Which MLB Teams Overperform in Popularity

Facebook maps of sports fandom, such as the one Facebook just published about Major League Baseball, are one of my favorite things:But as Will Oremus of Slate notes, this approach conceals important information. Facebook’s map, which identifies the team with the most “likes” in each U.S. county, might give you the idea that the Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins are exceptionally popular. Indeed, they are reasonably well-liked over a broad geographical area. But most of the counties in their territories are rural and have low populations. The problem is analogous to looking at maps of presidential election results by county, which might convey the impression that Mitt Romney won the 2012 election when he did not.Another way to evaluate a baseball team’s popularity is to look at data from Google Trends.Google Trends recently unveiled a beta feature in which it aggregates search terms into topics. For example, searches for “St. Louis Cardinals,” “Saint Louis Cardinals,” “cardinals baseball” and so forth, are grouped under the same topic heading. (The feature can also theoretically avoid false positives; for example, searches for “Texas Ranger” that were seeking information on the defunct television show will not be confused with those for the baseball team.) In most cases, this functionality seems to be quite smart; the topic “Miami Marlins” seems to pick up searches for “Florida Marlins” as well, as the team was known prior to 2012.The chart below lists the number of Google searches for the topic associated with each MLB team. The figures listed are relative to the league average. (The Atlanta Braves’ popularity, for example, is listed as 1.14, which means that they are searched for 1.14 times as often as the average MLB club.) They reflect Google searches worldwide since 2004, except in the case of the Washington Nationals, where I’ve run the numbers from April 2005 forward, because the team played in Montreal before that time.By Google searches, the Rangers have only about average popularity, while the Twins and the Rockies are below average. Conversely, the New York Mets, who didn’t win a single county in the Facebook map, are the sixth-most searched for team worldwide.The most striking feature of the Google data, however, is the dominance of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. They are searched for 3.8 and 3.7 times, respectively, more often than the league average, and more than 10 times as often as the least popular teams.The Yankees, of course, have a large population to draw from: There are roughly 20 million people in the New York metro area. How does each team’s Google search popularity compare to the size of its television market?We make that comparison in the table below. I’ve listed each team’s popularity on Google, the relative size of its TV market (markets with two teams are divided evenly between them), and then taken the ratio between the two. The Yankees rank third even by this standard. But the Red Sox are a clear No. 1 and are about three times as popular as you’d guess from the size of the Boston media market. The Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Pirates and Reds also over-perform relative to their market size.Red Sox haters might complain that the team’s market is much bigger than Boston alone: They are also the “local” team in the rest of New England (except for western Connecticut).But extent to which a team’s popularity expands may have a lot to do with how well the team is run — and how often it wins. The Toronto Blue Jays theoretically have a whole country to themselves — but they are unpopular relative to the size of the Toronto market itself, let alone as compared to the population of Canada. The correlation between a team’s Google search popularity and its number of post-season appearances since 2004 is .62, a fair amount higher than that between its popularity and its market size (.38).Performing worst relative to its population are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I’m somewhat suspicious of this datapoint, however. There are so many variations on the team’s name (“LA Angels,” “Anaheim Angels,” “That Team With Mike Trout and 24 Other People”) that Google Trends might not be picking up on all the ways to search for them, even with its new-and-improved algorithms. read more

Week 16 NFL Elo Ratings And Playoff Odds

There are just two weeks remaining in the NFL regular season — and, as expected, we’re getting much more clarity about which teams are most likely to make a run to the Super Bowl.Twelve teams will make the NFL playoffs. Four of them — New England, Denver, Indianapolis and Arizona — have clinched a position. Another seven — Seattle, Detroit, Green Bay, Dallas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati — have at least an 80 percent chance of reaching the postseason. It’s more likely than not that one of these teams will be knocked out, but the playoffs aren’t as wide-open as they appeared a few weeks ago. The 12th spot will go to the winner of the NFC South.The real drama, however, will ensue once the playoffs begin. More than at earlier points in the season, there’s a clear top level of teams. It consists of the Patriots, Seahawks and Broncos.You could debate the order of these teams. FiveThirtyEight’s Elo ratings have the Patriots first, the Seahawks second and the Broncos third. Football Outsiders’ DVOA also has New England first, but the Broncos ahead of the Seahawks. Jeff Sagarin, of USAToday, has the teams in the same order as DVOA. Vegas point spreads imply that Seattle is the best team, followed by New England and Denver.But there’s reasonably clear separation between the top three and everyone else in the league. According to Elo, in fact, the gap between No. 3 Denver and No. 4 Arizona is wider than the gap between Arizona and No. 12 Philadelphia. Collectively, the Patriots, Seahawks and Broncos have a 62 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl.None of these teams is exactly a surprise. In fact, each one ranked in the top four in our preseason Elo ratings, which were based on the teams’ Elo ratings at the end of last year.More generally, this has been a year where the richer teams got richer and the poorer ones got poorer. If you take the preseason ratings and divide the teams into halves, 11 of the 16 teams in the top half of the ratings have seen their Elo ratings improve since the start of the year. But 10 of the 16 teams in the bottom half have seen their ratings decline.The Elo ratings generally haven’t behaved like this in past seasons. The way the system is designed, a team is about equally likely to see its rating improve or decline, whatever rating it starts with.It’s probably premature to decipher any long-term trends from this season’s results. But perhaps there are some factors nudging the NFL away from the parity we’ve grown used to in recent seasons. Rules changes have allowed great quarterbacks to be more dominant. Access to information, technology and analytics may be enabling teams with great coaching, scouting and management to maintain more of an edge even as player personnel turns over.As for the rest of the teams in the playoff hunt, we’ve reached the point where playoff outcomes are more deterministic and less probabilistic, with several opportunities for teams to clinch or eliminate themselves from playoff position with wins or losses this week. Mike Beouy and Reuben Fischer-Baum’s column on playoff implications has all the detail you’ll want on these, but here’s how Elo has the numbers:There are some subtle differences between the playoff odds that Elo assigns and the ones that Beouy and Fischer-Baum do. This is partly because they use different measures of team strength and partly because the Beouy/Fischer-Baum system has a more complete handling of the NFL’s complex tiebreaker rules. But the overall message is largely the same; each system has the 11 teams I mentioned before with an 80 percent chance or greater of making the postseason.However, it matters significantly how the teams are seeded. This is most acute in the case of the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are currently one game ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC West, but Arizona lost to Seattle earlier this season, so Seattle would move ahead on the tiebreaker if they beat Arizona this weekend at University of Phoenix Stadium. Elo has Seattle as only narrow favorites in that game, but Vegas odds have the Seahawks favored by 8 points.If Arizona wins, it will clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Arizona holds the tiebreaker advantage over the rest of the conference, partly by virtue of having beaten Dallas and Detroit earlier this season. Uniquely, this advantage would also extend to the Super Bowl, which is being held in Glendale, Arizona, this year. The Cardinals would become the first team ever to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium (although the San Francisco 49ers came close when Super Bowl XIX was held in Stanford, California.)So even though they’ve clinched a playoff spot, this weekend’s game couldn’t be more important for Arizona. The Elo simulations give them a 37 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl if they win the NFC West, but just a 7 percent chance if they enter as a wild card team instead.Elo point spreadsRecord against point spread: 113-93-3 on season (8-7 in Week 15)Straight-up record: 156-67-1 on season (12-4 in Week 15)The dominance of teams like New England, Seattle and Denver has made it easier for Elo to “call” winners correctly this year; the team favored by the system has won about 70 percent of the time this season.Elo also has about a 55 percent winning percentage against closing Vegas point spreads. But as we’ve said every week, we still don’t think you should place bets using Elo, at least not without considering a lot of other information. Although we didn’t publish Elo ratings before this season, historically they would have picked only about 51 percent of games against the point spread.A 55 percent winning percentage sounds impressive, but there’s still a lot of noise in the sample of 206 games. (This total excludes games that ended in pushes and cases where the Elo and Vegas lines exactly matched one another.) If a system’s long-run winning percentage was 51 percent, there’s still a 12 percent chance it would finish with a 55 percent winning percentage or better in a sample of that size, according to a binomial distribution.Elo has mostly been right about the Cardinals, however — and it’s the Arizona-Seattle game that will tell us the most this weekend about who’s going to the Super Bowl. read more

