The Golden State Warriors and their fans are (rightly) focused on celebrating a championship right now. But with their 105-97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night, the Warriors put the finishing touches on a run that was no ordinary title-winning season. The Warriors’ 2014-15 campaign should go down as one of the greatest single seasons in league history.Golden State’s journey started with the unrealized potential of previous years. The 2013 team overachieved under second-year head coach Mark Jackson, but an ousting in the first round of the 2014 playoffs and a lack of harmony between Jackson and management sent Golden State looking for new leadership going into this season. After Steve Kerr spurned the New York Knicks1In retrospect, an outstanding decision! to take the Warriors coaching job and the smoke cleared on the rest of the offseason’s transactions, our numbers said the Warriors had the most talented team in basketball.But our crystal ball didn’t foresee how dominant the Warriors would be. During the regular season, Golden State crushed their competition in a way that hadn’t been seen since the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. Golden State won 67 games, tied for the sixth-most in league history, and its schedule-adjusted points-per-game margin (as measured by Basketball-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System, also known as SRS) ranked seventh all-time. The team became just the fourth in NBA history to outperform the league average by 6 points of efficiency on one side of the ball — in the Warriors’ case, offense — and by 4 points on the other. Moreover, the team’s Elo rating at the end of the regular season was second only to that of the record-setting 1996 Bulls.After those 67 wins, though, there were lingering concerns about Golden State’s ability to win in the postseason.Unlike other dominating squads from the past, the Warriors were relative greenhorns on the postseason stage — in a sport in which playoff experience does seem to have a tangible effect. Their 288 dynasty points2A measure of playoff experience. over the preceding five seasons3Leading up to 2015. were the fewest ever by a team with an SRS of +8 or better and tied the 2014 Clippers for the second-fewest by a +6.5 SRS team. Out of the 95 historical teams with anywhere near as much regular-season success as the Warriors had in 2014-15, Golden State owned (at best) the fourth-worst postseason pedigree over the half-decade beforehand.Relatedly, while the Warriors dominated our power ratings all season long, their talent level was less proven than that of their stronger peers atop the all-time SRS list. For instance, while the aggregated multiyear Statistical Plus/Minus talent projection was an absurd +10.9 for members of the 1996 Bulls, +10.4 for the 1997 Bulls and +9.2 for the 1992 Bulls, Golden State’s +7.5 rating was more akin to the 2009 Cavaliers’ +7.1 mark. Simply put, the Warriors hadn’t been good enough for long enough to generate a higher talent rating, which might also suggest the potential for postseason regression.Not to mention that the Warriors also played a fast-paced, 3-point heavy style that traditionalists were still not convinced could win an NBA championship. While there’s little evidence that such a team is more prone to slumps, no team that led the league in pace had won a title since the 1972 Lakers, and no team had ever won after using more than 29 percent of their field-goal attempts on 3-pointers. The NBA’s conventional wisdom was that those types of teams couldn’t win a title because their supposedly gimmicky strengths would surely abandon them when the pressure was on.The Warriors hopefully put those myths to rest with a championship run that counts among the best of the past three decades. It wasn’t without its moments of concern. Golden State trailed 2 games to 1 against both Memphis and Cleveland. But on the whole, the Warriors’ postseason performance ranks eighth among champions since 1984 after accounting for their scoring margin, the SRS ratings of their opponents and the location and leverage index of each game:If we don’t adjust for leverage and therefore have the ability to measure playoff SRS going back to 1950, Golden State’s 2015 title run ranks 16th among all 66 NBA champions in that span. By that measure, the Warriors might not pass the 1971 Bucks or 1996 Bulls — both of whom followed up the two best regular seasons of all time by SRS with two of the three best playoff runs ever4The other belongs to the inconsistent 2001 Lakers. — on the list of best single-season teams ever, and it might even open up the door for the 1986 Celtics to slip ahead of them on the basis of a superior postseason performance.(Although, it’s worth noting that Golden State wrapped up the playoffs with the second-highest Elo rating on record and that they played in a league with nearly twice as many teams as Milwaukee did in 1971. But I digress.)Half the fun of these GOAT arguments is splitting hairs with different stats, but the most important thing to realize is that these Warriors firmly belong in that conversation. This might be the start of something even bigger for the franchise, or it could be a stand-alone championship. But for at least one season, we just witnessed a team that could legitimately be compared to Jordan’s Bulls, with hardly any hyperbole necessary.For fans of basketball history on this championship morning-after, that’s worth appreciating and celebrating.
92013Seahawks8.013-3Won Super Bowl NYG51LAR62LAR 51, NYG 17+9.5– GB66%DET54%DET 30, GB 17+18.8– 72009Jets8.99-7Lost in conference championship PHI75PHI77DEN 23, PHI 51-1.0– 102011Ravens7.912-4Lost in conference championship Jaguars defense could end up being the best in a decadeTop 10 defensive expected points added per game since 2006 62008Eagles9.09-6Lost in conference championship ATL51ATL52ATL 17, CAR 20-2.7– 20122930223028 HOU72HOU73IND 20, HOU 14-4.5– The Jags’ rapid ascent to the top of the league’s defensive rankings has been sudden, so you’d be forgiven for missing it. Of their eight games so far this year, they’ve held opposing teams to 7 points or fewer in four of them (most in the NFL), compared with zero all of last year. And they’re not just the best in 2017. Seth Walder of the ESPN Stats & Information Group neatly detailed before Week 9 that the Jags’ secondary is on pace to become the best pass defense since 2006 — yes, better than the Legion of Boom. From an overall view, of the 10 defenses with the highest expected points added per game since 2006, only Ray Lewis’s 2008 Baltimore Ravens rank ahead of Doug Marrone’s defense. JAX62JAX65CIN 7, JAX 23+0.1– RANKYEARTEAMEPA/GAMERECORDPLAYOFFS 12008Ravens11.611-5Lost in conference championship 22017*Jaguars11.05-3 201625651913 42008Steelers10.212-4Won Super Bowl Elo’s dumbest (and smartest) picks of Week 9Average difference between points won by readers and by Elo in Week 9 matchups in FiveThirtyEight’s NFL prediction game 20132827252927 20142626222718 PER GAME *Through Week 9Source: ESPN STATS & INFORMATION GROUP OUR PREDICTION (ELO)READERS’ PREDICTION We would like to use this moment to offer a formal apology to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over the past few years, pointing out Jacksonville’s many hilarious inadequacies has been one of our favorite hobbies (like we did here, here and here). And on occasion, we’ve gone out of our way to insert jokes about the Jaguars into articles that weren’t even about them (such as here and here). In our defense, they did deserve it: Between 2011 and 2016, Jacksonville won just 22 games — the