Maria Salvetti. Carl Bialik A day during the tournament can involve hours of watching tennis and thousands of decisions. Salvetti arrives by 10:30 a.m. and stays until the end of play, which can be almost 10 p.m. She works one hour and then takes the next one off. On Tuesday, she worked the first, third and fourth sets of the five-set quarterfinal that was won by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga over Kei Nishikori, and she expects to work both women’s semifinals Thursday. The tournament pays her about 100 euros (about $110), after taxes, for each day of work. When she’s off duty, the last thing she wants to do is watch tennis.When they are on the job, Salvetti and her French Open crew appear to be very good. For one thing, their numbers are consistent with those of independent match loggers. I compared the official stats for eight matches from last year’s French Open and 11 from this year’s with the numbers from the crowdsourced Match Charting Project and found that the amateurs and pros like Salvetti agree. The official scorers counted just 3 percent more winners and 3 percent fewer unforced errors. Scorers at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon are far more generous, awarding on average 27 percent and 32 percent fewer unforced errors than the independent scorers, according to the dozens of matches I’ve checked.Salvetti said the toughest judgment call is whether a missed shot was forced or unforced. She must decide whether the opponent’s shot was good enough to force the error or whether blame lies mostly with the player who missed. She thinks her courtside seat gives her an advantage over scorers working from home. “On TV, you don’t see all the power that all the players put into the hit,” she said. “You don’t see all the energy they use to run from one side of the court to the other.”Salvetti cited another reason that she’s confident in her work. After matches, the scorers reconcile their numbers with those that come from the umpire’s chair. Umps don’t record winners and unforced errors, but they do take note of whether serves go in, whether they’re aces and who wins the point. Salvetti said that in the rare cases when the umpires’ numbers disagree with Salvetti and her crew’s, 95 percent of the time the scorers are right. She doesn’t blame the umpires for this: They have “a lot more to focus on,” she said.Not every tournament keeps stats on winners, unforced errors and net points, and few do for every match. When they are recorded, they don’t make it into the official stats kept by the men’s tour and the women’s tour. I asked Salvetti how she feels about that. She said she knows from her regular job as an environmental economist how important data is. She wishes more came of her hard work collecting tennis data.“All this information is not used the way it could be used, for players to know more about their games, for coaches, for even journalists and people who bet,” Salvetti said, emphasizing that she was speaking for herself and not the scorers as a group. She teaches at the Sorbonne in Paris and thinks some of her statistically gifted students could do great things with the tennis stats. “All this information, in my opinion, has value that is not used,” she said. “It’s gold that we have in our hands, and we don’t make anything out of it.” Beyond hitting the ball, tennis has outsourced a lot of its work to technology. A sensor determines if a serve clipped the net and should be replayed, radar sensors measure serve speed, and calibrated courtside cameras judge whether a shot was in and generate advanced stats. But when it comes to recording unofficial stats such as winners and unforced errors, the Grand Slams still rely on people like Maria Salvetti.Salvetti has been keeping scores and stats at the French Open each spring for the past 20 years, since she was 19. When she was a child, Salvetti trained in Paris on the courts at Roland Garros, the home of the French Open. But when she was 15, she hurt her knee, stopped playing, and found her way to scorekeeping after a stint as a French Open ballgirl. She is one of about 40 scorers at this year’s French Open. Roughly one-third of them are women, up from about one-quarter when she started, she said.The job is filled with small, fast decisions: When a point ends, scorers determine whether it was decided by a winner, forced error or unforced error that was hit as a forehand, backhand or other type of shot. They also note whether the point was won while one player was at net. The data then feeds IBM databases and powers television graphics, and journalists use it to identify how the match was won.
12/18/1971IndianaNotre DameREG94-29+64 12/29/1972New MexicoDartmouthREG107-36+65 2/27/1994MinnesotaIndianaREG106-56+65 Source: Sports Reference Best men’s basketball wins relative to average expectation 12/9/1955UtahArizonaREG119-45+64 12/23/1998MarylandNorth TexasREG132-57+63 3/3/2008KansasTexas TechREG109-51+67 12/10/1994Southern UtahSouth AlabamaREG140-72+71 DATEWINNEROPPONENTGAME TYPESCOREELO-ADJUSTED POINT MARGIN 12/27/1985North CarolinaManhattanREG129-45+73 Ahead of Saturday’s Final Four matchup between Villanova and Oklahoma, our prediction model had the Wildcats only slightly favored, with a 54 percent chance of winning, and nearly a quarter of the game was as tight as that probability suggests. When Oklahoma led 17-16 after eight minutes, our in-game win probabilities listed the odds as essentially the same as they’d been before tipoff. Fans across the country settled in for an exciting game, perhaps like the one Villanova had played against Kansas in the South Regional final.But from that point on, things were anything but close. ’Nova rattled off a 12-0 run, touching off an eight-minute sequence in which it outscored Oklahoma 21 to 4. By halftime, the Wildcats led by 14 — but they weren’t done yet. After the Sooners briefly cut Villanova’s lead to single-digits with 16 minutes left in the game, the Wildcats scored 49 of the game’s next 63 points, including a 25-0 run that lasted approximately five and a half minutes on the scoreboard (but must have felt like an eternity to Sooner fans).The result was a 44-point landslide win for Villanova, the most lopsided victory in Final Four history. That is a matter of historical fact. But using our Elo ratings (which estimate a team’s strength at a given moment), we can also say that it was probably the most impressive NCAA Tournament win in more than 53 years — and the 10th-most-impressive D-I basketball victory, period, since the 1949-50 season: 1/27/1993OklahomaFlorida A&MREG146-65+63 4/2/2016VillanovaOklahomaNCAA95-51+65 1/12/1952Holy CrossBrownREG100-31+64 3/11/1963Loyola (IL)Tennessee TechNCAA111-42+70 3/12/1993KentuckyTennesseeCTOURN101-40+66 12/17/1986ClemsonArmstrongREG112-39+65 11/17/2009TennesseeUNC-AshevilleREG124-49+64 1/5/1974UCLAWashingtonREG100-48+64 2/27/1956KentuckyGeorgiaREG143-66+65 12/17/1995TulsaPrairie ViewREG141-50+72 12/11/1954DaytonBowling GreenREG109-39+69 11/25/1989DukeHarvardREG130-54+63 Because Elo measures the difference in relative quality between teams going into a game, it can be used (in conjunction with information about the location of the game) to create a predictive point spread. It can also be used to generate a hypothetical point spread that would have been expected from an average Division I team1With an Elo rating of exactly 1500. against the same opponent in a given game. So against Oklahoma on a neutral court Saturday, for instance, Villanova was expected to win by about 2.5 points; an average team would have been expected to lose by 21. That Villanova won by 44 implies that the Wildcats outperformed their own expectations by 41.5 points and those of an “average” team by about 65 points.Suffice it to say that 65 points is an extraordinarily wide margin for a team to beat the D-I average by in a single game. The record since 1949-50 in any game between two D-I schools is 73, set by North Carolina when it trounced Manhattan College by 84 points in 1985. (Elo estimates that an average team, playing at home, would have beaten the 1200-rated Jaspers by about 11 points.) But that also took place in a forgettable non-conference game two days after Christmas.To find an NCAA Tournament win more impressive than Villanova’s romp, you’d have to go back to 1963, when Loyola of Chicago exceeded average by 70 points with a 111-42 opening-round triumph over Tennessee Tech. And before the Wildcats’ win Saturday, no team had beaten average by 60 or more points in an NCAA Tournament game since 1971, when a previous incarnation of Villanova beat Penn 90-47.
Detroit Tigers outfielder Delmon Young pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated harassment in an incident last spring where he shouted an anti-Semitic slur and tackled a man to the ground outside a Manhattan hotel, prosecutors said.The 27-year-old left fielder, who became a free agent after the World Series, was ordered to complete 10 days of community service and enroll in a program at the Museum of Tolerance New York as part of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office restorative justice program. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.Young was standing outside of the Hilton New York in Manhattan and was accused of yelling anti-Jewish epithets at a group of tourists, tussling with them and tackling one to the ground in April, when the Tigers were in town to play the New York Yankees.Young later apologized to his team, and was suspended without pay for seven days.He went on to hit a game-tying home run in the sixth inning of the championship game of the World Series. But the San Francisco Giants won 4-3 in 10 innings to sweep the Tigers.Young hit three home runs and had a .313 batting average in the postseason.In the court-ordered program, Young will participate in interactive workshops, videos, guided discussions and special instruction by museum educators to explore issues of prejudice, diversity, and tolerance, the district attorney’s office said.The museum reports progress back to prosecutors. If Young completes the program successfully he’ll be able to withdraw his plea and plead guilty to a lesser charge.“Dispositions for defendants charged with bias-related crimes need to be thoughtful and tailored toward healing both the defendant and the entire targeted community,” said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr.The Tigers are prepared to let the Young, a quality designated hitter, sign with another team in the off season.
Serena Williams captured the Brisbane International title on Saturday as she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-1 in the final, which was over in less than an hour.Williams is continuing her resurgence that she began in the second half 2012 season. She has won 35 of her last 36 matches, which include titles at Wimbledon, the 2012 London Olympics, the U.S. Open and WTA championships. Her last defeat came against No. 5 Angelique Kerber in Cincinnati last August.The 21-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, who was semi-finalist in Brisbane 2011 before losing to eventual champion Petra Kvitova, seems to struggle against Williams every time they meet.“I always feel like I don’t know how to play tennis when I play against you,” she told Williams during the trophy presentation, who now leads the series 4-0.Williams, a 15-time major winner, dominated from the beginning of the match to the very end. She went on a run of seven straight games after being tied in the first set 2-2.The 31-year-old Williams elevated her play, allowing her to strike nine aces and hit 24 winners. She also won 91 percent of her first serves.“Everything just came together with the right timing with me wanting to do better, with me wanting to work hard, (Patrick Mauratoglou) being there and having everything to work hard, and having the same mind frame of playing matches for the way I like to play,” Williams said.Mauratoglou is Williams new coach, but also coaches Pavlyuchenkova.Williams managed to advance to finals after top-ranked Victoria Azarenka withdrew a half hour before their semifinal Friday night because of an infected toe on her right foot. The 23-year-old Azarenka was not the only top seed ousted by an injury, second-ranked Maria Sharapova withdrew due to an injured collarbone.Pavlyuchenkova beat Kvitova in the second round, and fourth-seeded Kerber in Friday’s quarterfinals to advance to the finals. Even with the momentum headed into the finals, she felt that there was nothing she could do to stop Williams.“When she’s on fire, well, I feel like there is not much I can do. I mean, she’s a great player and she deserves to win,” Pavlyuchenkova said.Williams credits her comeback since losing in the first-round at the French Open to her dedication to being more composed and serene, which has allowed her to get into her zone on the court.“I was looking at a lot of old matches on YouTube, and I feel like right now I’m playing some of my best tennis,” Williams said. “I feel like I want to do better and play better still.”She will have the opportunity to play even better as she attempts to win her sixth Australian Open title in Melbourne that begins Jan. 14. Williams is currently ranked No. 3 on the WTA tour, but if she wins the Australian Open she will regain the No.1 ranking.Williams would become the oldest woman to hold the top spot. Chris Evert currently claims the record from November 1985, when she was 30 years, 11 months and three days old.
Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder superstar, has been offered an endorsement deal with Under Armour valued between $265 and $285 million over 10 years, which puts pressure on Nike to match it, according to ESPN.com.Superstar rapper Jay Z’s agency, Roc Nation Sports, brokered the deal that would have Under Armour stock and other incentives, including a community center built in his mother’s name.Durant is signed with Nike, which gained $175 million in business related to Durant last season. The brand leader will have the right to match, which is a condition of Durant’s current contract with it. Durant can still choose Nike if it doesn’t match, but can’t legally choose Under Armour if Nike does.Nike’s last offer, sources told ESPN.com, would have given Durant a base and a minimum royalty guarantee that would equal no less than $20 million a year.If Under Armour wins the services of Durant, it would be the largest sponsorship deal the company has ever committed to. The average of $26.5 million to $28.5 million per year means that Under Armour would be devoting nearly 10 percent of its current annual marketing budget on him. Although Under Armour has given investors guidance that it might hit $3 billion in revenues this year, only about 1 percent of that is from basketball shoes.Because Under Armour has such a small basketball business, the company has to guarantee Durant his money up front, instead of the typical shoe deals that offer a minimum guarantee, plus up to 5 percent royalty on the wholesale revenues. Michael Jordan, for example, made more than $100 million last year from Nike largely from royalties on sales of his Jordan brand.In 2007, before he played in his first NBA game, Durant wanted to sign with Nike badly enough that the $60 million contract he signed with the Swoosh was more than $20 million less than what Adidas had offered.But Roc Nation was interested in stronger negotiations, including both Under Armour and Adidas, which dropped out last week.
When Derek Jeter retired last year, the pundits puzzled over who would be the next “Face of Baseball.” Jeter was the guy on the Wheaties box, after all. And more broadly, Jeter’s retirement seemed to close one era of baseball and open another. Without an elder statesman, the game belonged to the kids. But would there be enough excellent, prodigious young players to replace Jeter’s cohort? We already have an answer: The kids are damn good, and they’re part of one of the most significant youth movements in baseball in the past 25 years.Baseball’s excellence is supremely concentrated in its young players at the moment. To get a sense for the balance of power in MLB, I calculated the average age of all position players in the league while weighting each player’s age by how good they were in a given year (using wins above replacement1FanGraphs’ version.). For example, the age of an MVP-type player counts for roughly eight2Here, I am contrasting an average MVP-level of performance — about 8 WAR — with a below-average player’s performance — about 1 WAR. times as much as a below-average scrub because he’s eight times better according to WAR. So, if the MVP is young, he’ll pull the weighted average down toward him. By weighting the ages in this way, we get a sense for where in MLB the production comes from — specifically, whether it arises from the grizzled veterans or the youngsters.The youngsters are winning.Since the early 2000s, the MLB’s weighted age has consistently fallen, hitting its low point (of 27.76) this year. This graph tells us that in recent years, more of the positive value in the league has been coming from younger players.The twin faces of the youth movement are undoubtedly Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, still only 22 and 23, respectively. Despite the best efforts of opposing pitchers, Trout is performing at his now-routine MVP level. Harper seems to have finally discovered consistent success with an overwhelming power stroke. But Harper and Trout have been joined by a generation of super-prospects who are outperforming even the loftiest expectations. Kris Bryant is the most obvious, but others include Joc Pederson, Carlos Correa, Mookie Betts and Addison Russell.There are several ways that baseball’s production could be getting younger, but it turns out that there are two straightforward explanations. One is that the oldest players have become less productive. The second is that the youngest players are on pace to create a tremendous amount of value.Let’s start with the veterans. Players ages 333Roughly the oldest 15 percent of players in MLB. and up have produced only 24 WAR so far this year, on pace for the second-lowest total of the past 25 years. Over a full year, that prorates to 54.8 WAR, which is less than half the total achieved by the equivalent group of players around the turn of the millennium.It’s not clear what is driving older position players down. One possibility is that new pace-of-play rules are making it harder for older hitters to make use of their experience. On the other hand, older position players seem to be getting worse not only at hitting, but also with the glove — and even on the base paths.There could be a connection between the fluctuating pattern of production by older players and the steroid era. Certainly, some of the confirmed steroid users managed to be productive well into their 30s, suggesting that steroids might confer their beneficial effects especially upon older hitters. But in the absence of data on who used what steroids when and how, it’s difficult to pursue this idea beyond a hypothesis. Regardless of the cause, it looks as though the current trend of age and production is more of a return to the norm of the early 1990s than a novelty.At the same time, we are witnessing a historic youth movement. Just as the very old players have gotten worse, the youngest have become much better. Players 24 and younger4Roughly the youngest 15 percent of players in MLB. have produced 48.7 WAR this year, which puts them on pace for about 110 WAR in a full year. If it holds, that would be the most WAR put up by this age group since 2007.That year saw a generation of future stars cement their place in the league. David Wright, at that time 24, had his best season, an MVP-caliber effort. Wright was joined by a host of talent, from Troy Tulowitzki to Jose Reyes to Miguel Cabrera. In total, 13 young hitters put up WAR values greater than 4, in the neighborhood of All-Star-level performance. Many of those players, and even some of the tier below them, have gone on to become superstars.Young players have traditionally relied upon their defense to build their value, and this year is no exception. The 24 and under group typically performs anywhere from 100 to 500 runs below average on offense but makes up for it to some extent with 100 to 200 runs from their defense.5I am also including the FanGraphs positional adjustment here. Less than halfway through this season’s games, young position players have been worth 93 runs defensively. Prorated to a full season, this would be the best defensive performance for that age group since 2001, when the overall value of the youngsters was near its low point.Except today’s kids can do something those 2001 ones couldn’t: rake. With an average mark of 94.6, young hitters are putting up the best Weighted Runs Created+ (wRC+) since that marvelous 2007 class (which was at 99.2). The average wRC+ is set at 100, so the young players are adding decent hitting to their superlative defense. Much of the hitting stems from a power surge: The young hitters are racking up a slugging percentage of .400, slightly better than the league average of .397.6Relative to the league average, this is the second-best number in the past 25 years (second, of course, to 2007).The young players are even providing value with their baserunning. Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, 24, leads the way, but the group is already up to 27.1 runs of baserunning value (Hamilton alone is responsible for nearly a third of this number). If it holds over a full season, that will be the best mark since 1990.Some of these statistics will not hold up over the length of a full season because of injuries or regression to the mean, of course. And many of the averages will be distorted by September call-ups. But two-thirds of the total WAR in this year’s young group comes from the 10 best players, all of whom are firmly ensconced in starting roles.A wave of young talent has arrived, just as the old veterans are fading into irrelevancy. Whether your preference is for Nolan Arenado’s slick glove work, Harper’s absurd power or Bryant’s eyes, we are witnessing the rise of a generation of future superstars.
