NFL Week 7 Elo Ratings And Playoff Odds

The Seattle Seahawks, No. 1 in our NFL Elo ratings since the start of the season, have relinquished that position after losing 30-23 at home against the Dallas Cowboys. The new Elo No. 1 probably won’t cause much controversy: It’s the Denver Broncos, who are also the betting favorite to win the Super Bowl and the top-rated team in ESPN’s panel of experts. But after that, there’s more disagreement. Should Dallas — now 5-1 and having won against Seattle head-to-head — rank ahead of the 3-2 Seahawks?The experts panel thinks so: It now has Dallas at No. 3 and Seattle at No. 5. But betting odds still prefer Seattle. The prices at Betfair imply Seattle has a 13 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl; Dallas is at 6 percent.Elo’s answer somewhat splits the difference. It still has the Seahawks ranked about 50 Elo points higher than Dallas, which translates to Seattle being 2-point favorites in a game played on a neutral field. The gap has closed: At the start of the season, Elo would have had the Seahawks favored by a touchdown in a neutral-site game. However, Elo ratings take past seasons into account. In the system’s estimation, Seattle’s accomplishments from last year still matter enough to outweigh what the Cowboys have done so far this year.But the Cowboys’ strong start does count for a lot. Because of it, they project to 11.5 wins on the season, as compared with 10 wins for Seattle. Dallas also plays in the easier division and otherwise has the easier schedule, having survived some of its tougher games.In fact, the Seahawks are at risk of missing the playoffs entirely. In part because San Francisco (No. 3 overall in the Elo ratings) and Arizona (No. 7) also play in the NFC West, Seattle made the postseason only 60 percent of the time in this week’s simulations. Dallas, conversely, made the playoffs 82 percent of the time. Seattle is more likely to win the Super Bowl conditional upon making the playoffs. But since Dallas is more likely to make the playoffs in the first place, the teams’ overall Super Bowl chances are about the same according to Elo: 9 percent for the Seahawks and 8 percent for the Cowboys.Here are the playoff odds for the those two, and the other 30 NFL teams:The AFC playoff picture has become surprisingly clear. The most likely teams to earn the conference’s six playoff slots are Denver (86 percent), Indianapolis (also 86 percent — there’s no one to beat them in the AFC South), New England (84 percent), San Diego (81 percent), Cincinnati (67 percent) and Baltimore (66 percent). Then there’s a big drop-off to the next tier of teams — led by Pittsburgh and Kansas City — none of whom is higher than 27 percent.The NFC’s playoff hunt is more crowded. The aforementioned Cowboys, at 82 percent, are the safest bet to make the postseason. But then there’s a glut of seven teams — San Francisco, Seattle, Arizona, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Detroit and Carolina — all between 53 percent and 65 percent. At least two of those teams won’t make it, unless they knock Dallas out.This leaves some perfectly decent football teams facing long odds. The Chicago Bears have just a 26 percent chance to make the playoffs. The New York Giants are at 13 percent (and that’s without accounting for the injury to Victor Cruz). New Orleans has a 30 percent chance of overtaking Carolina to win the NFC South, but in our simulations the Saints made the playoffs as a wild card team only 4 percent of the time.It isn’t very hard for a team with league-average talent like Chicago to back into a 10-6 or 9-7 record. However, the problem isn’t just the number of good teams in the league — the number of really bad ones is also causing issues. The Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers project to a combined record of just 18-62. That’s a lot of extra wins distributed to the other teams in the league. In our simulations, 9-7 teams are reaching the playoffs only 29 percent of the time — much lower than the historical average of 51 percent. Nor is a 10-6 record as safe as usual; those teams are missing the playoffs 25 percent of the time.Tie for the winWhat about a record of, say, 10-5-1? Both the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals now have a tie on their resumes, having drawn 37-37 last weekend in Cincinnati (this was the highest-scoring tie in NFL history, incidentally). This is the third tied game in as many seasons since the NFL changed its overtime rules before the 2012 season; two of those games would not have been ties under the previous rules.Fans and coaches seem to hate ties — but as soccer fans know, there are some circumstances when ties can play to the teams’ mutual advantage. The Panthers’ playoff odds increased to 64 percent from 59 percent after the tie. The Bengals’ were unaffected, remaining at 67 percent, despite the best competition in their division, the Ravens, having won.The geeky explanation for this is that teams in a strong position — both Cincinnati and Carolina were favorites to make the playoffs before the game — would prefer to avoid variance. Imagine your team starts its season 7-1; such teams make the playoffs 95 percent of the time. Would you take the option of drawing your eight remaining games — finishing the season with the awkward-looking record of 7-1-8 — instead of playing out the string? If your sole concern is making the playoffs, the math says you actually should. A 7-1-8 record is equivalent to a 11-5 record the way that the NFL scores these things, and 11-5 teams make the playoffs 98 percent of the time.Indeed, there are some oddball scenarios where teams would have an even stronger incentive to play for the tie. Say the Bills and the Patriots are tied atop the AFC East at 9-6 (with the Dolphins and Jets well behind) and playing the last game of the NFL season on Sunday night in Week 17. Let’s say they know a 10-5 or 9-6-1 record would be good enough to earn a wild card, while 9-7 would not be. A tie gets both teams in (one as division champion and one as the wild card) while any other result knocks the loser out. You think Bill Belichick wouldn’t find a way to win tie?Elo point spreadsThe Elo point spreads are recovering after an awful start. They went 8-5 against Vegas lines in Week 6 (sitting out two games where they exactly matched the Vegas spread) and are 41-43-3 on the year. Elo’s straight-up record of picking winners is 64-26-1 on the year (10-4-1 in Week 6) or a 71 percent winning percentage. That probably reflects some good luck; historically, Elo ratings have picked the right winner about 65 percent of the time. Either way, we don’t recommend that you actually place bets on these.One of the games we highlighted last week was Arizona against Washington; I thought it was hard to explain how Vegas had the Cardinals favored by only a field goal at home. Indeed, the line expanded to 5 points to 5.5 points by game time. The Cardinals covered the spread, although barely, on an interception return with 18 seconds left (Rashad Johnson should probably have kneeled the ball) to win by 10 points instead of 3.There are again some big discrepancies involving the Cardinals and the Redskins this week. Elo has Arizona favored by 9 points on the road against Oakland, while Vegas has the Cardinals as just 3.5-point favorites. And Vegas has Washington favored by 6 points at home against Tennessee, while Elo has the Titans as (very slight) outright favorites.In a game that may be of interest to people aside from degenerate gamblers, the Broncos will host the 49ers on Sunday night. Elo, despite having Denver at No. 1 overall, is not quite as high on the Broncos as betting markets (it has the Broncos with a 13 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl versus 19 percent for betting lines). So Elo would take San Francisco and the points. read more

