Second victory for Kilburn’s Higgins

first_imgAlan Higgins’ second professional bout ended in another quick victory, with the Kilburn middleweight stopping Richard Hadju in the second round.The fight took place in Seinäjoki, Finland, as Higgins’ trainer CJ Hussein also works with Finnish cruiserweight Juho Haapoja, who was in action on the same bill.Higgins enjoyed an impressive debut, stopping Emmanuel Moussinga in the first round at Bethnal Green’s York Hall in July.See also:Perfect start for Kilburn boxer HigginsHiggins wins on professional debutHiggins eyeing victory number three Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img

News in brief: Bees duo nominated, QPR Youth Cup game moved

first_imgGray has been in great formBrentfordBees boss Mark Warburton and striker Andre Gray are in the running for the Championship manager and player of the month awards respectively. Under Warburton’s guidance, Brentford won all five of their league games in November, taking them up to third in the table.He has been nominated alongside Bolton’s Neil Lennon, Mick McCarthy of Ipswich and new Birmingham boss Gary Rowett. Gray, who stepped up three divisions when signing from Luton in the summer, has netted five goals in the last five games, and is competing with Blackburn forward Rudy Gestede, Leeds midfielder Alex Mowatt and Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph.Scott HoganBrentford say the striker is making good progress in his recovery from a serious knee injury he suffered at Rotherham in August. Hogan underwent surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in September and will continue his rehabilitation work in the new year with two weeks in Philadelphia with renowned knee specialist Bill Knowles.Bees boss Mark Warburton said: “Much work still lies ahead but it is most pleasing to see how far Scott has come in such a short period of time. The fact Scott is making such excellent progress is testament to the work ethic and commitment of the player and the medical team”.FulhamThe Whites have sold out their full away allocation for the Boxing Day trip to Bournemouth. It means Kit Symons’ side will be backed by more than 1,325 fans when they take on the Championship high-flyers.QPRRangers’ FA Youth Cup tie at Birmingham City has been brought forward to Saturday 13 December, with a 1pm kick-off. The game, at Solihull Moors FC, was originally scheduled for Tuesday 16 December.Charlie AustinThe striker has been voted QPR’s player of the month for November after scoring five goals in as many matches.Lyle Della VerdeThe Fulham midfielder, on loan at Bristol Rovers, underwent a scan on Thursday on an ankle injury picked up in a Conference Premier match this week. The 19-year-old turned his ankle after a challenge midway through the first half of Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw with Wrexham.Mark SmithThe Brentford goalkeeper will stay with Hampton & Richmond Borough until January. Smith, 18, joined the Ryman Premier Division club on a short-term loan at the end of October but has had the deal extended.Hampton & RichmondWinger Luke Wanadio has left the club in order to play more first-team football. The former Kingstonian man has not been a regular for Hampton of late and boss Alan Dowson said: “Luke is a bit unlucky. He wants to start games, it’s something at the moment we can guarantee so he goes with our best wishes.”Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Sars collects R900-billion in revenue

first_img4 November 2014The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has collected R900-billion in the 2013/14 fiscal year, up by 10.6% from tax revenue collected in the previous year.The 2014 Tax Statistics Bulletin released by Sars and National Treasury on Tuesday, 4 November shows that in the 2013/14 fiscal year, tax revenue collected grew by R86.2 billion compared to the 2012/13 financial year.The growth in tax revenue also saw a pro rata rise in the number of individuals registered for income tax. As of 31 March 2014, the number of registered income tax individuals stood at 16.8-million, with the most assessed taxpayers based in the Gauteng, according to the bulletin.There were nearly 2.7-million registered companies in South Africa as of 31 March 2014, and nearly 700 000 registered Value Added Tax (VAT) vendors, according to the bulletin. VAT collections grew by 10.5% in 2013/14 compared to the previous fiscal year. VAT was the second largest contributor to total tax revenue for 2013/14, totalling R237.7-billion (26.4%).Customs duties also registered a solid performance, growing by 13.3% compared with the previous year. This was a result of gains from a deteriorating domestic currency as well as strong growth in the imports of some key dutiable commodities, the bulletin notes.Tax Statistics Bulletin is released annually and contains publicise comprehensive tax revenue data to assist policy makers and provide insights on economic indicators to researchers, analysts, the media and the public in general. (Infographic: South African Revenue Services) SAnews.govlast_img read more

