The Pitch That Launched a Thousand Think Pieces

“I was going to give him a couple pipe shots,” Adam Wainwright said when asked whether he “grooved” a first-inning pitch to Derek Jeter in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game. “He deserved it.” But later, after the baseball press swarmed his admission like locusts on fresh crop, Wainwright recanted. “What I meant to say was I’m intentionally trying to throw a strike to get him out. It’s what I do most of the time, almost all the time.”Luckily, people keep track of this kind of thing. Take a look at PITCHf/x data on Wainwright’s usual fastballs against right-hand batters this season, courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net:PITCHf/x classified it as a cutter, but it sped along like a four-seamer, moved vertically like a four-seamer, and stayed as horizontally still as no pitch in Wainwright’s repertoire. So, grooved or not grooved? You tell us.UPDATE (July 17, 1:20 p.m.): Dan Brooks of BrooksBaseball.net contacted me on Twitter and said his site had re-tagged Wainwright’s pitch as a (non-cut) fastball. The official Major League Baseball Advanced Media PITCHf/x classification for the pitch is a cutter. read more

There Are Fewer Women Coaches In College Basketball Now Than There Were

Tennis37.0 Yet while women’s basketball succeeds relative to other major sports, the percentage of female head coaches in the sport has actually been declining over the last five seasons, both overall and most severely at the Division I level. In the 1996-97 school year — the first season in a streak of three consecutive national championships for Summitt and the Lady Vols — 62.3 percent of head coaches in women’s Division I basketball were female. That number rose to 66 percent in 2009-10 but has declined ever since. As the number of women’s programs increases, the number of female head coaches has decreased. In the 2007-08 school year there were a total of 329 women’s basketball programs in Division I and 209 female head coaches. Last school year, there were 343 programs but only 202 women in head coaching positions. Seven of those 14 new D-I programs had female coaches when they made the switch. Women’s D-I team sports* with the most female coaches (2015) On Jan. 19, 2006, Pat Summitt’s Tennessee Lady Volunteers defeated Vanderbilt 80-68, making Summitt the first woman in NCAA basketball history to win 900 career games.1All divisions. Ten years after that landmark win, women in coaching haven’t come quite as far as one might have imagined back in ’06. In fact, they’re even more underrepresented today than they were a decade ago. First, a moment to appreciate just how far ahead of the pack Summitt was: She needed just 1,072 games to reach the milestone, a mark that stood as the fastest in NCAA basketball history — all divisions, men’s and women’s — until it was broken by UConn’s Geno Auriemma last year. While Summitt retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia, her 1,098 career wins still stand as the most by any coach, male or female, in college basketball. Even at Auriemma’s current rate of 31 wins per season, and with him having coached UConn since 1985, it would take him another five years to pass Summitt. In her 38 seasons, Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight NCAA Championships, trailing only Auriemma and John Wooden for the most in Division I basketball history; Summitt is one of just five female head coaches in any sport to win eight team titles at the Division I level.2Suzanne Yoculan (University of Georgia gymnastics – 10), Beth Anders (Old Dominion field hockey – 9), Marsha Beasley (West Virginia University rifle – 8), and Cindy Timchal (University of Maryland lacrosse – 8).That last number seems especially lofty, because there aren’t many women winning D-I titles as a coach these days: During the 2014-15 school year, only five of the 17 women’s Division I team championships were won by teams with female head coaches. Overall, 40.2 percent of head coaches in women’s NCAA athletics last school year were women, and that number falls to 38.9 percent at the Division I level.Women’s basketball has consistently been among the best sports when it comes to female representation in the coaching ranks. Last season 58.6 percent of Division I head coaches were female — no other sport with at least 300 Division I programs had a majority of female head coaches. *With minimum 300 programs in U.S.Source: NCAA Soccer26.5 TEAM SPORTPERCENTAGE FEMALE COACHES Basketball58.6% Volleyball43.5 There’s one line of argument that considers more male coaches of female teams as an endorsement of women’s athletics. After all, Geno Auriemma is widely considered as one of the best basketball coaches at any level, and he’s spent his entire career coaching the Connecticut women. Summitt’s own son — Tyler — is the head women’s basketball coach at Louisiana Tech. But that argument assumes a difference in coaching quality — a point that Auriemma, Auriemma’s female associate head coach, two female assistants and countless others refute. When asked if he would have won his national titles without longtime associate head coach Chris Dailey, Auriemma replied, “That’s like saying ‘would you have been able to win three national championships in a row without Diana Taurasi?’ I don’t think so.”Indeed, the difference appears to be in opportunity. Sixty percent of women’s Division I head coaches last season were men, while only 3 percent of all men’s coaches were women.And like most industries, the percentage of women in authority positions continues to fall the higher you move within an athletic department. Across all of Division I athletics last school year — men’s, women’s and coed sports alike — 37 percent of assistant coaches, 35 percent of head coaches, and just 9 percent of athletic directors were women. That figure is up from just 7 percent in 1995-96, but has remained around 9 percent over the last five seasons.When Title IX was enacted in 1972, more than 90 percent of women’s college teams were coached by women.3Study by Acosta and Carpenter’s Women in Intercollegiate Sports. Forty-three years later, that number has fallen to 40 percent. With the number of women’s athletic programs higher than it has ever been, progress on the sidelines has fallen well behind the standard set on the court. read more