The Warriors Defense Might Send Them Back To The NBA Finals

Best team performances of the 2016 NBA playoffs 4San Antonio Spurs6-4+0.9+4.9+5.8 16Memphis Grizzlies0-4-12.9-5.2-18.1 3Oklahoma City Thunder9-4+6.1+1.6+7.7 TEAMRECORDOFFENSEDEFENSETOTAL 7Miami Heat7-7-2.2+2.7+0.5 13Houston Rockets1-4-12.5+0.7-11.8 2Golden State Warriors9-3+5.5+4.8+10.3 9Atlanta Hawks4-6-1.3-0.0-1.3 8Toronto Raptors8-7+0.9-0.7+0.2 1Cleveland Cavaliers9-0+18.4+2.7+21.1 14Dallas Mavericks1-4-5.6-10.0-15.7 10Los Angeles Clippers2-4-3.2+1.2-2.1 6Indiana Pacers3-4-2.3+4.1+1.8 12Detroit Pistons0-4+2.3-10.8-8.4 15Charlotte Hornets3-4-11.5-4.5-16.0 11Boston Celtics2-4-10.4+2.1-8.3 One thing that’s often lost amid the spectacle of the Golden State Warriors’ record-setting regular season is that this squad’s style is quite different from the one that went on a dominant championship run a year ago. The 2014-15 Warriors were astonishingly balanced; they had the NBA’s second-best offense and led the league in defensive efficiency. This season’s version, however, was first in offensive rating by a healthy margin but sixth-best on defense — good, but not great. The resulting team was ever-so-slightly better, but less symmetrical.In the playoffs, though, the Warriors’ defense has helped the team battle through Stephen Curry’s absence and reclaim the mantle of NBA title favorite. Here’s the offensive and defensive efficiency of this season’s playoff teams relative to average, accounting for the regular-season performance of a team’s opponents:1These numbers also factor in home-court advantage (roughly 2.8 points per 100 possessions) and the championship leverage of every game. 5Portland Trail Blazers5-6+3.9-1.7+2.2 Team efficiencies adjusted for strength of schedule using opponents‘ regular-season stats.Source: Basketball-Reference.com The Cavs have blown away their playoff peers so far, but Golden State deserves credit as well for posting the best defensive performance of any remaining team. Indeed, the Warriors’ ratings look a lot like the balanced attack that drove their championship last season — even though Curry has suited up for just six of the team’s 12 games.When the Warriors require outbursts of unadulterated offensive brilliance — like, say, 12 points in 82 seconds or 17 points in an overtime period — Curry has been happy to oblige. But Golden State has also held the mighty Oklahoma City Thunder offense to an efficiency rate 10 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season standard through two games of the Western Conference finals. Even on nights when the Warrior offense isn’t operating at peak productivity, such as Game 1 against OKC, the defense can keep the game competitive into its final minutes.With Draymond Green leading the way, Golden State’s D in this series has already forced the Thunder into two of their 19 worst games of the season according to quantified shot quality, a player tracking-based measure that accounts for the location and conditions under which every shot is taken. In games 1 and 2, Kevin Durant’s shot quality has been his sixth- and 21st-worst of the year, and Russell Westbrook has been limited to his 31st and 24th-worst games. If it’s seemed like Russ and KD have been swimming upstream for long stretches in the series so far, this is why. The duo’s effective field goal percentage in the series is just 43 percent, far below their combined regular-season mark of 53 percent.There’s still plenty of time for the Thunder to wrest control of the series back from Golden State. But to do it, Oklahoma City will have to go through the Warrior defense, a unit that’s back to being as sturdy as it was during the team’s title run last season.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

Adrian Peterson Has Feeling He Will Be In Uniform

Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson – arguably the best running back in the NFL – said he has “somewhat” of a gut feeling that he will be in uniform on Sunday when the Vikings open their season against Jacksonville.This would be somewhat of an accomplishment considering Peterson wrecked his left knee nine months ago, having two ligaments repaired on December 31.Still, Peterson knows he’s an invaluable commodity that the Vikings will handle with the utmost care. So, being in uniform for the opener does not mean he will play.”I’m below; I got coach (Leslie) Frazier, then I’ve got the owner, there’s a lot of people that’s really calling the shots,” Peterson said. ”So, only thing I can do is control my part. I’ve been doing that this week. . . And before the game, I’m going to go out there and see what I can do and hopefully I will get the nod. I want to play, obviously.”Frazier has said Peterson’s participation won’t be determined until right before the game, but said a decision would likely come after watching Peterson in practice Thursday and Friday. He said there was nothing the back could probably show the team on Sunday to change any previous declarations.”I think we’d know Saturday where things are,” Frazier said. ”I don’t think we’d work him out pregame to see if he’s ready to play. We’ll have a good idea after we get through with Friday where he stands.”Frazier has pushed a cautious approach, insisting this week that if Peterson does play against the Jaguars his workload will be limited. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said the team has determined an appropriate number of carries for Peterson in the opener if he suits up.Peterson said it would be difficult to accept being inactive for Sunday’s game.”It will be a hard pill to swallow,” Peterson said. ”So, hopefully that’s not the case.” read more

Bad Karma Biting The Redskins Where It Hurts In

The waiting list for season tickets to Washington Redskins games used to be 100,000 diehards deep. Now they are selling tickets at FedEx Stadium for $4.Call it karma. . .  bad karma, to be precise.This is what happens when your owner refuses to change a nickname deemed racist by a large faction of Native Americans. This is what happens when a first-year coach publicly trashes and then benches the player with the most potential and any semblance of star power. This is what happens when you have just one winning season since. . . well, for a long time.This is a considerable departure for the Redskins, who have enjoyed a loyal and rabid fan base for some time. According to the website seatgeek.com, which resells tickets and also tracks the market, some tickets for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams are $4. A java chip frappacino at Starbucks costs more.On stubhub.com, there were more than 6,400 tickets for sale starting at $5.25. The Virginia High School playoff tickets are $10.Some would say, “That’s what you deserve,” and they’d be pretty accurate. Not much has gone right lately for the Redskins. Worse, not much has been handled right by the team.Owner Dan Snyder has been arrogant in his insistence on keeping the team’s name, although even some legislators are asking for change. Snyder grew up as a fan and claims personal ties to the name, even as many consider it hurtful and racist.Coach Jay Gruden has been just as arrogant, with no room for arrogance. His first year as a head coach has been miserable; he has not impressed. He even treated Robert Griffin III as rudely as any coach ever has, blasting him in a post-game press conference for an extended period. Now word comes that Gruden “is done” with Griffin, who two years ago was the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year.He’s been impatient and mean-spirited in his handling of the one star player that fans have been excited to see play in the last decade.Now it’s all unraveling for the team. The average ticket price last week was $31, the lowest since they were a running joke under Jim Zorn. The erstwhile “Dream Seats” behind the Redskins’ bench are selling for hundreds of dollars less than face value, at $91.Never would have, could have, expected this from the Redskins. But then, they have not deserved much better. read more

Ledecky Has Company In A Renewed Assault On Swimmings Records

Given her 100 splits (not reflected), and 200 and 800 races still to come (there is unfortunately no 1,500-meter women’s event at the Olympics), expect this curve to fall even further into the absurd.1. Adam Peaty — 100-meter breaststrokeAdam Peaty may not have the most versatile program, and certainly didn’t generate as much buzz as Ledecky or Hosszu, but for one race at least, he was every bit as dominant. He initially set a record in his preliminary heat, which generally bodes well. His final time of 57.13 won his race by 1.56 seconds and broke his pre-Olympic record by 0.79 seconds, and puts him 1.33 seconds clear of his next-fastest competitor ever.For a 100-meter race, this is crazy good – even against this crazy competition. To show how much so, I plotted the top 50 times since 2010 for each of these four records, in standard deviations from the mean:2Note that since these are the top values of a huge sample of swimmers, these deviations don’t perfectly correspond to the insanely low probabilities you’d expect from 3-4 SD events if the underlying times were normally distributed. The dynamics for the specific probabilities would be governed by a Gumbel “extreme value” distribution. I’m just using standard deviations here to put all of the events on the same scale. Ledecky’s 3:56.46 was 4.77 seconds faster than second-place Jazz Carlin, and nearly 2 seconds faster than her own 2014 record (3:58.37). It’s over 4 seconds faster than any woman has swum in the post-ban era (4:00.65 by bronze-medalist Leah Smith this year). The only other woman ever to swim below 4 minutes in this event is Federica Pellegrini, who did it in 2009. Ledecky is getting closer and closer to making 400 meters a sprint distance: Her speed of 59.1 seconds per 100 meters is closer to the average speed of the 50 fastest 200-meter swimmers than it is to the average of the 50 fastest 400-meter swimmers. Her speed in the 800 is already faster than all but a handful of women in the 400, and her speed in the 1,500 is faster than anyone’s but hers in the 800: We’re on the ground in Rio covering the 2016 Summer Olympics. Check out all our coverage here.While Michael Phelps’s winning of his 19th gold medal may be the feel-good story of the swimming pool not involving Yusra Mardini so far, the most significant development of the opening weekend of swimming is surely the sport’s renewed assault on the record books.The ban of full-body non-textile (“LZR”-style) swimsuits at the end of 2009 had a dramatic effect on the pace of records broken in swimming. Of 32 events contested in the 2008 Olympics, 27 had records broken in 2009; in 2010, none did. But time marches on, and athletes improve. The London games in 2012 saw records broken in eight events — a far cry from the 19 events that saw records fall in Beijing, but a step in the right direction.If the first weekend of action in Rio is any indication, the swimming world has recovered, with a vengeance. Of the eight swimming events completed so far, five have led to world records, including one of two relays (women’s 4×100), and four of the six individual events (all three women’s and one of three men’s). Here are the most dominant individual swims from the first two days of competition, ranked:4. Sarah Sjostrom — 100-meter butterflySwedish 22-year-old Sarah Sjostrom is a name to remember. In particular, she has the fastest 200-meter freestyle time of any woman since 2012, and is thus probably the most likely to play spoiler to Katie Ledecky’s hopes of winning three individual golds when the two face off in that event Tuesday.Sjostrom looks even stronger after kicking off her meet with a world record. She originally set the 100-meter butterfly record in 2009 (at age 15!) but wouldn’t match her pre-ban time again until 2015, when she reclaimed her record from Dana Vollmer (who had taken it in 2012).Sjostrom finished in 55.48, nearly a full second clear of second place, and a half-second clear of the next-fastest woman ever. Usually, that would be a pretty amazing showing, but this was a big weekend for amazing showings.3. Katinka Hosszu — 400-meter individual medleyKatinka Hosszu, the 27-year old Hungarian, is the only swimmer on this list who broke a record that wasn’t already her own. She very nearly broke it in her preliminary heat, and then destroyed it in the final: LOL Katie Ledecky was celebrating and people hadn’t finished yet pic.twitter.com/qCaDbu2kSg— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) August 8, 2016 Ledecky’s 400-meter race was a thing of beauty, especially considering that 400 meters is supposed to be her third-best distance. But in terms of sheer field-busting dominance, Peaty’s wild win over just two lengths of the pool takes the weekend. Hosszu won the race by nearly 5 seconds – finishing in 4:26.36 – and cleared Ye Shiwen’s record by nearly 2 seconds. Though few expected a performance this great, Hosszu didn’t come out of nowhere. She was world champion in this event in 2009 and 2015, and has held the short-course record1There’s a separate set of records for times set in 25-meter pools, though most major competitions use 50-meter pools. in it on and off since 2013.2. Katie Ledecky — 400-meter freestyleIf there was any distance at which it seemed Katie Ledecky’s best times might have been flattening out, it’s the 400-meter freestyle, where she hadn’t broken the world record since 2014. Following unexpectedly fast 100 meter splits in the 4×100 relays and almost breaking her record in her preliminary heat, however, another record seemed inevitable. And then this happened: read more

