I was barely 13 years old during WrestleMania VI on April 1, 1990, and just about at the height of my pro-wrestling fandom. I watched every televised event and read wrestling magazines, and I had been to a live event at the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu. I even watched unofficial wrestling-analysis shows that aired in the middle of the night. I was delirious.My favorite wrestler was Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, who took on “Mr. Perfect,” who had yet to lose in a televised head-to-head matchup. Brutus won. “Mr. Perfect,” a.k.a. Curt Hennig, had finally lost.Hennig died in 2003 at age 44.Of course, the main event at WrestleMania VI was the “Ultimate Challenge,” in which The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan to unify the Intercontinental Championship and the WWF Championship for the first — and so far only — time ever (the WWF changed its name to the WWE in 2002).The Ultimate Warrior, James Hellwig, died two weeks ago at age 54.Here are a few other pieces of information about WrestleMania VI:One match — Earthquake’s defeat of Hercules — featured two wrestlers who are now both dead.It was Andre the Giant’s last major televised match; he died in 1993 at age 46.Dusty Rhodes, who won his first wrestling title in 1968, is 68. His tag-team partner, Sapphire, his opponents “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the Sensational Queen Sherri, and his surprise manager, Miss Elizabeth (who was in a “feud” with Macho Man, her real-life husband), died in 1996, 2011, 2007 and 2003, respectively.Just five of 14 matches featured wrestlers who are all alive today.Here’s the card with all of the televised matches for the night. I’ve marked the ones who are dead in red; it’s one-third of the wrestlers who appeared (12 of 36, plus Miss Elizabeth).For all the dramatized bloodshed of professional wrestling, the card for WrestleMania VI certainly looks like a bloodbath. Is there anything fishy about pro wrestling, or are my intuitions about what percentage of young 1990s athletes should be alive 25 years later just way off?Let’s look at some data.I collected biographical information (including date of birth and date of death, if applicable) from the Internet Wrestling Database on all WWF wrestlers who are/would be younger than 60 in 2014, and who had at least 20 pay-per-view appearances between WrestleMania I in 1985 and the time the WWF was forced to change its name by the World Wildlife Fund in 2002 — for 203 in all.I then calculated each wrestler’s chances of dying between the ages of 25 (roughly around when his or her career may have started) and however old he or she is/would be in 2014, using actuarial tables from the Social Security Administration. Because health technology has improved significantly, I used a 1990 actuarial table to cover years before 2000, a 2000 table to cover years 2000 to 2009, and a 2010 table to cover 2010 to the present.I then broke them down by age groups and compared each group’s death rate with its expected death rate:We can also calculate the probability of so many wrestlers dying in each age group and overall by chance (using binom.dist), and it comes out like so:Note: I calculated each wrestler’s odds individually, but the probabilities in the last column of this table are based on the average probability for each group (which gets us extremely close, though technically it could be calculated precisely).I don’t want to speculate as to the cause of this phenomenon, though a number of theories in varying shades of sinister spring to mind. But it saddens me to think that my 13-year old self was so thoroughly entertained by watching ghosts. Rest in peace.
Jerry Brown had consumed well below the Texas legal limit of alcohol when he died last month in a car driven by Dallas Cowboys teammate Josh Brent, according to an autopsy report.Neither Brown, a practice squad player, not Brent, the team’s starting defensive tackle, wore seat belts in the one-car accident on December 8. Brown’s blood-alcohol content was determined to be 0.0056 – nowhere near the limit of 0.08.Meanwhile, Brent’s blood-alcohol content was 0.18, which is more than twice the legal limit at the time of the accident. He has been charged with intoxication manslaughter and freed on $100,000 bond.The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office reported in its autopsy Thursday that Brown died of head and neck trauma when their vehicle overturned. He had a dislocated neck and a severely bruised spine. Brent apparently was unharmed and was seen pulling his friend from the wreckage when police arrived.Brent, who has been emotionally distraught since the accident, according to his lawyers, has received support from Brown’s family and even attended a memorial service for the deceased player at the behest of Brown’s mother.The Cowboys have supported Brent and encouraged him to attend a game last month. He was on the sideline for more than half of Dallas’ comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks after the accident. When he learned his presence there caused somewhat of a commotion, Brent left the stadium. Coach Jason Garrett and owner Jerry Jones said they were unaware that Brent would be present at the game.A few days later, the team and league forbade him from attending any more Cowboys games.
Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown With three weeks left in the NFL season, 11 playoff spots are open. That means that most of the remaining 48 games — save some stinkers like 49ers-Rams — will make some impact on the postseason. What are this week’s biggest games?For the last month, we’ve been using the model behind our 2016 NFL predictions to calculate how much each team’s playoff chances “swing” depending on the outcome of each game. For example, we currently give the Green Bay Packers a 31 percent chance of making the playoffs. If they beat Chicago this week, we project those chances will increase to 40 percent (independent of other games). If they lose, their chances drop to 11 percent.1Our NFL predictions are based on 100,000 simulations of the rest of the season and are updated after every game ends. In the simulations in which Green Bay beats Chicago, they make the playoffs 40 percent of the time. In simulations where they lose, they make the playoffs 11 percent of the time. But it’s unlikely that Green Bay’s playoff probabilities will be exactly 40 percent or exactly 11 percent at the end of Week 15, because the team’s chances depend on the outcome of several games, not just their own. The Packers’ current chances are much closer to 40 percent than to 11 percent because they are much more likely to beat the Bears (69 percent) than lose to them (31 percent). That’s a 29 percentage point swing! By doing this same math for every matchup and factoring in how each team’s resulting record will affect others’ playoff odds, we can find out which games are the most impactful.But “most impactful” only tells part of the story. Let’s say you’re a Green Bay fan, or a fan of any other team on the playoff bubble. Which set of outcomes would help the most this week? To help answer this question, we’ve updated our predictions page to allow you to pick the outcomes of every game for Weeks 15 through 17, so you can see how each matchup affects every team’s probabilities. In the “best case” scenario I could find for the Packers, they’d beat the Bears, but also Dallas would beat Tampa Bay, San Francisco would beat Atlanta, the New York Giants would beat Detroit, Indianapolis would beat Minnesota, and Carolina would beat Washington.With these six outcomes, Green Bay’s playoff chances rise to 58 percent. Go create your own scenarios! The five biggest games of Week 15 are below. Detroit84987127– Tennessee2425232– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF NE WINSIF DEN WINSSWING Washington4649445– Minnesota1922174– Minnesota1923176– Buffalo24—4– Baltimore27322110– Atlanta9193894– Atlanta9189912– 1. Detroit (9-4) vs. N.Y. Giants (9-4) — 93 total ‘swing’ points Indianapolis3142– Denver54%33%78%44– We’re down to one wild card slot in the AFC. While neither Oakland nor Kansas City has officially clinched the postseason, we currently give both teams a greater than 99 percent chance, and only one of them (probably the Chiefs) will make it in as the AFC West champion. Denver is still clinging to that second wild card spot, but their loss to the Titans in Week 14 set their chances back. They’ll now face a brutal end-of-season schedule, facing New England, Kansas City and Oakland. 4. Carolina (5-8) vs. Washington (7-5-1) — 88 total ‘swing’ points 2. New England (11-2) vs. Denver (8-5) — 90 total ‘swing’ points CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Green Bay3127347– Tampa Bay54%85%42%43– N.Y. Giants7570778– 5. Tennessee (7-6) vs. Kansas City (10-3) — 72 total ‘swing’ points Atlanta9192893– Green Bay3135287– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS Detroit8482853– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF TB WINSIF DAL WINSSWING Miami27361521– Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown 3. Tampa Bay (8-5) vs. Dallas (11-2) — 88 total ‘swing’ points Tampa Bay5457516– The Buccaneers have won five straight and control their own playoff destiny. Dallas is guaranteed a postseason slot, but if you choose an outcome to this game on our new NFL predictions page you’ll see that a win improves their chance of a first-round bye to 99 percent, and a loss drops them to 80 percent. This makes a huge impact on their Super Bowl probabilities, so the Cowboys — who are at risk of dipping into a quarterback controversy — have quite a bit to play for here. Only teams with a playoff swing of at least 2 percentage points based on the game outcome shown N.Y. Giants75%54%93%39– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF TEN WINSIF KC WINSSWING Houston75537926– Washington46375013– CHANCE OF MAKING PLAYOFFS The Lions had their eighth fourth-quarter/overtime comeback of the season on Sunday, and now somehow find themselves in contention for a first-round bye. But Detroit’s remarkable season has come against a pretty weak schedule, and they’ll have to wrap up the year against the Giants, Cowboys and Packers. The winner of this game would be nearly assured of a playoff spot, but the loser will be in decent shape. Green Bay, which is in the hunt for the NFC North, is rooting for the Giants. Tampa Bay, Washington, Atlanta and (somewhat surprisingly) Minnesota would prefer a Detroit win to improve their wild card standing. AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF DET WINSIF NYG WINSSWING Detroit8486824– Tennessee24%53%19%34– The Panthers’ playoff chances are more or less nil, but they have the opportunity to play spoiler three games in a row against Washington, Atlanta and Tampa Bay.2You may have noticed that Tampa Bay-Dallas and Carolina-Washington both have a “swing” total of 88 points. That number is rounded, but we use a little more precision when we determine the rankings, and Tampa Bay-Dallas is the (very slightly) more impactful game. Washington would miss the playoffs if the season ended today and would fall to having just a 1-in-5 chance of making them with a loss here. Washington46%22%64%43– Denver5452542– Pittsburgh8991874– N.Y. Giants75827012– Tampa Bay5458508– Green Bay31243310– Minnesota1914217– AFFECTED TEAMCURRENTIF CAR WINSIF WAS WINSSWING The Titans also control their own destiny! Wins against the Chiefs, Jaguars and Texans in the final three weeks will leave the Titans with a 10-6 record and an AFC South title. And yet, we give them just a 24 percent chance of making the playoffs. One reason for this is that this week’s matchup in Kansas City, where the Titans will be major underdogs by any measure. But it’s also possible that our ratings are understating the Titans’ overall strength. Elo carries over from season to season, and while most teams have shaken whatever effect 2015 had on their rating, Tennessee started in such a huge hole — their 2015 end-of-season rating was 1272 — that we’re still rating them as a significantly below-average team. A win in Kansas City would send their Elo, and their playoff chances, skyrocketing.CORRECTION (Dec. 15, 2:13 p.m.): A previous version of this article misstated the best-case scenario for the Packers in Week 15. In that scenario, the best outcome for Green Bay would be the Giants beating the Lions, not the other way around.Check out our latest NFL predictions.
