As my colleagues have pointed out on DataLab, FiveThirtyEight readers are great.The latest example: One perceptive reader saw my article about the slowdown of Major League Baseball games and suggested that the designated-hitter rule might explain why the slowest teams are in the American League, whose clubs play with the DH in their home ballparks. I looked into that last week and found no evidence the DH was slowing down the sport. But that article prompted two more readers to contact me (Alex Hickey, by email, and Jonathan A. Jensen, via Twitter). They’d noticed something I’d mentioned offhand in the post: that the two fastest-paced AL teams from 1997 to 2013 were the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Those teams have one pitcher in common: Mark Buehrle, the fastest thrower in the major leagues.Since 2008, the first year for which FanGraphs has reliable data, Buehrle has been, by far, baseball’s fastest worker between pitches. Over nearly 1,300 innings, he’s averaged 16.7 seconds between pitches. The next fastest pitcher with at least 150 innings pitched, Ben Sheets, averaged 18 seconds. The major-league average has been 21.8 seconds.Even as just one starter, Buehrle’s blistering pace has shaved significant amounts of time from games. If we assume he was 5.1 seconds faster in delivering each pitch during his career, then he’s spared baseball fans nearly 63 hours of dead time between pitches, and cut between 1.6 and two minutes from his team’s average game length each year since his first full season, in 2001. That’s over all of his team’s games, not just the ones he’s pitched.A difference of two minutes is significant. In my article on the topic, I calculated that the slowest team in baseball over Buehrle’s career, the New York Yankees, added about 14 minutes per game relative to the fastest team, the Oakland Athletics, after controlling for number of pitchers, number of pitches per plate appearance and other factors.Another way of looking at Buehrle’s impact on pace is to check how his teams rank in speed each season. As it happens, I compiled these rankings for my first piece, from 2002 through last season. Buehrle was with the White Sox for the first 10 years of that period, and the White Sox were one of baseball’s three fastest teams in five of those 10 seasons; the White Sox ranked among the 10 fastest teams in all but one season. Then Buehrle went to Miami for one season, and the Marlins went from being the majors’ ninth slowest team to its eighth fastest. Last year, Buehrle moved to Toronto, and the Blue Jays went from the 12th fastest team to the very fastest in the majors.One very preliminary finding from these team rankings: Buehrle’s speed-up effect seems to persist even after he leaves. In the first year after Buehrle’s departure, the White Sox were the fastest team in the majors. Last year, they ranked 10th. And Miami, in its first season after Buehrle’s exit, was the majors’ third-fastest team.That the teams stayed faster after he left may also suggest other factors besides Buehrle were contributing to the quicker pace all along. On the other hand — it’s just speculation — perhaps Buehrle’s teammates have noticed that his fast pace has coincided with a successful and consistent career. His philosophy is that catchers know more about opposing batters than he does, so he rarely shakes off their pitch calls. “They’ve been around the league and have faced these guys,” Buehrle said of his catchers, in an interview with USA Today in 2005. “Sometimes I don’t pay attention to what hitters’ tendencies are. … They see their tendencies, so I just go with what they say.”Another theory about the persistence of Buehrle’s fast pace: Buehrle tries to persuade his teammates to match his fast pace, for his own sake as a viewer of their games. “It’s when I’m sitting out here on these four days in between starts, I’m like, ‘All right guys, I always have a quick game and you guys get out of here quick. I want to have a quick day sometimes when I’m on the bench,’ ” he told the Toronto Star last week.Buehrle might be even faster if he didn’t have to wait for stalling batters. “It’s annoying,” Buehrle told the Boston Globe last year. “Guys don’t even swing the bat, take a pitch, and then they get out and adjust their batting gloves. Some of it might be just habit or routine or superstition that they do it, but you didn’t even swing the bat — why do you have to tighten your batting gloves?”This year is Buehrle’s fastest yet: He’s averaging just 15.8 seconds between pitches. It’s also on pace to be his best season: He’s 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA, even after getting shelled by the Boston Red Sox on Friday. His opponents don’t appreciate his stinginess, but they do like his speed. “When he’s pitching, you can set dinner plans and you’re pretty sure you’re going to make them,” Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones told the Star.