The 2016 Cubs Won Just Like The 1997 Marlins Did

As the Chicago Cubs celebrated winning the World Series last month, much of the attention centered on the contributions of young, homegrown players such as National League MVP Kris Bryant and third-place Cy Young finisher Kyle Hendricks. But under the guidance of general manager Theo Epstein, the Cubs also loaded up on external talent — and salaries — in preparation for their title run. Even after adjusting for MLB-wide increases in the cost of a win,1For the purposes of this story, all references to payroll increases will be adjusted by measuring changes relative to differences in how much marginal salary bought a win above replacement (averaging together the two methods of WAR found at FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference) between the seasons in question. Chicago boosted their payroll by 169 percent between 2014 and 2016 — a record two-season increase among World Series winners.2At least since 1985, the first season for which Baseball-Reference.com has team payroll data.It’s a fitting coincidence that the previous mark was set by a team whose roster was basically completed about 20 years earlier. On Dec. 12, 1996, the Florida Marlins signed free-agent outfielder Moises Alou to a five-year, $25 million contract, the final major piece of a team built largely through a wild, two-year spending spree. When they celebrated their own championship 10 months later, Florida would face accusations of having “bought a World Series,” but they also set a model that many teams would follow over the ensuing years, sometimes to great success — as with the Cubs — and often to great failure. Either way, the era of the store-bought championship bid was at hand.As the hot stove burned in late 1996, the Marlins had only been around as a franchise for four seasons, and they’d never finished a season with a record above .500. But they were also trending upward: Florida had improved its winning percentage in each season the team existed, including an 80-82 record in 1996, which saw them post a 31-24 record (a 91-win pace) in August and September.Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga, already a ’90s business icon for his ownership stake in video-rental titan Blockbuster Entertainment, was also sinking more money in his teal-clad expansion club. Before the 1996 season, Florida GM Dave Dombrowski had upped the team’s payroll by 38 percent,3A raw increase of $6.6M, even as the MLB-wide rate of marginal salary per WAR slightly decreased. from 25th in baseball to 16th, reeling in such big-name free agents as Kevin Brown, Al Leiter and Devon White. The next winter, Dombrowski poured even more cash into Florida’s roster — increasing payroll by another 33 percent — when he signed more free-agent deals with Alou, Alex Fernandez, Bobby Bonilla and Jim Eisenreich.Unsurprisingly, all that aggressive free-agent spending gave new Marlins manager Jim Leyland significantly more talent to work with. If we use Tom Tango’s WARcel projections as a simple way to judge how many wins Florida could have expected to get out of its new acquisitions (as well as the cost of losing the players it jettisoned in the process), the Marlins picked up more than 15 net WAR in talent for 1997 alone through Dombrowski’s wheeling and dealing over the previous two offseasons, another modern-era4Again, going back to the advent of complete team-payroll data in 1985. record for an eventual World Series winner. But having an existing talent base is still preferable to buying one. According to my regression, each extra WAR a team starts with before a two-year stretch of acquiring players is worth about a 60 percent bigger boost to its World Series odds than a WAR of talent snagged from outside the organization over the following two years.9In a way, this makes sense: Existing talent is generally younger, with more potential production (and more cost-controlled years) ahead of them with the club than players poached from other organizations.Plus, the effect of supercharging a roster has lost some of its potency since Florida spent its way to glory. If we split up our data into two sets — one that covers the 1987 through 1997 seasons, and the other for every year since — a one-standard deviation increase in payroll and talent meant a 40 percent bigger bump in World Series odds back then than it would now.Anecdotal evidence bears this idea out, as well. Before the 2016 Cubs made good use of their massive talent influx, the 2004 Boston Red Sox were the last team to win a championship with anything close to the same expensive quick-build strategy as the 1997 Marlins employed. And they were the exception to the rule that most free-spending title bids fall short. For instance, extreme shopping sprees by the Yankees in the early to mid-2000s and, more recently, by the Los Angeles Dodgers yielded a grand total of zero titles, despite the huge financial advantages. (Yes, the Yankees won it all in 2009, but that year they spent about 21 percent less — relative to the MLB average — than they had at their peak in 2005.)Despite fears of a “bought” championship dating back to the advent of free agency (if not earlier), baseball is a tough sport to rig with pure cash. Not only is the postseason incredibly random, but it’s difficult to even predict whether a team will be good enough to get there in the first place. The very best team in baseball only has something like a 15 percent chance of winning it all going into a given season, and although there’s no such thing as having too much talent on a roster, putting that philosophy into practice gets mighty expensive mighty fast. That’s why World Series winners such as the 1997 Marlins — and, now, the 2016 Cubs — are destined to remain historical anomalies, ranking among the very few teams in history who ever saw a complex multiyear building scheme end in anything other than frustration. At the time, no modern team had ever won a championship following such a talent binge. When the defending-champion New York Yankees spent the off-seasons of 1994 and 1995 loading up on players, that meant adding 9 net WAR of talent and 56 percent more payroll5A raw increase of $8.2M over seasons where the cost of WAR was decreasing.. In terms of totally overhauling their roster from the outside, mainly through the power of free-agent shopping, the Marlins were on another level entirely.And it worked out well. Together, Brown, Fernandez, Alou, Bonilla, White, Leiter and Eisenreich combined for about 19 of the Marlins’ 37 total WAR, a big reason — along with 1993 trade pickup Gary Sheffield — why 77 percent of Florida’s wins that season were generated by players who debuted with other franchises. (No World Series winner had gotten less from its homegrown players in the previous 74 years.) In combination with a few homegrown talents such as Livan Hernandez,6Hernandez grew up playing in Cuba, but he defected in 1995 and signed an amateur free-agent deal with the Marlins. Charles Johnson and Edgar Renteria, Florida’s mercenary contingent powered the Marlins to 92 wins and the NL Wild Card, then navigated the team through a difficult string of postseason opponents en route to a seven-game World Series triumph over the Cleveland Indians — the first-ever Series win for a wild-card team.Of course, just as swiftly as it had been built, Florida’s talent machine was disassembled part by part. By spring training of 1999 — just 16 months after Renteria lined a walk-off single up the middle to seal Game 7 — 22 of the 1997 Marlins’ top 26 players by WAR had been purged from the team’s roster, scattered across the majors in baseball’s most infamous “fire sale.”Critics railed against the cynicism of instantly gutting a championship roster, a blight that still taints that Florida team’s legacy. But the Marlins were undeniably trendsetters: In the decade leading up to 1997, only 13 teams had been built in a similar manner, increasing payroll by at least 25 percent and adding at least 5 net WAR of talent over a two-year span. In the two decades since, 36 teams have tried the same tactic — nearly 40 percent more attempts per season.7And, again, this is inflation-adjusted — it measures payroll increases over and beyond changes to the MLB-wide price of a win. With MLB teams’ revenues exploding in the post-strike era, more and more teams began mounting Marlins-style tactical spending strikes.As for whether that strategy has been a reliable path to victory, well, it’s complicated. Based on a logit regression using MLB data since 1987,8With the dependent variable being whether a team won the World Series or not — yep, this is an all-or-nothing analysis, in the spirit of the 1997 Marlins’ build-and-tear-down model — and the independent ones being the amount of WAR a team started out with before its two-year spending spree, and the amount of WAR talent added and percentage change in payroll over the subsequent two years. increasing payroll and/or talent can certainly increase a team’s probability of winning the World Series: If an average team were to add as much to its roster as the 1997 Marlins did, its championship probability would increase sevenfold. read more

