Sometimes a great pitching performance is about spreading excellence over an entire season. Pedro Martinez, for instance, produced arguably the two best pitching seasons of all time, in 1999 and 2000, by consistently overwhelming hitters over the span of months and even years.1Over a two-year span, no starter has ever struck out a higher percentage of batters he faced or walked fewer opponents relative to his strikeouts than Martinez did in those seasons. His dominance could certainly be glimpsed in specific moments as well, but the magnitude of Martinez’s accomplishments is best described with broad numbers (for example, he has the lowest single-season ERA, relative to the league, in major league history).For others, though, pitching greatness manifests itself in far shorter sequences. When Orel Hershiser unanimously won the 1988 National League Cy Young, it was more about his 59 consecutive scoreless innings — which broke fellow Dodger Don Drysdale’s then-20-year-old major league record — than his season-long numbers. Although Hershiser tied Cincinnati’s Danny Jackson for the NL lead in wins, he wasn’t No. 1 in winning percentage or ERA — to say nothing of newer metrics such as fielding independent pitching (FIP), on which he lagged well behind league leaders.2It’s tough to fault Cy Young voters from 1988 for not knowing the finer points of defense-independent pitching statistics and cluster luck. But in retrospect, almost half the wins generated by the Dodgers with Hershiser on the mound could be attributed to aspects of the game relatively beyond the pitcher’s control, such as defense and stranding runners by scattering opposing hits.That year, Hershiser’s historic streak meant more than performance over the season as a whole. And the same thing might be playing out in the NL this season. With eight scoreless innings Sunday against the Nationals, another Dodger, Zack Greinke, has extended his own scoreless streak to 43⅔ innings. Greinke is one of the best pitchers in the game, but just like Hershiser, he’s being oversold by The Streak.Greinke leads the majors in ERA with a microscopic 1.30, but he’s also been the beneficiary of good fortune. Similar to Hershiser, almost half the wins generated by LA’s run-prevention corps with Greinke on the mound can be attributed to factors outside his own pitching skill. Take those wins away, and Greinke has been only the sixth-best pitcher in baseball this season. (He ranks fourth even if we just look at the past 30 days.)During Greinke’s streak, his fielders have converted into outs 82.4 percent of the balls he allowed to be put in play, a far greater rate than the league average of 70.6 percent. And it doesn’t seem to be possible to produce a historic consecutive-innings streak without benefiting from that kind of defense (and luck). Behind Hershiser, 81.4 percent of the balls in play were turned into outs, and for Drysdale, the rate was 81.6 percent.We can debate whether Greinke’s pursuit of the streak is easier or harder than Hershiser’s or Drysdale’s was. Greinke has had to throw more pitches per inning,3During the streak, 30 percent of the batters Greinke has faced either struck out or walked — both of which are typically more laborious from a pitch-count perspective than a standard plate appearance. That proportion was only 21 percent for Hershiser. but he has also spread his innings over a greater number of starts, which has allowed him to benefit from a reduced “times through the order” penalty. The bigger takeaway, however, is that these kinds of streaks — even those of the 59-inning variety — cover only a few starts, too small a sample for us to easily untangle the effects of luck and skill.Streaks are nothing if not one of baseball’s favorite preoccupations, but they also take a fundamentally long-term game and focus it on the short term. Joe DiMaggio won the 1941 AL MVP in large part because he hit safely in 56 straight games, but Ted Williams was easily the better player over the entire season.4In fact, Williams famously had the higher batting average during the span of DiMaggio’s streak! Hershiser won the Cy Young but probably wasn’t the NL’s best pitcher in 1988. And Greinke’s streak, impressive and exciting as it is, shouldn’t obscure the other fantastic pitching seasons we’re seeing across MLB this year.
“CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?! ABBY WAMBACH HAS SAVED THE USA’S LIFE IN THIS WORLD CUP,” announcer Ian Darke screamed in disbelief. But those who knew Wambach probably weren’t too surprised her dome had rescued the team. In the 2004 Olympic final — also against Brazil — a 24-year-old Wambach scored the game-winning goal in overtime — also with her head. With 184 international goals — the most of any soccer player in the world, male or female — Abby Wambach is going out on top. The 14-year veteran of the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) announced her retirement today (after snapping a selfie with POTUS, no less), marking the end not just of her reign in women’s soccer but also the end of one of the most dominant careers in American sports.Not all great athletes have a single moment that encapsulates their career, but for me, Wambach does. Down 2-1 against Brazil in the 122nd minute of the 2011 Women’s World Cup quarterfinal, the game appeared all but over — a loss for the Americans would have meant the worst performance in a World Cup by any USWNT. A cross from Megan Rapinoe on the left side seemed hopeless, until you saw Wambach on the far right, floating above four Brazilian defenders and heading the ball in. At nearly 6 feet tall, Wambach was plain dominant in the air in the women’s game. She has scored 77 international goals with her Twitter-famous head. That means her head, by itself, is the seventh-most prolific scorer in USWNT history.But focusing only on her head ignores the 107 goals Wambach has scored with the rest of her body. Even minus the headers, Wambach has scored more goals internationally than all but one man. Want some other crazy Wambach stats?According to ESPN’s Paul Carr, Wambach scored a goal every 99.3 minutes for the USWNT, the best rate of the 13 players with 40 or more goals;She holds the USWNT match record (in a six-way tie) for the most goals in a game (5);She also holds the USWNT career record for the most multiple-goal games (39);And the most yellow cards (23) — a result of her tenacity in her early days, and her flop-like tendencies in her later days.But snapshot statistics don’t do Wambach justice. For more than a decade, she dictated the style of American women’s soccer (for better or for worse). Wambach will play her last game for the USWNT on Dec. 16, but her legacy will live on in long balls and last-minute headers, a relic of the ’99-ers style of play that many are ready to retire … until the U.S. needs saving and Wambach won’t be there to header one home.
Exiled from Florida State because of multiple off-the-field issues, cornerback Greg Reid looks like he will land at Valdosta State for his final year of college football.ESPN reports that Reid sorted through his options and is in the process of enrolling at the school located in middle Georgia.Reid was dismissed from FSU for a violation of team rules — and it was not his first offense. As a three-year starter and a top special teams player, Reid had to be a malcontent for coach Jimbo Fisher to kick him off the team. But to maintain any credibility within his team, Fisher had little recourse, for Reid found himself in trouble several times during his Seminole career.Most recently, Reid was arrested a few weeks ago and charged with driving with a suspended license, a seat belt violation and misdemeanor possession of marijuana, according to the Lowndes County (Ga.) sheriff’s office. Reid told police he had no knowledge of the marijuana found in his car.Last fall, Reid was on perjury charges for lying to police about the identity of a man who fled the scene of a traffic stop on a scooter. That charge was later dropped. However, he was suspended last year for an undisclosed violation of team rules.Last season, Reid played in 11 games and started nine. He made 32 tackles and had two interceptions, along with 563 kick return yards. He moved into second place in school history with 89 career returns and 1,117 return yards and was named one of three most valuable players on special teams at Florida State’s annual banquet.Last Tuesday night in Lake Park, Ga., Reid was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license.For Fisher, that was it. Now Reid apparently has found a new school. But for how long?
Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd has pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge he received last summer.A judge placed Kidd on interim probation after his plea to a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge. In an effort to turn the negative incident into a positive, the judge also ordered the coach to speak to Long Island, New York, high school students about the dangers of drunken driving.Kidd was arrested on July 15, 2012, by Southampton Town police. They say he smashed his Cadillac SUV into a telephone pole in the hamlet of Water Mill. Police reports stated he smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy.Kidd retired as an NBA player after last season and was hired to coach the Nets. He took the team to two NBA Finals as a player when the franchise played in New Jersey.
In Michael Jordan’s city, Magic Johnson has donated $10 million to bolster a summer jobs program that benefits troubled Black youths in Chicago, which has been ravaged by street violence.Johnson joined Mark and Kimbra Walter of the Inner City Youth Empowerment in a collaboration that will help triple the reach of the One Chicago Summer Plus program.Its primary focus is to guide youths ages 16 to 19 away from potential troubles that come on the streets of inner-city Chicago.“We are proud to partner on an initiative that has proven to change the trajectory of at-risk kids’ lives,” Johnson said in a press release. “Providing disadvantaged kids with alternatives is a step in the right direction toward helping them reach their full potential and curb violence in our neighborhoods.”Johnson’s contribution highlights the former NBA great’s philanthropic work since retiring from professional basketball. He’s been a benchmark for other athletes, like Jordan, to study after their careers are completed.Johnson’s business enterprises are extensive, and most of them have elements of providing jobs, upward mobility and upgraded services for African-Americans.Hardly anyone talks about Johnson having contracted HIV in 1991, setting in motion the end of one of the sport’s great careers. Since then, Johnson has been recognized as an advocate for the disease and an entrepreneur with an amazing portfolio. He’s also part of a group that owns the Los Angeles Dodgers and has a net worth estimated at $500 million, according to celebritynetworth.com.He was beloved as a player because of the infectious, child-like joy in which he performed but should be admired for the non-stop work he does in Black communities. In the case of Chicago, Johnson has no real connection—he’s from Lansing, Mich. and has lived in Los Angeles ever since he was drafted No. 1 by the Lakers in 1979.The only connection is that Johnson identified a dire need and did something to help. Admirable.This program in Chicago that served 1,000 teenagers will serve 3,000 now. The program includes a 25-hour-a-week summer job, a mentor and a behavioral therapy and social-skills building component.The One Chicago Summer Plus program outlines criteria for students, as it targets those who have a past with the juvenile justice system and those who have missed six to eight weeks of school.The program spends roughly $2,900 per student, which equates to nearly triple the amount that is traditionally spent on summer job programs.The city of Chicago is also contributing an additional $6 million to the program, with some of the funds going toward training and supporting 500 mentors so that the increase in students into the program does not compromise the quality and personal contact participants receive.“The city of Chicago, with the support of our community and business partners, remains committed to reducing violence in our city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in Black Enterprise. “Through the generous grant, more youth will stay safe, active and engaged this summer while getting the skills and on-the-job training necessary for a bright future.”High unemployment is directly linked to higher incarceration rates. Studies indicate 92 percent of Black males between the ages of 16-19 in Chicago are unemployed, which impacts the city’s high crime and incarceration rates. All this illuminates how important programs like this are—and how committed someone like Magic Johnson is.
Shooting percentage10.29.5-0.7 Includes all Pittsburgh Penguins regular-season and playoff games, 2005-06 to 2016-17.Source: Hockey-Reference.com Points percentage55.355.7+0.4 Games914176— Power-play goals per game0.810.74-0.07 How losing Sid the Kid has affected the Penguins, 2005-17 Goals per game3.152.94-0.21 Although the Pens have traditionally fared slightly better defensively in games Crosby missed, they’ve struggled to replace him on offense, producing fewer shots and shooting the puck less accurately when their star sits out. Those differences become even more stark when you look at what happens when he’s on the ice. Pittsburgh’s shots and goals per minute improve sharply with Crosby on the ice — no player of his generation has wielded a bigger influence on his team’s scoring than Sid the Kid.Now, the Penguins will be without that offensive leadership for at least one game, and possibly many more. (This isn’t the first time Crosby has missed time with a head injury; he sat out 101 games in 2010-11 and 2011-12 while fending off concussion symptoms, and he missed time with a concussion earlier this season as well.)Prior to this week’s injury, the reigning Stanley Cup champions had been cruising through the playoffs and seemed on their way to dispatching the Capitals for the second-straight year. It’s up to Crosby’s teammates to prevent this from being the turning point the Capitals needed to claw their way back into the series. Shots against per game30.128.8-1.3 Crosby’s loss can’t be overstated. In terms of individual numbers, he stands toe-to-toe with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin as the best player of the NHL’s post-lockout generation. But even more than his own production, Crosby also brings the best out of the Penguins’ offense while he’s on the ice. Over the span of his career (since 2005-06), here’s how Pittsburgh’s stats change when Crosby plays versus when he sits: WITH CROSBYWITHOUT CROSBYDIFFERENCE Save percentage90.790.9+0.2 The Pittsburgh Penguins had a rough Monday night, losing their superstar center Sidney Crosby after a hit to the head by Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, then losing Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in overtime. Tuesday afternoon was arguably even worse, as news arrived that Crosby was diagnosed with a concussion and ruled out of Thursday’s Game 4: Goals against per game2.82.64-0.16 Shots per game31.130.9-0.2