Messi Walks Better Than Most Players Run

Expected goals0.603 And yet, in part because of the juvenile nature of soccer analysis, we have barely scratched the surface of understanding quite how Messi does it. This is most true when looking at his movement. Messi may get the ball more than most, but he, like all players, still spends the majority of his time without it — making runs, hiding in space, creating space for his teammates. It’s an integral part of his game that we know almost nothing about. The outcomes are there for all to see, but the process is obfuscated — we observe and quantify what Messi does on the ball, and are blind when he is off it.Throughout his career, Messi has been criticized for walking. After an El Clasico match between Barcelona and Real Madrid in December 2017, there was widespread coverage of the fact that Messi walked 83 percent of the roughly 5 miles he covered that game. Despite this, he scored and assisted in Barca’s 3-0 trouncing.This season in the Champions League (the only competition to release this basic running data), Messi ran comfortably less than any other elite attackers, averaging just less than 5 miles per 90 minutes. Naturally, a large portion of how much you run will be based on the team you play for and your role on that team. Teams that defend more will tend to cover larger distances, while certain tactical styles expect more of their forwards — Roberto Firmino of high-pressing Liverpool covered almost 7 miles per 90 minutes. But Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid — which, like Barcelona, doesn’t press particularly stringently in its opponent’s half — averaged four-fifths of a mile more than Messi.We’ve known this trait of Messi’s for quite some time: In 2014 World Cup coverage, Ken Early remarked that “only Messi has figured out how to win matches by moving less than everyone else.” Benjamin Morris wrote about the phenomenon for FiveThirtyEight after Argentina lost to Germany in the final. The most popular explanation has been that Messi walks to conserve his energy for critical moments, like a perfectly efficient machine. But even when he’s walking, new research suggests, he’s far from idle.Luke Bornn, vice president of strategy and analytics for the Sacramento Kings, and Javier Fernandez, a data scientist at FC Barcelona, presented research at this year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston that helps us shed some light on the phenomenon. Soccer is fundamentally a game of space and movement, so Bornn and Fernandez devised models using positional data that evaluate the occupation and generation of space by players.“We can see at every instant the location of each player and the ball, and from this deduce how players’ movements create space for themselves and others,” Bornn said. “We can also see whether they do that actively, by running into open spaces, or passively, by staying in high-value locations while the play shifts away.”The phrase “high-value locations” refers to another part of their research that quantified how much areas of the pitch are worth to either team. A rudimentary measure would simply be distance to goal, but after discussions with experts at Barcelona, Fernandez and Bornn realized that the value of space in soccer changes dynamically based on the positions of the players and the ball. Instead, they took the novel approach of extracting the value of space based on the behavior of the defending team. At the aggregate level, defenders will look to cut off the areas that are most dangerous relative to where the ball is.Watch how Messi passively gains space on the right wing for Barcelona during an attack, with a dual view showing how Bornn and Fernandez dynamically value space behind the Villarreal defenders:Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/field_value_edit_1.mp400:0000:0000:32Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Applying the models to data from that La Liga match between Barcelona and Villarreal in January 2017, Bornn and Fernandez found that Barcelona’s most important principle space gainers were Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Messi.They divide this space gain into two types: “active,” in which the player is moving at running speed, and “passive,” in which he is not. Iniesta and Busquets were passive just 43 percent and 52 percent of the time they held valuable positions. Remarkably, in about 66 percent of the moments Messi won control of valuable space, he was walking. Even while strolling, he is helping his team by holding ground in valuable areas, waiting for the ball to come to him.They also looked at space generation and reception, when a moving player creates space for his teammates by dragging an opposing defender with him. In the same match, Messi was one of Barcelona’s top three players in terms of gaining space, along with Luis Suarez and Neymar. The three of them, in Barcelona’s devastating 4-3-3, would spread out wide across the pitch, forcing defenders to follow them. Bornn and Fernandez found that Messi and Suarez had a “special connection,” generating considerable amounts of space for each other.Whether Messi consciously decides to go against the run of play with his movement is difficult to ascertain. “Can we say Messi gets a lot of his space by not chasing the play? Yes, that’s precisely what our research shows.” Bornn said. “Is he doing it deliberately? To answer that, you’d probably have to ask the man himself.”As he battles to cement his reputation this summer, Messi will be under more scrutiny than ever before. We’re used to seeing him provide dazzling passes, incisive shots and glamorous dribbles, but we shouldn’t be afraid to keep our eyes on him even when the ball is elsewhere, and especially if he is moving slowly. For Messi never really walks; he prowls.Check out our latest World Cup predictions. In the 12 years since he became the youngest Argentine to score a World Cup goal, Lionel Messi has won more Ballon d’Or trophies, awarded to the world’s best player, than anyone before him.1Cristiano Ronaldo has since tied him with five. He has scored more official goals in a calendar year than anyone in living memory. He is the top scorer of all time in Spain’s La Liga, and this season, his performances have been characteristically devastating: Assists0.366 Successful dribbles5.551 StatisticPer 90 min.League Rank* Lionel Messi’s performance in the 2017-18 La Liga season Expected assists0.431 * Among attackers with minimum 850 minutes playedSource: Football Whispers Goals1.021 read more

