The Tour de Kruger: a wild ride

Posted in qntkvqtv on December 19th, 2019

first_imgThe Tour de Kruger takes bikers on a70-kilometre ride every day for five days,through pristine African bushveld. A close encounter with elephants.(Image: Children in the Wilderness)Fiona McIntosh“You’re going to cycle for five days through wild game reserves?” exclaimed my friends when I told them of the bush adventure that I’d just discovered. “Are you crazy? What about the elephants? And the lions? You’ve clearly got a death wish.”But I could think of nothing more exciting than getting up close and personal with the big herds of elephant, buck and other game of the southern African bush. As for seeing lion … we’d be lucky.I’d signed up for the annual mountain-bike tour that supports the Children in the Wilderness programme. Our route would take us from northern Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana, through the World Heritage Site of Mapungubwe, finishing up in the Pafuri concession of the Kruger National Park.It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – where else in the world can you ride for five days through wilderness, knowing that at any moment you might encounter one of the big five? This was to be a real immersion in Africa yet, outside South Africa, the tour seemed to be a well-kept secret. I suspected a conspiracy – the locals didn’t want foreigners snapping up the limited places!Previous tours had been held in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, through western Mozambique and the Pafuri concession of northern Kruger, but this route from the Tuli block approached Pafuri from the west, so was entirely new ground even for tour veterans.Most riders took advantage of the transfers laid on from Johannesburg, hopping on their bikes at the reserve gate to stretch their legs on the final few kilometres to camp. We spent our first night under canvas next to the airstrip and were treated to the impressive sight of a classic aircraft, a shiny DC-3, swooping in to collect some of the reserve’s guests. Our kit bags, numbers and detailed race manifest were waiting on arrival and, once we’d labelled and parked our bikes, we were guided to our tents, all neatly numbered into respective groups.Then it was time for the pre-race briefing. We were out to have fun, but there were ground rules designed to ensure our safety. I’ll admit to being a bit nervous as we rode to camp, but now my fears about riding through elephant country the next day were allayed.Each group of 15 or so riders would stick together as a tight unit behind an experienced, rifle-toting front guide. The back guide was also trained in the ways of the bush and was in constant radio contact with the front guide, the other groups and HQ. They carried satellite phones just in case there was no radio contact. I slept well that night. This was one well-organised operation.Close encountersThe importance of the tight drill was soon evident. After a long, 70-kilometre day in the saddle we were less than five kilometres from the South African border and our camp. The thought of a cold beer was putting new life into my weary legs. Suddenly our lead guide stopped in his tracks.“Over there,” he whispered. Just about to cross the track we were following was a big breeding herd of elephant – females with tiny calves that looked as if they were going to be stomped upon any minute. It was not a happy group. They’d clearly sensed our presence, and were becoming increasingly anxious.“There’s another group in the trees to our right,” whispered the guide. “We’ll back off.” Suddenly loud trumpeting and the crashing of branches broke the silence of the bush and we mounted our bikes and fled back to the nearest group of big trees. So close, and yet so far: the herd was between us and camp, so we retraced our route until we found a safe place to cross the sandy riverbed.Some of the guides from an earlier group were sitting out in a hide on the South African bank as we took off our shoes and carried our bikes across the narrow channel of the Limpopo.“Was that you the elephant were revving?” they laughed. “We heard all the commotion then saw a load of riders retreating at speed.” I’d been praying for some intimate bush encounters, but that was a trifle too exciting for my liking.Mountain-bike countryThat was our third encounter with elephant that day. We’d also been treated to sightings of giraffe, impala, scuttling warthog and a ridiculously raucous display of snorting and histrionics from the clowns of the bush, a big herd of galloping wildebeest, as we followed the game trails through the mopane forest.It’s classic mountain-bike country, with wide open spaces and a seemingly endless network of single track – the work of elephant matriarchs carving out paths for their young to follow down to the water sources.The paths weaved through dense sections of bush, forcing us to bunny-hop over fallen branches and dodge thorn trees. There were a few technical sections – the odd rocky downhill, stretch of sand or loose gravel climb, but on the whole it was easy flowing riding past towering baobabs and over dry, stony riverbeds.This part of southern Africa is not only famous for its elephant, but is rich in history and home to important paleontological remains such as the dinosaur footprints of Vhembe in South Africa and the dinosaur skeletons of Sentinel in Zimbabwe. Our second night was spent at Mapungubwe – a place as seeped in history as it is prolific in game.The camp was in an incredible spot high up on an escarpment, and the dramatic rock formations of the park glowed in the late sun as we walked to the viewpoint where a bar had been set up.We toasted surviving the first day and our unscheduled detour from the route. It was an atmospheric place. Below us was the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers and the point where Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa meet. Now that the day visitors had