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Monthly Archive: September 2019

Santonio Holmes Set To Make Preseason Debut With Jets

Wide receiver Santonio Holmes is set to make his preseason debut for the New York Jets on Sunday night.The former Super Bowl MVP hasn’t played a game since his infamous benching in last year’s regular season finale.Jets coach Rex Ryan confirmed the news on Friday, saying that both Holmes and slot receiver Jeremy Kerley will face the Carolina Panthers. Their much-needed return should come as a big boost to a struggling offense that has failed to score a touchdown in the preseason. The Mark Sanchez-led first unit has yet to produce a point in eight possessions.“I hope it could be a big spark,” Kerley said. “Get some new legs out there and give Mark some [more] targets.”Holmes has been sidelined since being hit by cornerback Antonio Cromartie in an August 4 intra-squad scrimmage and suffering rib cartilage damage.The Jets’ only proven receiver returned to practice on a limited basis this week. The seventh-year pro from Ohio State started all 16 games last year, totaling 51 receptions for 654 yards and eight touchdowns.For his career, Holmes boasts 77 receiving plays of 20 yards or better and 17 that have been good for at least 40 yards. Two hundred fifty-six of his 338 career catches have gone for first downs.Holmes was named the MVP of Super Bowl XVIII after totaling nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown to help Pittsburgh outlast Arizona, 27-23. Four of his receptions and 73 of his yards came on the game’s final drive, punctuated by his spectacular game-winning catch in the contest’s waning moments.Kerley has missed most of training camp with a slight hamstring tear.Ryan said he expects his starters to play three quarters Sunday, although both Holmes and Kerley will each be limited to about 10 to 15 plays.None of the Jets starters or backup quarterback Tim Tebow is expected to play in the team’s preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles on August 30. read more