Madison County Grain Outlook Breakfast

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The 2019 Grain Outlook Breakfast is Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Der Dutchman in Plain City from 8 a.m. to noon. The meeting is $15 including hot breakfast. Pre-registration is required. Contact the Union County Extension Office at (937)644-8117. Topics include:· Commodity Prices – Today’s YoYo (Ben Brown) · Examining the 2019 Ohio Farm Economy (Barry Ward) · U.S. Trade Policy: Where is it Headed? (Ian Sheldon) · Weather Outlook (Aaron Wilson)last_img

EPA Adds to Rural Woes

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — The EPA granted five additional 2017 small-refinery exemptions (SREs) to the Renewable Fuel Standard on Thursday, raising the agency total for that year to 34, according to an update posted to EPA’s online dashboard. The dashboard also indicates it has two more waiver requests pending for that year.Ethanol industry interests, farmers and federal lawmakers were hopeful the agency would change the way it considered waivers under new Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The 2017 waiver requests were made during former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s tenure.Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said during a news conference that the agency’s latest actions would serve as a “bellwether” for how the EPA would handle waiver requests going forward and Thursday’s decision would be an “important indication” of where Wheeler stands.“It’s extremely disappointing and outrageous to see EPA once again allow oil refiners to undermine the RFS and hurt family farms, ethanol producers and our environment by exploiting and abusing a statutory provision that exempts them from their obligations to blend renewable fuels,” Cooper said in a statement following the press conference.“The RFS was created to preserve the environment, protect America’s energy security and give Americans more affordable options at the pump. These exemptions undercut those goals, and today’s exemptions mean more than 2.6 billion gallons of RFS blending obligations have been erased with the stroke of EPA’s pen.”Pruitt’s EPA granted 48 such waivers total in 2016 and 2017, totaling an estimated 2.25 billion gallons of biofuels not blended. Five additional waivers granted for 2017 raises the total to 53. The agency had one 2017 request declared ineligible.To put in perspective the potential corn demand lost from those waivers, assuming all ethanol gallons — it takes about 928.6 million bushels of corn to produce 2.6 billion gallons of ethanol.American Coalition for Ethanol CEO Brian Jennings said the agency’s actions is another dagger to farmers.“On National Agriculture Day, as farmers are long-suffering from lost market opportunities and low prices, and many farmer-owned ethanol plants across rural America are considering whether to suspend operations or sell out to a bigger company because of limited demand here at home, EPA has further depressed demand for ethanol by rubber stamping five more small-refinery exemptions for 2017, and done so without reallocating the blending obligations to other refiners,” he said in a statement.“Any benefit of selling E15 year-round will be wiped out until and unless EPA gets back to the rule of law when it comes to these refinery waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard.”EPA said in a statement to DTN that it continues to follows the law.“EPA continues to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard program in accordance with the Clean Air Act, taking into consideration additional direction from Congress, recommendations from Department of Energy, and relevant court decisions,” the agency said. “Many aspects of the decisions for exempting individual refineries are based on confidential business information.”Scott Segal, an attorney who represents refining interests, said in a statement the EPA is following the law.“The methodology for granting small-refiner exemptions is determined by statute,” he said. “Attempts to set artificial barriers against granting SREs has been rejected both in court three times and by direction of Congress in EPA appropriations bills. To say that the current administration undertook any special treatment for refiners is completely inconsistent with law and precedent. It’s just sour grapes from some in the biofuels sector.”CONSUMPTION FALLSDomestic ethanol consumption declined for the first time in 20 years in 2018.Cooper said the cause is not ethanol competitiveness, as ethanol is priced at 55 cents per gallon less than gasoline.