LeBron James Upset He Did Not Win Defensive Player

Memphis’ Marc Gasol stopping LeBron JamesIt’s not enough for LeBron James that he is considered the best player on the planet. Apparently he wants to be considered the best defensive player, too.Memphis Marc Gasol was named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year. James finished second in the voting, and the Miami Heat superstar was not happy.“It sucks,” James said Thursday. “It definitely sucks, though, finishing second. Who wants to finish second?”Gasol received 212 points and 30 first-place votes among a panel of media members and analysts. James finished with 149 points and 14 first-place votes.James stopped short of criticizing Gasol’s defensive merits, but the Heat star said he probably put together the best defensive effort of his career this season.James averaged career highs in defensive rebounds (6.8) and overall rebounds (8.0), along with 1.7 steals and 1 block per game. But his defensive impact is measured by the versatility that has seen James defend all five positions at times during the past three seasons with the Heat.Gasol averaged 7.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and one steal for a Grizzlies defense that allowed a league-low 88.7 points per game. The biggest case on Gasol’s behalf was that Memphis was 6.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively when Gasol was on the floor.James believes his defensive talent is unique.“I guard everybody on the floor,” James said while sitting at his locker in Milwaukee. “I don’t know if it’s one player in NBA history that’s guarded 1 (point guards) through 5 (centers). It’s over with now, but it’s cool.”The variety of defensive assignments have taken somewhat of a toll on James. But he said he’s never complained or turned down a matchup if the team needed his services. Against Milwaukee, James is likely to defend point guard Brandon Jennings at one stage, and later help in the paint on center Larry Sanders.“I have to know all the likes and dislikes, pros and cons, of each and every player in this league because at some point, I’m going to be matched up with them,” James said. “It’s a challenge for me mentally and physically.”Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has also campaigned on James’ behalf for more consideration as one of the league’s top defensive players. Even before Gasol was officially announced as the award winner, Spoelstra said he would like to see James break through soon as the winner.“I think he’s deserving every year,” Spoelstra said earlier this week. “Possibly in the eyes of other people, they take him for granted, his impact defensively. He guards 1 through 5 every night and he knows and accepts the challenge. In the fourth quarter, whoever the biggest threat is, that’s who he’s guarding.” read more

