Month: September 2019

This Years MLB Tankfest Is Epic And Maybe Pointless

Cycles of winning and then rebuilding are nothing new in baseball, but this year’s cellar dwellers may have been especially emboldened to bottom out after watching the Astros and Cubs take that route on their way to winning the last two World Series. Each team’s title run was preceded by years of spectacular losing, serving as two proofs of the idea that a controlled franchise demolition can help pave the way for 100-win seasons and October parades. In addition, the era of owners and fans being content with a ballclub that’s merely respectable is seemingly over; if you’re not contending for a championship, the thinking goes, you may as well not even try to win at all.It makes sense, on paper. From a bottom-line perspective, buying wins that aren’t likely to tip a team over the threshold to making the playoffs is a poor way to maximize revenue. By concentrating instead on snagging high draft picks and rebuilding their farm systems, Houston and Chicago were able to use their picks on a procession of star prospects such as Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, George Springer, Javier Baez, Alex Bregman … and the list goes on.But the Cubs and Astros might be special cases. Historically speaking, losing a ton of games doesn’t automatically lead to future success: Since 1969, the average team that lost between 90 and 100 games3Per 162 total games. in a season ended up winning an average of 80 games five years later, with only 23 percent having at least 90 wins. By comparison, the group of teams that lost between 75 and 85 games — so, teams that started from the middle — ended up in basically the same place. They won an average of 81 games five years later, with 21 percent cracking 90 wins. In other words, clubs that bottomed out and clubs that built from a place of respectability don’t usually look that different a few years down the line.Why? Probably the same reason that possessing a highly ranked farm system has surprisingly little effect on a team’s major-league fortunes down the road. Chicago and Houston were fortunate that so many of their top farmhands turned into stars,4Granted, not all of them did: 2013’s No. 1 overall pick, Mark Appel, quit baseball in February. and each has supplemented its young talent with cash spent elsewhere. (That’s a model the Phillies are currently following as well, to some early-season success.) Tanking is just the first step; to make it pay off, you also have to nail everything that comes after.This year’s extreme logjam of tankers may also make the strategy less effective. In the past, some teams were able to successfully build from the bottom because there wasn’t a ton of competition down there. It remains to be seen how well the tactic will work when almost a third of the league is doing the same thing at the same time. These copycats may have all hopped on the tank train at the wrong moment.Either way, the result of all this tanking has been a lot of bad baseball in the early going. I’m not totally convinced it’s had more of an effect on this year’s disappointing attendance numbers than, say, the terrible weather that’s plagued much of April around the country.5Although it should be said that 2018’s average attendance has dropped even further, from 27,532 per game at the time of Jeff Passan’s article to 26,931 through April 29, even as temperatures have risen. But it will probably end up affecting playoff races (as various contenders rack up easy wins against deliberately bad teams) and lead to more fans tuning out in the cities hosting these tank projects, and just at a time when baseball’s popularity was starting to creep back up again. All in the name of a strategy that might not even consistently work — despite a few high-profile successes in recent years.Check out our latest MLB predictions. The 2018 MLB season could end up being defined by a lot of things, including the possibility of even more tinkering to the baseball, an epic spate of strikeouts or the disappointing performance of the league’s supposed superteams. But most likely, we’ll remember 2018 as the year tanking dominated baseball’s landscape like never before. Not only did the spectre of mass rebuilding hang over the offseason — contributing to the slowest free-agent class in recent memory — but even after the talent was reshuffled on the field, tanking has already made a major impact on the standings. Particularly the bottom of the standings.According to our Elo projections, eight teams — the Reds, Royals, Marlins, Orioles, White Sox, Padres, Tigers and Rangers — are currently on track to lose at least 90 games, with roughly half of those teams flirting with a 100-loss pace. That’s the most potential 90-game-losers at the end of April since at least 1969,1The start of the “divisional era,” when MLB expanded to 24 teams. if we calculate past teams’ expected records using their Elo rating as of April 30 of each season.2Specifically, I ran a regression predicting a team’s rest-of-season record from its Elo rating at the end of April, and then added that expected record to a team’s actual record as of April 30 to arrive at a projected full-season record equivalent to the ones we list on our Elo-based MLB interactive. I also discarded strike-shortened seasons (like 1994 and 1995) from this analysis. With just a little luck, this year could end up matching (or surpassing) the record-setting 2004 season, which had 10 teams with 90 or more losses. read more

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Messi Is Better Than Maradona But Maybe Not Pele