left we had the park to ourselves, and I began to appreciate the privilege of being part of the tour.Bush cuisineAlthough you ride hard by day, Tour de Kruger is a charity ride to raise funds for Children in the Wilderness, not a race. Groups are arranged according to rider ability and fitness with the speed freaks and the odd professional cyclist breaking the trail and social riders like myself bring up the rear. The emphasis is on enjoying the bush, game sightings and the bush cuisine – a legendary feature of the tour.You can easily gain weight over the five days despite cycling around 75 kilometres a day in the hot sun. After the first 25 to 35 kilometres of each day there’s a morning tea stop where encouraging Wilderness Safaris staff hand out copious quantities of fruitcake, muffins, hot-cross buns, biltong and sweets, as well as wetwipes, sunscreen, lube and tender loving care.Lunch is a proper cooked meal, and then there’s another tea stop before you reach camp, where, if you’re still hungry, another cooked lunch awaits. And the spoiling continues once you’ve finished for the day, with abundant quantities of energy drinks, massage and bike repair services, hot showers, a bar and a slap-up dinner.MapungubweDay two took us through the impressive koppies of Mapungubwe National Park. The archaeological site of Mapungubwe was discovered in 1932, unearthing a long history of human habitation in the region including the earliest recorded archaeological gold in southern Africa.Among the human remains were golden ornaments, gold beads and wire jewellery. The most famous find was that of a single-horned golden rhinoceros. All southern African rhinos have two horns, so this find has intrigued archaeologists – some of whom suggest that it’s a representation of a rhino from Asia, where one-horned species exist. As you ride through the park you can’t help being somewhat overawed by this incredible place.For the second half of the day we cruised the sandy tracks of a privately owned section of the park, the Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve, a De Beers property which is well stocked with big game and an integral component of the World Heritage Site.Our camp that night was on the Limpopo River, a truly glorious setting right on the sandy cliff. We sat listening to the soothing sound of running water as we sipped our sundowners then ate out under the stars. The handful of foreign riders couldn’t believe the beauty of the African bush – the tour had exceeded all their expectations.The next day started with a rollercoaster ride along the river cliff – some of the most demanding riding of the event with steep down- and uphills. The rising sun created a dappled effect in the trees and we flew along, happy, if a trifle saddle-sore. That afternoon we rode into Kruger National Park, through a back gate and into an area that visitors to the park do not see.We were now in serious big five country. The briefing had been fierce – stick together at all costs and keep moving. The final day through the Pafuri Concession was magnificent. We left our bikes at the tea-stop and climbed up to Lanner Gorge for a view out over the gorge cut in the Luvuvu River. The sight of the great chasm was worth every ounce of energy expended on the 6.4-kilometre sandy trail.We rode through great forests of glowing fever trees, enjoyed the antics of baboons and saw kudu, impala, warthog as well as some great sightings of tuskers in Elephant Alley.Our final detour was to Crooks Corner – the point where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique meet. We watched a breeding herd of elephant come down to the water to drink then, once they’d left, scrambled down onto the sand bank for a team photo keeping a wary eye open for crocs.Early in the afternoon we arrived at Pafuri Camp where, in the usual slick manner to which we’d been accustomed, our bikes were taken off to be loaded onto the appropriate transfer vehicles – back to the start in Tuli, the Wilderness offices in Joburg or, for those with flights the following evening, onto the coaches that were taking us back the next day.Taking leaveClean and refreshed, we lounged around the camp watching buck graze next to the raised platforms of the tented rooms and elephant drinking in the river. The event ended with a slide show and presentation and we relived the thrills and spills.It had been a magnificent ride that had brought together people from all walks of life, united in their wish to intimately experience the African bush, to rise to the challenge of the ride and to support Children in the Wilderness. It was hard to leave – after five days together the members of each cycling group and the support staff had become a close-knit family.So was I mad to sign up? Well, it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, but anyone who’s reasonably fit and with a bit of mountain-biking experience would enjoy the ride. The distances are manageable for recreational bikers, and the presence of guides and technicians means that you can seek assistance in the event of bike problems, or hop in a back-up vehicle if you’ve had enough for the day.The organisers go out of their way to make your life as easy and as much fun as possible. But for all that it’s a challenging ride, largely along fairly straightforward single track or dirt road with a few more tricky sections to amuse the downhill addicts – most of which I walked, and felt no shame.What makes the ride really special is the opportunity to journey through bits of the reserves that most visitors never see. You can help but feel privileged that these areas have been opened up for the tour to come through. Makes me want to get on my bike again.Related articlesSouth Africa’s national parksThe adventure starts hereThe biggest nature park in the world Holidays that save the worldTracking elephants across AfricaUseful linksChildren in the WildernessWilderness SafarisKruger National Parklast_img read more