Alex Bregman Is Not Interested In That Crap Out Of The Zone

With two outs and a man on base in the ninth inning Sunday, Alex Bregman grimaced after connecting on a Craig Kimbrel offering. He had just missed a game-tying homer, instead hitting a fly ball that fell into Andrew Benintendi’s glove on the warning track in front of the Green Monster for the final out. Game 2 of the American League Championship Series was over. The series was tied, and Fenway Park collectively breathed a huge sigh of relief.Even Bregman’s outs are increasing the heart rates of the opposition this October. Bregman became one of the best players in baseball during the season, and he’s elevated his game even further this postseason. Though in a small sample of just five postseason games, the 24-year-old has a .417/.708/1.000 slash line fueled by 10 walks (against one strikeout). He’s reached base in 18 of his 24 plate appearances this October.Bregman’s batting eye — along with opponents’ unwillingness to give him much to hit — is making some history. According to Major League Baseball research, Bregman is just the first player to draw 10 walks through five games of a postseason since Dodgers outfielder Jim Wynn did it in 1974. The only player before Bregman to draw at least three walks in back-to-back postseason games was Cubs outfielder Jimmy Sheckard — in 1910.Bregman, a spoil of tanking for the Houston Astros as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, is getting something akin to the Barry Bonds treatment. Over his past three postseason games, the LSU product has drawn eight walks, matching Bonds in 2002 for the most by any hitter over a three-game span in postseason play.Consider the pitches Bregman has seen this postseason and the restraint he has shown: Bregman entered play Tuesday having been thrown 103 pitches this postseason (20.6 per game). Of those pitches, only 40 have been in the strike zone. Only J.D. Martinez, Yasiel Puig, Gleyber Torres and Christian Yelich have seen a smaller share of pitches in the strike zone than Bregman has.1Of batters with a minimum of 50 pitches seen.Of the 63 pitches thrown to him outside the strike zone, Bregman has swung at just six, the lowest chase rate among any postseason batter to have seen 50 pitches. Consider his take on this full-count pitch Sunday night, in the charged Fenway environment against hard-throwing Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier:Bregman’s improved discipline is not just an October development: It’s what fueled his 2018 breakout.Only Joey Votto and Andrew McCutchen chased pitches out of the strike zone less often this season than did Bregman, who swung on just 18.1 percent of those pitches. Mookie Betts and Aaron Hicks ranked fourth and fifth.Bregman has improved his batting eye since reaching the majors in 2016. He dropped his out-of-zone swing rate by 5.8 percentage points from last season. Yasmani Grandal, Ian Happ and Gregory Polanco were the only players to make greater year-to-year improvements in laying off of balls out of the strike zone. “He’s having quite a season because of the preparation he’s doing, the lessons he’s learning, and the application in the game has been unreal,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch told the Houston Chronicle in September.While strikeouts continue to set record levels each year in the majors — from 21.6 percent of place appearances in 2017 to 22.3 percent in 2018 — the Astros posted the game’s lowest strikeout rate last season (17.3 percent) and the game’s highest slugging mark en route to a World Series title. This season, only the Cleveland Indians (18.9 percent) struck out less often than the Astros (19.5 percent).Bregman embodies this teamwide trend. The infielder is not just more selective in terms of swinging at pitches in the zone; he’s also finding pitches he can pull and drive for power. In 2018, he recorded just the sixth season this century of at least 30 home runs and 50 doubles with fewer strikeouts than walks.The Astros teach that a hitter should swing at a pitch only if he can conceivably drive it for an extra-base hit. Astros hitting coach Dave Hudgens told The New York Times last summer: “I don’t want guys swinging at a pitch unless they can hit a homer. I don’t want guys swinging at a pitch unless they can do damage. If you go in with that mindset, you’re not going to miss your pitch as often.”Bregman has always hit more balls in the air than on the ground. He ranked fifth this season in total volume of line drives and fly balls with 334. But he also increased his pull rate, perhaps encouraged by the inviting proximity of the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park to the right-handed batter’s box. His quick hands and short arms allow for a short bat path. And by crowding the plate, he’s able to cover the entire zone and pull outside pitches. His 24 home runs hit to the pull side (left field for Bregman) tie for sixth in the majors. This is all before getting to other aspects of his game like his defense at third base, which has looked exemplary so far this postseason, giving the Astros two shortstop-quality defenders on the left side of the infield.The Astros didn’t know they needed another superstar, but they have one in Bregman, who is challenging Mike Trout and Mookie Betts for status as the best player in the American League. As the Astros battle for a World Series berth, Bregman might be the best player in baseball when it matters most.Check out our latest MLB predictions. read more