Last week I wrote “Lionel Messi Is Impossible,” an article that explored how play-by-play data sheds light on the Argentina forward’s skills, style and value (spoiler: he’s good). Many readers asked if I could do a similar analysis comparing Messi with all-time greats, particularly Argentine legend Diego Maradona (who played on the winning 1986 World Cup side) and Brazilian great Pele (who helped his country win the Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970).Ask and you shall receive. Opta, the soccer analytics company, has compiled touch-by-touch data from World Cups going back to 1966, meaning all of Maradona’s World Cup tournaments and two of Pele’s have been logged. This gives us 21 Maradona and eight Pele games to analyze — certainly a small sample, but informative nonetheless.I’ll note before I begin that I’m not usually a fan of cross-era comparisons. Today’s athletes aren’t playing the same game as yesterday’s. Strategies, styles and even rules change dramatically from decade to decade, and in most sports other than horse racing, modern athletes would crush historical greats. It’s easy to think that the dominant players of the past would be just as effective as their modern counterparts with current training, conditioning, etc. — but I’m not buying it. Historical greats frequently dominated a smaller pool of players or excelled in an immature game. And there’s no guarantee that their previous success means they would respond well to modern training techniques or would fit into the modern game.1In other words, the correlation between a player’s skill relative to a previous era and the ability to port those skills into the modern era isn’t necessarily very strong.But cross-era comparisons can still be worthwhile when the circumstances are right. Those circumstances, from most to least useful:When the modern player is much more dominant than the historical player: That means the modern player is almost certainly better.When the modern player is a bit more dominant than the historical player: That means the modern player is probably better.When the historical player is much more dominant than the modern player: That means there’s some the chance the historical player was better.When the historical player is a little more dominant than the modern player: That’s not helpful in the slightest.The Messi vs. Maradona debate falls somewhere between Nos. 1 and 2. But Messi vs. Pele is somewhere between No. 3 and No. 4. Although we have only eight games in the data set, Pele’s fine-grained statistics over this sample are remarkable. And unlike Maradona, whose career production doesn’t quite match Messi’s (e.g., Maradona had 346 combined club and international goals in 679 career appearances, while Messi already has 407 goals in 548 appearances), Pele’s macro-level stats are formidable. While record-keeping wasn’t as good in the 1950s and ’60s, and there were all kinds of odd unofficial matches, Pele had at least 757 goals in 812 “official” matches — a higher goal-to-appearance ratio than Messi overall — and his peak seasons were even better. For example, in 1961 Pele scored 62 goals in 38 appearances (1.63 goals per appearance!) for Santos FC, the Brazilian club team where he spent most of his playing career.To make the fairest possible comparisons, I’ve used two sets of Messi games to isolate his World Cup play from his high-level club play. “Messi-A” is all of Messi’s games in the Opta data set for Argentina (get it? “A” is for Argentina) either in World Cup or World Cup qualifying play (so no international friendlies or the like), going back to 2006.2Note that 2014 alone would be considerably better than average for Messi-A, but we’re comparing all available data rather than cherry-picking each player’s best seasons. “Messi-B” is all of Messi’s games since the 2010-11 season that Opta covers for Barcelona (“B” is for …) in UEFA Champions League games only — the highest level of competition he faced in club play. Here’s the top-line breakdown:On a game-by-game level, Pele leads Messi and Maradona in goal production by significant margins. Even Messi’s UEFA numbers, while stellar, don’t match Pele’s.3It’s perhaps worth mentioning that Messi averaged a considerably higher 1.59 goals plus assists per game for Barcelona in La Liga games, though the significance of those games is less certain because of the extreme imbalance between the league’s top teams and the rest. Pele’s five goals in eight games are a bit below what we would expect given what we know about his goal-scoring in other contexts (for example, Pele scored seven goals in his five previous World Cup games). And, importantly, Pele’s assist rate gives us a rare glimpse into that aspect of his game. If he was nearly as good at distributing the ball over his career as he was during these two World Cups, his value may have been even greater than we previously thought.But let’s zoom in a bit closer, going from the game-by-game data to the play-by-play data. First, let’s look at our “four” players’ shooting. The Opta data set has x-y coordinates for each shot, which means we can see the shot charts for all of them.4More detailed shot charts are also possible with this data.First is Messi-A, playing with Argentina in all World Cup or World Cup qualifying matches. (Note that this includes three goals from penalty kicks.) Second is Messi-B, playing in UEFA Champions League games for Barcelona:The Barcelona chart includes seven goals from penalty kicks. The main thing that sticks out is that compared to Messi-A, Messi-B takes fewer shots from distance and has been less successful with them.Now here are Maradona’s shots:Maradona was abysmal from distance! But he made a very high percentage of shots inside the box; none of these was a penalty.Finally, here’s Pele:Pele loved to launch it from long-range, and appears to have done so pretty well. However, I’d note that both of these goals were on direct free kicks, meaning neither he nor Maradona scored from outside the box on regular “open” plays in this data (something that is kind of Messi’s specialty).Here’s how those charts break down in numbers (excluding penalty shots):Messi-B wins this competition overall, though largely because of Pele’s affection for long attempts. Pele hit a higher percentage both inside the box and outside it, but ended up with a lower shooting percentage because