Skeptical Football Goatslingers Manning vs Messi And The Andrew Luck Experiment

In last week’s column, I pointed out the importance of teams’ early records when trying to predict their playoff fates. This prompted a few skeptical tweets, like so:This tweeter is obviously right. The first few games of the season are predictive in part because losing games makes it harder to make the playoffs, and in part because they tell us something about the strength of the teams that lost them.That said, “Correlation is not causation” is what I like to call The Hammer to end arguments against all kinds of statistical findings. People use it to bash anything, but it’s blunt and dangerous.1Every time someone uses The Hammer on me, a puppy loses its wings.The artist and writer Randall Munroe took on The Hammer in xkcd:In the alt text of that comic, he hits the nail on the head: “Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there.’”Let’s break down an example2Rookie Quarterback Watch has pretty much devolved into “How Bad Will the QBs Ahead of Rookie QBs Get Before the Rookie QBs Get to Start?” Watch.: Last week I observed that quarterbacks who (A) start more games in their rookie seasons (B) tend to have better careers. What does this observation imply?There are several possibilities:Starting rookies causes them to have better careers (A causes B).The types of rookies who are likely to have better careers are more likely to earn a rookie starting spot (B causes A).Rookies who are drafted higher are more likely to get starts, and are also more likely to have better careers (something else — call it C — causes both A and B).This is all just a coincidence and we should go home.Some combination of the above.That covers a lot of bases, but by making the observation, Nos. 1 through 3 become more likely than they were before. In this case, it’s fairly easy to establish that the relationship between A and B (rookie starts and non-rookie career AV) exists even when controlling for C (draft position).Following the observation that A and B are correlated, basically any possible state of the universe in which A and B are causally related has become more likely. For a Bayesian, determining which possibilities have seen their likelihood change the most involves consulting his prior beliefs, establishing which possibilities were the most likely before his new observation, and how likely the observation would be if each possibility were true. This leads to an updated set of beliefs about the likelihood of each scenario, which becomes the baseline for evaluating new observations, and so on.Charitably, “correlation ≠ causation” itself is a kind of limited Bayesian analysis. When people use it, they often mean simply that the “A causes B” scenario still doesn’t seem very likely to them, and thus they think other explanations are more likely. This is the case for most popular statistics examples, like the fact that lemon imports correlate negatively with highway fatality. That lemons are somehow preventing accidents is obviously ridiculous, so it doesn’t matter how strong the correlation is: It’s either a coincidence or we’re going to need other explanations.3I should note that for a true Bayesian, the odds that lemon imports actually do reduce highway fatality has still increased on the margins.But the idea that rookies playing could help them develop is not ridiculous — it’s highly debatable. After observing the relationship between rookie QB starts and career success (plus controlling for draft position), I must conclude that playing rookies is more likely to be good for their careers than I thought before, barring any other evidence. But that doesn’t mean it’s true. The alternative (or concurrent) explanation is also plausible: If coaches are good at determining which rookie QBs are actually good, and then tend to start the better ones, it’s still possible that starting them has a neutral (or even negative) effect on their careers individually. Regardless of which explanation is true, the observation remains the same: a rookie QB getting the start is good news for his prospects.Charts of the weekAaron Rodgers had his ups and downs against the Jets last week:I jest, of course. Rodgers brilliantly brought the Packers back from a 21-3 hole, but the comeback was complete by the end of the third quarter.This was Rodgers’s first-ever win after being down 15 points or more4I picked this number because it’s the smallest margin which Rodgers has never overcome, but as a separate and interesting point, I’ve found that 15-16 point margins, while technically “two scores” because they can be reached with two touchdowns plus two point conversions, actually act more like three score margins (17) than two score margins (14). against an opponent — though it was only his 12th opportunity. Here’s how he stacks up against other QBs since 2001 in comparable situations:Whoa, Peyton Manning! Forget Rodgers, Manning is the story here. But, it’s only 10 wins. Crazy things happen right? Let’s widen the scope, taking a look at all games in which a player’s team trailed by eight or more points, rather than just 15 or more:Peyton Manning is a practically Messi-esque outlier, complete with his own Cristiano Ronaldo to keep him company.Goatslinger of the weekThis was a tough week for gunslingers, as QBs who threw interceptions went 1-14, most of those games weren’t that close, and many of the interceptions were terrible. (Our nominal winner: Matt Ryan, whose three interceptions were at least all thrown downfield while his team was trailing.)So I’ve invented a new (hopefully temporary) award of ignominy: the Goatslinger.Andrew Luck, last week’s Gunslinger, is a contender for Goatslinger this week. With just 5:15 left, up seven against the Philadelphia Eagles, and already in field goal range, he threw an interception to Malcolm Jenkins. Plays like that give gamblers a bad name!But the top Goatslinger was Colin Kaepernick for his amazing effort to throw away San Francisco’s win against Chicago. He managed four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble), three of them with his team up, including the interception up 20-14 in the fourth quarter that led to Chicago’s game-deciding touchdown.Twitter question of the week, Part 1I had two interesting questions on Twitter this week related to the timing and length of drives. First up:The answer is essentially “none,” or that there ends up being even less scoring in these scenarios. But the question is deceptively interesting. It’s also a fun vehicle for exploring the relationship between turnover rates and scoring/touchdown rates.In general, teams score more per drive when they are behind, but are also more likely to turn the ball over. I’ve broken down drives by quarter and point margin (tied, up or down 1-3 points, 4-7 points, 8-14 points, and 15 points or more) and compared how often the drives resulted in touchdowns to how often they resulted in turnovers.5To pre-empt a question I will almost certainly get despite this attempt to pre-empt it: Yes, obviously a lot more can happen on drives than just touchdowns or turnovers. For example, drives that end in field goal attempts count as neither, even though they may lead to points. This matters in situations where there’s no time for a touchdown, or where a team only cares about the three points. But we’ve excluded a lot of those situations by filtering out the last two minutes of each half. It’s also possible to do the same analysis on a points-per-drive, or even “expected points added” basis, but the results are similar. Considering the implications are the same, I prefer the symmetry and ease of interpreting touchdowns vs. turnovers. This gives us a sense of the trade-off between the two.Think of a drive when the game is tied in the first quarter as a kind of baseline: If a team starts at least 70 yards out, 15.5 percent of such drives will end in TDs, and 12.5 percent will end in turnovers. Compare that to the situation where teams are most aggressive: when they’re down 8-14 points in the fourth quarter. In those scenarios they score touchdowns 21.2 percent of the time and turn it over at a 27.5 percent clip.As teams play more aggressively, their chances of scoring go up, but so do their chances of turning the ball over. You can think of the ratio between these chances as the “price” of marginal scoring. For example, increasing your chances of scoring a touchdown by 1 percent requires increasing your chances of turning the ball over by up to 2 percent.6I should note that this exchange rate is likely skewed a little by the fact that worse teams tend to be behind more. I’m working on deskewing this to get a more exact comparison for a future project. In some situations, that’s a price you’re willing to pay (such as when you’re behind and stalled drives are pretty much just as bad), and in some it’s not.Understanding this trade-off is useful in analyzing a whole range of things in football, and my study of it is ongoing. But in the meantime, we can use our immediate findings to look at the situations our tweeter asked about and see what’s going on there.Before the half, it’s apparent that teams are extremely willing to settle for the points they have. With between one and two minutes on the clock in the second quarter, teams score touchdowns on 7 percent of their drives and turn the ball over on 12.9 percent. These are both lower than our baseline, so they’re definitely being conservative. It’s unclear what effect more aggression would have.With between one and two minutes on the clock at the end of the fourth quarter in games separated by between four and eight points, teams score touchdowns on 15.3 percent of drives, and turn the ball over on 42.1 percent of them. This is interesting because they spend a large number of turnovers on a completely average number of touchdowns. I think this reflects time pressure, but it could also suggest that true last-ditch “prevent” defenses may be pretty effective.Twitter question of the week, Part 2The simple answer is: Absolutely, a drive that eats up clock is valuable — when a team is ahead and wants to shorten the game. But shortening the game can also be useful when one team is a lot worse than the other.Imagine trading 100 drives with a team led by Peyton Manning, the Chiefs’ opponent in Week 2. Manning scores more per drive than anyone, and his accumulated points scored over 100 of them would be impossible for all but the best teams to overcome. Say the difference between your team and Manning’s was that Manning’s was one point per drive better — in a 100-drive game, your team would have to run 100 points above expectation to have a fighting chance. Statistically, that’s virtually impossible.7A team’s standard deviation on points scored over 100 drives is only 10 times the standard deviation of points scored for a single drive, so it can’t be more than 35, which would make a 100-point swing a three-standard-deviation event.But if each team got only one drive, yours would win every time it scored and Manning’s didn’t. That’s orders of magnitude more likely.This was pretty much exactly what happened with the Chiefs against the Broncos. The Chiefs had two extremely long drives in the second half: The first came at the start of the third quarter, lasted 10 minutes, and ended with a missed 37-yard field goal. The second came at the start of the fourth quarter, lasted 7:42, and ended with a Chiefs TD that drew them within four and set up a potential game-winning drive after Manning failed to score. As a result, Manning had only two meaningful possessions in the entire second half. Down 11 points, the Chiefs needed to score twice in their three possessions and have Denver score none in their two to win. Given the circumstances, those aren’t terrible odds.But let’s focus on their second drive at the very beginning of the fourth. It’s extremely risky to draw up a drive that lasts that long when down 11, as the end of the game quickly approaches. But leaving that aside, they did score a TD in a supposedly back-breaking fashion. Are such TDs any more valuable than regular TDs in similar situations?Using play-by-play data from ESPN, I looked back at all touchdown-scoring drives starting in the third quarter8I excluded the fourth quarter to minimize end-of-game effect. since 2001 in which a team was down 11-13 points at the start. I was kind of surprised by the results:The sample sizes on these aren’t very big (it’s only 107 cases total, and the most likely drive is right around the middle), but teams have won nine of 19 cases (47 percent) in which their scoring drives lasted longer than three minutes. That’s a pretty big number for being down, and it’s way higher than the 20 percent teams won after scoring on more normal drives. Why and if that’s significant, I don’t know, but it certainly leaves open the possibility that long drives like that may indicate/affect something larger.The Hacker Gods read FiveThirtyEightAs we all know, the Hacker Gods — who probably created this universe, by accident, while simulating a fourth-dimensional supernova — obviously read FiveThirtyEight. Last week they appeared to enjoy bolstering my analysis of Philip Rivers, but this week they are trying to undo me.Aaron Rodgers, whom I previously criticized for playing too conservatively (especially when behind), somehow brought the Packers back from 18 down against the Jets, earning the first 15+ point comeback victory of his career.Last week I talked up the majesty of gambling even if it risks an interception, but in Week 2 quarterbacks who threw one or more interceptions went 1-14.The only INT-throwing QB to win was Nick Foles against the Colts, but he won in part because inaugural Gunslinger of the Week Andrew Luck basically gave the game away by throwing his own INT with his team up seven and in field goal range in the fourth (suffice to say, that is a terrible spot to gamble).Experimental chart of the weekInspired by the Aaron Rodgers comeback, I asked on Twitter who people would want leading their team if it was down 15 or more points. Andrew Luck won the straw poll by a landslide with 47 percent of the votes, versus 20 percent for Peyton Manning. (Turnout was poor.9Only 15 votes total.)From the Charts of the Week above, this might seem pretty silly. For the most part, it is: Manning has won a higher percentage of games in which he has been down by 15 points than Luck, over a lot more games, even though it seems Luck has been on a tear for a couple of years. Impressive, but Manning has been down 15 much less often than Luck.This chart plots the percentage of 15-point comeback opportunities won vs. how often those opportunities have come up. I’ve also represented the total number of games, the number of comeback opportunities, and the number of successful comebacks as concentric circles, and plotted like so:Manning is even more impressive relative to Brady/Rodgers, but Luck managing to win in 3 of just 13 tries despite being on a team that ends up in that spot 36 percent of the time isn’t too shabby (the other data point near Luck at 20 percent is Matthew Stafford). If he can keep that up for another decade or so, he might just be a worthy successor to Manning.Most empirically significant game of Week 3If I could only watch one game, obviously it would be the Broncos/Seahawks Super Bowl rematch. But there is probably nothing that could happen in that game that would surprise me.Minnesota at New Orleans, on the other hand, holds some mystery. It may have even more empirical effect on Peyton Manning’s legacy than Manning’s own game: Every game that Matt Cassel bombs is more evidence that Bill Belichick has more to do with Tom Brady’s success than Tom Brady (because then it’s more likely that Cassel’s/Brady’s success in New England was because of Belichick), that Randy Moss is likely responsible for much of Brady’s (and Cassel’s) statistical accomplishment, and thus that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of this generation.Charts by Reuben Fischer-BaumCORRECTION (Sept. 18, 1:50 p.m.): This article originally misstated the time and recipient of Andrew Luck’s interception in the Colts’ game against the Eagles. Luck threw the interception with 5:15, not 5:32, left in the fourth quarter and Malcolm Jenkins, not Rahim Moore, intercepted it. read more