fewest in the NFL. But this season, no one is laughing about the Jaguars, who are 5-3 and tied for first place in the AFC South. For the first time since 2010, the Jags have an Elo rating of more than 1500, meaning that after seven years, they’re finally an above average team again.1An Elo rating of approximately 1500 is considered average.The last time Jacksonville was this good, the Apple iPad was just a few months old, “The Social Network” had just been released, and the Chicago Bears were playoff-bound. And the Jaguars aren’t just above average. With their 23-7 win over the Bengals in Week 9, the Jags now have an 83 percent chance of making the postseason for the first time since 2007, according to our NFL Elo predictions. While much-maligned (by us) quarterback Blake Bortles has shown marginal improvements this year, it’s been the defense that’s had the biggest influence on the Jaguars’ winning ways. (“Jaguars” and “winning ways” sounds so strange to say aloud.)In the past two drafts, almost two-thirds of Jacksonville’s picks have been on the defensive end, including Yannick Ngakoue, who has 6.5 sacks so far this season. In free agency this year, the Jags signed Calais Campbell to a four-year, $60 million deal, and Campbell currently leads the league in sacks with 11. The dividends this season of the team’s focus on defense have been tremendous: Through Week 9, the Jags rank No. 1 in the league in points per game allowed with just 14.6 and expected points added with 11 per game. Another half of the football season still remains, and Jacksonville has work to do to ensure a playoff berth. But their chances of making the postseason are partly predicated on the strength of their remaining schedule: Of their eight remaining games, the Jags have a higher Elo rating than seven of their opponents. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll finish with a 12-4 record — they do play four of those remaining games on the road, and they are still the Jaguars after all. (Sorry, we had to slip one more in.)FiveThirtyEight vs. The ReadersWeek 9 in the NFL saw plenty of teams fighting for their playoff spots — in some cases quite literally. Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green’s double ejection sparked an all-out brawl. And things got heated in New Orleans when the Saints and Buccaneers got into it on the Tampa Bay sideline. In our NFL prediction game this week — in which we invite you to outsmart our Elo algorithm — the readers had a couple of double-digit wins, the largest of which came as the Lions beat the Packers on the road to net the readers a whopping 18.8 points. For some reason, Elo picked Jay Cutler and Miami and was punished for doing so in the Raiders’ 27-24 win over the Dolphins, which netted readers 12.4 points. Make sure you get your Week 10 predictions in early — see you next week. 32006Ravens10.813-3Lost in divisional playoffs 20153124291524 2017*131271 Jacksonville (yes, Jacksonville) has the NFL’s best defenseThe Jaguars’ defensive ranks since 2012 NO79NO74TB 10, NO 30-4.2– 52006Bears9.113-3Lost Super Bowl 82012Bears8.410-6Missed playoffs YEARPOINTSYARDSPASS YARDSRUSH YARDSEPA BUF59BUF64BUF 21, NYJ 34-8.4– SEA76SEA73WSH 17, SEA 14+1.8– *Through Week 9Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group KC52KC59KC 17, DAL 28-10.1– MIA60OAK54OAK 27, MIA 24+12.4– The scoring system is nonlinear, so readers’ average points don’t necessarily match the number of points that would be given to the average reader prediction. TEN56TEN55BAL 20, TEN 23-2.6– PICKWIN PROB.PICKWIN PROB.RESULTREADERS’ NET PTS ARI66ARI62ARI 20, SF 10-5.7–
Jordan Spieth80031127.3 Zach Johnson100021216.7 Bubba Watson101121414.3 Does not include Champions Tour or Web.com wins.Source: GolfStats Ernie Els1317243611.1 Phil Mickelson363254610.9 Tiger Woods48618158717.2 Brooks Koepka2104757.1% PlayerPGA TourEuroWGCMajorsTotalShare From Majors Angel Cabrera1302633.3 Wins Rory McIlroy97242218.2 Vijay Singh30213368.3 Retief Goosen59021612.5 Brooks Koepka bashed and buried the field over the first three rounds at Bethpage Black, and then held on for dear life Sunday to win the 2019 PGA Championship. While Long Island’s ostentatiously difficult public golf course chewed up the world’s best players — only six players in the 156-man field finished below par — the 29-year-old finished with an eight-under-par 272 and fought off a huge scare from Dustin Johnson — the world’s No. 1 player. With the wire-to-wire win, Koepka is the first golfer to hold back-to-back, concurrent major titles. And of the last nine championships played, the hulking West Palm Beach native has claimed four.Koepka entered Sunday with a seven-stroke lead, a lead no golfer had ever blown at the tournament after 54 holes. He nearly blew it anyway. Johnson, who has similar ball-shaping skills, uses an equally intense workout regimen and is one of Koepka’s best friends, mounted a furious comeback, firing a 69 while leading the field in strokes gained off the tee (2.32), according to Data Golf. Johnson pulled within a single stroke of the lead with three holes remaining, but bogeyed two consecutive holes to fall out of contention. Koepka rallied to stem the tide and ended his day by hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy.This was quite the departure from Thursday, when Koepka carded a course-record 63, a showcase he aptly described as “a crazy day.” With Koekpa four shots clear of the field, Las Vegas bookmakers installed him with 5-to-4 odds to win after one day of competition. He quickly made those odds seem conservative as he followed it up with a 65 to extend the lead. Paired with Tiger Woods in the opening two rounds, Koepka steamrolled golf’s prodigal son by 17 strokes across two days.Golf has become a power-driven sport, and few, if any, people on tour supply more than Koepka, who frequently appears to be taking a machete to his ball. He certainly set the standard this week, leading the field in strokes gained tee-to-green in each of the first three rounds and in total, according to Data Golf. But even that undersells how precise his irons were, as Koepka also led the tournament in strokes gained on shots approaching the green.On golf’s biggest stages, Koepka shows up to win. It makes you wonder: Why doesn’t he collect more trophies in the PGA Tour’s garden-variety events? With two non-major PGA Tour wins and one European Tour title, Koepka’s major wins now outnumber his minor ones. More than half (57.1 percent) of his career wins have come at major championships, which is a higher share than any other active golfer who has won at least two majors. For comparison, less than 18 percent of Woods’s career victories have come at majors. Padraig Harrington311031717.7 Brooks is a major playerShare of professional wins that came at majors for active golfers who’ve won at least two majors since 2000 Martin Kaymer19021216.7 In most of Koepka’s victories, the entire tournament feels calculated, as though he’s playing out a simulation that he ran through a thousand times before he took the course. Get-off-your-seat moments are few and far between with Koepka, who looks as though he was engineered in a lab and delivers relentless power while leaving events largely lusterless. Some of that is because Koepka has the demeanor of a world-class poker player. Some of it is how easily he lays waste to a golf course. But on Sunday, we learned that golf’s RoboCop can still bleed. The wheels fell off, and he had to dig deep to finish off his best friend. But Koepka did just that, making history as he evolved into a new type of champion: one who’s proved he can survive.