he took over two-thirds of his shots from distance.5Note that Messi’s shooting for both Argentina and for Barca in UEFA matches trails his La Liga efficiency considerably. In regular league games he has made 9.9 percent of shots outside the penalty area and 25.7 percent inside it, for 20.2 percent overall (and even higher if you exclude free kicks, which are a relatively low percentage shots for him).Now let’s turn to dribbling skills. Of the play-by-play stats I used in my Messi study, one of my favorites was the “take on” or “1v1” stat, where we found that Messi takes on defenders one on one more than any forward tracked in our data set, and with a higher success rate. So, naturally, this is one of the first things I looked up in the historical data:Maradona took on defenders even more zestfully than Messi, and was slightly more successful in doing so. Pele, however, was almost as successful, though he made far fewer attempts per game. I should note, though, that taking on defenders was both more common and more likely to be successful in Pele’s and Maradona’s eras, so this may be a bit of an historical anomaly. In UEFA matches since 2010, teams had an average of about 18 “take on” attempts per game — succeeding 44.8 percent of the time. That’s less than the 21 or so per game by World Cup teams in the Pele and Maradona years; those players succeeded 49.4 percent of the time. Messi appears to be the greater outlier (especially if you consider La Liga, where he succeeds in one-on-one attempts 55.3 percent of the time, while the typical success rate is only 35.6 percent). My main inference from all of this is that defenses are probably tougher these days, which perhaps should affect how we interpret the other comparisons as well.Another area where Messi seems to have the edge is in passing accuracy and success rates. For this I’ll look at each player’s overall pass completion percentage and the “success” rate of his passes (that is, how often the pass leads to a “successful” play by the receiving player, such as a shot, or another pass):Both Messis attempt more passes than Maradona or Pele did, and both have higher completion percentages and success rates, though Pele’s stats look remarkably similar to Messi-A’s.That final stat, “touches with ‘successful’ pass,” basically tells us how often the player successfully extends his team’s possessions. But how do things go down when he uses the possession himself?To find that out, I slightly tweaked the “Possessions Used” stat I created in my previous article. First, to avoid any skew, I limited what qualifies as a touch to regular, open (non-set-piece) plays only. Each time a player did something that ended a possession, I logged one of three different outcomes: a lost ball (when a player was dispossessed, turned the ball over, failed in a one-on-one attempt, or passed to someone who lost the ball before managing to get off a shot or pass); a missed shot or chance (either the player missed a shot, or the player whom he set up to take a shot missed); or a goal (whether by the player’s own shot or an assist). As before, possession-extending events like successful one-on-ones don’t count themselves, though they may affect the relative likelihood of each outcome (e.g., successfully taking on a defender would presumably be reflected by scoring or assisting more goals). And passes that are successful but don’t immediately lead to shots don’t count as possessions at all. Our players compare like so:Of these “four” players, Pele produced the most goals (through shots and assists) per possession, with Messi-B slightly behind, Messi-A a little further back, and Maradona coming in a respectable fourth. Pele was also much more likely to take or create a shot attempt that missed than to lose possession of the ball any other way, which likely had secondary advantages (as missed shots often lead to rebound attempts, corner kicks, etc).Let’s recap the ways that Pele’s numbers stack up to Messi’s:Pele leads in rates of goals plus assists, whether by game or by possessions (as measured by Possession Used).A higher percentage of Pele’s Possessions Used came from missed shots rather than lost balls.Pele took on fewer defenders, but was similarly successful (though Messi is a bigger outlier for his era).Pele’s passing stats (both completion rate and success rate) are a little bit behind Messi’s, but not much.Although Pele’s overall shooting percentage is similar to Messi-A’s and a little behind Messi-B’s, this is largely a result of Pele taking almost twice as many shots from long range.Over this sample, Pele shot about as well as Messi from long range and considerably better from short range.I don’t mean to suggest that this proves Pele was better than Messi: In addition to the historical comparison issues I mentioned, we prefer not to draw conclusions from just eight games of data.But sample size isn’t a death knell in Bayesian analysis. While the 21 Maradona games are also a relatively small sample, that sample is probably large enough for us to conclude that Messi is likely the better player (though not necessarily as valuable to Argentina writ large) for two reasons: First, Messi comes out ahead of Maradona fairly consistently and by fairly good margins, and second, the data conforms with what we know of their broader careers, and what we would assume based on Messi playing in a stronger era.6Which is to say, in Bayesian terms, the data confirms our priors.But with Pele, we have essentially the opposite scenario. As amazing as Messi’s numbers are — from the career level down to the touch-by-touch level — Pele essentially matches or exceeds them stride for stride. So the thing those eight games confirm is the lack of a conclusive gap between Messi and Pele. In other words, we’ve precluded a simple answer to the Messi/Pele question: If Messi were a substantially more dominant player (even for his era), it would be very unlikely that we’d see results like these.I hope more Pele data emerges, so that we can get a better sense of how dominant he really was, and whether these eight World Cup games were consistent with his overall play (we should expect some regression to the mean just because they’re so good to begin with). But Messi has an opportunity to improve his standing: He’ll be adding more data to his sample Wednesday afternoon, and for many years to come. read more