Austria42410-5.35.915.9 10South Korea4823.4+11.4 17Slovakia1320.3+3.3 CountryGoldSilverBronzeTotalvs. Exp.REMAININGFinal Sources: Sports-Reference.com, International Olympic Committee Kazakhstan010.30.2+1.2 Austria410-5.35.9+15.9 Sources: Sports-Reference.com, International Olympic Committee That shortfall is easily the worst gap for any country that has won at least one medal in Pyeongchang — and the U.S. doesn’t have a lot of time left to turn things around.Lindsey Vonn, a favorite in the women’s downhill skiing race, and both the women’s and men’s hockey teams have a chance to provide the U.S. with some measure of redemption. And if all else fails, there are still a few more snowboarding events on the schedule. But even if the Americans pick up the pace and play to their historical form for the rest of the games, our formula puts their total medal count at 26, which would barely clear Team USA’s uneven performance at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy.And considering what we’ve seen in Pyeongchang so far, 14 more medals seems like a stretch. Through Tuesday’s action, 67 percent of this year’s medals have been awarded, meaning that the U.S. is technically on pace (based simply on how many they’ve won to this point this games) for about 18 medals total. That would be the fewest that U.S. athletes have earned in a winter games since they nabbed 13 at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.No matter how you slice the numbers, this continues to be a highly disappointing showing for the U.S. in South Korea. 6United States53412-10.814.026.0 7Olympic athletes from Russia03811-1.95.316.3 6United States512-10.814+26.0 20Spain0220+2.0 China07-0.63.9+10.9 Ukraine1001+0.00.21.2 Italy2248+0.43.311.3 Finland0033-18.104.22.168 5France54413+2.74.417.4 12Sweden470.24.7+11.7 Belarus1102-0.91.03.0 16Great Britain1034+22.214.171.124 Australia0213+0.61.24.2 Slovenia01-1.20.8+1.8 20Spain0022+2.00.02.0 Who’s ahead of pace — or falling behind — in Pyeongchang?Actual and expected medal counts by country in the 2018 Winter Olympics 17Slovakia1203+2.00.33.3 Latvia01-0.50.2+1.2 Kazakhstan0011+0.30.21.2 23Liechtenstein0110+1.0 10South Korea4228+2.03.411.4 3Canada85619+2.711.930.9 4Netherlands65314+4.35.419.4 2Germany117523-2.99.432.4 Switzerland27-1.25.7+12.7 5France5132.74.4+17.4 1Norway11299.38.1+37.1 2Germany1123-2.99.4+32.4 Italy280.43.3+11.3 Poland1012-126.96.36.199 Latvia0011-0.50.21.2 Australia030.61.2+4.2 8Japan25310+4.91.811.8 It’s now clear that the United States is destined for a very subpar Winter Olympics. With just 12 total medals in the games so far, the Americans are currently sitting sixth in the medal count — a whopping 17 medals behind Norway, the overall leader.According to the simple medal tracker we introduced over the weekend, the U.S.’s tally is 10.8 fewer than we’d expect at this point in the Olympics. (Our analysis is based on how countries have done historically in the various Olympic sports.) CountryGoldTotalvs. Exp.REMAININGFinal Who’s ahead of pace — or falling behind — in Pyeongchang?Actual and expected medal counts by country in the 2018 Winter Olympics 3Canada8192.711.9+30.9 4Netherlands6144.35.4+19.4 16Great Britain142.40.9+4.9 Slovenia0101-188.8.131.52 12Sweden4307+0.24.711.7 Belarus12-0.91+3.0 Expected Medals 8Japan2104.91.8+11.8 Finland03-2.93.5+6.5 China0527-0.63.910.9 23Liechtenstein0011+1.00.01.0 Poland12-1.10.7+2.7 1Norway1110829+184.108.40.206 7Olympic athletes from Russia011-1.95.3+16.3 Ukraine1100.2+1.2 Switzerland2417-1.25.712.7 15Czech Republic1236+2.32.08.0 Expected Medals 15Czech Republic162.32+8.0
Earlier this month, Major League Baseball said it was considering a rule change to require pitchers to face at least three batters per appearance — or finish an inning — as part of a series of initiatives to improve the pace of play. I don’t hate this; I’ve always been a fan of relief pitchers working longer outings. But I think the MLB proposal misses the real problem.The issue isn’t really with relievers who face just one hitter at a time. In fact, LOOGYs — Left-handed One-Out Guys — are already fading in popularity as teams realize that if a pitcher isn’t good enough to face multiple hitters in a row, he may not belong in the bullpen pecking order at all.Instead, the problem concerns teams that use a parade of relievers who enter the game from the sixth inning onward and throw the hell out of the ball, knowing they’ll probably max out at one inning at a time. (The Yankee bullpen is a prime example.) You might call these pitchers OMGs: One-inning Max-effort Guys. They can be incredibly, game-changingly effective, but they aren’t necessarily all that skilled.In fact, the whole problem is that OMGs are a renewable resource, with no real constraints on supply. Teams can take failed starters with two decent pitches and, after some weeding out, turn them into OMGs who will strike out 25 or 30 percent of the batters they face, provided they only have to throw one inning every second or third day. It also yields rosters that are grossly imbalanced relative to the amount of value that these relievers generate. According to FanGraphs, relief pitchers accounted for only about 9 percent of the value (in wins above replacement) that all position players and pitchers created last year. And yet, they occupy about 25 percent of roster slots.And to a larger degree than you probably realize, these OMGs bear responsibility for the ever-increasing rate of strikeouts in baseball — something that was easier to shrug off until MLB attendance started to decline.More relievers means more strikeoutsStrikeouts have been increasing for more or less the entirety of baseball history. Here’s the trajectory from 19081I’m using 1908 as the cutoff because that’s the earliest season for which Baseball-Reference.com has data on the number of pitchers used per game, which we’re comparing the strikeout rate against. up until last year — when, for the first time, more plate appearances ended with strikeouts than with base hits. As starterAs reliever That looks a lot like the previous graph showing the strikeout rate — the correlation is 0.96 — including a dip in both pitchers used and strikeouts at the end of the Deadball Era in the late 1910s and again at the end of the Second Deadball Era in the early 1970s, and then an especially steep acceleration in both strikeouts and pitchers used over the past few years.It’s not just a coincidence that relief pitcher usage and strikeout rate are correlated in this way. When you take a starter and use him in relief — especially in a short stint that typically lasts only an inning or so — his strikeout rate will be usually be higher, and sometimes a lot higher. You can also expect him to throw harder and to use a more dangerous repertoire consisting of more fastballs and sliders.Here’s the tale of the tape. Using data from FanGraphs, I looked at all pitchers who worked both as starters and relievers between 2016 and 2018, providing for a direct, head-to-head comparison of how the pitchers performed in each role. These pitchers’ strikeout rates were about 12 percent higher when they came on in relief than when they started. They also threw about a mile per hour harder in relief.4In my analysis, observations are weighted by the lesser of the number of batters a pitcher faced as a starter or as a reliever. For example, a pitcher who threw to 500 batters as a starter and 200 batters as a reliever would receive a weight of 200. Pitchers who averaged fewer than 15 batters faced per start, i.e. who served as “openers” or tandem starters, are excluded from the analysis. RH set-up60085 Share fastballs54.1%55.1% Games PitchedGames StartedInnings Pitched Strikeout rate18.7%20.6% Observations are weighted by the lesser of the number of batters a pitcher faced as a starter and in relief from 2016 to 2018. For example, a pitcher who threw to 500 batters as a starter and 200 batters as a reliever would receive a weight of 200. Pitchers who averaged fewer than 15 batters faced per start, i.e. who served as “openers” or tandem starters, are excluded from the analysis.Source: Fangraphs Observations are weighted by the lesser of the number of batters a pitcher faced as a starter and in relief from 2016 to 2018. For example, a pitcher who threw to 500 batters as a starter and 200 batters as a reliever would receive a weight of 200. Pitchers who averaged fewer than 15 batters faced per start, i.e. who served as “openers” or tandem starters, are excluded from the analysis.Source: Fangraphs Share sliders13.9%15.0% Five or fewer batters It’s much easier to throw an inning at a timeStatistics for MLB pitchers who worked as both starters and relievers, 2016-18, by how many batters faced per relief appearance No. 2 starter3333210 Long reliever/spot starter403100 Share fastballs53.6%54.0% There are a couple of peaks marking the end of the Deadball Era in the late 1910s and then another pitchers’ era in the mid-to-late 1960s, but overall the trend is very steady. Over this period, the correlation between the year and the strikeout rate is 0.91.One other baseball trend has been equally if not more relentless, however: As time has passed, teams have relied more and more on their bullpens. As a result, both starting pitchers and relievers have seen increasingly shorter stints. Thus, the number of pitchers per team per game has steadily increased, from 1.4 in 1908 to around 4.4 now.The correlation is stronger still if you look at the number of pitchers used relative to the number of plate appearances in a typical game.2This accounts for the fact that other things held equal, strikeouts reduce offensive output, and less offense means fewer plate appearances per game, since the team doesn’t get through the order as often. For instance, if you take the number of pitchers used per 38 plate appearances3More precisely, per 38.23 plate appearances. — over the long run, MLB teams average about 38 plate appearances per game — you get this: Share fastballs53.6%56.9% As starterAs reliever Emergency Pitchers10020 Strikeout rate18.4%20.6% Fastball velocity91.6 mph92.2 mph Fastball velocity91.5 mph92.3 mph September call-up starters5525 Share sliders12.6%13.6% Strikeout rate16.7%17.7% Total4671621,450 No. 5 starter3022150 RoleGames PitchedGames StartedInnings Pitched What a 10-man pitching staff might look like Fastball velocity91.7 mph93.6 mph Share sliders17.7%19.4% Fastball velocity91.6 mph92.5 mph Those are meaningful gains, but the really big differences come when you use pitchers in short stints