With the MLB trade deadline approaching, texts are pinging between front-office executives, general managers are holding hushed phone calls, and amateur internet sleuths are breaking major stories. But swapping players isn’t just a deadline pastime these days. Whether it’s the result of rule changes, smarter front offices or the natural ebbs and flows of the market, the last few years have featured more trades than ever before, both before and after the deadline, making the deadline less relevant in relation to the rest of the year.Regardless of your rooting interests, it’s always entertaining to watch the buyers and sellers jostling to make the best deadline deal. On a day-by-day basis, this part of the season has always been the busiest part of the baseball calendar for trades, and it shows few signs of slowing down.However, the percentage of all trades taking place at the deadline has actually gone down in the past eight years, with teams trading up a storm throughout the entire year. Since 2009 (the first year for which Baseball Prospectus has transaction data), the total volume of trades across MLB has increased by an average of 14 percent every season. Deadline deals used to make up about quarter to a third of all trades; in the last four years they only represented roughly one-sixth of of all trades. There isn’t an immediate or obvious reason why trades have spiked so dramatically. Rule changes — especially those included in a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) — could have contributed. Before 2012, teams were eligible to receive a draft pick in return for a free agent who left the team, even if he was traded to that roster midseason. Under the new CBA, which went into effect in 2012, the value of those potential free agents dropped, since a team could no longer get draft-pick compensation for them. But the increase in trade volume appears to be a gradual rise, not the one-time bump we’d expect to see immediately after the CBA was adopted if the change in rules was responsible for the rise.Likewise, we might expect the recent dramatic increase in front-office jobs (particularly in analytics) to help boost trade volume because all those new workers could increase a team’s ability to juggle multiple potential offers. (The older, smaller front offices likely would have been forced to focus on only one deal at a time.) But there’s also very little correlation between the number of analysts in a front office and the frequency of trades, so it seems like front-office expansion isn’t to blame.Two more legitimate contributing factors, however, might be the second wild-card slot (instituted in 2012) and the newfound prevalence of tanking in MLB. The additional playoff spot encourages more teams to try to contend, which has sometimes resulted in an arms race of acquiring talent at the trade deadline. Last year’s American League East featured three teams (the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles) buying pitching in July, presumably with the hope of vaulting into contention.Tanking works in the opposite direction: When teams are forced to decide between the playoffs and rebuilding, they have more incentive to either trade their valuable players or gain additional strength. The White Sox were frozen in mediocrity for a long time, but in the last year, they unloaded all their stars, from Adam Eaton to Jose Quintana, for prospects. Those kind of abrupt sell-offs have changed the structure of the league and moved dozens more players between teams.Quintana is an especially representative example, because more pitchers are getting moved than in previous years. Hurler trades reached a nadir in 2013, when only 41.6 percent of traded players were pitchers. Last year, however, that percentage had risen to 52.6 percent, a big swing in only a few years. And although we saw a buildup in bullpen swaps last year, with the Indians grabbing Andrew Miller and the Cubs obtaining Aroldis Chapman, the increase in pitcher trades seems to be evenly divided between starters and relievers. In the new, juiced-ball MLB frontier, it may be that teams put an extra premium on acquiring good pitching.Trades can sometimes reveal the strategies a team is employing or the type of players they value the most. But just as often, they are mysterious, the outcome of negotiations to which the public is not privy. Whether due to tanking, the wild card, or some other factor, trades are way, way up and more pitchers are switching teams than before. That makes the deadline more exciting than ever, but it’s also just another block of time in MLB’s trade-happy calendar.
In retrospect, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-5 loss to the Miami Marlins on May 16 was probably the low point of their 2018 season. It was the Dodgers’ sixth consecutive defeat and their ninth in 10; it dropped their overall record to 16-26, then only the fourth-best in their division; and it brought their playoff odds to a season low of 22 percent.For a team that had won 473 regular-season games over the previous five seasons (the most in baseball during that period), came within a game of winning the World Series last year and was expected to waltz to a sixth consecutive division crown this year, the season’s ugly start was hard to understand or explain. After that loss to the Marlins, L.A. manager Dave Roberts could only reach for Winston Churchill. “When you’re going through hell,” he told the L.A. Times, “keep going.”Roberts and his team did exactly that. Beginning with a convincing 7-0 win the next day against the same Marlins club that had just beaten them in two straight, the Dodgers promptly rattled off a streak of 22 wins against just nine losses, through games played on June 20, and increased their playoff chances by 37 percentage points — an improvement bested only by the Seattle Mariners over that period.The team has improved its hitting since May 16, driving its overall weighted runs created plus (wRC+), a catchall offensive statistic, from 94 before that date — meaning the team was 6 percent below league average offensively, on the whole — to 117 since then. L.A. has benefited from a standout performance by the pleasantly alliterative Max Muncy, whose 13 home runs and 163 wRC+ on the season lead the team. It hasn’t hurt, either, that Joc Pederson seems to have recovered from an early season slump and is now contributing as expected.The starting pitching, meanwhile, has held serve, moving from a 3.37 mark in fielding-independent pitching (FIP)1FIP is a measure of pitching performance scaled to ERA that strips out the contributions of team defense. before their recent surge to 3.29 since it began. Even that small improvement was far from a given, of course, because injuries to an astonishing number of Dodger starting pitchers — at least five, depending on how you count it, including the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw — left the Los Angeles rotation to be held together by a combination of (Alex) Wood and duct tape.But the real heroes of L.A.’s recent surge — and, to be fair, also some of the key contributors to the team’s early season struggles — have been the men of the Los Angeles bullpen, who have curbed a worrying early season tendency toward allowing home runs, especially late in games, and collectively improved their FIP from 4.40 before the surge (26th in baseball) to 3.17 after it (sixth). The central player in that turnaround story has been Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ star closer who for the early part of the season looked like anything but. Jansen made just five spring training appearances, slowed by a hamstring injury, and his early season numbers were the kind that might make Dodger fans wish he’d stayed on the DL. Since May 16, he’s been lights out: His 1.06 ERA is by four-tenths of a run the best in the game among relievers with at least as many innings.That improvement has probably helped drive a significant increase in the Dodgers’ success in one-run games after May 16 — 6-3, compared with 4-7 up to that date — which has helped bring L.A.’s actual winning percentage (.521) somewhat more in line with its higher-order winning percentages, which strip out the effects of sequencing and luck often manifested in bullpen meltdowns.In a sense, none of this is particularly surprising stuff. The Dodgers had a spate of injuries and underperformance early in the season that would sink most clubs, and they still managed to win nearly 40 percent of their games. Now that their bullpen has regained its elite status, their hitters have started hitting for power again (their 35 home runs so far in June are the most in baseball), and their starting pitchers have started to return to the rotation, the Dodgers look more like the club everyone expected them to be early on — and perhaps always were.Every good team has bad months, after all. Even the 104-win Dodgers of last season had a 25-game stretch in which they went 5-20, at one point losing 11 straight. It’s just that this year’s Dodger slump came at the beginning of the season, when nobody had banked wins to fall back on and every sportswriter in America was looking for a narrative to focus on. The simple and boring story here is probably that the Dodgers weren’t bad at the beginning of this year — they were just unlucky.It’s now almost July, and the Dodgers’ bad luck appears to be over. They’re heating up just in time for the official start of summer, and in no mood to concede a division title that’s been theirs since before Max Muncy was a glimmer in Dave Roberts’ eye. The early part of the season may have felt like going through hell for Dodgers, but they’ve played themselves out of it.Check out our latest MLB predictions.