The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference stages a research paper competition each year, and those papers usually contain results and ideas that are far more interesting than anything uttered on stage during the conference’s panels. Here are five trends that emerged in this year’s eight finalists:It’s all about big data sets: Camera-tracked data isn’t new to the pro sports scene; PITCHf/x data has been around for a decade. But only recently have we started to see it, along with other relatively large data sets, take over the research competition at Sloan. Four of the eight paper finalists used camera-tracked data, two more used sizable play-by-play databases, and another used a massive collection of geotagged in-game mobile-device requests from MLB stadiums. Simply put, research that doesn’t have to grapple with the demands of bigger data sets is becoming less common among Sloan paper finalists.The rise of machine learning: With the increased prominence of such large data sets, it was inevitable that state-of-the-art machine-learning techniques would begin to make their mark at Sloan. For instance, one of this year’s most interesting finalists used a “random forest” framework to predict the outcome of a tennis point after any shot based on the speed, trajectory and location of the ball, the context of the shot and priors for a player’s style derived from cluster analysis. (What this means to you is that if it works, the algorithm will be able to ferret out not only the most crucial points in a match, but also the most crucial shots.) Another paper used supervised learning to develop custom player-by-player strategies for pick-and-roll defense in the NBA — a clever way to translate statistical knowledge about a player into actionable tactics. In many ways, an amount of data so staggering can only be coherently processed using these kinds of advanced statistical techniques, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them used more in future research.A focus on classifying player types: As part of its model, that tennis paper developed what it called “style priors” for each player based on the types of shots he tends to play. Another paper, about complementary players in basketball, estimated the effect of an individual player’s skill set on the behavior of his teammates. The emphasis on underlying tendencies and similar player types to provide context and inform prediction isn’t unprecedented — PECOTA was doing a version of that 13 years ago — but it is now being used with far more granular data, to improve prediction in a wider variety of sports (particularly dynamic ones such as tennis and basketball).The Hot Hand, Part 1,000,000: Few topics have generated more research in psychology and statistics than the hot-hand fallacy. It has surfaced again with a Sloan paper finalist. The seminal work on the subject declared the hot hand nothing more than a trick of the mind, but there’s been a recent trend toward debunking the hot-hand debunkers. Here, that trend continues — using baseball data, the authors find that recent changes in player performance can be predictive and that opposing teams mostly react to them in an appropriate manner. But I’m guessing this won’t be the final word in the hot-hand wars.Fewer finalists from the “Big Four” and more from the business of sport: Compared to Sloan conferences past, this year’s crop of finalists featured easily the fewest papers focused on the North American “Big Four” sports of baseball, basketball, football and hockey. NO. OF FINALIST PAPERS Baseball1312 Gambling0010 Tennis0001 Football1010 Hockey1010 Soccer1111 Basketball4422 Business0012 TOPIC2013201420152016 Using the Internet Archive, I tracked the breakdown of finalists by sport going back to 2013; that year, seven of the eight finalists researched a Big Four sport. This year, the number is down to four. Also of note is the emergence of finalists concerned with the business of running a sports franchise. Zero finalists focused on the subject in 2013 and 2014, but that changed last year with the inclusion of a paper about dynamic ticket pricing. Now we’re up to two finalists focused on topics like brand engagement and sponsorship revenue.
SSLuis Aparicio42.224.56198484.6 HOF LIKELIHOOD …ACTUAL BALLOT RESULTS RPBruce Sutter22.66.713200676.9 OFJim Wynn48.444.919830.0 OFKirby Puckett43.323.91200182.1 3BPaul Molitor55.938.31200485.2 HOF LIKELIHOOD …ACTUAL BALLOT RESULTS SPRick Reuschel54.852.219970.4 3BDick Allen53.243.119833.7 RPTom Gordon29.313.820150.4 1BJohn Olerud49.440.420110.7 OFKenny Lofton56.771.720133.2 OFLou Brock37.59.31198579.7 The Hall of Fame’s Anti-One-and-Done teamFor each position, the player who had the lowest likelihood of making the Hall of Fame (based on JAWS) among players who were actually inducted (1979-2017) SSJim Fregosi42.938.319841.0 CTed Simmons44.253.1%19943.7 CCarlton Fisk54.080.6%2200079.6 POS.PLAYERJAWS*HOF %YRS ON BALLOTYR ELECTEDVOTE % OFJim Edmonds53.964.120162.5 Not every player on the team above is worse than his counterpart on the One-and-Done All-Stars. (For instance, Carlton Fisk, the “worst” catcher inducted, was far superior to Simmons.) But most were — and as a result, our team of one-and-done candidates would be favored to beat those Hall of Famers about 52 percent of the time at a neutral field.8According to Bill James’s log5 method of comparing two team’s winning percentages. Based on JAWS, even the second-most unlikely team of inducted Hall of Famers9C Ivan Rodriguez1B Harmon Killebrew2B Craig BiggioSS Ozzie Smith3B Brooks RobinsonOF Dave WinfieldOF Willie StargellOF Billy WilliamsSP Don DrysdaleRP Rollie Fingers is only roughly as good as our All-One-and-Done team, with each clocking in around 100-win talent in a typical season. (That second team is extremely star-studded, and in many cases also beloved by a single team’s fan base, which offers clues into what helps generate Hall of Fame traction — or, in the case of Lofton, who played for 11 teams in his career, helps take it away.)Unfortunately for the Kenny Loftons of the world, there’s little precedent for a player eventually making the Hall through the Veteran’s Committee after going one-and-done in the BBWAA ballot. Longtime Cubs third baseman Ron Santo is the only player since 1979 to pull off the feat, finally receiving a posthumous election in 2011 after years of lobbying from more sabermetrically inclined analysts (and an army of Chicago fans).Perhaps Lofton & Co. will get to tell their own redemption tales at the Hall of Fame podium someday. But for now, remember that even as Raines take his place among baseball’s greatest stars this weekend, there are plenty of other deserving players whose candidacies were dashed in the shadows of the ballot after barely getting a chance. *JAWS measures a player’s Hall of Fame qualification using a combination of his career and seven-year peak wins above replacement.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs, Lahman DB 2BRoberto Alomar53.970.42201190.0 SPCatfish Hunter34.55.53198776.3 Based on the historical relationship between an MLB team’s total JAWS from its starters (at the positions listed above) and its record, our team of snubs would figure to win about 100 games in a typical season, depending on how close the players were to their primes. By comparison, the lowest-probability team of actual Hall members voted in over the same span would figure to win 96 or so games in an average season: The Hall of Fame’s All-One-and-Done teamFor each position, the player who had the highest likelihood of making the Hall of Fame (based on JAWS) among players who dropped off the ballot after only one year (1979-2017) 1BTony Perez47.230.89200077.2 POS.PLAYERJAWS*HOF %YEAR ON BALLOTVOTE % At long last, Tim Raines will officially be a Hall of Famer. The longtime Montreal Expos outfielder was voted into the Hall last winter in his 10th (and final) year on the ballot, after years of lobbying by media members and analysts who emphasized Raines’s advanced stats, rather than his more modest traditional ones. Raines’s induction this Sunday has been hailed as monumental in the effort to populate Cooperstown with more sabermetrically accomplished ballplayers.It’s too bad, though, that so many qualified candidates have already been passed over — and some only lasted a year on the ballot. Take, for instance, former Cleveland Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton, a player with a comparable résumé to Raines. Out of the 569 ballots cast for the Hall in 2013, only 18 (3.2 percent) carried Lofton’s name, causing him to drop off of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s (BBWAA) ballot forever. (Players named on at least 75 percent of ballots are elected to the Hall; those named on fewer than 5 percent fall off the ballot.)According to JAWS,1Or the “Jaffe WAR Score system” — so named for its creator, sabermetrician Jay Jaffe. a system that measures Hall of Fame worthiness using wins above replacement,2In this case, I calculated my own version of JAWS using an average of the WAR numbers provided by Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. Lofton is the eighth-best Hall-eligible center fielder in modern3Since 1901. baseball history, checking in slightly behind HOF member Duke Snider and slightly ahead of two other members, Andre Dawson and Richie Ashburn. A regression I ran using JAWS4Specifically, I ran a logistic regression between a player’s JAWS components (his career and peak seven-year WAR) and his HOF status, with dummy variables for each position (some positions have a higher or lower JAWS threshold than others). thinks a player of Lofton’s caliber should make the Hall about 72 percent of the time. Instead, he fell off the ballot after just one appearance — a farcical outcome for one of the most electrifying players in the game’s history.And Lofton isn’t even the most egregious one-and-done snub since 1979, when the policy of dropping players with fewer than 5 percent of the vote was enacted. You could build an entire All-Star team of players whose numbers seem Hall-worthy but got booted off the ballot after just one try.There’s longtime California Angels second baseman Bobby Grich, whose JAWS numbers suggest an 89 percent Hall probability. Yet Grich somehow received only 11 votes (2.6 percent) in 1992. Then there’s recently retired