Dotting the i Slob mentality alive with Prince

OSU sophomore offensive tackle Isaiah Prince (59) prepares to make a block during the Buckeyes game against Oklahoma Sept. 17 at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes won 45-24. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorChase Farris was an intimidating force for the Ohio State offensive line last season. Replacing him could have caused plenty of headaches for the Buckeyes, but sophomore right tackle Isaiah Prince has proven to be effective in the starting role.Prince, a native of Greenbelt, Maryland, is a former four-star recruit who was considered the best player from his state. On Signing Day, he signed with the Buckeyes, boosting an already large haul for OSU.Paving the way for redshirt freshman Mike Weber on the ground and protecting redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett’s right side, Prince has been instrumental in the success of the offensive unit for OSU regardless of his young age. Currently, the Buckeyes have surrendered just two sacks through four games, and average 332 yards rushing per contest.“For me personally, there was no pressure.”  Prince said. “This is something we’ve been preparing every day in the winter and spring.”A young lineman stepping into the starting lineup for OSU is no small accomplishment. Orlando Pace, John Hicks, Jim Lachey and Nick Mangold are a few former OSU offensive lineman who have had their names go down in Buckeye history.After backing up now-NFL talents in both Taylor Decker and Farris, Prince has had large expectations about his play. Even though he has earned his way into the lead role at right tackle, OSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said he and fellow tackle and junior left tackle Jamarco Jones still need to improve.“I’m pleased with some of the things they’re doing, and I’m not pleased with some things they’re doing,” Studrawa said. “But they’re growing.”Against Oklahoma, the offense for OSU faced a tough task in the defensive unit of the Sooners. Although Barrett tossed four touchdowns that evening, the night belonged to the lineman and the running backs for the Buckeyes.All told, OSU had 291 yards on the ground, and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Multiple long runs, including Weber’s 35-yard scamper in the second half, were off the right side.Prince, standing at a massive 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, seems to swallow up opposing defensive ends and linebackers before they can even get out of their stance. A man of few words, the Maryland native has let his play do the talk this season.Overall, Prince said he has improved in basically every way, with an extreme emphasis on his pass protection and run blocking.In multiple times this season, Prince has collapsed the entire right side of the opponent’s defensively line single-handedly. Teamed up with redshirt junior guard Billy Price, running plays to the right has paid dividends in the form of big gains for the OSU offense.The ability to dominate may be impressive, but it’s business as usual for Prince.“Anything to help the team,” Prince said. “Anything to help (Weber), (Barrett), anyone of them pop through. That’s my job. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”With a multitude of talent lost to the NFL, fans were anxious to see how OSU coach Urban Meyer would replace such skilled players. “The Slobs,” the self-imposed moniker of the offensive line, seemed to be a thing of the past after the 2015 season.Redshirt senior center Pat Elflein insisted the name would stay, and the players moving up were more than worthy of the coveted title.Considering how Prince has played so far this season, it seems fitting that when asked if his name can be considered a part of the group of mauling blockers, he only smiled and offered a short reply.“Yeah, I’m a Slob,” Prince said. read more