OSU senior attackman Cian Dabrowski (14) charges forward with the ball while Penn State senior Ally Heavens (26) plays defense during a game in Columbus on April 9. OSU won, 16-13. Credit: Evan Szymkowicz | Sports DirectorIt was all about the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team’s senior class on Saturday. The nine players were honored on the field before the game against Penn State, and then they stole the show during it, helping lift the Buckeyes to victory. Cian Dabrowski tied a career-high with seven points, attacker Rainy Hodgson added eight points and goalie Katie Frederick stopped 13 shots, one shy of her career-best, to help No. 12 OSU upset ninth-ranked Penn State 16-13 on a blistering cold day in Columbus. “I’m at a loss for words right now,” said Dabrowski, who had four goals and three assists. “I think it means a lot to the whole senior class, and the whole team. We all contributed to this win. We had something to go against there from losing in (the Big Ten tournament) to them. We were all really fired up for the game.” With the win, the Buckeyes added to the best start in program history at 11-1, while the Nittany Lions dropped to 9-3. It’s also just the second time in 11 games that OSU has beaten Penn State.“Every year this game with Penn State is such a battle,” Hodgson said. “We were really hyped to get back out here.” The Buckeyes mounted a six-goal lead 10 minutes into the second half and it looked like they might be able to run away from the Nittany Lions. But not so fast. The Nittany Lions ripped off four unanswered goals to trim OSU’s lead to two with 14:12 remaining in the game. Both teams traded shots over the next five minutes, keeping Penn State within striking distance.“You’ve got calm them down in those moments,” said OSU coach Alexis Venechanos. “I think we got a little too emotional. We needed to get back to the gameplan, do what we’ve been doing.”And that’s what happened. The Buckeyes regained their momentum, scoring the game’s final four goals to secure the win, which is the 45th victory for the senior class, tying a program record.“It was important for us to have the lead then come back after they had their big run,” Venechanos said.The Buckeyes jumped out to a quick 3-1 lead to start the game behind goals from Dabrowski, senior midfielder Christine Easton, who would score twice more later on, and Hodgson.Yet the early hole didn’t phase Penn State. The Nittany Lions remained composed on offense, taking time to move the ball around their attack area to set up high-percentage looks. It paid off. Penn State netted three goals in less than three minutes — with a Dabrowski goal sandwiched inside — to tie the game at 4-4 with 16:54 left in the half.But from there until the halftime buzzer, it was all Scarlet and Gray. OSU seized momentum, using two goals from Dabrowski and sophomore attacker Molly Wood, three timely saves from Frederick and a last-second goal from Easton to lead 9-5 at the break. “That was huge for us,” Dabrowski said. “Our defense made some great stops, and Frederick in the cage was huge. Lacrosse is a big game of momentum, so it really helped us out.”The Buckeyes’ offensive barrage resumed promptly once the second half began. In the first two minutes, OSU found the net twice, first from Hodgson and then from a cutting Easton, who received a lob pass from Dabrowski and rifled it past senior goalkeeper Emi Smith. Penn State freshman attacker Madison Carter answered less than a minute later to make it 11-7. The Buckeyes responded with two consecutive goals, including Hodgson’s third of the game, to make it 13-7, although it almost wasn’t enough to withstand Penn State’s ensuing four-goal run. Sophomore midfielder Katie O’Donnell lead the Nittany Lions with four goals, while Carter added three. Penn State was just the second team all season to score in double figures against the Buckeyes, a statistic Venechanos pointed out. The coach said the Buckeyes will look to clean their defense up during the week as a result, although she’s happy with the overall effort.“I think every game we’re learning from and getting better,” Venechanos said. “This group is really hungry.” The Buckeyes are set to get back in action on Saturday against top-ranked Maryland (10-0). OSU will try replicating the success it had against the Terrapins in the Big Ten semifinals a season ago. In that game, Maryland was also undefeated and ranked No. 1, but that didn’t stop OSU from upsetting them 11-10. Play is scheduled to start at noon in College Park, Maryland.
The No. 19 Ohio State softball team will welcome California, Bucknell and Kentucky to Buckeye Field this weekend when it hosts one of the 16 NCAA regional tournaments.The Buckeyes will open up the double-elimination regional against the Kentucky Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Bucknell will play No. 11 California at 5 p.m.Last season, the Buckeyes defeated the Wildcats, 7-2, in the Columbus Regional, earning them a trip to the Super Regional for the first time in program history.“We have to do some homework on all three teams,” coach Linda Kalafatis said in a press release. “I have been on a rankings committee this season so I have seen a lot of what Cal and Kentucky have done this season, so I know they will be very competitive.”This is the seventh-overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the Buckeyes.The winner of the Columbus Regional will face the winner of the Athens Regional next weekend, May 28 and 29.
“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual,” Vince Lombardi said. Since 2000, the owners of the NFL’s four best regular season records are the Indianapolis Colts (121-48), New England Patriots (119-50), Pittsburgh Steelers (109-59) and Philadelphia Eagles (109-59). Between them, the NFL’s “big four” have 30 playoff appearances, nine Super Bowl appearances and six Super Bowl titles. Also telling is the number of coaches who have managed these four teams in that span: six. Not only have the coaches of these NFL powers re-invented themselves throughout the years, they’ve managed to earn and maintain the respect of professional football players. That’s no easy task. A big part of the four’s success is that each organization drafted a franchise quarterback. Peyton Manning holds the NFL-record Most Valuable Player awards with four. Tom Brady has three Super Bowl rings, and Ben Roethlisberger has two. Donovan McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance. But what’s more telling is the success they had with the receivers at their disposal. Yes, Manning had Marvin Harrison, Brady had Randy Moss, Roethlisberger has Hines Ward, and McNabb had Terrell Owens. They’ve also gotten it done with guys like Austin Collie and David Patten, players willing to sacrifice for the greater good. A stable coach. A talented, driven quarterback. A collection of team-first players. That’s how the “big four” have stayed among the NFL’s elite year after year. This season has brought more of the same. The Steelers, Patriots and Eagles are tied for first in their respective divisions. The Colts are all alone at the top of the AFC South. On the other hand, this season has been a disappointment for three teams with preseason Super Bowl aspirations. This trio now appears to have nothing more than rosters teeming with un-coachable talent headed by talent-less head coaches. I’m looking at you, Vikings, Bengals and Cowboys. Minnesota has endured an offseason hijacked by the teary-eyed and turnover-prone Brett Favre and a regular season torpedoed by Moss, whose off-the-field antics (three teams in 10 weeks) have generated more buzz than his on-field numbers (23 catches, five touchdowns, 100 routes half-assed). Players don’t believe coach Brad Childress supports them. Cincinnati has three players — Dhani Jones, Owens and Chad Ochocinco — who star in their own reality television shows. Cincy has two wins this season. That’s one more reality show than wins, by my count. Its franchise quarterback, Carson Palmer, hasn’t progressed. He still stares down receivers and is wildly inaccurate at times. Furthermore, Palmer hasn’t asserted leadership over the team. If he had, Ochocinco’s in-game whine fests would have ended long ago. Coach Marvin Lewis, the 2009 NFL Coach of the Year, looks apathetic both on the sideline and in his game-planning. Dallas’ downfall has been comical, sans Tony Romo’s broken collarbone. The fans who expected America’s team to be the first squad to host a Super Bowl in their home stadium have instead spent their time booing their boys off the field multiple times. And rightfully so — Dallas quit at home against Jacksonville, and on the road in Green Bay, which ended up costing coach Wade Phillips his job. These NFL diva squads should heed Lombardi and follow the blueprint of team-oriented success laid down by the “big four.”