It took a couple of bold pickups the week of the trade deadline, but the Kansas City Royals had finally done it.Solidified themselves as clear front-runners for the American League pennant? Emerged as outright World Series favorites?Not quite.Kansas City’s big accomplishment was simply amassing enough talent to break .500 down the season’s final stretch — at least in the eyes of the statistical projections. Although the Royals had never dropped below .566 all season (and had posted the best winning percentage in the AL), leading sabermetric think tank Fangraphs hadn’t pegged them to win more than half of their remaining games until July 26.1KC hit a rest-of-season win projection of exactly .500 on May 11. For most of the year, Kansas City has had the record of a contender but the forecast of a lightweight.We’re not picking on Fangraphs. The 79 wins it forecast for the Royals before the season started (barring major personnel changes or extreme breakouts from current players, the preseason forecast largely determines a team’s rest-of-season projection) were actually on the high side. Although KC won 89 games and went to the World Series in 2014, a consensus average of betting over/unders2Using data compiled from the same sources we used here, plus implied win totals derived from preseason World Series odds when available. and other statistical systems3Including Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA projections for the team, as well a regressed average of its Pythagorean winning percentages over the previous two seasons. would have pegged the Royals for 76 wins this year, a number that will likely end up at least 15 games low. Any projection system tied to the Royals’ comparatively weak preseason forecast would have been similarly bearish on their future record.And the Royals aren’t alone: The Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees could all potentially beat their consensus preseason projections by double digits, while the Oakland A’s, Boston Red Sox, Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners may undershoot theirs by that margin. Forecasting the fates of 30 different baseball teams has always been tricky work, but this season has seemed so unpredictable that it has sparked extra rounds of self-examination among statheads.Paradoxically, in an age of unprecedented baseball data, we somehow appear to be getting worse at knowing which teams are — and will be — good.In an absolute sense, this season’s forecast win totals aren’t any further off than usual.4Extrapolating records to 162 games, the root mean square error between actual and predicted wins is lower this year than the seasonal average from 1996 to 2014. But that obscures the way predictions — and, in fact, actual team records — have also gotten more compressed over the years. As a result of the trend toward parity in MLB, preseason projections explain less of the variation among teams’ records now than they have at any point in the last 20 seasons.Strangely, the projections are doing fine at the player level. Neither hitter nor pitcher projections are necessarily to blame for the downturn in team-level forecasts. If anything, PECOTA is better now at projecting rate statistics for batters than it was five years ago, and at the very least it has gotten no worse on the pitching side. Likewise, PECOTA’s ability to nail playing-time estimates (both plate appearances and innings pitched) has only improved over that span. So in the aggregate, it’s hard to detect the slump in team projection accuracy by looking at the performance of individual player forecasts.But while PECOTA’s absolute prediction errors are getting smaller across the entire population of MLB players, its squared errors — a gauge more sensitive to outliers — have increased over the last five seasons. For that kind of discrepancy to exist, there can be only one explanation: The big misses are getting bigger, at least relative to the normal, everyday misses. And, notably, more of those extreme errors come when predicting the performance of young players.By now, it’s no secret that baseball is in the midst of a historic youth movement. As the average age of players has decreased, a lot more of the game’s value has been concentrated among its fresh faces. That’s hailed as a good thing for the game, but it may be a bad thing for projection systems. For hitters ages 24 and younger, we found that absolute prediction errors in their rate statistics are on the rise since 2009, with an even more pronounced trend toward inaccuracy if outliers are given more weight. Since those players now contribute more to the game than at any other point in recent memory, they could be playing a role in driving the recent projection crisis.There could be other culprits. Teams may be better now at assessing themselves than public metrics are. If the internal projection systems some clubs employ are superior to the ones driving published preseason forecasts, those teams could be buying and selling talent according to a different rubric. As a result, they could be constructing their rosters in a way that would amplify team-level errors in the public forecasts — for example, loading up on publicly underrated players — even if the player-level accuracy of public projections hasn’t changed much.Then again, maybe it’s all just luck — we mean literally. By definition, the compression of team records across MLB means that random variance is playing a larger role in the standings than it used to. How much larger? Computing the spread of true talent in a season using the standard deviation of team winning percentages, it turns out that a whopping 64 percent of the observed variation among teams so far this season can be explained by binomial luck — by far the highest single-season proportion of the past two decades.Even if that number regresses a bit over the season’s final third, 2015 will shatter the previous post-199551996 was the first full, 162-game season after MLB’s 1994 strike. record for luck’s sway over team winning percentages. This fact alone may go a long way toward explaining why projections are struggling.It’s tough to know what all of this means for a team like Kansas City. The Royals were smart to go all-in at the trade deadline, and as an older team they figure to be less affected by the predictive uncertainty currently plaguing baseball. Ironically, though, that means we should probably be more confident in the relatively unimpressive rest-of-season forecast set for them by a site like Fangraphs, which still regards the Royals as a team with 84-win true talent even after accounting for their deadline pickups.6This also takes into account playing time missed due to injuries, such as the strained groin that will keep star outfielder Alex Gordon out for a few more weeks.It’s a long-held saying that baseball’s playoffs are a crapshoot, but the unexpectedly great performances of teams like Kansas City this year might indicate the regular season is headed in that direction, too.
Cincinnati Reds Chicago Cubsneil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): Last year’s NL Central was one of the strongest divisions in memory, particularly between the Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates at the top. But Chicago had an unbelievable offseason, and most sources consider them the best team in baseball going into 2016. So, to get us started, what do we think about this stacked roster the Cubs have assembled? Do we buy the hype about this team’s potential to end the franchise’s 108-year championship drought?craigjedwards: I absolutely buy the hype. A lot of things had to go right last season for the Cubs to make their big leap earlier than expected: Kris Bryant instantly playing to his talent level, most of the team staying healthy (particularly in the rotation), Jake Arrieta’s incredible breakout year, etc. This season, the Cubs don’t need as much good fortune. By signing John Lackey, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, and bringing back Dexter Fowler, they’ve built a bit of a buffer in case of bad luck.rob: I agree — the Cubs start the year with an excellent roster, loaded with depth. There’s a reason they’re favored so highly by PECOTA, Steamer and just about every other projection system. On top of its excellent starters, Chicago has prospects and the budget to add contracts mid-year, so if a major player suffers an injury or performance decline, they should be able to handle it.craigjedwards: But whether they can end the drought is a difficult question to answer. For most teams, just getting to the playoffs means the season was successful. But if the drought means a World Series title or bust, the team is setting itself up for disappointment. It’s really difficult to win three straight postseason series against other good teams.rob: Right. As much as I buy that this is a stacked roster, I have some bad news for Cubs fans: A good roster at the beginning of the year guarantees nothing. Between injuries, cluster luck and various other kinds of bad breaks, many a preseason powerhouse has exited the playoffs early — or worse yet, failed to reach the postseason at all. (As a Cubs fan, I have been trained to expect the worst.)neil: Baseball is quite different from, say, the NBA, where the Golden State Warriors’ stacked roster means they’re a coin-flip to win the NBA title. Being the best MLB team means you have, what, a 15 to 20 percent chance (at best) of winning?rob: Yes, the difference between MLB teams is much smaller. We’ve never seen (and will never see) a baseball team like the 2016 Warriors or 1996 Bulls. Win projections in the high 90s are about as good as it gets, and that’s where the Cubs are right now.craigjedwards: The best players in the NBA handle the ball constantly, whereas a hitter comes to the plate four or five times per game, and an ace might only pitch twice in a playoff series. Plus, only eight teams make the divisional series, so even the worst playoff team is not going to be far from the best in terms of talent. The Cubs went 3-5 in the playoffs last year, and they were a success story.rob: If only Arrieta could pitch every game.neil: Another (possibly underrated) thing working against the Cubs’ chances is how top-heavy the NL is. According to FanGraphs, Chicago ranks first in projected team wins above replacement, but Nos. 2 through 5 — and seven of the top 10 teams — are in the NL.rob: That’s true — this year’s decrease in parity has been driven mostly by NL teams, particularly the Dodgers, Cubs and Mets. That will make the NL playoffs more of a crapshoot than usual. Even within the Central, the Cubs will have to contend with two difficult challengers in the Pirates and Cardinals.neil: They’d have an easier path to the World Series in the AL, I’d think.rob: Also, they’d get to play Kyle Schwarber at DH, where he probably belongs.craigjedwards: If the Pirates or Cardinals win 93 games, and the Cubs win 92 — which, again, would be a very successful season — all of a sudden Chicago is in the Wild Card game, hoping for a coin flip just to get to the Division Series. And some very good NL teams, at least on paper right now, will not even get to the playoffs.The difference might not be how a team does against other contenders, but rather how badly they can beat up the NL’s worst teams, some of which are very poor.rob: We saw that in the NL East preview, with two teams racing to the bottom and two strong outfits up top; there’s a similar pattern going on in the Central. Across the league, teams seem to be committing more to a particular trajectory in the competitive cycle, either rebuilding or making a championship run.neil: If the Cubs do have 95- to 100-win talent, the upper bound on that is one of the best teams ever. (Which could very well happen.) But I have a feeling the bottom bound is also lower than we think. What could send this seemingly stacked Cubs team there? Just the obvious scenario, a rash of key injuries?rob: A good, approximate rule of thumb is that team-level projections are 90 percent certain to be within +/-10 wins. So the bottom bound is something like 80 to 85 wins, which is probably not making the playoffs in this division. That’s the reason I’m cautious about the Cubs.craigjedwards: I think the bottom likely comes if the pitching falls apart. The projections aren’t exactly conservative on Arrieta and Jon Lester. Losing one of them would be a major blow, and there are some concerns about Arrieta’s crazy workload last season. Plus, Lester is one year older and has apparently been pitching at the risk of injury for some time now.rob: I think there’s still some reason to suspect Arrieta could turn back into a pumpkin. Lester’s inability to throw to first has been well-documented, yet strangely not taken advantage of as much as it could be. He’s also a pitcher older than 30, and those can fall apart at any time (remember Cliff Lee?). If you combine the risk of a rotation and bullpen collapse, that’s the most likely way I see the Cubs’ season falling apart.craigjedwards: But as far as their lineup goes, they are pretty well-insulated.rob: Yep, they have too many good, young position players to have a bad offense. Embed Code neil: If the Cubs do falter from their lofty projections, there are plenty of teams in this division waiting to pounce. Let’s start with the Cardinals, who won 100 games last year and looked unstoppable at times. Yet, they also suffered some offseason losses and outplayed their BaseRuns by more than any other team. Are the