Ohio State wrestling recap from Eastern Michigan

OSU freshman Myles Martin celebrates after winning the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 19 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Credit: Courtesy of OSUOver the weekend, the Ohio State wrestling team traveled north to Eastern Michigan, where several competing Buckeyes claimed spots atop the podium.Saturday’s competition marked the official start of the season for OSU’s wrestlers, and the team hit the ground running fast, with six Buckeyes placing third or above in their weight classes. At 133 lbs., freshman Luke Pletcher made the most of his collegiate debut, winning four matches on the day, with a crucial 4-1 victory over Mario Guillen of Ohio University to advance to the final match. In the title match, Pletcher faced off against Buckeye teammate freshman Brendan Fitzgerald, a match in which Fitzgerald conceded in a medical forfeit, putting Pletcher atop the podium to win first place in the weight class.Fitzgerald’s day was strong, pinning two opponents, while powering through a close match versus Giuseppe Penzone of Tiffin University, winning 6-4. Fitzgerald finished his wrestling with a fall in just a minute over Stevan Micic of Michigan.In his first tournament at 149 lbs., redshirt sophomore Micah Jordan dominated Saturday, scoring an impressive 79 points throughout four matches. Jordan’s final match of the day was more of the same, defeating Justin Oliver of Central Michigan University 15-7, becoming the second Buckeye to claim a title.Wrestling at 197 lbs., redshirt freshman Kollin Moore gave OSU its third title, where Moore scored in the double digits in all four matches.  Storming to the final match to compete for the title, Moore defeated Riley Lefever of Wabash College 11-6, finding his way to the top of the podium.Two Buckeyes placed third at Eastern Michigan. Redshirt sophomore Cody Burcher, at 165 pounds, along with redshirt junior Jack Rozema, at 184 pounds, both bounced back from semifinal losses to claim third on the day in their respective weight classes.Meanwhile, at Cleveland State University, OSU sophomore Myles Martin wrestled in a feature match at the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic Saturday night.  The 184 pound dual brought Martin against two-time defending national champion Gabe Dean of Cornell.  Martin’s first match at 184 pounds did not go his way, as he fell to Dean 13-4. OSU’s wrestling team travels next to Troy, New York, for the ASICS/Journeymen Classic on Sunday. read more