center fielder Jim Edmonds (64 percent), whose career was roughly as good as Ashburn’s by JAWS, despite what all but 11 voters thought in 2016. Even the less-probable members of the All-One-and-Done Team were borderline cases, such as catcher Ted Simmons (53 percent), pitcher Rick Reuschel (52 percent) and outfielder Jimmy Wynn (45 percent).Like Raines and Lofton, these players were overlooked because they fell well short of Cooperstown’s traditional stat benchmarks. Reuschel didn’t win 300 games.5He won 214. Edmonds didn’t hit 500 home runs.6 He hit 393. But through the lens of sabermetrics, each player’s Hall candidacy has taken on more legitimacy — albeit far too late. Even with advanced metrics, you can make an argument for why each player shouldn’t be in the Hall, but it’s still tough to justify how they couldn’t even stay on the ballot longer than a year.According to my JAWS-based HOF probability metric, here’s the All-One-and-Done roster:7I excluded third baseman Ron Santo, who was later inducted via the Veteran’s Committee, as well as pitcher Kevin Brown, whose exclusion from the Hall can be explained by being listed on the Mitchell Report for the use of performance-enhancing drugs. 2BBobby Grich60.488.819922.6 *JAWS measures a player’s Hall of Fame qualification using a combination of his career and seven-year peak wins above replacement.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs, Lahman DB OFJim Rice44.126.615200976.4
The Tampa Bay Rays are not supposed to be in first place in the AL East. Since 2008, the Rays have never ranked higher than 20th in payroll. This season, the Rays opened with a payroll $176 million less than the Red Sox and $144 million less than the Yankees. There are underdogs and then there are the Rays.Yet, it’s a few weeks into the 2019 season, and the Rays are still in first place. And our projections predict that they’ll be a playoff team. It’s still early, of course, and the Rays’ hot start could cool as more games are played — and they did take a tumble over the weekend against the Red Sox. But they’ve been so successful — going into the weekend, their pitching staff had the lowest ERA and fielding-independent pitching in the majors and no lineup was making more quality contact, for example — that it’s worth trying to make sense of how the Rays are defying the odds. It’s not just homegrown talent and innovative strategies propelling them this year, though the defensive shifts and the reliever openers are still happening. Instead, they’ve found yet another way to win: They’re getting more out of other clubs’ players.Their top two and three of their top six position players this season were acquired from teams via trade during the last calendar year, and the 2.5 wins above replacement (WAR), according to FanGraphs’ measurement, of those three accounts for almost half of the Rays’ position player total. And their top pitcher to date, Tyler Glasnow, was acquired in the same July 31 trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates that brought them their best position player, Austin Meadows.1Meadows was placed on the injured list Sunday with a thumb strain.“We feel very strongly about our ability to get the best out of guys,” Chaim Bloom, Tampa’s vice president of baseball operations, told FiveThirtyEight last summer.Two of those guys — third baseman Yandy Diaz, acquired in a December trade, and Glasnow — provide a glimpse into what the Rays might be doing right, and why this surprising start might be sustainable. Prior to arriving in Tampa, Diaz was known for an excellent batting eye and elite exit velocity. From 2017-18, among batters to put at least 200 balls in play, Diaz ranked 13th in average exit velocity (91.7 mph). But that didn’t translate to power as well as we might have expected. He hit only one home run in 299 plate appearances in Cleveland and had the fourth-lowest launch angle among that same cohort, at 1.9 degrees. (The MLB average this season is 12.3 degrees.) Diaz was pounding ground balls into the turf too often. With the Pirates last season, Glasnow, a once highly touted prospect, found himself in a long-relief role. He had lost his command and his confidence. What the Rays acquired at the trade deadline was a struggling pitcher, but one with intriguing underlying skills: a sharp breaking ball and a fastball that ranked at the top of the “perceived velocity”2Perceived velocity combines actual velocity with extension, or how closely a pitcher releases the ball toward home plate. leaderboard since his debut. Glasnow’s average fastball of 96.7 mph looks like it’s going 99.3 mph because he releases the ball, on average, 7.6 feet in front of the pitching rubber. (He ranks first in the majors in perceived velocity this season.) The data-heavy Rays began with a simple message to Glasnow: Trust that your fastball will still work in the strike zone.