The Biggest Surprises From The First Week Of The NBA Playoffs

Everyone’s like, “Why are these four stars such awkward fits together” — and I’ll admit that they’re a little awkward, but with a half-decent bench, it’s an entirely different team.chris.herring: I don’t think it’s a terrible bench. And the truth is, you can stagger when you have that many stars.But the spots in which it’s terrible … yeah.tchow: Sixers’ bench: Who? Who? Who? The big guy. Who? and Who?sara.ziegler: 🤣chris.herring: That’s their issue, I think. I’m not sure Boban Marjanovic would work against every team. But he’s their backup big.natesilver: I saw Boban at the United Airlines lounge at Newark Airport one time. He was very big and tall and sitting in a giant lounge chair and still looked very big and tall.chris.herring: I tweeted last night that I’m pretty sure he dunked last night with one foot still on the ground.Anyway: I want to talk more about how disappointed I am in Brooklyntchow: Are you just disappointed in their central A/C system at Barclays, Chris? chris.herring: Well, that too.sara.ziegler: Are you disappointed that their slogan is “We go hard,” and then they didn’t?chris.herring: They did go hard!It’s not a question of effort with them. It never is. But I think what Nate alluded to is exactly the issue here. The Sixers’ bench isn’t great/may be bad. And the Nets’ second-best player is their bench.natesilver: Yeah, Brooklyn’s not totally unlike Denver. Excellent depth, no playoff experience, frontline talent is meh.tchow: Nate, they’re both small-market teams. I get it. (Queens represent!)sara.ziegler: OMGTony trying to start a borough war here.chris.herring: You generally see Brooklyn go on these massive runs in the second quarter of these games. But then after halftime, the game gets broken open, and Kenny Atkinson — who I really, really like — waits too long to call a timeout!The Sixers went on a 21-2 (!!!!) run in Game 2 before Atkinson called for timeout. It took a 1-point deficit and expanded it to a 20-point lead for the Sixers. And then the game was over.tchow: Maybe Atkinson is from the Phil Jackson school of letting the players figure it out on their own.natesilver: What was the atmosphere like at Barclay’s, Chris? I think it’s one of the coolest venues in sports from an architectural/amenities standpoint, but every time I’ve gone, the fans are sort of half-hearted.chris.herring: Last night was amazing to start the game. But I think they were sort of stunned to see the team run out of steam.And as Tony said: I was freezing.sara.ziegler: Well, it is a hockey rink, too.chris.herring: So maybe the have to have the ice ready? But good lord.My phone turned off at one point because of how cold it was.sara.ziegler: WowThat’s cold.chris.herring: The atmosphere was really great. It’s good to have the playoffs in Brooklyn again. And hopefully Manhattan at some point in the next couple years. (side-eyes Knicks)natesilver: Knicks fans should be rooting against Boston and against Golden State, right?chris.herring: I’ve heard the same stuff everyone else has about Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving coming to the Knicks. As much as I hear it, I just have to see it to believe that it’ll actually happen.natesilver: I think KD could leave either after a championship or a flameout. But Kyrie — yeah, he’s already flip-flopped enough that I think Knicks fans want the Celtics out by Round 2.chris.herring: I think I’m just too conditioned to believe that nothing overwhelmingly good can happen for/with the Knicks unless there’s an enormous downside that comes with it.sara.ziegler: LOLnatesilver: My current scenario is that they get Kyrie and also draft Ja Morant and somehow that turns into a disaster.sara.ziegler: Speaking of Kyrie, the Celtics are making quick work of the Pacers. Indiana doesn’t seem to have quite enough offense so far to hang with Boston.chris.herring: 😔tchow: I’m actually interesting to read Chris’s thoughts on this series. I remember A LOT of people were down on Boston going into the playoffs.chris.herring: Yeah. I had some hope that this could be an interesting series.But I also was tasked with writing an Indiana-based primer for the ESPN side ahead of this series. When I got to the “Why Indiana can win section,” I sat and stared at my screen for like an hour.So this actually doesn’t surprise me all that much.They simply don’t have enough offense. Or ingenuity.natesilver: I haven’t watched much of that series; pretty much my only recollection was seeing a score that was like 76-59 in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and thinking I needed to update my contact lens prescription, but nope, that was the actual score.chris.herring: They basically hand the ball off to Bojan Bogdanovic and say, “Do something.” Kind of like a kid who does a magic trick, but is still holding the quarter in his hand, in plain sight, for everyone to see.tchow: Has Boston done anything to change people’s minds about their chances though?chris.herring: No. They’re merely beating a flawed, weakened team, IMO.tchow: That’s what I figured about Boston. The real test, if they do end up beating the Pacers, will probably come against Milwaukee.chris.herring: In fairness to Nate McMillan and the Pacers, this was always going to be an uphill battle, because they’re playing without Victor Oladipo. It was a great accomplishment to go 21-21 this season without their star player after going 0-7 without him last season.sara.ziegler: Yeah, they don’t really have anything to feel embarrassed about.chris.herring: I really like Indiana, and have a soft spot for Little-Engine-That-Could sort of teams. But they need some reinvention.They could use more firepower. But they need better schemes.natesilver: I feel like the whole first round could use more firepower. Between inexperienced teams, teams with injury problems, teams without any star talent … it feels a little bit like spring training or something.tchow: I agree, but it has been more interesting than I imagined.chris.herring: A little.sara.ziegler: Let’s talk about the other interesting series in the East: No. 2 Toronto has had its hands full with No. 7 Orlando. The Magic took the first game, but the Raptors stormed back in Game 2. The teams will face off Friday night in Orlando. Do we think the Magic have a realistic shot in this series?natesilver: Mayyyyyybe?chris.herring: It depends on what you define as “a shot.” I think they can get another game, potentially. I don’t think they will win the series. The Raptors responded in Game 2 the way you hoped a top-flight team would.sara.ziegler: But the Magic are underrated, Chris!I heard you say so.chris.herring: Oh, they are. And not enough people know that.But I don’t think that I ever conflated them being underrated with the notion that they should somehow beat the Raptors in a series.tchow: Kyle Lowry responded in Game 2 the way you hoped. Chris wrote about Lowry’s Game 1 woes before, but he responded in a big way.natesilver: Orlando is a weird-ass team, and they played very well in the second half of the season.If you’re looking for an upset pick, I’d rather pick a weird team than a normal one.chris.herring: If they had played competitively in Game 2, sure.Or had a matchup they could readily exploit.sara.ziegler: The Raptors had a 98 percent chance to win this series before the playoffs start, and now they’re all the way down to 93 percent. So things are still looking pretty good for them.In the last series in the East, the Bucks had a little trouble with Detroit before pulling away in Game 2. But the most interesting thing to me about that game was Blake Griffin picking up his second technical foul of the series.Blake Griffin, you’ll recall, has not actually played yet in this series.tchow: Bucks in four. I think we can move on?sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: Yeah. That’s literally the only thing I find interesting about this series. That, and finding out how far away from the basket Giannis can dunk from.tchow: The NBA tweet highlights of Giannis dunks have been the only saving grace of this series. sara.ziegler (Sara Ziegler, assistant sports editor): We’ve had almost one full week of games in the NBA playoffs, and trends are emerging. Golden State took a 31-point third-quarter lead over the Clippers on Thursday night … and didn’t lose! So after a few early surprises, things seem to be getting back to what we expected.One series not playing out according to seeding is San Antonio-Denver. The No. 7 Spurs beat the No. 2 Nuggets 118-108 on Thursday to take a 2-1 lead in the series. This comes as a surprise to the FiveThirtyEight NBA Predictions model, which had Denver as an 88 percent favorite to move on. The Nuggets are still favored, but just 60-40. Are you guys surprised by how this series is going?chris.herring (Chris Herring, senior staff writer): Not all that much, no. I think I picked Denver out of respect for the season it had. But this was the one team basically everybody had questions about coming in.I had the series going seven games, with Denver winning. It could easily be 3-0 Spurs right now.tchow (Tony Chow, video producer): I am surprised, but I don’t think we really should be. It’s the Spurs being the Spurs again.natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Our model doesn’t like San Antonio very much, so given their regular-season performance and home-court advantage — and Denver has a big home-court advantage — the Nuggets were pretty clear favorites. But it didn’t really like the Nuggets all that much either. They aren’t a great playoff team because their depth doesn’t really help them in the playoffs, the topline talent is not all that good, and they don’t have much playoff experience.So I’m surprised that we had them as high as 88 percent, frankly! But not surprised that the Spurs are ahead in the series.chris.herring: On Denver’s home-court advantage: The Nuggets haven’t beaten the Spurs in San Antonio in 14 tries now.tchow: I am surprised because at one point in the season, our model gave the Spurs just a 4 percent chance of even making the postseason. We had a story a while back that talked about how they started turning it around (better defense, better bench production), but they were still underdogs going into this series, in my opinion.sara.ziegler: Yeah, I had sort of counted the Spurs out a long time ago.Let that be a lesson to me: Never count out Pop.The experience factor really seems to be hurting the Nuggets so far. (And our model took 3 points away from them for their lack of playoff experience.)chris.herring: Nuggets coach Mike Malone has talked about the experience factor a pretty decent amount in the past weekHis young starting point guard, Jamal Murray, began Game 2 going 0-for-8. Malone was asked if he gave thought to pulling him because of Murray’s performance. He said no, in part because he needed to show his young players that he believed in them, and that he’s with them, win or lose. Murray responded by hitting 8-of-9 in the final quarter to bring the Nuggets all the way back for a dramatic win.The win probably saved their season for the time being. But it speaks to the volatility of having such a young/young-minded club.tchow: Murray wasn’t much better in Game 3 — just 6 points and two assists. I’m not trying to pin Denver’s failing’s this postseason all on Murray, though. All the Nuggets starters were pretty terrible in Game 3.chris.herring: It’s a pretty big contrast between the teams.While we’re talking about the growing pains for a young team, it’s worth pointing out that the Spurs are being led in part by youngster Derrick White, whose defense is his calling card. I think this is his first real exposure to a national audience, but he’s been playing really well for months.tchow: White’s Game 3 performance was kind of a reminder for a lot of people who don’t watch the Spurs that he existed.sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: White’s experience has been different because of all the injuries they’ve had. But White and Dejounte Murray are going to be an annoyingly good backcourt once the team is healthy again next season. AND there’s Bryn Forbes, too.natesilver: The whole Nuggets backcourt feels like it’s way short of championship caliber. It needs an anchor. There are lots of useful pieces you could rotate around that anchor, like Murray and Gary Harris, but without that anchor, it doesn’t