Looking back at who was hired who was fired and what transpired

Auburn’s Newton overcomes controversy, wins Heisman and National Championship Auburn, which started the season as the No. 22-ranked team in the nation, got an unexpected boost from transfer quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Cam led the Tigers to a 14-0 record, which ended with a 22-19 win over Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game. The win gave Auburn its first national title since 1957. “Anything is possible,” Cam said after the game. “I guarantee you five or six months ago, nobody would have bet their last dollar to say that Auburn University is winning the National Championship.” However, Cam didn’t just make headlines for his on-the-field performance this season. In early November, allegations surfaced that Cam’s father, Cecil Newton, attempted to solicit money from Mississippi State when his son was being recruited as a junior college transfer. On Dec. 1, the NCAA ruled that although Cecil did in fact shop Cam’s services during his recruitment, neither Cam nor Auburn was aware of Cecil’s actions, so the association ruled Cam eligible. On the field, Cam passed for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns. Despite the controversy surrounding him throughout the season, he still earned the third-highest percentage of first-place votes in the history of the Heisman Trophy. What does it take to be No. 1? In October, five teams were ranked No. 1 in the nation in as many weeks. After defending national champion Alabama lost its first game of the season to South Carolina on Oct. 9, Ohio State took the No. 1 spot. The Buckeyes’ reign as the nation’s top team only lasted a week, as they dropped their Oct. 16 matchup at Wisconsin, 31-18. “We have to bounce back because we can’t let this define us. We can’t lose another game,” Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor said following the loss. Following OSU’s loss, Oklahoma rose to No. 1 in the season’s first BCS standings. However, just like the Buckeyes, Oklahoma couldn’t manage to maintain its position for a full seven days, as the Sooners lost their Oct. 23 game at Missouri, 36-27. Oklahoma’s loss was Auburn’s gain, as the Tigers climbed to No. 1 in the following week’s BCS standings, only to have Oregon top them in the polls a week later. Auburn eventually reclaimed the nation’s top spot following its SEC Championship win over South Carolina on Dec. 3. ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’ wins ‘The Granddaddy of Them All’ January 2010’s Fiesta Bowl contenders Boise State and Texas Christian University entered the season at No. 3 and No. 6, respectively, leaving critics wondering what impact having both mid-major schools go undefeated in the regular season could have on the BCS. Among those critics was OSU President E. Gordon Gee, who told The Associated Press that even if they were to go undefeated, neither TCU nor Boise State was worthy of competing for a National Championship because of the low level of competition both teams faced. “We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day,” Gee said. Boise State eliminated itself from national championship consideration with its 34-31 overtime loss to Nevada on Nov. 26. The loss snapped the Broncos’ 24-game winning streak, which dated to a 2008 Poinsettia Bowl loss to TCU. Mountain West conference champion TCU went undefeated, finishing No. 3 in the regular season BCS standings and earning itself a bid to the Rose Bowl. The Horned Frogs defeated Wisconsin 21-19 in the bowl game. “Today we played for us, and for all the schools that wanted a chance,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said following his team’s Rose Bowl victory. TCU finished the season ranked No. 2. Out with the old, in with the new At season’s end, prestigious programs Florida, Miami (Fla.) and Michigan began searching for new head coaches. Florida’s coaching vacancy came as a result of 46-year-old Urban Meyer’s retirement, following six seasons and two national titles with the Gators. Former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was named Meyer’s replacement Dec. 11. Miami fired coach Randy Shannon before the Sun Bowl, after the team went 7-5 in 2010. In four seasons as the Hurricanes’ coach, Shannon’s record was 28-22. On Dec. 13, former Temple coach Al Golden was introduced as the team’s new coach. Following its blowout loss in the Gator Bowl, Michigan fired coach Rich Rodriguez, who went 15-22 in his three seasons in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Michigan is not used to this,” said Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon. “Michigan fans expect more than this, and so do Michigan athletic directors.” Michigan announced Tuesday it hired former San Diego State coach Brady Hoke as its 19th head coach in program history. Facing suspensions, Buckeyes overcome adversity, break losing streak vs. SEC On Dec. 23, the NCAA announced that five OSU juniors — Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas — would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling awards, gifts and university apparel, and receiving improper benefits in 2009. A sixth player, Jordan Whiting, will be suspended for one game for receiving discounted services due to his status as a student-athlete. “My selfish acts were very young and immature,” Pryor said in an apology on Dec. 28. “I’m just very deeply sorry about it. I didn’t mean to hurt anybody at all or bring anything down or bring embarrassment to our university.” The suspended players were, however, allowed to play in the Buckeyes’ 31-26 Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas on Jan. 4. The bowl win snapped OSU’s nine-bowl-game losing streak against SEC opponents. In the game, Pryor contributed 336 yards of total offense; Posey and Herron each scored a touchdown; and Thomas came up with a game-saving interception with less than a minute remaining in the game. Despite their Sugar Bowl performances and looming suspensions, the suspended Buckeyes committed to returning to OSU next season. read more

