OAKLAND, California (AP):Golden State’s Stephen Curry scored 37 points and hit six 3-pointers in three quarters as the reigning champions, Warriors, showed that they still rule the NBA’s Western Conference by beating nearest rivals San Antonio 120-90 on Monday.The Spurs were chasing a win that would have left the conference’s top teams only one game apart but were never in the contest against a Warriors team that has now won 39 consecutive home games.Golden State’s Curry had 15 points in the opening quarter and shot 12 for 20 as he recorded a personal best-points total against San Antonio.Kawhi Leonard scored 16 for the sloppy Spurs, who had won their previous 13 games.Chicago came from eight points down in the fourth quarter to win 89-84 at Chicago.Dwyane Wade had 28 points, including 10 in the fourth, and Chris Bosh added 18. Pau Gasol had 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Bulls.Memphis’ Jeff Green scored a season-high 30 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 108-102 overtime win against Orlando.Cleveland struggled against Minnesota before a spurt late in the third and early in the fourth that set up a 114-107 win.LeBron James scored 25 points and Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Karl Anthony-Towns led Minnesota with 26 points and 11 rebounds.Pint-sized point guard Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points in three quarters, and five other players finished in double figures as Boston defeated Washington 116-91.Atlanta completed a four-game Western Conference road trip with a 119-105 win at Denver, with Paul Millsap scoring 22 points.Detroit’s Reggie Jackson scored 29 points as the Pistons led from go to whoa in beating Utah 95-92.Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins set a team record with 56 points – the most by an NBA player this season – but it was not enough to prevent the Kings losing 129-128 to Charlotte.Houston’s James Harden scored 35 points and Trevor Ariza added a season-high 31, and the Rockets needed all of it to edge undermanned New Orleans 112-111.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseDon Boehm of Findlay was named the 2019 CCA of the Year by the Ohio Certified Crop Adviser Program at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada yesterday.Boehm now serves as the crop protection manager at Legacy Farmers Cooperative with more than 30 years of crop advising experience and service in the Hancock County area. He is currently responsible for weed management recommendations, soil sampling and scouting, and implementation strategies for the 4R principles at Legacy, which was among the first facilities certified in the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program. Throughout his career he has been involved with sales, management and direct work with farmers in his role as a CCA. Boehm has also worked to implement new technology for farmer customers and on his own farm.“The thing that has been the most rewarding to me is that God has blessed us with the opportunity to farm. So I get to use a lot of these same things I talk about on my own operation. I have learned a lot on my farm to help educate others. It has been a great experience,” Boehm said. “For our own operation we bought a strip-till unit last fall. For the first time we have strip-tilled our nutrients below ground. We are trying to do the things we know are beneficial. Legacy Farmers Cooperative has been one of the key partners for the 4Rs. We just do a lot of things to be sure we are good stewards. We pride ourselves that with what we do, the ground we work with is better tomorrow than it is today.”Boehm also heads up the Ohio AgriBusiness Association’s agronomy subcommittee and serves on the industry education planning committee.“Don leads the agronomy employees at Legacy to get their CCAs and follow good recommendations and practices,” said David Wurm, who nominated Boehm for the award. “He practices what he preaches — implementing nitrogen and phosphorus efficiency practices on his own farm.”Sponsored by the Ohio CCA Program, the state award recognizes an individual who is highly motivated, delivers exceptional customer service for farmer clients in nutrient management, soil and water management, integrated pest management, and crop production, and has contributed substantially to the exchange of ideas and the transfer of agronomic knowledge within the agricultural industry in Ohio.As CCA of the Year, Boehm received a plaque and a $1,500 cash award, courtesy of the Ohio Association Independent Crop Consultants, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Nutrien. Other recent honorees include: John Fritz, The Andersons, Inc.; Timothy Berning, Precision Agri Services, Inc.; Matthew VanTillburg, VanTillburg Farms; and Chuck Gates, Seed Consultants Inc.“Don represents the very best of Ohio CCAs,” said Logan Haake, chairman of the Ohio CCA board. “We are proud to add his name to the list of CCAs of the Year, as one of our longest serving Ohio CCAs.”To view the full list of past award recipients, visit oaba.net/cca_award. For more information about the Ohio CCA Program, visit oaba.net/cca.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – An island-wide blackout hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday after an excavator accidentally downed a transmission line, officials said, as the U.S. territory struggles to repair an increasingly unstable power grid nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria.Officials said it could take 24 to 36 hours to fully restore power to more than 1.4 million customers as outrage grew across the island about the state of Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority. It was the second major outage in less than a week, with the previous one affecting some 840,000 customers.