Ohio State looking to hold off Michigan in Big Ten Championship finale

The Bill and Mae McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion played host to the men’s swimming and diving Big Ten Championships and OSU swimmers gave the home crowd something to cheer about on Friday.“I’ve never experienced a night like this as a coach,” coach Bill Wadley said. To find a better night in Ohio State swimming history, one would have to go back at least 50 years, Wadley said.Coming into Friday night, the Buckeyes were tied with Michigan, but by the end of the night things changed. The Buckeyes started the night off with a bang, and kept it going, wrapping up Friday’s action in first place.In the 200-yard freestyle relay, OSU was able to bring home the gold and take sole possession of the lead. The relay was made up of Joel Elber, Andrew Olson, Lincoln Fahrbach and Tim Phillips.“It’s a really good momentum builder,” Olson said.The Buckeyes lost their lead for a moment, but the Buckeyes stayed positive.In the next event, sophomore Austin Mudd placed fifth in the 400-yard individual medley while teammate Justin Farra took place sixth in the same event. Both swimmers were able to improve from their morning swim.The next event was a battle of OSU against Michigan. Both teams had three swimmers in the 100-yard butterfly. OSU performed well, but Michigan was able to outscore the Buckeyes.Even though the Buckeyes were outscored, the team was happy about the finishes by all three swimmers. Phillips finished second, Quincy Lee finished fifth and Fahrbach finished in seventh.In the 100-yard breaststroke, the Buckeyes came close to a sweep. OSU was able to finish in first, second and fourth place. Junior Elliott Keefer was able to bring home the gold for OSU while senior Sam Pelkey brought home the silver. Senior Dani Malnik was just one tenth of a second from tying for third. She placed fourth.In that same event, Michigan had only one person in the top eight.OSU finished the night off with a bang. Sophomore Andrew Elliott placed first in the 100-yard backstroke.By the end of the swimming portion of the meet on Friday, the Buckeyes had 592.5 points to take over first place. Michigan checked in second with 512.5 points.The Buckeyes may have the lead but a Big Ten Championship is not in the bag.The Buckeyes will be in the pool Saturday to try to fend off Michigan and bring home a Big Ten Championship. read more

Buckeye Brainteasers OSU takes on the Spartans

Is the OSU coaching staff going to open up the playbook and let freshman quarterback Braxton Miller throw the ball more?After last Saturday’s 37-17 win against Colorado, first-year head coach Luke Fickell said he didn’t expect Miller to scramble and run as much as he did.The offensive coordinator and offensive line coach made it clear that they too want to see Miller drop back in the pocket and throw the ball like he should. The shared title was later vacated by OSU as part of its self-imposed punishment for NCAA violations.But though they shared the Big Ten title last year, the Spartans and Buckeyes didn’t play each other. So, while Michigan State beat Wisconsin during conference play last year and while the teams’ records dictated that they had to share the conference title, there was doubt about whether the Spartans were truly the same caliber of team as the Buckeyes and Badgers.This year, the Spartans have beaten Youngstown State, an FCS team, as well as Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan. The one blemish on their record is a 31-13 loss to Notre Dame (2-2).Which players on Michigan State could hurt the Buckeyes?Unlike OSU, Michigan State came into 2011 knowing which players would impact the team on the offensive side of the ball, and those players have done the job.Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins is third in the Big Ten in passing yards per game with 236.8. Cousins has completed 81 of his 117 passing attempts this season and has also thrown five touchdowns against two interceptions.The matchup between Cousins and OSU’s passing defense, ranked fourth in the conference, will be a crucial one.The Spartans also boast a formidable one-two punch at running back. Sophomore running back Le’Veon Bell has rushed for 217 yards and six touchdowns. Junior running back Edwin Baker has carried for 216 yards and one touchdown.Lastly, there’s senior wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, who leads the Big Ten with 29 catches and is averaging 107 yards per game.OSU’s cornerbacks will have to stick to Cunningham throughout the game. Missed tackles have also been an issue for the Buckeyes’ defense, and if it can’t hold Bell and Baker down, MSU may leave Columbus with a win.Are there any possible “X” factors that could help push OSU to a win?Home-field advantage could impact the outcome of this game.The Ohio Stadium crowd, especially OSU students, has a chance to play a meaningful role in the game against Michigan State.Since the win against Colorado, Fickell has twice voiced his appreciation to the OSU students that were in attendance.At a Tuesday press conference, Fickell said he hopes that students who attend games at the ‘Shoe “get better each and every week.”Sounds like an open invitation to make some noise, and possibly disrupt Cousins and the Spartans’ offense in the presence.Saturday’s game will be the 40th meeting between Michigan State and OSU in football. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 27-12. Will OSU get win No. 28 against the Spartans?OSU will improve to 4-1 with a win against Michigan State this weekend.Both teams are nearly two weeks removed from bad losses — OSU’s 24-6 loss to Miami (Fla.) and Michigan State’s 31-13 loss to Notre Dame. The Buckeyes also narrowly defeated Toledo on Sept. 10, 27-22.Weighing the highs and lows that both teams have experienced throughout the young season, you’d have to say OSU has had more close calls and setbacks than MSU. The Buckeyes have had more of their weaknesses exposed and more time to correct them.If the Buckeyes sprinkle a few more passing plays into their game plan, Miller could prove to be too unpredictable for the Spartans.It could be a tight one at the ‘Shoe on Saturday but look for the Buckeyes to take the game. As OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said after the Colorado game, it is Miller’s ability to present the “threat of a balanced offense” that will keep opposing defenses off-balance. This weekend’s game against Michigan State might not be ideal for testing Miller’s arm.The Spartans lead the nation in total defense, as well as pass defense. Michigan State’s six interceptions also lead the Big Ten. Miller was 5 of 13 passing against the Buffaloes last weekend, and the Buckeyes will need to throw more than that, but given the Spartans’ ability to defend the pass, don’t expect too much more. This weekend’s game is another opportunity for OSU’s stable of able running backs, especially junior Jordan Hall and sophomore Carlos Hyde, to take the reigns on OSU’s offense.Who is Michigan State?OSU previously held a share of the 2010 Big Ten title with Michigan State, along with Wisconsin. Final score prediction: Ohio State 27, Michigan State 23 read more

