Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? 6 shining 6 Berahino hits back at b******t Johnson criticism – ‘I was in a dark place at Stoke’ MONEY Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars 9. Jonas Aguirre (Belgrano de Cordoba) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 68)8. Rashad Muhammed (Sarpsborg) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 61)7. Kekuta Manneh (St Gallen) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 69)6. Douglas Costa (Juventus) – Pace = 95 (Overall rating = 76)5. Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) – Pace = 95 (Overall rating = 88) Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move REVEALED 6 6 Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions huge blow 1. Adama Traore (Wolves) – Pace = 96 (Overall rating = 75) REPLY Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card no dice 12. Ryan Fredericks (West Ham) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 73)11. Alex Kiwomya (Doncaster Rovers) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 62)10. Jonathan Biabiany (Parma) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 74) Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury RANKED Latest Football News Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Gareth Bale, and Kylian Mbappe are among the fastest players in FIFA 19. Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade 6 ADVICE 20. Ilhas Bebou (Hannover 96) – Pace = 93 (Overall rating = 76)19. Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 83)18. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 87) But who the fastest players are in the game, made by EA Sports, who can help you beast opponents into submission?Thankfully, we’re here to help, so you can see the top 20 fastest players in FIFA 19 below. BEST OF If you’re playing FIFA 19, you will know all too well that pace matters.It really shouldn’t but if you have player who can speed past opponents you can get yourself a couple of goals up before they tire out. 4. Leroy Sane (Manchester City) – Pace = 95 (Overall rating = 86)3. Jurgen Damm (Tigres) – Pace = 95 (Overall rating = 75)2. Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) – Pace = 96 (Overall rating = 87) 6 Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade 17. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 86)16. Gelson Martins (Atletico Madrid) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 82)15. Thievy Bifouma (Ankaragucu) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 75)14. Tom Barkhuizen (Preston) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 71)13. Luis Advincula (Rayo Vallecano) – Pace = 94 (Overall rating = 74) REVEALED
Resilient Design: Water in a Drought-Prone EraIn the West, Drought Ends ‘Era of the Lawn’A New Strategy for Drought-Stressed CitiesFloating Solar: A Win-Win for Drought-Stricken Lakes The future is unknownLonger-term, a changing climate may well add to Cape Town’s water pressures.“The models agree that Cape Town will become hotter over the next century,” says Peter Johnston of the University of Cape Town’s Climate Systems Analysis Group. “Most of the models — but not all — predict that it will become drier, too.” Increasing the city’s water resilience will mean expanding supplies from sources like desalination plants that are not as influenced by the vagaries of rainfall as the current dams. But these are expensive and energy-intensive, and residents will pay more, perhaps significantly more, for water.The government will have to roll out new infrastructure amid considerable uncertainty about rainfall in the coming years, running the risk of over- or under-spending. Willem Landman of the University of Pretoria says that meteorologists “can make a reliable weather forecast that works for five days” and climate scientists “can model the average climate conditions a hundred years from now with a great degree of confidence. But decadal predictions? Forget about it. We don’t know how to set the models up. We can’t say what the rainfall is going to be 10 years from now.”The question of whether Cape Town has moved into a new, climate-changed, normal, with more frequent droughts, is not easy to answer. “We’re out of the envelope of certainty,” says Christine Colvin. “Cape Town is not special. Many other cities will face these challenges in coming years.” RELATED ARTICLES Circumstances are considered very rareThe southwestern part of South Africa has a Mediterranean climate much like the central coast of California, with hot, dry summers and cool, rainy winters (June through August.) The winter rains fill the six large dams around the city that form the core of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS), which services the vast majority of the city’s residential and industrial water users, as well as farming areas and smaller towns nearby.The winter rains are generally very reliable. Using historical rainfall data, Piotr Wolski of the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town has determined that a multi-year drought as severe as the current one would only be expected once every few hundred years, perhaps less than once in a millennium.The Theewaterskloof dam, Cape Town’s main water supply with a capacity of nearly 17 billion cubic feet. In late February, its reservoir’s level fell to 11%. (Photo: 6000.co.za via Flickr)The ongoing drought in the catchments of the WCWSS dams, he writes, “is indeed very, very rare, and thus very, very severe.” The historical rainfall record indicates that, having had two poor rainfall years in a row (2015 and 2016), the chances of a third bad year — especially one as bad as 2017 — were extremely remote.In addition to historical data pointing to the extremely low likelihood of 2017’s winter being dry, the South African Weather Service modeled a three-month seasonal forecast for the winter of 2017 that predicted higher than average rainfall. Notwithstanding that seasonal rainfall forecasts for the Cape region are notoriously unreliable, it appears that officials were left feeling less urgency to impose hugely unpopular water restrictions or push forward with expensive water infrastructure projects early in the year.Experts have long warned that Cape Town would find itself in a water crisis caused by converging drought, population growth, and the failure to secure new water resources. But because of uncertainties in water consumption rates and in weather and climate prediction, it’s been hard to fix a date.