that are roughly one inning long. In the next table, I’ve assigned the pitchers who worked both as starters and relievers into three groups: first, those who averaged five or fewer batters faced per relief appearance (these are guys who usually threw just one inning at a time — the OMGs); second, those who averaged more than five but fewer than eight batters faced (a mix of one-inning and multi-inning appearances); and third, those who averaged eight or more batters faced (mostly multi-inning appearances). Position players could still pitch, but they wouldn’t be allowed to pitch to a greater number of batters than the number of plate appearances they’d recorded so far on the season as hitters. A backup catcher with 100 plate appearances could face up to 100 batters as a pitcher, for instance (which works out to roughly 20 or 25 innings). With this rule, teams could use position players to pitch on an emergency basis basically whenever they wanted, but they couldn’t designate pitchers as position players just to circumvent the 10-pitcher requirement. Brooks Kieschnick types would need to have their innings and plate appearances monitored carefully.8Or teams could designate their Kieschnicks as pitchers; nothing in what I’m proposing would prevent a team’s 10 pitchers from being used at other positions.After the roster expanded to 40 players in September, minor league call-ups who were not on the 10-pitcher list could start games, subject to a requirement that they threw at least 60 pitches or five innings or — a mercy rule — gave up at least five runs. They could not appear in relief, however.Relief pitchers, especially the OMGs, aren’t going to like this, so the restrictions could be phased in over several years. For instance, you could start with a 12-pitcher limit beginning in 2020, then ratchet it down to 11 pitchers in 2022 and 10 pitchers in 2024 as teams adapted to the new requirements.As you can see, the goal here is to be fairly strict: While we want to provide for a bit of flexibility, we mostly want to force teams to stick to the 10 players they designate as pitchers as much as possible. For that matter, we’d probably also want to tighten rules surrounding the injured list and minor-league call-ups, which teams regularly use and abuse to add de facto roster slots — but that’s not a part of this proposal per se.Toward a new equilibriumSo how would teams use their pitching staffs under these rules? That’s anyone’s guess, and part of the fun would be in seeing the different strategies that teams adopted. But my guess is that the average team would do something like this to fill the roughly 1,450 innings that major league teams pitch in each regular season: Share fastballs55.6%55.8% Ace starter3434230 As starterAs reliever As starterAs reliever No. 3 starter3333195 Position players5010 LH set-up70075 Starters supercharge their K rate when working in reliefStatistics for MLB pitchers who worked as both starters and relievers, 2016-18 RoleGames PitchedGames StartedInnings Pitched Closer60080 Between five and eight batters Share sliders13.4%13.9% Strikeout rate19.9%23.9% The first group — the OMGs — got a massive, 20 percent boost to their strikeout rate as relievers. They also gained about 2 mph worth of fastball velocity. And they were able to throw fastballs or sliders — the pitches that seem to be at the core of increasing K rates — 76 percent of the time in relief as compared with 71 percent of the time as starters.Conversely, the third group — the long relievers who routinely worked multi-inning stints — got only a 6 percent gain in their strikeout rates relative to the ones they had as starters, and they added only 0.6 mph to their fastballs.LOOGYs aren’t really the problemThe MLB proposal would effectively kill off the LOOGY, along with its much rarer companion, the ROOGY. So it’s worth asking: If relief pitchers are especially effective when they’re limited to only one inning of work, does it follow that they do even better when limited to just one or two hitters? That is to say, could MLB’s proposal to require that pitchers face at least three batters cause an especially large reduction in strikeout rates?The answer is: not really. If you further break down our sample of pitchers and look at those who threw very short stints in relief,5Those who averaged fewer than four batters faced per relief appearance between 2016 and 2018. they actually had fewer strikeouts than those who averaged around an inning per appearance.6Four or five batters faced. A lot of this is selection bias: Guys who are brought in to face only one or two hitters at a time are usually mediocre pitchers with big platoon splits. Left-handers who became LOOGYs are generally worse as starting pitchers than the rest of the sample; indeed, they’re quite a bit better in relief than in their starting roles. Nonetheless, they’re not all that effective in relief — much less effective than the OMGs — and because they throw so few innings, they don’t affect the bottom line that much in terms of baseball’s strikeout rate. Durable middle reliever55090 Eight or more batters No. 4 starter3232180 This strategy envisions that starting pitchers would throw 6.0 innings per start, up from 5.4 innings per start in 2018 but a bit less than the 6.2 innings per start that pitchers averaged in the 1980s. Relievers would average around 1.6 innings per appearance, meanwhile — considerably up from 2018 (1.1 inning per appearance) and about the same as in the 1980s.Overall, this plan would entail using 2.9 pitchers per team per game, which is close to where baseball was in the late 1980s. But we could balance out the workload more effectively than teams did back then. As you can see in the table, we could get the necessary innings from a 10-man staff without having to ask starters to throw 270 or 280 innings, as ace starters sometimes did in the 1980s, and without having to ask closers to throw 140 innings a year, as sometimes happened too. Starters would have to work through the third time in the order a bit more often, but there would still be plenty of room for discretion on the part of the manager.The most consequential change would be that we’d cut down on the number of OMG innings. There would still be plenty of them, to be sure. But if you went overboard, it would come with a lot of trade-offs. If a team tried to employ five relievers who each worked 70 appearances of one inning each, for instance, its five starters would have to average about 6.5 innings per start, so they’d be working through the third time in the lineup a lot more often.And if you did want to use a pitcher to face only one or two batters, you could still do it, but it would be more costly still — with a 10-man pitching staff, someone else is always going to have to pick up the slack.This would also relieve (pun somewhat intended) the monotony of the OMGs. We wouldn’t be removing any spots from the 25-man roster. (In fact, we’d essentially be adding one for the Emergency Pitcher.) But we’d be requiring at least 15 of them to be used on position players. Pinch runners, pinch hitters, platoon players, defensive replacements and third catchers — all of whom have become endangered species as teams use every marginal roster slot on an OMG — would begin to roam the baseball field freely again.I’m reluctant to estimate the overall amount by which my rule change would reduce strikeouts or improve pace of play. That’s because baseball strategy is a dynamic system, and our goal is to change teams’ overall attitudes toward pitcher usage. Pitching to contact might become more common again, for instance, as starters would need to throw longer outings. Keep in mind that if starters are only expected to work through the order two or two-and-a-half times, tossing perhaps five or six innings, they can also throw at relatively high effort. So we wouldn’t just be reducing strikeouts by exchanging some OMGs for multi-inning relievers; starters would also have to pace themselves more, too.But if relief-pitcher usage has as close a relationship with strikeout rates as I think it does, the net effects could be substantial. This rule would essentially roll relief-pitcher usage back to what it was in the late 1980s or early 1990s and could bring strikeouts back toward what they were back then too, when pitchers struck out about 15 percent of the batters they faced instead of the 22 percent they do now.That’s probably too optimistic; at least some of the increase in strikeout rate undoubtedly has to do with pitchers being bigger and stronger and throwing harder than ever before.9Then again, hitters are probably also better than ever before. But some kind of intervention is needed. The OMG-dominated equilibrium of today may be ruthlessly efficient, but it isn’t making for an aesthetically or strategically rewarding form of baseball. And because LOOGYs are fading in popularity, they don’t necessarily contribute all that much to slowing down the game. Of the roughly 16,000 pitching changes in 2018, only about 5,000 occured in the middle of the inning, according to data provided to FiveThirtyEight by David Smith of Retrosheet. These midinning changes are indeed time-consuming — adding about 3 minutes and 15 seconds worth of game time, Smith estimates. (Pitching changes between innings add only about 15 seconds, by contrast.) But they aren’t all that common.How to bring balance back to bullpensThere’s a better idea than the MLB minimum batters proposal, one that would also speed up the game but that would yield more interesting strategy and — most importantly, from my point of view — cut down on the number of strikeouts, perhaps substantially. The core of my proposal is simple: Each team should be limited to carrying 10 pitchers on its 25-man active roster, plus an Emergency Pitcher.Like it? Hate it? Well, let me give you some of the details first:What’s an Emergency Pitcher? He’s a pitcher who could be signed either on a game-by-game basis — in the way that emergency goalies are used in the NHL — or for any length of time up to a full season. The Emergency Pitcher couldn’t be a member of a team’s 40-man roster, although — just for fun — he could be a member of a team’s coaching staff.7Maybe Bartolo Colon could play into his 60s as an Emergency Pitcher/pitching coach. Emergency Pitchers could enter the game only under certain circumstances:If the starting pitcher left the game because of injury;If one team led by at least 10 runs;If it were the 11th inning or later; orIf it were the second game of a doubleheader.
