As a late-1990s fan of the Miami Dolphins, I’m offended — Simmons mocks my pain. With Dan Marino putting up some of the worst statistics of his career, the Dolphins won as many as 10 games only once in his final five years. Manning has won as few as 10 games only once in more than a decade.Granted, in Denver’s 24-13 loss to Indianapolis last weekend, Manning had an epically bad day, throwing for only 211 yards on 46 passes. His 4.6 yards per attempt were the second fewest in a postseason game of his career.And this put an exclamation point on what many perceived as a late-season decline, which has led to much speculation as to what happened — some charitable (Manning was playing while injured!), some less so (Manning’s arm strength has regressed!).As far as passing stats go, the perceived decline looks legitimate. At midseason, Manning looked like a possible MVP, with 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions through eight games. But since then, he had looked more average, with 15 TDs and 10 interceptions in the second half of the season.Using ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating (QBR), we can see this decline in action. Here are Manning’s game-by-game QBRs, including the playoff loss to the Colts:His eight-game rolling average has dropped by more than 20 points. Terrible, right? Manning must be too old to handle the grueling NFL season!But there’s a problem with that: Before the playoff debacle, the Broncos went 6-2 in the second half of the season; that’s the same record they had in the first half. “Wins” are a much-maligned stat in sports analytics, largely because they can fail to capture a lot of what goes on in a game: A QB can play terribly and be rescued by his team’s defense, or a team can just get lucky. But other stats have their blind spots as well. For example, passing stats, no matter how advanced, will generally always miss the potentially considerable effect that a quarterback can have on other aspects of his team’s offense.Something like that may be going on with the Broncos this year. Let’s look at a similar chart, except instead of QBR, let’s look at Denver’s overall points scored per drive:In the first half of the season, Denver was fifth in the league in points scored per drive (with 2.38 points per drive). In the second half, Denver was fifth in the league in points scored per drive (with a slightly smaller 2.25 points per drive).People noticed that Denver could still move the ball despite Manning’s declining stats, but they tended to attribute that to the running game. The Broncos gained nearly 130 yards per game and 4.4 yards per rushing attempt in the second half vs. 95 yards per game and 3.7 yards per attempt in the first.But I think this argument — that the running game compensated for Manning — is actually a pretty good example of how narratives based on short-term statistical fluctuations can be off-base. Whether and how much credit a QB should get for his team’s running game can be difficult to determine because we don’t know who’s responsible for what. We’re generally willing to give Adrian Peterson credit for Minnesota’s running game, but much more difficult cases abound: Mike Shanahan’s Denver squads had six different thousand-yard rushers in nine years (between 1998 and 2006).But here we have a 6-2 team maintaining a similar offensive efficiency, leading to a similar 6-2 record, despite a decrease in its quarterback’s QBR. Is it plausible that this known quantity at quarterback suddenly got a lot worse while his running game suddenly got a lot better?If the two were independent, maybe. But they’re not. Both offenses and defenses can divert resources to focus on one thing or another, and the results don’t always show up in the stats the same way. For example, defenses may key in on the passing game, thus hurting a quarterback’s stats but opening up the running game. Punishing a QB for letting running backs do the heavy-lifting is as silly as criticizing a point guard like Chris Paul for getting a bunch of assists instead of a bunch of points. Or sometimes it’s just dumb luck: You try a few short-yardage runs and a few short-yardage passes — even if they’re equally effective, sometimes you’ll just run better one way than the other.This isn’t to say that Manning’s later-season QB stats are irrelevant. They’re just as relevant as his early-season stats. The salient point is that, with fairly consistent performance from Denver’s offense, there’s little reason to think that anything changed, such that the bottom line couldn’t be trusted. And here’s the bottom line:Peyton Manning is still an amazing quarterback. Peyton Manning had another bad postseason, losing 24-13 to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday and going “one and done” for a record ninth time among quarterbacks. The mystery of his seeming underperformance in the playoffs remains, but I’ll leave that for another article. For now, let’s focus on a more pressing question: Is Manning finished?Many respectable people seem to think so. Manning demurred when asked about whether he’d play next year, and my colleague Bill Simmons tweeted this:
Ramon Sessions did not provide the Los Angeles Lakers the backcourt production they needed last season, and he could sense he was not wanted back. Sure enough, Steve Nash came over and the Lakers now believe they are talking championship again.Sessions was courted by the Dallas Mavericks, but ended up signing with Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats, who could use the help. Sessions and the Bobcats agreed on a two-year contract worth about $11 million.Sessions replaces D.J. Augustin, whose qualifying offer was rescinded earlier Thursday. The move made Augustin, last year’s starting point guard, an unrestricted free agent.Sessions is entering his sixth season and averaged 12.7 points, 6.2 assists and 3.8 points per game last season for the Lakers with 19 starts. He’s previously played for Milwaukee, Minnesota and Cleveland and has averaged 11.1 points and 5 assists per game during his career.Sessions opted out of his contract with the Lakers to sign with the Bobcats.It’s unclear at this point who’ll be the team’s starting point guard. The Bobcats drafted Kemba Walker with the ninth pick in last year’s draft and Jordan likes the savvy of the former Connecticut star, although he’s a little undersized at 6-foot-1. Jordan has a major role in the decision to draft Walker, who played in spurts last season and had one triple-double as a rookie.Augustin, the ninth overall pick in the 2008 draft, leaves after four seasons with the Bobcats.