“Water security has always been seen as ‘important’ in Cape Town, but until recently it has not been seen as ‘urgent,’” says Christine Colvin, head of freshwater programs with WWF-South Africa. “We have an HIV/AIDS epidemic, an education crisis, massive unemployment — these are understandably ‘urgent’ to politicians and have competed successfully for attention and funding. Add to this South Africa’s fractured government institutions, corruption, and the fact that the national government is responsible for bulk water infrastructure like dams, but municipalities are responsible for water distribution and demand management, and you have a recipe for inaction on major water projects.”In addition, Colvin says, the City of Cape Town raises significant revenue from water sales to residents, so it has never seriously incentivized individuals to conserve. How did Cape Town get in this jam?Cape Town’s predicament provides a global warning about the difficulty of ensuring water resilience in a warming world, even if, as with Cape Town, climate change is firmly on the agenda of city managers. Most climate models predict that the Cape Town region will become not only warmer, but drier, which bodes ill for a metropolitan area whose population has roughly doubled to 4 million in the past three decades and continues to grow at 1% to 2% annually.And Cape Town’s rushed efforts to boost water supply by tapping into aquifers, including some in national parks and provincial nature reserves, are damaging valuable ecosystems and putting rare species at risk of extinction. The agricultural sector, including the Cape region’s world-renowned wine industry, has been forced to sharply cut back on irrigation, which is reducing production and leaving tens of thousands of people out of work.So how did Cape Town, one of the best-managed and wealthiest cities in Africa, find itself on the brink of running dry? The city has, after all, won awards for its work on climate change. South Africa has some of the world’s most detailed, progressive water laws and deep expertise in water science and management, climate science, and meteorology. The city has mapped projected sea level rise and convened countless climate change adaptation planning sessions. Last year, Cape Town’s mayor said, “We cannot plan anything without factoring in the impact of climate change.”A simple (and perhaps simplistic) answer to the cause of the current crisis is that rainfall was well below average for three years in a row, that no one could have or did predict that, and thus serious action to reduce water consumption — which should have begun in 2016 — came too late. The crisis has exposed significant weaknesses in scientists’ ability to forecast weather on a seasonal scale, which is when it matters to city managers and farmers, and predict rainfall on an annual or decadal scale, which is when it matters to developers of large-scale infrastructure, such as raising dam heights and building desalination plants. Backed by the iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa’s second-largest metropolis, seduces increasing numbers of international travelers. Its charismatic neighborhoods, bright beaches, and breathtaking natural landscapes garner shelves-full of tourism awards and terabytes of glowing Instagram posts.Recently, Cape Town also has become infamous as the home of “Day Zero,” the day when most of the city’s taps are predicted to run dry. With its major, rain-fed supply dams dangerously low after three years of drought, most of the city’s 4 million-plus residents — some rich, many desperately poor — have been facing the prospect of lining up at emergency water distribution points to collect a daily ration of just 6.6 gallons per person sometime before June or July. That’s when winter rains normally begin filling the reservoirs of this Southern Hemisphere city.Now, largely thanks to radical conservation efforts — in January, the average Cape Town resident’s daily water quota was just one-third the amount used by the typical Californian at the height of that state’s 2016 drought — the city has reduced water consumption by 57%. Day Zero has been pushed back to July 9. And if the citizens of Cape Town (myself among them) continue to save as we have been, we should make it to the winter rainy season without having to line up for water. Rare plants abound, pressure for new wells intenseCape Town is situated in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, a distinct area of extraordinary biological diversity that contains 9,500 species of plants, about 70 percent of which are endemic. The Cape Floristic Region’s dominant vegetation type, popularly known as fynbos, contains many noteworthy species that are descended from ancient lineages. “These plants are like the Mona Lisas, the Rembrandts of the botanical world,” says William Bond, a botanist at the University of Cape Town.Many of these plants are also dependent on seeps — permanently wet areas where underground aquifers naturally spill out on to the surface. Some are so rare that they only occupy single, tiny sites. “Drilling a single borehole in the wrong place could cause the extinction of a species,” says Bond.Lampranthus schlechteri, a rare, native plant species found in the Wemmershoek Vlei wetland, which was recently damaged by efforts to