The first pick of this year’s NFL Draft, Jadeveon Clowney, is a defensive end, and his selection marks the first time since 2006 that a defensive player was taken No. 1 overall. But does that mean teams put more emphasis on defensive prospects as a whole this year? And while we’re at it, how much did they invest in each position?We can begin to answer these questions by looking at how many Jimmy Johnson draft-value-chart points teams devoted to each position (3,000 points for the top pick, 2,600 for the second, etc.). “The Chart,” as it’s affectionately known in NFL circles, isn’t a very good gauge of the relative value of each draft spot, but that’s mainly because NFL general managers tend to overvalue the right to pick early. Research on draft-day trades has shown The Chart does a great job of describing how valuable teams perceive each slot to be, which is a more relevant shade of meaning for our questions anyway.As it turns out, while Clowney and the 3,000 draft points the Houston Texans spent on him were a feather in the cap for defense, teams spent the majority of their draft points on the other side of the ball this year. Specifically, they used 52.9 percent of points on players listed at offensive positions, 47.1 percent on defenders and 0.03 percent (21.1 draft points) on punters and kickers.How do those proportions compare to other drafts? Well, last year, the numbers were flipped: 52.2 percent of draft points were devoted to defense, 47.6 to offense and 0.2 percent to specialists. The long-term tendency, though, is somewhere in between. Over the last 10 years’ worth of drafts, the average NFL team spent 50.3 percent of its draft points on offense, 49.3 on defense and 0.3 percent on special teamers. Here’s what that looks like graphically:Positionally, you might think this was a big year for defensive linemen, given Clowney’s top billing. But overall, defensive linemen received only 17.7 percent of all draft points, 3 percent below the position’s overall 2004 to 2014 average of 20.7 percent. (Meanwhile, their counterparts on the offensive line were up 3.4 percentage points to 20.5 percent.) Quarterbacks were also down 1.8 percent compared to their long-term average, and running backs had a 3.9 percent shortfall. The big winners of this year’s draft, then, appear to be pass-catchers: Teams spent 3.5 percent more on wide receivers and 1.3 percent more on tight ends than those positions’ usual distribution.Here’s the summary of the percentage of draft points spent on each position over the last 10 years of drafts:These long-term percentages can also give us an idea of how general managers tend to value positions relative to one another, but we need to adjust for how many players in each position are typically on the field at any given time — something we can do thanks to Pro Football Focus’s snap counts. Armed with that data, I computed an “index” of how important teams seem to consider a given position (given the amount of draft investment in it) relative to the average player on the same side of the ball.Teams spent 15.2 percent of their points on running backs over the past decade, despite running backs only making up, on average, 1.3 of the 11 offensive players (11.8 percent) on the field for any given snap. Running backs have an index of 128, then — meaning teams used 28 percent more draft points on them than we’d expect.This metric is far from perfect — the draft is a fundamentally forward-looking endeavor, while the snap counts are retrospective and track an entirely different set of players — but it provides a good reference point when comparing this year’s draft to the long-term valuation of each position.
See more NBA predictions NBA Things That Caught My EyeDarkest timeline!The Philadelphia Eagles will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52, and New England is the slight favorite: Our Elo model gives them a 58 percent chance of winning the game and Tom Brady winning a sixth ring. The Patriots had an 18 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl at the start of the season, a figure which rose to 31 percent by the start of the playoffs. [FiveThirtyEight, ESPN]Guilty monster hears impact statementsLarry Nassar, who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct and federal child pornography charges related to his capacity as the U.S. Gymnastics team doctor, has heard pre-sentencing from over 100 of his victims speaking out about the impact his molestation had on their lives. Still, with other topics dominating headlines, major cable networks haven’t been devoting time to the explosive story of the serial molester who worked inside the U.S. Gymnastics team for years. [Media Matters]Vikings doomed by a strength, againPrior to the Minnesota Vikings game against Philadelphia, Kyle Wagner wrote that the Vikings had historically always been doomed by that which was their perceived strength. Incidentally, the all-time third down defense which allowed third downs to be converted to first downs only 25.2 percent of the time — league best since 1991 — choked in the match against Philly, with the Eagles converting 10 of 14 thirds into firsts. [FiveThirtyEight]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?A massive “neutral” contingent at the Olympics this yearRussia was banned from the Pyeongchang games, but Olympic Athletes from Russia were not, though they will compete under a neutral banner. An IOC panel has excluded 111 of 500 Russian athletes put forward, but of the 389 remaining competitors the neutral squad could be up to 200 Olympians, which is only a few less than the 214 who competed for Russia at Sochi. [Inside The Games]Surely Foles will also be perfect in the Super Bowl, of course.In the second half of his win against national sweethearts the Minnesota Vikings, Nick Foles had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and a perfect QBR of 99.9. Certainly he can replicate that feat reliably to pull off the win against New England in two weeks. [Bill Barnwell]Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL game: Can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions?Big Number29,993That’s how many points LeBron James has scored in his career, and with only seven points to go until 30,000 and a game against the Spurs Tuesday, he’s nearly a lock to become the fastest NBA player to score 30,000. LeBron has scored 10 or more points in his past 836 games, so I’d say it’s likelier than not, you know? [ESPN]Leaks from Slack, Sunday Night: sara.zieglerLOL, Vikings.gfoster:Super Bowl 52 may go down as the worst ever.tchow:Amazinggfoster:Line? Pats -8.5?neil:-5.5colleen:hahaha no one is going to like this super bowlPredictions NFL All newsletters See more NFL predictions Oh, and don’t forgetScrew the Empire State Building have just a little pride you citywide embarrassment. We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe
1. How will quarterback Terrelle Pryor be used, and how effective will he be?The better question might be, will he have an opportunity to?Pryor fought through an ankle injury for the majority of the second half of the season, and coach Jim Tressel compensated for his hampered mobility by calling more rushing plays. Pryor attempted 17 passes in each of Ohio State’s last three games, victories over Penn State, Iowa and Michigan. In those contests, the Bucks ran the ball 49, 51 and 53 times, respectively.Now, Pryor revealed that he has been suffering through a torn ligament in his knee, though both he and Tressel have firmly maintained that the injury won’t limit him Friday.“He’s very healthy,” Tressel told the media Thursday. “He can move around very, very well.”Centering on the ground game certainly benefitted the Buckeye offense, however. The team rushed for at least 225 yards in each of its last five contests, all wins. Pryor, who threw just four interceptions during his freshman campaign, tossed nine in the first eight games this season.But ever since the Bucks reverted to a run-heavy attack, Pryor has committed just one turnover in four contests.Pryor has apparently cleaned up his mechanics after a sloppy start to the season, with help from a dependable rushing attack. Whether or not he will be asked to carry more of the offensive burden lies within Tressel’s trust of his progressing quarterback.2. Can the Buckeyes slow down an up-tempo Oregon offense?The Ducks posted 37.7 points per game during the regular season, even after being limited to eight points in a season-opening loss at Boise State.While the Buckeyes tend to methodically inch toward the end zone, the Ducks rarely waste any time putting points on the board.In its 47-20 victory over USC on Oct. 31, Oregon recorded three drives covering 80 or more yards. Each series resulted in a touchdown, and each lasted fewer than three minutes.When the Ducks piled up 42 points in a Nov. 7 loss to Stanford, they continuously struck immediately. Oregon scored a touchdown at the end of a 93-yard drive that lasted just one minute and 16 seconds. The Ducks scored five touchdowns following that lengthy drive, the five drives lasting eight seconds, two minutes and 43 seconds, one minute and 46 seconds, two minutes and 43 seconds and 52 seconds, respectively. That’s six touchdowns in eight minutes and 59 seconds. In the longest of the six drives, which persisted for two minutes and 43 seconds, the Ducks squeezed in 12 plays.Clearly, the Oregon offense moves rapidly and effectively.Still, Tressel believes that if necessary, Oregon could sustain a lengthy drive just as successfully.“All you have to do is go back to their last game [against Oregon State], and they needed to keep the ball for five or six minutes,” Tressel said. “They can possess the ball if they’d like. And in that case, the game ended where I don’t think Oregon State got another chance with the ball.” 3. Will Ohio State suffer from the absences of Ray Small, Duron Carter and Rob Rose?“We are definitely going to miss them,” receiver DeVier Posey said. “But we still have a game. I love those guys to death, I miss them on the trip, but we still have to play.”The trio were suspended for the Rose Bowly. Small and Carter, the team’s No. 3 and No. 4 receivers, respectively, during the regular season, only combined for 28 catches. In their place, Lamaar Thomas and Taurian Washington, both frustrated about their lack of playing time, will see the field.“They got an opportunity now and they’ll show up,” Pryor said about his new set of weapons on offense. “They’ll catch the ball.”Along the defensive line, the Buckeyes have plenty of bodies to rotate in to replace Rose’s production. Defensive tackle Dexter Larimore will return from a knee injury, and defensive coordinator Jim Heacock can substitute a number of players at the end position, where Rose typically lines up.“We got [Defensive lineman] Garrett [Goebel] stepping up and Johnny [John Simon] is playing a little end,” senior defensive end Lawrence Wilson said. “We got guys stepping up and filling in [Rose’s] place. We should be fine at the end spot.”