To those who remain disheartened by OSU’s first loss of the season, the idea of challenging in the Leaders Division may seem farfetched. However, the fact remains that it was a non-conference loss, albeit one that damaged our collective ego. We all watched the same game, and it wasn’t pretty. Despite the agony that Saturday’s loss held for members of Buckeye Nation, it’s still too early to jump off the OSU bandwagon. The reason you should bunker down with the Buckeyes is simple: they can still win the Leaders Division and the Big Ten. “There’s a lot of areas where we know we need to go back and take a real hard look at.” Several members of the team, including junior defensive lineman John Simon, said as much after the loss. “We’re only going to get better from here,” Simon said. “We can still accomplish our goals. We can still be Big Ten champs.” If you were watching the Buckeyes’ 24-6 loss to Miami at your home, no one would fault you for shouting expletives, throwing things at your TV, or simply changing the channel. Similarly, if you made the trip down to Miami for the game, you had every right to leave your seat and walk out of Sun Life Stadium before the final whistle. The team needs to take a methodical approach to dissecting its weaknesses through week three of this season, and first-year head coach Luke Fickell said the team would do just that. There’s a case to be made that Fickell has already improved parts of his team through its first three games, namely the special teams unit. Sophomore kicker Drew Basil entered the Miami game 0-for-2 on field goal attempts, but nailed two field goal attempts against the Hurricanes. One week after having a punt blocked by Toledo, redshirt junior punter Ben Buchanan kept the Buckeyes competitive against Miami as he averaged 46.5 yards on six punts. Buchanan also blasted a career-long 60-yard punt and pinned the ‘Canes inside their own 20-yard line three times. You might still be in for a wild ride by when Big Ten conference play begins. If special teams’ play improved that much in just a matter of days, who is to say Fickell can’t implement immediate improvements to other areas of his team? Also, don’t forget that DeVier Posey, Dan Herron, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas will return from suspension in time for OSU’s final seven Big Ten games. It’s a long season, and I don’t know about you, but my calendar still reads “September.” There’s just too much football left to play in 2011, so dust yourself off, tape up your bruises and hop back on the bandwagon. “We’re not going to jump to any conclusions,” Fickell said. “I think we really have to do a great job at sitting down and trying to figure out how we need to move forward and where our focus is going to be.
The Ohio State men’s hockey team has been playing so well lately, even head coach Mark Osiecki is a little surprised. The No. 14 Buckeyes swept No. 7 Michigan in a two-game series this weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., and are currently riding a seven-game winning streak and a nine-game unbeaten streak. “I think it’s amazing. When you combine the work ethic that they have with the determination to compete that they have, I think anything can happen,” Osiecki said. “Yeah, sure, we’re probably a bit further ahead, if we were betting, where we thought we would be.” The sweep of the Wolverines was the first for OSU in Ann Arbor since 1986, and the first against Michigan in any arena since 1989 in a home-and-home series. Michigan struck first in Saturday’s game, but OSU scored twice in a three-minute span for a 2-1 lead after the first period. Sophomore forwards Alex Lippincott and Chris Crane scored for the Buckeyes in the opening stanza. The Wolverines tied the game early in the second period. OSU freshman forward Ryan Dzingel answered Michigan’s score with two goals in a 16-second span on an OSU major power play for a 4-2 lead. Michigan added a power-play goal at 12:03 to cut the Buckeye’s lead to one, but freshman forward Max McCormick scored at 15:58 and OSU lead, 5-3, after 40 minutes. Lippincott scored early in the third period after Michigan tied the game at five , to preserve the win and series sweep, as OSU won the second game of the series, 6-5. OSU senior goalie Cal Heeter had 26 saves in the win, though the Buckeyes allowed more than two goals in a game for the first time since their 3-0 loss at Michigan State on Oct. 20. The Buckeyes won the first game of the series Friday night, 2-1. Michigan scored first at 15:26 in the first period, but the Buckeyes were quick to respond with a goal of their own. OSU freshman forward Darik Angeli tied the game at 1-1, 2:16 after the Wolverines’ goal. Following a scoreless second period, OSU took the lead for good with a goal from Angeli 7:53 into the final period. Angeli took a pass from freshman defenseman Al McLean and fired the puck off Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick, which bounced into the net. Heeter had 29 saves in the win, and the Buckeyes killed all four of Michigan’s power plays. The Buckeyes’ freshmen accounted for five of OSU’s eight goals in the two-game series. Osiecki praised the performances of his freshmen following the weekend series. “I thought our freshmen played outstanding,” he said. “Our young guys did very well. I think if you look at stat sheet for (Saturday), our freshmen did a lot of the work. I think that speaks volumes.” “This was excellent for our team. We’re taking another step to continue to get better,” Osiecki said. “It’s fun to see our guys playing hard for each other.” OSU is now 10-3-1 on the year and moved into sole possession of first place in the CCHA with a 7-2-1-1 conference record. Michigan dropped to 7-5-2, 3-5-2-1 in the CCHA. After a week off, the Buckeyes will play No. 12 Lake Superior in a two-game series in Columbus starting Dec. 2 at 7:05.
By September, the United States men’s national soccer team will likely be in need of the comforts of home. Lucky for local soccer fans, Columbus Crew Stadium is the closest thing to a home ground for the U.S. team, and its return to central Ohio appears imminent. The final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil for the CONCACAF region, comprised of countries in North and Central America and the Caribbean, is under way, and the U.S. national team got it started with a 2-1 loss at Honduras, leaving it in last in the six-country group. It’s still early – the Stars and Stripes have nine games remaining in World Cup qualifying contests – but the team can scarcely afford to drop points, especially when it has the home-field advantage. Enter Crew Stadium, the ground on which the U.S. men boast a 6-0-3 record, as well as a 3-0 record against rival Mexico. And it just so happens that the Mexicans are scheduled to visit the U.S. on Sept. 10, a day on which no other events are currently scheduled at Crew Stadium. There are groundswells of support for the coveted U.S.-Mexico game to be held at American soccer-specific stadiums that are newer and flashier than the home of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, such as Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., and Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Based on the criteria U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati laid out during a Jan. 30 press conference, Columbus’ 14-year-old soccer stadium could be the leading candidate to host the Americans and “El Tri.” “I think you will see us play in this round in five MLS venues and four soccer-specific stadiums,” Gulati said during the press conference. “I think that is how it is shaping up. And none of the soccer-specific venues will be in New Jersey or in Los Angeles and so on … We will play, generally, in venues where the U.S. team has been successful in World Cup qualifying before.” U.S. Soccer did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment Monday regarding the timetable for announcing the venue for the Sept. 10 match. The U.S. men last visited Crew Stadium on Sept. 11, when it tallied a 1-0 win against Jamaica in the previous round of the current World Cup qualifying campaign. Tim Howard, goalkeeper for the U.S. and English Premier League club Everton, said he was hopeful that the U.S. would return to Crew Stadium. “Columbus – you can’t say any more about it,” Howard said. “We were talking inside – there’s no bigger home field advantage for us in America. You know, for whatever reason, they didn’t sit down, there were a thousand flags waving. It was really awesome, so hopefully we have a lot more games here.” The next World Cup qualifying match for the Americans is scheduled for March 22 against Costa Rica. The match is scheduled to be played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colo., home of the Colorado Rapids of the MLS.