drill for groundwater.It may already be too late for the Wemmershoek Erica (Erica bakeri), a diminutive heath-like plant with tiny pale-pink, bell-shaped flowers. About two weeks ago, the rushed construction of a water borehole and a pipeline trench commissioned by the municipality of Stellenbosch severely damaged a wetland in a conservation area. The wetland is the last known habitat for the Wemmershoek Erica, and one of the last known habitats for other critically endangered plants. “Goodbye… How many thoughtless flushes were you worth?” tweeted Cape Town ecologist Jasper Slingsby.Notwithstanding the environmental impacts, there is enormous political pressure to proceed with borehole drilling. Biologists with the provincial nature conservation agency, CapeNature, have been forbidden to speak to the media. Nonetheless, documentation of environmental harm is leaking out: a spill of drilling mud that fouled a long section of a pristine river; maps showing more than 200 planned borehole sites in ecologically sensitive areas; and consultants’ reports showing drilling foam and toxic pump-test water spilling into nature reserves.“We shouldn’t go blundering into these natural areas, but now it’s like the drillers have a blank check to do that,” says Bond.Slingsby worries that once the boreholes are drilled, it will be politically difficult to turn them off, even if they dry up fragile wetland ecosystems. “I don’t know of any place that has given up water sources like that,” he says. Aggressive action came last yearBut as the magnitude of the growing water shortage became clear last year, Cape Town officials responded with an aggressive conservation campaign. Last June, all use of municipal water outside the home was banned, meaning no car washing or garden irrigation. In September, residents were limited to 23 gallons per person per day for all uses (washing, drinking, and toilet-flushing included) and at the beginning of February this year, the daily personal quota was reduced to a mere 13 gallons. Water pressure has been reduced across the city, slowing the flow from residents’ taps. And the municipality has installed tens of thousands of water-restriction devices on high-use households and has sharply increased punitive water tariffs for heavy users.As a result of these and other measures, the city’s water consumption has fallen from 317 million gallons per day in early 2015 to about 137 million gallons per day. Day Zero has been pushed back from April 12 to July 9.Cape Town is now scrambling to augment its rain-fed dams with other sources, mindful that a further year of drought is not impossible. Government has identified various options, including desalinating seawater, reclaiming wastewater (i.e. purifying sewage, as is successfully done in some other cities), and tapping underground aquifers. But desalination plants are expensive to build and operate, wastewater treatment plants are time-consuming to construct, and so the city has prioritized the hasty drilling of dozens of boreholes. Many of the drilling sites are in protected areas that are government-owned, which simplifies access.Drilling boreholes and constructing pipelines, especially in conservation areas, would usually require environmental impact assessments and detailed environmental management plans. Because of the drought emergency, however, the provincial government has significantly relaxed these requirements, to the increasing concern of biologists and conservationists. This post originally appeared at Yale Environment 360. Impact in agrarian areas under-reportedAlmost all the Cape Town drought media coverage has focused on the city itself. Few reporters have paid attention to the rural areas around it, enormous acreages of which are covered in economically valuable vineyards, olive groves, and fruit orchards that require irrigation from the same six large dams and associated pipelines that sustain Cape Town. Farmers in the region have had their water allowance cut 60% to 87%, meaning that almost all irrigation was halted on February 1, even as many trees still carried fruit.The Western Cape provincial government has estimated that 50,000 agricultural jobs will be lost this year, mostly among seasonal fruit-pickers, leading to about 260,000 people requiring poverty-relief assistance. Most of South Africa’s wheat is grown near Cape Town, and many wheat farmers will not harvest a crop this season. Agri Western Cape, a farmers’ union, says that farmers around Cape Town have lost about $1.2 billion due to the drought. Twenty-two percent of the sheep in the region have been culled because of a lack of fodder.Francois Viljoen of Vinpro, an organization representing vine-growers and winemakers, estimates an overall harvest reduction of 15% to 25% this year. Even if good rains fall in winter, “we will see a carryover effect next growing season, with reduced yields, because the vines have not been able to build up reserves during the drought.” Because of smaller harvests, seasonal fruit-pickers will again have reduced income, with significant effects on poor rural communities.No one can say how long Cape Town’s water crisis will last. Even if good rains fall this winter, tight use restrictions will likely remain in place indefinitely; the dams have been drawn down so far that it may take years to refill them, and water augmentation projects may take years to scale up. So, disaster averted? Nothing to see here anymore? Far from it. The city’s efforts on the supply side of the water equation have been far less successful than its work on consumption. Even if the drought comes to an end in 2018 — and few experts are willing to predict that — the effects of this water crisis will be felt for years, possibly decades. Adam Welz is a South African writer, photographer and filmmaker based in Cape Town. He writes about international and African wildlife issues for Yale Environment 360.