Fans expecting a show from the Ohio State baseball team would have to wait for the post-game fireworks as the Buckeyes were helpless against the Iowa Hawkeyes in a 7-0 loss Friday night at Bill Davis Stadium. With senior ace Drew Rucinski on the mound, OSU (22-23, 10-9) looked to build momentum after their win over No. 19 ranked Oklahoma State against the Hawkeyes (19-27, 8-11). Instead, Hawkeyes put on a clinic as they dominated the Buckeyes at the plate and on the mound. They had 11 hits, several of which weren’t hit very hard but found a place in the outfield anyway. “It seemed like it was a ‘hit it where we ain’t’ situation tonight for them,” coach Greg Beals said. “We didn’t have enough going on tonight to win the ball game. It just was one of those nights.” Iowa attacked OSU systematically from the plate, with timely and consistent hitting as they increased their lead throughout the game. The real star of the game was Iowa starter Jared Hippen. The lefty mystified the OSU lineup with an array of off-speed pitches, scattering three hits and striking out five for the complete game shutout. His circle-change kept the Buckeyes guessing. “He’s throwing that soft stuff and as a hitter you just want to whack at it,” freshman outfielder Tim Wetzel said. “It was like whiffle-ball.” “You have to give him credit, he did a good job of mixing speeds on us,” Beals said. “We didn’t stay patient and had we capitalized on the fastballs, it might have been a different story.” Senior outfielder Brian DeLucia described his frustration facing Hippen. “He had a lot of junk,” DeLucia said. “I credit this game to bad defensive at-bats and slow stuff we weren’t used to facing.” The series resumes Saturday at 3:05 p.m. at Bill Davis Stadium between OSU and Iowa. Missed Chances OSU did have chances to generate runs in lieu of Hippen’s performance, but didn’t come through on those chances. They were 0-for-8 at the plate with runners in scoring position. “We had our chances tonight,” Beals said. “When you get those opportunities to drive runs you have to put those balls in play. Rucinski Comes Up Short Rucinski lost his first Big Ten game of the season Friday night. He was previously 3-0 with a 2.54 ERA in conference play. “I thought he pitched the ball pretty good tonight,” Beals said. “Iowa’s a scrappy team that got their hits when they needed them tonight.”
Sophomore guard Ameryst Alston sets up for a free throw during a game against Penn State Feb. 23 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 71-62.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorThe Ohio State women’s basketball team came into Indianapolis having never lost a first round game in the Big Ten tournament.That trend continued with an impressive 86-77 victory against the No. 9 seed Northwestern Wildcats (15-15, 5-11) Thursday.The Buckeyes (16-17, 5-11) were once again led by first team All-Big Ten sophomore guard Ameryst Alston, who poured in a game-high 30 points. It was the fourth time she has reached the 30-point mark this season and the second time she has done so against the Wildcats — the other being during a 71-62 victory Feb. 23.OSU coach Kevin McGuff, whose career record improved to 18-7 in conference tournaments, had plenty of praise to give his star guard.“She is a really special player and a great kid and she was just so aggressive,” McGuff said in a post-game interview with the Big Ten Network’s Shelley Tills. “She is really hard to contain off the dribble and got to the rim all night.”Alston, who scored 20 of her 30 points in the second half, said it wasn’t just her doing.“I have to thank my teammates for that,” Alston said to the Big Ten Network’s Katie Witham on her 30-point performance. “They gave me the ball at the right times and the right places.”OSU also received two double-double performances from senior center Darryce Moore and senior forward Martina Ellerbe. Moore, despite fouling out, finished one point shy of her career-high as she recorded 19 points and 10 rebounds. Ellerbe tallied a career-high in rebounds, pulling down 13 boards to go along with 16 points.“Our players stayed relentless,” McGuff said. “We were really aggressive, especially in the second half.”The Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead before the Wildcats ended the first half on a 16-0 run to take a 39-35 lead into the half, culminated by a buzzer-beating 3-point shot by freshman forward Nia Coffey.Northwestern coach Jim McKeown said at the half he was happy with the way his team was playing.“We played better defense, we got out and ran and got better shots,” McKeown said.The Wildcats had four players score in double-figures, including 17 from Coffey, who also grabbed 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Maggie Lyon recorded a team-high 23 points, on 6-18 shooting for the Wildcats in the loss.The Buckeyes will now turn their attention to the No. 1-seeded and regular season Big Ten conference champion Penn State Nittany Lions (22-6, 13-3) who defeated OSU in both regular season meetings — outscoring the Buckeyes 140-96 in the two games combined.Although OSU has not had success against the Nittany Lions this season, McGuff said his team will be ready to go Friday afternoon.“I am happy we won this one but we are going to quickly turn the page to Penn State,” McGuff said. “They have a great team, they are very well-coached, so we will have to be on our A-game tomorrow, but we are going to show up ready to play.”In order to pull the upset against Penn State, Alston said the Buckeyes will need to come out with the same intensity they had against the Wildcats.“We are going to take the energy from this game and take it to the next game,” Alston said. “We have to win the boards and that is what happened today, getting second chance shots.”“We don’t want to go home.”The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are scheduled for a noon tipoff Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Ohio State announced Ryan Day, along with Greg Schiano, will become the first million-dollar assistant coaches in Ohio State football history on Feb. 14. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorAfter paying $700,000 in base salary for its highest-paid assistant coach last season, Ohio State will pay two assistant coaches — associate head coach and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day — at least $1 million in 2018, the university announced Wednesday. Schiano earned more money than any other Buckeye assistant coach last season and will remain the highest-paid assistant, earning $1.5 million next season in base salary on a one-year deal. His $800,000 raise is a larger sum of money than his 2017 base salary of $700,000. Schiano had been pursued by teams in the NFL as an assistant coach and in the NCAA as a head coach.Day, who was promoted from co-offensive coordinator to offensive coordinator after the season, will earn a $1 million base salary next season. He signed a three-year deal, according to Ohio State.Ohio State co offensive coordinator Greg Schiano (middle, in red), leads into the air after the Buckeyes beat Penn State 39-38 on Oct. 28 at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Ashley Nelson | Station Manager“The reality is we have to compensate people consistent with the expectations and their performance,” Athletics Director Gene Smith said last week. Ohio State anticipates all 10 assistant coaches will be in the top-three in base salary in the Big Ten at their respective positions, according to a release.Every other returning assistant coach, except for linebackers coach Bill Davis, will receive raises. Davis, who earned $500,000 in his first season as an Ohio State coach, will be paid the same amount in 2018.Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson earned a $150,000 raise and will make $800,000 next season. He will have the third-highest base salary of the program’s 10 assistant coaches. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s base salary will increase from $575,225 to $750,000 in 2018, making him the fourth-highest paid Ohio State assistant coach. Former Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was hired as a defensive assistant coach and will have an $800,000 base salary next year. His specific role as an assistant has not been announced. Taver Johnson was hired Tuesday as Ohio State’s cornerbacks coach and will make $345,000 in base salary.In 2018, running backs coach Tony Alford will make $525,000, which is $75,000 more than he made last season. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa will receive a $90,000 pay bump to raise his base salary to $500,000.Wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith received a $40,000 raise, but will be the lowest-paid assistant coach, making $340,000. He is the only remaining member of Urban Meyer’s first staff at Ohio State.The Lantern requested contracts of each assistant coach, but has yet to receive the documents, which will include bonuses, supplemental income and other amenities.