Softball Ohio State downs Michigan avoids sweep

OSU then-junior Alex Bayne (2) is welcomed by her teammates at home plate after hitting a home run during a game against Penn State on April 6 at Buckeye Field. Credit: Lantern File PhotoThe No. 21 Ohio State softball team (23-9, 5-2 Big Ten) defeated No. 16 Michigan (28-8-1, 8-1 Big Ten) behind a complete-game shutout from junior pitcher Shelby McCombs, snapping a 21-game losing streak to the Wolverines.“Oh my gosh, I can’t even speak,” McCombs said. “It feels awesome. The rivalry is there, that’s for sure.” McCombs opened the game with three and two-thirds no-hit innings and had four strikeouts against her first seven batters. She finished the game with 10 strikeouts through her seven shutout innings and allowed just three hits in the game.Her success was due primarily to her ability to get players to swing at balls outside of the strike zone which led to softly hit balls, Ohio State coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly said.“Shelby was a master out there at getting them to hit non-strikes,” Kovach Schoenly said. “I think she picked and chose her time to throw a strike and got them to swing at pitches outside the zone. You want every pitcher to do that; it’s ideal.”Though she was undoubtedly the player of the game, McCombs was quick to deflect all praise to her teammates.“If it wasn’t for my teammates — Ashley (Goodwin) hitting that bomb, Anna (Kirk) starting off with a bomb, Becca (Gavin) hitting that changeup to right field — I don’t know what would have happened,” McCombs said. “Props to them. I wouldn’t have to do it without them.”The Buckeye offense supported McCombs with five runs, all coming against Michigan senior Megan Betsa, one of the nation’s top pitchers. Betsa entered the game leading the nation in strikeouts and the Big Ten in shutouts and hit allowed per game, but OSU lit her up on Sunday, forcing a pitching change in the fifth inning.“I honestly think she’s one hell of a pitcher,” said junior first baseman Ashley Goodwin. “She’s great, she throws good and she’s very consistent. We just kind of stuck to our game plan and took it pitch by pitch.”Betsa held OSU scoreless through two innings before junior third baseman Kirk hit a solo home run to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead after three innings. OSU added to its lead in the fifth with an RBI single from junior catcher Becca Gavin before breaking the game open with a three-run home run from Goodwin.“I was just trying to honestly get a base hit for my team,” Goodwin said. “We’d been waiting for something like this and it finally happened.”Michigan loaded the bases in the game’s final inning, but McCombs got out of the inning and the game unscathed, finishing the complete-game shutout and giving the Buckeyes a 5-0 win.OSU lost the series 2-1 after Michigan won both games on Saturday, but the Buckeyes were happy to celebrate their first win against the Wolverines in nearly seven years, snapping a 21-game losing streak to Michigan dating back to April 28, 2010.“It was awesome,” Goodwin said. “We wanted to do it for our team, our coaches, our fans. It was the best feeling ever.”With the win, the Buckeyes improve to 23-9 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten. OSU travels to Penn State Wednesday for a mid-week doubleheader before returning home Friday for a weekend series with Indiana. read more

Football Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins makes case for playing time

Ohio State redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) waits for a snap in the fourth quarter of the 2017 OSU- Army game on Sep. 16. OSU won 38-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThough he remains unlikely to unseat J.T. Barrett as Ohio State’s starting quarterback, Dwayne Haskins took the first snaps of his career Saturday on the Buckeyes’ final drive of their 38-7 win against Army.The redshirt freshman did not disappoint. Haskins completed all four of his passes for 46 yards, zipping the ball to four separate receivers on each throw and driving the Buckeyes to Army’s 10-yard line. “I thought he performed well when he was in there,” coach Urban Meyer said after the game. “He was 4-for-4. I wanted to throw him more, but you just didn’t want to do something silly.”His big-armed, pocket passing style starkly contrasted with Barrett’s dual-threat approach. In Haskins’ only drive, he completed passes of 14 and 15 yards. In the rest of the game, Barrett completed six passes for at least 14 yards.Meyer praised Haskins’ quick release after the game and said Haskins might have had a chance to score on his only drive, but did not want to score another touchdown and run the score up.After Ohio State’s first loss of the season, a decisive 31-16 defeat to Oklahoma, Meyer said he hoped to find Haskins some reps in regular-season games with the goal being to prepare the quarterback to be “game-ready.” Meyer did not believe Haskins earned that designation last week and believes he still has to work to earn the tag.Redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. (7) warms up prior to the season opener against Indiana. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn Meyer’s mind, a large experience gap exists between practice reps and game reps, and another lies in whether the game reps occur under pressure. At the end of the game against Army, Haskins did not have much to lose.“I’ve done that before where you put a guy in in the second quarter of a game,” Meyer said. “We’re not at that point yet. But you’d like to do that.”Whether Haskins earns earlier playing time to test his readiness or not, he is likely to remain backup quarterback. Instead of a battle to become the starter, he might re-enter a competition with redshirt sophomore Joe Burrow, who is about ready to return to action.Burrow broke a bone in his throwing hand near the end of fall camp. Before the past two games, he threw passes in pregame warmups, but he has yet to be listed on a depth chart due to the injury.“We’ve got to make some decisions who is the first one in there,” Meyer said. “Last year was very important to get Joe in the game and he did pretty well when he was in there as well. So, that is so important for backup quarterback spot.”In the spring and fall, Burrow and Haskins entrenched themselves in a battle to back up Barrett. In the spring game, Burrow went 14-for-22 for 262 yards with three touchdowns, while Haskins completed 26-of-37 passes and added three touchdowns.The primary backup last season, Burrow played in five games and completed 22-of-28 passes for 226 yards and threw two touchdown passes. A dual threat, similar to Barrett, Burrow rushed 12 times for 58 yards and a touchdown. read more

Teaching assistant had sex with pupil who was attracted to him because

first_imgHamid Bhatti said the girl had told him: ‘You’re lush, I’m going to marry you and have your babies’Credit:SWNS I was quite young and of Pakistani descent. They said I looked like Zayn MalikHamid Bhatti Suspicions were raised when the girl blew him a kiss through a classroom window and Bhatti was seen by a teacher “catching it” and sending it back.The girl’s mother later found a love note from Bhatti, which read: “You were amazing last night as always.”Bhatti, of Rochdale, Greater Manchester, had denied five counts of sexual activity with a child at least 14 times between May 2014 and February 2015.He also denied abducting a child after he allegedly ignored an order made by police banning him from contacting the girl.But after an eight-day trial at Taunton Crown Court, he was found guilty of the abduction and two counts of sexual activity with a child.He was found not guilty of three other counts of sexual activity, including a specimen charge that said he had sex with her at least ten times.He was jailed for five years for the sexual activity with a minor and two for the abduction, to run concurrently, during a hearing on Wednesday.Giving evidence earlier this week, he told the court the girl had actively pursued him, and said she told him: “I think you’re lush, I’m going to marry you and have your babies.”He added: “It was mostly (this girl) and her friends, but I was quite young and of Pakistani descent. They said I looked like Zayn Malik.” Hamid Bhatti  Hey baby, I’m sorry I had to leave this morning for work. You were amazing last night as alwaysnote left by Bhatti The note prompted police to issue Bhatti with an anti-abduction notice, prohibiting him from contacting the child.The court heard that the teacher ignored the warning and was caught after the teenager went missing in February 2015.Police went to Bhatti’s house to enquire about the girl’s whereabouts and he told them he had not seen or spoken to her for a long time.They returned later that day and officers standing at the back of the property in Yeovil, Somerset, caught the teenager trying to flee. Police discovered a used condom with the pupil’s DNA on it in his bedroom.Bhatti was arrested, but gave police a “no comment” interview and afterwards still continued to pester the girl.He was charged with sexual activity with a minor in June 2015, after the girl, who was by then 16, opened up to her family and told police the “whole truth”.Throughout his trial, he admitted that he had sex with the girl after she was 16, but maintained that their relationship was not sexual until then.As well as the five-year prison sentence, Bhatti will be added to the sex offenders’ register indefinitely. A teaching assistant who claimed pupils found him attractive because he “looks like Zayn Malik” has been jailed for five years over sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl.Hamid Bhatti, 24, said the teenager “pursued” him because his Pakistani heritage gave him a resemblance to the singer and former One Direction star.But a court heard how the maths teaching assistant groomed the Year 10 pupil after meeting her while on a placement at her school, lavishing her with jewellery and love notes.They had sex at least 14 times during their eight-month relationship, jurors were told.center_img Sentencing him, Judge David Ticehurst said: “For a period you were undoubtedly in a sexual relationship with a girl you knew to be under the age of consent.”It’s clear she was a vulnerable girl who had difficulties in her life, and your presence in her life only compounded those difficulties.”Your interest in her was for your own sexual gratification and you chose to abuse her. It is doubly regrettable that you were a teaching assistant at the time you met the girl.”Your duty was to support the staff and the students at the school and instead you abused a young girl and took advantage of her crush.”You will never be able to work in teaching ever again, and I cannot think of a person less suitable to do so.”The court heard that Bhatti and the schoolgirl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, lied to police multiple times.When they were questioned after they were spotted blowing a kiss to one another, both denied having a sexual relationship and Bhatti said it was a “joke”. He was sacked from his job the following month, in June 2014, after three different staff members reported him for improper conduct.The court was told their relationship began while Bhatti was still employed by the school.Jurors were told that they had kissed and cuddled in the then 22-year-old’s car before having sex for the first time later that week, in May 2014.The girl was questioned by police in July 2014 after she turned up at school with a “black eye” and her mother was called, the court heard.But she lied about what had happened, admitting she stayed at Bhatti’s house but claimed that they did not have sex and that the black eye was from tripping over.In the October, the girl’s mother called police after finding a handwritten note among her daughter’s belongings, it was heard.Bhatti wrote: “Hey baby, I’m sorry I had to leave this morning for work. You were amazing last night as always. I hope you get this message and leave me a note. Plan to see you soon. I love you. P.s. don’t forget to go to the doctors.” Zayn Malik, the singer and former One Direction starCredit:Rex Features 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. Zayn Malik, the singer and former One Direction starlast_img read more