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By the numbers Ohio State steamrolls Rutgers 497

OSU redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) and redshirt sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall (7) celebrate a touchdown against Rutgers on Oct. 24 at High Point Solutions Stadium. OSU won, 49-7. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorThe offensive problems that have plagued Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) all season seem to have finally been resolved, for now. Redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett returned to the starting lineup for the first time this season and he led the Buckeyes to a 49-7 rout in OSU’s first trip in program history to Piscataway, New Jersey, to take on Rutgers.Barrett totaled five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) and 324 yards of offense as he helped show the nation the potential of the Buckeye offense that has been off to a rocky start.  Since being phased more and more into the offense after the game at Indiana, Barrett has collected 10 touchdowns and 500-plus yards of offense in his last three games combined. After Saturday night’s performance, it is clear that he has solidified his place once again as coach Urban Meyer’s No. 1 option.The Buckeye offense started slow in the first quarter, but once Barrett was settled in the offensive steamroller began moving, as the Buckeyes tallied 49 unanswered points on an overwhelmed Rutgers team. Junior Ezekiel Elliot ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries as he once again led the Buckeye rushing attack. Barrett also added his second straight 100-plus yard rushing game.On the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes were able to easily contain Rutgers all night long, and only gave up a touchdown in the final seconds of the game. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Gareon Conley picked off a pass, while sophomore Raekwon McMillan led the team with seven tackles.OSU has a bye next week before a home matchup against Minnesota, while Rutgers goes to Camp Randall Stadium to face off against Wisconsin on Oct. 31.By the numbers:21 – OSU picked up its 21st straight win last night, the longest current winning streak in the nation.2 – The amount of matchups ever between the Scarlet Knights and the Buckeyes, with the first meeting last year in Columbus. OSU is now 2-0 in the series.3 – The Big Ten currently has three undefeated teams in the top 10 of the AP Poll (Michigan State, OSU and Iowa). The Pac-12, SEC and ACC only have two between the three conferences.0 ­– The Buckeyes played a nearly flawless game on Saturday and didn’t get a single penalty called against them.49 – Tied for the most points put up by the Buckeyes this season (the other game was against Maryland).21-8 –  The Buckeyes enter a tough stretch to end the regular season, as they are scheduled to play four teams with a current combined record of 21-8, and all of whom feature a current winning record (Minnesota, at Illinois, Michigan State, at Michigan). read more

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Womens volleyball opens Big Ten with two Top 5 opponents

Senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe attacking at the net in a regional semifinal against the University of Washington on Dec. 11, 2015. Credit: OSU AthleticsAfter a long preseason on the road, Big Ten play has finally arrived for the Ohio State women’s volleyball team, and it will not be an easy transition for the Buckeyes.  The No. 17 Buckeye “tribe” will battle No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday, followed by No. 2 Minnesota on Saturday. Both matches will send OSU on the road for the fifth weekend in a row this season. This time last season, OSU went point-for-point with each of the teams, going the full five-set distance in both matches, but with different outcomes. The Buckeyes took a loss to Minnesota, but came back four days later to take down the Badgers at St. John Arena. The veteran players on this OSU squad know exactly what to expect when the conference season rolls around. “The Big Ten is always going to be a grind every night,” said senior middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe. “You’re going into battle with some of the best teams in the whole entire country.”Sandbothe has been around long enough to face three waves of Badgers and Gophers, and this weekend will mark her fourth and final go-around to leave everything she has on the floor. “Every time we go into a Big Ten weekend — and this being my last one, it’s kind of bittersweet — but I think it’s such an opportunity and privilege to play in this conference and see this type of volleyball all the time,” she said. “I think it’s made me the player I am today.”Sandbothe and her teammates mentioned the energy buzzing in the arena for Big Ten matches.This week, both of the Buckeyes’ opponents are ranked inside the top five in the country for the average crowd attendance at their matches. Between 5,000 and 6,000 Gopher and Badger fans will pour into the arenas this weekend to cheer on the home team. The crowd’s energy is vital to any athletic event, and junior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer said she cannot wait to silence the opposing voices when her team takes the floor. “We talk about being ‘road warriors’ all the time, and kind of shutting up the fans in their house, and I think that’s so much fun,” Schirmer said. In addition to playing in front of large visiting crowds, the Buckeyes will go into battle with two teams armed with a deep arsenal of weapons. Freshman Badger Molly Haggerty has already won three Big Ten honors, and just this week, she was voted American Volleyball Coaches Association Player of the Week after the team’s performance against Texas and Texas A&M. Her teammate, Tionna Williams, also earned Big Ten recognition this week and currently ranks sixth in the nation for blocks per set. Minnesota boasts its own array of conference awards. The team’s setter, Samantha Seliger-Swenson, has earned Big Ten Setter of the Week four consecutive times already this season. The team also holds spots in the top 10 in three national statistics, including fourth in kills per set. OSU coach Geoff Carlston said his team is going into these matches ready for war. “I’m excited to see our team kind of being in that cauldron, be in that fire,” he said. “Our team kind of looks forward to the opportunity of having an us-against-them mentality and ‘arms locked in.’”The strength of these opponents doesn’t come to the Buckeyes as a surprise, but Carlston said he is confident in the preparation of his team and its mindset going into this opening weekend. “It’s not going to be an easy thing, but our team feels good about who we are and where we’re at right now,” he said. Logically, the odds are stacked against the Buckeyes, but Schirmer sees parity throughout the conference.“Being the nature of the Big Ten, you can beat anyone on any given day,” she said. “I don’t care about the rankings … it’s all about how we play and what we focus on.”OSU will take on its first Big Ten foe, Wisconsin at 8 p.m. on Friday in Madison, Wisconsin. The team will then travel to Minnesota to play the Gophers at 8 p.m. on Saturday. read more