OSU football recruits Towering receiver flying under the radar

When discussing college recruiting, experts often say, “the sky’s the limit” about a specific recruit’s potential. Ohio State recruit Tyrone Williams might have already reached the sky. The towering 6-foot-7-inch, 215-pound wide receiver from East Cleveland, Ohio, brings a height element to the OSU receiving core that Buckeye fans don’t see often. “He is unlike any other receiver prospect that has come into the program during the Jim Tressel era,” said Kevin Noon, managing editor of Buckeyegrove.com. Williams had 39 catches for 685 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior and was second team All-State for Shaw High School. He was the No. 34 ranked wideout in the class of 2010 according to ESPN 150. He was also a letterman in basketball and track.  Steve Helwagen of Bucknuts.com said Williams has a lot of potential at the college level because of his size and build.  “There aren’t a lot of Randy Moss-type players. That is going to be able to create some mismatches for Ohio State in the red zone where they can throw him a jump ball,” Helwagen said. “We saw that in the Fiesta Bowl two years ago where Todd Boeckman threw the ball to Terrelle Pryor, and Texas had no defense for it.” Williams, who was also recruited by West Virginia, Cincinnati and Illinois, might have had other suitors if not for a knee injury that cut his junior season short.  “The injury his junior year left a little bit of skepticism out there,” Helwagen said. “I think some schools wanted to see what he did at the start of his senior year, but when Ohio State offered, it was an open and shut deal.” Noon thinks that Williams can probably benefit from redshirting this upcoming season. “He can learn the system, get into a collegiate strength and conditioning program, and work a little bit on honing his skills,” Noon said.  Helwagen said that if Williams doesn’t redshirt, he could make an impact due to his height advantage.  “He’s a weapon that Ohio State doesn’t have currently,” Helwagen said. “If he shows them that he can make plays right away in the fall, he’ll bring that element where he’ll be able to out jump corners because of his height.” Outside of the obvious height advantage, Williams brings great body control, a huge wingspan and a power forward’s frame to the Buckeyes.  “He is deceptively fast and has the ability to go get the ball,” Noon said. “He is able to give quarterbacks a huge target.” Ohio State clearly has a recruit in Williams, who has the potential to be a great receiver for the Buckeyes if he is able to shake off the effects of his injury and grow into the position. Noon said, “If he is able to live up to the billing, Ohio State got an absolute steal in Tyrone Williams.” read more

Urban Meyer likely next coach at Ohio State

Former Florida coach and current ESPN analyst Urban Meyer has agreed in principle to become Ohio State’s next head football coach, according to a report from WKMG-TV in Orlando. An OSU spokesman on Wednesday did not deny that Meyer will be the Buckeyes next coach. According to the WKMG-TV report, the deal is worth $40 million over seven years, which would make Meyer the highest paid coach in OSU history. “We have not been commenting on rumors and speculation,” university spokesman Jim Lynch said in an email to The Lantern. Meyer released a statement through ESPN denying a deal is in place. “I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place,” Meyer said in the statement. “I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further.” If the report is true, Meyer will be replacing interim coach Luke Fickell, who has led the Buckeyes to an 6-5 regular season record. Meyer began his coaching career at OSU when he accepted a graduate-assistant position for the Buckeyes in 1986 as the tight end coach. He became a wide receiver coach the following year. For the next 13 years, Meyer served as an assistant coach, which included stints at Illinois State, Colorado State and Notre Dame. In 2001, Meyer accepted his first head coaching position at Bowling Green where he led the Falcons to a 17-6 record in his two years there. He left to accept another head coaching job at the University of Utah in 2003. Meyer led the Utes to a 10-2 record and was named Coach of the Year in the Mountain West Conference. The following season, Meyer coached Utah to an undefeated season and beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-7. It was the first time since the creation of the BCS that a school from a non-automatically qualifying BCS conference was able to run the table and finish the year without a loss. After the 2004 season, both Florida and Notre Dame pursued Meyer to become their next head coach. Meyer chose Florida and signed a $14 million contract. Meyer went 9-3 during his first year as the Gators coach, including a 31-24 victory of Iowa in the Outback Bowl. During his second year as Florida coach, Meyer led the Gators to a National Championship and 13-1 record by defeating the OSU 41-14 in the BCS Championship Game. Two years later, Florida won another National Championship after defeating the University of Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game, 24-14. On Dec. 26, 2009, Meyer announced he would be resigning as coach of Florida following the team’s scheduled appearance in the BCS Sugar Bowl due to chest pains and severe headaches. The following day, Meyer announced an indefinite leave of absence instead of resigning. On Jan. 1, 2010, Meyer coached the Gators to a 51–24 Sugar Bowl victory against Cincinnati. After the win, Meyer took time off, but returned to his role as Gators head coach in time for the start of spring practice. Florida went 7-5 during the 2010 regular season, but on Dec. 8 Meyer announced his retirement from coaching. In his final game as Gator head coach, Florida beat Penn State in The Outback Bowl, 37-24. In 2011, Meyer accepted a position at ESPN working as a college football analyst. read more

How dwelling on problems could harm motherchild bonding

first_imgHalf of the women were then asked to do a task involving dwelling in detail on a personal problem and its effect on them.The other half were encouraged to think about a problem that had been important to them but that they had resolved.They were then observed again to compare how the task affected them, taking into account their previous level of responsiveness.Dr Michelle Tester-Jones, the lead author, said: “We hope these findings will be useful for health visitors and midwives when working with new mums, to help understand why mums might be finding interactions with their baby more difficult and support them in building a close and responsive relationship with their baby.“We understand that being a new parent can be difficult, and we think that mums are doing a great job.“The purpose of our study was to help identify thinking styles that might contribute to more or less sensitive parenting.“The good news is that there are strategies to help manage rumination, and our research suggests that changing rumination can reduce potentially negative interactions with baby.”Dr Heather O’Mahen, another member of the research team, added: “We know that mums are often getting by on a small amount of sleep.“It can feel tricky for mums to try to stick to a focused approach when they’re so tired. It can be especially important at this time for mums to talk through their worries in this specific and focussed way with other people she trusts.“We also urge mothers not to be too hard on themselves.” Mothers who over-analyse their problems could be harming their chances of bonding properly with their newborn babies, psychologists have concluded.A study by experts in “mood disorders” at the University of Exeter found that those who dwell on problems and blame themselves can have poorer-quality relationships with their babies.They found that some of those who tended to “ruminate”  – dwelling on problems in a negative way rather than thinking of constructive solutions  – appeared to have less eye contact with their baby, were slower to comfort them if they became distressed and even spoke to them in a more flat tone The purpose was to help identify thinking styles that might contribute to more or less sensitive parentingDr Michelle Tester-Jones baby The researchers analysed how the mothers and babies interacted before and afterCredit: Blend Images/Alamy 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. Significantly, they found that the effect was the same irrespective of whether or not mothers also had symptoms of depression.Researchers recruited almost 80 mothers with young children from the South West of England to take part in the study, which is published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.They filmed them interacting with their children, at home or in a relaxed setting, to assess their body language and behaviour as well as how responsive they were overall.last_img read more