It was not bad enough that the Golden State Warriors bruised the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night in Oakland. They left Dwight Howard bloodied, too, and the L.A. big man was not happy about it.Specifically, Warriors all-star forward David Lee busted up Howard with a elbow into his mouth on a drive to the basket, causing a cut that required three stitches to close.“I will take care of it later,” Howard said.Howard was limited to 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting in the Lakers’ 109-103 loss. That did not seem to bother him as much as Lee.“He got away with a shot,” Howard said, according to Yahoo! Sports. “I will remember this game. I will remember that shot. He said he wasn’t trying to do it. You can look at the play and see it for yourself. I will take care of it later.”Howard will not have to wait long. The Lakers host the Warriors two weeks from Friday, on April 12, in the third-to-last regular-season game for both teams.That said, the Lakers, who are vying for a Western Conference playoff spot, lost an 18-point lead to the Washington Wizards and then fell behind by 23 points to Golden State before mounting a token comeback and falling short. Not the type of efforts for a team claiming it is playoff worthy.Curry scored 25 points and had 10 assists two nights after sustaining a sprained ankle. The Lakers also struggled to contain Lee, who added 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Warriors improved to 41-31.With the loss, the Lakers dropped to 36-35 and hold only a one-game lead over the Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot.“We are the better basketball team,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “They are in the rearview mirror and I have not checked it and I will not.”The frustration for the Lakers was apparent to end the first half. First, Metta World Peace jawed at Lee, then awkwardly patted the All-Star forward’s head after officials intervened.A few minutes later, Howard picked up the technical foul while exchanging words with Lee and an official, after he was called for a foul on Lee’s layup.“We made a statement in that first half,” Jackson said. He could have been talking about Lee’s elbow, too.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have benched quarterback Josh Freeman, replacing him with rookie, Mike Glennon, according to multiple sources.“This league is about finding a franchise quarterback, and with Josh’s roller-coaster career, we don’t feel he’s that guy,” a team source said.Coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik met with the fifth-year QB Wednesday morning and told him that the rookie Glennon, would start in their Sunday home game against the Arizona Cardinals.Freeman has been struggling since the beginning of the season. He helped lead Tampa Bay to 0-3 start, completing a league-worst, 45.3 percent of his passes, and throwing only two touchdowns and two interceptions.“The main thing for us was the performance of the team the last nine games was 1-8 and that’s tough,” Dominik told the press Wednesday. “He hasn’t played well. That’s a part of it. If you don’t have a quarterback in this league, you don’t have a shot. We felt like we’d seen enough of what we needed to see.”“The reason we did it now is that we have a home game this week,” Dominik said. “We have a bye the next week and then we have a home game coming out of the bye. Our thought process was like, ‘Hey look, some people make the change at the bye week.’ We felt it was better for Mike that he has a game he can learn from for two weeks, he can go back and watch. This way he’s not just waiting to play.”
LeBron JamesCavaliers745118.216.4 James HardenRockets815214.814.3 Jimmy ButlerBulls763816.912.1 Rudy GobertJazz814915.513.8 The y-axis here is equivalent to the gap between the dots in the previous chart. James doesn’t just have the biggest impact on his team’s scoring margin — he’s a massive outlier on his team. Curry has the second-highest impact, with Westbrook not too far behind. Importantly, the Spurs and Rockets are outscoring their opponents by comfortable margins whether or not their MVP candidate is on the floor. In both cases, the best player hasn’t even broken out of the pack on his own team. Which isn’t to say that those players aren’t extremely valuable — there are a lot of particulars that affect these results (like who plays with whom), as well as a fair amount of variance. But it illustrates an important lesson that sports narratives often get backward: It’s harder to have a huge impact on a team that’s already good.Curry, meanwhile, is the best player on the best team, and he makes it a lot better. That’s amazing. One reason rebounding legend (and now Hall-of-Famer) Dennis Rodman was so great is he could help make good teams great and great teams greater. Curry is like that, but with even more impact.Let’s take a crack at quantifying how much extra credit Curry should be getting for this. Curry is third in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (behind Chris Paul and LeBron James) — which accounts for both actual on/off differentials and statistical production to estimate a player’s “true” value. This results in Curry’s being second in wins produced with 17.5, a sliver behind James’s 18.2.But Curry and James play on very different teams. Back when I was writing about Rodman, I came up with a basic method that adjusts a player’s impact on winning for the quality of his team. Instead of using players’ absolute number of wins produced, we can look at their wins produced as a share of all the wins that were available to them and use that as a rough estimate of how many wins we might expect them to generate if placed on a .500 team.5It’s pretty simple. For a player with a positive impact (which all our MVP candidates obviously have), estimating what his impact would be on a .500 team is just: (Player impact on win percentage/(1 – Team winning percentage without player))*0.5 So let’s run the top 10 win producers in ESPN’s RPM through this adjustment: Russell WestbrookThunder814516.613.1 PLAYERTEAMGAMES PLAYEDTEAM WINS WITH PLAYERPLAYER WINSESTIMATE OF PLAYER WINS ON A .500 TEAM Anthony DavisPelicans753112.48.3 There are stories to be told in each section of that chart, but for our purposes, focus on the fire raining down from the sky in the Curry section. Not only do virtually all of his teammates (10 of 11 players with at least 30 shots, representing over 1,700 shots taken without him3These numbers and subsequent ones in this paragraph are current through April 9, although there’s no reason to expect major changes since then.) shoot worse without Curry on the court to draw attention, they shoot dramatically worse. Overall, Curry’s teammates shoot 7.3 percentage points worse with Curry off the court, with his average teammate4Weighted by how many shots they took with or without Curry on the floor, whichever was smaller. shooting 8.3 points worse. Among our MVP candidates, LeBron has the next-highest impact on average teammate shooting (3.9 points), followed by Westbrook (2.5 points). When it comes to opening up a team’s offense, Curry has no equal.Curry makes a good team greatestOK, so he’s still a nasty offensive weapon, but that’s only a small part of the game. There are also chase-down blocks to be made, right? To factor in defense and other non-shooting-related contributions, let’s again leave the box score behind and focus on what happens when a player is on the floor versus when he isn’t. A decent way of doing that is to look at some on-off court plus-minus stats from NBA.com. Plus/minus stats alone are often worth being skeptical about, especially because who plays with whom and when can make a big difference — though they can still be revealing, especially when considered in their broader team context.So, with that caveat, here’s the difference in net points per 100 possessions (scoring margins, essentially) when each of our MVP candidates is on the floor versus when he isn’t: It almost goes without saying that Stephen Curry is the best player on the best team in basketball — the first team in history to win at least 67 games three seasons in a row. But Curry isn’t going to win his third-straight MVP.As of April 9, zero percent of ESPN’s Forecast panel predicted that Curry would win, and only 2 percent thought he deserved it. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double — which I personally thought impossible — an accomplishment so storied that it will almost certainly overshadow anything else. Even as FiveThirtyEight’s sports team planned this week’s series of cases for the various MVP contenders, there was some question whether we should make a case for Curry at all. I volunteered for the assignment, and not because I’m our resident bard of all things Curry. I volunteered because Curry really is the NBA’s most valuable player.This is the fourth entry in our series making the case for five NBA MVP candidates. We’ve also made the case for James Harden, the case for Kawhi Leonard and the case for Lebron James. Still to come: Russell Westbrook. Also, check out our NBA predictions.How did Steph go from being a one-man revolution and the first unanimous MVP to being almost an afterthought in the race? Well, two things:The already-great Golden State Warriors signed one of the best players of this era in a brazen attempt to break the game of basketball and dance on the rubble they left behind. Anything less than a perfect season practically feels like a letdown.Curry picked the wrong year to regress toward the mean.While Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James have all been putting up mind-bending box scores, Curry had his worst season in — well, since his first MVP two seasons ago. He hit “only” 41 percent from 3-point range, down from 45 percent last season, despite having his shot burden reduced by the arrival of Kevin Durant — the most recent non-Curry MVP — from Oklahoma City. Curry’s true shooting percentage dropped from an ungodly (and league-leading) 67 percent (with a second-in-the-league 33 percent usage rate) to a more demi-godly — and tenth-highest — 62 percent (with a usage rate of 30 percent, 11th in the league).Curry’s 2016-17 stats would normally be something to crow about — indeed, this regression pretty much puts him back in the neighborhood of his first-MVP form. But this is 2017, when they only put him in the pack. Stars shooting hyper-efficiently despite high usage is the new black:1Data in chart is through April 6, so 2016-17 points may vary slightly from end of season. Using this method, Curry comes out well ahead of LeBron, with 22.0 (adjusted) wins produced to LeBron’s 16.4. Even if you assume that Curry and teammate Draymond Green are benefiting somewhat from playing with each other, that’s still a pretty big gap between Curry and James — and RPM is one of the few stats that already tries to account for teammate effects.ConclusionFinally, Curry (and his team) being so freaking good for at least three seasons in a row matters. While we all like a good regression to the mean, an unusually large one like Curry’s this season is more likely to be an anomaly itself. That is, he may have been running above expectation last season but running below expectation this season. Many of our other candidates are having unexpectedly good years given their recent history, while Curry — who, again, is right there with or ahead of them in virtually every way — has been unexpectedly not-as-great. In other words, there’s a good chance that Curry is still better than he has looked this year (while running below expectation), while the others are more likely to be a bit worse than they’ve looked (while running above expectation).At its core, this has been a dramatic season for NBA performance, but my reasoning for Curry being the best is similar to why I think James — like Peyton Manning in the NFL — should have won even more MVPs than he has: Outcomes and statistics change dramatically from year to year, value typically doesn’t. Kawhi LeonardSpurs745413.715.0 Draymond GreenWarriors766215.720.1 Among our MVP candidates — Curry, Harden, James, Leonard and Westbook — only Curry posted declines in both his shot burden and his efficiency from last season to this one. (Usually, you’d expect a player to become more efficient as they’re used less.) When the Warriors signed Durant, we wondered whether his presence would lead to endless open threes or whether adding another elite shooter would have diminishing returns. Now we’re left wondering whether Durant’s presence might even be hurting Curry (e.g., perhaps some of Curry’s great shots are being replaced by merely good Durant shots).The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets have gone in the opposite direction, filtering even more of their team’s offense through their best players. So even though the Thunder haven’t been the same without Durant, Westbrook has been putting up historic numbers. Meanwhile, Harden has thrived with even more responsibility, and the Rockets have improved.Still, among our MVP candidates, Steph has been the most efficient shooter. Indeed, only seven times in history has any player shot more efficiently and had such a high usage rate: Curry last season; Karl Malone in 1989-90; James in 2012-13 and 2013-14; Durant in 2013-14 and 2015-16; and Isaiah Thomas for the Celtics this season.How to be good at offenseBut! There’s more to Curry than shooting like a ninja. He’s also the best offensive facilitator in basketball. “Wait” — you may be thinking — “Curry is supposedly a point guard, yet he put up only 6.6 assists per game, almost 4 assists per game lower than Westbrook and his lowest average since 2011-12. How can you call him a facilitator?”The answer is that he creates better shots for his teammates. Assists are inherently meaningless. They’re a proxy for how much a player helps his team score, sure, but they’re a crude metric from an era when better ones didn’t exist. It’s cool that Westbrook flipped the odometer in three popular stats for the first time in a long time, but the person who touched the ball last before someone else made a shot is irrelevant. These days, we have much better data to help figure out whether a player makes his teammates better on offense. Curry does.2Curry’s effect whether or not he’s shooting well reminds me a bit of Randy Moss’s legendary ability to improve his team’s passing game whether he was catching balls himself or not. Even late in Moss’s career, Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith had career years with the 49ers using Moss as a decoy.Let’s take a look at what happens to teams’ shooting when their MVP candidate is off the floor (I’ll also add Durant so that you can see who’s really moving the needle in Oakland): Stephen CurryWarriors796417.522.0 Chris PaulClippers614112.712.6 Player wins calculated using ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus.Source: ESPN Curry is even better if you adjust for the Warriors’ strength But as we said, there are a lot of team dynamics that can affect those gaps. So to get a slightly better picture of what’s going on, here’s how every player on our candidates’ teams affected their club’s net scoring margin (their impact in points), versus how good their teams were without them (which gives us a window into how much water each is carrying for their team):
✓2 ✓2 LSUSEC✓ IowaBig Ten✓ Source: CFB at Sports-Reference.com NC StateACC✓ ClemsonACC✓✓✓1 ✓2 ✓2 So far, this year’s college football season has played out with relatively little chaos. Sure, 28.5-point underdog Old Dominion beat Virginia Tech, BYU toppled Wisconsin, and Purdue put a big dent in Ohio State’s playoff chances just last week. But most of the leading preseason favorites are still in good shape to make the College Football Playoff with five weeks to go before the conference championship games (and a week before the selection committee’s first set of rankings is released).If the season ended today, the committee would have an especially easy choice with its top three: Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame, each of which is a prestige program with an undefeated record. Picking the fourth slot, however, would be a little trickier, as there’s a crowded field of worthy one-loss contenders. And that’s what sets this season apart: The sheer potential for madness is quite high, even if it hasn’t manifested itself yet.We can map out how this season compares with others at the same point in time (i.e., through the week in which most FBS teams have played seven games) by classifying how many teams usually fit into the categories that my boss, Nate Silver, laid out in his 2015 story advocating for an expanded playoff field:Tier 1 contains undefeated teams from major conferences.1“Major” being the Power Five (plus Notre Dame). Before the playoff was introduced, these were the BCS conferences. As a general rule, these teams automatically make the playoff, since there are basically never more than two or three of them by the end of any given season.Tier 2 contains one-loss teams from major conferences and undefeated teams from minor conferences. These teams have a decent playoff chance, particularly if they win a major conference title, because they’re the next in line to be picked after the list of Tier 1 teams is exhausted.Tier 3 contains two-loss teams from major conferences and one-loss teams from minor conferences. These teams seldom make the playoff, though it’s not completely impossible.Tier 4 is everyone else.This season, there are only three teams in the running for Tier 1 — the aforementioned trio of Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame. That’s a lot fewer than usual for this point in the schedule; since 1992,2The first year of the Bowl Coalition, a rough signpost for the beginning of the modern bowl era. the average season had featured 5.9 Tier 1 teams at roughly the same moment in time. While this means the committee doesn’t have to hope that a bunch of undefeated teams lose by season’s end — which usually happens anyway when they play one