“This is too much,” said Luis Oscar Rivera, a computer technician who just got normal power back at his house less than two months ago. “It’s like the first day of Maria all over again.”Authorities said the same contractor was involved in the two latest big power failures and had been fired. The outage last Thursday was set off when a tree limb fell on a power line as the contractor cleared land in central Puerto Rico and a backup line failed. On Wednesday, an excavator used by the contractor hit a transmission line near the south coast.Several large power outages have hit Puerto Rico in recent months, but Wednesday was the first time since the hurricane struck Sept. 20 that the U.S. territory has experienced a full island-wide blackout.The outage snarled traffic across the island, interrupted classes and work, and forced dozens of businesses to temporarily close, including the largest mall and popular tourist attractions like a 16th century fort in the historic part of Puerto Rico’s capital. Long lines formed stations across the island, while authorities offered assurances that there was enough gasoline available.Backup generators roared to life at the island’s largest public hospital and at its main international airport, where officials reported no cancellations or delays. Meanwhile, the power company said its own customer service centre was out of service and asked people to go online or use the phone.Officials said restoring power to hospitals, airports, banking centres and water pumping systems was their priority. Following that would be businesses and then homes.By late in the afternoon, power had returned to several hospitals and at least five of the island’s 78 municipalities.Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of the capital of San Juan, said the outage would not interrupt the last of a two-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins, which is being played on the island. She said all emergency systems at Hiram Bithorn stadium are functioning and that tower lights and additional security will be placed at the stadium’s parking lot.Justo Gonzalez, the power company’s executive sub-director, told reporters that workers were removing a collapsed tower Wednesday during unrelated power restoration efforts near the south coast and an excavator hit the transmission line.“We are working in areas that are quite crowded with high voltage lines,” he said.Fredyson Martinez, vice-president of a union that represents power company workers in Puerto Rico, told The Associated Press that he was concerned about the two back-to-back incidents.“That is not normal,” he said.Government officials said a company hired by Cobra Energy known as Dgrimm was involved in both incidents that led to the power outages. Dgrimm had been asked to change its security protocols after the first incident, and it has since been terminated, said William Rios, power generation director.“This is unacceptable for us,” he said, adding that government attorneys were meeting with officials at Cobra Energy, a Mammoth Energy subsidiary.Angel Figueroa, president of the power workers’ union, told reporters that workers were investigating why a backup breaker at a main power station in the island’s southern region did not function when the outage occurred, causing the entire electrical grid to shut down to protect itself. He noted it was the same problem that caused a 2016 power outage that affected the entire island.Geraldo Quinones, a power company spokesman, said in a phone interview that crews are investigating why the breaker failed.Rivera said he worries that such serious power outages are still occurring as the new Atlantic hurricane season, which starts on June 1, approaches.“If there’s a slight storm, we’re going to be worse off than we are right now,” he said.Federal officials who testified before Congress last week said they expect to have a plan by June on how to strengthen and stabilize the island’s power grid, noting that up to 75 per cent of distribution lines were damaged by high winds and flooding. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the federal power restoration efforts, said they hope to have the entire island fully energized by May. Some 40,000 power customers still remain without normal electrical service as a result of the hurricane.The new blackout occurred as Puerto Rico legislators debate a bill that would privatize the island’s power company, which is $14 billion in debt and relies on infrastructure nearly three times older than the industry average.
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – The Wood Innovation Research Lab in Prince George, B.C., appears to be nothing more than a modern cedar and black-metal building, but look past the cladding and you’ll find an engineering feat that has earned it the recognition as the most airtight industrial building on the continent.The University of Northern British Columbia building has received Passive House certification, making it the first of its type in North America to meet the internationally recognized standards for energy efficiency.Guido Wimmers, chairman of the Integrated Wood Design Program at UNBC, said the building is very efficient and cuts heating and cooling bills by up to 90 per cent in a central B.C. climate where temperatures range from -30 C in winter to 30 C in summer.