Sophomore defensive lineman Jonathon Cooper (18) during the Ohio State vs. UNLV game on Sept. 23. Ohio State beat UNLV 54-21. Credit: Ris Twigg | Former Assistant Photo EditorThe first depth chart of the season was released by Ohio State prior to the season opener against Oregon State.Notable starters include sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor, who acting head coach Ryan Day said was battling with redshirt sophomore Jahsen Wint for the starting position, but has the sole starting position in the safety position opposite junior captain Jordan Fuller.Day also labeled sophomore tight end Luke Farrell as starter, but is marked as a co-starter with redshirt junior Rashod Berry on the depth chart.Junior wide receiver Austin Mack is listed as the starter, with redshirt senior and captain Terry McLaurin at the No. 2 position.Redshirt senior and captain Parris Campbell is listed as an H-Back on the depth chart, along with redshirt junior K.J. Hill and senior C.J. Saunders.At running back, sophomore J.K. Dobbins and redshirt junior Mike Weber are listed as co-starters.On the defensive side, junior Jonathon Cooper and sophomore Chase Young will be co-starters at defensive end alongside junior and captain Nick Bosa.Redshirt junior cornerback Damon Arnette earned the starting spot over sophomore Jeffrey Okudah, though defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said they will rotate.Saunders and redshirt sophomore Demario McCall will be splitting punt returns, and McCall will be doing kick returns with redshirt senior Johnnie Dixon.Freshmen on the depth chart include right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, tight end Jeremy Ruckert, Brian Snead and Master Teague at running back, wide receiver Chris Olave, Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday at defensive end, Taron Vincent and Tommy Togiai at defensive tackle and safety Josh Proctor.Ohio State will play Oregon State on Sept. 1 at 12 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
Widely dispersed, the assault force was in no position to mount an attack and decided to trek the 36 hours back to the rendezvous point to be collected by their “taxi service” of LRDG trucks.By the end of the operation, 32 of the 53 “operatives” had either been lost, killed or captured. Men of the SAS, returning from a 3-month trip behind enemy lines during war in North AfricaCredit:Hulton Archive/Getty Images Capt Jake Easonsmith of the LRDG who took the photograph of the aftermath of Operation SquatterCredit:The family of the late Lt-Col ‘Jake’ Easonsmith, DSO, MC A wealth of detail of the early days of the Special Air Service (SAS) has been disclosed in a recently completed 13-year-project to commemorate every member of the regiment killed in the Second World War.The 800-page roll of honour for the SAS and its forerunner, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), contains the stories of 374 men who died during the conflict.Published for the 75th anniversary of the SAS’s founding, the three-volume memorial has been compiled from an exhaustive trawl of service records, operational reports, medal citations, memoirs, diaries and letters from next of kin.Its author, a former soldier who uses the pen name Ex-Lance-Corporal X, has shed light on the earliest chapters of the regiment and saved stories that risked being lost as veterans died out. On December 9 the SS Sebastiano Venier was attacked by a British submarine, HMS Porpoise, that was unaware its prey was carrying 2,000 prisoners in its hold.Pte Keith’s family were later told the Italians had declared their son missing after the vessel was sunk.The author’s painstaking research has also for the first time found the date of the founding of what was then known as L Detachment, SAS Brigade. He was also given an MBE after being stationed with the 22 SAS in Malaysia and is reported to have also worked in the Oman-Yemen conflict before retiring to Portugal.Captain Jake EasonsmithJohn Richard Easonsmith, of Bristol, England, reached Lieutenant Colonel rank in 1943, having been awarded the Military Cross and a DSO.After assuming command of the Long Range Desert Group, he was later killed on Leros, aged 34.Lieutenant William (Bill) FraserLieutenant Fraser later became Captain and led the SAS’s Operation Houndsworth on June 10th 1944.Winning the the Military Cross and bar, and the Croix de Guerre with Palm, Fraser retired from service after the Second World War.Captain David StirlingAfter founding the SAS, Stirling became a colonel, and later founded the Capricorn Africa Society – a society for promoting an Africa free from racial discrimination.Stirling was knighted in 1990 – having been awarded a DSO and OBE – and died later that year aged 74.Lieutenant Paddy MayneRobert Blair ‘Paddy’ Mayne, of County Down, Ireland, served until 1945, receiving a DSO with three bars and a Legion D’honneur and Croix de Guerre.After a short period in the Falkland Islands with the British Antarctic Survey, Mayne became a solicitor, and then Secretary to the Law Society of Northern Ireland, before dying in 1955 after a reported car crash aged 40. The author’s painstaking research has also for the first time found the date of the founding of the SASCredit:The family of the late Lt-Col ‘Jake’ Easonsmith, DSO, MC (LRDG) The research has also uncovered more detail of what happened to some of those lost on the raidCredit:The family of the late Lt-Col ‘Jake’ Easonsmith, DSO, MC (LRDG) On its first mission, the newly-formed unit parachuted deep into enemy territory in LibyaCredit:The family of the late Lt-Col ‘Jake’ Easonsmith, DSO, MC A 1943 file marked ‘most secret’ concluded that after the first operation it was “found inadvisable to carry out any more parachute operations in Western Desert. Long range operations proved much more successful.”Difficulties of parachuting in the desert included “changeable weather, difficulties of accurate navigation owing to lack of landmarks, casualties on landing owing to rough country”.Capt Easonsmith took the picture as he commanded the LRDG patrol that drove behind enemy lines to pick up the survivors. Standing next to then Capt Stirling, who is seen wearing sunglasses, is another key SAS figure Blair “Paddy” Mayne, who took over as leader of the SAS later in the war when Stirling was captured in 1943. “Not only are their stories engagingly human but they underline the commitment made by those who died in the course of their duty, many in horrific circumstance, and the courage they displayed in meeting their deaths.”Much of the information has come from next of kin contacted by the author.Alex van Straubenzee, whose uncle Maj Ian Fenwick of D Squadron, 1st SAS, was killed in action in August 1944 whilst behind the lines in France, said: “It’s an absolutely stunning piece of work. The author has done it so meticulously and it’s beautifully written.”Profits from The SAS and LRDG Roll of Honour 1941-47 will go to Combat Stress. In the photograph of the survivors of the first ever SAS operation are some of the regiment’s most famous figures. Mayne, a lieutenant at the time of the raid, had been an Irish rugby international before the war and went on to become one of the most decorated officers of the conflict, winning four Distinguished Service Orders, the Legion d’Honneur and the Croix de Guerre. It has generally been accepted that Stirling came up with the idea sometime in July 1941, though the actual founding date has remained unknown.But documents recovered by the author and service records show the first detachment was formed on August 28 – the day The Originals first assembled at their makeshift camp at Kabrit in Egypt.The roll of honour has also confirmed the identities and details of six soldiers from the SAS and seven from the LRDG who were either unknown, or until now had only been suspected of being members.Poor paperwork, secrecy, spelling mistakes and wartime confusion meant that some casualties were only recorded according to their parent unit, with no mention of them being attached to the SAS.In some cases the research has put names to casualties described in operational reports, but whose identities were not known.As a result some new names have already been added to the SAS official memorials in Hereford and Stirling.The author said his research had also recognised 21 French and Greek nationals killed while officially attached to the British SAS.“This is the first time that illustrated biographical entries have been written for each wartime casualty of the SAS and LRDG, with new casualties having been identified,” the author told the Sunday Telegraph. The elite troops who became part of the regiment’s early historyCorporal Jeff du VivierJeffrey Du Vivier, from Troon, Scotland, won the Military Medal having been promoted to sergeant in charge of training at the Special Raiding Squadron in Egypt.He was wounded in battle days before the end of the war and later worked as a porter at the Prestwick Airport Hotel, Greater Glasgow, before dying in 2010 aged 94.PCT Johnny CooperJohnny Cooper, of Oadby, Leicestershire, was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and awarded a DCM. The picture was taken by then Capt ‘Jake’ Easonsmith, who at the time was an officer in the LRDG, and shows the aftermath the SAS’s disastrous first raid, codenamed Operation Squatter.Only a few months earlier, a young Scots Guards officer called Lt David Stirling had proposed creating a force of raiders to operate deep behind enemy lines, attacking air fields, supply trains and ammunition dumps.On its first mission, the newly-formed unit parachuted deep into enemy territory to destroy aircraft at Axis airfields, in preparation for a major British offensive to relieve the siege of Tobruk.The raid on the night of November 16-17 had been meant to demonstrate the effectiveness of Stirling’s new force, but proved to be a costly failure. Exhausted and filthy, the soldiers of the newly-formed SAS stand side-by-side in the desert.Hours earlier, an abortive raid had seen more than half their comrades either killed or captured, but the men of the soon-to-be-famous force still manage to raise a grin.The newly-discovered photograph from 1941 is the only known picture of the elite unit’s first ever raid, carried out by founder members known as the Originals.This extraordinary historical document has been discovered as part of research which has also determined the founding date of the secretive unit as August 28, 1941 – 75 years ago today. Planes took off from Kabrit in Egypt, to deliver the parachuting raiding party to airfields at Tmimi and Gazala, West of Tobruk in Libya.The operational order noted: “It is most important that the enemy should be unaware of your having landed or of your presence.”But one plane was shot down with the loss of 13 parachutists and crew and the others jumped into heavy rain and a gale. Containers of equipment were blown away and parachutists were badly injured as they landed on rough ground in high winds. Several of the survivors from Operation Squatter went on to be killed in missions later in the war.Capt Easonsmith himself was killed in 1943 in an ambush on the Greek island of Leros and the photo – showing in the foreground his silhouette holding the camera – remained with his family, who had no idea it showed the first SAS raid.The research has also uncovered more detail of what happened to some of those lost on the raid, such as Pte Douglas Keith.He is often recorded as dying from his wounds soon after the raid, but in fact the soldier had been made prisoner by the Italians and the following month was put on a transport ship from Benghazi across the Mediterranean, along with other PoWs. 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.