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Probusiness stance hurts players

This term, the highest court in the land has decided to weigh in on a case that’s about hats. That may sound innocuous, but what the Supreme Court decides in American Needle, Inc. v. NFL could dramatically change the playing field in professional sports business. In 2000, the NFL auctioned the exclusive rights to hat merchandise bearing the NFL logo and the logos of all its member teams to Reebok. American Needle, Inc. used to have similar rights, but found that the NFL was not renewing their license following the Reebok deal.The company says deals that the NFL makes with companies like Reebok violate the Sherman Act, which limits monopolies and cartels. The NFL, however, is saying that they acted as a “single entity.” For the purposes of merchandising, the league isn’t a collection of team businesses coming together to drive out the competition and increase prices, but one buyer making a purchase.If that sounds shaky, consider the special nature of a sports league. Teams compete with each other for things like TV time, players, and even fans, but in business terms teams and leagues tend to work together to sell their sport, coordinating their intellectual property.American Needle ambitiously decided to take the NFL, Reebok, and the 32 team owners to court in 2004. The NFL won on each appeal, but American Needle persisted and eventually asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case. Surprisingly, the NFL’s lawyers (and the NHL’s and the NBA’s) sent in briefs recommending that they do just that.If the leagues and the team owners could get their status as a single entity confirmed by the highest court in the land, it would set a precedent that would give them legal grounds to do away with all sorts of competition that might hurt their profits. Smelling a rat, the players’ and coaches’ associations of the major sports leagues have hired expensive lawyers with Supreme Court and anti-trust experience to support American Needle. Those unions would lose bargaining power if a single entity precedent is established. In a worst case scenario, salaries and free agency would drop precipitously, possibly resulting in strikes in the major sports leagues. The NCAA and BCS get these kinds of anti-trust cases just as much, if not more, than the professional leagues; the NCAA for the restrictions they place on television markets, merchandise and player scholarships, and the BCS for their lucrative post-season bowl advertising market. A pro-NFL decision would halt future cases like these before they even start.The Supreme Court is fairly conservative this term, and arguably pro-business. Obviously the leagues and team owners like their chances to codify their monopoly. This might give them the bigger short term profits that they seek, but it probably also means unhappier players, higher ticket and jersey prices for fans and a less enjoyable and accessible experience all around. read more

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Ohio State football ticket prices demand drop after Braxton Millers injury