“To get to Passive House standards in this climate, with this geometry, that was a big challenge and hasn’t been done, to the best of my knowledge. There are three or four industrial buildings worldwide,” he said.There are Passive House organizations around the world advocating for high-performance buildings in design, construction and liveability. Thousands of Canadian homes have been certified by the group indicating they have met limits for heat, energy use and being airtight.The research building is 30 metres by 30 metres, with walls that are a half-metre thick and contain blown-in mineral wool insulation.Generally construction costs about five per cent more for passive buildings, but the university is the owner and it’s also interested in the operation costs, said Wimmers.“The initial investment is higher, true, but the actually monthly costs of ownership are lower. And that’s always the goal. It has to be cost-efficient, otherwise nobody would do it.”It will cost about $1,000 a year to heat, Wimmers said.“A normal building of this type would have had a heating bill of $16,000, or something like that.”The biggest challenge to obtaining the certification was a large overhead door that allows material to be brought into the research lab.Wimmers said they brought in the big red door from Germany and had to optimize it even further to increase the air seal.“Well, first you close the door,” he said, laughing as he explained how they got the seal. “Those bay doors are prone to leak. They are very well known for not being airtight.”The other doors and windows in the building came from Poland, he said.The B.C. Energy Step Code will set much stricter provincial regulations for housing energy efficiency and be in place by 2032, but the construction industry has been slow to catch on and manufacturers don’t see the value, he said. Some cities, including Vancouver, are already enforcing higher energy efficiency standards.“The long-term goal is clearly not to keep on importing stuff. The goal is to create a local market so that local manufacturers can sell their inventions and new products.”Wimmers said he’s been in consultation with several B.C. municipalities and companies about construction of more passive buildings.The end result is all about comfort, Wimmers said.“Imagine you have a power outage. Typical buildings would be almost unlivable in 10 to 12 hours or so. In a Passive House, you just don’t care. You can be there for days and days and days and most likely it is never going to drop below 15 degrees.”— By Terri Theodore in Vancouver
The Fire Centre said that the fire danger rating across much of Northeast B.C. has dropped since last week after the region saw rain and cooler temperatures. Fire Information Officer Amanda Reynolds said that although fire danger ratings have dropped in the region due to recent rainfall and cooler temperatures, the public is strongly encouraged to exercise caution with any outdoor burning or campfire use.Anyone planning to burn a pile larger than two metres high by three metres wide, or conduct a grass burn larger than 0.2 hectares (Category 3 fires), must obtain a burn registration number ahead of time, by calling 1 888 797-1717. A poster explaining the different categories of open burning is available online: http://ow.ly/znny309kJv5Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs. For more information about fire-related fines and penalties, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/wildfirefines PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — The Prince George Fire Centre says that Category 2 fires will once again be permitted this weekend across the entire Fire Centre’s area, including the B.C. Peace Region.Category 2 fires, which consist of fires that are smaller than two metres high and three metres wide, will be allowed as of noon on Saturday, June 2nd. The current prohibition on sky lanterns, burning barrels, binary exploding targets, and fireworks will also be lifted at that time.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article omitted that prior to council considering the proposed zoning amendment bylaw, councillor Trevor Bolin declared himself to be in conflict of interest due to his real estate holdings, and excused himself from the debate and vote.FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A proposed zoning amendment bylaw that would dictate which properties in Fort St. John would be allowed to be home to a cannabis retail location passed first two readings at today’s Council meeting – albeit with some amendments.City planners Ashley Murphy and Renee Jamurat gave a presentation at a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier this afternoon about the proposed bylaw, which would have allowed cannabis retail operations in all properties zoned C2, C3, and C4. Properties located within 200 metres of schools, 100 metres from parks, and 100 metres from other cannabis retail locations would not be permitted to operate a cannabis store. Planner Ashley Murphy and Planning Manager renee Jamurat Presenting the proposed zoning amendment bylaw on cannabis retail locations today. Photo by Chris NewtonIn their report, the planners stated that residents were largely opposed to cannabis retail being located any closer than 200 metres from a school, but were more split on the proposed distance from properties zoned as parks. A slim majority favoured a 200-metre setback from parks, while 48 percent were in favour of a buffer zone of 100 metres or less. “The results indicated that based on a required 200 metre setback from schools, an additional 200 metre setback from parks would prove to limit the number of potential commercial properties that could support such a use to 