold medalist. Four years later, she is the most dominant swimmer on Earth.That Ledecky will repeat in the 800 meters this year is certain, save for whatever allowances we must make for the potential for injury or planet-killing asteroids. Her mark of 8:06.68 is over 7 seconds faster than any other woman in history. She hasn’t been challenged at this distance for so long that it’s unclear how fast she can go. She’s almost as much of a favorite in the 400-meter freestyle, where she owns the world record and is the first woman to swim the event consistently in under 4 minutes.1The first woman to swim 400 meters in under 4 minutes was Federica Pellegrini in 2009, prior to FINA’s ban on body-length and non-textile swimsuits. Since then, a sub-4-minute time has only been done by Ledecky. And despite being known as a distance swimmer, she is also the world champion in the 200-meter freestyle and the fourth-fastest woman in the event this decade.But Ledecky’s expected gold medal tally doesn’t do her justice. Not even close.Katie Ledecky is all aloneThere are swimmers with more versatile repertoires — Michael Phelps’s 18 golds (and counting) is safe for now — but Ledecky specializes in the stroke designed to get you from point A to point B as fast as possible. Her races and her career essentially follow the same pattern — the more she swims, the more she separates from the field: Ledecky’s performance at 800 meters is the most any swimmer has dominated any distance, followed by her performance at 1,500 meters. The next three most-dominant swims were all set in the controversial summer of 2009 record frenzy4In fact, Paul Biederman’s 200m, Lin Zhang’s 800m and Federica Pellegrini’s 200m freestyle records were all set on July 26, 2009. that led to FINA’s banning of full-body and nontextile swimsuits. Then there’s Ledecky’s 400 meters.And don’t sleep on her raw speed. Despite having unparalleled stamina, her 200-meter performance is nearly two standard deviations above the mean — of the top 50 of all time — in its own right. While she failed to qualify for the 100 meters at these Olympics, she is still well within the 50 fastest women (37th fastest since 2000) at that distance, and she’s still improving.Rapidly.Just the beginningWe know that the dropoff in speed that Ledecky shows over distances is uncannily flat. We don’t know how fast Ledecky can get.We do know that her trends look good at every distance. USA swimming has times from all of Ledecky’s officially recognized races going back to her youth. But let’s pick up in 2010 — just two years before her London gold — when she was 13: read more

Gallery MLS Cup final Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

The MLS Cup trophy on display during the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 6 at Mapfre Stadium. Crew lost 2-1. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor

Walking on thin ice Crazy parent seen carrying toddler across frozen lake

first_imgIn a statement the Coastguard service said: “This comes each year, however this year the ice is looking thicker than usual. This is not the case and the ice is still very thin and will not support weight.”We have seen people attempting to walk on the ice already, especially children. Please do not do this as there is a serious risk of falling through.”If you see someone that gets into difficulties immediately phone 999 and ask for the Coastguard….. DO NOT attempt to rescue them yourself by going onto the ice.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The man was spotted at Whitlingham Broad, Norfolk, on Sunday afternoon.Lesley Ball, 62, who was there at the time, said: “I have never seen anything more stupid in my life.”It is one thing for the man to risk his life, but to involve an innocent child in what could be deadly accident, is nothing short of irresponsible.”They could have fallen through at any moment. It doesn’t bear thinking about.”Just hours earlier, temperatures dropped below zero in what forecasters say was the coldest night in four years.center_img A warning about the dangers of walking thin ice has been issued after a parent was seen carrying a toddler across a frozen lake.The man could be seen stepping onto the lake with the youngster in his arms without any consideration that they may fall through.His actions have been described as “crazy” by the Coastguard, which released a picture of the incident and warned of the dangers of stepping on ice.Two teenagers have previously drowned at the lake, which is up to 50ft deep in places.last_img read more

One dead after two boats collide in the English Channel

first_imgOne person has died and two remain missing after a small fishing boat sunk in the English Channel. It was reported that two boats collided yesterday morning off Shoreham in West Sussex with one crew member being found clinging to a buoy and three others missing.The body of a second man was later discovered. The survivor, a 45-year-old from London, was found at 5.50am this morning after being in the water for a number of hours.The man, who is reportedly Romanian, was spotted by a fishing vessel two miles from the town’s harbour, the UK Coastguard said.The alarm was then raised to search for three remaining crew members, one of whom was later found dead at 8.15am this morning. A rescue helicopter helping with the searchCredit:EDDIE MITCHELL The search in Sussex is continuing with three people still missing Sussex Police and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch have launched an investigation into the tragedy.Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Carr said: “We are now trying to establish the circumstances and to identify the other vessel involved.”An earlier appeal for information prompted a significant number of calls and I would like to thank people for their prompt responses, which enabled us to quickly identify who had been involved.”Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all those who have been involved in this tragic incident.” A rescue helicopter helping with the searchcenter_img The search in Sussex is continuing with three people still missingCredit: EDDIE MITCHELL A police spokesman said: “At this time we believe that it was four friends out on a fishing trip, however we are still appealing for witnesses.”It is believed that two of the men are related with two living in London and the other two being based in Brighton.After an extensive search and rescue operation by the coastguard, the decision was taken early this afternoon to suspend their efforts.Andy Jenkins, controller with the UK Coastguard, said: “Following an extensive search of the area using multiple assets nothing further has been found at this time so the decision has been made to suspend the search pending further information. “A review of the incident details will be ongoing through the rest of the day.”Matt Pavitt, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s south east coastal operations area commander, told the BBC: “Anybody that spends that length of time, numerous hours potentially, in the sea without any protective equipment, at this time of year it’s a nice day but the sea is still cold, is very, very lucky to be alive.” 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