quite come together.chris.herring: It’s tough: They have a fantastic, sure-handed backup in Monte Morris, who led the NBA in assist/turnover ratio.sara.ziegler: MORE MONTE MORRISCyclones, represent!chris.herring: He may not win a game for you. But he’s extremely unlikely to ever lose one for you, which you could argue Murray either occasionally does, or comes close to doing. Again: These are the growing pains for a young team sometimes.sara.ziegler: On to another team that has seemed shaky at times this postseason: the Philadelphia 76ers. But they seem to have recovered from their upset in Game 1 — they’ve beaten the Nets convincingly twice in a row now. What looked different for them in Games 2 and 3?tchow: Ben. Simmons.natesilver: Sen. Bimmons.chris.herring: Yeah, that sounds about right. Whether it was Jared Dudley that got in his head, or just him recognizing that he had to be more aggressive, Simmons has been a completely different player since Game 1.tchow: Simmons had a -21 plus/minus in Game 1. Game 2 he was +23, and then +11 in Game 3 with a 31 point performance on 85 percent shooting.chris.herring: I hate to say this, because maybe it’s premature, but I was beginning to think that the Nets could steal this series if things broke right for them.tchow: I think a lot of people thought that, Chris. The Nets are legit and play really hard.chris.herring: The Nets stole home-court advantage in Game 1. Were basically even at halftime of Game 2. And then get a gift rolled out on a platter for them, with Joel Embiid sitting out of a Game 3 played in their home arena, in front of a fan base that hasn’t hosted a playoff game in four years.Thursday was their chance. And I think with the loss now, that might be about it.natesilver: I’m in the Ben-Simmons-is-underrated camp. Yeah, he doesn’t really have a jumpshot. But he does pretty much everything else well. And there have been a lot of players throughout NBA history who have survived or even thrived without jump shots — Giannis Antetokounmpo basically does that now. The advanced stats like Simmons.tchow: I think it’s very different for a player like Giannis to not have a jump shot than Simmons.chris.herring: While we’re on the issue of Simmons, I think we learned that Embiid not being there might have been a help for himFor all the wonderful things Embiid does, he plays at a plodding pace.Someone like Simmons thrives in an up-tempo environment because of his inability to shoot.tchow: Sara, I found the hot take for next week’s Hot Takedown episode: FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring says Sixers are better without Joel Embiid.sara.ziegler: LOLOLOLYes!chris.herring: They might be in this series! Well, probably not: Greg Monroe was rough.If they had more depth, they might be.natesilver: That’s the thing about Philly. Look how bad their bench is: natesilver: Our model thought the DeMarcus Cousins injury was a pretty big deal. Although I think it overrated how effective Cousins had been this season.sara.ziegler: All season, Cousins has been more about potential in our model.But the Warriors didn’t need him early in the season, obviously.tchow: I have nothing much to say about this series, but I do want to point readers to this interview KD gave before Game 3. chris.herring: If and when the NBA move the first round back to a best-of-five, they’re going to use this series as evidence as why. (edited)natesilver: I think there needs to be a mercy rule where you can concede your playoff series and get like three Lottery Balls or whatever.sara.ziegler: OK, let’s move back to the West. The Trail Blazers are off to a great start, up 2-0 against the Thunder. Our model is surprised at this series — it had given the Thunder a 77-23 edge. Are you guys surprised?chris.herring: Yes. I’m surprised. Maybe stupid, too.natesilver: I mean, if Paul George isn’t himself, our model is gonna screw that series up.tchow: He’s hurt!chris.herring: I feel like a contrarian now, but I don’t even think he’s shoulder is the problem anymore. He shot the ball semi-decently last game.Russ is shooting like he’s the one injured.tchow: Our model can’t predict that Russell Westbrook will shoot 35 percent and 10 percent from 3-point range in this series.chris.herring: EXACTLYWhat I will say is that I don’t have a lot of faith in OKC if it’s simply relying on the notion that its shooting will improve.They are shooting 16 PERCENT from three in this series.Which, while God awful, is only a slight regression for them!natesilver: That whole quadrant of the bracket — OKC, Portland, San Antonio, Denver — seems incredibly weak to me.chris.herring: If OKC had a team full of sharpshooters, I could understand having more confidence.But Russ still defends Damian Lillard as if he’s surprised that Dame can/will pull up from 35 feet.The guy needs to be treated as if he’s Steph at this pointtchow: I don’t want to take anything away from Portland. Yes, they lost Jusuf Nurkic, but CJ and Dame have been awesome this series.chris.herring: I came in thinking that this might be a sweep or a 4-1 series in favor of OKC. Simply thought that not having Nurkic would hurt against someone like Steven Adams. I thought CJ McCollum would struggle to find a rhythm (he’s coming off an injury and wasn’t good vs. OKC during the season). We watched Dame log 35 a night against the Thunder during the season and still get swept 4-0 during the regular season.tchow: CJ has been 🔥chris.herring: I didn’t think they had a great chance in this series. They had lost 10 playoff games in a row. With the exception of perimeter shooting, I thought just about everything else would be in OKC’s favor. Wrong, wrong, wrong.tchow: If Dame wasn’t in Portland, would he still be this underrated? It feels like this is a storyline every season.sara.ziegler: That’s a good question.How many people regularly see him play?tchow: Basketball nerds: “Look at Damian Lillard!”Basketball fans: “Who this?”chris.herring: I guess we have to define underrated.natesilver: He was All-NBA First Team last season, no?But, yeah, Portland has to be one of the least-watched teams in the league, or at least by people not in the Pacific Time Zone.chris.herring: Even if you know who he is, and how great he is, I think you could objectively look at this series — and what the Blazers have done the last two years in the playoffs (0-8) — and say OKC should have been favored.tchow: For OKC to take Game 3, they need to ____________.And don’t say something like “play better” (looks at Nate).sara.ziegler: SHOOT BETTERchris.herring: … shoot better than my 4-year-old nephew does from outside of 23 feet.natesilver: I’d say they need to play better basketball.sara.ziegler: In the other non-Warriors series out West, the Rockets are handling the Jazz easily so far, setting up a showdown with Golden State in the second round. This has played out about as expected, right?chris.herring: I had higher hopes for Jazz-Rockets. Am impressed with how dominant Houston has looked, but thought Utah would play better than this. Their defensive scheme has looked downright nonsensical to metchow: If Chris has a soft spot for Indiana, I think I have a soft spot for Utah. I love this team and wanted more out of them this series.sara.ziegler: Utah is a very likable team.natesilver: I didn’t expect Houston to dismantle Utah quite so thoroughly.In fact, I think that’s the story of the first round so far. It’s a highly consequential story because the Rockets are absolutely good enough to give the Warriors a series.chris.herring: The disappointment I feel with Utah is equivalent to how excited I am for the second round, with Warriors-Rockets.That will seemingly be the Western Conference finals, just a round early.natesilver: It would be quite something if the Rockets actually need fewer games to dispatch Utah than Golden State needs with the Clippers.chris.herring: Seriously.tchow: The Jazz just seem like a team that’s so close to figuring it out. Maybe not to a point where you think they can beat Golden State, but they’re so good in the regular season. I don’t know what happens to them in the playoffs.chris.herring: Yeah, I sort of agree in theory, Tony.But I think what I’ve learned is that I have to be leery of a team that relies on such a young player to be its leading scorer.natesilver: Maybe you just need more isolation scoring in the playoffs? Or more scoring, period?chris.herring: I remember a stat from last year: Donovan Mitchell was the first rookie to lead a playoff team in regular-season scoring since Carmelo Anthony.I think there’s a reason we don’t see it happen much. And I think it’s even more problematic for a team built like that to have all sorts of horrible defensive breakdowns, because at that point, you know they have no shot at keeping up in a shootout against one of the best scorers in modern history.If Quin Snyder rolls out the exact same defensive scheme that he did in Games 1 and 2, this series will end in a sweep.natesilver: Is Mitchell … a little bit like Carmelo Anthony in that he’s taking too many shots? I mean, I guess he has to take a lot of shots with that lineup. But Utah really needs another player who can create his own shot.tchow: What if you played a player like Royce O’Neale more? He’s +1.8 on defense (according to our model), and it looks like they do a bit better defensively with him on the floor.chris.herring: He’s another example of what Nate is talking about, though: A guy that isn’t likely to create his own shot.This is a team that will need to take a long, hard look at itself this summer despite how well it’s played during the second half of these last two seasons.tchow: One obvious fix would be to get rid of Grayson Allen.KIDDING!!!natesilver: I also think Utah benefits from being a bit unorthodox. Rubio is an unorthodox point guard. They’re defense-first. They can play at a slow pace, although they picked up their pace a lot this year. They’re well-coached. So there’s an advantage from game-planning in the regular season. But Daryl Morey and the Rockets are going to study the hell out of the Jazz and know how to counter.chris.herring: Some of these teams are built to play really, really well in the regular season. And there’s incredible value in that, for seeding purposes, etc.But the inability to change your playing style when you’re forced to is often fatal this time of year.sara.ziegler: Finally, Golden State seemed like Golden State in Game 3 of their series against the Clippers. So that panic appears to be over?chris.herring: Hell, they seemed like Golden State in Game 2 to me!It was just a massive collapse at the end of Game 2.sara.ziegler: LOLchris.herring: I actually pointed out yesterday that the game played out exactly the same way for a long while: natesilver: It’s not that they’re going to lose to the Clippers, but I do just have to wonder about a team’s mentality when they can blow a 30-point lead.chris.herring: NBC analyst Tom Haberstroh pointed out that Steph was only averaging 19.9 points per 36 minutes this season with Boogie on the court, and that he essentially morphed into Malcolm Brogdon.Averaged 31.4 points per 36 minutes without DeMarcus on the floor.sara.ziegler: Wownatesilver: I mean, part of that might be that Steph was being deferential in an effort to get Cousins feeling like himself again.chris.herring: EXACTLYWhich … there isn’t time to do that in the playoffs.tchow: Definitely. I think Steph went through a similar dip when KD joined too.chris.herring: The last thing you want is Steph playing nice when you need him to be Steph.natesilver: It does just seem kind of impossible when you have to shut down Steph AND KD and Klay. Even if the rest of the team kind of sucks.chris.herring: I tend to think this helps them for now, but the Rockets series was one of the overarching reasons they signed Cousins — to make it so Houston couldn’t switch as much as they did on them last yearnatesilver: Yeah. So in some ways, we’re back to last year’s series, which was as even as it gets. The Rockets lately are playing as well as last year. And the Warriors without Cousins are basically last year’s team.sara.ziegler: After this matchup, will we even want to finish out the playoffs??natesilver: Well, the Western Conference finals are likely to be an anti-climax.tchow: LOL. Yes! I for one am very interested to see who comes out of the East to play against Warriors/Rockets.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