487, wherein a 200 metre setback from schools coupled with a 100 metre setback from parks would result in 567 commercial properties being potentially able to support such a use, or a difference of 80 properties,” stated Murphy in her report. She added that neither scenario took in to account the additional proposed 100 metre required setback from other cannabis retail locations. Other stakeholders also weighed in, with the RCMP telling the City it preferred cannabis stores be located in the City’s downtown core, while School District #60 said in an email that it preferred cannabis operations to be located on C4 properties – the majority of which are located near the Alaska Highway. When asked, mayor Lori Ackerman stated that the RCMP did not include any reasoning in their preference for cannabis retail to be confined to the downtown core. Prior to the bylaw being brought forward to Council during the regular meeting, councillor Trevor Bolin declared himself to be potentially in conflict of interest due to his real estate holdings, and excused himself from Council Chambers prior to the bylaw being tabled.Mayor Ackerman also said that in speaking with Chamber of Commerce president Nelson Stowe, that he expressed a concern with the proposed setback between individual retail locations. She explained that the reasoning behind Stowe’s opposition was due because the City does not regulate the distance between other retail operations, giving an example of shoe stores.Councillors voted in favour of amending the bylaw to limit cannabis retail locations to zoned C2 downtown commercial properties, and eliminating the minimum distance from other cannabis locations, while keeping the 200 metre setback from schools and 100 metre setback from parks.The City will be holding a public meeting to hear feedback from residents on July 23rd at 6:00 p.m.
Meditation – which is widely believed to be an antidote to mental health issues – may not always be a pleasant experience for everyone, according to scientists who advocate more research into such practices. The research, led by scientists from University College London (UCL) in the UK, found that over a quarter of people who regularly meditate have had a ‘particularly unpleasant’ psychological experience related to the practice, including feelings of fear and distorted emotions. Also Read – The Puja carnivalPublished in the journal PLOS ONE, the study also found those who had attended a meditation retreat, those who only practiced deconstructive types of meditation, such as Vipassana (insight) and Koan practice (used in Zen Buddhism), and those with higher levels of repetitive negative thinking, were more likely to report a ‘particularly unpleasant’ meditation-related experience. However, the study, which comprised an international online survey of 1,232 people who had at least two months’ meditation experience, found female participants and those with a religious belief were less likely to have had a negative experience. Also Read – Wave City brings special offers this Navratra”These findings point to the importance of widening the public and scientific understanding of meditation beyond that of a health-promoting technique,” said Marco Schlosser, a researcher at UCL. “Very little is known about why, when, and how such meditation-related difficulties can occur: more research is now needed to understand the nature of these experiences,” Schlosser said in a statement. “When are unpleasant experiences important elements of meditative development, and when are they merely negative effects to be avoided?” he said. The study, conducted with researchers at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany, and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, was triggered by a limited but growing number of research reports and case studies, which indicate psychologically unpleasant experiences can occur during meditative practice. Some traditional Buddhist texts also reference vivid accounts of similar experiences. However, very little is known about the prevalence of these experiences. Of the 1,232 participants, 25.6 per cent indicated that they had previously encountered particularly unpleasant meditation-related experiences. More male participants, 28.5 per cent, experienced a particularly unpleasant experience, compared to 23 per cent of female participants. About 30.6 per cent of those who did not have a religious belief had a particularly unpleasant experience, compared to 22 per cent of those who had a religious belief. More people, 29.2 per cent, who practised only deconstructive types of meditation reported a particularly unpleasant experience, compared to 20.3 per cent who only engaged in other meditation types. About 29 per cent of those who had been on a meditation retreat (at any point in life) had a particularly unpleasant experience, compared with 19.6 per cent, who had never been on a retreat. “Most research on meditation has focussed on its benefits, however, the range of meditative experiences studied by scientists needs to be expanded. It is important at this point not to draw premature conclusions about the potential negative effects of meditation,” Schlosser said. Researchers acknowledged a number of limitations in the study. The study only asked one question to capture prevalence of particularly unpleasant meditation-related experiences. The data does not provide any indication of the exact type of experiences or their severity and impact. The study did not assess possible pre-existing mental health problems, which could have confounded the prevalence estimate of particularly unpleasant meditation-related experiences.