Durban to host Volvo Golf Champions

Posted in uecgexfa on December 18th, 2019

first_img17 October 2013The fourth edition of the prestigious Volvo Golf Champions will be held at the Durban Country Club for a second year in succession from 9 to 12 January 2014.The event is open only to players who have won on the European Tour in the last year, or who have 10 or more European Tour victories to their name.South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen is the defending champion after a one-shot victory over Scotland’s Scott Jamieson in January of this year.In 2012, fellow South African Branden Grace, after qualifying for the Volvo Golf Champions only a week before the tournament on The Links at Fancourt, won the event on his way to capturing a stunning four European Tour titles that year.Volvo World Golf ChallengeThe same week as the 2014 tournament takes place, the World Final of the Volvo World Golf Challenge – Volvo’s global tournament for customers – will be contested in Durban.The top finishers from the World Final will get a chance to play with the stars of The European Tour on the Friday of the Volvo Golf Champions, live on television, in front of a worldwide audience of millions.Commenting on the venue in a statement on Wednesday, Per Ericsson, President of Volvo Event Management, said: “Durban Country Club offers a fantastic stage for the European Tour’s 2013 winners to challenge at the season-opening event.“We are very happy to be partnering with the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, the Department for Sport and Recreation and the Department for Tourism again.”‘A fantastic place’Guy Kinnings, the Global Head of Golf, IMG, the tournament’s co-owners, said: “KwaZulu-Natal Province is a fantastic place to kick off the year and, having received no end of positive feedback from the players about their experiences during the Volvo Golf Champions this year, I know all the players will be delighted by this announcement, which will showcase South Africa to a global audience over the four days of the Championship.“This is the third time we have played the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa, demonstrating the strength of golf in South Africa, which is testament to the great work done by the Sunshine Tour, both on their national Tour and in partnership with the European Tour.”George O’Grady, the CEO of The European Tour, said: “We are delighted that our ‘Tournament of Champions’ will return to the Durban Country Club in January.“We are also very thankful for the support of our friends at the Sunshine Tour, who play such a crucial role in the eight tournaments we host in South Africa.”Two-prong strategyMike Mabuyakhulu, the KZN MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, said the hosting of the tournament offered a number of pluses. “The Volvo Golf Champions works perfectly with our strategy to showcase our golf tourism offering to the world, while giving our star players opportunities to compete in front of their home crowds.”Deputy Minister of Tourism, South African Government, Tokozile Xasa, added: “Through the Volvo Golf Champions, we are able to show the world the wonderful facilities we have to offer international visitors as the event is viewed by many millions around the world.“We look forward to welcoming home our South African players and to hosting the many other great Champions from the European Tour in January.”SAinfo reporter and Volvo Golf Championslast_img read more

Former Vice President Joe Biden launches 2020 presidential campaign

Posted in rrfyekym on December 12th, 2019

first_img(AP) – Joe Biden has formally entered the 2020 race for president.The vice president under President Barack Obama made the announcement in a video released Thursday morning.The move marks what will likely be the 76-year-old’s final opportunity to seek a job he has eyed for more than a generation. He struggled in two previous campaigns.One of the most recognizable names in U.S. politics, Biden leads most early Democratic primary polls. But as an older white man who spent a half-century in Washington, it’s unclear if he will be embraced by today’s increasingly liberal Democratic Party.Biden faces myriad questions about his past, including recent claims he touched women in an overly familiar manner without their consent. Biden has pledged to be “much more mindful” of respecting personal space.last_img read more