Rita Ora caught up in £23m alleged investment fraud by accountant who

first_imgThe alleged fraud comes just over a year after luxury items worth £200,000 were stolen from Ora’s home, including phones, computers and a designer doggy bag.Chanel perfume, Tiffany earrings and eight pairs of Louis Vuitton shoes were also taken from the singer’s four-bedroom property in north-west London.The burglar was jailed in June this year. 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. Rita Ora, the pop star, is believed to have been caught up in an alleged multi-million pound fraud.The former X Factor judge, who now hosts America’s Next Top Model, is an investor in a company that is a potential victim of financial crime.The shareholders, made up of companies and individuals, are reported to have collectively lost around £2.3 million on the value of their shares. Ora is reported to have tens of thousands invested.Police are now investigating claims that an accountant who “lived like a Saudi prince” siphoned off the money, according to The Sun. Rita Ora pictured earlier this monthCredit:Startraks Photo/REX/Shutterstockcenter_img Ora’s lawyer, Graham Shear, said: “Rita Ora has multiple business interests globally.”One of the companies in which she has an interest is a potential victim of fraud along with several other companies and individuals.”The potential loss suffered by all the victims collectively is thought to be significant but only a proportion of that total figure will apply to the entity in which Ms Ora is one of several shareholders.”Any loss suffered by the company in which Ms Ora has an interest will be recoverable from insurance policies which protect against this sort of professional misappropriation, fraud and other claims.”Northamptonshire Police said that a 35-year-old man had been arrested in connection with a financial investigation. He was released on police bail pending further inquiries. Rita Oralast_img read more

Miracle escape after 12 hours Blind pensioner rescued from Grenfell Tower after

first_imgA man, who is believed to be elderly and partially blind, has been rescued by firefighters from the Grenfell Tower inferno after a terrifying 12-hour wait.The man, who has been identified by relatives, is believed to have lived in the tower for 30 years and was seen praying at his window as he awaited help on the 11th floor.Good Morning Britain filmed him as he waved a jumper as a makeshift SOS flag and cried out for help from his 11th-floor flat. Rescued at lastCredit:Leon Neal/Getty Images Leon Neal/Getty Images “Now we have seen him over the course of the last hour or so in contact with firefighters.”He was rescued shortly after midday. The man can be seen looking from his window on the bottom right Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The man can be seen looking from his window on the bottom rightCredit:Steve Paston/PA Wirecenter_img DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images Twenty people are in critical care after 74 injured people were taken to hospital. But many are still missing after residents were left trapped on upper floors as flames rapidly ripped up the block after householders were initially told to stay in their homes. Credit:DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images At least six people have been confirmed killed in the huge fire that ripped through the west London tower block, but police expect the death toll to rise.Up to 600 people are believed to have been inside Grenfell Tower’s 120 flats when the blaze tore through the 24-storey building in the early hours. Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, the programme’s presenters, said they felt “helpless” as they watched him and feared for his life.However, he has now been pictured being rescued by firefighters 12 hours after he was trapped by the blaze.Ms Reid said: “He in his 70s, he’s partially blind. He has lived in the Grenfell Tower for 30 years.last_img read more

Arthritis is the price for our ancestors surviving the Ice Age say

first_imgNeanderthals also shared the same mutation “Many people think of osteoarthritis as a kind of wear-and-tear disease, but there’s clearly a genetic component at work here as well.”It’s possible that climbing around in cold environments was enough of a risk factor to select for a protective variant even if it brought along an increased likelihood of an age-related disease like arthritis, which typically doesn’t develop until late in life.”Researchers first linked a mutated form of GDF5 to arthritis and height in the 1990s. They also discovered it was being controlled by a key piece of genetic machinery which they labelled GROW1, and which signals to the gene to turn off bone growth. A genetic mutation caused by faulty machinery in the DNA allowed our ancestors to survive the harsh Ice Age winters Credit:Supphachai Neanderthals also shared the same mutationCredit: kolvenbach / Alamy 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 genetic mutation caused by faulty machinery in the DNA allowed our ancestors to survive the harsh Ice Age winters center_img For the 10 million Britons suffering from arthritis, it may be cold comfort to know that they might not be alive today at all, were it not for their aching limbs.Researchers in the US have discovered that a gene mutation which increases the risk of arthritis evolved in the Ice Age to help protect our ancestors from frostbite.Around half of Europeans carry a variant of the GDF5 gene which nearly doubles the chance of developing painful joints, and also knocks around 1cm off height.Although it may seem like an evolutionary disadvantage to be shorter and less mobile, in fact, it helped early humans to ward off the freezing temperatures of the north as they ventured out of Africa for the first time around 50,000 years ago. “The variant that decreases height is lowering the activity of GDF5 in the growth plates of the bone. Interestingly, the region that harbors this variant is closely linked to other mutations that affect GDF5 activity in the joints, increasing the risk of osteoarthritis in the knee and hip.”The research was published in the journal Nature Genetics. Being short and stocky not only helped our ancestors withstand the bitter cold but also reduced the risk of life-threatening bone fractures when slipping on icy surfaces.And because arthritis usually appears after reproductive age, it would not have proved detrimental to starting a family, so the mutation was passed on.“This gene variant is present in billions of people, and it’s likely responsible for millions of cases of arthritis around the globe. ” said Dr David Kingsley, Professor of developmental biology at Stanford University. In the new study they looked at the genomes of people from across the world who had submitted their DNA for the 1,000 Genomes project and noticed that the gene variant and its bone-limiting switch were far more common in European populations. In contrast the gene variant is extremely rare in African populations.The also discovered the variant was common in Neanderthals and Denisovans – hominids who moved north in Europe and Asia around 600,000 years ago ahead of modern humans, but eventually became extinct.”It’s clear that the genetic machinery around a gene can have a dramatic impact on how it works,” said Dr Terence Capellini, associate professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University.last_img read more