Like many counterfactuals, this is not an easy question to answer definitively, since having a kicker who is automatic from long range might have all kinds of ripple effects on the game that we can’t really foresee.(Although unlike many counterfactuals, it’s not a completely crazy idea: Thinking about a kicker who can usually nail it from 70 yards seems ridiculous to us now, but NFL kickers have steadily gotten better for at least 80 years, and they haven’t slowed down yet. In the 1960s, kickers made 13 of 129 kicks — 10.1 percent — from 50+ yards. In the past five years alone, NFL kickers have made 422 of 675 such attempts — for 62.5 percent. Since 2010, kickers have even made seven of 31 tries from 60+ yards — 22.5 percent.)If we simply replaced all a kicker’s misses with makes, an “automatic” kicker wouldn’t be worth much more than the worst kicker in the league. There’d be a few salvaged points here and there, but nothing major (kickers these days just don’t miss that often).But the real fun starts when we think about how a team would use a truly “automatic” kicker differently.To simplify the question, let’s assume the kicker makes 100 percent of his kicks instead of 95 percent — he’s “RoboKicker.” Using ESPN’s expected points model, we can identify all situations where a team would definitely want to make a FG attempt on fourth down if it knew it could automatically earn three points. A made kick is actually worth slightly less than that because the kicking team has to give up possession whether it makes the kick or not, but we’ll charitably give it full credit.2The actual value is probably somewhere around 2.6 points, but I think the charitable number is appropriate since the kicker is likely to be at least moderately more valuable strategically. So if a team is in RoboKicker’s range, it should want to attempt a field goal any time it’s fourth down and the expected value of its possession is less than three points. The value it gains from having that option is the difference between the two, and the kicker’s total value added is the sum of all those differences.This plot shows how much RoboKicker would be worth for an average team (since 2006) in expected points added per game, based on his range:This assumes the kicker would be just a normal kicker from longer distances than the one he’s automatic from, though if he was automatic from 50 yards he would probably be pretty good from 60,3Though if he were actually a robot, this may not be the case, as he would probably make about the same kick every time. which would carry additional value. But this is a fair first-order guess.The second wrinkle to @MattGlassman312’s question is its bit about RoboKicker being a No. 1 pick or an MVP. To answer that, we have to start to answer how valuable a No. 1 pick or an MVP is.Let’s use Peyton Manning as our stand-in for “best player in the league,” which helps us to answer at least the spirit of the question. When Manning was injured, the Indianapolis Colts’ average margin of victory dropped by 14.6 points per game (though this may have been in part because they were tanking so that they could draft Andrew Luck). And when Manning joined Denver, the Broncos’ average MOV rose by 17.1 points per game. But let’s assume that those years were outliers and assume that a typical MVP is worth about 10 points per game. To surpass that, RoboKicker would need to be able to hit from around 80 yards. (I confess, this is further out than I would have guessed.) Then, considering that even No. 1 picks have only about a 50 percent to 60 percent shot of ever making a Pro Bowl — much less of being MVP — I’d say being automatic from 50 to 60 yards would probably be sufficient to be worth the top pick in the draft most years.The Hacker Gods read FiveThirtyEight (or just love Andrew Luck)Last week’s games had a few outcomes consistent with this column’s most frequently asserted stereotypes. Most intriguingly, we saw win curve standout and two-time Gunslinger of the Week winner Andrew Luck4He won in Week 1 and again in Week 14 — you don’t remember? digging his own hole by throwing an early pick-6 that put the Colts down 7-0, and then climbing out of it to come back and win against the Houston Texans. This follows a similar Week 14 victory against the Cleveland Browns, when Luck was down 14 points in the second half after an early pick-6 (and a third-quarter fumble-6).If you’ve been reading Skeptical Football, you’ll know I’m generally pro-interception (at least certain kinds) — but as an indirect indicator of taking good risks. Normally, a quarterback will lose the games in which he throws interceptions. But so far in his young career, it seems like Luck has an uncanny talent for winning and throwing INTs in the same game. So, naturally, that got me wondering how these results compare to Peyton Manning’s and those of all other quarterbacks (since 2006):Luck shows a similar propensity for winning as his predecessor in Indianapolis, regardless of scenario. But the big caveat is that interceptions are often a function of losing as well as a cause of it. Generally this is because QBs make rational risk adjustments that lead to more interceptions when they’re behind.5There is also a smaller opposite effect, which is that QBs sometimes throw slightly more interceptions than expected in games they’re winning by wide margins, presumably because teams start playing a basic offensive set in blowouts rather than taking the extraordinary risk-avoidance measures they do to protect smaller leads. (Weird things happen in the NFL.) So to isolate the situations we’re most interested in, I limited the