During Slow Offseasons The Brewers Keep Finding Deals

The Milwaukee Brewers took advantage of an ice-cold hot-stove season last winter to become the rare team to win in the offseason and in the regular season. By agreeing Wednesday night with free-agent catcher Yasmani Grandal on a one-year, $18.25 million deal, the Brewers again took advantage of an opportunity to find tremendous value. As most teams zig in another slow offseason, the Brewers, again, zag.While Grandal didn’t have a great postseason with the Dodgers last fall, he was one of the best players available on the free-agent market. According to the Baseball Prospectus version of wins above replacement, which includes a catcher’s pitch-framing ability, Grandal was the 14th most valuable position player in baseball last season (5.0 WAR) and the eighth most valuable player per plate appearance (5.8 WAR per 600 plate appearances) among qualified hitters.That was not a fluke.In terms of total value, Grandal was the No. 1 position player by WAR per plate appearance in 2016 (8.7 WAR per 600 plate appearances), and he ranked seventh in 2017. Over the past four seasons, he was worth 21.2 total WAR. That’s star-level production. He turned 30 in November, so he’s not ancient in baseball terms. But despite all this going for him, Grandal settled for a one-year deal.The switch-hitter offers rare power and patience at the catcher position. Over the past four seasons, his walk rate of 12.8 percent ranks 19th among all MLB batters. His .453 slugging mark ranks third among all qualified catchers, and his 116 weighted runs created plus, a measure of offensive ability that adjusts for park and run-scoring environments,1100 is league average. trails only Gary Sanchez and Buster Posey.Not only is Grandal’s offense rare at his position, but his ability to frame pitches — to get more borderline pitches called favorably — gives him tremendous value at the plate and behind it.Grandal led all catchers in framing runs last season (15.7 runs saved above average). He ranked fourth in 2017 and second in 2016. Even as catchers as a group have improved their ability to receive or frame pitches, raising the floor of the skill, Grandal has maintained his edge. By runs saved, framing is more valuable than blocking balls in the dirt, an area in which Grandal is not as adept.Consider the following visual evidence of Grandal’s magic behind the plate last season. As a Clayton Kershaw slider darted slightly outside the strike zone, Grandal’s glove moved it back to within the confines of the zone. A pitch that should have been called a ball then appeared to be a strike.Grandal managed to softly absorb this high-and-away Kershaw fastball and make it appear to finish as a strike. It’s a subtle but valuable skill.Grandal was attached to a qualifying offer, meaning that the team signing him would have to surrender draft-pick compensation. As a revenue-sharing recipient, the Brewers will surrender their third-highest pick in the draft. The qualifying offer slightly diminished Grandal’s value, but qualifying offers are far from the only — and far from the greatest — issue conspiring against free agents. Even after last winter’s lack of free-agent activity, Grandal likely expected that he would be able to do much better than the deal he got. He not only turned down the Los Angeles Dodgers’ qualifying offer earlier in the offseason, but he also reportedly rejected a four-year, $60 million offer from the New York Mets.Instead, Grandal becomes the latest free agent to receive far fewer dollars and years than he had initially sought.The average salary in baseball declined last year for just the fourth time in the past 50 years and the first time since 2004, according to the Associated Press.Through Wednesday, the 73rd day of this offseason, 10.2 percent of available free agents2Our pool of available free agents includes any player with major league experience who was granted free agency or released in October and November of each season. That excludes players signed internationally or those waived by a club before the season ended or later in the offseason. had signed for a total of $856.2 million, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of data from The Baseball Cube. While that’s an improvement over the same point of last offseason, when only 6.5 percent of free agents had signed for $550.5 million, the total dollars spent to date are still down from 2016-17 ($1.017 billion through Day 73), 2015-16 ($1.697 billion), 2014-15 ($1.308 billion) and 2013-14 ($1.452 billion).And the share of free agents signed is trending above the past two offseasons, but it’s still trailing the previous three: As the free agency landscape changes, some teams seem to be looking for openings to give them an edge. Grandal has been the Brewers’ only guaranteed free-agent signing so far,3They have also reportedly agreed to a split deal with pitcher Jake Petricka, meaning that the contract would depend on whether he makes the big-league club. but it’s a significant addition in their quest to repeat as National League Central champs.Sara Ziegler contributed research. read more