“Quite simply, the four dozen exemptions and billions of RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) dumped on the market,” he said. “The pressure to blend was wiped away. Because RINs had very little value in 2018, prices had to adjust. We lost more than $1 billion last year (in lost blending). It’s really hard to overstate just how important the next few months will be.”The ethanol industry is expecting pivotal decisions from the EPA in the coming months. A final E15 and RIN reform rule is expected to be finalized by the end of May.Wheeler’s EPA is expected to decide on 37 pending waiver requests from 2018 in May or June. Also, the agency is expected to propose a RFS reset.“Then throw in a possible trade deal with China,” Cooper said, “and we cannot underscore enough that we need to see more restraint on the process on waivers. We need to see (lost) gallons accounted for. We need negotiations on China, we want the E15 rule to be legally defensible.”ETHANOL DEMAND LOSTScott Richman, chief economist of the Renewable Fuels Association, said recent data shows the exemptions have led to lost demand for the ethanol industry.“To put this in context, there was a considerable amount of debate about whether waivers are having an impact on the market,” he said. “There was demand destruction.”In 2018, domestic consumption of ethanol fell for the first time since 1998.The ethanol blend rate in gasoline dropped for the first time since 2009. In 2017, 14.5 billion gallons of ethanol was used by consumers, Richman said. That fell to 14.38 billion gallons in 2018. The 120-million-gallon drop in consumption, he said, is the equivalent of taking a large-scale ethanol plant out of production.The ethanol blend rate fell from 10.13% in 2017 to 10.07% in 2018, Richman said. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expected the ethanol blend rate to be at 10.26% in 2018.“The blend rate really moved past the 10% blend wall in 2016 and was 10.75% in January 2018,” Richman said. “Then rumors on small-refinery waivers filtered into the market and it hurt RINs and ethanol blending.”From February to December 2018, the blend rate dropped to 10.01%. Considering that sales for both E15 and E85 increased in 2018, the rate of E10 blending probably was even lower, he said.“The impact of exemptions continue to linger,” Richman said. “Ethanol was priced very competitively in 2018 compared to gasoline. The impacts of SREs already granted are going to continue to linger.”INDUSTRY DOES ITS PARTNeil Koehler, CEO of Pacific Ethanol, said during a news conference the industry has been “significantly harmed” by the “irregular behavior” on granting small-refinery exemptions and artificial barriers on higher blends.“In good faith, we did our part as our industry, and in 2018 we anticipated more demand,” he said.“That was lost to small-refinery exemptions. These are real impacts. We have had plants shut down and slow down, and margins are some of the worst the industry has seen. There’s a lot of pain and suffering out there. We have a market that is not responding properly.“We closed a plant and slowed another down. We have about 1 billion gallons of inventory in the market now. Farmers are hurt by this as well. We have the fuel, we have the benefit, all we are asking for is market access.”As for the EPA’s granting of five additional waivers, Koehler said the market doesn’t support it.“We just do not see in today’s market, a rationale,” he said. “We’re very clear the RFS requires gallons, and on average, it needs to be met. It is very clear the law says that it needs to be reallocated. They have an opportunity in the reset. We have a market problem and not a RIN problem.”Pruitt indicated that in handing out small-refinery exemptions, his hands were tied by a federal court decision that the agency used too strict of a test in denying a waiver request from Sinclair Oil Corp.The agency rejected Sinclair because its two refining plants in Wyoming were profitable and would not be forced into closure because of the Renewable Fuel Standard.Refining interests have maintained the agency has no choice but to grant requested waivers.“EPA has more discretion,” Cooper said. “Their hands are not tied. EPA changed the criteria on exemptions. EPA has acknowledged that refiner problems are not to do with the RFS.”Last week, DTN reported that court documents filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit showed EPA did not follow its own policy for granting waivers.“We hope the administration doesn’t make the same mistakes,” Cooper said. “A lot of eyes are on Mr. Wheeler and a lot of sensitivity on how he’s going to handle them with historically low RIN prices in 2018.”Many small refiners have claimed an economic hardship in meeting RFS requirements, because of the costs of RINs.“They were purchasing RINs for 8 cents,” Cooper said.Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.comFollow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(ES/AG)© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Lowest Cache on Earth GC1EHNZ GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – January 16, 2011