Ohio State mens hockey looks to end struggles against Western Michigan

The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team ended its double-digit winless streak at Western Michigan with a 3-0 win Nov. 24, 2007. This weekend, OSU will look to repeat the success it had in Kalamazoo, Mich., more than four years ago. The No. 15-ranked Buckeyes (14-10-5, 10-9-5-1 CCHA), winless in their past 10 games, take on No. 18 WMU (14-11-5, 11-8-3-3 CCHA) in a two-game series starting Friday in Kalamazoo, Mich. OSU’s 0-6-4 record in 2012 has them tied for fourth in the conference after leading the CCHA by seven points in early January. “We’re trying to build some momentum,” said OSU assistant coach Steve Rohlik. “We’re looking forward to getting up to (Western Michigan) to play a very good hockey team and see what we got in the tank this weekend.” OSU, which started the year 14-4-1 and ascended to a No. 2 ranking in the country, has only four games remaining in the regular season and is playing its worst hockey of the season during its double-digit winless streak. Rohlik points to a team in another sport as an example of what he hopes will happen with his Buckeyes. “You look at the New York Giants. They were 7-7. What happened to them? Why were they so different? They go on all of a sudden to win the Super Bowl. Everybody wrote them right off,” he said. “Well, we just had a great start, now we’re going through a struggle here, but we’re going to stick with it and stay positive.” A reason OSU has been struggling lately has been its lack of scoring on the power play. The Buckeyes were 0-for-14 with a man advantage in two games against Michigan State last weekend, 6-3 and 3-2 losses, respectively. Improving will be no easy task this weekend, as the Broncos post the CCHA’s second-best penalty-kill unit. Rohlik said the Buckeyes need to keep pushing and eventually, they will have success. “We can’t change the guys we got in the (locker) room. We’re going to continue to work with the guys,” he said. “We do have some good players. We think we’re going to score some goals (on the power play), it’s just a matter of sticking with it right now.” One of the lone bright spots for OSU during the winless streak has been its top front line of freshman forwards – Ryan Dzingel, Tanner Fritz and Max McCormick – which has accounted for seven of the Buckeyes’ last nine goals. Sophomore forward Chris Crane praised the play of the freshman trio. “Dzingel’s line, they’re great players together. They’ve been solid for us in the past couple weekends,” he said. Rohlik said in order for OSU to play well this weekend, other lines have to step up and produce. “For us, we don’t feel that we drop off (after their first line),” he said. “The other lines have to be at least even or chipping in a few (goals).” Success this weekend is vital, Crane said. “It’s playoff hockey right now. We’re battling for home ice, home advantage. With four games left in the season, that’s what we have to stay focused on,” he said. The Buckeyes and Broncos will drop the puck at 7:05 p.m. on Friday in Kalamazoo, Mich., and play again at the same time Saturday. read more

Opinion Derek Jeter deserves to be commended for staying clean in era

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter slides into third base during a game against the Baltimore Orioles Oct. 10, 2012, at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won, 3-2.Courtesy of MCTArguably one of the greatest players to ever step on a baseball field, Derek Jeter, announced that the 2014 Major League Baseball season would be his last, via Facebook.Jeter spent all 19 years of his MLB career playing shortstop for the New York Yankees.The sixth overall pick in the 1992 MLB draft, Jeter has far from disappointed any critics by being American League Rookie Of the Year in 1996, being selected to 13 All-Star appearances along with more than 3,000-hits and becoming the Yankees all-time leader in stolen bases. And how could we forget his highest accomplishments: leading the Yankees to five World Series championships.Jeter is the poster-child of professional sports. You would think a guy with his status making millions of dollars would go buck wild, but he has always kept a cool demeanor and avoided been involved in any known scandals while under the bright lights of New York City.Jeter has had his fair share of critics, including myself.Top players like Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez were caught or confessed to using performance enhancing drugs. Since then, I have always been skeptical of players from that era of baseball.Whenever I would watch Jeter play or hear of the numbers he put up, thoughts like “oh, he’s really going to get caught with those steroids someday” kept running through my mind.It was like waiting to hear that bit of bad news that you knew was coming, but wanted to do all you could to deny it. But I’m thankful that new never broke, and I pray it never does.I really do think Jeter deserves a standing ovation for having been surrounded by players like Rodriguez and never sticking a needle up his arm to help him play better.After Jeter officially retires at the end of the 2014 season, a question will be circulating the sports world. Not if Jeter will be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame, but rather how long will it take.The Hall of Fame requires for the inductee to have played in the MLB a minimum of 10 years and be retired for five. The committee takes performance record in consideration, and I have no doubt in my mind that what Jeter has accomplished throughout his career he will some day join the elite in the prestigious honor. read more