Everything Went Right For The 2018 Red Sox Are The Champs Destined

Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB seasonSources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport, Caesar’s Palace Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… Teams that won substantially more than 100 games have tended to regress even harder. The 2002 Mariners, for example, won “only” 93 games after the 2001 squad tied a major league record with 116 wins; the 1999 Yankees won 98 a year after the team took home 114. The inescapable truth is that few major league teams actually have 100 wins of “true talent” on their rosters, much less 108. Most of these huge winners were aided by some not-insignificant amount of luck along the way.And it’s hard to argue that the Red Sox weren’t one of the luckier teams in baseball last season. According to the Pythagorean expectation, a team with Boston’s runs scored and allowed should have won four games fewer than it actually did. Furthermore, a team with Boston’s particular statistical profile (its singles, doubles, walks, etc. — both for and against) should have had a Pythagorean record five games worse than it actually did. Add up those two categories, and the Red Sox benefited from an MLB-high 10 extra wins of luck, whether through prevailing in the relative toss-ups of close games or through stringing hits together (or stranding opposing runners) in an unusually favorable manner.On top of all that, there’s another way a team can have everything go right for it, and that’s at the player level: Did everyone outperform their expected levels of performance at once? Injuries can often play a role here — though the Red Sox were in the middle of the pack in terms of man-games lost to the injured list. More pertinently, Boston also saw a number of players post career-best seasons last year, from American League MVP Mookie Betts (10.6 wins above replacement)4Averaging together the versions of WAR from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. to blockbuster free-agent signing J.D. Martinez (6.1), plus young up-and-comers such as Andrew Benintendi (4.1) and even longtime puzzles such as Eduardo Rodriguez (2.7).Altogether, 12 of Boston’s 21 regulars (those who played at least 2 percent of the team’s available playing time)5As measured by plate appearances and (leverage-adjusted) innings pitched, scaled to maintain WAR’s implicit 58/42 split between position players and pitchers. exceeded their established level of WAR, with only Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Nunez and the catching tandem of Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez significantly undershooting their previous production levels during the 2018 regular season.6You could also argue that more should have been expected of Rafael Devers, who had 1.1 WAR in a partial season at age 20 in 2017 but produced only 0.5 WAR with more than double the playing time in 2018. But Devers was also only 21, playing his first season as an MLB regular.And this is to say nothing of the unexpected performances the team received in the postseason from the likes of Steve Pearce — a fizzled-out former prospect who arrived in Boston via a midseason trade and ultimately won World Series MVP — or Nathan Eovaldi, another castoff who had a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 postseason innings. (Or, in general, the amazingly fortuitous splits the team had in crucial playoff situations.)All of those different ingredients explain how a team that won 93 games in 2017 suddenly exploded for 108 and won the championship a year later. But again, the pull of baseball’s gravity is strong. Based on data since 1990, we’d expect a team that improved by 15 games between seasons to give back about 5.2 wins the next season. It’s just another data point to toss onto the heap of statistical indicators that foretell a decline for the Red Sox heading into 2019.The good news for Boston is that if your starting point is a 108-win team, you have a ton of room to regress and still be one of the best teams in baseball. Even if the Sox didn’t truly have 108 wins of talent on the roster last year, they still played like a 98-win team according to their underlying statistics, and almost all of that team will be back this season (with the notable exception of closer Craig Kimbrel). According to an early preseason version of our 2019 MLB projections,7Not including Tuesday’s news of Manny Machado signing with the San Diego Padres, although that move has minimal implications for the Red Sox. we rate Boston as the third-best team in baseball, with a 95-67 projected record and a 10 percent chance of repeating as champs, which is also tied for third-best in MLB.Trouble is, that might make the Red Sox only the second-best team in their own division. Our simulations consider the archrival New York Yankees just as likely as Boston to win the World Series and actually think that New York is ever-so-slightly better talent-wise. Although the Sox got the better of the Yankees last season, winning 13 of 23 games (including an August sweep and a four-game division series victory), for all intents and purposes, our projections have the two teams in an absolute dead heat as we look ahead to 2019: And the Red Sox could be running out of time to make the most of their current core. By 2021, Betts, Bradley, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and Rick Porcello (plus potentially Martinez, who has an opt-out clause) will have all hit free agency. And team president Dave Dombrowski built 2018’s champion in part by bucking MLB’s prospect-hoarding trend and emptying out the farm system’s next generation in favor of short-term wins, so reinforcements aren’t exactly on the way.The result of Dombrowski’s moves was a championship, and one of baseball’s all-time great single season performances, so I’m pretty sure it was worth it. The question now is how steep the drop-off will be in 2019 — and beyond. In many ways, Boston caught lightning in a bottle last season, enjoying the kind of magical year that comes along only once every decade or so. But if history is any guide, the follow-up will have trouble coming close to matching the original. TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series Orioles142160102-1981<1<1 The Red Sox still have a Yankees problem on their handsHow our preliminary Elo ratings are forecasting the 2019 AL East race Yankees15669567+13774%41%10% Blue Jays14837587-521331 It’s hard to imagine things going more right for the Boston Red Sox than they did last season. Boston jumped out to a scorching 17-2 start, was 38 games over .500 by the All-Star break, posted the most regular-season wins (108) by an MLB team in 17 years, and then steamrolled through the playoffs with an 11-3 postseason record en route to a World Series title. Statistically, it was probably the most impressive performance any major team had in 2018.1Among teams for which we had have game-by-game Elo ratings and predictions — in men’s pro and college football and basketball and Major League Baseball.But now the calendar has flipped to 2019, and as spring training warms up for the Sox in Fort Myers, Florida, Boston must focus on defending its crown — and staving off the inevitable regression that comes in the wake of a season as charmed as the one the Red Sox just enjoyed.As a rule, clubs that win a crazy number of ballgames in one season tend to come back down to earth quickly in the next. Of the 32 teams that cracked the century mark in wins (per 162 games)2We’re including teams in strike-shortened seasons — like the 1994 Montreal Expos — whose wins would prorate out to at least 100. since 1990, 28 had an inferior record the next year,3One team — the 101-win 2003 Yankees — compiled the same number of wins the next season. and 24 failed to return to the 100-win club. (Thirteen failed to break even 95 wins.) On average, these 32 triple-digit winners declined by 9.6 wins the following season. Rays15278676+5042153 Red Sox15649567+136744110 read more