first_img SharePrint Related”In mezzo agli alberi morti” GC2308M – GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – March 5, 2012March 5, 2012In “Community”Auburn Sea (GC3QGYZ) — Geocache of the WeekSeptember 3, 2015In “Geocache of the Week”Beyond Here, Lay Dragons (GCH52C) – GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – January 17, 2013January 16, 2013In “Community” View of The Dead Sea from new the geocache locationThe sunbaked rocks near the shore of The Dead Sea hide a geocaching adventure. Treasure-hunters trek to a location unlike any other on earth. Geocachers descend 111 meters (364 feet) below sea level  to search for what’s billed as the “Lowest Cache on Earth” (GC1EHNZ).The journey, as geocachers’ GPS devices track closer to the cache coordinates, reveals a scorching desert of shepherd tending flocks, palm trees and wiry brush.The cache is hidden on the Jordan side of  The Dead Sea. The cache owner Limbo placed the small tradition cache in 2008 at an ideal vantage point. Limbo writes on the cache page, “After you find it, find a place to sit and enjoy the great view of the Dead Sea.”Geocachers from around the world have logged smileys on the cache. One writes, “Given the altitude of this one, I really wanted to pick it up. My driver was pretty interested in the idea and accompanied me across from the parking spot to GZ, and was suitably impressed when I walked straight to the cache and voila! I signed the log while he sorted through the stash, and then it was back to the car to escape the ridiculous heat. They both reckon it was about 50 degrees Celsius [122 F] out here today.”Geocachers log smileys on the cacheIf you’re in the neighborhood in March, and can stand the heat, you could also log an Event Cache. “Meet & Greet @ the Lowest Point on Earth” (GC3AC47) is scheduled for March 3, 2012. It’s within a few kilometers of the “Lowest Cache on Earth.”Cache container for “Lowest Cache on Earth”Continue to explore of some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Explore all the Geocaches of the Week on the Latitude 47 blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com. If you’ d like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache, and the GC code to pr@groundspeak.com.Share with your Friends:Morelast_img read more

Two Lovers and a Bear director braved frigid Nunavut landscape to shoot

first_imgMontreal native Nguyen says the script for the film evolved over time, but many of the elements, including the talking bear came to him on a stopover at the Amsterdam airport. The story of two star-crossed lovers on the run from bad memories is at the heart of Two Lovers and a Bear, a new Arctic-set film from Rebelle director Kim Nguyen. Advertisement Counselling the couple is a talking polar bear, a philosophical addition to a movie that is part romance, part thriller and all icy cold isolation. The bear, played by a real polar bear named Agee and voiced by acting legend Gordon Pinsent, is the most fanciful part of a film that sees Lucy and Roman, played by recent Emmy winner Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan, embark on a physical and metaphysical journey to confront their troubled, violent pasts. Advertisement Facebook “I was reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami,” he says. “There are weird gods in the book, kind of like imperfect Greek gods with flaws. It dawned on me that I should have something like an imperfect, flawed deity in the film.” At the same time he noticed the airport’s giant brass teddy bears and voilà, the idea of an advice-giving polar bear was born. Advertisement Login/Register With: LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Twitterlast_img read more

Alan Thicke 1947 – 2016

first_img Twitter There were no airs about Thicke, who was always approachable and friendly, especially when you made the Canadian connection. Login/Register With: You never want to hear about anyone dying at 69, and I can’t imagine the heartache his 19-year-old son Carter experienced watching his dad being stricken right before his eyes. There is something so Canadian, however, about Alan Thicke meeting his end on a Burbank, Ca., hockey rink.Thirty years ago, Alan Thicke was one of the biggest stars on network television. The Cosby Show had single-handedly resurrected the sitcom, and since imitation is the sincerest form of television, ABC was anxious to match the success of NBC with a similar, family-oriented comedy. Thicke was cast as family patriarch Jason Seaver on Growing Pains, a series that ran for seven seasons, from 1985 through 1992. The series wasn’t especially memorable or significant but it sure was popular, thanks mainly to Kirk Cameron who played the Seaver’s oldest son. He quickly became a teen sensation. (Future heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio stole some of the glory in the series’ final season.)Thicke was never the Cosby of his own show, but it still made him rich and famous. He even cashed in on a couple of highly-rated follow-up TV-movies. I was working in LA for TV Guide Canada in the mid-’80s and as a young photo editor remember meeting him on the set of Growing Pains. Photographer Gene Trindl was posing Thicke and co-star Joanna Kerns. He was shooting them through a large round wreath Gene had made out of branches cut in his own back yard. Advertisement LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Facebook Advertisementlast_img read more