another, or other high-tier teams, in the final weeks and in the conference championships — it has left us with an unusually large number of Tier 2 teams: 14, to be exact, or 1.7 more than the usual average since 1992. Those are the teams that generate controversy, because they all have playoff cases with some level of credibility, and there are always far too many of them to make for an easy decision between them.We can, of course, break that second tier of teams into subgroups based on a few other characteristics. Nate found that one-loss major-conference winners figure to make a four-team playoff field about 72 percent of the time, while one-loss non-champs make it only 47 percent of the time. Undefeated minor-conference champs are in the back of the line, with history saying they should find themselves among the top four only about 25 percent of the time. (Although UCF would take those odds right now, considering that minor-conference teams have made the playoff 0 percent of the time since 2014.) Here’s a summary of the current Tier 1 and 2 teams, along with the factors that might further differentiate them: FloridaSEC✓ Washington St.Pac-12✓ TeamConf.Play in a major conf.?lead their conf.?Have an Undefeated record?Have One loss?TIer TexasBig 12✓✓✓2 AlabamaSEC✓✓✓1 Ohio StateBig Ten✓ ✓2 OklahomaBig 12✓ MichiganBig Ten✓✓✓2 Central FloridaAmerican✓✓2 ✓2 KentuckySEC✓ ✓2 Does the team … ✓2 ✓2 West VirginiaBig 12✓ Breaking the 2018 College Football Playoff field into tiersUndefeated and one-loss NCAA teams in the 2018 season by tier. Tier 1 teams are undefeated teams from major conferences (plus Notre Dame), while Tier 2 teams are either major conference teams with one loss or minor conference teams with no losses. Notre DameInd.——✓1 South FloridaAmerican GeorgiaSEC✓ ✓2 ✓2 Many of these teams will sort themselves out by playing one another before selection day. Of the teams above, only Clemson, Notre Dame, NC State, Washington State and Iowa won’t face another Tier 1 or Tier 2 team before the conference championships. All of the others will play at least one, while Georgia (which plays Florida and Kentucky) and West Virginia (Texas and Oklahoma) will each face two fellow members of the list. So by definition, the field of playoff-worthy teams will be whittled down significantly as we head down the stretch run.But with so few Tier 1 teams to slot in automatically — and so many to deliberate over from Tier 2 — the committee could be faced with plenty of good, old-fashioned college football debates by season’s end. Like so many other college football seasons before it, 2018 is probably saving its best (and craziest) for last.Check out our latest college football predictions.CORRECTION (Oct. 25, 2018, 7:30 p.m.): A previous version of the table in this article indicated that Notre Dame is a member of a major conference. The university’s football program competes as an independent but is treated as a major-conference team for the purposes of our tier system.CORRECTION (Oct. 26, 2018, 11:45 a.m.): A previous version of this story said only four teams would not face another Tier 1 or 2 opponent over the rest of the regular season. A fifth, Washington State, was mistakenly excluded.
Yadier Molina is falling apart. It’s not his hitting, and it’s not his base running. It’s too early in the season to say much that is meaningful about those skills, which can take months of stats to become reliable.It’s the Cardinals catcher’s defense that’s a mess. Molina’s pitch framing has collapsed, dropping from third-best in 2013 to 60th in 2015.1Using Baseball Prospectus’s framing metric, Called Strikes Above Average. And the Cardinals are at real risk because of it. Framing was thought of as mythical until researchers found direct evidence for it in how umpires were calling borderline pitches. The idea is simple: A catcher receives a pitch and “frames” it so that the pitch is more likely to be called a strike. In contrast to descriptions of framing as cheating, good framing involves catching the pitch with a minimum of excess motion. In so doing, the catcher offers the umpire a clear view of the ball and thus collects more favorable strike calls.Since 2008, Molina has been the fifth-best framer in the league. In that time frame, Molina has saved more than 114 runs by flipping pitches that would have been close calls to strikes (worth about 11 wins, in aggregate). Since pitch framing isn’t yet accounted for when sabermetricians project a team’s statistics, Molina’s secret skill helps to explain the Cardinals’ outdoing their projections for the past 10 years and some of their perpetual October success (though to a lesser extent).But this year, Molina’s framing is no longer even average. Already in 2015, Molina has cost his team about four strikes, while the best framers have gained more than 15. That may not sound like much, but over the course of a season, it could add up to a gap of more than 150 strikes, worth something like 25 runs. In his best year (2013), Molina acquired roughly that many extra strikes for his team, equating to an extra couple of wins per year for the Cardinals. This is no small-sample fluke, either. Unlike hitting and pitching, whose outcomes we still measure in the dozens this early in the season, Molina has seen 800 pitches this year. That sample size is plenty big.It’s hard to know why Molina has lost his mojo. Some of Molina’s apparent decline may stem not from his own skill diminishing, but rather from other catchers becoming better. As front offices have become convinced of the importance of framing, we’ve seen many light-hitting but exceptional-framing backstops be promoted to full-time roles. Since Molina is always being compared to the average, if the average moves up, it may appear as though Molina is falling.It’s possible that the physical toll of catching has finally caught up to Molina. Notably, he showed up to spring training about 20 pounds lighter than the weight at which he played for the past 10 years. Molina gave no specific reason for the weight loss when asked, but Adam Wainwright (among others) suggested that it may have been to reduce the wear and tear on his knees.A decline by Molina, even without cryptic injuries, was not totally unexpected. Although pitch framing doesn’t appear physically demanding, research has shown that there is a clear aging pattern for the skill. Catchers improve when young but decline in their 30s. At age 32, Molina is entering the part of the curve with the most rapid decline.Still, rapid is an understatement for Molina’s framing slump. Molina’s framing has been falling off of a cliff for two consecutive years, dropping from excellent to above average from 2013 to 2014 and from above average to poor from 2014 to this year. The decline went largely unnoticed last year, as Molina struggled with injuries that limited his playing time.This year, it’s unmistakable. If you look for two-year declines as large as Molina’s since 2008, there’s only one other player with as many chances who has fallen off as much: Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy this year. (Strangely, Lucroy is 28 years old, still relatively young.) Age tends to reduce framing ability, but rarely as quickly as it has in Molina’s case.Regardless of the cause, Molina’s framing decline affects more than just his own stats. Normally, pitching statistics are much too variable this early in the season to say anything useful. But by learning about Molina’s decline, we may also, in a roundabout way, learn something about the Cardinals’ pitching.To do so, we can look at the recent history of pitchers who lost great framers. Molina isn’t lost, of course, but his framing skills might as well be. In the past three years, 166 pitchers have stayed on the same team but seen their framers decline in quality by a magnitude similar to Molina’s decline from last year to this year. Those 166 pitchers did 0.76 runs of ERA worse than expected.2By PECOTA’s projections. Compared to the overall population of pitchers in that time (who performed 0.47 runs of ERA worse than expected), the pitchers throwing to worse framers saw their ERAs increase3This pattern bears out if you weight ERAs by innings pitched, as well as in the opposite direction: Pitchers who go from bad framers to good see their performances exceed their projections. by 0.28 runs.4But 0.47 runs + 0.28 runs doesn’t add up to 0.76 runs, you protest! Blame rounding.To any given pitcher, a 0.28 increase in ERA is relatively minor. It could be dismissed as merely bad luck. However, Molina doesn’t just work with a single pitcher — his framing affects every pitcher on the team.5Nor will Molina’s backup, Tony Cruz, be any help in this regard. Cruz is a below-average framer as well. His newfound problems will affect each hurler to only a small extent, but the staff as a whole will be dramatically harmed. Over the course of a season, the total effect of the fall from top-tier to below-average framing is something like three wins. In a competitive NL Central, that’s a hefty price to pay.