Ohio State baseball tears up the base paths in pursuit of postseason

The Ohio State baseball team (24-20, 8-10 Big Ten) is making a run for the Big Ten tournament – literally. OSU was eighth in the Big Ten as of Wednesday and one-and-a-half games behind Nebraska, Michigan State, Penn State and Illinois, all tied for fourth place in the Big Ten. The eighth-place Buckeyes are trying to steal their way back into the race for sixth place and qualify for the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes have been tearing up and down the base paths so far in 2012, and were third in the Big Ten in stolen bases as of Wednesday, according to bigten.org. OSU, with 17 stolen bases, is just seven behind Big Ten leader, Illinois. The Buckeyes have blown past their base-stealing pace from last season, in which OSU tallied 35 total steals in all competitions. Players and coaches alike said stealing bases is important to a team’s offense and has multiple benefits. “Stolen bases help us out a lot as hitters,” said sophomore center fielder Tim Wetzel. “It gives us RBI chances and the whole point of the game is to score runs. And as a defense, when a team runs on you, you can’t be as loose because you have guys running around. It just helps the flow of the game and helps the offense perform.” OSU coach Greg Beals said stolen bases can influence a game and throw off an opposing defense. “As a catcher, I have a great understanding of what (a stolen base) does to an opponent’s defense,” Beals said. “What it does to pitch calling and what it does on the field, taking away from double play opportunities. It does a lot for you offensively and affects their defense quite a bit.” Beals said he likes having the ability to steal bases, but a team needs the right personnel to do so. Of the team’s 68 overall steals, 23 have come from junior infielder Kirby Pellant, a transfer in his first year with OSU. “You have to take advantage of every little opportunity to steal a base” said Pellant, the starting shortstop. “Stolen bases are a big part of the game. If you hit a single and steal a bag, it becomes a double. When you can get one to start an inning it gets the whole team going.” Wetzel, who has 10 stolen bases in 2012, said it’s important for a team to be in sync before a steal. “We talk about it a lot if we think we have a good read on a (pitcher),” Wetzel said. “Second time through, we’ll talk it out and say, ‘First pitch I’m going,’ so we’ll just know to take and let him steal a bag.” OSU’s next game is Friday at home at 7 p.m. at Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium against Northwestern, the first game of a three-game weekend series with the Big Ten opponent. read more

5 things to watch for Ohio State v Florida AM

5. How many points with OSU score?The Buckeyes are averaging nearly 45 points a game so far in 2013, while the Rattlers are only putting up an average of 18 a game. OSU’s young defensive players are improving with every game, and against a FAMU offense that has been struggling, Miller and company should get plenty of possessions. How much Meyer forces the issue offensively against the Rattlers will be vindictive of how much OSU visits the end zone, but scoring more than 50 points again is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities. 3. How much playing time will Braxton Miller get?Arguably the biggest storyline heading into Saturday is whether junior quarterback Braxton Miller or redshirt-senior Kenny Guiton gets the starting bid to lead the Buckeye offense. Meyer said Miller will play a limited role against FAMU, but it will be interesting to see how it figures into the equation against a Football Championship Subdivision team. Guiton has led OSU to a pair of wins in his absence, playing well enough to be named the Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week after his performance against California. Meyer said his backup “has earned some time,” and in a game OSU should win, it is likely that keeping Miller out of harms way will be a top priority for the coaches. 4. Will OSU take this game seriously?After winning a primetime game last weekend at Cal, the Buckeyes return home for a noon matchup against the Rattlers. With another night game on the horizon just a week later when conference rival Wisconsin comes to Columbus, OSU’s focus on taking care of the task at hand is worth watching. Redshirt-senior safety C.J. Barnett said the team has all of their focus on FAMU, but if the Buckeyes score early and often Saturday, Meyer and company may have to work to keep them locked in to close out the victory. Redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby warms up before a game against California Sept. 14 at California Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 52-34.Credit: Eric Seger / Sports editor1. The return of Carlos HydeAfter serving a three game suspension for his involvement in an incident at a Columbus bar in July, senior running back Carlos Hyde is set to make his return against Florida A&M. Hyde rushed for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2012, and was set to return as Ohio State’s top running back heading into the year. While Hyde was serving his suspension, redshirt-senior running back Jordan Hall stepped up in a big way, and will start against Florida A&M while Hyde is left on the bench. Coach Urban Meyer has said he does not know who will be getting the majority of carries, so both backs are heading into the game shrouded in some mystery. Other running backs like freshman Dontre Wilson and redshirt-junior Rod Smith may see a reduced role compared to previous weeks because of Hyde’s return to the field. 2. Can Bradley Roby bounce back?Redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby is typically a rock for the OSU secondary and is considered one of the top defensive players in the country. But against California he was burned by the speedy Golden Bear receivers, allowing two touchdowns in his first start of the season. After serving a one game suspension to start the year for his involvement in an incident at a Bloomington, Ind., bar this summer, Roby made a triumphant return against San Diego State the week before, but seemed to be in a funk against Cal. With the Big Ten schedule looming, Roby will need to be at his best if the Buckeyes are going to achieve their National Championship goals for the season. Playing well before next week’s date with Wisconsin Sept. 28 will be vital for Roby’s (and OSU’s) defensive confidence. read more