Even Pretending To Be A Professional Tennis Player Is Terrifying

CARL BIALIK STATSMOJJOMOJJO NEWCARL CHARTING Based on my experience covering tennis, professional players usually remember to bring their tennis shoes to the court. On a June Thursday, as I walked into Courbevoie Sport Tennis outside of Paris, I realized I hadn’t. I was there to try out a new technology from Mojjo — a French company that makes what Emmanuel Witvoet, one of its founders, calls “Hawk-Eye for everyone.” Hawk-Eye is the advanced camera-based system that tennis tournaments use to adjudicate disputed line calls and to provide advanced stats for television. It’s sophisticated, impressive and expensive — out of reach for most amateurs, in part because it uses 10 cameras. Witvoet said he and his co-founders had figured out how to do much of what Hawk-Eye does with just one camera, making it affordable for the masses.Unlike the masses, pro players have ready access to the kind of data that Mojjo was about to provide me. They get all sorts of detailed stats after every match, and at tournaments like Wimbledon, they get more. After matches, they receive DVDs that allow them to toggle between points or watch only, say, their backhand errors. It’s not easy for amateurs like me to get that kind of information, but we are clamoring for it. Some 70 million fitness trackers like Fitbit were bought last year, and smart watches like Apple’s bundle fitness tracking with their smartphone features. In tennis, rackets from Babolat and racket attachments from Sony measure things like spin and speed of shot — but their accuracy is questionable.Now, for one surreal, amazing, frustrating and delusion-shattering morning, I would finally have the data. A camera would capture the flight of the ball, software would analyze what happened on each point, and detailed match stats — my detailed match stats — would be put online. I was treated like a pro, but the data showed me how far I had to go to play like one.My friend Alex Duff came along to help me test Mojjo out. Duff is a data geek and amateur tennis player who once recorded video of one of our matches so we could review our performance later. For this match, we were instead armed with two laptops — so that we could each predict the match stats beforehand.After telling the Mojjo courtside kiosk which of us was serving first, Duff and I took the court atop a light dusting of red clay, the same kind of stuff the pros would play on later that day at the French Open five miles away.I told Duff not to be too self-conscious even though a camera was running. I then proceeded to be incredibly self-conscious because a camera was running. I can’t remember starting another match as poorly as I did this one. My head was full of excuses, and I felt self-conscious every time a club employee walked on court, which was often: I felt his eyes staring at my shoes, as if he were the Mona Lisa.Mojjo was the main problem. I’d recently read the classic book “The Inner Game of Tennis” and knew I was supposed to think less and clear my mind. I didn’t — and instead was rushing during points. Silver lining: That meant we’d play more points in our allotted two hours, and more points meant more data.Despite my struggles, I won the first set 6-3. And after extending my winning streak to six straight games, I started to consider secondary goals, like looking good for the camera. I couldn’t do much about my sweat-stained shirt, but I could at least retuck my shorts pocket after pulling out a ball for a second serve. I promptly lost eight straight points.I started playing a little better and went up 5-3 in the second set. That’s when we played our best game of the match by far. We both hit winners and saved game points. After four deuces, I closed out the set. I asked for one more — and cruised to a 6-0 win.Then the email containing our stats arrived from Mojjo, and our amateur match suddenly felt like an official one. We had numbers that looked, if you squinted sideways, like numbers from the pros. We each had one ace. I hit four double-faults; he hit five. We each made a little over 50 percent of our first serves. These weren’t crazy numbers for a clay-court match by pros. Andy Murray and David Ferrer, two of the best players in the world, had just put up roughly similar numbers in their match at the French Open the day before.The video uploaded to Mojjo’s site later that day, and it was odd — not only because it depicted my awkward-looking one-handed backhand. At times, it showed scores that didn’t make much sense and seemed to include shots hit after rallies were over, like to get a ball back to the server, as part of the match.When I could get past the technical hiccups, I saw that unlike the emailed stats, which could have passed for professional-grade, the video looked nothing like match footage I was used to