In an NBA offseason devoid of the usual LeBron James-related drama,1Even though, technically speaking, James remains unsigned! the role of free agent heel has been occupied by once and future Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. First, ESPN reported that Jordan was going to sign with the Dallas Mavericks for more than $80 million over four years. But by Wednesday, rumors had surfaced that Jordan was having second thoughts — perhaps he wanted to return to L.A. after all, especially after Clippers officials proved their devotion by showing up at Jordan’s house and refusing to leave until he reversed his decision. Then early today, Mark Cuban’s worst fears were realized: Jordan spurned the Mavs, instead inking a four-year, $88 million max deal to stay in L.A.If Jordan wants to win a championship, he made the right choice. By far.On Wednesday, we tried to make sense of the San Antonio Spurs’ free-agency haul by running their projected Real Plus-Minus (RPM) numbers and comparing them to the rest of the league. (RPM is an advanced metric that attempts to isolate a player’s on-court contribution to his team’s success.) Now that Jordan is back in L.A., we’ve updated those numbers for his Clippers — and for the spurned Mavs. Here’s how each team’s power rating changed with Jordan’s flip-flop.Without Jordan, the Clippers were projected to be much weaker than were in the 2014-15 season.2Albeit still above-average. But by convincing him to return to Southern California, they’ll have bolstered their projection from a +2.7 team rating (the equivalent of about 47 wins) to +6.0 (or 54 wins). In other words, even though he can’t shoot free throws, Jordan is still worth quite a bit relative to his replacement. And his homecoming tosses L.A. right back into the scramble for third place in the Western Conference behind Golden State and San Antonio (along with, most likely, Oklahoma City and Houston).Oddly, for a player with such a great defensive reputation, Jordan’s return helps the Clippers’ offense most. According to offensive RPM, Jordan ranked first among all NBA centers during the 2014-15 season. He doesn’t often get as much credit as he deserves for his offensive game because his scoring numbers don’t fit the typical mold of a dominant low-post presence. But Jordan is a unique player whose offensive value isn’t easy to pin down.Jordan’s closest historical comparables are all over the place. FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver and I have been tinkering with a PECOTA-style similarity system for basketball players (tentatively codenamed “CARMELO”), and it suggests that Jordan is most like Dale Davis, Joakim Noah, Samuel Dalembert, Tree Rollins, Horace Grant and James Donaldson. Legends, all. Still, none of those comps quite capture Jordan’s combination of off-the-charts shooting efficiency, a knack for drawing fouls, a great rebounding percentage, a low usage rate and a miniscule assist percentage in the same package.Jordan is a great defender, too. But the player who would have replaced him on the Clippers would probably have been passable defensively, assuming he played like a, well, replacement-level player. The bigger difference is that replacement-level NBA players tend to be horrible offensively, so Jordan’s ability to play strong defense while simultaneously not killing the offense could be the single greatest benefit that L.A. receives from his return.As for the Mavericks, they might be screwed. Even with Jordan in the mix, Dallas’s RPM projection was nowhere near those of the West’s top-tier teams — the Clippers without Jordan were projected to be about 3.5 wins better than the Mavericks with him — and now Dallas figures to be a distinctly below-average team. In contrast to the offensive utility Jordan brings L.A., his biggest advantage in Dallas would have been at the other end of the court, where he’d have shored up its shaky defense. (The Mavs are pretty good offensively with or without Jordan.)One last-ditch effort for Dallas, however, might be to return to the negotiating table with Indiana and attempt to trade for — and absorb the salary of — center Roy Hibbert. In a hypothetical world in which Dallas takes Hibbert’s contract off the Pacers’ hands for a draft pick (and free agent Amar’e Stoudemire departs), the Mavericks would essentially be a .500 team with an even better defense than they were projected to have with Jordan.Unfortunately, though, the Lakers and Pacers have already agreed on a trade that would send a second-round draft pick and cash to Indiana for Hibbert and his expiring contract. Ironically, it would take the Pacers “pulling a DeAndre Jordan” and reneging on the agreement to free up Hibbert for a potential trade to Dallas.