This week on Hot Takedown, we’re joined by FiveThirtyEight editor in chief Nate Silver as we look ahead to the second round of the NBA playoffs and the potential Warriors-vs.-Rockets rematch. Some experts are picking Houston to advance, but our model still favors Golden State. Who’s right? As for the other opening rounds, with the exception of the all-knotted-up Nuggets-Spurs series, the higher seeds seem likely to advance — which leads us to ponder some possible restructuring of the NBA’s playoff format.With the NFL draft starting Thursday, the big question on everyone’s mind is whether the Arizona Cardinals will take Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick. We discuss Murray’s draft position and take a look at the draft value of quarterbacks in a year when there aren’t a lot of great QB prospects available. As for the teams in general, is it better to draft for need or draft for talent?We’re also introducing a new segment called “Get Off My Field.” This week, Nate thinks there are too many home runs and strikeouts in baseball.Here’s what we’re looking at this week:Chris Herring writes about Russell Westbrook’s continued playoff woes.We’re following the playoffs with our NBA predictions.We eagerly await Kirk Goldberry’s new book, “SprawlBall: A Visual Tour of the New Era of the NBA.”Michael Salfino explores the value of different NFL draft positions.We marvel at Giannis Antetokounmpo laughing in the face of the laws of physics. More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Embed Code FiveThirtyEight
Brewers-10.9-3.4-14.4 Reds1.8-49.9-48.1 TEAMFIELDINGPITCHINGTOTAL Midseason is rapidly approaching, and the Chicago Cubs are still making the rest of Major League Baseball look bad. They’re World Series favorites by a mile according to our Elo predictions — which also have them pegged for 104 wins — and they’ve outscored their opponents by an average of 2.3 runs per game, the most of any team through 70 games since the legendary 1939 Yankees.The Cubs have excelled on offense, scoring the third-most runs in the majors, but to an even greater degree the team owes its extreme success to run prevention. Chicago’s current 2.73 team ERA would be the lowest full-season1So, not counting the strike-shortened 1981 campaign. figure in the designated hitter era (since 1973), and the lowest relative to the MLB average since World War II.This Cubs staff is pretty good at making guys miss — it ranks fifth in the majors in K-BB rate — but that alone isn’t enough to explain such a microscopic ERA. Chicago has also allowed a .254 batting average on balls in play, 42 points below the major-league average and 19 points lower than the next-closest team. If the Cubs were to finish the year that far below the norm, their BABIP would also be the lowest relative to average since World War II. As a byproduct, the gap between Chicago’s ERA and its Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is 0.64 runs, the widest positive gap in the majors.We know of three things that could contribute to such a separation. One is flat-out luck, but the others are a good defense and a pitching staff that induces especially fieldable batted balls. Prior to the advent of Statcast, MLB’s new radar-based motion-tracking system, it was almost impossible to separate the latter two elements, parsing out a pitcher’s impact on batted balls from that of his fellow defenders. But now we can start to unravel those relationships and assign partial credit to each possible factor at work.To do that, we built a couple of models. The first model estimated each MLB pitcher’s effect on the exit velocities and launch angles he allows by comparing his rates to the same hitters’ numbers against all other pitchers.2Specifically, we used two mixed models that incorporate effects for each batter, pitcher and park to predict exit velocity and launch angle. Because 20 to 25 percent of batted balls are missed by the tracking system, all models in this piece imputed missing Statcast data using the average of similarly classified batted balls and outcomes. Then we calculated what would happen if we replaced each team’s actual pitchers with a staff full of generic arms that allowed league-average exit velocities and launch angles. The difference between those actual and generic figures gives us a number of runs attributable to each pitching staff’s contact-management skills, i.e., its tendency to allow batted balls that do less damage.Next, we modeled fielding on a team-by-team basis by estimating how much each batted ball “should” have been worth (in terms of linear-weight run value) based on its exit velocity and launch angle.3This was a random forest model, as described in an earlier piece. Then we compared those estimated values to the actual values of the same batted balls.4Using a separate model to adjust for ballpark effects. If a batted ball with an exit velocity and launch angle that would typically produce a single actually yielded an out, the model credited some of the difference to the defense, which we assume prevented the single through some combination of good range, good hands and good positioning.Finally, we combined those two values into one total figure to see how many runs each team has saved on its balls in play, relative to a team with average contact-management and defense. Giants6.717.524.2 White Sox3.125.428.5 Includes games through June 19Source: MLBAM, PitchInfo Rays4.2-19.6-15.4 Astros-10.310.0-0.3 Pirates-6.815.58.7 Angels-6.42.4-4.1 Braves3.1-5.4-2.4 Marlins5.3-2.82.5 Mariners-0.27.67.4 Blue Jays14.16.520.6 Yankees-188.8.131.52 Tigers-10.69.9-0.7 There’s a moderate, statistically significant relationship5A correlation coefficient of 0.44. between a team’s ERA-FIP gap and our estimate of its runs saved from contact management and defense. Add in sequencing (as measured by Left on Base Percentage), and we can explain about 60 percent of the difference between a team’s ERA and its FIP. The rest can be chalked up to random variation, plus a variety of smaller factors6Such as the way pitchers influence other batted-ball characteristics (i.e., spray angle), the tendency of good pitch-framing catchers — such as the Cubs’ Miguel Montero and David Ross — to produce more favorable counts and make batters swing at bad pitches (which can’t be hit as hard), and the ability of batters and pitchers to restrict the running game (the rare area in which the Cubs don’t excel). and, admittedly, other unknown elements that we can’t conceive of or are unable to calculate using current data.According to our models, the Cubs’ defense — aided perhaps by data-driven positioning, if not frequent infield shifting — has been the third-best in baseball, behind the Rangers and Blue Jays. But fielding is a relatively small piece of Chicago’s run-preventing puzzle. Its pitching staff’s collective ability to manage contact leads the next-best team by close to 20 runs. As a group, Cubs pitchers have depressed exit velocity by 0.4 miles per hour and launch angle by almost 2 degrees, relative to average.7As of June 19.That leads to a larger takeaway from our models: Leaguewide, the impact of pitchers’ contact management is more than twice that of defense, which seems to contradict the traditional defense-independent pitching theory that most pitchers have little ability to prevent hits on balls in play. (It’s probably no coincidence that the career leader in Inside Edge’s Soft Contact rate is fabled bat breaker Mariano Rivera.) In other words, much of what appears to be good or bad defense might really be good or bad contact management, which can produce easier (or more difficult) fielding opportunities that make certain fielders look better or worse than they are. In theory, only a Statcast-derived defensive stat could account for this heretofore-camouflaged effect.Exit velocity is meaningful even over small samples, but at this early stage of the Statcast Era, we still don’t know enough about how pitchers control contact to say whether the Cubs’ BABIP is sustainable, or if it stems from a conscious pitching (or even pitching-acquisition) approach. As with any extreme observation, it seems safe to expect some regression to the mean for Chicago’s pitchers. Still, we can conclude that the Cubs’ historically low BABIP through their first 69 games isn’t merely luck. One way or another, the Cubs have earned a lot of those outs. Red Sox9.7-3.85.9 Twins-12.1-39.0-51.1 Cardinals6.413.419.8 Rangers18.5-6.212.3 Rockies9.8-24.9-15.1 Mets-4.026.422.3 Royals0.5-12.6-12.0 The Cubs Are The Best At Controlling Contact Athletics-5.7-8.8-14.5 Dodgers2.927.330.2 Nationals-3.816.312.6 Diamondbacks4.6-23.4-18.8 RUNS SAVED Indians6.7-7.1-0.4 Orioles-2.7-4.9-7.7 Cubs12.644.557.1 Padres2.4-9.2-6.8 Phillies-3.9-31.2-35.1