comparison to the number of interceptions thrown while the QB’s team was trailing (including only games in which the QB’s team trailed at some point):This is, of course, a small sample for Luck: He has two wins in the six games in which he threw two trailing INTs, and two wins in the five games he threw three. But those four wins in 11 games (36.4 percent success rate) are already more than Manning. Since 2006, Manning has just three wins in 24 games (12.5 percent) in which he threw two or more trailing interceptions, and all QBs since 2006 have only 56 wins in 1,025 such games (5.5 percent).Naturally, this relates back to my gunslinger hypothesis (that a quarterback can throw too few interceptions as well as too many). Andrew Luck is an example of someone who throws more interceptions than usual when his team is down, but wins more often. Overall, Luck has thrown one or more INT in 55.9 percent of games (19 of 34) in which he trailed and has won 52.9 percent of them (18 of 34). Other QBs have thrown one or more INT in 49.3 percent of games where they trailed, winning only 42.3 percent.You can continue like this for more drastic circumstances (more likely to require heavy risk-taking): Of the 19 games where Luck threw 1+ trailing INT, he threw 2+ in 57.9 percent (11 of 19) and won 36.8 percent (7 of 19). Other QBs have thrown an additional INT in 38.0 percent of such games and won only 16.3 percent (439 of 2,697).6And, if you need more: Of the 11 games in which Luck threw 2+ trailing INTs, he threw 3+ in 45.5 percent (5 of 11) and won 36.4 percent (4 of 11). Other QBs threw an additional INT in 30.3 percent of such games, and won only 5.5 percent.In other words, Andrew Luck is to gunslinging what Aaron Rodgers is to gunholstering.7However, for all that sound and fury about Luck, the actual Week 15 gunslinger winner was Mark Sanchez, who had two trailing interceptions for Philadelphia (in the third and fourth quarters), yet managed to take the lead (albeit briefly) in a game where the Eagles once trailed 21-0.Bonus chart of the weekAfter making the “team movement between 2013 and 2014” chart earlier, I thought it would be interesting to see how each team’s offensive and defensive performance has varied over the past five years. For this chart, I plotted expected points added per drive on offense and expected points denied per drive on defense for each of the last five years, and then connected them so you can see how each team has changed. Some teams have much tighter “shot groups” (Cleveland, New England) than others (Chicago, New York Giants), but I’ll leave you to look for yourself:Reminder: If you tweet questions to me @skepticalsports, there is a non-zero chance that I’ll answer them here.Charts by Reuben Fischer-Baum. There’s a bit of a schism in sports fandom. On one side there are those who want more and more statistical analysis (Hi, everybody!); on the other there are those who think stats are overused and blanch at how sabermetrics and analytics have changed what it means to be a good fan.But I have a theory about this latter group: In general, they’re not really anti-stats. Virtually every argument about sports on TV or online is made using stats of one sort or another.1My wife, who is not a sports fan herself, describes “Pardon The Interruption” as “a bunch of guys shouting numbers at each other until a bell rings.” A typical exchange between talking heads includes one guy emphasizing one set of stats (“He throws a lot of touchdowns!”), which is then countered by another (“But he throws too many interceptions!”). Almost no sports fans are truly anti-stats, they’re just anti-complicated, hard-to-understand stats.And to some extent, they’re right. Over-reliance on advanced metrics can lose the forest for the trees, and vice versa. But, ideally, good stats aren’t meant to eradicate classic storylines or debates, but to lend context to them (and hopefully to shed new light on difficult questions along the way). As usual, let me illustrate with an example using Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.The Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers each played the Buffalo Bills in Weeks 14 and 15 of this season, respectively. In both games, the MVP-candidate QBs “struggled” statistically. This shouldn’t be a total surprise: Despite having games against Manning, Rodgers and Tom Brady, Buffalo has had arguably the best defense in the NFL this year (judging by expected points denied per play).But Rodgers’s and Manning’s stats seemed particularly bad. Each threw two interceptions, no TDs and fewer than 200 yards. Manning’s 51-game TD streak ended, and Rodgers threw just his fourth and fifth INTs of the season.The media wasn’t kind to either quarterback, but much of it was particularly brutal to Manning. Here’s the Colorado NBC affiliate: “Denver wins despite Manning’s worst game as a Bronco.” Meanwhile, a number of stories about Green Bay’s loss emphasized Rodgers’s lack of interceptions this year or the fact that his receivers dropped or tipped some key passes.But not all no-TD, two-INT, 180-yard games are created equal. For example, Manning’s two interceptions were pretty “good” as far as interceptions go: the first was 42 yards downfield (which is practically a punt), and the other was 18 yards downfield on a third-and-12 — with the Broncos up 21-3. In general, it’s a bad idea to judge a QB who throws a small number of passes in a game his team led wire to wire.Besides, touchdowns and interceptions can be fickle: For example, sometimes a significant part of QB efficiency can be accounted for by whether his team likes to run or pass