OSU sophomore Kyle Snyder declares a victory during a match against Nebraska at St. John Arena on Jan. 17. OSU won 21-17. Credit: Muyao Shen | Asst. Photo EditorSome four months ago, Kyle Snyder was hoisting the American flag triumphantly in Las Vegas following his world-championship victory.That same image now hangs from the rafters of St. John Arena on a banner, commemorating the struggles and sacrifices the Ohio State sophomore wrestler made on his way to glory at the record-breaking age of 19. Snyder poured his heart into his training, and it showed on the mat, beating world-renowned opponents like Olympic gold-medal winner Jake Varner on his way to earning the championship.Along the way, Snyder picked up victories in the Pan American Games and the U.S. Team Trials, as well as at the U.S. Open before taking home the gold in the World Championships. With all those accolades piling up for Snyder, balancing those national duties with his academics and OSU team became a great challenge. As a result, it was announced midway through 2015 that Snyder would be redshirting his sophomore year at OSU and instead work toward Olympic glory.At the time, his peers and mentors felt it was the right choice.“I thought the best thing for him early on was to definitely take an Olympic waiver,” OSU coach Tom Ryan said.Buckeye fans were in for a surprise, though, as in early January the team announced that Snyder would remove the redshirt and return to OSU to compete in the latter half of the season.It was a move that Snyder, OSU coaches and Team USA coaches all agreed upon. “I think I decided a week before Christmas,” Snyder said. “I talked to the USA coaching staff and everybody and made sure it was the smart decision.”Ryan flipped his initial standpoint after more details arose. “As things started to fall into place, it seemed like the best thing for him was coming back,” Ryan said.Snyder’s return was set to happen in early February.“We were initially thinking Penn State,” Ryan said.But in the Buckeyes’ match with Nebraska on Jan. 17, the 97-kilogram world champion made his return to the mat after his honorary banner was unveiled. It was a moment that Snyder wasn’t expecting.“I didn’t know I was getting the banner, or any type of banner, until midway through the week,” Snyder said. “They just said, ‘Hey, you’re getting a banner.’”The crowd at St. John Arena roared at the announcement of Snyder’s return, but he gave them even more to cheer about when he took the mat in the day’s final match. With the score even at 17, Snyder defeated Nebraska’s Colin Jensen to secure a 21-17 victory for the Buckeyes. The moment that was shared between athlete and coaches meant a lot to the returning sophomore.“It was fun being able to go out with the coaching staff that’s helped me achieve that goal,” Snyder said. “It was a special moment, but I wish my family could have been here to see it.”Ryan said he felt with Snyder available, there was no way to keep him out of the lineup.“We thought he was going to be in Russia this weekend,” Ryan said after the match against Nebraska. “And when he wasn’t, it seemed natural to have him return.”In his freshman year, Snyder competed in the 197-pound class, where he achieved a 30-4 record and was a runner-up at the NCAA Championships.Now, after spending time training and competing for an Olympic run, Snyder has returned to compete as a heavyweight.“The motivation for this year, and for every year after this that I’m competing, is to be the best in the world,” Snyder said. “I think coming back this year is going to help the team, but it’s also going to help me.”There has been an adjustment by the sophomore to switch weight classes, but he does feel the added practice will benefit his career in the future.“I’m going to get a few more matches in against some tough, strong competitors,” Snyder said. “I think wrestling them and figuring them out is going to help me in the long run.”Ryan agreed, citing how the experience Snyder gains from these matches will do nothing but benefit him in his path to the Olympics and beyond.“The more heavyweight matches he gets, the better,” Ryan said.With the return of someone with the credentials of Snyder, the OSU wrestling room has become a true force to be reckoned with in the NCAA. As of rankings released Jan. 19, the Scarlet and Gray are ranked No. 9 in the country.Snyder did not compete against Michigan State, even though the Buckeyes won handily, 33-9, but he is expected to participate in future meets this season.Currently, Snyder is 1-0 for the season and 31-4 overall as a collegiate wrestler. Despite the obvious success on the mat, Ryan said he feels that there are more qualities brought by the sophomore than just an ability to dictate matches.“He is an incredible example of how to do things right,” Ryan said. “He sets the standard where every coach wants his team to go.”OSU’s next match is set for Friday against Indiana in Bloomington, Indiana. It’s scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., with Snyder’s presence in the lineup yet to be announced.
If you are a sports fan, there is no better time of the year than late April and the month of May. The NHL and NBA playoffs are in full swing, and no one is tired of baseball yet. Although the NBA playoffs are exciting in their own way and the Indians’ start is promising, the NHL postseason does not get the credit it deserves. At one point in the first round of the playoffs, there was an overtime hockey game on nine straight nights, including two consecutive game-seven overtimes. That’s not to say the NBA playoffs haven’t had their own drama. The No. 8-seeded Memphis Grizzlies upset the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs, an upset rarely seen in the NBA but much more commonplace in the NHL. And there is always the opportunity to root against the Miami Heat. But I am much more intrigued by the NHL playoffs. I may be biased as a former hockey player and a fan of the Detroit Red Wings, but any sports fan should have an interest in one of the world’s toughest sports. In last year’s NHL playoffs, fans watched as each of the eight teams made it out of the first round with a different seed. Although there were only two upsets in the first round this year, the NHL has produced some of the best hockey ever seen in the playoffs. It is time to give hockey the respect it deserves. It is arguably the most beautiful sport in the world, and the Stanley Cup playoffs should be celebrated for the intensity, effort and sacrifice the players put into every game. Viewers can marvel at Shea Weber’s playoff beard, a young Tampa Bay Lightning team competing with the heavily favored Washington Capitals and the bitter rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. The Lightning have a 3-0 series lead against the Capitals, and the Bruins lead the Flyers, 2-0. It is almost unprecedented in sports that the iconic athletes would diminish their icon status, but that is exactly what we see in hockey. Hockey players put their team first and sacrifice their bodies no matter their status on their team. After LeBron James’ and the Heat’s preseason championship celebration, the values in the sport of hockey are something every sport can — and should — duplicate.