Blitzen Dasher Sage and Onion The alpacas guarding a gang of Christmas

first_img“Not all alpacas have this guard quality – generally it’s grumpy, old, castrated men and they need to be in pairs or groups. They are communal animals so they don’t do well on their own.”Tom described the moment the alpacas were introduced to the birds as “like a mexican stand-off”.“We backed the trailer into the turkey range and let the tailgate down and the alpacas came galloping out and then they stood still, frozen staring at the turkeys while the turkeys just stared back.“But then they sort of acknowledged each other and now they co-exist pretty happily with the turkeys.”The grass-eating animals react aggressively to foxes because in their native South America, wild foxes will try to kill unguarded baby alpacas.Tom said he has also noticed there have been less damaged birds – sold as ‘downgrades’ – since the alpacas arrived.He said: “If we get a fox attack, turkeys are killed but the rest of them are scared and they jump on top of each other and scratch each other – which damages their skin. But since introducing the alpacas, our downgrades this year are significantly less than usual too.”Copas Turkeys start planning for the Christmas demand in February.The birds roam around on the farm until they are 26 weeks old when they are slaughtered, hand plucked and hung up for a length of their time – which improves their flavour.The farm charges £14 per kg but Mr Copas says the cost of rearing the birds is reflected in the price.He told the BBC: “We spend more on feed than would be the case for supermarket birds that are typically slaughtered at 16 or 18 weeks.” Owner Tom Copas said their farm manager first became interested in the idea when he heard about alpacas’ strong guard qualities.After the fox attack, which cost the Copas Turkeys around £27,000 in retail value, the business owners tried more powerful electric fences and a range of other tactics but the problem did not go away.“We thought we would try and alpacas and I spent a couple of days calling around the alpaca world trying to find out more about what I needed and where I would find them,” said Tom.“Eventually I found a lovely lady in Gloucester who had some alpacas she couldn’t keep any more so we offered them a good home.” Alpacas are used all over the world to deter wild dogs and coyotes The herd of 10 alpacas are in charge of protecting a gang of 24,000 free-range turkeys Credit:Copas Turkeys Alpacas are used all over the world to deter wild dogs and coyotesCredit: Copas Turkeyscenter_img The herd of 10 alpacas are in charge of protecting a gang of 24,000 free-range turkeys  Alpacas have become the latest weapon in the battle against foxes as Christmas turkey suppliers use them to protect their posse.After a fox attack last year which killed 150 birds, a family-owned business in Berkshire has recruited ten “grumpy” alpacas to protect their prized birds.Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Prancer, Dasher, Dancer, Sage, Onion, Donner and Vixen are now keeping watch over the Copas’ 24,000 turkeys. 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

Barristers go on strike in protest at collapsing criminal justice system

first_img Show more Barristers are to go on strike in protest at the “collapsing” criminal justice system, meaning court proceedings across the country face massive disruption next week.Leading legal chambers Doughty Street, Garden Court and 25 Bedford Row are among those set to take part in the action.It comes after the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has warned that prisons, courts, the police and probation services are “underfunded and in chaos”.Chair Angela Rafferty QC said “relentless cuts” have resulted in “near collapse” of the justice system. “You cannot have a national asset and treat it like this,” she added.She said under-funding means cases are not being properly investigated by the police and CPS, there is uncertainty and delay at court and “unnecessary distress” for witnesses, victims and defendants.”Meanwhile the poor and vulnerable in society are being denied access to justice,” she added. “The system is desperate, it cannot endure any more cuts.” The CBA has advised its 4,000 members to take action after 90 per cent voted in favour, with a turnout of around 55 per cent.According to a recent survey by the General Council of the Bar, more than a third of criminal barristers said they are considering leaving the profession, with the main reason being low income and work-life balance.A spokesman for the Bar Council said: “The Ministry of Justice budget has been slashed across the board in the last decade. Liam Allan was one of many defendants who saw their trials collapse over the fiasco with disclosuresCredit:BBC A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We are extremely disappointed with the position the Criminal Bar Association has taken today, especially given that they and other members of the bar participated fully in the design of the scheme.”Our reforms will reflect the actual work done in court, representing better value for the taxpayer, and will replace an archaic scheme under which barristers were able to bill by pages of evidence.”We greatly value the work of criminal advocates and will continue to engage with the bar moving forwards.” The recent disclosure crisis, which led to the collapse of a number of rape trials last year prompting the Met Police to review all their cases, has also highlighted “the appalling state of our system”, a CBA spokesman said.”Criminal barristers are the ones who have to pick up the pieces and are not being paid for the disclosure work which stops people going to prison,” he said.center_img “The effects, in every area, are becoming ever clearer: courts and prisons in a deplorable state of repair, leading to unacceptable conditions, litigants struggling to deal with their own cases without legal help in the most trying of circumstances, overloaded courts and judges, increasing delays and judicial morale at rock bottom, to name but a few.”While the current investment in the court reform programme is substantial, it cannot hope to reverse all of the harm that has already been done, and continues to be done, and its focus is really elsewhere.”The planned strike is a reaction to the Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS), which is due to come into force on April 1. The Ministry of Justice said the scheme is cost neutral and that the amount barristers will be paid for legal aid work will be reflected by how complex a case is. Liam Allan was one of many defendants who saw their trials collapse over the fiasco with disclosures 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