Jeremy Vine refuses to answer construction worker who asks whether he is

first_imgJeremy Vine then told Harry Jones that he thinks some BBC presenters are in fact overpaid. Mr Jones said: “You spend your life asking people questions – I am asking you a direct question.”Do you think you and the rest of the BBC are overpaid?”The presenter answered: “Some are.”The construction worker told Jeremy Vine that although he enjoys the BBC’s output, he didn’t think the pay disparity between BBC employees and those on the minimum wage was fair. He said: “I see men  from the coal industry buckled up from working all their life, doing hard graft, and have nothing to show for it.”How can you people justify the amount of money you are earning?”I don’t know how you and the rest of the BBC can justify picking their pay check up every week when there are men and women working their fingers to the bone who don’t get nowhere near the money you are earning and are struggling to live”. Jeremy Vine held a call-in on his Radio 2 show, after it was revealed he earns a salary of over £700,000 a year, so listeners could state their views on how much BBC employees are paid.The Radio 2 presenter spoke with Harry Jones, a construction worker from Glamorgan, who asked him whether he was “embarrassed” to pick up his paycheck, and whether he thought he was overpaid.Mr Vine refused to answer whether he was paid too much, and said it was a “matter for the BBC”.Mr Jones asked: “I enjoy your programme and I enjoy you personally but are you embarrassed to pick up your paycheck?”The presenter replied:”I just feel very lucky every day”. “I’m just wondering if Ken should be knocking on your door and asking for it to be at least doubled!”However, Mr Purnell dodged the question, saying that “this is the problem of comparing these things”. When asked: “Do you think you’re overpaid?”, Jeremy Vine said he didn’t want to answer.He said: “I don’t even really want to answer that because I don’t feel like it’s the moment for me”.Shortly before the discussion with Mr Jones, Jeremy Vine had been speaking to Director of BBC Radio James Purnell, and he seemed to suggest he thought Chris Evans was overpaid compared to his colleagues. He asked: “How do you justify that Chris Evans is paid almost ten times the amount of the presenter that follows him? Ken Bruce. 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. Jeremy Vine appeared to dodge the question, saying: “For some extent this is for the BBC to justify. We had the boss in – what did you think of what he had to say?”To which Mr Jones replied: “I think it was a load of rubbish and I think he should be sacked and his pay should be docked as well”.Jane Garvey, who presents BBC’s Woman’s Hour, appeared to suggest Radio 2 presenters such as Jeremy Vine and Chris Evans are not diverse enough and are overpaid.She said on her radio show: “Radio 2…extraordinarily male and entirely pale and big salaries,” before hastily adding: “allegedly.”last_img read more

UK oral health crisis 170 youngsters a day have teeth extracted as sugar

first_imgProfessor Russell Viner, officer for health promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Having a tooth extracted is very serious.”There’s the operation itself to consider, the aesthetic along with its associated risks as well as the anxiety operations cause children and their families.”As many of these operations are due to the food and drink children consume, they are completely preventable and pose an unnecessary financial burden on our overstretched NHS.”At a time when we are faced with reports of chronic bed shortages and cancelled operations, these latest startling statistics should act as a wake-up call to policy makers and act as the catalyst for change.”An NHS England spokeswoman said: “NHS dental care for children is free, and tooth decay is preventable, but eating sugary food and drinks is driving this unfortunate and unnecessary epidemic of extractions.”NHS England is working with the dental profession, local authorities and health providers and has developed Starting Well – a campaign targeted at high-need communities to help children under five see their dentist earlier and improve their dental health. The findings were also condemned by the British Dental Association, which accused the Government of indifference to the problem.Chairman Mick Armstrong said: “These statistics are a badge of dishonour for health ministers, who have failed to confront a wholly preventable disease.”Tooth decay is the number one reason for child hospital admissions, but communities across England have been left hamstrung without resources or leadership. “This short-sightedness means just a few thousand children stand to benefit from policies that need to be reaching millions.” Show more A debate on children’s dental examinations and treatment is due to take place in the House of Lords on January 18. With the majority of procedures taking place during the week, this would mean roughly 170 such operations have happened on each working day during last year, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) analysis of the data said.The LGA, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, called for a crackdown on unhealthy foods and soft drinks to combat spiralling cases of tooth decay.Limiting the amount of sugar in soft drinks and putting a teaspoon labels on food to indicate sugar it contains would help slash consumption, the LGA said.Local authorities have a responsibility to help protect public health. This concerning trend shows there is an urgent need to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children’s teeth to rotIzzi Seccombe 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. Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA’s community well-being board, said: “These figures, which have risen sharply, show that we have an oral health crisis and highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people’s teeth.”The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 170 operations a day to remove teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is alarming and also adds to current pressures on the NHS.”This concerning trend shows there is an urgent need to introduce measures to curb our sugar addiction which is causing children’s teeth to rot.” “In supporting the ‘dental check by one’ campaign, NHS England is working with the dental profession to help an additional 70,000 more children see a dentist before they reach their second birthday.” Britain’s tooth decay epidemic saw around 170 youngsters have teeth extracted in hospital every day last year, with sugar blamed for creating an “oral health crisis”.New NHS spending data shows there were 42,911 hospital procedures to remove multiple teeth from patients aged 18 and under in 2016-17 at a cost of more than £36 million.It marks a jump of almost a fifth (17 per cent) in the number of extractions performed on young people over the past four years, up from 36,833 in 2012-13.Hospital teeth removals take place when a patient requires general anaesthetic, which cannot be given by a dentist. The NHS has spent £165 million on such treatment since 2012, past data reveals.Council chiefs said the spike represented a crisis in dental health, brought on by excessive sugar intake among young people.last_img read more

Death of the facelift women shun plastic surgery in favour of more

first_imgThere were 28,315 cosmetic surgery procedures carried out in total in 2017, the audit shows – a drop of eight per cent in one year. Nine of out ten operations were on women.But the figures show rising numbers of men opting for facial procedures, with a 25 per cent rise in eyelid surgery, a 27 per cent rise in brow lifts, and a 16 per cent rise in facelifts.Meanwhile, men appeared to turn their backs on “short cuts” to the body beautiful, with liposuction down 20 per  cent, tummy tucks down 12 per cent and a 7 per cent drop in procedures to tackle “man boobs”. 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. New figures suggest the death of the facelift – with women shunning plastic surgery while opting for more subtle cosmetic help.Data from plastic surgeons shows that female facelifts have fallen by 44 per cent in a year, while brow lifts are down by almost one third.Experts said the overall decline in “nip and tuck” surgery comes amid the rise of less invasive treatment. None the less, some procedures remain on the rise. The number of women having breast enlargement – the most popular procedure of all – rose by 7 per cent. The figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) show 8,328 such cases in 2017.But almost as great an increase was seen in breast reduction surgery, with a five per cent rise in such operations, among women who regretted previous decisions. In total, 3,747 such operations were carried out.center_img TV presenter Anne Robinson has admitted she had a facelift in 2003, while Simon Cowell, Joanna Lumley and Courtney Cox have all been open about having had less invasive surgery such as fillers and botox. BAAPS President and consultant plastic surgeon Simon Withey said some were turning away from cosmetic surgery because they thought more about the serious impact of the procedures – while others were turning to non-surgical options, such as botox and fillers.“The slight downwards shift in surgical procedures overall hopefully continues to demonstrate that at the very least, patients are realising that cosmetic surgery is not a ‘quick fix’ but a serious commitment,” he said.“Although there may be some new non-surgical options for cosmetic treatments, it is important to remember that ‘non-surgical’ does not mean ‘non-medical’, and patients should be wary of anything touted which seems too good, or too cheap, to be true. The climate of lax regulation has yet to be addressed in a satisfactory manner to protect the public.”last_img read more