Ohio State men’s basketball has company from fellow Big Ten teams near the top of the 2012-13 USA Today preseason Coaches’ Poll. Like other lofty preseason rankings for the team, Buckeyes players likely won’t feel burdened by the expectations. Coming off a 31-8 season and a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans, OSU will begin the upcoming campaign as the No. 4-ranked team in America, according to the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The poll, released Wednesday, features four other Big Ten teams. Indiana was voted the top-ranked team in America to start the season. The Hoosiers posted a 27-9 record last year and advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Michigan rounds out the Big Ten’s presence in the top five spots of the poll at No. 5. The Wolverines’ preseason ranking is the highest they have received in 19 years. Michigan State and Wisconsin – ranked No. 14 and No. 21, respectively – are the only other Big Ten teams to crack the top 25 in the coaches’ poll. The Spartans are the reigning Big Ten Tournament champions, but bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 round with a loss to eventual national semifinalist Louisville. Wisconsin advanced to the Elite 8 in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Badgers’ season ended with a loss to Syracuse, which the Buckeyes defeated to advance to the Final Four. OSU has also received No. 3 and No. 8 preseason rankings from The Sporting News and Athlon, respectively. During their Oct. 11 media day, several members of the Buckeye squad said they don’t put much stock in preseason rankings. OSU sophomore forward LaQuinton Ross said the team is only focused on internal matters. “The people that are doing those rankings, they’re just looking from the outside,” Ross said. “They have no idea what teams have been doing to get better.” Buckeyes sophomore forward Sam Thompson agreed, adding that the team’s only expectation is to compete for the Big Ten championship, and then the national championships. “That’s what we were recruited here to do and that’s still our goal,” Thompson said. The Buckeyes are scheduled to begin the 2012-13 season on Nov. 9 against Marquette in the Carrier Classic, which will take place on the deck of the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) looks to throw the ball downfield in the first quarter of the game against Tulane on Sept. 22. Ohio State won 49-6. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorOhio State redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins did not have to prove anything to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. Through the first three games of the season, Haskins, under Day, threw 11 touchdowns in the first three games of the season, completing 72.5 percent of his pass attempts with two games of at least 300 passing yards. With the return of Urban Meyer, after serving his three-game suspension to start the season, Haskins had a reputation to uphold for a head coach who had not seen him play on the sidelines yet this season. That reputation was secured by halftime. Haskins led an offense that scored 42 points on 425 yards of offense in the first half, and completed 21 of 24 pass attempts for 304 yards, throwing five touchdowns, becoming the third quarterback in Ohio State history to have multiple five-touchdown games in his career. In four starts, the redshirt sophomore quarterback has thrown for over 300 yards in a game three times, which is tied for third-most in Ohio State history behind former Ohio State quarterbacks J.T. Barrett and Joe Germaine. However, even with the return of Meyer, a head coach who had not seen his starting quarterback lead a team in person, Haskins really did not feel he had anything to prove to him. He felt he did that last season. “I feel like I proved to Coach last year during the Michigan game what I could do on the field and it’s a matter of time of me getting comfortable,” Haskins said. “Having him on the field today was just showing coach, ‘Hey look, I’ve been working since you have been gone and tell me how you think.’” Through his first four games as the starting quarterback at Ohio State, Haskins said he’s performed better than expected, having the goal of going out as a leader and winning games with the help of the other pieces of the offense. With that, Haskins had one goal in mind. “I just want to show how dangerous the offense is, and with me at the helm a lot of plays can be made,” Haskins said. Meyer said he knew Haskins had the accuracy in his arm from the moment he saw him throw in workouts. He said, as more of a pro-style quarterback than a dual-threat option, it’s a necessity for Haskins to be accurate with a defensive approach to load the box if a quarterback can’t throw in pressure. Through the first four games, Haskins has shown that accuracy, completing 72.5 percent of his throws with two games this season in which he had recorded a completion percentage of over 80 percent. For Meyer, the accuracy in the passing game does not only depend on the success of the quarterback. He said it has to do with the amount of time Haskins has to throw the ball, the routes the receivers are running and their ability to create space to get an open throw. Haskins said it’s the constant repetition in practice that creates a successful dynamic within the offense when game time hits. “Having guys like Coach Meyer and Coach [Ryan] Day, they are perfectionists, so, in practice, the ball don’t touch the ground at all really,” Haskins said. “You get to the game Saturday. I want to execute, so that’s part of what I want to do as well.” For those who are on the receiving end of Haskins throws, they see a difference in the man behind center through the first four games of the season. “I don’t think you can fathom a performance, the one he’s been putting on thus far,” redshirt senior wide receiver Parris Campbell said. “He’s a very poised quarterback, he’s a great player, he has an eager to get better each week, has an eager to learn, he’s just becoming a pro.” Meyer said Haskins is getting a command of the offense, becoming a leader that the players are responding to. In that, the Ohio State offense is beginning to gel with Haskins at the helm. However, that doesn’t mean all is proven for the redshirt sophomore quarterback moving forward, especially with No. 10 Penn State next week, according to his head coach. “I had Alex Smith at Utah and obviously when Cardale got hot,” Meyer said. “It’s so early though, I hate to put him in those — game five coming up. This one is a big one coming up.”
Colin Gay and Wyatt Crosher discuss where Ohio State men’s basketball stands in NCAA Tournament hopes, how women’s basketball continues to improve and women’s hockey’s recent five-game losing streak. Also, analysis on the weather, only the important stuff.
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 Royal Navy officer has pleaded not guilty to the sexual assault of a woman at a military training college.Sub Lieutenant David Perry denied the offence during a short hearing at Portsmouth Naval Base’s court martial centre.The alleged offence is said to have taken place at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth on July 5 last year.Judge Advocate Robert Hill ordered the 25-year-old, who previously served aboard the Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond but who is currently based at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth, to stand trial on February 13 next year.
A statue to Cilla Black is unveiled outside the Cavern Club by her son Robert to mark where the late singer began her career. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. In the same incident Mrs Hope, who is married to Christopher Hope, was badly injured and her mother Elizabeth was killed. Before, prosthetic legs on the NHS only allowed amputees to walk.A portion of the funding – £500,000 – was ring fenced to fund new sports prosthetics for 500 children, to allow them to run and swim.BBC Midlands Today reported that Anu is one of these, and she is very happy with her new blade.Anu’s family have been supported by the West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre for the treatment.The money was found because of a campaign by the family of Telegraph journalist Christopher Hope, whose child Pollyanna lost her right leg below the knee when a bus hit her on a pavement in south London in 2007 when she was two years old. Mr Osborne said when the funding was announced: “I have been very moved by Sarah Hope’s campaign. She got in touch with me and explained her family’s story and the problems Polyanna and too many children like her had experienced.“I am determined that we do all we can to ensure children who have lost a limb experience full and active lives. So through the NHS, we are going to give £1.5million for new prosthetic to help amputee children run and jump when otherwise they have not been able to and build on the 2012 Paralympics legacy,”This will mean a £500,000 fund to make sure 500 children get special sports prosthetics on the NHS, because too many aren’t currently being offered what they need, like running blades or aqua limbs for swimming.” When seven-year-old Anu showed off her new sports blade to her friends at school, she got a lovely response.”Is that your new pink leg?” asked one friend as Anu, from Birmingham, proudly walked on her new leg.”Wow!” another exclaimed, as a small girl went up to her and hugged her.Anu had her leg amputated shortly after she was born.She is happy now as her new pink sports blade allows her to play, jump, run and dance.This blade was made possible because of a £1.5m funding injection given to the NHS last year. This money allowed research into the blades, which allow amputees to run and play properly.