Cardinals still on the same level, or might they be due for a decline?rob: I think they are due for some decline. Even if they returned the exact same team as last year, the odds were against them outperforming their underlying stats to such an extraordinary degree again. So they probably won’t be quite as good, though they’d be falling from such lofty heights that it would still make for a decent team. FanGraphs has them at 85 wins, with PECOTA projecting 82.craigjedwards: Although a repeat of last season’s win total is unrealistic, the Cardinals also have a pretty high floor. They cannot repeat their success with runners on base this season, but the rotation is arguably more talented than it was a year ago. Nobody on the team is projected to have a great season, but that also means nobody is irreplaceable, and they have quite a few players with ceilings well above their projections.neil: That rotation could be impressive, with five starters carrying a FanGraphs projection of at least 2 WAR.craigjedwards: The rotation has its questions, though, most being injury-related. With health, they might approach their run prevention from last season, but no pitching staff stays healthy all year. For instance, I wonder about Michael Wacha as we head into the season — he tired at the end of last year, after being shut down in 2014 with a shoulder issue. Wacha has pitched at an ace-level for stretches, but if he can’t command his fastball he’s closer to an average pitcher.rob: I think a huge unknown on the team, and a big determinant of its fate, is Yadier Molina. He was injured last year and turned in an uncharacteristically mediocre pitch-framing performance behind the plate. Framing makes such a big difference because its effect, while small for any given pitch, are spread out across every pitch a staff throws. If Yadi returns to his normal level — which seems possible if his decline came from injury, and not aging — the staff will get a big boost. If not, those 2-WAR projections may be overly optimistic.craigjedwards: Right. Molina’s bat has also gotten significantly weaker over the past two seasons, and two offseason thumb surgeries make you wonder about his hitting ability. The projections might be overrating that, expecting a bounce-back that might not be possible. His leadership and game preparation are unquestioned, but Molina’s body is compromised at this stage of his career.neil: For all of those concerns, though, these are still the Cardinals. Have they earned the benefit of the doubt given the way the franchise has re-tooled on the fly in the past? Or is that more of a narrative that gets applied to them post-hoc because they’ve been so successful?rob: I don’t like to give any team the benefit of the doubt. Some teams do figure out major advantages before others, but we can usually follow along and figure out what those advantages are (or were). The Cardinals might have some kind of player-development talent that other teams are lacking, or they might just be exceptionally well-run and good at acquiring skilled players. But I’m not inclined to give them a “Magic Beans” bonus.On the other hand: They have produced historic RISP performances — both in terms of pitching and hitting — over the last five years. I don’t know what to make of that. Maybe they do have a secret we don’t know about.craigjedwards: I think the benefit of the doubt is almost a required narrative that has turned into a joke. The David Freese–Allen Craig–Matt Carpenter–Matt Adams pipeline of “unknown players rising to prominence” seems like it has run dry. But what the Cardinals have been good at over the past few years — in contrast with the Cubs, who have developed position players — is developing pitching. They’ve targeted athletes and guys who can throw the change-up, and those pitchers seem to have worked out. Milwaukee Brewers A FiveThirtyEight Chat The 2016 Major League Baseball season opened on Sunday, and FiveThirtyEight is assembling some of our favorite baseball writers to chat about the year to come. In today’s edition, we focus on the National League Central with Craig Edwards, managing editor of the Cardinals blog Viva El Birdos, and FiveThirtyEight’s own baseball columnist, Rob Arthur. The transcript below has been edited.Chicago CubsSt. Louis CardinalsPittsburgh PiratesMilwaukee BrewersCincinnati Reds rob: In any event, I suspect that, like last year, this division will be one of the most exciting in baseball. Even if the Cubs wrap it up early (and they probably won’t), the Cards and Pirates will go down to the wire competing for WC spots. It should be fun to watch.craigjedwards: The division is Chicago’s to lose, but both the Pirates and the Cardinals are contenders who could win under the right circumstances.neil: And at least we won’t have to hear those incessant “Back To The Future” references around the Cubs this season.craigjedwards: Don’t worry, the Cubs will come up with something at least as annoying this season. Between them and the Cardinals, the NL Central has morphed into the new AL East in terms of insufferableness. St. Louis Cardinals neil: So Milwaukee sounds like they’re in a better place than Cincinnati.craigjedwards: The Brewers saw the opportunity to start rebuilding, and they took it. The Reds, on the other hand, had the opportunity to start a major rebuild, but their heart wasn’t really in it.rob: Yes, they haven’t gone as far or received as much of a return. They’re holding onto Joey Votto now (which is understandable), but they also kept Aroldis Chapman too long. And they haven’t been as experimental as the Brewers, taking fliers on high-variance players. That will hurt them down the road when some of the Brewers’ risks pan out.craigjedwards: If they’d dealt Chapman and Jay Bruce for a few extra prospects at last year’s trade deadline, we might look at the Reds differently. Instead they hung onto Bruce, who collapsed at the end of the season; then Chapman’s offseason domestic violence investigation hurt his trade value. And now it’s difficult to see Votto drawing a package good enough to justify trading a franchise player.(They also still owe Homer Bailey more than $80 million through 2019, and couldn’t figure out a way around Brandon Phillips‘ no-trade clause, so he’s owed another $27 million over the next two years.)rob: Having said all that, the nice thing about this iteration of the Reds is that, even though they won’t be too competitive in the Central, they have some fun players to watch. Votto is always great, and Billy Hamilton remains entertaining (even if he’s not living up to his promise).craigjedwards: They also have a number of interesting young pitchers, such as Raisel Iglesias (a big signing out of Cuba) and Robert Stephenson. If a few of those guys pan out, Cincinnati could rebuild quickly. But unfortunately for the Reds, the probability of success for that strategy is not incredibly high.The bottom line: Neither the Reds nor Brewers is likely to do well in the next two, maybe three seasons. And it doesn’t look like the Cubs, Pirates or Cardinals are going to go anywhere, either.rob: So, in a way, it makes sense to go for a longer-term rebuild. When the top of the division is strong and will be for a while, maybe it’s reasonable to wait until you can field a genuinely good team.craigjedwards: But then what do you with Votto? It seems like such a waste to have him on terrible teams.rob: I agree. (#freejoeyvotto!) Then again, he gives Reds fans a reason to watch, when they’re not complaining about his otherworldly OBP.craigjedwards: That’s what makes him hard to trade. He’s a truly great player, but his enormous contract depresses his long-term value and limits Cincinnati’s trading partners. We just saw the Rockies go through this with Troy Tulowitzki. They waited too long to trade their franchise player, and ended up with a return that wasn’t as good as it would have been a year earlier.It almost seems as though having a player like Joey Votto provided the illusion of a bright long-term future. The same thing might be happening with the Angels and Mike Trout, but in Los Angeles they have more opportunities to spend their way out of it than in a market like Cincinnati.rob: The margin for a mid-market or small-market team is so thin. The couple of months’ difference between trading a player at the peak of his value and just off of it can multiply into a year’s difference in the competitive window. neil: The Pirates round out what was this division’s Big Three last year. But the statistical projections seem a little down on them — 83 wins at FanGraphs, 82 at Baseball Prospectus. Are you guys sensing a drop-off in Pittsburgh? Or do they extend a run that’s seen them average 93 wins the past three seasons?rob: I believe either the Pirates or Cardinals will get to 90 wins and probably snag a Wild Card spot. The Pirates are about as likely as the Cards, with a similar “benefit of the doubt” narrative surrounding them. As one of the most visibly sabermetric teams in the game (between ground balls, shifting, their health monitoring, etc.) it’s plausible to me that they’ll defy the projections slightly. If they do have a secret, I think it relates to their health, which has been notably better than other teams the last few years.craigjedwards: On the position-player side, they have a lot of talent, particularly in the outfield. Pitching-wise, Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano make for a very good one-two punch, though the rest of the rotation is not great. But if there’s a new magic-beans narrative going around, it’s in Pittsburgh, with Ray Searage getting unforeseen performances out of his pitchers. Juan Nicasio might be the beneficiary of that this season.rob: And they may not even need those kinds of secret advantages. This is a solid roster featuring one of the best players in the game — Andrew McCutchen — and a true ace in Cole. It’s also remarkably even across the board: Not a single lineup spot is projected to be below replacement-level, according to Baseball Prospectus.craigjedwards: But like you said, Rob, health is the key. The Pirates face the same problem as many teams in a similar financial situation: a lack of depth. If injuries force them to rely on reinforcements, it’s difficult to see them repeating the success of the past few seasons.rob: I agree, they are hurting for depth. You could easily see this team collapsing with only a few DL trips.neil: And even if they turn out OK in that department and make the playoffs, I’m not sure that fanbase can take another defeat in the Wild Card game.rob: Unfortunately, there’s a decent chance that’s exactly what will happen.neil: Again?rob: The wild card is a cruel mistress.craigjedwards: Pittsburgh got a bit unlucky being forced to go against Jake Arrieta last season, but Cole is also a good guy to have for a one-game playoff. The NL Wild Card could see another great pitching duel when you look at the aces who could be featured: Cole, Arrieta, Matt Harvey, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright.rob: With the Cubs and Cardinals as competition, it’s hard to see the Pirates capturing the division (although it’s possible). It’s easier to see them putting up another solid 92-win season, landing the Wild Card, and facing one of those pitchers in a do-or-die game. At that point, it’s basically a coin flip, one the Pirates have lost a couple of times running now.craigjedwards: So they are probably due? That’s how coin flips work, right?rob: For the collective sanity of Pittsburgh’s residents, I hope so. neil: And now comes the time when we have to talk about the dregs of this division. Who should we discuss first, Brewers or Reds? Both were awful last season, though PECOTA actually sees Milwaukee vaguely edging in the direction of .500 this year.rob: The Brewers are kind of fun because they are obviously experimenting, and they’ve made some great moves this offseason in that direction.craigjedwards: They also aren’t tied down with as many long-term contracts as Cincinnati. It’s part of why Milwaukee seems to have the slightly brighter long-term future, if that counts for anything.neil: The Brewers even have the ninth-best farm system in MLB, per Baseball America.craigjedwards: The big question for them will be, “When will they trade Jonathan Lucroy, and how much will they get for him?”neil: And, “how much has Lucroy’s framing value gone down these past few years?”rob: A huge question with Lucroy is whether his framing went down or if everyone else’s went up. (This applies to Molina as well.) If the league as a whole improved at pitch framing, then guys like those two — who used to be leaps and bounds better than everyone else — will look like they’re declining. It even matters for Lucroy’s trade prospects, because if it’s a matter of him declining, then he could go back up. But if the league’s catchers all rose to his level, there’s not much prospect for improvement.craigjedwards: How much of an effect injuries might have had is another question that I don’t believe we can answer at this point. But even without the framing, he hits well for a catcher and is in a team-friendly contract over the next two seasons, so he should still be a good asset for the Brewers to flip and improve their farm system even more.rob: However, outside of Lucroy (and maybe Ryan Braun), the Brewers have a ho-hum, strikeout-prone lineup and an unimpressive rotation. They aren’t going to be very good this year.craigjedwards: Milwaukee looked like it was on the Oakland A’s track of trying to never rebuild, but after the team squandered a division lead in 2014, the bottom fell out last season and it was time for a major rebuild.neil: Rebuilding usually means promising youngsters. Anybody to keep an eye on this year?craigjedwards: Orlando Arcia. He’s their shortstop of the future with Segura gone.And to Rob’s earlier point about experimenting with players, Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana are the type of guys you try out when you know you have no hope of contending. They could easily disappoint, but there are no bad long-term ramifications if they can’t hack it in the majors.rob: “Hack” being the operative word; Santana had a contact rate of 67 percent last year. But yeah, there’s nothing to lose on high-variability players — Rymer Liriano also comes to mind — and a lot to gain, so they’re correct to invest in them.craigjedwards: If they hit on a couple of these guys, it could really help the team’s long-term outlook.rob: Right, this is a year where they feel out some of those young guys and see who can contribute to the next competitive Brewers team. Ben Lindbergh joins the Hot Takedown podcast to preview the 2016 MLB season. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Pittsburgh Pirates