Winchester public schoolboy hurled Molotov cocktails on to the M3 carriageway

first_imgA former Winchester College pupil brought a motorway to a 12-hour standstill after he threw a “Molotov cocktail” on to the carriageway, a court heard.Nicholas Elger, 17, threw incendiary devices on to the M3, near Winchester, Hampshire, on two separate occasions, causing a full closure of the road for most of Saturday, Sept 23, last year. It is estimated that the damage to the local economy was £40 million.The former boarding pupil at £38,000-a-year Winchester College, one of the country’s oldest public schools, shoplifted the ingredients for his “Molotov cocktail” and a second petrol bomb on two different occasions from a Tesco supermarket in the Hampshire city.He then used the ingredients to create the incendiary devices, which he threw on to the motorway on Sept 16 and then Sept 23 last year.Winchester Crown Court heard Elger wanted to kill somebody during the second homemade bomb attack.The court was told that a lorry driver saw a flaming device fall in front of him and was able to pull over on to the hard shoulder during the first incident.In the second incident, a motorist said the “carriageway was ablaze with flames around the size of a person” and lasted for about 30 seconds. She was able to stop 200ft (60m) from the fire and used her vehicle to block two lanes. However, a lorry using the third lane continued driving and reignited the flames. The motorway was then closed “for a lengthy period”. Cars were stranded in traffic for several hoursCredit:Jonathon Marks/Twitter/PA Rob Welling, prosecuting said: “Both [incendiary devices] were done in different ways. Why he changed his methods is because he was not satisfied with what took place on the first occasion.” He added: “He does not regret the incident – he does regret not doing them differently and successfully and killing someone.”Elger, of Winchester, also blackmailed the headmaster of Winchester College in June last year, on both occasions demanding 10 Bitcoin, worth around £20,000. He had been stealing from the school before blackmailing college officials, demanding payment for the burglaries to stop.Robert Morris, defending, said: “These offences coincided with problems in the family home. Those problems, though significant, cannot possibly explain the change from a kind pleasant boy to suddenly change into this awful risk taking [person] without thoughts of the consequences of his actions. He has been expelled … he has lost his friends and lost the opportunity to go to a top university which he was on course to do.”Psychiatrists believe he might be suffering from a personality disorder or a psychotic illness.Judge Keith Cutler, who removed reporting restrictions which had protected Elger’s identity, imposed an interim hospital order meaning Elger can continue his psychiatric treatment.He will be sentenced on May 18 and the hospital order reviewed.Elger admitted two charges of arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered and a further 12 charges including eight counts of burglary, two of blackmail with menaces, and two for theft.center_img Cars were stranded in traffic for several hours 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.last_img read more

Crime pays thrillers and detective novels now outsell all other fiction

first_imgJacks Thomas, London Book Fair director, said: “Television adaptations bring in new audiences. If you turn on your TV, there are so many crime dramas and thrillers, and lots of them are based on books.“Netflix is a great enabler, and these days there are whole channels dedicated to crime – you can pretty much watch Poirot on a loop.”Others had different theories on why crime novels are having a moment. “We have seen a surge in the popularity of psychological suspense brought about by a melding of the women’s relationship and detective genres,” said Selina Walker, publisher of the Century and Arrow imprints at Penguin Random House.“We are getting strong female characters, often but not always written by women, and that seems to have hit a note.”David Baldacci, the best-selling crime author, said the genre fits the turbulent political times. “People inherently don’t like folks who do bad to get away with it. In real life they do. But in novels, evil is punished and the good guys mostly win,” he said. 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. David Baldacci Crime novels and psychological thrillers are outselling other types of fiction for the first time, after a glut of television dramas boosted interest in the genre.In 2017, 18.7 million crime and thriller books were sold, up 19 per cent since 2015. General and literary fiction titles, which have led the market for the past 20 years, sold 18.1 million copies.Women are driving the boom, accounting for 53 per cent of crime and thriller sales. The market last year was worth £117 million, according to figures unveiled at the London Book Fair by Nielsen BookScan.Among the books topping the best-seller lists last year were Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard, first published in 2013 but re-issued to tie in with a BBC adaptation starring Emily Watson.The BBC also adapted JK Rowling’s Cormoran Strike novels, written under the pen name of Robert Galbraith. David Baldacci, who was awarded the Specsavers Nielsen Bestseller Award at the London Book FairCredit:Andrew Crowleylast_img read more

Church of England split over US plan to remove husband and wife

The vote prompted the Archbishop of Canterbury to say that a “radical new Christian inclusion in the Church” was required. Jayne Ozanne, a campaigners for LGBT rights in the church, said: “We are unsure by whose authority the original letter from Nye was sent, given that it was not discussed by the Archbishops’ Council.”It would be strange if it were sent with the knowledge and support of the Archbishops given their firm commitment to ‘radical Christian inclusion’ and their understanding of the need to be pastorally sensitive to the LGBT community, neither of which area mentioned in the letter. “What I find even more perplexing is that it does not reflect the level of dissent shown by recent decisions taken by the General Synod.”A spokesperson for the Church of England said: “The request was addressed to the Secretary General, as Provincial Secretary of the Church of England, who then consulted both Archbishops. The Episcopal Church asked other members of the worldwide Anglican Communion to respond to the new liturgy, prompting Mr Nye’s letter. He said using the new service as standard would lead to a growing “pressure to dissociate” the Church of England from the US church as conservative members see any move at all in that direction as “completely unacceptable”.  He urged the church to consider keeping the new service on “trial status” indefinitely to avoid “irrevocably redefining marriage”, adding that the new rites “constitute a clear divergence from the understanding of marriage held throughout the history of the Christian Church”. However, in a letter published on Sunday evening addressed to the US church, liberal members of the Church of England said they were “grateful” for the move. They thanked TEC for recognising “a gender-neutral approach will enable us to become a loving and inclusive Church for all”. “We still have a few problems to sort out over here with those who keep threatening to leave, but we know that your actions have given great hope to thousands and shown that the Church is not as homophobic as it can sometimes appear,” the letter added. Campaigners also cited a 2016 survey which found that 45 per cent of British Anglicans said same-sex marriage was right, compared to 37 per cent who said it was wrong.  “It was concluded that as there was not time for full consultation of the House of Bishops – which meets only twice a year – a reply should be sent at staff level. “Church House staff therefore produced a reply, in consultation with the Archbishops and the Bishop of Coventry, the chairman of the Faith and Order Commission.“Mr Nye replied as Provincial Secretary.” 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 Church of England has been embroiled in controversy over same-sex marriage and the status of gay people in the Church.Last year members of its general synod voted not to “take note” of a report by bishops which encouraged “welcome and support” for LGBT people but stopped short of allowing marriage or blessings for same-sex couples.  The Church of England is split over US plans to remove “husband and wife” from the marriage service. Plans by The Episcopal Church (TEC) to change its marriage service to a gay-friendly version which also removes mention of the word “procreation” were criticised in a letter from the Church of England’s Secretary General William Nye last October. But the proposals have received support from elsewhere in the English church, with more than 300 members including Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, signing an open letter distancing themselves from Mr Nye’s statements. His letter, which emerged earlier this month, threatened to cut ties with the US church, which is a fellow member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, if it introduces the new service as standard, replacing the current wording in its Book of Common Prayer. The new service removes the phrase “the union of husband and wife” and replaces it with “the union of two people”, and replaces the section which talks about part of God’s intention for marriage being “for the procreation of children” with the phrase “for the gift of children” to make it more relevant for same-sex couples who may wish to adopt. Couples can still use the words “husband” and “wife” when making their vows, though the gender-neutral “spouse” is also an option.  read more