Motheroftwo jailed for leading police on 120mph car chase

first_img“You gave not thought to anybody including yourself or the two children you have who were asleep in bed at home.”You had been drinking which I suspect was the reason you were attempting to evade the police by jumping red lights, negotiating junctions, travelling at excessive speeds and weaving throughout traffic without any thought to the approaching traffic.”You attained speeds on English roads Miss Nolan in excess of 120mph. No amount of thoughtful and well put together mitigating can justify that.”It is only by the largest fortune that no person was injured, but there are those people who would have been woken by the sirens and lights of the police in their own homes as the chased you in the course of your risky, selfish and ludicrous driving.”You will be deprived of your liberty for a substantial period of time. I take no pleasure in depriving your children of your company and your case but in light of the offences you committed a custodial sentence must follow.”Nolan will serve half of her sentence in custody and the remainder on licence, with supervision for six months after that and pay a £140 surcharge.She was disqualified from driving for three years on her release, her licence will be endorsed and she must take an extended driving test. A speeding motorist has been jailed after leading police on a car chase where she exceeded 120mph, with the judge branding it as the worst case of dangerous driving he had ever seen.Megan Nolan, 24, hit the high speeds on the motorway in order to evade capture, and only stopped when her VW Scirocco car engine blew.The mother-of-two from Wythenshawe, Manchester, was jailed for a year after a judge at Manchester Crown Court told her it was the worst he had seen in his 15 year career. Judge Rudland also commended the police officers in the pursuit, adding: “I would like to pay particular commend to the police officers driving the vehicles for their calmness, competence and care in dealing with what they were confronted with that day in their line of duty.”They were terrific and professional. In the various circumstances they were presented with they dealt with them brilliantly.” “The police pursuit lost sight of the vehicle but another vehicle was nearby and spotted the car going back on to the motorway.”The pursuit continued and the cause was travelling in excess of 120mph on this occasion.”The vehicle was forced to come off at the Wythenshawe junction where she ran a further three red lights.”Police continued pursuit efforts and in the residential area the car was going in speeds excess of 50mph.”It was a pursuit for over 20 minutes, where no one was hurt, no damage was caused except to her own vehicle.”She was forced to pull the car over after it began smoking, when she alighted from the vehicle and tried to run but was arrested a short way away.”When she was interviewed by police she admitted that she had been drinking in Bury, and had been driving home when the officers put their lights on and she panicked.”She admitted the quality of her driving was as was shown on the footage. She had no insurance and she said she was a stupid idiot who was lucky that no one had been hurt”Defending, Mike Harman, argued that Nolan had ‘broken down’ because of an upcoming court case where she was to be a prosecution witness, which was of great stress to her. It is only by the largest fortune that no person was injuredJudge Rudland She had pleaded guilty at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court at an earlier hearing to dangerous driving and driving without insurance. Megan Nolan who appeared before Manchester Crown Court for dangerous drivingCredit:Cavendish Press (Manchester) Ltd In CCTV played to the court, Nolan’s black 16 plate Volkswagen can be seen weaving between the light traffic on the motorway, before coming off at Wythenshawe and leading the police round residential areas at speeds exceeding 70mph.She ran multiple red lights and drove on the wrong side of the road before her engine began smoking and she had no option but to abandon her vehicle after over 20 minutes of police pursuit.When watching the footage back, Nolan had her head in her hands and began to cry, looking at her mother who was in the public gallery.Prosecuting, Andrew Mackintosh, told the court: “The dangerous driving was caught on CCTV and there is two sections of footage from two separate police cars.”The first spotted a car driving on the M60 at 1.15am on the morning of Sunday the 4 June this year.”It was dark with little traffic on the road but the conditions were good. The police caught up with the black Volkswagen Sirocco and engaged their blues and twos after a few minutes.”They were in pursuit of the car which was going in excess of 100mph, which then came off of the motorway and went through two sets of red lights. He said: “This young lady at 24 years of age has nothing, not even a youth caution or reprimand on her record.”She has two young boys ages five and three, from a good family and is quite softly spoken.”From the footage we have seen this time and time again, but with burglars getting away from the scene or drug dealers with drugs in the side of the car or the boot.”That is not the case here. I have asked her why, probation have asked her why everybody has asked her why and she herself cannot explain it.”Sometimes thoroughly decent people are only human and humans make mistakes and so do thoroughly decent people, its inexplicable.”She herself says that she had two to three drinks, and the background is gone into in the pre-sentence report.”Sometimes these things fester and people worry about the, and worry about giving evidence in cases and they just break down and do utterly stupid things.”There was no collision, only her vehicle was damages and mercifully no one was injured and that is good fortune no design of the defendant.”She is classed as a high risk victim and currently being supported. It would be catastrophic for her and her children if she was sent to Styal prison today. Judge Martin Rudland told the uninsured driver that her driving was “selfish and ludicrous”, and to not send her to custody would be “wildly wrong”.Nolan, who planned to take a job as a teaching assistant in September, had been out drinking with friends in Bury on June 4 this year before making her way home at around 1am, where her speeding caught the attention of a Greater Manchester Police patrol on the M60 who gave chase to the vehicle.The vehicle lost her after she ploughed through two red lights into oncoming traffic, but a second police patrol caught up to her again rejoining the motorway, and made attempts to get her to stop. “She has got a job starting in September where she would ha employed as a teaching assistant and that would benefit the tax payer.”She received £1000 in welfare benefits a months, and if she works then she will be earning her own money.”If she gets sent to prison then that all goes out of the window.”Nolan sobbed as she was sentenced to a year in prison, Judge Rudland told her: “You have no previous convictions. I note that you are a mother with two children aged three and five.”You have pleaded guilty to the offence of dangerous driving and diving without insurance.”There is a phrase that I myself am never very keen to hear and to hear myself saying it is of a great surprise to me.”I have to tell you Megan Nolan that this was the worst piece of dangerous driving that I have ever witnessed in my 15 years on the bench.”It would be wildly wrong if me in the public interest not to mark driving of this sort with a custodial sentence.”For over 20 minutes you indulged in the most brazen and sustained piece of driving with police chasing you sirens and bells going within three of following you. Megan Nolan who appeared before Manchester Crown Court for dangerous driving 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

Meghan Markle I cant wait to be a mother

“And she [Meghan] said well yes, I have a date tonight. And I said really, with who, do I know him? And she said yes I’m sure you’ll know him, I’m meeting Prince Harry. In a whisper she sort of said it.  Meghan Markle meets children in CardiffCredit:WPA Pool Meghan Markle has told friends she “cannot wait to be a mother”, saying she “would absolutely love to have children”, her former agent has claimed.Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne, Ms Markle’s friend and agent, disclosed the former actress had shared the news she was dating Prince Harry during a whispered conversation over lunch, and spoken about her hopes of having a family. Appearing in a Sky documentary, she claims she had once asked Ms Markle if she saw children in her future when they were travelling together for work in the Cayman Islands. “She said to me, ‘I would absolutely love to have children, and I can’t wait to be a mother’,” Ms Nelthorpe-Cowne said. Ms Markle is to marry Prince Harry on May 19 at Windsor Castle, becoming an official member of the Royal Family.  “Meghan and I were at lunch and she was really excited that day at lunch and I said to her you look fantastic Meghan. What’s going on in your life, you seem excited?” she said.  The Prince has previously spoken regularly about his desire to have children, his affection for his nephews and niece Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, and his godchildren.In his engagement interview with Ms Markle, in November, he said of having children: “One step at a time and hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future.”  Britain's Prince Harry plays with children as he visits a Fit and Fed school holiday programme Meghan Markle meets children in Cardiff “And I said who? And she said, Prince Harry, I’m meeting Prince Harry tonight. And I said Prince Harry?!” Meghan Markle hugs children from a street dance class in Cardiff Meghan Markle hugs children from a street dance class in CardiffCredit:Geoff Pugh Prince Harry has fun with a toddler at the Invictus GamesCredit:Samir Hussein Prince Harry has fun with a toddler at the Invictus Games Britain’s Prince Harry plays with children as he visits a Fit and Fed school holiday programmeCredit:AP Pool Interviewed for Harry and Meghan: A Love Story, which broadcasts on Sky One at 9pm on Wednesday, Gina Nelthorpe-Cowne also shares details of one of their last meetings together before Ms Markle embarked on life in the UK.  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. read more