Licence holders have passionately held, often opposing opinions.Mike Grimes, head of boating, Canal & River Trust Acting coach and director Dominic Kelly with his dog ‘Puck’ on their boat at Lisson Grove, west LondonCredit:Eddie Mulholland/Telegraph Now a number of long-standing boat owners say the influx of young people is causing problems.”It’s great to see a new generation coming up and enjoying the river because it means they will become its new custodians, but from Thursday to Sunday they socialise very loudly,” said one canal dweller of 30 years, who asked not to be named.”I don’t think young people appreciate how far sound travels outdoors at night, which does cause tensions because the rest of us have chosen to be here for the peace, the quiet and the solitude.”At a marina in Tardebigge, Worcestershire, Alastair King, place manager of Anglo Welsh Waterway holidays, which rents boats to groups, said noise was a frequent “point of contention” between canal users.“We make sure they won’t ever be too rowdy,” he said. “We give them a stern talking to before they cast off to take them down a few pegs and make sure there’s no trouble. “We tell them if we get a complaint, they have a warning. If we get another, we order them off the boat and leave them at the side of the canal.”In Stratford-upon-Avon houseboat resident Callum Marshall, 25, a freelance artist, admitted that “sometimes I blast my music out pretty loud”, although he said no one had ever complained. With a top speed of four mph and a backdrop of weeping willows on dappled water, it is generally regarded as a bucolic pastime for the elderly.But canal life is fast becoming dominated by younger boaters, setting up a clash of generations on the water.Growing numbers of young people are choosing to live on houseboats along Britain’s riverbanks and towpaths, leading to tensions between them and more traditional and older canal goers.Arguments over loud parties and rows about a shortage of mooring spaces have become a more common site along the country’s once tranquil waterways.New figures from the Canal & River Trust show that a large majority, 64 per cent, of those who live on houseboats on permanent moorings are aged under 45.The same survey also shows that almost half of those who live on what are classed as continuous cruisers, boats which move from mooring to mooring, are aged 16 to 44.On the once industrial River Lea, near Stratford in east London, which underwent regeneration for the London 2012 Olympics, smartly painted boats can now be hired for events and parties, with groups of friends gathering on boats to drink and listen to music. The Canal & River Trust’s survey confirmed that the profile of the traditional boat owner is someone over 55 who uses their boat for pleasure, while a larger percentage of younger canal goers use their boats as a permanent home and choose boating because it offers an alternative lifestyle. The growing numbers of young people living on canals is particularly visible in urban areas – such as London’s Grand Union Canal and River Lea and the Birmingham Canal Navigation network – where high rents and astronomical property prices have led increasing numbers to seek an alternative to bricks and mortar.But that has created a shortage of mooring spaces, leading to many older canal goers feeling reluctant about taking their boats into urban waterways for fear they may not find anywhere to stop for the night.David, 69, who lives on a barge in the Gas Street Basin, Birmingham, said: “The issues we have are with those who live in a barge because they think it’s cheap and then they don’t want to pay their way. They outstay their fair time on visitor moors and overcrowd city canals. This is a big problem in London.”He added however: “It’s a very good thing that young people are choosing to live on barges. There’s a stereotype that boaters are all retirees and it’s good to have diversity.”Canal & River Trust, which is responsible for maintaining the 2,000 miles of British canals and rivers, said that while the changing demographic of water users had led to some tensions between younger and older boaters, it was also a sign of a welcome revival in canal life.Mike Grimes, head of boating at the trust, said its own survey had revealed “a growing polarisation between boaters’ views”.“Licence holders have passionately held, often opposing opinions, and we will use the results to help us understand our customers’ differing needs,” he said.However, Mr Grimes stressed: “What boaters all have in common is the desire to protect our canals and rivers and preserve the right and ability to navigate them. Canals are enjoying a second golden age and are more popular than ever before. Generally speaking, the sense of community is very much alive and well on the canals: it’s a part of what makes them such special places. “Of course sometimes people are going to have different opinions but the vast majority are considerate. Experienced boaters often show new boaters the ropes and the finer points of boating etiquette, while younger boaters bring a whole new perspective to waterways life.” 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.
Gutted about not getting tickets for my dad to see #PhilCollins 🙁 but tonnes of tickets on the resale site for £800… how is this fair?— Becki (@becki_dixon) October 21, 2016 Phil Collins fans have been left furious after his new tour sold out in moments – and they were officially redirect to websites offering tickets for thousands of pounds.Tickets for Collins’ much-publicised “coming out of retirement” tour sold out in just 15 seconds, according to promoters.The Ticketmaster website told unlucky fans there were no longer seats available, advising they instead visit resale website Get Me In where they were being re-sold for up to £2,200.A message on the website said “many fans are shopping and some may have let their tickets go”, advising people to go to their own sister website to search for re-sales. The tickets had originally been offered for between £55 and £175 plus booking fee, for dates in June next year.VIP packages, which cost up to £420, were still available.Irate Phil Collins-lovers called the system a “disgrace”, arguing real fans were being exploited by touts who snapped up tickets only to sell them on.One said: “Thanks to all the people profiteering from Phil Collins tickets. For some of us it was the chance of a lifetime and now we’re priced out.”Another said: “Real fans get screwed again!” 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. @EllenMaryO The forward sale of tickets, either by unauthorised agencies or by individuals is not illegal for this type of entertainment.— Royal Albert Hall (@RoyalAlbertHall) October 21, 2016 Jesus, Phil Collins tickets now selling for up to a thousand pounds each. He must’ve seen them coming (in the air tonight)— Steve Edge (@sirsteveedge) October 21, 2016 The Royal Albert Hall spent the morning trying to help members of the public, conceding there is little they can do in the face of members of the public determined to sell their tickets on through websites.After one Twitter user lamented seeing tickets immediately on sale for high prices, their official service replied to say: “We share your frustration in this.”A member of staff pointed out the forward sale of tickets was “not illegal”, insisting tout-preventing policies were set by the promoter and producer of each show rather than the venue.“Unfortunately some people buy tickets to resell them,” they said. “This breaks our T&Cs.” Thanks to all the people profiteering from Phil Collins tickets. For some of us it was the chance of a lifetime and now we’re priced out.— StevenNott (@StevenNott) October 21, 2016 One of the official ticket websites Announced just days ago, the Not Dead Yet tour will see Collins play five dates at the Royal Albert Hall. In an interview on Radio 2, Collins confessed the venue had been booked by his team several years ago, just in case he “felt like” coming out of retirement. @lisadcfckeates We share your frustration in this.— Royal Albert Hall (@RoyalAlbertHall) October 21, 2016
Paris Saint-Germain have reacted furiously after defender Serge Aurier had his visa revoked by the British authorities and will not be allowed to play in the vital Champions League tie against Arsenal.The French club have the backing of Uefa, which said it was “regrettable that a player eligible for the competition” is being prevented from playing.In September Aurier was found guilty of elbowing a police officer and sentenced to two months in prison, but he contested the charge and is appealing the verdict which means he is free to play football in the meantime. Even if the conviction is upheld, the 23-year-old is expected only to undergo community service.PSG said that the Home Office had originally granted Aurier a visa but then changed their minds which meant that the Ivory Coast international could not travel with the rest of the squad that flew to London. PSG are even more furious because they were informed of the decision only at 2pm on Tuesday.They said it showed a “flagrant lack of respect” and accused the Home Office of damaging “the very integrity of the Champions League” in a strongly worded statement.“Due to a sudden about-face by the British authorities, Serge Aurier has not been allowed to travel with PSG squad for the clash away to Arsenal,” the club said. “After an initial application on Oct 18, complete with all the necessary documents, the British authorities had originally granted the Ivory Coast international an entry visa to the UK on Oct 21.“However, on Nov 16, his visa was finally revoked by the British Ministry of the Interior (Home Office), who justified their about-face by citing Aurier’s conviction on Sept 30, 2016.” PSG added: “The club has argued several times that since the player has launched a legal appeal against the criminal ruling, he is therefore entitled to the presumption of innocence, as any other person exercising their right to appeal.“Paris Saint-Germain strongly regrets that the presumption of innocence has not influenced Britain’s decision. On several occasions, Uefa has also transmitted its total support of Paris Saint-Germain to the British authorities regarding this case, in order to preserve the integrity of its competitions.” Aurier is currently appealing the convictionCredit:afp 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. Aurier has been involved in several controversial incidents but has got his career back on track. He was suspended earlier this year after making derogatory comments about the then-PSG coach, Laurent Blanc, but apologised. He saved the life of Mali forward Moussa Doumbia after he was knocked unconscious in a match in October.A Home Office spokesperson said: “We reserve the right to refuse a visa to anyone who is convicted of criminal offences. Mr Aurier received a two-month custodial sentence in September for assaulting a police officer.The immigration rules clearly state that non-EU nationals who have received a custodial sentence of less than 12 months within the last five years will be refused on criminality grounds.“All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the UK immigration rules and based on evidence provided by the applicant.” PSG’s anger is partly fuelled by what it perceives as double standards from the UK authorities. Both Lionel Messi and Neymar face, in theory, custodial sentences for tax-fraud convictions. Neither will be sent to jail, and are expected to be given suspended sentences, and were allowed to recently play in the UK. The pair faced Manchester City in Barcelona’s recent Champions League tie.PSG added that it was “stunned by this incomprehensible situation” over their highly rated right-back “that attacks the very integrity of the Uefa Champions League”. Uefa issued its own statement and said it was “deep disappointment” that Aurier had not been allowed to travel.“Uefa supported Paris Saint-Germain in its efforts to acquire a travel visa for the player but ultimately the authorities denied it,” it said. “It is regrettable that a player eligible for the competition will not be able to take part in the match for reasons which are not related to football and its regulations.”