watching. Even with the unusual perspective of the single-camera wide shot, it was clear that my strokes weren’t Grand Slam-ready. And the tennis looked like it was being played at half-speed. Our bodies and the ball crept through the frame — even when the video wasn’t glitching. Second-serve returns in percentage81%81%81% Double-faults455 First-serve returns in percentage77%78%85% Second-serve in percentage89%87%86% Percentage of all points won61%61%61% Aces101 Special Podcast: Check out Baseline, a U.S. Open mini-podcast with Carl Bialik, Louisa Thomas of Grantland, and others from the National Tennis Center grounds. Listen here, and subscribe to the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast Hot Takedown on iTunes now so you don’t miss an episode! First-serve win percentage64%61%57% Break points of opponent’s serve202012 Win percentage for rallies of 10+ shots100%50%33% Win percentage for rallies of 1-3 shots60%61%64% Mojjo isn’t the only tennis tracker around. An Israeli company named PlaySight uses four cameras to Mojjo’s one, and its technology is more mature: Clubs have already installed it in about 130 courts. It provides a glimpse of what Mojjo could eventually do and of how a more advanced system could do things for amateurs that even some pros don’t get.Over Skype, PlaySight’s CEO and co-founder, Chen M. Shachar, said his system cost $10,000 per court — about three times what Mojjo will charge — plus a license fee for each facility. As is the case with Mojjo, the club, not the player, pays the PlaySight fee. But clubs most likely pass this cost on to players through higher per-match prices.Shachar said PlaySight has much bigger plans. For instance, he said the software eventually will be able to compare, say, me to its database of other players and tell me how my serve, backhand and other shots compare with the averages. And he envisions an improvement on current systems for remote coaching, which require coaching companies to download and tag video: I could instead share my PlaySight account — including video and data — with a top coach on the other side of the world. That’s better than pros can do when they’re playing on courts without Hawk-Eye.PlaySight already can do things Mojjo doesn’t immediately plan on. For instance, PlaySight live-streams matches. And its courtside kiosks provide in-match stats and video replay. It also offers a level of precision that makes it possible to review line calls, which Mojjo doesn’t.While Mojjo lacks the precision to make line calls with certainty, its camera nonetheless gave me a rare chance to review my own calls. Pros don’t call their own lines, but amateurs like Duff and I do. And I could tell while watching the raw video of my match that I’d made some questionable out calls.That’s not the only lesson I learned from my experience with Mojjo. My serve and volley stinks — I won 25 percent of those points, and that was lucky. My backhand is much weaker than my forehand (43 percent on backhands without slice vs. 63 percent on forehands without slice). I also landed fewer first serves than I predicted I would — and that I thought I had right after the match.I wasn’t nearly as good at intuiting stats while playing a match as I’d thought. Shachar said this isn’t unusual for people in high-stress activities — including sports and higher-stakes contests. PlaySight founders adapted their tennis platform from one they developed to allow fighter pilots to review their actions. “The gap between what really happened and what you think happened is huge,” Shachar said.2Pros, too, can have trouble tracking stats in their head. Gilles Simon, one of the most stat-conscious men on tour, said after defeating big-serving Milos Raonic at the Queen’s Club tournament in London last month that he’d thought Raonic had landed the vast majority of his first serves in the first set, only to learn when looking at the scoreboard between sets that Raonic had made just 52 percent.On the plus side, I learned that statistically, tennis looks pretty similar when played by two people of similar ability, no matter what that ability is. I even found a match that had roughly similar stats and scoreline to my match with Duff. It happened 15 years ago at Wimbledon. The winner was Fabrice Santoro, who like me had unconventional strokes.3He also had the very cool nickname “The Little Magician.” The loser was Andrea Gaudenzi, which sounds a little like Alex Duff in Italian.4To find a similar match, I examined stats from 12,379 best-of-five-set matches made available on GitHub by Sackmann. Then I zeroed in on the 855 straight-set wins with scores closest to ours of 6-3, 6-3, 6-0. Finally, I calculated z-scores for 15 stats in our match and for each of the 12,379 pro matches: seven for each player (ace percentage, double-fault percentage, percentage of first serves that went