Ohio States Braxton Miller always knew he would return for senior season

Junior quarterback Braxton Miller (5) avoids a group of defenders during a game against Wisconsin Sept. 28 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 31-24.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorFor the briefest of moments, coach Urban Meyer wasn’t sure what the future held for his starting quarterback, Braxton Miller.Miller was at the end of his junior season and potentially off to the NFL, leaving Meyer in search of a new starter.But that feeling of uncertainty didn’t last.“It wasn’t very long … Braxton and I have a very good relationship,” Meyer said Feb. 5 at National Signing Day. “We waited until after the (Orange Bowl). And I told him my opinion that he could become a very high draft pick if he continues to improve, and he said, ‘That’s what I thought.’ It wasn’t much more than that. We met together as a family. Had a very positive conversation and made the decision. Never at one time (did he) say, ‘What should I do?’ Because I wouldn’t tell him. That’s their business. But I gave my opinion as far as how much he could grow as a quarterback.”Miller didn’t have the same hesitation as his coach, and was confident he would come back.“I always knew I was going to eventually make that decision and I was going to come back,” Miller said Wednesday.The junior quarterback said his decision was easy because he still had things he needed to do for OSU.“Getting a degree, things like that,” Miller said. “You want to accomplish things that you didn’t accomplish in your first three years so I felt like I left little things on the field … it’s a lot of things I think about and that’s why I wanted to come back.”Miller announced his decision to return to Ohio State for his senior season Jan. 9 after compiling a 28-8 record in his first three seasons at the helm for the Buckeyes.The two-time defending Big Ten offensive player of the year, Miller’s versatility as a player isn’t lost on anybody involved with OSU football.“To replace a dynamic (player) like a Braxton Miller, what he can do with the football, with his feet, it’s thinning the play, those are all kinds of things that are not coached,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said Feb. 5. “A lot of what he does is not coached. That would have been devastating. Not to say that we would not have survived the moment … What he brings to the table is something special, and it would have been dearly missed.”Miller heads into the 2014 season as OSU’s eighth all-time leader in rushing yards, and he needs 715 yards to pass Eddie George and take over the second spot on that list. Coincidentally, Miller amassed exactly that many yards on the ground in 2011, the least productive rushing season he has had as a Buckeye.As long as Miller does not seriously regress as a ball carrier next season, eclipsing George’s career total of 3,768 yards should be an attainable feat.He is also eighth all-time on the career passing yardage list. If Miller can accomplish his third consecutive year of passing for at least 2,000 yards, he would surpass Bobby Hoying for second place and would be within striking distance of Art Schlichter’s record of 7,547 yards.Although the offense does return five starters — Miller, sophomore offensive lineman Taylor Decker, junior wide receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, and junior tight end Jeff Heuerman — it loses four starting linemen, something that could play a big role in determining Miller’s success next season.“Now, Braxton Miller also did those things behind four veteran offensive linemen,” Drayton said. “To me, that’s the issue that we think about in that war room there, is how we put five guys in front of him where he can feel comfortable. We know he’s going to continue to develop and mature in his growth toward the game. However, we’ve got to put some guys around him where he’s feeling comfortable.”One of the biggest beneficiaries of Miller’s decision to stay in school is the corps of Buckeye wide receivers. During his career at OSU, Miller has attempted 668 passes, while all other quarterbacks on the current roster have a combined two attempts.Even though the receivers would have been fine no matter who was under center, wide receivers coach Zach Smith said having Miller’s experience returning is a big boost for the unit.“It’s huge. Braxton’s a great player and my guys love Braxton taking the snap,” Zach Smith said. “We’re confident with whoever the quarterback is but having a guy like Braxton that, one, is as talented a quarterback I’ve ever seen and two, if a play’s not there — my guy isn’t open, whatever it is — he can keep a play alive. The number of big plays that come from Braxton Miller’s feet and throwing the ball in a scramble situation … my guys love that.”Herman added that although a lot of what Miller brings back is positive it isn’t all going to be easy for the quarterback.“As improved as he got on the mental side of play of quarterback he can still get a whole lot better,” Herman said Wednesday. “He can make the same leap this year and still have work to do. So just the confidence, the studying of the game, studying of defenses and studying of our plays now that we’ve done kind of the same thing two years in a row.”Miller is set to get his next crack at the field Aug. 30 when OSU is scheduled to play Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. read more

Football Ohio States No 1 recruiting class not indicative of crucial misses

Urban Meyer watches the B1G Championship game against Wisconsin from the sidelines in the third quarter. Ohio State won 27-21. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorFive-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman had been Ohio State’s No. 1 target for months. He was the top-ranked player at a position of need and the top player in Ohio.In the end, Urban Meyer and his staff couldn’t seal the deal, and Carman ditched home for another top program — Clemson.Carman, along with defensive end Brenton Cox, safety Jaiden Woodbey and quarterback Emory Jones all left Ohio State for other programs in the final two weeks leading up to Wednesday’s decision date, leaving Meyer without even more transcendent talent than the 20 players that signed to his class Wednesday.On paper, the 2018 class is perhaps Meyer’s best ever as a head coach. However, it should not be overlooked. For a time, Ohio State had four five-star recruits with a chance at five. It ended Wednesday with two, while conference rival Penn State added its third.Carman wasn’t committed to Ohio State at any point in time like Cox, Woodbey and Jones. But it’s expected that the Buckeyes should land the top prospect in Ohio every year. Since Meyer arrived in Columbus, he has landed the top recruit in the state of Ohio every year with the exception of 2016 when five-star offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer went to Notre Dame. As for the other three, it’s difficult for a program to keep players who further from the school committed for a long time, when top programs close to home are knocking on the door.Woodbey, a five-star safety from California, committed in February, but flipped and signed with Florida State Wednesday. Cox, a five-star strong-side defensive end from Georgia, committed to Ohio State in April before decommitting Dec. 6 and signing with the Georgia Bulldogs Wednesday. Jones, a four-star dual-threat quarterback committed to the Buckeyes in July 2016, before flipping and mailing his letter of intent to Florida Wednesday.Those three decommitments in the last two weeks of the early signing period hurt Ohio State and have great implications.The first impact is the optics. Losing three players in less than two weeks, with two being five-stars and another being a highly rated dual-threat quarterback, makes it look as if the coaching staff is losing its touch. That’s probably not the case because Meyer has been an excellent recruiter his entire career and his 2018 class is still ranked as the top class. But given that Penn State landed a five-star Wednesday when Ohio State lost two, that’s added pressure for the Buckeyes’ coaching staff to hold onto prized recruits.Second, Meyer, and quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Ryan Day had to find a second option to Jones late in the process. Now, they ended with a solid option in three-star Matthew Baldwin from Austin, Texas, who led his team to a state championship game Saturday, but Meyer probably would’ve liked to not rely on flipping a quarterback late to have one for this recruiting class. Baldwin was previously committed to Colorado State.Ohio State’s depth at safety isn’t hurt too much with Woodbey’s departure from the class, but with Cox’s decommitment, Ohio State had to flip three-star Alex Williams from West Virginia just to have one end in the class. Without Carman, it has just one offensive tackle in four-star Max Wray. Both are positions of need.Meyer has already had discussions to play Williams at tight end, so Ohio State would only have three defensive ends for next season, pending a potential commitment from four-star Tyreke Smith. Wray is the fourth offensive tackle on next year’s roster.Ohio State finally beat Alabama in a recruiting class, but it limped to the first finish line Wednesday with key misses that can impact a program for years. That’s something Meyer will have to live with. read more