GIS vs. Mother Nature

Posted in dnxjvxyy on December 9th, 2019

first_imgNew England is famous for three things: Competitive sports teams. Trees. And wicked bad weather (note the regional slang). The weather gets particularly bad during winter, from snow and moisture content.When I ran electric operations for a New England power company in this challenging environment, there was some good news: I employed the most hardworking, dedicated crews.The bad news was, like our Patriots, they were incredibly competitive.Why is being competitive bad news? Well, the utility company was organized by district: north, south, central, and so on. During big storms, each district would battle to see who could restore customer power the fastest. The problem was, each district hoarded its crews. So while the north district served small service drop jobs, the south struggled to repair main lines. A lot more people went without power in the south than the north.The power company could have done much more if we had known the types of work going on in each district. I could have immediately dispatched crews, for instance, from the north to south to optimize restoration to the most customers across the company. But because I didn’t have a solid situational awareness of the full restoration effort, I couldn’t. I knew the number of outages, jobs, and crews assigned. But there was no overall picture to determine the overall restoration-effort impact.Yes, my crews were competitive. That was noble. But that wasn’t enough to provide optimal restoration for the whole company.Getting Good Damage AssessmentI was in charge of power restoration, but the trick was getting a good assessment of the damage Mother Nature had caused. Since trees were absolutely everywhere, you never knew if a power failure traced back to one tree that had fallen onto a circuit or 100 trees that had taken out multiple parts of the circuit. We needed rapid, holistic damage assessment to determine how many jobs our crews had to do to fix and how long those jobs would take – in other words, how long it would take to get everyone’s lights back on.What I needed was the ArcGIS platform, but back then it didn’t exist. Now it does, and the platform lets utilities see the entire restoration effort, from beginning to end.With the platform, I would have been able to speed up the damage assessment. Back in those days – and today for many utilities – damage assessment is a slow, manual, and arduous process. It often starts with lots of people and lots forms. They traipse through the snow with pencils and paper maps. In our case, they would spend several hours gathering all this damage-assessment information. Then they would head back to our service centers, where staff organized forms and input the information into spreadsheets. The next step was trying to make sense of the data.It doesn’t need to be so hard anymore. With the ArcGIS platform, field workers today can – and are – gathering damage data on mobile devices with photos, notes, and preconfigured data drop-downs. The devices immediately transmit this information to utilities’ Emergency Operations Centers, where an executive dashboard shows in real-time all damage occurrences. Dispatchers can immediately make geographically strong crew-staffing decisions.With this, I could have ended the battle between the north and south while getting customers’ power on faster. The immediate access to visualized situational awareness would have shown where we didn’t have enough crews in the south at the very start of our damage assessment, rather than three quarters of the way through the process.The platform serves as an early information system. Utilities can see if they have enough crews to handle the outage and if those crews are in the right spots. You can use it to arrange the right number of contract crews or foreign crews from neighboring utilities right away, rather than too late. You can visualize the impact of your restoration effort in a much more dynamic way. You can even incorporate data from your Outage Management System (OMS), Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL), and SCADA system. This gives you real-time views of the situation at every step.The Calm after the Storm Restoration involves more than just getting crews out into the field and cutting away dangled wires from downed trees. It involves communication, collaboration and information sharing. This applies to first responders, shelters, politicians, media, and frenzied customers.It also involves accessing a constant stream of information about flooding, blocked streets, bridges out, traffic, and hazardous situations. I would routinely be on the phone during and after a storm, madly writing information from police and fire officials about the situation on the ground.With the platform, that information streams into my GIS dashboard right now.What better way to share storm-situation information than with a map? Perhaps the only thing better is a data-driven map with all your critical information. The ArcGIS platform provides that.That’s why modern GIS as a platform is critical for utilities. This is what it does best. It brings disparate information together so you can make decisions – decisions that lower costs, get the lights on faster, and inform people to do their jobs as fast as possible.The competition isn’t to see which district can get customer power on faster. The real tame is to get all the lights on as fast as possible.Learn how the ArcGIS platform improves your storm response at esri.com/storm.last_img read more