“I tried to express to him that he could be really aggressive in the strike zone,” Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder said. “The guy is 6-foot-8. He throws the ball from 52 and a half feet [from home plate]. He’s an upper 90s guy. It’s an all-power, no-art approach. I just think the more he understood that the hitter in the box had to respect the fastball and cheat to it, the better the breaking ball was going to be.”Glasnow’s share of pitches thrown within the strike zone has increased by 4.7 percentage points this season, the 24th greatest improvement in the majors, just behind teammate and reigning AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell. While it’s early, Glasnow has also had the sixth-greatest decline in walk rate in the sport (5.9 percentage points).Glasnow said the team also wanted him to focus on keeping his fastball elevated and his curveball down, while throwing the latter more frequently.While he and the Pirates had agreed in 2018 to change his approach to one similar to what the Rays are espousing, Glasnow said it was hard to alter how he had thrown since being drafted in 2011. “The [Pirates] were very down in the zone, downhill angle,” he told FiveThirtyEight last September.The Rays reinforced how his elevated fastball and 12-to-6 breaking curve could play together by sharing the same path, or tunnel, before the curveball breaks downward. Making the pitches look similar as they approached the plate would create confusion for batters.“Tunneling is important,” Glasnow said. “It’s definitely more of an emphasis here.”Consider the pitches working in tandem against the White Sox on April when Glasnow struck out 11 over six scoreless innings. His elevated fastball: But the Rays had a plan to get more out of all their batters, particularly those with Diaz’s tendencies. During spring training this year in Port Charlotte, Florida, hitting coach Chad Mottola and the Rays came up with an idea for a practice constraint: They were going to build an on-field wall.They didn’t have what they needed at the spring facility, so they sent a truck 90 miles up I-75 to Tropicana Field, their major league home, to commandeer the netting typically used to shield players and coaches during batting practice. The next morning during batting practice, Rays hitters found a barrier of netting on the infield. They were asked to hit over it — to lift and pull the ball. Another issue last season: Diaz hit 57.1 percent of balls in the air to the opposite field, the fourth-highest mark in the league. That’s not conducive to power: Leaguewide this season, 33.4 percent of fly balls hit to the pull side have gone for homers but just 5.2 percent of those hit to the opposite field.It’s not an ideal batted-ball profile for a player who, well, has muscles like these: “He was never given the opportunity with Cleveland in a way he thought he deserved,” Mottola said. “Letting him know he’s going to be in the lineup no matter how he plays today, that makes you a better player immediately.”This season, the Rays have the second-lowest share of balls hit to the opposite field. (They had the highest share last season.) The Rays rank second in the majors in average exit velocity (90.3 mph), up from 26th last season (87.0 mph). It’s still early, of course, but those are marked changes.The wall — or something — appears to be working. And his whiff-generating curveball, which currently ranks fifth in vertical movement and 15th in swing-and-miss rate among pitchers who have thrown at least 50 curves, falling below the zone: “I saw it on the internet,” Mottola said of the practice, similar to what the University of Iowa called The Great Wall of Groundball Prevention in 2016. “I said, ‘Why don’t we just do it?’ At the major league level, it wasn’t anything more than a conversion starter. For younger kids, it was a way to stimulate thoughts more than anything.”This spring, the Rays’ Great Wall of Groundball Prevention evolved to focus not just on trying to get the ball in the air but also on getting the ball in the air to batters’ pull side. The team also used pitching machines to produce velocity and spin more like what batters would see in actual games.The Rays wanted to move the point at which hitters contacted the ball to out in front of the plate, which would allow them to pull the ball better, Mottola said. After all, that’s where the most power is generated. When Mottola began his coaching career in the Toronto organization in the late 2000s, he watched as Jose Bautista was taught to change his focus and try to pull everything. He became a star.Whether because of the wall or something else, Diaz has changed the way he’s hitting this season. After an offseason of focus on contact point with the Rays, he’s now pulling 41.4 percent of batted balls, up from 28.9 percent last season — the 26th greatest increase in the sport. He’s hit five home runs in 89 plate appearances so far.Diaz never pulled a home run in Cleveland. He has done so three times in Tampa. Glasnow is first in the AL in ERA (1.53) so far this year after posting a 5.79 ERA in his two-plus seasons in Pittsburgh.Glasnow and Diaz have made what appear to be real skill gains since arriving in Tampa. Of course, the sample size remains small early his season, and they will have to prove that their starts are sustainable. But if the Rays are indeed spinning developmental gold, the team may have landed on a path to long-term success.Check out our latest MLB predictions.