Touch Football Australia (TFA) in partnership with the New South Wales Touch Association (NSWTA) are proud to announce that the upcoming Trans Tasman between Australia and New Zealand will be conducted in Wollongong, New South Wales. TFA in conjunction with the assistance of the New South Wales Touch Association (NSWTA) will conduct the event at North Dalton Park. In what is an exciting opportunity for the parties to work together the NSWTA has also announced the location as the venue for the Under 14 and 16 Regional Championships to run in conjunction with the Trans Tasman. This allows for the sports elite to be showcased in front of the states best youth players. The NSWTA will be looking to extend the opportunity for attendance at this event to various developing States therefore expanding the opportunity for the young players of Australia to view what is the pinnacle of the representative pathway. The Trans Tasman will be conducted from the 24-26 of April 2009 with the NSWTA 14/16 Regional Championships held on 25-26 of April. This ensures the Trans Tasman will be integrated into the NSWTA Regional youth competition to ensure maximum exposure. The format will be agreed upon by TFA and Touch New Zealand in the near future and this is also the recommencement of regular competition between the traditional rivals which was announced earlier this year. This event will be contested in the three Open Divisions in a Three Test Match format. It is currently envisaged that in order to ensure the success of the joint initiative that one game will be played each day in each division. TFA and TNZ will play a return leg in New Zealand in November 2009. TFA and TNZ will be covering off on a Heads of Agreement (HOA) in the near future and NSWTA will be consulted fully on the process to ensure the 14/16 Regional Championships requirements are considered. Further to this TFA and the NSWTA will develop a HOA on the relationship for delivery of the event. This will ensure the mutual needs are met. TFA and the NSWTA will be making joint media releases in the near future to outline the significance of the event. Both parties are pleased to be working on what will be a showcase for the sport. All parties will work through the specific requirements early in 2009. The opportunity to conduct the event in this region is recognition of the fine work conducted both within the affiliated infrastructure and in hosting events. It is the belief of both TFA and the NSWTA that this will showcase one of the benefits of affiliation within the area.
ESPN national recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton may be in a bit of hot water after making an incredibly embarrassing mistake Wednesday afternoon. Hamilton, attempting to tweet out a link with video highlights of four-star linebacker recruit Roquan Smith, instead included a link to a PornHub video. He quickly deleted the post and replaced it with the correct link, but the damage was already done – numerous users screenshotted the transgression and began circulating it.Hey @Kmarkobarstool That link is NOT Roquan Smiths highlight tape FYI pic.twitter.com/cyJBEDyxmB— ElOsoBlanco (@BSElOsoBlanco) January 21, 2015The only saving grace? The link didn’t include any kind of clue as to what the video actually contained. Still, Hamilton is bound to hear about this from those higher up.
If the Ole Miss Rebels are going to return to form in 2015, they’re going to need all of their star players to get healthy by September. Luckily, it looks like both wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche are ahead of schedule in recovering from broken ankle injuries this past season. Treadwell posted a video of the duo doing sprints this past weekend. They both look to be moving pretty well, all things considered.Ole Miss made some serious noise in the SEC West this year before injuries eventually derailed their dreams of a historic season. Perhaps they’ll be a force to reckon with again in 2015.
The mandate of the Compensation Committee is to investigate and determine claims for compensation, loss and damage to properties and to determine the compensation payable to injured persons and to the personal representatives of deceased persons in respect to the events of May 2010. Story Highlights Senator Ruel Reid said the additional time is necessary, given the volume of work to be completed. The West Kingston Incursion Victim Compensation Committee has been given a one-month extension to complete its work. The West Kingston Incursion Victim Compensation Committee has been given a one-month extension to complete its work.Making the disclosure at yesterday’s (September 13) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said Cabinet has approved payment of a balance of $23.9 million to the Chairman and Commissioners of the Committee.Senator Reid said the additional time is necessary, given the volume of work to be completed.The Committee, which is Chaired by Hon. Justice Seymour Panton, is looking into issues of compensation for the estate of persons who were killed, detained or suffered loss and damage to property during the May 2010 West Kingston upheaval.The establishment of the Committee was one of the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry Report.The mandate of the Compensation Committee is to investigate and determine claims for compensation, loss and damage to properties and to determine the compensation payable to injured persons and to the personal representatives of deceased persons in respect to the events of May 2010.Other members of the committee are Ministers of Religion, the Reverends Rennard White and Herro Blair Jr. Carlene Larmond, an attorney experienced in litigation, serves as Legal Advisor to the Committee.