OSU defensive line coach Mike Vrabel coaches his unit during The Game Nov. 30 at Michigan Stadium. OSU won, 42-41.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorOhio State defensive line coach Mike Vrabel is leaving the Buckeyes to take a job with the Houston Texans, according to multiple reports.The Texans, who hired former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien as head coach Jan. 3, finished 2-14 in 2013 and have the top overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.Vrabel confirmed the move from his personal Twitter account at about 6:20 p.m. Thursday, thanking OSU in the process.“I am thankful for everyone assoc with TOSU for 3 great years and my family and I are excited to join the Houston Texans as the (linebackers) coach,” the tweet read.An OSU spokesman also confirmed with The Lantern that Vrabel is leaving OSU.Vrabel has been a member of the Buckeye staff since 2011, starting as linebackers coach under then-coach Luke Fickell and switching to the defensive line when coach Urban Meyer joined the program in 2012.A three-time Super Bowl Champion as a linebacker for the New England Patriots, Vrabel played defensive end at OSU from 1993-96, being named a consensus All-American in his final year at the school. He holds school records for career sacks (36), career tackles for loss (66) and owns the single season record for tackles for loss with 26 in 1995.Vrabel becomes the second OSU defensive coach since the end of the regular season to leave the program, after co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Everett Withers accepted the head coaching position at James Madison University Dec. 20.This season, Vrabel coached a unit that finished third in the country with 42 sacks, and tied for 19th in tackles for loss with 91. The Buckeye defense as a whole, however, finished ranked 47th in total defense in the country, giving up 377.4 yards per game. In the team’s final four games, opponents scored no less than 34 points against OSU.
Ohio State senior quarterback Braxton Miller has re-injured his shoulder at practice after saying he was “100 percent” Monday morning, a source close to the team told The Lantern TV Monday evening.According to the source, Miller is expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday.The severity of the injury, as well as how long Miller will be out, was not yet clear as of Monday night.The quarterback has been hurt more than once. Here’s a look at The Lantern’s coverage of his injuries.
Redshirt-freshman Nathan Tomasello wrestles down an opponent during a match against Minnesota on Feb. 6 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 22-13. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Lantern photographerThe wrestling Buckeyes closed out their conference schedule by winning eight-straight dual meets, but they’ll have to make it 10 to take home a National Duals title.No. 3 Ohio State (12-3) is set to take on No. 15 Edinboro (13-4) in the opening round of the National Duals, and with four potential matches pairing ranked opponents, coach Tom Ryan said he knows the favored Buckeyes will have their hands full.“There will be a lot of good matches,” Ryan said. “You will be looking for gritty, tough performances where you’re building your lead, your shots and finishes are crisp and you’re fighting every position.”Key matches include (OSU wrestlers first):141 pounds: No. 1 redshirt-senior Logan Stieber (19-0) vs. No. 2 redshirt-senior Mitchell Port (29-0)125 pounds: No. 7 redshirt-freshman Nathan Tomasello (22-4) vs. No. 18 redshirt-senior Kory Mines (27-6)174 pounds: No. 13 junior Mark Martin (14-8) vs. No. 20 redshirt-junior Patrick Jennings (26-8)184 pounds: No. 10 redshirt-junior Kenny Courts (19-4) vs. No. 11 redshirt-junior Vic Avery (24-6)A key wrestler who won’t be in the lineup for the Fighting Scots is A.J. Schopp (15-1). Ranked second nationally at 133 pounds, the senior was scheduled to face No. 10 Johnni DiJulius (22-3), but is out because of an undisclosed injury. Redshirt-freshman Anthony Rivera (3-13) is set to step in step in.Stieber said he hopes the team can continue its success and show why it is a top contender.“We’re wrestling really well and getting back to being fully healthy,” Stieber said. “Edinboro is a good team and they have some guys out too, so hopefully we can wrestle well and get through them and move onto Iowa for the National Duals finals the following weekend.”Edinboro will look to No. 1 ranked 149-pound redshirt-senior Dave Habat to provide bonus points against OSU redshirt-senior Randy Languis (8-11). Habat’s opponent would normally be redshirt-junior and former Big Ten champ Hunter Stieber, but because of an elbow injury, that match might have to wait.Ryan said he believes his team has what it takes to succeed during the championship season, but knows that it’s time to prove it.“It’s that time of the year where you should start to look like someone who is capable of doing huge things,” Ryan said. “This is big for Edinboro, they have a great community in which every person in the area wants to whip up on Ohio State. They have great coaches and a few studs, but we want to be the best dual meet team in the country and this is one we have to win, so we will be ready for it.”The match is set to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday at McComb Fieldhouse in Edinboro, Pa.
Ohio State men’s soccer head coach Brian Maisonneuve watches the Buckeyes play in the first half of the game against the University of South Florida on Sept. 7, 2018. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorFollowing its 1-1 overtime draw on Tuesday against Bowling Green, the Ohio State men’s soccer team will try and build off its most effective offensive performance of the season when it travels to take on Penn State on Sunday afternoon. The Buckeyes seemed to look like a team that can create consistent offensive pressure, despite the stat sheet indicating that they came away with just two shots on goal.Sunday’s matchup with the Nittany Lions marks the beginning of Big Ten play for Ohio State, and the team knows that this match is not only critical for momentum on offense, but will also serve as a stepping stone for the Buckeyes’ season as a whole. “It’s Big Ten play. So now everybody’s, you know, starting from scratch, so again it’s a time where, you know, [we can] try to put everything together in terms of heading into Big Ten play,” head coach Brian Maisonneuve said. “Penn State at Penn State is going to be a battle. I mean they’re a very good team, and to play away at their place is always a tough spot.”Breaking a three-game scoreless drought and finding just their second goal of the season the players believe Tuesday’s draw will help them tremendously from a confidence standpoint this weekend.“Definitely it’s going to, you know, drive us and we’re definitely looking forward to going away [to Penn State],” sophomore forward/midfielder Joshua Jackson-Ketchup said. “So now that we see it’s coming and finally, you know, clicking I think that we’re going to make some damage when we go to Penn State, and so we’re looking forward to it.”Penn State is a team in a similar position to Ohio State.The Nittany Lions have a new coaching staff this season and hope to build and improve throughout head coach Jeff Cook’s first season at the helm.Also, both Ohio State and Penn State have struggled on offense in the nonconference portion of the season.The Buckeyes have scored two goals in six games, while Penn State has managed three goals on just 12 shots on goal in its first five games.Penn State’s leading scorer is freshman forward Jeremy Rafanello, who has scored two goals on the season.Penn State redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Josh Levine has allowed an average of 1.17 goals per game this season while his counterpart on Sunday, redshirt junior goalkeeper Parker Siegfried, allows 0.98 goals against average between the pipes for the Buckeyes. Ohio State will face Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Thomas Cudjoe was stabbed to death on the forecourt of a Shell petrol station in IlfordCredit:Metropolitan Police Leading judges have refused to overturn guilty verdicts in the first test case “joint enterprise” challenges brought after a Supreme Court ruling raised the possibility that hundreds of convictions could be unsafe.The legal challenges by men convicted of group attack murders follow a decision in February that the application of the law on joint enterprise, otherwise known as common enterprise, had taken “a wrong turn” and been misinterpreted for 30 years.The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, is heading a panel expected to provide guidance on how the law should now be applied.The other panel members are Sir Brian Leveson, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Lady Justice Hallett, vice-president of the criminal appeal courts.At the heart of the case is the so-called “foresight principle” in joint enterprise cases. Used over the years to tackle gang violence, defendants have been convicted if they could have foreseen that a murder or violent act was likely to take place.But the Supreme Court ruled that the foresight rule was being misinterpreted and juries had to decide “on the whole evidence” whether a person had the “necessary intent” to join in the commission of a crime.The first of 10 test cases heard by the court concerns the safety of the conviction of Asher Johnson, his brother Lewis, and Reece Garwood, all in their 20s, who were jailed for life for murdering Thomas Cudjoe in an attack on a garage forecourt near a pub in Ilford, east London, in November 2012. 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 fourth convicted man, Jerome Green, was seen in CCTV footage holding a knife and apparently stabbing Mr Cudjoe as he sat in the driver’s seat of a Ford Focus.Lawyers for the Johnson brothers and Garwood told the court there was no evidence of common enterprise between them and Green, and the CCTV did not show they had been involved in a planned attack.There was also no evidence that they had given verbal encouragement to Green to carry out the killing.The second case challenges the safety of the convictions of Tyler Burton and Nicholas Terrelonge. They were found guilty of murdering young father Ashley Latty in a group attack after a birthday party in Dagenham, east London, in May 2014.Awaiting the outcome of those and other appeals before the panel are members of JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association), a grassroots group which helped to achieve the landmark Supreme Court ruling.Group co-ordinator Gloria Morrison said: “It makes no sense to find people guilty of murder based purely on foresight alone – the idea that you know what someone is going to do.”It is totally illogical and it has led to juries coming to conclusions based on assumptions.”JENGbA estimates some 700 individuals could be in line to have their cases reviewed in light of the guidelines laid down by Lord Thomas’ panel.