on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. But a QB often has just as much of an effect on his team’s ability to run the ball as he does on its ability to throw it. (If all teams played optimally, game theory suggests he should affect them about equally, because opposing defenses should adapt to a stronger passing game by devoting more resources to it.)With some exceptions, it generally makes more sense to judge a QB by the outcomes of his team’s offensive drives. From this perspective, the difference between Manning vs. Buffalo and Rodgers vs. Buffalo was pretty stark. Here are the outcomes of each player’s drives by situation:Denver started out its game against Buffalo with a punt, then scored TDs on three of its next five drives (also, one of those drives ended in field goal range after Jacob Tamme fumbled a completed catch). Up 18 points in the second half, its offense stalled, particularly as it attempted to run more. But even counting those possessions, 10 (non-end-of-game) drives were turned into three TDs and one field goal. This may have been a bit of an off day for Peyton Manning, but that’s a good day for most QBs. Denver’s 2.18 points per drive was only slightly below its season average of 2.33, and was better than 24 teams have averaged in 2014. Green Bay’s offense, on the other hand, started out cold (punting on three of its first four drives), and basically stayed that way — ultimately scoring only 13 points on 13 drives.The point here isn’t to knock Rodgers or Green Bay. The Rodgers-led offense still leads the league with 2.7 points per drive this year, and with his TD/INT ratio (so beloved by media everywhere) still a league-best 7/1, Rodgers is still probably the MVP frontrunner. But we should understand the limitations of first-order stats that people are shouting about, and how they can be deceptive. What context do they include, and what do they ignore?Chart of the weekThe Seattle Seahawks’ defense has its own deceptive stats. The defending champions are in an odd spot. If the playoffs started today, the 10-4 Seahawks would play a wildcard game on the road against the 6-8 New Orleans Saints. And depending how the next two weeks go, they could easily end up as the top seed in the NFC, or out of the playoffs entirely.Two weeks ago, I introduced some “scoring curves,” and showed how Seattle’s defense (with the team 8-4 at the time) flirted with league average in many situations (such as when its opponent has a long way to go for a touchdown). Many readers expressed skepticism, particularly because Seattle has the best defense in the NFL by the old “yards allowed” metric, and is among the league leaders in points allowed per game (as well as yards per play against).I partially agree: I find it very unlikely that Seattle’s defense is average or below average. And I’m tempted to go further and say that it’s unlikely this defense is much worse than last year’s squad. But the stats show the defense has had a pretty huge regression to the mean in measurable defensive outcomes.To show just how much these kinds of things vary from season to season, I’ve plotted each team’s expected points allowed per play on offense vs. expected points allowed per play on defense, and then shown how this year’s iterations compare with last year’s:Seattle has had a pretty big decline on the defensive side, but this is to be expected: Last year’s results were a big outlier, and outliers are more likely to regress toward the mean. For example, Denver’s incredible 2013 offense declined similarly. Both remain among the top tier of teams for each respective side, but are much closer to the pack than they were last year.Once again, the context here is important, and this time for either side of the advanced-stats debate: Simply looking at basic defensive stats and saying that everything is fine with the Seahawks’ D misses a dramatic decline. But simply looking at the magnitude of the decline without considering the context would overvalue its importance.Twitter question of the week
Oh, and don’t forgetA UNC player lost a video game an broke his hand, as your Duke fan friend probably already texted to you. Things That Caught My EyeThe Most Improved Player has really improvedWith an average of 36.8 points in the first four games of the season, Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks sure as heck looks like an MVP contender this year. The kid is only 22 years old and is hot off last year’s Most Improved Player award. [FiveThirtyEight]They say there are Angelenos still sitting in post-game traffic to this very dayIt was an 11-inning absurdity Wednesday night in L.A., with a win probabilty chart that causes bona fide whiplash just looking at it. Houston notched their first-ever franchise World Series win in what will go down as an ultimate case study in both why the east coast hates extra innings and also how to perfectly mismanage a bullpen: The Dodgers used nine pitchers in Game 2 after pulling Rich Hill despite throwing just four excellent innings. [FiveThirtyEight]Irish not in control of own destiny, per usualNotre Dame is 6-1 this year, but despite that record and the strong chance that a one-loss team will make the College Football Playoff, they’re still only an 11 percent chance to make the postseason. Indeed, even if they win out — they have a 21 percent chance of doing so — their destiny is still in the hands of others since they won’t have a conference title to bring up in their bid to get in over other one-loss teams. [FiveThirtyEight]32nd time is the charmPenn State (No. 2) faces Ohio (No. 6) this weekend in what will be the biggest Big Ten