Reinventing the Future of Grocery Shopping

Posted in alaojwmw on December 9th, 2019

first_imgThe recent news of Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods has sparked a wide range of commentary, a bit of it mine. Most have remarked on Amazon’s size, retailing innovation (from Prime to Go to Alexa), strategic patience, and willingness to invest in tests worldwide. Few have spoken to the transformations underway in traditional fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) retail.Amidst the stack of articles on the hard drive, three have set my wheels spinning in recent days.  And all three suggest that Amazon-Whole Foods will not be alone in reinvention.The Grocery Shopping Experience Is ChangingIn “The Future of Grocery — in Store and OnlineOpens in a new window,” London-based McKinsey partners Louise Herring and Jessica Moulton note the standard list of concerns like discounters, shifts to online, decreasing profit margins, and unsustainable cost structures, then identify several areas of retailer opportunity.These areas include process automation in the back office and category management, advanced analytics, robotics in the stores and distribution centers, tools that dramatically improve employee productivity, and new thinking (some of it inspired by Amazon) as to unified commerce for grocery, like online ordering and home delivery. Food for thought when it comes to grocery reinvention.Rapid Grocery GrowthIn Itasca’s “Click. Confirm. Collect.” gold paper, retail analyst and journalist James Tenser speaks to the rapid growth of U.S. online grocery shopping and, more importantly, the rapid growth of online and unified commerce investment by the U.S. grocery community.From Walmart’s current 500+ click-and-collect locations (not including an automated drive-up order pickup kiosk at an Oklahoma Supercenter) to Kroger’s more than 640 ClickList and Express Lane locations, unified commerce accounted for roughly 2–3 percent of 2016 U.S. grocery revenue.That’s a small percent to be sure, but as Tenser shows, a stable and growing piece of the business. One that, for any given grocery retailer, will not grow without in-stream, real-time inventory reporting, analysis, and awareness.Trickle-feed the T-Log? Well, it’s better than batch but not enough to satisfy, let alone delight, shoppers in tomorrow’s digital, cross-channel shopping world.Machine Learning in the Grocery StoreFinally, another McKinsey paper: “The Secret to Smarter Fresh-Food Replenishment? Machine Learning.” Here, Christoph Glatzel and Tim Lange of McKinsey’s Cologne office, and Matt Hopkins and Uwe Weiss of Karlsruhe-based analytics firm Blue Yonder, speak to what can happen when retailers of fresh food step beyond the decision-making norm and put their mind to new levels of analysis and process automation.The approach taken by an international supermarket chain of more than 1000 stores? Acquisition, aggregation, and machine learning analysis of data from some 50 different sources —  internal, external, structured, and unstructured. The results? Overall, much greater business insight and agility, like the ability to isolate market-shaping variables, the ability to reduce staff time and human error, and IT integration cost reductions. But most importantly, it led to the reduction of both on-hand and out-of-stock goods.Yes, Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods may lead to a grocery war, but current grocers (and mass merchants) are far from unarmed in this food fight.Stay tuned.last_img read more

Porsche GT2 RS drives into India at Rs 3.88 crore

Posted in rbiazxks on November 18th, 2019

first_imgGerman sports car manufacturer Porsche has launched the GT2 RS in the Indian market. Priced at Rs 3.88 crore, ex-showroom, this is the second model from Porsche after the launch of the GT3 RS which was launched earlier this year.The GT2 RS made its first public debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last year, the latest GT2 RS is said to be the most powerful road-legal GT2 RS in the 911 range. The GT2 RS is powered by a 3.8-litre flat-six engine which churns out a massive 700bhp of power and 700Nm of peak torque. The powertrain is mated to a 7-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox which has tuned to handle the immense power.Also, the 911 GT2 RS is a full rear wheel drive and goes from zero to 100kmph in just under 2.8 seconds and goes all the way till 340kmph which means it is as fast as the 918 Spyder and is also one of the fastest production cars to tackle the Nurburgring.The new GT2 RS goes through a whole lot of body-weight reduction which Porsche has done by providing a carbon-fiber bonnet, front wings, exterior wing mirrors, air ducts surrounds, and a magnesium roof with an added titanium exhaust. All these additions make the GT2 RS weigh at just 1,470 kgs. The weight can be further cut by 30kgs with the addition of the Weissach package which adds a carbon-fiber roof and magnesium alloy wheels.last_img read more

a month agoInter Milan coach Conte tells derby hero Lukaku: You can do more

Posted in hawtgbjn on October 28th, 2019

first_imgAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Inter Milan coach Conte tells derby hero Lukaku: You can do moreby Carlos Volcanoa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveInter Milan coach Antonio Conte says his players are responding to his methods after victory over AC Milan.Marcelo Brozovic’s deflected shot opened the scoring and Romelu Lukaku nodded in a Nicolò Barella cross for his third goal in four Serie A games.“Let’s start by saying it’s a derby and those are always special games, never easy to predict, especially when both teams are so prestigious as Inter and Milan,” Conte told DAZN.“The lads played a good game in every aspect. We were coming off a performance in the Champions League that left a bitter taste in the mouth and perhaps that fired us up even more to go into the derby in the right way.“It’s a deserved victory, I am happy for our fans, because the derby is always the derby.”Lukaku scored his third goal in four Serie A games and praised Conte in his post-match interview, but the Coach expects more.“He can give much more, certainly. I told him that too. He is 26 years old and arrived here thanks to his potential. If we work with him properly, he can become extremely important.“Lautaro Martinez is only 22 years old, so we need to help mould and improve these players with daily work. That’s my job and the important thing is that they are ready to work with me to improve themselves, which they are.“I am happy with our Serie A start, less so in the Champions League, but I do also believe that setback can help bring us back on to the right path.” last_img read more