Click to enlarge.In a sport with 22 starters, it’s rare for just one to swing a fan’s interest in attending a game.While the university hiked up the face value of OSU football tickets in 2013, the actual price to get into games this season has taken a hit since senior quarterback Braxton Miller went down with a shoulder injury.Miller tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder at practice Aug. 18. Just two days later, the average price to get into an OSU home or neutral site game in 2014 had already dropped about 10 percent, according to the website SeatGeek.The website is a place to search for tickets that compiles prices for different events across major secondary ticket-selling websites.A spokesman for StubHub, a major secondary ticketing website, said on Monday the website did not see a change in prices after the injury, but did see about a 10 percent drop in traffic going to the OSU ticketing page on the website compared to the week before the injury.On Tuesday, the StubHub spokesman said single game ticket prices hadn’t changed, but the website had seen about a 9 percent drop in season ticket prices since before Miller’s injury. He said StubHub has about 300 season-ticket listings from outside sellers.OSU assistant athletic director for ticketing and premium seating Brett Scarbrough said Tuesday he hadn’t had a chance to “scour the secondary market,” but added his office had not experienced a decrease in phone calls looking for tickets since Miller was injured.“As far as requests that come through my office, for both home and away games, I have not seen a dip in those at all,” he said.Scarbrough went on to say that he had never experienced a situation where one player drove down either prices or demand for OSU football tickets.The average price to get into the Buckeyes’ season opener against Navy, set to take place at the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, dropped 15 percent in the first two days after the injury. Originally averaging $109 before his injury, the prices were coming in at $93 on the week of the injury.The get-in — or lowest — price for the Navy game was $77 on Aug. 17. On Tuesday night, a SeatGeek search showed the price had dropped 52 percent to as low as $37 with the game less than a week away.Even OSU’s annual matchup with archrival Michigan — better known as The Game — saw an initial drop in prices. According to SeatGeek, the average price for the Nov. 29 matchup at Ohio Stadium was $408 during the week of Aug. 11, but dropped down to $380 — or approximately a 7 percent decrease — after the injury.Regardless of secondary vendors, Scarbrough said OSU’s single-game ticket sales have been successful heading into the season, especially when it comes to Michigan.“What I can tell you is … we went on sale with our single games a few weeks ago,” he said. “We’re very successful with that. With the exception of Michigan, which is sold out, all of the other (home) games are down to scattered single seats.”With The Game sold out through OSU’s ticketing service, the prices have fluctuated multiple times since the injury.On Aug. 20, the low price for the Michigan game on SeatGeek was $210, just a $2 drop from two days earlier, but on Monday, the tickets started at $203. That was more than a 4 percent decrease for the price to watch arguably OSU’s most anticipated game of the season.As of Tuesday night, that get-in price was back to $214 after the initial plunge.OSU’s homecoming matchup with Rutgers took the most significant hit for average ticket prices, falling about 18 percent from the week of Aug. 11 to the week of Aug. 18. Those tickets were still averaging about $144, but had come in at $175 before the injury.On Tuesday night, a SeatGeek search showed a low price of $93 for an Ohio Stadium ticket for the Rutgers game, which is about a 16 percent drop from the $111 get-in price on Aug. 17.Instead of focusing on which individual players are on the field, Scarbrough said his office works with OSU’s fan experience and marketing teams to keep the game atmosphere at a desirable level.“Regardless of who’s throwing the pass on the field, we want to make sure the (OSU) football experience is all that it can be for our fans,” he said. “We don’t really tend to … focus a whole lot on individual injuries and that sort of thing.”Even though Scarbrough said his office hasn’t experienced a situation where the star quarterback went down with an injury before the season, he said there are no plans to change the strategy going forward.“Like I said, we’ve never experienced a situation like this before,” he said. “But it certainly doesn’t change our focus toward making an (OSU) football game an experience, and that in and of itself is going to drive ticket sales.”In some situations, that plan seems to have held true as not every game has seen ticket prices continue to drop since Miller was injured, even at secondary vendors.The get-in price on SeatGeek for the Buckeyes’ Sept. 6 prime-time matchup with Virginia Tech came in at $136 Tuesday evening. On Aug. 17, that price was $140 and on Aug. 20 — after the injury — it was $129. Since Aug. 20, the price has gone up a net of about 5 percent.The get-in price for the Buckeyes’ Sept. 27 game against Cincinnati also saw a rise after an initial 15 percent drop after Miller tore his labrum. The price was listed at $90 on SeatGeek Tuesday night, while it came in at $76 on Aug. 20.According to SeatGeek, tickets to get into OSU home games were still some of the most expensive in all of college football, second only to Notre Dame, as of Aug. 20.“Lots of other schools are not in the situation that we’re in with the success of their public ticket sales, or their student ticket sales or other categories for that matter,” Scarbrough said. “So, we’re constantly talking about game-atmosphere-type issues.”While still high in comparison to most of the nation, prices for every OSU home game — outside of Illinois and Michigan — and the neutral-site game against Navy are lower than they were when it was announced Miller would be out for the season. Two of those games have seen the get-in price continue to drop since Aug. 20. read more

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Primary school bans homework after pupils and parents voted to read books

first_imgA primary school has scrapped homework after the move was backed in a poll by parents and pupils.Children at the 193-pupil Inverlochy Primary School in Fort William have been urged instead to use the time they would have spent on homework to read books, magazines and comics.Nearly 80 per cent of pupils and 62 per cent of parents supported the move at the Highland school, while the 10 teachers were split down the middle.The school carried out a six-week trial last year during which pupils were given no homework so that they had more time to play. Pupils were then sent home with slips that asked their parents to respond with a simple “yes” or “no” to a no-homework policy.One father, Barry Hutchison, 38, a children’s author, said homework stressed pupils and their parents. He added: “Kids have so many things outside school, like clubs. They just need time to be kids.”Mr Hutchison, whose daughter attends the school, said parents who wanted to give their children homework could find material online. Last month King’s Road Primary in Rosyth, Fife, scrapped homework, leading to complaints from parents that they had not been consulted.A spokesman for EIS, the teachers’ union, said: “It is important that all pupils develop their abilities to study independently and homework is one, but not the only, method of supporting this type of independent learning.” Susan Campbell, 30, whose eight-year-old son is a pupil, also voted for the change. She said: “It takes up a lot of time and quite often he has after-school clubs and things like that and it can be left until 8pm at night. “He should be going to bed but instead we’re sitting doing homework with him. He’s really not that responsive at that time of night. “So we voted ‘no’ and we’ll do reading with him instead.” Show more He should be going to bed but instead we’re sitting doing homework with him. He’s really not that responsive at that time of nightSusan Campbell, parent Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