game of the entire year. It’s a pretty solid rivalry: They’ve played 31 times in the AP ranking era, and 30 of those times one of the two teams was ranked. FiveThirtyEight has Ohio State as the favorite here, with a 61 percent chance to win in Columbus. An Ohio State win would decimate Penn State’s chances of winning the conference and more than halve their chances of making the playoff. A Penn State win, probabilistically speaking, basically ends Ohio State’s season and gives the Nittany Lions a 69 percent chance of making the playoffs. [ESPN, FiveThirtyEight]Golden Knights: pretty good!The Vegas Golden Knights are off to a terrific start, sitting atop the Western Conference at 6-1. By all appearances, Vegas has some of the best talent of any expansion team in NHL history back 1991. The average expansion team since then has put up 57 points in its first season, which is awful: Only four normal teams in the past four seasons did that. [FiveThirtyEight]The return of the kingRoberto Aguayo is a kicker who was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft by the Bucs. Read that sentence again. Kicker, second round, Bucs. Remember that insanity? Anyway, his NFL debut was not up to second-round drafted Bucs kicker standards apparently and he was cut on national television in a preseason game. Well he’s back, and with no more ridiculous expectations to live up to on the Panthers’ practice squad. I see a winner there. [NFL.com]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!Big Number8 home runsIn a new World Series record, there were eight home runs in Game 2. “Obviously, the balls are juiced,” said Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, and most stats nerds everywhere and also anyone with eyes. [CBS Sports, FiveThirtyEight, FiveThirtyEight, The Ringer, FiveThirtyEight, Seriously there’s a lot of evidence for this on FiveThirtyEight]Leaks from Slack: emily:women’s hockey Canada v USA is in boston tonight at BU with a great crowd 🏒 🏒 🏒daniel.levitt:you should really help me write a hockey story as I know v. little. We could maybe do one about the #goleafsgoemily:also Canada won! both teams getting in their groove for the olympics, USA took the first game of what could be 8 games between the two (if you consider 2 possible Four Nations tournament games on top of 6 The Time Is Now tour friendlys), announcers were mentioning some stats of just how many times the two have met and how often they’ve been in Worlds/Olympics finals together. Wonder where they fall on the Big Rivalry list.daniel.levittSo Emily’s writing and editing? Sounds good.emily:(also small hockey update: I did make http://isadammcquaidhealthy.com/)[Check out IsAdamMcQuaidHealthy.com for all your “Is Adam McQuaid healthy?” questions!]Predictions MLB NFL See more MLB predictions See more NFL predictions All newsletters We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe
On any given week during peak soccer season, FiveThirtyEight offers projections for dozens of club soccer matches across the globe. The sheer volume of matches taking place this time of year can be paralyzing. With that in mind, we’ve added a feature to our club soccer predictions that rates upcoming matches on their quality and importance. You can use this page to pick a few good ones to be sure not to miss.This week’s biggest match — rated an overall 96 out of 100 — is today’s Champions League round of 16 first leg between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. This is a bit of a no-brainer — it features Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo leading the second- and third-best teams in the world against each other in a high-stakes clash. But there are some other good matches to watch: Borussia Dortmund and Atalanta — two of the best eight remaining teams in the Europa League — play each other on Thursday in the round of 32. If we dig deeper, Empoli and Parma — two teams fighting for promotion and the league title at the top of a very tight Italian Serie B — play each other Saturday. And Manchester United plays Chelsea on Feb. 25 in the Premier League in what is a pivotal match for Champions League qualification. Here’s how we calculate our match ratings:Quality is simply a measure of how good the teams are. Specifically, it’s the harmonic mean of the two teams’ Soccer Power Index ratings. (We’re using the harmonic mean instead of merely averaging the two ratings because in lopsided matches it limits the impact of very high or low ratings, resulting in a more balanced number.) Because every team has an SPI rating between 0 and 100, our match quality stat also ranges from 0 to 100.Importance is a measure of how much the outcome of the match will affect our forecast for how likely the two teams are to win the league, or be relegated or promoted, among other things. To calculate it, we generate probabilities conditional on each team winning the match and then find the difference between those two possible numbers.We consider different factors depending on which league the match is being played in. For some leagues, our forecasts cover winning the league and qualifying for the Champions League, for example.We take a weighted average of the change in each applicable factor and scale the result to between 0 and 100. All leagues are treated equally when calculating importance, so a match to decide the winner of the Swedish Allsvenskan would rate just as high as a match to decide the winner of the English Premier League.The overall match rating is just the average of quality and importance.Visit our club soccer predictions to explore the ratings of all the upcoming matches yourself.