in, percentage of first-serve points won, percentage of second-serve points won, break points against, and break points converted against), plus the dominance ratio (the ratio of the percentage of return points won to the percentage of serve points lost by the winner of the match). I summed the absolute value of the difference of the z-score for each of the 15 categories for our match and for each of the 855 matches. Santoro d. Gaudenzi came out the closest. Pros: They’re just like us.I also came to a fairly obvious realization that nonetheless troubled me. Before my Mojjo match, I considered myself a smart player, adjusting my tactics to take advantage of each opponent’s weaknesses. But with Mojjo, whatever I learned, my opponent would too — we’d both get the same stat sheets. For instance, from my charting, Duff landed 22 serves directed at my forehand and lost 20 of those points. If he notices that stat, he probably won’t serve to my forehand nearly so often the next time we play. Maybe having post-match stats would help my opponents more than me, by removing what I think is my tactical advantage from having an approximate handle on what’s working and what’s not. There’s also the risk I’d overthink things; even pros like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic said in media conferences at Wimbledon this year that they don’t normally look at their own stats in too much detail.But even if data can’t improve my game, my curiosity is stronger than my competitiveness. Now that I’ve experienced what very few players have, it’s been hard to go back. Each match uncharted feels like a lost opportunity to learn more about my game — including just how ugly my backhand is. While I wait for Mojjo to fix its bugs and come to courts near me, I’m awfully tempted to start filming and charting my matches myself.Maybe I’ll use a GoPro. Win percentage for rallies of 4-6 shots60%61%61% First-serve in percentage53%51%58% Win percentage for rallies of 7-9 shots54%54%50% Second-serve win percentage50%51%54% Break points converted151510 The next day, Witvoet, Duff and I met at the picnic tables outside Court Suzanne-Lenglen. Witvoet acknowledged that there were plenty of bugs still to work out. He and his fellow 30-something co-founders — Charles Chevalier, the chief technology officer, and Julien Vernay, the chief operations officer — had just installed Mojjo permanently at the club the prior week. “You are one of the early birds,” Witvoet said. “As you’ve seen, it’s not all polished. We know definitely it’s not totally ready.”After matches, the founders compare the footage from the Mojjo camera to the stats and use any discrepancies to hone the system. On their to-do list: a voice-recognition system that detects when players call balls out; social sharing of points so you can, for example, brag about an ace on Facebook, with video; and a gamified system so coaches can set statistical targets — like hitting a higher percentage of service returns in the court — and players can collect badges for achieving them. They’re also considering a pure software version that will allow players to use Mojjo to analyze footage they’ve shot themselves. “Our idea is, in some future, you GoPro yourself, and it’s done,” Witvoet said.Because of the video problems, Witvoet agreed to share with me the raw video of the match. I decided to check the stats for myself. I used a system developed by Jeff Sackmann for his Match Charting Project, which has enlisted volunteers to chart nearly 1,000 pro matches. During my Eurostar trip from Paris back home to London, I alt-tabbed between the video and the spreadsheet to log every shot — its type, direction and outcome.1For example, for one long rally I lost, I entered 4f29b2f2f3b2b2f+1f1# into a cell in the spreadsheet. Then I compared the results with Mojjo’s. They were off, in some cases by a lot.Duff hit 13 double-faults by my count, not the five Mojjo counted. I was making more first serves, but losing those points more often than Mojjo said. Both Duff and I were making more first-serve returns than estimated. And the break-point stats were way off for Mojjo, off even from the realm of possibility: The system showed that I’d faced five break points but been broken six times. (I counted four breaks off nine break points.) When Mojjo rolled out the next version of its software, correcting for problems reading high balls, and applied it to our match video, some but not all of these stats were more accurate — you can see just how accurate for my stats in the table adjacent to this paragraph. Chevalier estimated that the error rate on who won each point was below 5 percent. Score one for humanity over machine, so far at least, when it comes to logging tennis stats. But also score one for the pros, that special subset of humans who have someone doing the statkeeping for them. read more