102012Phillies.640.776+.136 72005Pirates.650.803+.153 10Jeff SamardzijaGiants9873-25 Nelson was awful last season, but he’s striking out more than two extra batters per nine innings this year — and walking two fewer — in part by ditching his lousy sinker. For his part, Anderson was nearly as bad as Nelson last year; his 2017 tonic has been a drastic reduction in homers allowed, from 1.7 per 9 to 0.7.Needless to say, neither is likely to be so lights-out going forward. But of the two, Nelson seems more likely to hold on to his gains (he has the better peripherals and is allowing softer contact). And for now, the Brewers have two of the best pitchers in baseball — completely out of the blue. It’s one of the biggest reasons why the Brew Crew are above .500 and a game up on the Cubs for the top slot in the NL Central, after being projected in preseason for a fourth-place finish. Just call them the anti-Mets.Check out our latest MLB predictions. 13Sean ManaeaAthletics9877-21 Source: FanGraphs When a previously solid hitting team (such as the Blue Jays, whose 2016 OPS was 1 percent better than average) suffers a poor April and bounces back in May, they usually deserve the benefit of the doubt. In a regression predicting each team’s rest-of-season performance based on its OPS in the first two months and its OPS the previous year4Again, using data since 2002., April is the least predictive. Performance in May and the previous year combined to carry about three times as much relative importance5According to the “lmg” (Lindeman, Merenda and Gold) function in R’s “relaimpo” package.. Also of particular note for an elderly roster such as the Toronto’s: Age was not significant in the prediction after controlling for a team’s various OPS splits.This isn’t to say a poor April means nothing. The Jays’ projected rest-of-season OPS would be 14 points higher if they’d hit in April like they did in 2016 as a whole. (That’s the difference between having the fifth-best offense in MLB and merely the 10th best.) But in conjunction with the lineup’s May recovery, it was more a blip on the radar than a sign of impending collapse.Now for the bad news, Toronto. A poor April record can sink a team’s playoff chances, even if it doesn’t represent their true talent level. Since MLB added the extra wild card in 2012, the worst April record by an eventual postseason team was 7-14 (.333), by the 2015 Texas Rangers. By comparison, Toronto’s April record was a full game worse, at 8-17 (.320). Of course, some of that is chalked up to the fact that teams with playoff-caliber talent don’t tend to suffer such rough starts, but it also speaks to the challenge posed by falling so far down the standings, so quickly. Even if every game were a coin-flip from May onward, the Jays’ April record dropped their playoff odds from 33 percent in preseason to 10 percent after one month.They’ve since risen to 21 percent under “coin flip mode” — or higher, if you account for the talent on Toronto’s roster. But any way you cut it, a team that boasts one of baseball’s top 10 or so most talented rosters will probably find itself outside the playoffs at season’s end. And if that does happen, they can look back and blame it the extra month of spring training that Toronto decided to take in 2017.Milwaukee’s dynamic duoEarlier this week, we detailed the horror show in Queens, formerly known as the Mets’ pitching staff. The Mets entered the season with several pitchers who they thought were aces, only to see a historic decline in 2017. The Milwaukee Brewers are enjoying the opposite scenario: Several pitchers who looked like liabilities before the season have transformed into elite starters (for now).Specifically, each of the two hurlers who’ve reduced their fielding independent pitching (FIP)6Relative to the league, so using FIP-. most between 2016 and ’17 wear Milwaukee uniforms: Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson. (These numbers are through the games of June 5; Nelson and Anderson have both made — and won — starts since.) Less than a month into the season, the Toronto Blue Jays seemed as good as dead. Toronto had 17 losses against only six victories (the worst record in baseball), was getting outscored by 1.1 runs per game and found itself threatening franchise records for April offensive futility. The Jays had enjoyed a handful of good seasons in recent years, but with such putrid stats — and the second-oldest roster in baseball — the party appeared to be coming to an ugly, abrupt conclusion.Then, just like that, the Jays started winning ballgames again. It started with two straight victories to close out April, followed by a .500 record in the first week of May. (Baby steps!) Then they got legitimately hot: Seven wins in an eight-game span as the month neared its midway point. And, after another brief mid-month hiccup (losing five of six), eight wins over the final nine games of May. Toronto was hitting again, pitching pretty well and clawing its way back into an absurdly stacked division race.Baseball can be a strange sport in that way, with hot and cold streaks coming and going without warning. So when a team has such a mercurial start to a season, how do we know which version is the genuine article? Toronto is hoping it’s the one from May, and history has good news — that’s more likely than it being the awful edition that showed up in April. But even so, one poor month may have buried the Jays in too deep a hole to escape.It’s hard to be much colder than Toronto’s hitters were in April. Out of the 480 MLB team-seasons since 2002,1The earliest season of monthly splits in FanGraphs’ splits leaderboard tool. the Blue Jays’ .645 April on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) ranked 30th worst; it also represented the seventh-biggest April dip from a team’s previous full-season OPS, down 110 points as it was from Toronto’s .755 OPS showing at the plate in 2016. Although perennial-MVP-candidate third baseman Josh Donaldson was in and out of the lineup with a leg injury, his absence wasn’t the only explanation for Toronto’s struggles. Starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit poorly when healthy,2Only adding to his disappointing record since donning a Jays uniform two years ago. aging sluggers Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales looked well past their primes and second baseman Devon Travis was the worst regular batter in baseball.The Jays’ improvement at the plate in May was even more remarkable than their April slump. Since 2002, only two teams — the 2015 Texas Rangers and 2003 Detroit Tigers — improved their OPS as much from May to April as this year’s Jays did.3For all the good it did those Tigers; they still finished with 43 wins, the second-fewest of any team in the 162-game era. And it was their worst hitters from April who caught fire most when the calendar flipped: Bautista’s OPS leapt from .554 to 1.055, Morales’s from .667 to .930 and, most remarkably, Travis’s from .388 to 1.019 (!). Only the surging Houston Astros had a better month at the plate than Toronto did in May. 42007Tigers.727.888+.161 9Zack GreinkeDiamondbacks9974-25 6Luis PerdomoPadres11891-27 FIELDING INDEPENDENT PITCHING MINUS YEARTEAMAPRILMAYDIFFERENCE The biggest April-to-May OPS increases since 2002 22003Tigers.512.688+.177 PITCHERTEAMNEW TEAM?20162017DIFF. Includes pitchers with a minimum 100 innings per 162 team games in both seasons. Stats for 2017 through June 5.Source: FanGraphs 92004Expos.552.691+.139 8Josh TomlinIndians11488-26 12Sonny GrayAthletics11291-21 3Taijuan WalkerDiamondbacks✓12081-39 2Chase AndersonBrewers11878-40 5James PaxtonMariners6734-33 32017Blue Jays.645.809+.164 14Michael FulmerTigers8869-19 15Ivan NovaPirates✓9678-18 62004Yankees.723.877+.153 4Chris SaleRed Sox✓7943-36 82002Angels.684.836+.152 1Jimmy NelsonBrewers11970-49 11Dallas KeuchelAstros9271-21 52010Reds.713.873+.161 ON-BASE PLUS SLUGGING AVERAGE The most improved pitchers of 2017 7Chris ArcherRays9266-26 12015Rangers.611.797+.186
Aroldis Chapman walked into the visitor’s dugout Monday at Huntington Park a few hours before a game against the Columbus Clippers with a toothpick in his mouth and a gold chain around his neck. Behind the smile and glamorous appearance is a 22-year-old man trying to find his way into major league baseball and American culture. Chapman left Cuba on July 1, 2009. He left his mother, father, two sisters, girlfriend and newborn child behind to pursue his dream of pitching in the major leagues. At 21 years old, Chapman was thrust into a new world surrounded by a language he did not know and a culture he did not understand. Before coming to the United States, he petitioned major league baseball to become a free agent. After much hype and demand for the Cuban phenomenon, the Cincinnati Reds signed Chapman to a six-year, $30.25 million deal on Jan. 10, 2010. When spring training began, Chapman hoped to make the major league club in Cincinnati, but after a back injury hindered his progress for a couple of days, the Reds decided to send Chapman down to their AAA-affiliate, the Louisville Bats. His demotion to the minors has not deterred him. “I would have liked to break into camp with the team, but being here has made me happy as well,” said Chapman, who has trainer Tomas Vera translate his Spanish to English. “I am happy here and I know I have to work and make the adjustments on all my pitches.” While Chapman works in the minors to develop his pitching skills, he is slowly learning the details of American baseball. “For example, we had our first game in Toledo,” said Rick Sweet, Louisville’s manager. “He wanted to know who we played the next day. He didn’t understand that we play the same team four days in a row. We gave him a schedule, which told him we go to this city, and each city has its own team.” Sweet acknowledged that Chapman is a work in progress. “He handles [pressure] very well,” Sweet said. “He needs to learn the game of baseball, our style. It is different. We need a ton of work on the fundamentals because I don’t think they’ve done that in Cuba. He’s got a lot to learn and he’s handling it well.” American major league baseball is fundamentally and organizationally different from Cuban baseball. The Cuban season is only 90 games. In the minor leagues, the Louisville Bats are scheduled to play 143 games, and all major league teams play 162 games. This means that Chapman has to prepare to make anywhere from 10 to 15 more starts than usual. In a league that has grown more conservative with pitch counts and innings pitched, Chapman does not seem worried. “I don’t have any concerns about my conditioning,” Chapman said. “I have been preparing really well. I have been working hard and I don’t want to have any problems. I know this is a long season, but I know I will be ready and OK.” Chapman, along with Washington Nationals prospect Stephen Strasburg, has been the focus of much media attention. Both pitchers have been clocked at over 100 mph on multiple occasions, and their potential and talent level is comparable. But, as Strasburg can just concentrate on baseball, Chapman needs to learn fundamentals as well as understand the American way of life. “The hardest part [in America] has been off-the-field things,” Chapman said. “I have to be able to adapt and I am going through that. Baseball has been normal for me. I have more problems adapting outside [baseball]. There has been a lot of stuff to learn.” Though Chapman will have to battle off-the-field perplexities, he shouldn’t have a problem transferring his previous pitching success to America. In his professional debut on Sunday, Chapman pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up one unearned run, while striking out nine batters. In addition, the stadium radar gun showed he hit 100 mph five times. “I don’t know if I have seen that total in my career,” Sweet said. While integrating himself into American society has been difficult, Chapman feels this is the right thing to do. The only problem is that it comes at a personal price. “I feel great. I am playing on the best baseball [stage] in the world,” Chapman said. “This is what I really want and that makes me feel gracious and happy, but the day I will be completely happy is when I have my family with me.”
Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs the ball in the first quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorDespite a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit, No. 3 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) rode a stupendous performance from quarterback J.T. Barrett to a 39-38 victory against No. 7 Penn State (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) in a battle of Big Ten powers. Head coach Urban Meyer addressed the media Monday afternoon following the victory. Here are three takeaways from the press conference.Improved offensive line led to comeback winJust a year ago, then-No. 2 Ohio State played a close game against the Nittany Lions, but crumbled on the final drive and fell 24-21 to unranked Penn State. Meyer believes this season, the Buckeyes’ resilience in tough situations did not exist a year ago.“The team last year would not have won that game,” Meyer said. “They would have dropped their head. Offensive line would have dropped their head.”Right tackle Isaiah Prince struggled in last season’s loss to Penn State. He looked overmatched the entire game and allowed multiple sacks as the clock ticked closer to zero on what would be Ohio State’s final drive. But Prince has matured after a year of experience and coaching, Meyer said. The head coach was incredulous when asked whether he was worried about Prince heading into last Saturday’s game.“He’s unbelievable now,” Meyer said. “Isaiah, not worried about him at all. He’s a grown man that’s handling his stuff the way a right offensive tackle at Ohio State should.”All five starting offensive linemen graded as successful on between 82 and 86 percent of their plays. Meyer deemed them all to have “champion” effort. Meyer does not want to “micromanage” running back carriesIn the first quarter, freshman running back J.K. Dobbins exploded, taking four carries for 50 yards, including a 21-yard rush. But he did not touch the ball again until the third quarter as redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber took all seven second-quarter carries.Dobbins finished with 13 rushes for 88 yards while Weber had 21 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. Meyer said he does not, and would not want to, involve himself in divvying up the carries.“[Dobbins] still had 88 yards and however many carries,” Meyer said. “So we’re throwing the ball so darn well right now, too. So there’s no, once again I don’t micromanage. That’s Kevin Wilson, and that’s Tony Alford to determine. And they’re both practicing very hard. You’d like to get them more carries.”Meyer said he trusts good coaches to make playing-time decisions when the players are “1-A” and “1-B.” “[Running backs coach] Tony Alford is an excellent football coach,” Meyer said. “The last thing he needs is me worrying about that stuff.”Meyer said Weber has “really done a nice job” this season despite an injury which hampered him and made possible Dobbins’ surge, but also mentioned the 2016 starter was humbled. Meyer said Weber’s goal is to reach close to 2,000 rushing yards in a season. But with Dobbins accompanying him in the backfield for the foreseeable future, his path to reaching 2,000 yards is unclear.Search remains for a solution to kickoffsIt took just 15 seconds into Saturday’s game for Penn State to take advantage of Ohio State’s biggest weakness — kickoff coverage — as running back Saquon Barkley returned the opening kick 97 yards to give the Nittany Lions an early six-point lead.After the game, Meyer called the kickoff unit, which he said has historically been near the best in the conference, “comical.” Monday afternoon, he said it was “a joke right now.” “We’re the only school in the America that can’t kick it out of the end zone, even with the wind at our back,” Meyer said. “I’m not a kicking expert but kick the ball out of the end zone and we don’t do that. It’s not because of not telling them to kick the ball out of the end zone.”Former Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston disputed the claim. He took to Twitter to say he does not believe Meyer’s claim about not being able to kick the ball out of the end zone, as he said he has seen both kickers do so firsthand.Regardless of how the Buckeyes fix the unit, they cannot afford to continue to send out the same unit expecting different results. If something doesn’t change, the number in Ohio State’s loss column will.
Ohio State Utility player Noah McGowan (4) hits the ball foul during the sixth inning of Ohio State’s 2-1 win against Cal State Northridge in extra innings on Friday, March 16, 2018 at Nick Swisher field in Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: Ebo Amissah-Aggrey | Lantern ReporterOhio State junior second baseman Brady Cherry stood tall after a game-tying double in the bottom of the 10th inning, but was soon running again. Sophomore right fielder Noah McGowan chopped a 2-0 fastball through the hole on the left side of the infield sending Cherry down the baseline and around third base.Cherry scored the game-clinching run with ease, and the Buckeyes overcame the Georgetown Hoyas in a 5-4 extra-inning thriller.“I was just trying to get down the line,” McGowan said. “I just try to hit the ball hard and let whatever happen happen after that.”Ohio State’s offense was sputtering the entire game. Through eight innings, the Buckeyes (16-7) stranded 10 runners in scoring position. But the crowd at Bill Davis Stadium rose as a ball off the bat of senior left fielder Tyler Cowles flew high into a cold March sky that had blown balls back toward the fence all game. This one cleared the left field fence, knocked in two runs and tied the game at three in the bottom of the ninth inning.“I was literally just trying to get a hit,” Cowles said. “[Georgetown pitcher Matt Randolph] ended up hanging a changeup and I just put a barrel on it.”Freshman shortstop Eddie McCabe delivered a lead-taking single, knocking freshman right fielder James Gabor in from third base with two outs in the 10th inning to put Georgetown (6-16) up 4-3.That was McCabe’s second RBI of the game.In the top of the fourth inning with runners on the corners and no outs, he smacked a ball on the left side of the infield. Ohio State junior shortstop Kobie Foppe slid smoothly into a backhanded stop before flipping the ball to second baseman Brady Cherry. McCabe was called safe, despite Ohio State head coach Greg Beals arguing the call, and the game’s first run scored.Georgetown scored an additional run in the inning with two outs on an infield single by sophomore center fielder Ryan Davis.With senior Seth Kinker on the mound for the Buckeyes in the eighth inning, Georgetown senior second baseman Jake Bernstein looped a single into left field that went under Cowles’ glove and into the corner. Bernstein advanced to third on the play, then scored on sophomore first baseman Freddy Achecar III’s dribbler down the first-base line to give Georgetown a 3-1 lead.“You’ve just gotta take care of the baseball,” Beals said. “It’s good that it happened and we won because now [Cowles] knows when he does his drill work he’s gotta make sure he’s clean.”Redshirt senior pitcher Adam Niemeyer started for Ohio State, going five innings with two earned runs, five strikeouts and one walk.Niemeyer relied on his fastball early early and mixed in a changeup. He struck out four batters in a row between the first and second innings. Kinker entered in the seventh inning in relief of Yianni Pavlopoulos and delivered four innings with one earned run for his fourth win of the year.“I felt a little bad for [Pavlopoulos],” Beals said. “But on the other hand we thought that we had gotten to the point in the game where Kinker could take us to the finish line.”Georgetown junior Jack Cushing, using a strong fastball, struck out four Ohio State batters before he lost command of the strike zone toward the end of the third inning. He finished with one earned run and six walks after 4.1 innings.Foppe, who had two putouts and five assists, was a bright spot for an otherwise spotty Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes committed two errors compared to Georgetown’s single error.Ohio State junior catcher Jacob Barnwell cut down both Hoyas attempting to steal, despite Georgetown’s 93 percent success rate on stolen bases this season.
Buckeye fans celebrate following the game against Michigan State on Jan. 7 in Value City Arena. Ohio State won 80-64. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorOhio State students might receive a price break to watch their men’s basketball team play.Students would pay just $9 for all individual game tickets if the proposal is approved by the Board of Trustees Finance Committee. Previously, students had to pay $13 for Big Ten games and $12 for nonconference game. Ohio State enjoyed a resurgent 2017-18 season, and the success the team found led to an increase in attendance for the team. An average of 13,495 people attended games at the Schottenstein Center during the 2017-18 season, well above the 12,324 average of the 2016-17 season and the 12,283 average of the 2015-16 campaign. Ohio State also hosted crowds above 18,000 fans on two occasions, first against Illinois on Feb. 4 and against Iowa on Feb. 10. The Board is set to go over the proposal at approximately 12:55 p.m. Thursday during the Finance Committee Meeting.The remainder of the tickets will not see a price change from the cost for the previous season. Season-ticket holders will continue to have a 12-percent discount from the price of a season’s worth of individual tickets while faculty and staff will have a 20-percent discount.The Ohio State Board of Trustees Finance Committee will vote Thursday on a proposal to reduce ticket prices for students while leaving the remainder of the tickets the same. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio StateOhio State is coming off its first season under head coach Chris Holtmann in which it finished 25-9 overall with a 15-3 Big Ten record. The Buckeyes lost just two games at home — 79-65 against Clemson on Nov. 29 and 82-79 on a buzzer-beating loss to Penn State on Jan. 25. The overall record was the team’s best mark since the 2012-13 season.The Buckeyes also reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Fifth-seeded Ohio State lost in the second round to fourth-seeded Gonzaga.Holtmann will hope to find continued success in his second season at the helm despite a litany of losses. His team saw three seniors graduate in guard Kam Williams, guard Andrew Dakich and forward Jae’Sean Tate and watched forward and 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop declare for the NBA draft, forgoing his final year of collegiate eligibility.Joining Ohio State will be the 23rd-best recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Guard Luther Muhammad and forward Jaedon LeDee are the only two four-star prospects joining the team while a pair of three star recruits — guard Duane Washington and forward Justin Ahrens — also join the team.