The Chicago Blackhawks are up 1-0 in the Western Conference finals going into Game 2 against the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night, thanks in part to the outstanding performance of their goaltender, Corey Crawford.The notion that the NHL playoffs are about which goalie catches fire at the right time has been repeated to the point of cliché. But that doesn’t make it untrue. As I wrote at the beginning of this year’s playoffs, save percentage is more important than shots per game, shooting percentage or shots allowed. Strong play in net may be highly unpredictable in the sense that we don’t really know which goalie is going to rattle off a dominant run, but it’s also hugely important for a team seeking to hoist the Stanley Cup.We can measure how “hot” an NHL goalie has been in the playoffs by comparing his postseason performance (measured by save percentage) to what we would have expected from his previous statistics and the strength of the teams he’s faced. To approximate a goalie’s current talent level, I modified baseball’s Marcel projection system to predict hockey goaltending save percentages. I used a weighted average of the goalie’s previous three regular seasons, with a little regression to the mean incorporated as well. Then, using Hockey-Reference.com data on playoff games going back to 1988, I plugged the goalie’s talent level and the regular-season shooting percentages of the teams he faced during the playoffs into a formula attempting to predict how well he would play in a given playoff game.The difference between this expected performance and the goalie’s actual performance is “hotness” quantified, and we can even convert that number into a goals saved above replacement (GAR) figure using the league average save percentage within a given postseason.This year, a couple of goaltenders have emerged as the clear-cut top candidates for the title of “hottest of the playoffs.”The Blackhawks’ Crawford has delivered about 8.6 more GAR than expected. He’s posted a .933 save percentage; we would have predicted a mark of .912. His save percentage was only a little bit better than average during the regular season, and while his current foes, the Los Angeles Kings, shot poorly during the regular season, Chicago’s prior playoff adversaries, the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues, were both above-average shooting teams.Also vying for the title is the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who has produced 8.4 more GAR than expected during these playoffs. Lundqvist’s previous record suggested he’d be very good in the postseason, but he’s gone up against a tough slate of accurately shooting teams. The Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers both shot the puck well in the regular season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were the fifth-best shooting team in the NHL. Against all of them, Lundqvist has a .934 save percentage, compared to an expected .915.The goaltenders for the other two of hockey’s final four teams haven’t been quite as hot. Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens has contributed only 2.3 more GAR than expected, putting up a .919 save percentage against an expectation of .913. And he’s out for the remainder of Montreal’s series against the Rangers with an injury. Price’s backups, Dustin Tokarski and Peter Budaj, have collectively put up 5.1 fewer GAR than expected, thanks to a combined save percentage (.836) about 84 percentage points lower than we would have predicted. In the Western Conference, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has essentially played right to expectation with a .912 save percentage. That’s been good enough for the Kings to get the job done (if barely), but it won’t win him any hot goaltending awards.It bears repeating, though, that all of this is retrospective. Crawford and Lundqvist have been outstanding so far, but there’s a fickle corollary to the hot goalie theory: Today’s hot goalie isn’t guaranteed to be a success tomorrow.
TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… Twins15108379+2036152 Team ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: Los Angeles Angels. The Angels have been stuck behind somebody in this division for most of Mike Trout’s stellar career, whether it be the Rangers and A’s early on or the Astros most recently. This season is supposed to be the start of something different, from the signing of Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani (more on him later) to other solid, under-the-radar pickups such as Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart. Still, the forecast systems aren’t totally sure what to make of the Halos yet, penciling them in for win totals between the upper 70s and mid-80s. The best-case scenarios there probably won’t be enough to run down the Astros, but they might just be enough to snag the Angels a wild-card berth.Rebuild alert: Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers. Billion-Dollar Billy Beane and the Athletics have been rebuilding ever since going for broke (and coming up short) in the 2014 season. That probably won’t change this year, even though Oakland’s farm system is improving and showed some signs of life at the MLB level last season. Perhaps more interesting is the question of whether Texas will also commit to resetting things this season. If you squint, you can see the potential for a bounce-back Rangers season behind an overhauled pitching staff; easier to see, though, is the potential for another frustrating summer in Arlington.Player to watch: Mike Trout, Angels. I wanted to choose someone else here, I really did. But Trout is still the “player to watch” among any group of players you might ponder watching. Sadly, after last season’s campaign was limited by injury, he is no longer able to say he was the best player (by WAR) for any age at which he played a full season. (Ty Cobb finally got his revenge!) But Trout played so well when he was healthy that he may be primed for a comeback season for the ages. (Note: He was still the fifth-best player in baseball last season despite missing about 50 games.) Keeping tabs on Trout and his statistical feats is a duty — and joy — that falls on the shoulders of every baseball fan.Biggest enigma: Shohei Ohtani, Angels. Ohtani came to the U.S. with immense expectations, and it would be unrealistic to expect him to deliver an instant payoff — particularly as the first legitimate hitter/pitcher in decades. All rookies need time to adjust, especially one who’s in a new country, facing a completely different style of opponent. That said, Ohtani has been unable to pitch or hit effectively this spring. His numbers have been so poor that analysts are wondering if he should make the team. Even that is a testament to his talent — who else’s spring stats are getting this much scrutiny? — but it also might make Ohtani the most uncertain player in the major leagues this season.Read our National League preview, and check out our latest MLB predictions. It’s opening week in the major leagues, and that means it’s time to catch up on what’s been happening in baseball over this very odd offseason — and time to look forward to the season ahead. To do that, we’ve enlisted the help of our preseason forecasting model (publishing Wednesday), which assesses every team and offers a projection for their 2018 campaign. I’ve also gone through and highlighted the most interesting teams and players to watch during the year, as well as the ones about which we just don’t have any clue. (¯\_(ツ)_/¯) Play ball! Orioles14757290-8493<1 Athletics14907686-47166<1 Yankees15659567+12574%48%10% How Elo is forecasting the AL East race Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… AL CentralTeam to beat: Cleveland Indians. With a 79 percent chance of winning the Central, Cleveland is our model’s strongest division favorite for 2018. Sure, the Tribe lost a few recognizable names (Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce) over the winter, and this year’s roster is probably not as talented as the version that snapped off a 22-game winning streak last August and September. But they still boast ace starter Corey Kluber (whom FanGraphs projects to be the most valuable pitcher in baseball), ace fireman Andrew Miller (projected as the fourth-most valuable reliever in baseball) and a bevy of dangerous hitters (such as Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor). There’s more than enough talent here for the Indians to comfortably claim another division crown. How Elo is forecasting the AL West race Team ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: Minnesota Twins. The range of predictions for the Twins is actually quite small: From Vegas to the computers, most forecasters basically call for Minnesota to win 82 or 83 games this year. But that’s a little difficult to reconcile with the team’s 85-win season a year ago and the flurry of improvements it made in the offseason — to say nothing of the ongoing strides expected from its core. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Twins end up beating that projection.Rebuild alert: Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals. One of the big reasons that Cleveland is such a strong favorite in this division — and why the Twins can be optimistic, too — is that the Central is home to numerous, um, “rebuilding” efforts. The White Sox have been engaging in one of the most extreme multi-year teardowns ever and probably won’t begin to emerge from it until next season. The Tigers finally admitted to themselves that their early-2010s heyday was over and became sellers at last year’s trade deadline. The Royals are just now embarking on a reboot of their own. This division might be formidable in several years as a result of the tank-fest, but for now it contains a bunch of teams that aren’t even trying to compete.Player to watch: Jose Ramirez, Indians. Ramirez turned in a perfectly solid 2016 season manning third base for the AL champion