8Russell+4.1Bryant22.4Dantley.189 BPM is calculated since 1974. PER and WS/48 are calculated since 1952.Source: Basketball-Reference.com 9Grant+4.0Howard22.3Howard.172 LeBron James in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform used to be the stuff of fan photoshops and NBA 2K’s franchise mode.1Usually accomplished by switching off the game’s trading AI. But now it has become reality, after the announcement Sunday night that James is signing a four-year, $153 million free-agent contract with L.A. It might be jarring at first to see James in Lakers gear this fall — but he’ll fit right in with a franchise whose destiny has always been determined by Hall of Fame talent. In fact, even among the Lakers’ many, many historical stars, James could be the best player who ever suited up for the team the first second that he steps onto a court wearing Forum blue and gold.In their 70-year history, the Lakers have won 16 NBA championships, one behind their archrival Boston Celtics for the most by any franchise in the league. And most of that success has been due to the team’s immense star power: players such as Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor … the list goes on and on. If we measure player value using a mixture of Basketball-Reference.com’s Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares, and look back in history to 1963,2For accounting purposes, this was the first season for which we know exactly how many minutes a player split between teams if he switched teams midseason. Los Angeles has gotten nearly 1,200 total wins above replacement3Using the same replacement-level threshold as in Daniel Myers’s VORP metric. from players who either eventually ended up in the Hall of Fame or are likely to be there someday — a number that represents roughly 60 percent of the team’s total wins above replacement over that period. In each regard, only the Celtics have gotten more out of their Hall members, and the Lakers might have surpassed even Boston if we could have also included the contributions of Mikan and Vern Mikkelsen (who played before we have a precise accounting of a player’s minutes spent with each team during a season). 4O’Neal+5.3West23.1Johnson.225 1James+11.1Mikan28.5Chamberlain.248 2Johnson+7.4James28.3James.238 7Gasol+4.4Chamberlain22.8Malone.205 The Lakers’ greatest players, by the numbersWhere LeBron James ranks in career Box Plus/Minus, Player Efficiency Rating and Win Shares per 48 minutes relative to other Lakers Which teams have relied on Hall of Famers?The franchises with the most wins above replacement (WAR) from players who are currently in, or are likely to be in,* the Hall of Fame, 1963-2018 PistonsLanier • Thomas • Hill56239 Top 10 in BPMTop 10 in PERTop 10 in WS/48 WarriorsCurry • Barry • Mullin53939 * Weighting active players’ WAR by their Hall of Fame probability.WAR is calculated using a mixture of Win Shares and Player Efficiency Rating.Source: Basketball-Reference.com 76ersBarkley • Erving • Chamberlain71350 3Jabbar+5.4O’Neal26.1Jabbar.228 Thunder/SonicsPayton • Durant • Westbrook56636 FranchiseTop three HOF players by WARWAR By all HOFHOF % of total WAR LakersBryant • Jabbar • Johnson1,16558 6Bryant+4.4Johnson23.0O’Neal.208 From 1997 through 2013, the Lakers had picked up double-digit WAR from Hall of Fame players in 16 of 17 seasons, almost always managing to pair Bryant with an all-time great like an O’Neal or a Pau Gasol (who, perhaps surprisingly, has a 93 percent Hall probability according to Basketball-Reference). It was part of a pipeline that had flowed nearly uninterrupted since the days of Mikan in the 1950s. But since 2014, Los Angeles has gotten a mere 2.4 WAR from future Hall of Famers, almost all of it belonging to Gasol before he departed for the Bulls. (Apologies to Lou Williams and Jordan Hill, but they’ll probably have to pay to visit Springfield like the rest of us.)Even granting that we don’t know what the future will ultimately hold for younger prospects such as Julius Randle, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers had never gotten fewer than 7 WAR from Hall of Famers in any five-year span since 1963 — and that dark period came from 1992 to 1996, right after Johnson abruptly retired after contracting HIV. The franchise really was never forced to confront life without an NBA legend for so long until very recently.And thanks to James, it won’t have to anymore. Our CARMELO projection system thinks LeBron will add about 12 wins to the Lakers’ tally next season. Depending on whether L.A. can also trade for Kawhi Leonard (or sign another star to pair with James), the team could see its Hall of Fame contributions be rebuilt even further. Either way, the Lakers’ pipeline of all-time talent is gushing again.Moreover, by the historical metrics, LeBron might instantly be the best player who has ever suited up for the Lakers (in terms of stats produced across a player’s entire career, not just with the Lakers). James is the NBA’s all-time career leader in Box Plus/Minus (which can be calculated going back to 1974), easily outpacing Johnson. Among fellow Lakers, he trails only Mikan in Player Efficiency Rating (ranking one slot ahead of O’Neal), and he trails only Chamberlain in Win Shares per 48 minutes (coming in one spot better than Jabbar): 5Horry+4.8Jabbar23.0West.213 JazzMalone • Stockton • Dantley55841 SpursDuncan • Robinson • Gervin73939 CelticsBird • Pierce • Parish1,21363% 10Harper+3.8Baylor21.8Bryant.171 RocketsOlajuwon • Harden • Malone68845 KnicksEwing • Frazier • Reed56339 You can make the case that Jabbar — and maybe also Chamberlain and Karl Malone, who had a cup of coffee with the Lakers when he was 40 — generated more total value in their careers than James has to date. So his case as the greatest player to ever wear a Lakers uniform is not totally open and shut. But the fact that James can even enter the argument, a day into his tenure with one of the most decorated franchises in pro sports history, is telling about his stature among NBA legends.It remains to be seen if James will be the Lakers’ lone surefire future Hall of Famer next season; whether he gets big-name help will likely determine L.A.’s viability as a true threat to the Golden State Warriors’ supremacy right away. Whatever happens, though, James has finally restored to the Lakers the one resource they’ve scarcely been able to live without over the years: legendary talent.