Call the Midwife actor sees sons inquest halted amid claims NHS tampered

first_imgHis mother Tamara Podemski, 38, a Canadian actress, had been due to have a caesarean procedure at the hospital the previous day but it was postponed.An investigation into the incident found that delaying the operation was the wrong decision.Coroner Maria Voisin suddenly halted the inquest two days after being told how lawyers for the NHS trust involved allegedly removed crucial evidence by a midwife.Ms Voisin, the coroner for Avon, said she was considering referring the case to the Crown Prosecution Service. After the case was adjourned Mr King, 35, who played poet Thomas Wyatt in the TV series The Tudors and has appeared in Call the Midwife, said he was “horrified” by the allegations of tampering. We were horrified to hear evidence that a statement had been altered by the legal team representing the RUHThe parents But her C-section was mistakenly downgraded from a category three to four and she was sent home to Frome, Somerset, that evening at 10.30pm.Ms Podemski woke at 2am with pains in her stomach and again at 5am and was taken to the RUH by ambulance.Her baby was born but quickly transferred to a specialist unit at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol. Doctors there told his parents the baby had insufficient oxygen for around two hours after the placenta failed.The heartbroken couple decided to turn off his life support machine on May 10 after being told he would probably grow up with severe disabilities, epilepsy and have a small head.The inquest heard how Eileen Dack, the labour ward coordinator, questioned why the caesarean was delayed. She recalled a conversation with the on-duty registrar who had felt it should have gone ahead as planned.When asked under oath why there was no documentation of the conversation she told the coroner it was “removed from my statement” by the trust’s legal team. 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. Benjamin's mother Tamara Podemski The Royal United Hospital in Bath Coroner Maria VoisinCredit:Bristol Post/SWNS.com Coroner Maria Voisin He also claimed that the NHS of a “blatant disregard for the truth”, adding: “This delay not only postpones any resolution that we were hoping for but also significantly prolongs our suffering.”Also, this blatant disregard for the truth is in complete opposition to the NHS’s ‘Safer Maternity Care Action Plan’ which encourages lessons to be learned from mistakes and shared openly and transparently across the NHS,” he claimed.The inquest at Flax Bourton, Bristol, heard that Ms Podemski’s pregnancy was ‘high risk’ and she was rushed to the RUH after a community nurse spotted an abnormality on a scan.Doctors told her they could not perform a caesarean for six hours because she had been given a hospital meal which needed to be digested.An hour before the planned operation, another emergency case was given priority and Ms Podemski and Mr King were told she would have the operation first thing in the morning. In his short life our son Benjamin has had a profound effect on our family. He’s taught us the true meaning of loveJamie King and Tamara Podemski The Royal United Hospital in BathCredit: SWNS.COM “As a result of this, the coroner, who stated that she considers this is a very serious matter, has been forced to adjourn the inquest to allow for an investigation to take place.”He continued: “At a time when the UK has one of the highest stillbirth rates in Europe, we must create an environment where all medical practitioners feel safe to be honest about their mistakes so we can all hear from them.”The inquest and the internal investigations that will be taking place are a tremendous opportunity for growth and change. And we cannot waste them.”In his short life our son Benjamin has had a profound effect on our family. He’s taught us the true meaning of love, he asked us to be the most courageous, resilient and forgiving versions of ourselves.”Mr King appeared in Mad Men in 2009 and has also been in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Mr Turner.Helen Blanchard, director of nursing and midwifery for the RUH, said: “We regret the delay in this extremely distressing process.”We respect the Coroner’s decision to adjourn the inquest and will cooperate fully with her directions. “We are unable to comment further while proceedings continue.”The inquest is now scheduled to resume on Jan 16. A spokesman for the Avon Coroner’s Office on Thursday said Ms Voisin has not yet referred the case to the CPS but was “considering all the information”. Benjamin’s mother Tamara PodemskiCredit: Getty Images Coroner Ms Voisin said the alleged removal of evidence by a solicitor on behalf of the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust was a “very serious matter indeed” and may amount to perverting the course of justice.Mr King attended the inquest without his wife as she remained at home with their other child.In a statement on behalf of both of them after the adjournment, he said: “Due to a poorly judged decision to postpone his C-section, Benjamin was delivered in an emergency procedure, and suffered severe brain damage as a result.”He tragically died at five days old. Unfortunately, through the process of this inquest, we have also learned about the darker, behind-the-scenes decisions that have been made.”Decisions that threaten the good work of honest health care professionals, as well as the safety of their patients. We were horrified to hear evidence that a statement had been altered by the legal team representing the RUH. A coroner has halted an inquest into the death of an actor’s baby son amid claims the NHS tampered with evidence which could result in criminal charges.Benjamin King, son of British TV star Jamie King, died from severe brain damage five days after being born by emergency caesarean section on May 5.He was starved of oxygen for two hours before his birth at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, Somerset.last_img read more

Drive to close gender pay gap stagnates with women making up just

first_imgCompanies must now be transparent about the difference in average earnings between men and womenCredit:Philip Toscano /PA There have been concerns that the new legislation lacks teeth as businesses that fail to report their gender pay figures will not face any sanctionsHeidi Watson, lawyer That is despite initiatives to increase diversity in senior positions, including targets for female board members on FTSE 100 firms and the recently introduced policy forcing companies employing more than 250 staff to publish their pay gap between men and women. The measure means that employers must capture data on 5 April 2017, which must be published by 4 April 2018. Companies must then repeat the process every year.  “For those yet to report, it is advisable to look at how other businesses that have already released their data have presented it. In most cases, the best way will be to provide as much information as possible with any gaps explained and efforts to close it outlined.”  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 drive to close the gender pay gap has stagnated over the past six years, amid concerns that naming and shaming companies will not make a difference.The proportion of female higher rate tax payers  (earning between £43,000 and £150,000) has remained static at 27 per cent over the past six years, according to HMRC figures obtained by law firm Clyde & Co. Colleague Gina Wilson added: “Businesses should be taking steps now to analyse their April 2017 data so that they can take remedial steps ahead of the reporting deadline in April 2018. If they can make a difference over the next 12 months then they could consider releasing their April 2017 data, followed closely by their April 2018 data which could show a marked improvement.” Heidi Watson, Employment Partner at Clyde & Co: “The expectation is that gender pay reporting will start to make an impact in the next few years. “However, there have been concerns that the new legislation lacks teeth as businesses that fail to report their gender pay figures will not face any sanctions and those that report particularly bad gender pay figures will simply be ‘named and shamed’.” Workers in Londonlast_img read more