Navy nearly killed the Ohio State-USC hype before the week began. A two-point conversion separated the Midshipmen and Buckeyes with two minutes remaining, but it was OSU that came away with those coveted points en route to a nerve-racking 31-27 victory before an opening-day record 105,092 fans at Ohio Stadium.With OSU leading 29-27, linebacker Brian Rolle intercepted Ricky Dobbs’ pass and returned it the length of the field for two points, as the stunned crowd let out a collective sigh of relief. A Navy conversion would have tied the game, an almost unthinkable turn of events after the Midshipmen trailed by 15 midway through the fourth quarter.“We were nervous for maybe a second,” Rolle admitted. “Then we realized there was no reason to panic now. We knew we just needed to step up and make a play.”Dobbs, a junior quarterback who set career highs with eight completions for 156 yards, said that Rolle’s pick, coupled with an earlier interception by Kurt Coleman, spelled doom for Navy.“I tried to squeeze it in there by throwing it low, but [Rolle] just made a great break on it,” Dobbs said. “I take full responsibility for this one. We have no chance to win with turnovers.”The Buckeyes didn’t allow Navy to make things interesting until the fourth quarter. Leading 29-14, coach Jim Tressel elected to send out his offense instead of kicking a field goal on fourth down. Navy stopped Dan “Boom” Herron one yard short of the first down, turning the ball back over to the Midshipmen.Dobbs capitalized on the opportunity, slinging an 85-yard touchdown strike to receiver Marcus Curry, cutting the lead to eight.“I certainly should have kicked a field goal on fourth and one, which was a huge mistake in my mind,” Tressel said. “Of course, we didn’t make the fourth and one and made it a bigger mistake.”The touchdown pass- the third-longest in Navy history- accounted for more than half of the team’s total yards through the air. The Midshipmen have led the nation in rushing for each of the past four seasons, but relied on their passing attack more often than usual against the Bucks.“They threw the ball a lot more than we thought,” senior cornerback Andre Amos said. “The corners today really didn’t have a chance but to be on their toes. We just tried to stay focused, knowing that in certain situations, they would have to throw the ball.”OSU regained possession of the football with a 29-21 advantage, but sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor tossed an interception with four minutes left, leaving Navy in position to tie the game. Pryor tipped his cap to the Buckeyes’ adversary, praising their effort even when trailing.“We saw today why they’re the best in the world at what they do,” he said. “They never give up. They’re fighters.”Aside from the interception, Pryor totaled 174 passing yards with two scores. The first came on a 38-yard strike to Dane Sanzenbacher on the opening drive of the game. The other, a 2-yard bootleg to the outside, pushed the Buckeyes’ lead to 17-7 midway through the second quarter.OSU contained Navy’s triple option rushing attack for the most part. The Midshipmen rushed for 186 yards on 44 carries, well below their average of 292 yards per game from last season.With a rematch against USC looming, Ohio State players guaranteed that they weren’t overlooking a talented Navy squad that finished 8-5 a year ago.“We knew Navy was tough,” said freshman receiver Duron Carter, son of former Buckeye legend Cris Carter. “No one mentioned USC all week. We knew we needed to prepare hard to get a victory.”Carter, listed as the team’s No. 4 receiver, saw plenty of action in his first career game at OSU. He finished with three catches for 21 yards, and contributed after top wideout DeVier Posey left with an ankle injury.Although the Buckeyes claimed they weren’t looking past the Midshipmen, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo embraced the opportunity to challenge the Buckeyes the week before such a heavyweight bout.“We felt like if Ohio State came dialed in and totally focused, we had no chance,” the second-year coach said. “We kind of had the perfect storm situation with USC coming up. We knew that if they separated any of their preparation time, then we had a chance to win.”Even after giving the Buckeyes an unexpected scare, Niumatalolo said Navy didn’t achieve its central goal.“We came here to win, that was our goal for the past eight months,” he said. “We didn’t come here to experience the atmosphere, we came here to win. Our kids are down.”Ohio State led at halftime, 20-7. Former Ohio Senator and astronaut John Glenn dotted the “I” during intermission.Before the game, Ohio State displayed its respect for the Naval Academy with a video tribute and several honorary awards. The teams broke customary tradition by entering the field at the same time and running down the field together.Ohio State’s last home-opening loss came in 1978, when the Buckeyes were underdogs against Penn State.To avoid another trouncing at the hands of Southern Cal, Tressel knows his team must work hard to improve this week.“We know the team coming in next week is a great football team. Our task is to get better and make sure we’re up for the challenge.”