Bucks2014-1567-5.2+3.4+8.6 Nuggets2018-1999-2.3+4.7+7.1 Denver didn’t have to change its squad to dominate on DBiggest one-year improvements in defensive efficiency, and the share of minutes played by returning players, since the 1976 NBA-ABA merger TeamSeason% Ret. MPPrevious seasonValueChange Spurs1997-9859%-5.7+5.7+11.4 A lot of that relative improvement2Measured against the league averages in defensive efficiency from both seasons. The Nuggets were 2.3 points per 100 possessions worse than league average on D last season, but so far this season, they are a little more than 4.7 points better than average on defense, coming out to just over 7 points better on that end altogether. stems from a schematic change in how the Nuggets — specifically, Nikola Jokic — defend pick-and-roll scenarios. The team was shredded in screen-roll action last season, ranking third worst in the league in defensive efficiency when facing such plays, according to data from Second Spectrum. Fast-forward to now, though, and Denver is tied for third best against the pick-and-roll,3From 0.97 points allowed per screen and roll defended last season to now just 0.89 points per screen defended. While that difference may seem small, it’s equivalent to a whopping 5.6 points per 100 possessions, since the Nuggets face about 70 screen-and-roll plays per contest. largely because of how Jokic negotiates the plays differently.Jokic is arguably the most well-rounded center in the NBA from an offensive standpoint, but with lackluster quickness, he has often found himself in no-man’s land: playing just far back enough to routinely give ball handlers wide-open jumpers but just far up enough to give speedsters the runway necessary to finish at the basket before he can get in position to block their shots.This season, though, he’s made a concerted effort to play farther up on pick-and-roll ball handlers in hopes of forcing them into making quicker decisions. Yes, guards and forwards will often still be much more explosive than he is and will beat him to the cup at times, but with improved communication and more decisive action on Jokic’s part, Denver is better able to protect the rim when Jokic isn’t in position to make a play.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/NugsDefense.mp400:0000:0001:09Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The Nuggets are using “soft” coverage — in which the man guarding the screener doesn’t come up and truly engage the ball handler — on pick and rolls about 13 percent less than last year when Jokic is on the court, according to Second Spectrum. Opposing jump-shooters last season, having plenty of space, overperformed their expected effective field-goal percentage4This is known as qSQ, or quantified Shot Quality, which measures each shot’s likelihood of going in — based on how far the nearest defender is from the shooter, and how quickly that defender is closing in — if an average shooter were to take the same attempt from that location. by more than 4 points when Jokic was the nearest defender — a sign that he may not have been playing up far enough to affect their shots. This season, though, opponents are shooting jumpers more than 5 points worse than their expected effective field-goal rates.Similarly, the Serbian center — who ranked among the NBA’s bottom five rim protectors in both 2016-17 and 2017-185Among those who defended at least five shots per game that were within 6 feet of the basket and who played a minimum of 55 games. — this year ranks smack-dab in the middle of the league’s rim protectors in how often he forces close-range misses when serving as the nearest defender. In other words, he’s been more than serviceable this season.6And depending on what advanced analytics you look at, some would argue that’s been the case before, too.Of course, it’s fair to question the sustainability of this strategy with Jokic and Denver’s torrid defense as a whole. After all, the Nuggets allow a relatively high number of looks from the short corners and have been somewhat unscathed in that their opponents have hit a below-league-average mark from those spots, and on wide-open triples in general, to this point. In fact, if you look back at Denver’s struggles in early November, when it dropped four contests in a row, teams hit better than 54 percent of their completely open looks from deep. (On some level, this has long been one of the things that Denver sacrifices in hopes of aiding Jokic in the paint. Other defenders, often assuming the 7-footer won’t hold up in coverage, provide help away from their defensive assignments, and in doing so, they run the risk of giving up an open jumper.)Still, there are more reasons to believe in Denver than there are reasons not to. Despite having battled one of the NBA’s toughest schedules so far, the club — with Western Conference wins over the second-place Thunder, third-place Clippers, fourth-place Warriors, fifth-place Lakers and seventh-place Blazers — the Nuggets have beaten almost everyone in the West’s crowded playoff race. Denver has also knocked off Toronto, sitting in first in the East, on the road.Other sources of optimism: Paul Millsap, after missing 44 games last year, is logging a career-high true-shooting percentage at age 33. Guard Monte Morris, who played in only three games as a rookie last season but now sees 24 minutes a night, is unbelievably sure-handed and owns the NBA’s best assist-to-turnover ratio by a country mile.7Somewhat separate: It would be unwise — borderline criminal — if Isaiah Thomas’s pending return to health means fewer minutes for Morris. There are too many questions about Thomas’s fit on defense to risk the rhythm that Denver has going right now. If anything, perhaps they can play alongside each other. Malone took the necessary step of inserting Swiss Army knife Juancho Hernangomez into the starting five when it became apparent that opponents were flat-out ignoring Torrey Craig because of his inability to shoot from outside.Denver is one of the youngest teams in the league, but it leads the NBA in rebounding percentage, is tied for second in assist percentage and has managed to stay atop the standings without Will Barton, its top bench scorer, who should be back from injury in the coming weeks. The Nuggets’ defense has been the headline this season, but they still possess a top-10 offense, and Jokic — already one of the better passing bigs of all-time — has only continued to blossom on that end since bursting onto the scene.It’s still somewhat early, yes. But if Denver’s defense is here to stay, the Nuggets have enough things going for them in just about every other facet of the game not only to make the playoffs for the first time under this regime, but also to do some real damage once they get there.Neil Paine contributed research.Check out our latest NBA predictions. Hawks1993-9471-2.2+4.6+6.8 Positive values mean the defense was better (e.g., allowed fewer points); negative values mean it was worse.Source: Basketball-Reference.com Celtics2007-0850-0.4+8.6+9.0 Bobcats2013-1464-5.7+2.8+8.5 Lakers1999-0069-2.1+5.8+7.9 Nets2001-0241-2.5+5.0+7.5 Raptors2006-0737-6.5+0.5+6.9 Pistons1995-9668-4.7+2.5+7.2 Opp. pts/100 poss. relative to league avg. The signings and trades of the NBA’s entertaining offseason help us figure out how we feel about a team’s chances of contending for a title the following season. But focusing on splashy roster moves — DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State, Kyrie Irving asking to leave a team that made three NBA Finals in a row — can blind us to other improvements a team can make.That’s part of what makes the Denver Nuggets so compelling this year. The team played little to no defense last season and missed the playoffs. A few months later, the Nuggets rank among the stingiest groups in the league, have won seven straight and lead the West standings. And they’ve done this with virtually the same group of players from last year.While a combination of secondary factors helps explain the turnaround, it makes sense to begin with the most eye-popping change in Denver: the Nuggets’ suddenly stifling defense.“It’s our identity,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters last week after his group held LeBron James and the Lakers to just 85 points. “Let’s be honest, our first three years to be in the bottom five of defense every year, for me, it’s embarrassing. When you’re known, ‘Hey, he’s a defensive coach,’ and three years running, you’re bottom five. I have pride. We all have pride.”And they should be proud for the time being. Denver, which was 25th on defense while surrendering 111 points per 100 plays last season, has jumped 21 spots, all the way up to No. 4 on that end, now allowing 105.5 points per 100 plays. And again: This reversal has taken place despite the fact that the vast majority of the Nuggets’ minutes this season — 99 percent, in fact — have been logged by players who were also on Denver’s roster last season.The San Antonio Spurs became a lockdown team after they drafted Tim Duncan. The Boston Celtics were dominant on D after they traded for Kevin Garnett. But no team has ever improved by as much as this Denver defense has while keeping the cast virtually1The players were the same, but obviously certain players — Monte Morris and Juancho Hernangomez in particular — are playing far bigger roles now. the same.