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Prostate cancer drug based on seabed bacteria brings complete remission for half

first_img“We would also expect the treatment to be far more precise if we repeated it today, as technology has come a long way since the study began in 2011.”We can now pinpoint prostate cancers using MRI scans and targeted biopsies, allowing a much more targeted approach to diagnosis and treatment. This means we could accurately identify men who would benefit from and deliver treatment more precisely to the tumour.”The therapy was developed by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel in collaboration with STEBA Biotech, and the European phase I, II and III trials were all led by UCL.The treatment is currently being reviewed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and if passed will need to be approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence before it can be used in the NHS. The tumours are identified using MRI scans then the drugs are sent to exactly the right place, before they are switched on. At the moment, men with low-risk prostate cancer are put under ‘active surveillance’ where the disease is monitored and only treated when it becomes more severe.Radical therapy, which involves surgically removing or irradiating the whole prostate, has significant long-term side effects so is only used to treat high-risk cancers.Radical therapy causes lifelong erectile problems and around one in five patients also suffer from incontinence.By contrast, the light therapy only caused short-term urinary and erectile problems which resolved within three months, and no significant side-effects remained after two years.In the trial only six per cent of patients treated needed radical therapy compared with 30 per cent of patients in the control arm who were under active surveillance.The chances of cancer progressing to a more dangerous stage were three times lower for patients on light therapy, and the treatment doubled the average time to progression from 14 months to 28 months.”New procedures are generally associated with a learning curve, but the lack of complications in the trial suggests that the treatment protocol is safe, efficient and relatively easy to scale up,” added Prof Emberton. 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.center_img A treatment for prostate cancer based on bacteria which live on the ocean floor brings complete remission for half of patients,  a new trial has shown.The therapy, involves injecting a light sensitive drug into the bloodstream and activating it with a drug to destroy tumour tissue, while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.The research, published in The Lancet Oncology, found that around half (49 per cent) of 413 patients with low-risk prostate cancer treated went into complete remission compared with 13.5 per cent in the control group who were given no treatment. “These results are excellent news for men with early localised prostate cancer, offering a treatment that can kill cancer without removing or destroying the prostate,” says lead investigator Professor Mark Emberton, Dean of UCL Medical Sciences and Consultant Urologist at UCLH.”This is truly a huge leap forward for prostate cancer treatment, which has previously lagged decades behind other solid cancers such as breast cancer.”In 1975 almost everyone with breast cancer was given a radical mastectomy, but since then treatments have steadily improved and we now rarely need to remove the whole breast. In prostate cancer we are still commonly removing or irradiating the whole prostate, so the success of this new tissue-preserving treatment is welcome news indeed.”The drug used in the procedure, called WST11, is derived from bacteria at the bottom of the ocean.To survive with very little sunlight, they have evolved to convert light into energy with incredible efficiency. This property has been exploited to develop WST11, a compound that releases free radicals to kill surrounding cells when activated by laser light. last_img read more

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Hes constantly in trouble Prince Harry was already a rebel aged 8

first_imgSilver spoons, coins and cufflinks given by the Royal Family to Cyril DickmanCredit:Cheffins/BNPS Mr Dickman retired at 65 and was made a Freeman of the City of London. He died aged 85 in 2012 and the letters were uncovered by his grandson who was going through his belongings.He has decided to put them up for auction and they are valued at £15,000. Prince Harry developed his rebellious streak by the time he was eight, his mother the Princess of Wales revealed in previously unseen letters.The young prince was “constantly in trouble” at boarding school, Diana disclosed in a 1993 letter to a confidante, whom she had also told of Prince William’s love for his younger brother.In letters to the late Cyril Dickman, who served as a steward at Buckingham Palace for more than 50 years, Diana wrote that William “could not stop kissing” Harry after he was born in September 1984.One particularly touching letter to Mr Dickman, dated March 2, 1985, reads: “William adores his little brother and spends the entire time swamping Harry with an endless supply of hugs and kisses, hardly letting the parents near!” Diana letter October 1992 Dylan Mander, specialist at Cambridge-based auctioneers Cheffins which is auctioning off Mr Dickman’s letters, said: “It is incredibly rare to have letters from Princess Diana with such a personal touch to them.”She would not have had friends in the sense we do so you could say Cyril Dickman was one of her closest friends.”Cheffins’ sale takes place in Cambridge on Jan 5. Prince Harry and Prince William on their way to school in 1989 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. Princess Diana letter September 1984 Credit:Cheffins/BNPScenter_img Credit:Cheffins/BNPS Prince Harry and Prince William on their way to school in 1989Credit:PETER BROOKER/Rex Shutterstock Also in the letter, Diana reveals how she and Prince Charles had been “overwhelmed” by the reaction to Harry’s birth and could “hardly breathe from the mass of flowers”.Another letter, dated July 18, 1993, in a series that have emerged at auction, reveals the naughty side of Prince Harry, then aged eight.Diana wrote to Mr Dickman: “The boys are well and enjoying boarding school a lot, although Harry is constantly in trouble!” Prince Harry was a pupil at private Ludgrove School in Berkshire at the time and the letter shows he had a rebellious streak at a young age.Nine years later aged 17 he was caught smoking cannabis in the grounds of Highgrove. He came under fire again in 2005 for wearing a Nazi uniform at a fancy dress party.Mr Dickman started his career at Buckingham Palace watching out for fires on the roof during the Blitz.The high esteem in which he was held by Princess Diana is reflected by the fact she confided in him about the death of her grandmother, the Baroness Fermoy, in July 1993. Show more In a letter dated July 18, 1993, she writes: “Thank you so much for your lovely letter concerning my Grandmother.”Her death came as a great shock, but it has meant an enormous amount to receive messages of support such as yours. I often think of you and Mrs Dickman and hope that life is treating you kindly.”Some of the other items in the auction include signed Christmas cards from Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Silver spoons, coins and cufflinks given by the Royal Family to Cyril Dickmanlast_img read more