Nicola Sturgeon claims foundations of Scottish economy remain strongCredit:Reuters She added: “Being part of the UK means higher spending on the public services like education and the health service that we all rely on. That’s a strong, positive case for Scotland remaining in the UK – our most important social and economic union.“During the independence referendum Nicola Sturgeon personally promised a second oil boom. Her own government’s figures show she misled people and that is unforgivable.“The SNP’s own figures confirm independence would mean severe cuts over and above those already being imposed by the Tories, at exactly the time when our public services need more investment.”Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said the oil shock and the Brexit shock should not be compounded by an independence shock. “The nationalists’ case for independence has been swallowed up by £14 billion black hole,” he said. “It’s a dark day for Scottish nationalism but it is even darker for the Scottish economy.“Instead of pursuing a reckless gamble with independence the Scottish Government should have a laser like focus on boosting the economy by investing in our workforce with new money for education and a step change in mental health.”Despite the figures, Ms Sturgeon insisted the “foundations of the Scottish economy remain strong”, and said that growth in Scotland’s onshore revenues last year had more than offset the downturn in oil revenues.She said: “The lower oil price has, of course, reduced offshore revenues, with a corresponding impact on our fiscal position – this underlines the fact that Scotland’s challenge is to continue to grow our onshore economy.”However, Scotland’s long-term economic success is now being directly threatened by the likely impact of Brexit.”Today’s figures come a day after analysis from the Scottish Government showed that taking Scotland out of the European Union and our place in the world’s biggest single market would make the task of growing and diversifying the Scottish economy even harder.”DP could be up to £11.2 billion a year lower because of Brexit by 2030. David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, added: “Scotland weathered a dramatic slump in oil revenues last year because we are part of a United Kingdom that has at its heart a system for pooling and sharing resources across the country as a whole.“It is important that continues and the financial deal between the UK and Scottish governments, struck last year as part of the transfer of new tax and welfare powers to Holyrood, means real security for Scotland.“The fact public spending was £1,200 per head higher in Scotland than the UK as a whole also demonstrates that the United Kingdom, not the European Union, is the vital union for Scotland’s prosperity.”Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, said the figures made it clearer than ever that Scotland benefited from sharing resources across the UK. Kezia Dugdale says figures prove benefits of the Union Scotland’s public spending deficit has reached almost £15 billion, making it proportionately more than twice the size of the UK figure.Official data released on Wednesday shows that Scotland is in the red to the tune of 9.5 per cent of its GDP, compared to four per cent for the UK as a whole. The figure is understood to be the highest in the EU, after Greece at 7.2 per cent of GDP and Spain at 5.1 per cent.Meanwhile, Scotland’s illustrative share of North Sea oil revenues – which were central to the SNP’s case for independence in 2014 – plunged from £1.8 billion in 2014-15 to just £60 million last year.The SNP’s blueprint for separation claimed before the independence referendum in 2014 that oil revenues would be up to £7.9 billion this year, which would have been the first year of separation if there had been a Yes vote. The statistics showed the country spent £14.8 billion more than it raised in taxes, and opposition leaders said the damaging figures were a reality check for those calling for another vote on breaking-up Britain.Overall, Scottish public sector revenue was estimated at £53.7 billion, the equivalent of £10,000 per person, or £400 per person lower than for the UK as a whole.Total expenditure was £68.6 billion, or around £12,800 per head – £1,200 per person more than the UK average.Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly claimed since the Brexit vote that a new, snap referendum is “highly likely” to protect Scotland’s place in the EU, and insists that remains the case.But the UK Government said the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) report showed that being part of the Union protected living standards in Scotland. 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.
Although individual bones of the flightless bird are put on sale occasionally, Summers Place Auctions director Rupert van der Werff says this is the first time a nearly complete skeleton has come up for sale since the early 20th century.He said: “The dodo is such an iconic species, everybody knows the name of the dodo and can conjure up an image in their head of a slightly unfortunate or hapless looking bird.“The story of it’s demise in the hands of Europeans is very sad, and I think allied to that, the writings of Lewis Carroll, the fame it achieved in the Victorian era, really made it one of the superstars of natural history.” The skeleton could fetch up to half a million pounds at auctionCredit:APTN A rare composite skeleton of a dodo bird, a creature once found on the island of Mauritius, is being sold at auction in Sussex on Tuesday.It been put up for sale by a collector who compiled the bones from private collection in the 1970s and 80s which were found in a swamp. 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 Duke of Cambridge may have been accused of being work shy but on Thursday he was seen putting his back into it as he returned to his pilot duties following a short Christmas and New Year break.Prince William, who was recently criticised for attending fewer public engagements than his father at the same age, was seen hard at work as he flew into Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge with a patient yesterday afternoon. Show more William was seen laughing and joking with the pilot as they looked at something on his mobile phone.At one point three women walked past the air ambulance helicopter but had no idea Prince William was standing the other side as his head was hidden from view. He was later spotted checking his mobile phone and checking over the helicopter.When the ambulance returned, the Duke was spotted sharing a joke with a female brunette paramedic, then he helped the crew load the stretcher back into the helicopter. William, who looked pleased to have completed the emergency mission, then climbed into the helicopter and returned to the air ambulance base in Cambridge.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were recently slated for being work shy, with statistics showing William attended 188 engagements last year and Kate 140.In 1985 when William was a similar age to George, Prince Charles managed 404 engagements and Diana attended 299.Prince William is based at the nearby Cambridge Airport and flies an EC145 T2 aircraft.The charity regularly completes more than 150 missions each month, responding to emergencies in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, ranging from road accidents to heart attacks.In common with all other East Anglian Air Ambulance pilots, he is formally employed by Bond Air Services and draws a salary which he donates to charity. William at the back of a waiting ambulanceCredit:Geoff Robinson Last year he took an extended three-week festive holiday, but this year he has returned to his duties straight after the New Year bank holiday like most workers.The 34-year-old was seen landing at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, then helping his team to lift the stretcher out of the helicopter and into the back of a waiting ambulance.The Duke, who was hard to recognise as he was dressed down in a black coat, black trousers and glasses, then waited with the pilot for around 45 minutes as the paramedics accompanied the patient into the hospital. The East Anglian Air Ambulance arriving at Addenbrooke’s hospital Credit:Geoff Robinson 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.