Even with key losses in the secondary to the NFL draft, Ohio State football has reason to smile Tuesday following the announcement of another top cornerback. This time, Kendall Sheffield has decided to become a Buckeye.Sheffield, a former five-star recruit and Alabama player who redshirted his freshman year with the Crimson Tide and played for Blinn College last year, picked OSU over Texas A&M. Although he picked off two passes last year, he excelled as a returner, picking up two special teams touchdowns.According to 247Sports.com, Sheffield is the No. 1 junior college cornerback and a four-star recruit in the 2017 recruiting class.With the latest commitment, OSU now has three of the top cornerback recruits arriving in Columbus. Although Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley are now gone, with the possibility of redshirt junior cornerback Marshon Lattimore leaving, the Buckeyes have more than a few replacements arriving.Sheffield joins Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade and four-star safety Isaiah Pryor as incoming freshmen who could see a real chance at playing time next year. Okudah is the No. 1 cornerback in the nation according to 247Sports.com, while Wade is the No. 4 cornerback.
A friendship that began over a decade ago between kids on a tennis court is now the future of Ohio State men’s tennis. Childhood friends Chase Buchanan and Peter Kobelt are reunited at OSU with their sights set on success on the court. Buchanan and Kobelt first met at the New Albany Country Club. “We were about 6 or 7 years old when we first met,” Buchanan said. “When we first started battling on the clay.” The battles on the court were short-lived, though. “We met playing tennis,” Kobelt said. “We were best friends but when we were 8 and 9 he switched [country] clubs.” Buchanan, a sophomore ranked No. 10 in the nation, moved to Florida to work on his tennis game while taking online high school courses. Kobelt, a redshirt freshman, went to high school in New Albany, Ohio, where he became one of the top high school tennis players in the country. Best friends and now roommates at Ohio State, Kobelt and Buchanan are picking up where they left off as kids. “We train everyday,” Buchanan said. “We also chill everyday, play a lot of Call of Duty.”When asked about the possibility of pairing up in the coming years as doubles partners, Kobelt said, “Hopefully next year. I need to get my butt moving, but Chase is doing just fine.” With OSU men’s tennis being one of the top programs in the country, both Kobelt and Buchanan recognize that success is attainable. OSU is riding a 106-match home winning streak dating back to 2003. The Buckeyes are ranked second in the nation with a young roster made up of two seniors and 10 underclassmen. “The seniors help a lot,” Buchanan said. “Everybody helps a lot in trying to get better.”Kobelt has high hopes for Buchanan, himself and the rest of the team. “We have pretty good team chemistry,” said Kobelt. “Winning a national championship as a team would be very special.”
I know a majority of the Ohio State fan base is composed of Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals fans. Just hear me out. It pains me to say it, but the NFL fan base most comparable to our Buckeyes’ is the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers’. Sure, there are slight differences. For example, Buckeye fans don’t appease their fat gullets (quite as much) with greasy sandwiches that have 18 layers of french fries, a Pittsburgh staple. Watching the Steelers clinch their fourth Super Bowl appearance in my lifetime reminds me that I dislike them and their fans for the same exact reasons the rest of the nation dislikes Buckeye fans. The national perception of us Buckeyes is that we’re brash, we annoyingly span every corner of this great nation and, generally, no one likes us. Same with the Steelers. But, Buckeye and Steeler nations have every right to be as arrogant as we are. Over the past decade, no other sports team has been as successful, save for, arguably, the New England Patriots in the NFL. I might be a Cleveland fan, but my attitude is the exact opposite as an OSU fan. In Columbus, I’m not waiting for the other shoe to drop. The other shoe drops on the opposing team, especially once Big Ten play starts. OSU has won seven conference titles in the last 10 years. The Steelers are just off the pace, as far as division titles go. They’ve won six. Pittsburgh doesn’t quite measure up in that respect, but it can boast that its coaching stability is even more impressive than OSU’s. Over the last 40 years, the Steelers have had only three head coaches, compared to OSU’s four. Consider today’s constant coaching turnover in professional sports: The Oakland Raiders have had three coaches in the last four years alone, and they were one of seven NFL teams to switch coaches before the 2011 season. You can see similarities in the players, too. OSU’s star quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, sells off a few trophies, signs a few autographs and gets preferential treatment from a tattoo parlor. The Steelers’ star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, signs a few autographs and gets preferential treatment from the police. Seriously, though, the tradition of sustained success is truly something to behold, no matter how much loathing the Steelers and Buckeyes face. Any hate directed at both most likely is intertwined with more than a hint of jealousy. The parallels are there, and it doesn’t make me any less of a Cleveland fan to admit it. It’s because, I know, during Super Bowl XLV, I’ll be the biggest Green Bay Packers fan this side of Brett Favre’s Mississippi. I won’t be alone. Most of America will be with me.
NEW ORLEANS – Jared Sullinger would not say whether he planned to return to Ohio State or leave school for the NBA after the Buckeyes’ 64-62 loss against Kansas in the Final Four Saturday. “I honestly don’t know,” Sullinger said. “I really don’t know my decision yet.” OSU’s sophomore forward pulled his jersey over his head after the final buzzer sounded. He walked slowly off the court and disappeared into the depths of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome along with the rest of his team after what could have been his final game as a Buckeye. He was asked at least three different ways about his future when reporters caught up to him, but the answer was always the same. “I’ll probably just sit down with my family and probably my coaches and just talk things through,” he said. “I don’t have a definite decision yet, but we’ll see when that time is right for me.” Sullinger had a decision to make last year too, but was much clearer about his intentions. After the Buckeyes fell to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, Sullinger definitively told the world he was coming back for his sophomore season. And that’s exactly what he did. He averaged 17.6 points and about 9.7 rebounds in the 2011-12 season and was named a First Team All-American for the second consecutive year as he helped lead OSU to the Final Four. After last season, most projections had Sullinger being selected in the top-five picks in the NBA Draft. His draft status appears to have dropped after staying another year, with many projections predicting him being selected in the middle of the first round. Though he won’t make a decision just yet, Sullinger said he’s glad to have options. “I have a choice if I want to come back or not,” he said. “It’s just tough to see somebody like (senior guard William Buford) that has no chance but to leave the program.” Buford played his last game for OSU, but he knows a little bit about what Sullinger is going through. He had the option to leave early for the NBA more than once, but opted to stay in school and get his degree. But after the game, Buford said that just because the best thing for him was to remain at OSU doesn’t mean Sullinger should do the same. He offered advice for Sullinger and fellow teammate, sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas, who is also facing draft entry speculation. “I’d tell them to do whatever is best for their life,” Buford said. “They can’t listen to other people. It’s their life. In my life I didn’t listen to other people. I still have a chance to get my degree next quarter so I have something to fall back on. If they want to leave early, that’s fine if that’s what they thought was the best decision.” Sullinger’s critics have suggested he struggles against longer defenders with athleticism. Sullinger faced one of those defenders Saturday in Kansas junior center Jeff Withey, who stands seven feet tall. Withey had seven blocks in the game, many on Sullinger, who struggled to find an offensive rhythm. OSU’s big man shot 5-19 from the floor, scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. In the second half, when OSU saw a 13-point lead disappear, Sullinger shot 2-11. “I couldn’t create space off of (Withey) because every time I tried to make a move there was a guard coming, swiping down trying to get the ball out,” Sullinger said. “In the second half, the big double with Thomas Robinson coming over it was just tough.” Sullinger said the loss was tough to deal with after the game, but he was proud of what OSU accomplished during the season. “We got to the point where we was one of the last four teams standing,” he said. “Only the best basketball teams play here and we just took a loss. It hurts.”