Warring families assigned mediators to stop them fighting over power of attorney

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. Adults can set up a lasting power of attorney in case they lose the capacity to make their own decisions about their life and finances. A “donor”, who sets up the agreement, can appoint a family member or professional to take over their decisions for them if they become ill with conditions such as dementia. High-profile cases have recently drawn attention to the potential for abuse within the scheme. Last month a solicitor specialising in elderly care was convicted of wilful neglect after the death of her 79-year-old mother.Emma-Jane Kurtz, 41, had left her mother Cecily “covered from head to toe in faeces” and had not changed her clothes for a decade, Thames Valley Police said.  Warring families are to be assigned mediators to stop to stop them fighting over power of attorney for loved ones. A pilot scheme being run by the Office of the Public Guardian will fund professional help for families embroiled in disputes over issues such as inheritances or control of finances.In some cases a vulnerable person who had chosen a relative such as a sibling, child or parent to make decisions on their behalf ends up in the control of the local authority or a professional because their family cannot get along. Speaking at a conference in London, Alan Eccles, chief executive of the office of the public guardian, said the programme was intended to “honour the wishes of the donor”. “If it’s not a case of out-and-out abuse, then we think to give validity to that wish of the donor, we will attempt to put things back together again, and get them to focus on the donor who wanted their loved ones to look after them, rather than to worry about the thing that they’ve fallen out about,” he told an audience the Frenkel Topping deputy day conference. The disagreements can be over who was assigned the power of attorney or over inheritance or decisions about care homes and finances, he told the Daily Telegraph. “Sometimes it can just be the fact that one sibling has been appointed the attorney and the other sibling hasn’t,” he said.  read more

Worlds first wax figure of Meghan Markle unveiled at Madame Tussauds

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. Meghan Markle wears the dress she wore for their engagement Her waxwork is wearing the green PAROSH dress she wore for their engagement announcement as well as a replica of her diamond engagement ring.Harry’s figure, originally created in 2014 to mark his 30th birthday, has been updated for the occasion.Tussauds London’s general manager Edward Fuller said: “Excitement ahead of the royal wedding is reaching fever pitch and we have been inundated with questions about when people can finally meet ‘Their Royal Likenesses’. “There is a lot of love out there for Meghan and Harry and we’re following their lead by inviting the great British public to join the couple in their wedding celebrations here at Madame Tussauds London.” Meghan Markle wears the dress she wore for their engagementCredit:Paul Grover for the Telegraph A replica of the ringCredit:Samir Hussein/ WireImage A replica of the ring If you didn’t manage to snag a ticket to the Royal wedding, this could be the next best thing.Fans of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle can take a photograph with the uncanny waxworks of the happy couple from May 18.Madame Tussauds  in London unveiled their figurine of Meghan Markle and a revamped Prince Harry ahead of opening the exhibit to the public later this month.The likeness of the American actress, standing alongside her groom Prince Harry, has been unveiled in anticipation of the Royal Wedding.Harry’s figure, which was originally made to celebrate his 30th birthday, has been updated and both will be accessible to the public the day before their nuptials on May 19.The attraction is holding a “stag and hen do” before the Royal wedding at which over-18s can take photographs with the waxwork figures. The attraction said it will offer free entry to guests named Meghan or Harry on the day of the royal wedding.Madame Tussauds London’s sister attraction in New York will also reveal its own Meghan figure later today.The Times Square location is naming the figure an “American Princess”, and she will strike a different pose, and wear an outfit designed by British label Self-Portrait. read more

Stonehenge row with Highways England as work for new tunnel damages mesolithic

For the past decade archaeologists have been…–– ADVERTISEMENT –– It is a window into the Mesolithic, the world inhabited by the hunter gatherers who re-colonised Britain after the end of the ice age 12,000 years ago. The alleged damage they claim was caused when gauges were being installed to monitor the water table at Blick Mead, a series of tepid springs in the grounds of Amesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, known as the “first place in Britain”.  Now archaeologists are claiming that the unique site on the edge of Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge may have been irreparably damaged by blundering Highways England engineers who drilled a hole directly through it during the project to build a road tunnel under the iconic site. read more

Former diplomat expelled from UK over rape allegations

Officials said in the case of the rape allegations, the embassy involved was so small that identifying the nationality could result in inaccurate speculation about other mission staffCredit:Prisma by Dukas/Universal Images Group Editorial 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 Foreign Office also revealed three allegations of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime between 2009 and 2013, made against a former Cameroonian diplomat and two locally employed members of staff at the African country’s High Commission, which were not previously made public because they were still under investigation.Other allegations relating to 2017 included one report of sexual assault involving an individual representing Algeria, one of blackmail (Egypt) and one possession of a firearm with intent to injure (Cambodia). A foreign diplomat was expelled from the UK after allegations of two rapes and one attempted rape, the Foreign Office has revealed.The individual involved and the country represented have not been identified.The Foreign Office said that the diplomat – who also faced an allegation of malicious communication – was thrown out of the UK after the country involved rejected a request for immunity to be waived in the case.The allegations were among 12 serious or significant offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity in 2017.Nationalities – but not identities – of diplomats facing criminal allegations are normally made public in the round-up of cases released annually by the Foreign Office (FCO).But officials said that in the case of the rape allegations, the embassy involved is so small that identifying the nationality could result in inaccurate speculation about other mission staff. Officials from the Austrian embassy and Commonwealth Secretariat were accused of drink-driving, a representative of Sierra Leone of driving without insurance or a licence and individuals from the Finnish and Saudi Arabian missions of driving without insurance.Revealing the cases in a written parliamentary statement, the Foreign Office said: “Around 23,000 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the UK and the majority of diplomats and dependants abide by UK law. The number of alleged serious crimes committed by members of the diplomatic community in the UK is proportionately low.”Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, we expect those entitled to immunity to obey the law. The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats breaking the law.”We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When the police bring instances of alleged criminal conduct to our attention, we ask the relevant foreign government to waive diplomatic immunity where appropriate.”For the most serious offences, and when a relevant waiver has not been granted, we request the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.” Officials said in the case of the rape allegations, the embassy involved was so small that identifying the nationality could result in inaccurate speculation about other mission staff read more

Man who changed his name to Michael Jackson wants to revert it

A man who changed his name to Michael Jackson now wants to revert it in the wake of claims aired in the Leaving Neverland documentary.John Lomas, 38, altered his name to “John Michael Jackson” by deed poll because he was a superfan of the singer during his childhood.But the factory worker, from Malvern, Worcestershire, now fears his name will cause him havoc when applying for jobs since Jackson was accused of being a paedophile in the TV documentary, which aired in Britain this month.He is now crowdfunding to change his name back by deed poll, which costs £120.He said: “During my childhood I had various obsessions and special interests growing up and one of those has been Michael Jackson.”A few years ago I went to LA and soon after that I changed my name to Michael Jackson legally.”I have supported him blindly for years and but it has come to a point with everything recently that I’ve thought, ‘no more’. “There is too much doubt and I’m now left with this name that I need to get rid of.”I’m trying to get into the care profession but every time I do a DBS check I have to disclose my full name and if I’m going for a job like that it looks really bad that I’ve chosen to change my name to that of an alleged and believed paedophile. 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. “I’ve asked for legal advice and there is nothing I can do to change my name back by deed poll without paying a £120 fee, which I can’t afford.”I just want to put this behind me, I can’t have this name hanging above me anymore, I just want a fresh start.”Leaving Neverland published stories of men who alleged they were molested by the star as young boys. read more