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The Queen channels the South Pacific as she visits Fiji exhibition in

first_imgQueen Elizabeth II arrives at the Fiji Exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich Credit:Chris Jackson/Getty Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives to view an exhibition on Fiji at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia in Norwich Credit:Hannah McKay/EPA Credit:Toby Melville/Reuters Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Fiji Exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich The Queen, wearing fuchsia, looked momentarily taken aback as she got out of her car to be confronted by bare-chested Fijian warriors in grass skirts.Despite the chilly 4C temperature, the underdressed islanders had waited patiently to welcome the Queen to an exhibition about Fijian art and life at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.On what was her first public engagement of the year, the Queen reminisced about her six visits to the island nation as she was greeted by Fiji’s High Commissioner, Jitoko Tikolevu, who showed his respect by performing a traditional bula welcome. 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. Credit:PA She was presented with a box containing a photo album depicting her visits to Fiji and the exhibition by Milla Goos,7, and her sister Roxy, 10, whose mother is one of the curators. Before she left she met Fijian students studying at the university and was treated to a traditional farewell song from the choir.Mr Tikolevu, the high commissioner, said it was a song she knew well. “She shed a tear when the choir sang it for her at the Royal Windsor Horse Show last year for her 90th birthday,” he said. Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives to view an exhibition on Fiji at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia in Norwich Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia to visit the Fiji Exhibition on January 27, 2017 in Norwich, England Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia to visit the Fiji Exhibition on January 27, 2017 in Norwich, Englandcenter_img Royal aides admitted that a diary mix-up was the reason for the Duke’s absence as the Queen visited the University of East Anglia on her own.The Duke, 95, had long-standing “private engagements” at Sandringham which meant he could not join the Queen, but aides in the Royal Household appeared not to have checked that before they advertised the visit as a joint one. A royal source described the mistake as an “oversight”.The Duke’s absence from the event in Norwich had prompted concerns that he was ill, forcing Buckingham Palace to admit to the mistake. Credit:Chris Radburn/PA Having visited Fiji a number of times, the Queen was well versed with some of its customs and as she was taken on her tour appeared fascinated by the exhibits.They included a traditional sailing canoe built for her 90th birthday celebrations at Windsor and mementos from her visits to the South Pacific nation. Credit:Chris Jackson /Getty Images  After shaking her hand, he knelt down on one knee and clapped his hand three times. “It’s a sign of respect for the Royal Family only,” he said, insisting that many Fijians still regarded her as their Queen even though the country became a republic in 1987 after two military coups. It was not, he said, something he would do for a prime minister.At one point she was shown film footage of herself attending a ceremony beside a traditional canoe during her first visit as Queen in 1953. “Ah, the canoe..” she said, before swiftly moving on to view a whale tooth presented to her on the same tour. Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia to visit the Fiji Exhibition on January 27, 2017 in Norwich, England Queen Elizabeth arrives at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, Eastern England, Britain, 27 January 2017 Fiji: Art & Life In The Pacific showcased the Commonwealth country’s sculptures, textiles and ceramics alongside ivory and shell regalia.In one part of the gallery she was shown a wedding dress made from masi – cloth produced from the bark of the paper mulberry tree – for the 1991 marriage of Adi Litia Mara to Lord Henry Dugdale. “Oh yes, she married the son of one of my ladies-in-waiting,” the Queen said.Lady Kathryn Dugdale, one of the monarch’s longest-serving ladies-in-waiting, died in 2004. It should have been the day the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh carried out their first joint engagement of the year.The only problem was, no-one seemed to have told the Duke of Edinburgh that. Credit:Chris Jackson/Getty Credit:Toby Melville/Reuterslast_img read more

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