Couple who tortured and murdered nanny should be burned at the stake

The parents of a French nanny who was tortured and murdered by the couple she worked for say her killers deserve the death penalty.Sabrina Kouider, 35, and Ouissem Medouni, 40, beat, imprisoned and tortured Sophie Lionnet to death at their home before throwing her body on a bonfire.After the pair were found guilty of murder on Thursday, Miss Lionnet’s mother, Catherine Devallonne, said the couple should be “burned at the stake”.She told The Sun: “That’s what they deserve. It’s maybe cruel but what they did was even more cruel.”Miss Lionnet’s father Patrick Lionnet added: “These people do not deserve to live.” She also accused him of sexually abusing a cat, using black magic and hiring a helicopter to spy on her. Sophie Lionnet from Troyes, France Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The patio where Sophie Lionnet’s body was foundCredit:Metropolitan Police The Old Bailey heard that Kouider and Medouni had killed 21-year-old Miss Lionnet over a bizarre obsession with an ex-Boyzone pop star.They had built a warped fantasy around music mogul Mark Walton and accused the nanny of being in league with him.Kouider was fixated with her ex-boyfriend Mr Walton, and Medouni bought into the fantasy in what has been described outside court as a “folie a deux”.Over five years, Kouider reported the wealthy musician to police more than 30 times and received a caution for branding him a paedophile on a fake Facebook profile. In a filmed “confession”, the emaciated and broken young woman admitted she had drugged Medouni so Mr Walton could sexually assault him.Within hours, she was dead, having been tortured with water in the bath.Afterwards, the defendants tried to get away with murder by burning her body in the garden of their flat, near Wimbledon, south-west London.When firefighters were alerted by neighbours to pungent-smelling smoke in September last year, Medouni tried to pass off the charred remains as a sheep. The defendants later admitted disposing of Miss Lionnet’s body but denied her murder, blaming each other for her death. Sophie Lionne, pictured two days before she was found Sophie Lionnet was thin and gaunt in this picture two days before she was found deadCredit:Metropolitan Police According to Kouider, Medouni killed her in the bath then demanded they have sex as she lay dead nearby.Before the trial, Medouni claimed Miss Lionnet died by accident after he punched her during the interrogation.He offered to admit manslaughter but later retracted his confession, saying he made it to protect his wife, who has been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder.Prosecutor Richard Horwell QC told jurors that neither were prepared to admit the truth – that they killed her out of “revenge and punishment”.Following the verdict, Ms Devallonne said her daughter had reassured her that all was well during telephone conversations before her death. Sabrina Kouider (right), 35, and Ouissem Medouni (left), 40, built a warped fantasy around music mogul Mark Walton and accused Sophie Lionnet of conspiring with him She told The Sun that she now believed Miss Lionnet was hiding the truth in order to protect her family.She would have done “everything possible” to get her daughter home if she had “given me a little sign”, she added.Jurors spent nearly 30 hours deliberating before convicting Kouider and Medouni. The pair are due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on June 26. Ouissem Medouni and Sabrina Kouider The patio where the body was found The mother of two went on to claim Mr Walton had seduced Miss Lionnet with sex and promises of Hollywood stardom.She and her on-off husband Medouni interrogated Miss Lionnet for hours to get to “the truth”.Jurors heard more than eight hours of recordings in which Miss Lionnet was slapped, likened to a Nazi collaborator and called “worse than a murderer”.Kouider, who claimed to know influential people including US president Donald Trump, threatened to have her locked up and even marched her to a police station.In her final days, Miss Lionnet was hit with an electrical cable and beaten so badly she had five broken ribs and a cracked breast bone. Sophie Lionnet was originally from Troyes, France Ouissem Medouni and Sabrina Kouider will be sentenced next monthCredit:Metropolitan Police Ouissem Medouni and Sabrina Kouider in a court sketchCredit:Elizabeth Cook/PA read more

Council failures saw child abuse survivor placed into care of paedophile foster

A child abuse victim was placed into the care of a paedophile foster father after failures by a local council, the High Court has heard.The woman, who was placed with the family aged seven in the early Nineties after being abused by male relations, won the right to compensation from Tower Hamlets council in east London.The judge making the ruling yesterday said the couple had not been trained by social services and had not been assessed as suitable foster parents. He also criticised police for failing to bring the woman’s abusers to justice sooner.The woman’s foster father was a sex offender who attacked her repeatedly, the court heard. She was eventually taken from the family, but it was not until years later that the man was charged and jailed for offences including rape.Judge Barry Cotter QC awarded the victim the right to damages, which are likely to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.He said the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had suffered appalling abuse at the hands of at least two members of her own family. She was removed from the family by Tower Hamlets council and placed in foster care with the man and his wife. 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 her claim, the victim said she had complained to a social worker as a young child of “inappropriate” kissing by her foster father.However, no action was taken and the abuse graduated from inappropriate touching to indecent assault and rape. Police investigated her complaints in 2000, but took no action, in part due to a “misinterpretation” of medical evidence.“It is beyond doubt that the claimant was very badly let down by this criminal investigation and a number of separate individuals,” the judge said.After further evidence came to light years later, the adoptive father was finally convicted and jailed for more than 10 years. The victim began a claim for damages against him in 2016.At the High Court, the man once again denied all of the allegations, suggesting they had been made up out of bitterness or for financial gain. Judge Cotter said the father came “nowhere near” proving that the allegations were false. The damages will be assessed at a further hearing. read more

Traditional police notebook gives way to body worn video for police interviews

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. Every officer in his force has been issued with body worn videos. More than 50,000 are deployed nationwide, making UK police forces the most intensive users of the technology in the world.Mr Marsh, who advised New York police chief Bill Bratton deployment of the technology, said the way officers previously conducted interviews was “farcical” as well as costly and inefficient. “If you wanted to conduct an interview before this legal change, I would write down my questions and read them to you,” he said.“You would answer and I would do my very best to write down what you answered. It is a farcical way of trying to interview someone. [Body worn videos] have replaced all that.”More recently, I have proposed to the Home Office that I would like to explore the flexibility to use the cameras to replace witness statements.”A police notebook, or PNB, – used for decades by police officers to record incidents on patrol – is covered by strict rules as information entered into it is admissible in court and can be used by the officer to refresh their memory while giving evidence.Times are written into it in 24-hour style, and any gap left at the end of a line must be marked by a horizontal line to show it was not created by removing a word. Police notebooks have to withstand wind and rain so the paper is usually waterproof and untearable.Mr Marsh said: “Looking forward, it is entirely conceivable that in the near future a virtual court will be able to look at a video statement at a scene, say a burglary. “The video will show the point of entry, damage, an explanation of the disruption by way of a personal statement [from the victim} and then you’ll get to see a video interview of the suspect.“The magistrate, jury or judge don’t all have to be in the same place and all the costs of that. They can make a quick decisions on what they felt had happened.”Mr Marsh was confident all 100,000-plus police officers in the UK would likely be using body worn cameras in the near future.The Home Office said: “The Government recognises that body worn video assists the police in delivering a safe and secure society as the collection of video and audio evidence captures events in a way that cannot be represented on paper.“It can be a powerful tool and we fully support exploiting new technology to help cut crime wherever possible. Body worn video is just one of the ways police forces are using technology to make policing more accountable, effective and efficient.“In fact, research and studies have investigated the use of body worn video and indicated it leads to a reduction in complaints, improvement in behaviour and positive criminal justice outcomes.” The days of the traditional copper’s notebook may be numbered as police use their body worn video to interview suspects and witnesses for a “virtual” court.Andy Marsh, the National Police Chiefs Council’s lead on body worn video, believes police are on the brink of a digital revolution that could see justice being dispensed through virtual courtrooms.In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he envisaged judges, magistrates and lawyers hearing cases via video links with officers providing filmed evidence from crime scenes, investigations and interviews.He has already secured a legal amendment to the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act to allow the use of body worn cameras to interview suspects.Mr Marsh, chief constable of Avon and Somerset, is also  about to launch a pilot scheme with Hampshire Police and backed by the Home Office to use the cameras to take witness statements. read more

More than one in ten primary school boys is labelled with mental

Dr Marc Bush, Policy Director at YoungMinds, said: “Boys of primary school age are more likely to be identified as having behavioural disorders or hyperactivity disorder than girls – while rates of emotional disorder are higher among girls than boys at an older age.“The factors behind mental health problems are often complex and multiple, but it’s crucial that all professionals who work with children have a good understanding of how ‘difficult’ behaviour may be linked to emotional distress. The analysis also suggests that there are twice as many mental disorders among children from middle income backgrounds, compared with poorer families.And it shows that children living with step-brothers and step-sisters were more likely to suffer from all types of mental disorders.The analysis comes from research on more than 9,000 children, including 3,597 aged between five and 10, whose teachers were also quizzed. More than one in ten boys at primary school are being labelled as suffering from a mental disorder, amid growing concerns about their classroom behaviour, research suggests.The NHS report, which examines the factors which may increase the risk of mental illness, found young boys were twice as likely as girls the same age to suffer such problems.Experts said “difficult” behaviour in young children could be a sign of emotional distress that they struggled to talk about.The figures from NHS Digital show 12.2 per cent of boys aged between five and 10 were found to be likely to be suffering from a mental disorder, along with 6.6 per cent of girls.Emotional disorders were equally likely in both genders, but behavioural problems which can include autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were twice as common in boys. “We need to ensure that both boys and girls with emerging mental health problems can get the support they need, so that they can develop skills to form healthy relationships, look after themselves and cope with life’s challenges.” After interviews were complete, clinical raters reviewed the data to classify each participant.Dr Louise Theodosiou, of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said it was possible that some disorders were more noticeable in boys, and being missed in girls.She said: “It is likely that conditions such as ADHD and Autistic spectrum conditions are recognised more in younger boys than girls. Girls are more prone to develop an emotional disorder as they grow older and as they become more aware of social pressures.”This may explain why there is a levelling out of the rate of any mental disorders between boys and girls as they move from primary to secondary school. It may also be that we are not recognising conditions – such as ADHD – in girls and this is adding to the pressures that they face.” 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. read more