The Jets Deal For LeVeon Bell Makes Sense Were Surprised Too

The Jets often put Sam Darnold in a tough spotAmong 2018 NFL quarterbacks, the greatest share of all dropbacks* that were on third down and long 7Alex SmithRedskins3696116.5 8Marcus MariotaTitans4076716.5 In an era when NFL success is defined by passing, one New York team said goodbye to one of the most electrifying young receivers in league history, and the other decided to make a 27-year-old running back the centerpiece of its new offense.Odell Beckham Jr. is out in New York football, and Le’Veon Bell is in. Bell’s move was nearly a year in the making, as he sat out the entire 2018 season in hopes of landing a long-term contract from a new team. It was assumed that he would pick a franchise on the precipice of winning a championship, but instead he chose the Jets, who went 4-12 last year and have a 21-year-old quarterback in Sam Darnold.Can Bell, five seasons and 1,541 total touches into his career, still perform at a Hall of Fame level? Through 2016, it looked as if Bell may have been worse for all the wear from his historic rushing and receiving workload, but he actually rebounded in 2017, his last season.When we last saw Bell, in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs for that 2017 season, he was the best player on the field. And the fact that Bell stopped the clock last year on his touches could work to the Jets’ benefit. According to my research last year at The Wall Street Journal, running backs typically maintain peak rushing efficiency through about career touch 2,400 (not including touches in the postseason). At Bell’s current per-game pace, that’s about 34 games (or two-plus seasons) away. So the Jets are making a good bet that Bell will earn his $35 million guaranteed on his four-year, $52.5 million deal — less than the Jets reportedly were prepared to pay linebacker Anthony Barr before he backed out of that deal to return to Minnesota. 6Dak PrescottCowboys61010316.9 1Lamar JacksonRavens2034019.7% 2Sam DarnoldJets4598919.4 5Josh AllenBills3967117.9 Dropbacks 3Josh RosenCardinals4518619.1 RankPlayerTeamTotal3rd & LongShare 9Russell WilsonSeahawks4998116.2 The Jets seem to have needed Bell more than Bell needed the Jets. They were simply awful last year running the ball. The Jets’ play success when running on first and second down last year ranked 31st in the league, at just 31.8 percent, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group. This meant that the Jets were routinely behind schedule in terms of down and distance, forcing Darnold to play uphill. 10Deshaun WatsonTexans61910016.2 4Ryan TannehillDolphins3156019.1 * Pass attempts and sacksBased on a minimum of 170 total pass attemptsSource: ESPN Stats & Information Group Enter Bell, who in his previous two seasons had a 41.4 percent success rate on first and second down.It’s may be surprising that Darnold, who posted mediocre numbers on the whole during his rookie year, could attract such a top free-agent receiving target at the peak of his ability. Darnold wasn’t Baker Mayfield last year. He struggled mightily, especially before missing three games with injury beginning in Week 10. But upon his return, Darnold was excellent — without receiving the fanfare that Baker Mayfield generated in the season’s second half. In weeks 14 through 17, the rookie from USC was actually was the top quarterback in football measured by Total QBR. And Darnold achieved this distinction despite being saddled with the least successful running game in football in that period.Darnold and Bell could be well-matched. As a rookie, Darnold showed an ability to make plays on- and off-script.“Darnold is going to be really good,” said Josh McCown, his backup and mentor last year. “Making plays in and out of structure is the key. He has that thing that Aaron Rodgers and a few guys have — an ability to get outside the pocket and make something happen when the play isn’t working. It’s a special gift.” McCown compares Darnold to Tony Romo. And Romo is among Darnold’s biggest fans, correctly predicting in midseason the dramatic leap in his performance that was yet to come.And Darnold’s growth in the season’s home stretch coincided with great success passing to running backs. That success came throwing to the likes of Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon. Now he gets to throw to one of the most prolific receiving running backs through age 25 in NFL history.Bell leaves a Pittsburgh Steelers team that boasted the best offensive line in football for a Jets team that, well, does not. But the Jets already made a major move to improve that unit, adding Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele in a trade with the Raiders. And last season in Miami, new Jets head coach Adam Gase was able to reinvigorate the seemingly moribund career of ancient Frank Gore, who posted by far his most efficient rushing season since 2012.The sudden shift of star power in East Rutherford, N.J., is already allowing the Jets to win the back pages of New York tabloids. Now they’ll have to see if they can make up ground on the field, too. read more