Ohio State then-freshman forward Tatum Skaggs (11) races to the puck in the first period of the game against Minnesota on Jan. 19. Ohio State won 3-2. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for DesignThe Ohio State women’s hockey team (11-5, 7-3 WCHA) capped off a series sweep of Minnesota Duluth (5-6-1, 3-5-1 WCHA) with a 4-1 win on Saturday. Sophomore forward Tatum Skaggs led the way, earning the second hat trick of her college career.“It always feels good to sweep back at home and be able to put up a really great game for the fans,” Skaggs said. “Getting three goals is great, but that is not the main focus of what happened this weekend. We swept, and that is all that matters.”Much like Friday’s matchup, Minnesota Duluth took the lead early, less than four minutes into the first period. It was junior forward Sydney Brodt who snuck a shot around the corner by Ohio State goaltender Andrea Braendli to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 advantage. Sophomore forward Anna Klein and freshman forward Gabbie Hughes assisted Brodt on the goal. Continuing the trend of similarities to Friday’s matchup, the game was tied up by Ohio State 12 minutes into the first period when the Buckeyes took advantage of a Minnesota Duluth penalty.Skaggs scored her first goal of the game for Ohio State getting a rebound on the power play from a blocked shot by sophomore forward Emma Maltais and slapping it in. Maltais and redshirt junior defenseman Jincy Dunne were given assists on the play. Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall praised Skaggs’ play and her team’s resilience throughout the game.“When you play in a league like this, you need those reliable players or go to players like Tatum,” Muzerall said. “Playing against an Olympic gold medalist goalie and putting six goals on her in two games speaks volumes to our tenacity in front of the net. We were very relentless, and I am very proud of how they did not quit and kept plugging away.”With momentum on their side, the Buckeyes continued their relentless attack on Bulldog goaltender, redshirt junior Maddie Rooney. Ohio State’s efforts were rewarded just over a minute after their previous goal, less than 14 minutes in the first period. Freshman forward Sara Saekkinen found the net for the Buckeyes, giving them a 2-1 lead. Senior forward Madison Field and junior forward Olivia Soares were credited with assists for their effort on the goal. The second period saw no goals scored for either team, with Ohio State successfully killingtwo Bulldog penalties to maintain its 2-1 lead. The Buckeye defense limited Minnesota Duluth to only eight shots on goal for the entire period.Muzerall praised the Buckeye defense for its efforts against a talented Bulldog offense.“We worked on our forwards making sure they played 200 feet to back check,” Muzerall said. “If you know you have players coming through the middle of the ice, you can play a little more aggressive. We’ve been working on our forward angling and also on our gap control. We’ve done a better job with our stick positioning and they’ve just been more disciplined lately.”Ohio State continued firing shots at Rooney and got one in the net when Skaggs scored her second goal of the game seven minutes into the third period.Skaggs said she was pleased with how the Buckeyes took advantage of opportunities to score off Rooney.“You can’t take anything away from her, there’s a reason why she has a gold medal.” Skaggs said. “She played really well, but I think we just capitalized off their mistakes and it really feels good that we got a couple goals in on her.” With time winding down in the third period, Minnesota Duluth pulled its goalie in favor of an extra attacker to attempt to mount a comeback. It resulted in with an empty net goal with just over a minute left in the third period to give Skaggs a hat trick for the game. Skaggs credited her success to the fact that she played with a new line for this series.“My line was clicking really well due to our hard week of practice,” Skaggs said. “It helped us learn to work well with each other and push each other. It definitely flowed into the game with us making good passes and finding seams, which helped with the success.” Ohio State next travels up to Mankato, Minnesota to play Minnesota State. Games will be played at 7:00 p.m. on Dec. 1 and at 3:00 p.m on Dec. 2.
Sacking Mrs Rew proves Angus Council have an absolute 0 banter policy— Boyle (@Boyle42634) September 29, 2015 The two-year order means she can remain on the teaching register, but must comply with conditions including being tested for alcohol in her blood every six months.Mrs Rew accepted she had acted inappropriately by using inappropriate language, including swearing, and had told a male pupil to “put his body away as it was too sexy”.She also “held her breasts and made comments about them; entered pupils’ bedrooms, ate crisps and sweets and thereafter reached into her top to take crisps from between her breasts”.The panel decided that because of her personal difficulties, and support from staff, pupils and parents, it would be unreasonable to declare her unfit to teach. 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 head teacher who was sacked after getting drunk on a school trip “held her breasts and made comments about them” and told a schoolboy his body was “too sexy”.Gillian Rew, 49, also told another pupil his chest “was better than her husband’s”, while she was drunk on the visit to Lockerbie in September 2014.During the weekend away, the former Arbroath High School head teacher was said to have pulled herself up from the floor by holding on to a pupil’s ankles, and to have held crisps between her breasts.She has not been struck off the teaching register, but has been given a two year “conditional registration order”, which involves regular alcohol testing. Last month, she admitted at a General Teaching Council Scotland (GTCS) hearing that she drank eight glasses of wine before having “improper contact” with students.She was sacked from her £74,000-a-year post following the incident, but her admission of guilt meant that details of the charges were not revealed in the hearing.The nature of her behaviour only emerged yesterday in details published by the GTCS. She was “mortified” by her behaviour and said she was partly drinking too much at Lockerbie Manor as a result of 14-hour days among colleagues who were hostile at the time. She did not think her pupils would have been particularly alarmed.On the night in question she stayed up until four in the morning and drank eight glasses of sauvignon blanc from a wine box. She has since undergone alcohol counselling and now works for EIS, the teaching union. She said her days leading a school were over. Mrs Rew came to a party with us aswell and k’oed on the couch, that’s the way teachers should be, god bless Gillian rew— Rory McQuillan (@razmcquillan) October 3, 2014 Mrs Rew now works for the EISCredit:Callum Mason
Dr Chris Moulton, of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told the BBC: “Patients who are delayed like this are still being monitored by staff. But we know that the overcrowding we are seeing is dangerous.”It leads to worse outcomes for patients – higher infection rates, patients ending up on the wrong wards, and generally a negative experience.”Dr Moulton believes there are too few beds. There are just over 100,000 general beds in England – a fall of 40,000 in the past 20 years.”We simply don’t have enough,” he said. “If you compare us to other European countries we are really short and the demands being placed on the health service means we are now struggling to cope.” Almost half a million emergency patients had to wait more than four hours for a bed between October 2015 and September 2016. File pictureCredit:Peter Byrne/PA While the waits are known as trolley waits, some patients wait in side rooms, seats in the A&E department and spare cubicles before being admitted to a ward.The BBC also reported that three-quarters of hospitals are reporting bed shortages. Bed occupancy is not meant to exceed 85 per cent, to give staff time to clean beds, keep infections low and ensure patients who need beds can be found them quickly.But 130 out of 179 hospital trusts are reporting rates exceeding this for general use beds.Siva Anandaciva, of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said: “These figures are deeply worrying. We are heading into winter in a more fragile state than I have seen in the past 10 years or so.”Even the historically top-performing trusts are being challenged, which shows that this is an issue affecting all parts of health.”No one wants to see people waiting in corridors, side rooms and emergency bays when they should be admitted to a hospital bed.”These patients are still under the care of doctors and nurses, of course, but it is not ideal for them and we know overcrowding leads to worse outcomes.” These figures are deeply worrying. We are heading into winter in a more fragile state than I have seen in the past 10 years or soSiva Anandaciva, NHS Providers 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. There has been a sharp rise in “trolley waits” – the length of time people wait for a hospital bed after being admitted in an emergency, figures show.Data shows 473,453 patients waited more than four hours between October 2015 and September 2016 – almost a five-fold increase since 2010/11, analysis by the BBC found.The figure represents 11 per cent of the 4.2 million patients admitted over the period. More than 1,400 faced delays of more than 12 hours.In 2010/11, there were 97,559 trolley waits – although NHS England said a small fraction of the rise could be attributed to a change in the way the waits were measured last December.
One of the prongs on the sculpture of Neptune and Triton was knocked off Credit:V&A 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. Nearly 1,000 precious items in Britain’s national museums and galleries have been damaged over the last decade as a result of careless handling, transit, vandalism and visitor accidents, it has emerged.Paintings, sculptures and historic artefacts have been left in need to repair after a string of incidents, including staff tripping over in the dark, children getting their hands on canvases and a leaking tin of Fray Bentos spoiling a display.A Freedom of Information request has revealed 966 works recorded as damaged across the British Museum, V&A, Tate, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Science Museum and Imperial War Museum.Among the casualties include works by Barbara Hepworth, Anish Kapoor, Mark Rothko, Damian Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Salvador Dali, Auguste Rodin, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, John Constable, and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Message from a Friend, by Joan Miro, which was damagedCredit:Tate There have been mishaps at the British MuseumCredit:Alex Segre /Alamy And at Tate, Eve Rothschild’s Knock Knock, Jeremy Moon’s Untitled2/72, Joan Miro’s Message From a Friend, Christina Mackie’s Shakeman and David Batchelor’s I Love King’s Cross and King’s Cross Loves Me were all damaged by children touching them, while Mark Rothko’s Black on Maroon was left with two small visible handprints in 2009.More innocent mistakes include a V&A hat stand damaged when a visitor used it to hang their coat, and an Imperial War Museum ration book spoiled when a corroded tin of Fray Bentos scotch broth soup leaked its contents over a display case.Hundreds of other items across the London museums were spoiled while being moved around museums or out on loan. The items were each repaired by the museum’s own conservation departments, with all declining to place a value on how much the works cost.A spokesman for the V&A said the damaged items comprised less than 0.015 per cent of the museum’s total collection, adding: “While every case of damage is a matter for regret, we are absolutely committed to good practice and careful risk management as we handle, display, move and store the objects in our care.”The British Museum said the collection was of the “utmost importance”, with damaged objects comprising 0.32 per cent of its total, adding: “But we also have a responsibility to make the collection accessible to a wide public.”The National Portrait Gallery said “rare and minor incidences” had been treated successfully with staff undergoing refresher training in object handling, the Science Museum said it regularly reviewed object protection policies and Tate insisted it has “relevant measures in place to ensure the protection and care of the artworks both in transit and on display”. Other works date back centuries, from Roman and Greek marble to Egyptian mummies and Bronze Age weapons. Causes of damage include knocks in transit, graffiti and the sticky fingers of young visitors permitted to get up close and personal with works of art.On several occasions, items were hit by catering staff setting up for events, including a 2008 V&A accident where a waiter knocked a prong off a 1622 marble Neptune and Triton trident with a crate of wine glasses, and a scrape to the frame of a National Portrait Gallery Harold Pinter painting in 2012 when it was bashed by a serving tray.At the British Museum, a clock was damaged when a visitor fell into the front of it, while an installation artwork by Sue Lawty was when a security guard tripped in a darkened gallery at the V&A. When asked for a list of objects damaged in the last decade, the British Museum admitted to 263 incidents, the V&A 335 and the Science Museum 217. The Imperial War Museum listed 53 items damaged, with 40 at the National Portrait Gallery, and six at the National Gallery.Tate conceded that 52 works of art had been damaged while under its supervision, but refused to include items that were on loan to its galleries fearing it would put future lenders off.The British Museum recorded 136 acts of graffiti including to the Neroid Monument’s large podium frieze, Didyma sculptures, the Payava Tomb, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and numerous marble and limestone statues, friezes, reliefs and coffins. I Love King’s Cross and King’s Cross Loves Me was damaged by childrenCredit:Tate At the National Portrait Gallery, three busts of eminent historical figures were vandalised with lipstick, a sculpture by Anthony Caro left with two marks to the forehead after a visitor struck it twice with a cane, and a statue of Victoria and Albert by William Theed was fractured after a member of the public tried to remove its sword.The National Gallery also suffered attacks from members of the public, with Constable’s The Hay Wain, Nicolas Poussin’s The Adoration of the Golden Calf and The Adoration of the Shepherds, and Domenico Veneziano’s Head of a Tonsured, Bearded Saint attacked with pens, paint and a superglued photograph on the canvas.At the Science Museum, 75 items were damaged by the actions of members of the public and another 40 damage by staff. The modern policy of encouraging children to interact in museums and galleries has also had an effect.At the V&A, a carved column dating from 1225-50 Sicily or Calabria suffered small fragments breaking away, “probably eroded by children climbing”.