Mariano Riveras Unanimous Induction Shows An Evolving Cooperstown

Posted in xgzdvglq on September 29th, 2019

Mariano Rivera100.0%100.0%0.0% Todd Helton16.519.53.0 Larry Walker54.662.27.6 Mike Mussina76.774.5-2.2 Roy Halladay85.491.25.8 Miguel Tejada1.20.8-0.4 Barry Bonds59.161.82.7 Edgar Martinez85.482.3-3.1 Roger Clemens59.563.33.8 Fred McGriff39.843.43.6 The Hall of Fame has four new membersActual results of the 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame election vs. our finalpre-announcement projection Andy Pettitte9.95.9-4.0 Curt Schilling60.961.10.2 Manny Ramirez22.825.02.2 Roy Oswalt0.90.90.0 Sammy Sosa8.58.90.4 Gary Sheffield13.614.40.8 Lance Berkman1.21.0-0.2 Andruw Jones7.510.42.9 PlayerActual ResultFinal Model Projection*Error The Mussina miss notwithstanding, our projections were pretty accurate, with an average error of 2.1 percentage points; only the totals of Halladay and Larry Walker were off by more than 4 points.3Shoutout to Jason Sardell, whose alternative model did even better, with an average error of 0.9 points.Appearing fifth, sixth and seventh in the actual voting were Curt Schilling, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Schilling jumped to 60.9 percent from 51.2 percent last year. He has three years of eligibility remaining on the BBWAA ballot. Meanwhile, Bonds and Clemens, whose careers were tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use, could only inch up on a crowded field. Clemens received 59.5 percent, up from 57.3 percent last year. Bonds received 59.1 percent of the vote, up from 56.4 percent in 2018. Their glacial rate of improvement means they will be hard-pressed to hit the required 75 percent in their three remaining years on the ballot; they appear to have hit a plateau. Scott Rolen17.219.52.3 Jeff Kent18.118.20.1 Michael Young2.11.3-0.8 The only question about Mariano Rivera’s candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame was whether he would be the first player voted in unanimously by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which serves as the primary gatekeeper for entry to the Hall. On Tuesday, the great New York Yankees pitcher became the first player to appear on 100 percent of writers’ ballots, with all 425 voters finally agreeing on something: that Rivera should be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York.With his ballot sweep, the fearsome closer did something unmatched by even the greatest of his starting pitcher brethren, including Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Tom Seaver and Randy Johnson — all of whom topped 97 percent. Three years ago, Ken Griffey Jr. came the closest to complete consensus when he received 99.32 percent of the vote — just three ballots short.Rivera, eligible for the first time this year, was joined by three other inductees — the late Roy Halladay (85.4 percent of ballots), longtime Seattle designated hitter Edgar Martinez (85.4 percent) and former Oriole and Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina (76.7 percent).1Voters are limited to 10 names per ballot. Based on ballots that had been made public before the announcement, we were expecting that Rivera, Halladay and Martinez would gain entry to the Hall. As of our last model run,2Conducted just a few minutes before the announcement, when 232 ballots had been revealed. we thought Mussina was just a borderline case. Billy Wagner16.717.60.9 *With 232 public ballots known.Sources: Baseball Writers’ Association of America, RYAN THIBODAUX’S BASEBALL HALL OF FAME VOTE TRACKER Omar Vizquel42.841.9-0.9 Walker, however, is rapidly trending toward Cooperstown: He ranked eighth in voting percentage (54.6 percent), making a substantial leap from 34.1 percent last year. Next year will be his final year of eligibility, and he’s still 20 points short of election — usually an impossible task. But this year proved that Walker is capable of such a massive gain, so his candidacy is likely to provide genuine suspense next year.But Tuesday was headlined by Rivera making history.Anyone familiar with baseball knows of Rivera’s excellence. There is a strong case to be made that he is the greatest reliever in history. The 13-time All-Star is the sport’s all-time saves leader with 652. He was a part of five World Series championship teams in New York. In addition to his regular-season dominance, he has the lowest career postseason ERA (0.70) and most playoff saves (42) in MLB history.And when using advanced measures to evaluate performance, Rivera stands out not just as a great relief pitcher — only Dennis Eckersley ranks higher among relievers in the JAWS metric that combines career and peak performance to evaluate Hall candidates — but as an all-time great pitcher regardless of role.His ERA+ — which adjusts a pitcher’s earned run average for ballpark and run environment, enabling comparison between eras — ranks No. 1 all-time among all pitchers (minimum 1,000 innings).Traditional statistics like wins and saves are increasingly viewed as poor measures to evaluate performance because they award or penalize pitchers for many factors out of their control. But even the most common new-age measure to evaluate performance, wins above replacement, is inadequate to measure reliever performance because it is in part volume-based, and relievers pitch fewer innings than starters. Better measures to evaluate the performance of relief pitchers are statistics like win probability added, which tallies the change in win expectancy between plate appearance, and a context-neutral version of win probability added (WPA/leverage index).For instance, Rivera is 77th all-time in Baseball-Reference.com pitching WAR. But he ranks fifth all-time in WPA (56.6), trailing only Clemens, Lefty Grove, Maddux and Warren Spahn. In other words, he’s among the elite of the elite.Of course, relievers face a greater proportion of high-leverage situations than starting pitchers do; protecting a one-run lead in the ninth inning is more critical than pitching with a one-run lead in, say, the second. But even when employing a context-neutral win probability (WPA/leverage index), Rivera still ranks as the 21st-most win-adding pitcher of all time and is 13 spots higher than the next reliever (Hoyt Wilhelm at No. 34).Rivera combined elite command with an almost unhittable pitch: his cut fastball. Though just a portion of his career took place during the pitch-tracking era, he ranks second to Dodgers stopper Kenley Jansen in the run value of his cutter.Rivera is just the eighth pitcher to work primarily as reliever to be enshrined. The others are Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith. Three have joined the Hall since last year — Rivera, Smith (veterans committee, 2019) and Hoffman (BBWAA vote, 2018) — and the number of relievers figures to grow over time as bullpens are used in an ever-greater share of innings. Last season, relievers accounted for a record 40.1 percent of innings.The only position group with fewer players in the Hall than relief pitchers is the designated hitter group. Despite not playing a position in the field for much of his career, Martinez’s bat was so dominant that he made it to the Hall in his final year on the ballot.Martinez’s career OPS+4OPS+ considers a hitter’s overall ability but adjusts to account for ballpark and run-scoring environment. An OPS+ of 100 is league average. of 147 is tied for the 42nd-best mark of all time. Martinez joins Frank Thomas and Harold Baines — another 2019 veterans committee selection5Baines, a controversial pick in December, had a career OPS+ of 121, tied for 340th place. — as the only players in the Hall to play more than half their games at DH. Thomas ranks 52nd all time in batting WAR (73.9), while Martinez ranks 80th (68.4).Halladay, who died in a 2017 plane crash, tied with Bob Feller for 41st in all-time pitching WAR (65.5). He tied for 37th in all-time ERA+ (131). The two-time Cy Young Award winner was the ultimate workhorse for his era, leading his league in innings pitched four times and exceeding 230 innings six times. He’s also the only player other than Don Larsen to throw a no-hitter in the postseason.Mussina pitched in hitter-favorable ballparks and during the high scoring “steroid era” of the late 1990s to early 2000s. While his traditional stats might not seem elite, his career WAR (83.0) and JAWS (63.8) totals rank ahead of the average (73.4 WAR, 61.8 JAWS) for Hall of Fame pitchers.A few years ago, it was hard to imagine pitchers like Mussina, with a 3.68 ERA before adjustments, or Halladay, with barely 200 wins, getting into the Hall of Fame. And it was probably unthinkable that anyone — let alone a relief pitcher — would be elected unanimously. But the Hall of Fame electorate is changing, and that seems to be increasing both the quality and quantity of the players being elected. read more