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 report published by the North East Lincolnshire Local Safeguarding Children Board identified a “number of missed opportunities” to protect Poppy both before and after she was born.It said Pyke, 37, led a “chaotic lifestyle” that was “incompatible with safe parenting”.Pyke was addicted to drugs since her teenage years and was suspected of “drug-dealing; allowing violent drug dealers to live at her home, avoidance of professional agencies and an inability to establish children’s routines”, the report said.It said she had a “long history of non-engagement with services” and “managed to mislead professionals with apparent ease”. The council was not aware of the extent to which Poppy was exposed to harm, it said.After she was born, Poppy was going to be put into the care of her paternal grandparents, but in the end her parents retained parental responsibility. The report described the plan that was in place to ensure Poppy’s safety as “naively optimistic”. Pyke had already had her first child taken out of her care five months before Poppy was born. When the little girl was three years-old, a relative told children’s services that her mother was smoking cannabis and “lying in bed” while leaving her daughter on her own. But no action was taken after “no further evidence” was found to substantiate the allegations – despite the fact that it has since emerged that at the time Poppy was being given drugs. North East Lincolnshire Council said it accepted the findings and had implemented an action plan in response to its recommendations. Social services missed chances to protect a four-year-old girl who died after being fed prescription drugs by her own mother, a serious case review concluded.Poppy Widdison, from Grimsby, died in 2013. Her mother, Michaela Pyke, and her partner, John Rytting, were found guilty of child cruelty and are due to be sentenced next week.Their trial heard they encouraged her to eat sedatives, including diazepam, because they saw her as an inconvenience. The jury heard tests had found the child had taken significant amounts of heroin and methadone in the months before her death.
Pat with his former wife Carolyn and daughters Nichola and NatashaCredit:REX/Shutterstock 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. She is said to have had an uneasy relationship with Eddery’s daughters, who said they were not told he was in hospital for five days before he died of a heart attack.At the time of his death, daughter Natasha put a message on Instagram saying she had not seen Eddery for five years due to his drinking, although they spoke on the phone.Speaking about his will, she told the Mail on Sunday: “I have put all my stuff about my dad behind me… It doesn’t really bother me. It’s his choice. I’m not upset about it because my dad was ill and I didn’t see him as my dad any more.”Miss Owen, who still lives at Musk Hill, said she believed Eddery’s daughter Nichola was contesting the will.She told the Daily Mail Eddery’s daughters had “walked out of his life because they just couldn’t respect his decision to move on and be with someone he wanted to be with.”Eddery won 4,632 races in Britain during his 34-year career. Jockey Pat Eddery left his entire £1.3million estate to his stable girl lover leaving nothing for his four children, probate documents show.Champion rider Eddery, who died in November 2015, aged 63, left his money to Emma Owen, who is 23 years his junior.In a new will, said to be drawn up just two years before his death, the Irishman referred to Miss Owen as “My Emma”, reports the Mail on Sunday. The 11-times champion rider won 4,632 races in the UK during a career spanning 34 yearsCredit:PA And he said that in the event Miss Owen died before him, the estate should be split between his children – equestrian artist Nichola, 34, former event rider Natasha, 31, and 22-year-old Harry.He was also the father of jockey Toby Atkinson, 27, from an extra-marital affair. Miss Owen began working for Eddery at his training yard in 2009, six months after his marriage to former wife Carolyn came to an end.Emma reportedly became his partner three months later and moved into his home at the 100-acre Musk Hill stud farm near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.