The Duchess later visited the Spanish Riding School for a spectacular performance, greeting horses with lumps of sugar and confident pats.The Prince, meanwhile, undertook a roundtable discussion on tackling modern slavery, human trafficking and discrimination.The Prince and Duchess were then set to conclude their European tour, widely believed to be an exercise in soft charm in the wake of the Brexit vote, with a reception with the British Ambassador before flying home on the government’s RAF plane on Thursday night. Princess Alice of Battenburg, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, sheltered a Jewish family, the Cohens, in her home when Greece was occupied by Nazi forces.Living opposite the Gestapo headquarters in Athens, she refused to give them away even when her home was threatened with being searched.Princess Alice, who was given the honour of being buried in Israel’s Mount of Olives, was later recognised by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as a Righteous Among the Nations, and was posthumously awarded the British Government’s Hero of the Holocaust medal.The Prince told the group: “My father’s mother took in a Jewish family during the war and hid them. She was amazing, my grandmother. “She took them in during the Nazi occupation. She never told anybody, she didn’t tell her family for many years.”She’s buried in Jerusalem. In September last year I went to the funeral of President (Shimon) Peres and finally got to see her grave.” The Duchess identified her Zweigelt Thorsaulen 2014 red wine as having a “slight peppery taste”.Laughing, the Prince said: “I always find it so difficult, the words you experts use to describe – all these adjectives.” After sampling red and white wines grown at the vineyard on site, they were given a small selection of newly-grown vines to take home as gifts.As the Prince wondered aloud over whether the soil in Britain would suit the vines, the Duchess assured him the chalky soil in the south of England would suit it well.”I bow to your knowledge of these things,” the Prince told her affectionately. “My wife is a great red wine enthusiast,” he added. Holocaust survivor Gerda Frei, 80, said afterwards: “It is wonderful that the Prince and Duchess came here.”The Prince told us how proud he was of his grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece, who hid a Jewish family from the Nazis.”Mrs Frei said the Prince of Wales told her he had laid flowers from his own garden at Birkhall at her grave.Princess Alice’s remains are buried at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, above the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.She was re-interred in Jerusalem in 1988, but it was not until 1994 that the Duke of Edinburgh visited his mother’s grave when he travelled to Israel for a ceremony honouring her for saving Greek Jews during the Second World War.In September 1943, she had agreed to take in members of the Cohen family: the widow and two of the five children of Haimaki Cohen, who had helped the Greek royal family to shelter from flood decades before in a moral debt they had offered to one day repay. She hid Rachel Cohen and children Michel and Tilde in her palace until the Nazis withdrew in October 1944. During that time, the Nazis sent the vast majority of Greece’s Jewish community to concentration camps.It was a moment of solemnity in a busy day for the Royal couple, who spent their final afternoon in Vienna taking in the culture with wine tasting, a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony by the Vienna Philharmonic and a visit to the spectacular Spanish riding school. Prince Charles arrives for a rehearsal of the Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraCredit:HERBERT PFARRHOFER/AFP The Duchess of Cornwall showed off her knowledge of fine wines at Weinbau Buscheschank Obermann vineyard, while the Prince of Wales admitted he struggles to keep up with the language of wine tasters. The Prince of Wales has told of his pride at his “amazing” grandmother, who saved the lives of a Jewish family by sheltering them from Nazis during the Second World War.The Prince, who first visited his paternal grandmother’s grave in Israel last year, told how he took flowers from his garden in Birkhall for the deeply moving visit.He and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, spent the morning with Holocaust survivors at the Jewish Museum in Vienna, during the final leg of their nine-day tour of Europe. They included Auschwitz survivor Freddie Knoller, now 95, Gerda Frei, 80, and Harry Bibring, 91, who escaped on the Kindertransport after his family shop was destroyed in Kristallnacht.After asking for their stories over a cup of tea, the Prince told the group of his grandmother’s own experience, loyalty and heroics during the war. Prince Charles talks to a holocaust survivor on ThursdayCredit:HANS KLAUS TECHT/AFP Princess Alice of Battenberg, the grandmother of Prince CharlesCredit:Tophams 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. Prince Charles and Camilla’s trip to Vienna is the last leg of their European tourCredit:HANS PUNZ /AFP
A carpet of messages of support and floral tributes to the victims of the Manchester attack lies in St Ann’s Square in ManchesterCredit:BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images Armed police are just you and me, people’s family members, highly trained having chosen to protect us. Say hi and smile and maybe thanku too— Nick Knowles (@MrNickKnowles) May 26, 2017 He said: “It’s great to see so many people coming into the city centre to support these events this weekend, enjoying everything this great city has to offer and showing that people are feeling safe.”Regardless of the support that we’re receiving it’s so important that we remember the people who matter most in this – the people who have lost their lives and their loved ones, and the people who were injured. We’re thinking about you all.” The police officer also said that “Manchester is open for business” but said to be aware that there is an increased police presence. In a statement, he wrote: “My officers, as well as those across the Force, have been working long hours since Monday night and, like everyone, they have been greatly affected by what’s happened.”However, what’s really helped us through a difficult few days has been the overwhelming support and kindness from the people of Manchester. I want to thank each and every person who has added to this”. Police officers have thanked the public for their kindness, and said it “got them through” the aftermath of the Manchester terror attack, when the country was on Critical terror alert and emergency services worked round the clock.Members of the public sent in pizza and tea as well as demonstrating other acts of kindness, to show their gratitude to the officers working to keep the country safe.Inspector Phil Spurgeon said that support from the public came in many ways, “from hugs and kind words to boxes of pizzas being delivered to police stations”.He said: “Just today, a lady who wanted to do her ‘bit’ for Manchester has arranged for a delivery of 2,400 tea bags to be brought to us to be able to make a warm brew after patrols.” He urged everyone to enjoy their Bank Holiday as usual – go sunbathing and shopping and spend time with friends and family. 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. In the majority of cases however, the left ventricle returns to normal over a few days, weeks or months. “Worryingly, these patients’ hearts appear to show a form of scarring, indicating that full recovery may take much longer, or indeed may not occur, with current care.”This highlights the need to urgently find new and more effective treatments for this devastating condition.”The team in Aberdeen used ultrasound and cardiac MRI scans to look at how their patients’ hearts were functioning.The results showed that the syndrome permanently affected the heart’s pumping motion and delayed the “wringing” motion made by the beating heart.The heart’s squeezing motion was also affected, and parts of the heart muscle suffered scarring, which affected its elasticity and prevented it from contracting properly.Dr Dana Dawson, reader in cardiovascular medicine at the University of Aberdeen, who led the research, said: “We used to think that people who suffered from takotsubo cardiomyopathy would fully recover, without medical intervention.”Here we’ve shown that this disease has much longer lasting damaging effects on the hearts of those who suffer from it.”Figures show that between three per cent and 17 per cent of sufferers die within five years of diagnosis. “This study has shown that in some patients who develop takotsubo syndrome, various aspects of heart function remain abnormal for up to four months afterwards,” said BHF associate medical director, Professor Metin Avkiran. Juliet could not live after finding lover Romeo deadCredit:Film Stills/Film Stills Queen Victoria was said to have neglected her children because her love for Prince Albert was so greatCredit:PA/PA Songwriters, poets and novelists have long mused over whether time truly heals everything.Charles Dickens toyed over whether the bitter Miss Haversham would ever recover from being jilted at the altar, and for many historians, Queen Victoria’s black dress came to symbolise her irreparable suffering over Prince Albert’s death.But a new study has apparently put their agonising to bed and concluded that not even the clock can always mend a broken heart.A team of medical researchers from the University of Aberdeen have said that so-called “broken heart syndrome” can leave physical scars that never recover.British Heart Foundation-funded study followed 52 patients over four months, aged between 28 and 87, who suffered with what is officially known as takotsubo syndrome.The little-known condition was first coined in Japan in 1990 and named after the native word for an octopus pot, which has a unique shape that resembles a broken left ventricle.It is provoked when the heart muscle is suddenly “stunned”, causing the left ventricle to change shape, and is typically prompted by “intense emotional or physical stress”.It affects the heart’s ability to pump blood and, according to the BHF, there remains no known medical cure. Around 3,000 people per year in the UK suffer from the rare syndrome, which mostly affects women. Clinicians will usually follow up with regular echocardiograms, and unless a patient has an underlying heart problem, no further treatment is necessary.The BHF says more research is needed to establish whether takotsubo cardiomyopathy can be passed down through family.Journalists speculated whether actress Debbie Reynolds’s death in December – one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame – was caused by a broken heart.Son Todd Fisher, however, said she just wanted to be with her daughter.The study is published today in the Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography. Around 90 per cent are female and the stressful trigger – often associated with the sudden death of a loved one – is identified in around 70 per cent of cases.