Tribe, hitting .310 during the World Series. But he vaulted himself into another stratosphere last year — and squarely into the MVP conversation — with a .318/.374/.583 batting line and plus defense. Cleveland’s chances won’t hinge on him repeating those numbers, but in his age-25 season, it should be fun to see if Ramirez can keep up his ascent.Biggest enigma: Lucas Giolito, White Sox. As a rookie with Washington in 2016, Giolito struggled horribly, posting a 6.75 ERA in 21.1 innings with a shockingly poor 8.21 fielding-independent pitching (FIP). Then he was shipped to Chicago as part of the Adam Eaton deal — and, superficially, the change in scenery helped: Giolito bounced back in 2017 with a far healthier 2.38 ERA. Trouble is, he also benefited from allowing an unsustainably low .189 batting average on balls in play, masking a FIP that remained pretty unimpressive. The former first-round pick and top-five prospect still has plenty of potential, but nobody is really sure what kind of season to expect from him in 2018. Astros15779765+15181%66%14% AL WestTeam to beat: Houston Astros. The defending world champs also enjoyed one of the better offseasons of any team when they hauled in starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pirates in a January trade. Now Houston boasts a deep rotation with Cole, Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel (among others), plus it hung on to practically all of the cogs in an offensive machine that led the majors with 896 runs scored last season. While no favorite is unbeatable — the Astros finished third in the division as recently as 2016 — anyone other than Houston winning the West would be a stunning development. Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… Indians15769963+17488%79%14% TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series Red Sox15499171+8961336 Tigers14496894-12342<1 Blue Jays15078181-227102 Team ¯\_(ツ)_/¯: Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays have had a pattern of up-and-down seasons in recent years, and the projections don’t quite know what to do with them this year, either. If you ask PECOTA, Tampa could potentially factor into the playoff mix; if you ask the Las Vegas books, it might sink down into the basement of the East. Our model basically splits the difference and calls for the Rays to post 78 wins.Rebuild alert: Baltimore Orioles. Going into the spring, O’s GM Dan Duquette scoffed at the notion of rebuilding. But he may have no choice with Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Zach Britton all up for free agency after the season. If the Orioles falter early — and our projections don’t see much hope for them this year — Baltimore could be due for a fire sale.Player to watch: Mookie Betts, Red Sox. Two seasons ago, Betts was the American League’s most valuable player not named after a freshwater fish, but last year his production was down amid a power outage and a 54-point drop in batting average. The difference between an MVP-caliber Betts and a merely pretty-good version might be the margin in this division race; Boston fans should be encouraged by Betts’s strong finish last September and outstanding numbers this spring.Biggest enigma: Aaron Judge, Yankees. Judge’s roller-coaster 2017 season was remarkable enough on its own. But add his terrible debut season in 2016, and it becomes almost impossible to predict how Judge will perform in 2018. The projections that FanGraphs lists are all over the map, from 3.8 wins above replacement on the low side to 6.2 WAR on the upper end. (And remember, he had 8.2 last year.) Judge could be great again, or he could just be good — we really have no idea yet. TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series White Sox14577092-10462<1 How Elo is forecasting the AL Central race AL EastTeam to beat: New York Yankees. Our simulations show the AL East as the tightest division battle of the 2018 season, but we’re giving the Yankees a slight advantage over the Boston Red Sox here. While both teams used the winter to put more distance between themselves and the rest of the division — New York added Giancarlo Stanton and Boston signed J.D. Martinez — the Yankees still appear to have the edge in bullpen depth and marquee talent. (And don’t forget about their impressive farm pipeline; touted infield prospect Gleyber Torres could make an impact before the season is done.) That said, we also give Boston a 61 percent chance of making the playoffs, so this renewed rivalry might well extend into October either way. Angels15108181-427112 Mariners15088082-726102 Rangers14977884-291971 Rays14957884-321961 Royals14597092-10172<1
Then-sophomore cornerback Armani Reeves prepares for a play during a game against Florida A&M Sept. 21 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 76-0.Credit: Kaily Cunningham / Multimedia editorIt was Bradley Roby and Doran Grant.Heading into last football season, the cornerback position at Ohio State had been decided — there were no ifs, ands or buts about it. Then-redshirt-junior Roby had earned his spot the season before and then-junior Grant was tapped to replace Travis Howard in the lineup.But on July 21, a wrench was thrown into that plan. With Roby facing charges of misdemeanor battery in Monroe County, Ind., someone had to step up and take his place in the starting lineup as he served his one-game suspension from coach Urban Meyer.That player was Armani Reeves. The then-sophomore cornerback made his first career start against Buffalo Aug. 31 in a 40-20 win.Although Reeves didn’t see much of the field for much of the remainder of the season — he was forced to watch from the bench behind Roby in the depth chart — he heads into the 2014 season, alongside Grant, as one of the two expected starters at corner.