Analysis Ohio State cannot afford to lose rivalry game to Michigan

Posted in hedadxww on September 28th, 2019

Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) calls out a play in the Ohio State-Maryland game on Oct. 7. Ohio State won 62-14. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorRedshirt senior linebacker Chris Worley equates Ohio State’s game against Michigan to laws. “You don’t break that law,” he said. “You better beat The Team Up North.”Since Worley arrived on campus for his first season, he has abided by that law. The Buckeyes have defeated the Wolverines the last five seasons, and Ohio State opened as 13-point favorites to extend the streak to six victories.Having knocked off Michigan State 48-3 two weeks ago and Illinois 52-14 last weekend, No. 9 Ohio State enters Saturday’s game with hefty momentum. No. 24 Michigan, on the other hand, limps into the matchup coming off a 24-10 loss to No. 5 Wisconsin. The Wolverines also lost to the Spartans and Penn State earlier in the season, both teams Ohio State defeated.The Buckeyes hold many advantages, enough to quell most concerns about the matchup. Yet, due to Ohio State’s turbulent two-loss season, pressure on the Buckeyes to win has not dipped, and might have intensified. There’s never an optimal time to lose to a rival. Urban Meyer hasn’t lost to Michigan as Ohio State’s head coach, but this would be especially poor timing for his first.With losses to Oklahoma and Iowa, the Buckeyes already sit in uncharted territory. No two-loss team has made the College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014. Just two weeks ago after a 55-24 loss to Iowa, Ohio State’s playoff hopes seemed dashed. But now it seems increasingly likely that if the Buckeyes defeat Michigan and take down Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, they will earn a playoff berth.Much remains on the line for Ohio State beyond just postseason action.The veteran-laden roster contains 19 seniors, including quarterback J.T. Barrett, who will look to become the first signal-caller to win the matchup in four straight seasons. Last year, the Buckeyes made the playoff in spite of their youth and inexperience, which showed up in the 31-0 loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.This season, Ohio State was supposed to take advantage of seniors such as Barrett, center Billy Price, defensive end Tyquan Lewis and left tackle Jamarco Jones pairing with a talented crop of underclassmen, including running backs Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins, defensive end Nick Bosa, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and others. But the Buckeyes have not reached their potential this season. Ohio State always expects to win every game, but a loss to Oklahoma was far from the end of the world. Meyer’s team overcame a loss to Penn State the prior season and made the playoff. But a loss to Iowa, a clearly inferior group? That sent shockwaves through a fan base that expects nothing less than a playoff appearance.Imagine the reaction if Ohio State lost to Michigan. Sure, the Wolverines have not taken down the Buckeyes since 2011 and have defeated their rivals just once in the last 13 matchups, but fans live in the present. A three-loss regular season would send Ohio State to the Big Ten championship without playoff hopes and a lesser bowl appearance could bring out the worst in the fan base.It might not get better for the Buckeyes next season.A new quarterback combined with an exodus of talent on both the offensive and defensive lines leads to a question-filled 2018 Ohio State season. Michigan, on the other hand, will return a majority of its starters and will pose a much greater threat to next year’s youthful Buckeyes.Barrett’s legacy also relies on the game. He can either make history with a fourth win, or will lose his third game of the season. Of course, the hate he would get would not be fair. Not a single quarterback on either side has beaten his opponent in the game four times. But Barrett would be viewed as someone who continually can’t win big games.He knows he will not be welcomed with grace in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but said he embraces the negative reaction. “I don’t think it’s going to be pleasant, I’m pretty sure they’re going to hate me,” Barrett said. “Got to learn to love the hate. I like being hated sometimes. I don’t mind it. They hate us anyway.”Meyer said the history of the game has showed both teams play their best against each other. Though Michigan has yet to win a game against a team with a winning record, Meyer expects the Wolverines to offer staunch opposition.Ohio State seemed to lose its playoff hopes after the loss to Iowa. But reclaiming them only to lose to a lesser Michigan team would be a worst-case scenario for the Buckeyes. read more

Jack Grealish I thought I was going to join Spurs

Posted in mzibuqwe on September 18th, 2019

first_imgAston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish was “95%” certain that he would be signing up for Tottenham Hotspur in the last transfer windowAfter a breakthrough campaign in the English Championship last season, Grealish had been strongly linked with a move to Spurs due to Villa’s financial struggles.But a move didn’t materialise with Grealish later agreeing on a new long-term contract at Villa Park instead.“At Hull, I was 95% sure it was going to be my last game. I waved to the fans when I got taken off as I thought I was going,” Grealish told The Telegraph.Roberto Firmino, LiverpoolVirgil van Dijk praises Roberto Firmino after Liverpool’s win Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Virgil van Dijk hailed team-mate Roberto Firmino after coming off the bench to inspire Liverpool to a 3-1 comeback win against Newcastle United.“Even on the Thursday morning of the transfer window, I thought I was leaving At that time it could have got done, but for whatever reason, it didn’t.“They (Spurs) weren’t willing to pay what Villa wanted at the time, but the new owners came in and they changed everything.”Grealish has started in all nine of Villa’s Championship games this season with Steve Bruce’s side currently in 13th-place in the standings.last_img read more