The Prime Minister’s comments came ahead of her first meeting with Nicola Sturgeon since the First Minister announced plans for a second independence referendum triggered by the change to Scotland’s circumstances resulting from Brexit.Addressing staff of the Department for International Development in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, Mrs May said: “We stand on the threshold of a significant moment for Britain as we begin the negotiations that will lead us towards a new partnership with Europe. She said: “As we look to that future and as we face this great national moment together, I hope you will continue to play your part in the great national effort we need to build the stronger Britain, the fairer Britain, the more outward-looking Britain and the more united Britain that I am determined we should be once we emerge from this period of national change. British Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrive at the Crowne Plaza hotel in GlasgowCredit:Jane Barlow/PA Theresa May at Govan Police Station, Glasgow, meeting Scottish police chiefs to talk about counter terrorism issues ahead of her meeting with First Minister Nicola SturgeonCredit: SWNS.com “The closest friend and ally with Europe, but also a country that looks beyond Europe to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.”Promising to build “a more united nation”, Mrs May said: “As Britain leaves the European Union, and we forge a new role for ourselves in the world, the strength and stability of our Union will become even more important.” Mrs May – who did not take questions following her 10-minute speech, which focused largely on DFID’s international aid work – said the UK was “a force for good, helping to build a better future for everyone”. Theresa May gives a speech at the Department for International Development’s office at Abercrombie House in East KilbrideCredit: Jane Barlow/PA Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meet in a hotel in Glasgow, ScotlandCredit:REUTERS/Russell Cheyne In an impassioned plea for the preservation of the Union, Mrs May said that together the nations of the United Kingdom were an “unstoppable force”. “I want to make it absolutely clear as we move through this process that this is not – in any sense – the moment that Britain steps back from the world.”Indeed, we are going to take this opportunity to forge a more global Britain. “Because, as you prove every day through the work you do and as some of the most vulnerable people in some of the most desperate conditions around the world can attest, this United Kingdom and the values at its heart is one of the greatest forces for good in the world today.”When we work together and set our sights on a task, we really are an unstoppable force.” Theresa May has vowed to build a “more united nation” as Britain leaves the European Union (EU).Speaking during a visit to Scotland, Mrs May also pledged Brexit would not mean the UK “stepping back from the world”, insisting she was aiming to build “a new partnership with Europe” while taking the opportunity to build “a more global Britain”. 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.
We are jointly calling on the Secretary of State for Health to reconsider the proposals in the currentconsultation “Fixed recoverable costs in clinical negligence”. We believe the proposals are premature; poorlyinformed; and pose a threat both to access to justice and patient safety. But Action against Medical Accidents, the patient safety group leading the campaign against the cap, says this approach wrongly assumes that lower value claims cannot also be among the most serious.Peter Walsh, its Chief Executive, told the Daily Telegraph: “In cases of child death or the death of elderly people, the value of the claim may not be that much because it’s hard to claim for loss of earnings, but it is still the most incredibly serious matter which needs proper legal expertise.”He said that cases such as a number that helped exposed the scandal at Mid Staffs hospital could not have happened under the cap.“Cases like those involving Dr Ian Paterson and those at Mid Staffordshire may never come to light,” the letter reads.“Older people’s cases, stillbirths, any fatal cases, and cases of people lacking mental capacity would be likely to be the worst affected.”The letter also argues that the NHS would lose the opportunity to learn lessons and improve safety by limiting the number of cases brought against it.As Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has said repeatedly he wants to make the NHS the safest health service in the world. 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. lacking mental capacity would be likely to be worst affected. We appreciate these would be unintendedconsequences, but they are realistic. Frances Perks, one of Paterson’s victims, hopes he ‘rots in hell’Credit:Andrew Fox The Department of Health argues that legal fees in negligence cases are spiraling out of control and that in claims for compensation under £25,000 they come to more than three times the value of the damages awarded. The letter in full: Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in a bath while in the care of Southern HealthCredit:JusticeforLB Mr Walsh added that mental health patients who are victims of negligence, such as those at Southern Health, where a vulnerable teenager drowned in a bath, would struggle to get justice under the cap.A Government consultation on the scheme, which closes today (Tuesday), says it is considering exempting child deaths from the fixed costs regime. Patients said their lives have been “ruined” by constant pain as a result of Paterson’s unnecessary procedures.NHS bosses have already paid out £9.5 million in damages settling cases brought by more than 250 NHS patients, but lawyers estimate there may be many hundred more victims eligible for compensation.If the cap become law before they begin legal action, they could be denied damages.Under the proposed new rules, claims against the health service of up to £25,000 will come with strict caps on the fees lawyers can claim for handling them.“Some of the most vulnerable people harmed by clinical negligence would not be able to achieve justice, because they would not be able to find solicitors to represent them,” the patient groups write.“Even if they did, they would lose a significant amount of their damages in legal costs that would be left to them to pay.” Some of the most vulnerable people harmed by clinical negligence would not be able to achieve justiceLetter to The Telegraph Sir, The Government is proposing that some solicitors representing successful claimants would no longer be ableto recover their full legal costs from healthcare providers found to have been negligent. Some of the mostvulnerable people harmed by clinical negligence would not be able to achieve justice, because they would notbe able to find solicitors to represent them. Even if they did they would lose a significant amount of theirdamages in legal costs that would be left to them to pay. The NHS would be less safe because it could not beheld to account and therefore not learn lessons. Cases like those involving Dr Ian Paterson and those at MidStaffordshire may never come to light. Older people’s cases, stillbirths, any fatal cases, and cases of people We support the intention to save NHS money for use in service provision, but this must be done fairly andresponsibly. Any decisions should be informed by consideration of the effect of the Legal Aid Sentencing andPunishment of Offenders Act; the results of the National Audit Office review of the NHS Litigation Authorityand defendant behaviour. Acceptable proposals must protect access to justice and promote patient safety. Atthe minimum, all fatal cases and claims by people lacking capacity should be excluded from a fixed costsregime; poor