“I feel ready,” Reeves said Thursday. “I feel confident. I think that’s half the battle when you’re corner, just know that you can do the jobs … I’m going to play with confidence and I know I can do this job, so I’m not worried at all.”Starting three games last season — against Buffalo, San Diego State Sept. 7 and Clemson in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl Jan. 3 — Reeves recorded 16 solo tackles last season and had an interception.Reeves returns to a unit that lost Roby as well as safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett, a unit that finished the year ranked 112th in the country in pass defense.But Reeves said he feels he has fit into the starting line well, and knows his teammates have confidence in him to replace Roby.“I feel like they see a good side of me. I try to be a nice person so that helps,” Reeves said. “We’re all working really hard, and when you have confidence in each other that just makes a defense that much better … When I have confidence in the D-line and they have confidence in me, that makes it so much easier to do your job.”Reeves added that poor numbers from last season will serve as a drive to improve for the Buckeyes in the upcoming season.“I wouldn’t say it hurts, I would say it motivates us,” Reeves said. “Obviously everybody knows the pass defense last year, it had its ups and downs. This year we’ve got a fresh start and we’re going to come out hungry. Only thing that can do is to motivate you to play better than you did last year.”Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said Reeves will be successful because he works harder than anybody else on the field, going as far as to say Reeves “became the standard.”“Anybody that’s watched him play … You never have a question about how hard he’s going to go,” Coombs said. “So he’s already got that, and what a great thing for him. Right? So when I walk into my meeting room and I say, ‘OK, who’s the hardest playing guy in this room?’ Day one, that’s what I asked my guys in my unit, and they all said ‘Armani.’”Like many of the other players, Reeves is having to make the transition from a member of the younger group to a seasoned veteran who has more responsibility on his shoulders this year.In years past, Reeves said Roby was the person he always looked to, but now he has to teach some of the lessons the NFL-bound cornerback taught him.“It’s definitely weird because I looked up to him (Roby), he’s like my older brother … It’s kind of weird not having him here anymore, but I take the things that he taught me and put it to the younger guys and do the same thing that he did (for) me,” Reeves said. “There (were) times where we’ll be out here, just talking football, just trying to get me better and that’s what I try to do with the young guys … He’s one of the greatest DBs we’ve ever had here, and obviously I want the young guys and myself to be one of the greatest when we leave.”Grant, who started all 14 games last season, said Reeves is prepared to take that next step and be a go-to starter for the Buckeyes.“I feel like he’s ready. He’s been playing well this spring,” Grant said Thursday. “He’s been working hard in the offseason, training, taking coaching. He’s leading also, his voice is up, passing the energy … And he has the experience also.”Even though Reeves is likely to be the starter opposite Grant, there is no guarantee he will see as much of the field as starters have in the past.With young players like redshirt-freshmen Eli Apple and Gareon Conley, as well as incoming freshmen Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore, Coombs said he plans on playing more than just two corners.“We’re going to play more than two, Gareon is right in the mix, Eli Apple has had a very good spring,” Coombs said Thursday. “He’s over some health issues that really had gone undetected. So I’m really excited about that and I’m eager. And I tell you what, those two freshmen coming in are going to have a chance to play. We’re going to play more than two corners that’s for sure.”Although Reeves will likely be on the field when the season starts Aug. 30 against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, he isn’t likely to be truly tested in that game. The Midshipmen were one of only two teams in the country who averaged less than 100 yards per game through the air last season, finishing 124th in the country.But Reeves said when it comes to next season, as long as the effort is there, the defense will be up to standards.“We’ll get there,” Reeves said. “It’s a process. We just put a lot of new things in and we’ll get there. I’m not worried about it at all. As long as we play hard right now, that’s all we can ask for.”Kickoff for the season opener is set for noon.
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone was “satisfied” to scrap a 1-1 draw at ValenciaThings got off to a bright for last week’s UEFA Super Cup winners when Angel Correa handed them the lead with an assist from Antoine Griezmann.But a mistake by new captain Diego Godin enabled Rodrigo Moreno to volley in an equaliser for Valencia.It proved to be a tense encounter between the two sides with both desperate to get their respective La Liga campaigns off to a winning start.“Both teams went to win, the match was open at the end and there was a lot of chaos which I didn’t like,” said Simeone, according to Marca.“A match with Valencia will always have a strong profile, we are similar teams with different nuances.“I’m left satisfied, we put in a controlled performance after playing 120 minutes.”Zidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.The Argentine is not surprised by the improvement that Valencia has undergone through his counterpart Marcelino Garcia Toral.Last season Los Che collected 27 more points than their previous campaign and finished in fourth place in the La Liga standings.“When we came to play here last year I told my players that Valencia would fight for important places, and I wasn’t mistaken,” he intimated.“This year they will continue to grow, they have added players.“It won’t be easy to take points from this stadium.”Atletico will next face Rayo Vallecano on Saturday for their first home game of the new league season.