Then-junior tight end Jeff Heuerman (86) is brought down during the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State Dec. 7 at Lucas Oil Stadium. OSU lost, 34-24.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorYet another key player for the Ohio State Buckeyes is going to miss time because of injury this spring.Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman suffered a foot sprain during practice last week and is slated to miss the rest of spring practice after having surgery Monday, OSU coach Urban Meyer said Tuesday. Meyer said he expects Heuerman to be back in June for summer workouts.“Jeff Heuerman had surgery on his foot. What it was was a sprain, and I don’t want to get too technical because I usually screw those things up,” Meyer said. “It’s a six-week in a cast/boot, and we should have him ready to go full speed by June.”Heuerman is the latest OSU player to be shelved for the remainder of spring practice, after sophomore safety Vonn Bell, sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall, senior quarterback Braxton Miller and senior wide receiver Evan Spencer have all been out with injuries. Miller and Spencer’s injuries occurred in January’s Discover Orange Bowl, while Bell and Marshall went down with knee injuries earlier in spring practice.“So that’s three guys that we’re dealing with, but Jeff didn’t need as many reps. But we lost Jalin and we lost Vonn Bell,” Meyer said. “The positive is that they’re all (going to be) back … fairly early too. Sometimes you lose that summer training which is terrible.”Heuerman was an important part of OSU’s success last season, hauling in 26 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns, as well as earning the the praises of Meyer and co-offensive line coach Ed Warinner for his run blocking skills.The Naples, Fla., product was looked to be more of a leader next season on the line after the Buckeyes lost four starting linemen to graduation.Heuerman’s backup, redshirt-junior Nick Vannett, along with freshman Marcus Baugh will likely get the most snaps at tight end as Heuerman recovers from the injury. He is expected back in June.After the annual spring game April 12 at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes are set to open their 2014 campaign Aug. 30 against Navy in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.
The Ohio State women’s basketball team won 10 of its final 12 regular season games, securing the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.OSU (21-9, 13-5) capped that run with a 78-60 win against Nebraska (20-9, 10-8) on Sunday in Lincoln, Neb.Freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell led the Buckeyes with 28 points in the contest to go along with a career-high 10 rebounds.However, the real star of the show could have been sophomore forward Shayla Cooper.Coming off the bench, the 6-foot-2-inch transfer from Georgetown scored 13 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds.The Buckeyes blew the game open with a 15-0 run to close the first half, capitalizing on nine Nebraska turnovers. However, in front of a crowd of 8,418, Nebraska refused to go down easy.The Cornhuskers kept up with the Buckeyes during the beginning of the second half before a lay-in by Mitchell settled the crowd by sparking a 9-0 run that put the Cornhuskers away for good.Mitchell has moved into third place on the OSU single-season scoring list with 736 points so far this season and has helped the Buckeyes gain momentum on a four-game win streak to close the regular season. Heading into the matchup, Mitchell was second in the nation with 24.4 points per game this year.Junior guard Ameryst Alston said before the Buckeyes took on Iowa last week that it was a goal for the team to have a high seed in the Big Ten Tournament so they could sit out the first two rounds.The Buckeyes have achieved that goal with their third seed and will have the chance to watch any possible opponent play before they take the court on Friday.The Big Ten Tournament is scheduled to take place in Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill., from Wednesday through Sunday.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts after stealing the ball from the Atlanta Hawks and driving the court for a slam as Hawks’ Kent Bazemore (24) walks away during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 26 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Credit: Courtesy of TNSThe Cleveland Cavaliers have just advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007, and all I can think about is just that year, ‘07.The team was significantly less talented than the Spurs that year, and they probably knew it. LeBron James and company were merely happy to reach the pinnacle of basketball excellence that is the Finals.However, this time they have a legitimate chance at the elusive title the city of Cleveland hasn’t experienced since 1964 when the Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts 27-0. Cleveland has nearly tasted the championship champagne on several occasions since then — most notably in 1987 and 1988 with the Browns and 1997 with the Indians. However, collectively John Elway, Earnest Byner, Edgar Renteria and Jose Mesa broke the hearts of Cleveland fans everywhere.Not to mention the shot Michael Jordan made over Craig Ehlo in 1989 or the blown 3-1 series lead over the Red Sox for the Tribe in 2007. Throw in LeBron’s decision in 2010 when he took his talents to South Beach, and one couldn’t help but think this city was cursed.I’m almost convinced they all got together and were in on the whole thing, sort of like an Ocean’s 11 ordeal, except to screw over Cleveland sports franchises instead of some multi-millionaire casino owner. There’s no way this many unfortunate events occur for one city. No way, I tell you.Upon LeBron’s return to Cleveland in the summer of 2014, grand expectations surfaced and consumed the fan base, as some went as far to celebrate in front of the man’s Bath, Ohio, home moments after hearing word he would be coming home. What would drive people to go out of their way and celebrate at his house?The answer is simple enough: the shot at a championship that everyone knew was now a very realistic opportunity with the return of one of the five best players to ever play the game of basketball.The hunger for a championship and all that it encompasses filled the minds of fans, and they couldn’t help themselves.A title for this area is larger than basketball at this point, as it can be used to boost the morale of the people, bolster the economy and even give the community something to rally around in the wake of events like the Michael Brelo trial and the death of Tamir Rice that have tormented the city.The area of Northeast Ohio and Cavs fans throughout the state know that the drought may very well be over with their hometown team returning to the forefront of the basketball world.The thing about destiny is it always happens the exact way it should. Maybe all of these setbacks in the history of Cleveland sports were reminders of our resilience and toughness to withstand anything, even a 51-year-old championship drought.Maybe LeBron needed to leave in order to learn how to win and come back with a newfound confidence that exudes in each and every one of his teammates.And maybe, just maybe, all of the losses in the past will make this one even more special and one to cherish forever.Just. Four. Wins. Away.