Amid the usual fans clamouring for him to autograph balls, programmes and tickets was a man who handed Nadal a prosthetic leg, complete with a blue trainer on the end.When he was later asked if the leg was removed specially for the star to sign, Nadal said: “[It] was already off. I don’t know if he took it off at that moment or not.”Asked if it was the “weirdest” thing he had ever been asked to sign by a fan he gave a smile and replied: “Probably not.” Not your everyday request…#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/nWIli7inXu— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2017 “When you’re on court, you know that every opponent is dangerous. Then don’t relax yourself when you are winning. Keep having the motivation to improve, you know. Don’t consider yourself too good. And I think this kind of stuff help me to have a longer career.” Rafael Nadal on day oneCredit:Heathcliff O’Malley Judy Murray said the man should be “ashamed” of himself and fans joined her in criticising his behaviour. The young fan, a teenager who had travelled from Ireland to watch the match, was later found by Sock’s team and the US player has invited him to watch him play later in the championships.Nadal has long been a firm favourite with Wimbledon fans, in part for his grace and humility off and on court as well as his amazing play.He gave another example of those qualities on Wednesday night, both during his match against Young and afterwards, when he was asked about his recent admission to having doubts about his ability to regain the form of his earlier years.The 31-year-old said: “It’s normal to have doubts in life. In sport it’s exactly the same, no? When you are not playing well, when I had more injuries than I would like, it’s normal to have doubts. And I did. And I tell you one thing, if I had doubts when I was winning almost every match, how can I not have doubts when I am in a bad situations, no?”Nadal, who suffered a second-round defeat to Dustin Brown in 2015 and missed last year’s tournament through injury, added: “But the doubts give you a couple of things that for me are important. Respect for every opponent, that’s important. Rafael Nadal takes a break during a practice session at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in WimbledonCredit:OLI SCARFF/AFP Wimbledon tweeted a clip of the incident, with the caption: “Not your everyday request…”Nadal signed the prosthetic leg the day after a man snatched a towel from a boy’s hands when American player Jack Sock threw it to him in the crowd. In his many years as one of the world’s greatest tennis players Rafael Nadal has grown used to bizarre requests from fans.But on Wednesday the Spanish player was asked to autograph a fan’s prosthetic leg – and even then admitted it was not the strangest thing he had ever been asked to sign.The 10-time French Open champion and two times Wimbledon winner had won his second-round match against American Donald Young 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 when he was presented with the request. 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.
Bains had been on trial for manslaughter but the charges were dropped after he admitted the health and safety violations.Sentencing him on Wednesday, Mr Justice Males, told him: “Your failure to fit smoke alarms was a significant cause of the children’s deaths. 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. Logan Taylor (left) and Jake Casey died when an electrical fault in a TV caused a fire in their bedroomCredit:MEN Media “Thus the harm caused by your failure could not have been more serious.”Bains was the director of property management company Prime Property Estates (Yorkshire), which maintained around 140 homes in the Huddersfield area on behalf of private landlords for a 10 per cent cut of the rent. Detective Superintendent Steve Thomas, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We also hope that this case is a stark reminder to landlords and letting agents to treat their responsibilities seriously and they have an obligation to ensure that all properties are fully equipped with all adequate safety measures to ensure the safety of their tenants.”West Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Dave Walton, said: “Had there been working smoke alarms in this property, the outcome could have been very different and these brothers could have had a future to look forward to.”As firefighters, the importance of having working smoke alarms is a message that we try and get over to the public day in and day out.””This landmark case shows how vitally important it is that landlords and letting agents take their responsibilities seriously or the consequences do not bear thinking about.” Bains was jailed for a year in a prosecution believed to be the first of its kindCredit:SWNS Ms Taylor told the two-week trial, which ended when the manslaughter charges were dropped, that she asked Bains “time after time” to fit alarms at the house he managed in Alder Street.In an impact statement read to the court, she said: “I don’t think I will ever recover from this awful tragedy. The worst thing is I won’t get to see my boys grow up.”The judge said that tests carried out by investigators showed that Ms Taylor would have had “a few minutes” to rescue her two boys if an alarm had been fitted.Ms Taylor and Mr Casey, the boys’ father, said in statement after the hearing: “We do hope that this case highlights this important issue and for people to know their responsibilities as landlords or letting agents and to take appropriate action to ensure that any property they are responsible for has working smoke alarms. A landlord who failed to fit smoke alarms inside a rented house where two boys died in a fire has been jailed for a year following a landmark case.Kamal Bains was told his inability to install smoke detectors at the property in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was a “significant cause” of the deaths of Logan Taylor, three, and two-year-old Jake Casey.The youngsters died when an electrical fault in a TV caused a fire in their bedroom in February 2016 as their mother Emma Taylor was beaten back by heat as she tried to rescue them, Leeds Crown Court heard.Bains, 51, of Stableford Gardens, Huddersfield, whose property company managed the house, admitted a breach of health safety law on Monday in a case believed to be the first of its kind.West Yorkshire Police said the prosecution was the first to be brought since legislation was passed in October 2015 which requires private sector landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties. The house in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where the two children died in a fireCredit:Tom Kershaw/SWNS “Such a simple check could have saved the lives of our boys and we want to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else.”
An Argentine ship has been caught in Falklands waters ‘snooping for oil’, the Royal Navy has revealed.HMS Clyde was scrambled to see off a ship from the Argentine navy thought to be prodding military defences in seas off the Falkland Islands on September 2.The Argentinian survey ship, ARA Puerto Deseado, switched off her satellite tracker and sailed up to the edge of British territorial waters on Sunday afternoon.The Royal Navy patrol vessel stationed in the Falkland Islands, HMS Clyde, reacted swiftly after the Argentinian vessel changed course and speed towards the 12-mile territorial limit.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The stand-off ended when ARA Puerto Deseado, bristling with equipment to investigate the depths of the ocean, retreated and turned on her tracker again. She returned to port the next day. 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. “Not intercepting for fear of being seen to overreact or, worse still, because of insufficient resources – using ‘not wishing to over-react’ as an excuse – is unacceptable and a road we have trodden before in this part of the world,” he said.”This type of operation is precisely what navies should do. Do we need a frigate or destroyer in the South Atlantic all the time? Not necessarily. This in no way should take anything from the excellent HMS Clyde, operating alone and unafraid around the clock in some of the most hostile waters on the planet.”A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “This was unusual activity rather than illegal or confrontational. We are comfortable with vessels working in that area, but it was the course and speed [of the Argentinian ship] towards the islands which was unusual”. Nick Childs of the International Institute for Strategic Studies says it was a fairly minor incident and part of the nature of maritime operations, especially when compared to the military probing immediately after the Falklands War.However, he said “the maritime domain is increasingly contested globally and this incident shows how the Navy is increasingly being pulled in all sorts of directions at the same time with limited resources”.Former captain of frigate HMS St Albans, Commander Tom Sharpe, suggested the Argentinian ship had been snooping for oil reserves. He thought the response from HMS Clyde had been timely, proportional and appropriate, and therefore had the desired effect. HMS Clyde, a River Class Patrol Ship.