defendant behaviour must be curtailed; any cap on legal costs must be at a level to realisticallyallow for involvement of accredited specialist solicitors; and there must be a demonstrable system for learningpatient safety lessons from cases. Ideally, a viable alternative to litigation should be created for cases below£25,000 damages, rather than simply imposing fixed costs. Victims of the rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson would be denied justice under a new scheme to limit claims against the NHS for botched operations, patient safety groups have warned.Writing in the Daily Telegraph, a coalition of ten charities say the scheme to cap legal costs payable to lawyers in almost two thirds of medical negligence cases would bar the most vulnerable from compensation.The warning comes days after the 59-year-old consultant, who victims accused of having a “God complex”, was found guilty of needlessly mutilating 10 women in private hospitals. Peter Walsh, Chief Executive, Action against Medical AccidentsJeremy Taylor, Chief Executive, National VoicesLiz McAnulty, Chair, Patients’ AssociationMarcus Green, Chief Executive, Action on Pre-EclampsiaMaureen Treadwell, Research Officer, The Birth Trauma AssociationBeverley A Lawrence Beech, Honourary Chair, Association for Improvements in Maternity ServicesKaren Hillyer, Chairman, Erb’s Palsy GroupJane Plumb MBE, Chief Executive, Group B Strep SupportClaire Donovan, Head of Information and Research, Meningitis Now The Society of Clinical Injury Lawyers said the proposals would make representing clients claiming less than £25,000 commercially unviable, and drive them “into the arms of an exploding army of claims management companies”, such as those who tout for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) compensation.James O’Shaughnessy, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health who was leading the reform, has said: “It is right that the Government should endeavour to reduce the cost of litigation so that more resources are available for NHS patient care.”
Now they’ve launched walnut whip …without the walnut! pic.twitter.com/sO90vqPG1Y— Chris Choi (@Chrisitv) August 16, 2017 They’ve taken the walnut off the top of the walnut whip so now it’s just a whip and I don’t know who we are anymore.— Debora Robertson (@lickedspoon) August 15, 2017 The vanilla and caramel versions of the Walnut Whip will go on sale this week and a mint version is to go on sale next month.Despite claiming the change is because Brits are adverse to eating walnuts, Nestlé claims one Walnut Whip is eaten every two seconds in the UK. There has never been a Walnut Whip sans the nut before, despite there being other flavour variants.First produced by Duncan’s of Edinburgh in 1910, the treat has always been topped with half a walnut.Alison Clinton, the brand manager of chocolate classics at Nestlé UK and Ireland, told The Guardian: “These new products will offer consumers more choice, enabling them to share their favourite products with their family and friends.” Nestlé is removing the walnut from its new line of Walnut Whips, after the price of nuts has soared.The company has said the change is because the new chocolates will cater to people who do not enjoy nuts – but some think it is due to a new wave of ‘shrinkflation’ which causes chocolates to be smaller due to ingredient price increases.UK prices of walnuts rose 20per cent earlier this year – and the company has now decided to remove nuts from its new chocolates.The new chocolate is being referred to as a “Walnot Whip”. The company said consumers will still be able to buy single Walnut Whips all year and six packs at Christmas.However, prices of walnuts have risen sharply this year, because of the falling value of the pound, strong global demand, and a poor crop last year in Chile. 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.
Punting on the River Cam on a sunny summers day in August. Credit:John Lawrence Punt touts plying for business on King’s Parade in the city.Credit:John Lawrence 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 licensed companies must operate according to a strict code of conduct and pay a hefty fee for each boat on the river; the Conservators advise the public to use only licensed punting companies.Earlier this year, Mr Macnaghten, who dropped out from Cambridge University in the 1980s but stayed on in the university town to run Scudamore’s, was appointed deputy chairman of the Cam Conservators. The war over the River Cam has intensified. One punting company has accused its dominant rival of mucking about with the river. Amid allegations of a conflict of interest, the owner of Cambridge’s biggest punting company has been appointed to a senior position on the body that licences punting on the River Cam.James Macnaghten, an Old Etonian who owns Scudamore’s punts, is now also deputy chairman of Conservators of the River Cam, the authority in charge of the river in Cambridge. One of its main duties is deciding who should and shouldn’t get punt operating licences. Mr Macnaghten is one of 13 Conservators while his business partner Rod Ingersent is an official Conservators’ ‘observer’. Scudamore’s, which dismisses claims of a conflict, controls almost half the lucrative punting market. Mr Ingersent, who is Scudamore’s managing director, said: “If anything comes up [at the Conservators] where you have a personal interest you have to stand aside and don’t get involved. For example if something came up on punting he [Mr Macnaghten] must declare an interest and he has no further part to play. All the cam Conservators have different interests.”Mr Ingersent said the regulations for handing out licences were set in 2012 before Mr Macnaghten was appointed a conservator. Problems for the unlicensed firms have been compounded by the Cambridge council crackdown, making for worrying times. “We are quite happy competing against other punting companies, and all we want is that same fair crack of the whip. In the end, it will be bad for the consumer if one company is allowed to get a monopoly on the river, as that will give them the pricing power to make huge profits. It feels to us like a conflict of interest. It feels to us like a stitch up.” Tom Arnold, who runs Traditional Cambridge Tours, which has been operating 12 chauffeured boats on the Cam for a decade – but does not have a licence – said: “We are just a few guys who enjoy what we do, giving people a chance to punt around Cambridge. The fact that we have been able to grow the business as we have done shows that we must be pretty good at it. We employ 50 to 60 people in the summer. View of Scudamore’s Punting Company on the River Cam. Credit:John Lawrence L-R Milan Kovacevich, Sam Matthews and Tom Arnold who are owners of Traditional Cambridge Tours LtdCredit:John Lawrence Touting for punting business in central Cambridge has been banned since September last year, when the city council introduced £75 fixed penalty notices.Now the city council has gone a step further and applied to the High Court for an injunction, which would mean anyone using its land without permission to launch punts could be prosecuted for contempt of court – leading to a fine or even a prison sentence.“The High Court injunction will stop council land being used by unlicensed punt businesses,” said Dave Prinsep, the council’s head of property services. In the cut and thrust world of punting – an industry reckoned to be worth millions of pounds every year – competitors who don’t have licences say that is just unfair. Guardians of the river say that the controls are vital to reduce overcrowding on the river.But a further, threatened crackdown on unlicensed operators could put them out of business once and for all. Only six companies have licences to operate punts on the Cam of which Scudamore’s, by far the biggest, is one.