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. Earlier this year, Ms May took on private schools when she accused them of being “divorced from normal life” as she warned them they needed to be more proactive in looking after the interests of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.Speaking ahead of the Independent Schools Show, which takes place this weekend, Prof Bailey he told the Evening Standard her plans should be “proportionate”.He said: “I am not convinced that those comments were based upon a detailed knowledge of what independent schools do.“There is a mass of information out there about the extent of the wider contribution they make to society and that should be properly evaluated and weighed. It’s an area of education that is particularly vulnerable to wide generalisations and a lack of full understandingProfessor Mark Bailey, high master at St Paul’s School in London “It’s an area of education that is particularly vulnerable to wide generalisations and a lack of full understanding.”Independent schools, for instance, have increased their outreach programmes and links with local state counterparts.St Paul’s has also expanded its bursary provision to cover up to 20 per cent of pupils by 2020.Prof Bailey also said independent schools must make sure their intake is as representative as the wider society as possible.He said: “There is no doubt that the independent sector in general and St Paul’s have slipped and drifted from the original purpose. It is imperative that we recapture it.” Private schools’ contribution to society is “overlooked” and “vulnerable to wide generalisations”, the head of a leading independent school has said as he suggested Theresa May does not know enough about the sector.Professor Mark Bailey, high master at St Paul’s School in London, suggested the Prime Minister lacked insight on the work private schools do for society.
The standard offerings at the fish and chip shop could changeCredit:Getty As a phrase, “squid and chips” does not exactly roll of the tongue, but as a dish it is something British diners may soon have to get used to.Government scientists have predicted that the traditional national favourite of fish and chips will soon take on a distinctly Mediterranean flavour.With warming sea temperatures hampering already badly damaged cod and haddock populations, fishermen will increasingly have to chase the once abundant white fish into colder, more northerly waters. “I would anticipate that currently small-scale fisheries targeting warm-water species such as squid, sardine and anchovy will continue to expand,” said Dr Pinnegar.“They will probably represent a greater share of UK fisheries catches in 10 years’ time.”The research will be presented today at the British Ecological Society annual meeting in Liverpool. We may need to replace cod and other old favourites with warm-water species such as squid, mackerel, sardine and red mulletDr Pinnegar 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. Meanwhile, squid is being spotted in more and more UK fishing areas, according to new research.“UK consumers enjoy eating quite a limited range of seafood, but in the long-term we will need to adapt our diets,” said Dr John Pinnegar, of the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas).“In 2025 and beyond, we may need to replace cod and other old favourites with warm-water species such as squid, mackerel, sardine and red mullet.” Summer squid fisheries are expanding rapidly in areas such as the Moray Firth, as efforts to reduce over-fishing have prevented vessels from pursuing more traditional species such as haddock and cod.Data show that squid numbers have increased dramatically over the past 35 years.In 1984, Cefas found squid at only 20% of its 76 survey stations in the North Sea, compared with 60% in 2014. Squid could become a more common sight on British dinner tablesCredit:Andrew Crowley
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 Queen attending church in Sandringham on SundayCredit:Pete Maclaine/Images A portrait by David Bailey, taken in 2014 and showing the Queen wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding gift, has also been reissued. A new £5 coin designed by Glyn Davies to celebrate the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee A 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 1pm. “It is a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation that she is not marking becoming the first monarch to reign for 65 years with any special celebration but instead getting on with the job to which she has dedicated her life.”She has truly been an inspiration to all of us and I am proud, on behalf of the nation, to offer our humble thanks and congratulations on celebrating this Sapphire Jubilee.” Royal gun salutes were staged in London on Accession Day, as is the tradition, with a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at noon.The Band of the Royal Artillery played a selection of celebratory music close to the firing position as 89 horses pulled six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns into position in the park. The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday last year, with activities including a walkabout, beacon lighting and a black tie dinner for family and friends in Windsor on her actual birthday.A weekend of national celebrations, including a party on The Mall, was held for her official birthday in June. The Duke of Cambridge will this summer become a full-time royal, increasing his official duties on behalf of the Queen.William and the Duchess of Cambridge carried out an engagement on Monday, but not to do with the Queen’s record-breaking reign.They attended Place2Be’s Big Assembly at a primary school in north London to mark Children’s Mental Health Week.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May has offered her congratulations to the Queen, hailing her as “truly an inspiration to all of us”.Mrs May said it was “a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation” that the Queen had made clear she did not want official celebrations to mark the historic milestone.She added: “Today’s Sapphire Jubilee marks yet another remarkable milestone for our remarkable Queen.”I know the nation will join with me today in celebrating and giving thanks for the lifetime of service Her Majesty the Queen has given to our country and to the Commonwealth. David Bailey’s 2014 portrait of the Queen, showing her wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding gift, has been reissuedCredit:PA The Royal Mint is marking the 65th anniversary with a range of specially designed Sapphire Jubilee commemorative coins, as the Royal Mail issues a Sapphire Blue £5 stamp. It is likely that any large-scale jubilee celebrations will be reserved for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022 – although any events will take into account the fact that Queen is due to turn 96 that year. The Queen has become the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee, with royal gun salutes to mark the historic day.On February 6, the anniversary of the day she became Queen, Elizabeth II has reigned for 65 years.She is expected to commemorate the landmark date privately at her Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, with no official engagements planned. The Queen, who missed church over Christmas due to a heavy cold, may well be matter-of-fact about the historic occasion.In 2015, when she thanked the nation for its kind messages after overtaking Queen Victoria to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history, she admitted the royal record was “not one to which I have ever aspired”.She added: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.” The Queen was in good spirits on Sunday as she greeted well-wishers after attending a church service at St Peter and St Paul in West Newton, Norfolk. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery stage a 41-gun salute in Green Park, central LondonCredit:Jonathan Brady/PA Royal Mail’s Sapphire Blue £5 stamp The Queen receives flowers from Jessica Atfield, three, after a church service on SundayCredit:Gareth Fuller/PA Members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park, central London, after staging a 41-gun saluteCredit:Jonathan Brady/PA Show more Three-year-old Jessica Atfield, who dressed for the occasion in a union flag skirt, was delighted when she handed a bunch of flowers to the Queen.