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. But following the sale, experts looked closer and realised there was a problem staring them in the face. The work’s vivid colours included a green pigment that was invented in the 20th century, 400 years after the artist’s death.Yesterday, after commissioning scientific tests that it said left no room for doubt, Sotheby’s declared the work was a fake. The buyer, who snapped it up thinking it was by the “circle of Parmigianino”, has since been refunded.It is the second high-value Old Master denounced as a forgery by experts hired by Sotheby’s and will come as an embarrassment for the Parma Gallery and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, both of which attributed it to Parmigianino.In October, Sotheby’s had to return the money when a $10 million (£8.11 million) portrait purported to be by Frans Hals, which sold privately in 2011, was also found to be fake.Scientific research, conducted by James Martin of Orion Analytical, a laboratory bought by Sotheby’s in December, identified 20th century materials in the painting. When a remarkable piece of Renaissance art appeared for auction at Sotheby’s, experts were immediately struck by its eye-catching colours.The painting, of St Jerome gazing at the heavens, was believed to be a work by the Italian master Parmigianino and sold for £527,000.No one, it seems, doubted that the beguiling work was a masterpiece. After all, it had been displayed in prestigious museums and endorsed by independent specialists. Both paintings were handled by Giuliano Ruffini, a collector who is also connected to Venus with a Veil, a painting attributed by experts to Lucas Cranach the Elder and sold to the Prince of Liechtenstein for €7 million (£6.05 million).The image of the ancient Greek goddess was seized by the French authorities in March last year as part of a criminal investigation.Mr Ruffini has denied any wrongdoing and said that he never claimed that the works were by particular artists.Philippe Scarzella, his lawyer, confirmed to the New York Times that Mr Ruffini had owned the Parmigianino, and said that there was a wealth of evidence from scholars who had authenticated the painting.The Sotheby’s catalogue entry noted that Davide Gasparotto of the Galleria Nazionale in Parma, Italy, had “examined this painting first hand and believes this work to be by Parmigianino, dateable to circa 1530”. Having seen the skill with which the forger operates, if they can paint plausibly then who knows how many of them there could beBendor Grosvenor, art historian Bendor Grosvenor, a broadcaster and art historian who specialises in Old Masters, said that the declarations of fakery were “definitely the tip” of an iceberg and predicted that there would be many more embarrassing revelations for all auction houses.”I think Sotheby’s has been very diligent in taking the lead in investigating this,” he told the Times. “There’s been talk of a list of about 20 or so pictures.”Having seen the skill with which the forger operates, if they can paint [such a variety of subjects] plausibly then who knows how many of them there could be.”Experts had been fooled at national institutions including the Louvre, which declared the disputed Hals painting as a “national treasure” and tried unsuccessfully to buy it.Six years ago it emerged that Wolfgang Beltracchi, the “forger of the century”, had created chaos in the art market with his fake paintings. He was found guilty of forging 14 modern European art works which sold for £28.6 million.Sotheby’s said on Wednesday that it had identified several other forgeries of lower value and that it had informed their owners.”When we learned last year that the [Parmigianino] painting may have originated from Giuliano Ruffini, we informed the purchaser from our January 2012 auction and initiated a process including technical analysis that established that the work was undoubtedly a forgery,” a spokesman said. Franz Hals, Portrait of a Man now believed to be a forgery Credit: The painting was handled by Giuliano RuffiniCredit:Sotheby’s
Eating two slices of buttered toast a day can double the risk of diabetes, warns new research.A study of more than 3,000 people found those who consumed just 12 grams (0.42 ounces) were twice as likely to develop the disease within the next five years.Scientists say the finding underlines the importance of switching to a Mediterranean style diet.It is rich in legumes, whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables and nuts and low in animal based foods like red meat and pastries. 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. These findings emphasise the healthy benefits of a Mediterranean dietDr Marta Guasch-Ferre, Harvard University They added that increasing evidence is suggesting plant based diets benefit health and also have less impact on the environment.Butter is rich in unhealthy saturated fatty acids and trans fats and has been linked to a high risk of suffering type 2 diabetes, the form linked with obesity.So the international team of researchers evaluated the associations between the amount of fat, and the type, consumed by 3,349 people in the PREDIMED (Prevention With Mediterranean Diet) and their risk of diabetes.At the start the participants, who were all Spanish, were free of diabetes but at high risk of heart disease or stroke.After four and a half years 266 of them had diabetes and this was twice as likely among those who consumed higher amounts of saturated fatty acids and animal fat.The consumption of whole fat yogurt was associated with a lower risk, reports the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.Dr Marta Guasch-Ferre, of Harvard University, said: “These findings emphasise the healthy benefits of a Mediterranean diet for preventing chronic diseases, particularly type 2 diabetes, and the importance of substituting saturated and animal fats, especially red and processed meat, for those found in vegetable sources such as olive oil and nuts.”Diabetes UK says as well as being protective against type 2 diabetes, Mediterranean diets rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre can help people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.Previous large-scale studies have linked a Mediterranean diet with a lower chance of developing diabetes.A traditional Mediterranean diet is principally composed of oily fish, poultry fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, fresh bread, pasta and olive oil.
Use regions/landmarks to skip ahead to chart.The UK’s children eat 5 doughnuts’ worth of sugar a day. Equivalent units of each foodstuff consumed by 11-18 year oldsLong description.No description available.Structure.Chart type: column chart.column series with 6 columns.The chart has 1 X axis displaying categories.The chart has 1 Y axis displaying values.Chart graphic.The UK's children eat 5 doughnuts' worth of sugar a dayThe UK’s children eat 5 doughnuts’ worth of sugar a day – Highcharts CloudThe UK’s children eat 5 doughnuts’ worth of sugar a dayEquivalent units of each foodstuff consumed by 11-18 year oldsChocolate chip biscuitsCustard creamsJelly babiesSlice of cake (Victoria sponge)Doughnut (jam filled)Iced cupcake0510152025National Diet and Nutrition Survey A child could eat five slices of Victoria sponge a day, and consume the same sugar as is found in foods that seem far more healthy Sarah Toule, head of health information at World Cancer Research Fund, said: “It can often be hard to know exactly how much sugar children are having as it is hidden in so much of their food and drink.“Overweight or obese children are more likely to be so as adults putting them at risk of 11 common cancers. In fact, after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the best thing people can do to reduce their risk of cancer.“The food and drink industry can play a vital role in helping tackle obesity rates by reducing the sugar content in their products and making the healthy choice the easy choice”.The figures, calculated from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey show that on average all age groups are consuming more free sugars than the Government’s recommendations, which amount to seven sugar cubes a day – or 30grams of free sugars. The highest intake is in 11 to 18 year olds (73.2g/day), followed by 19 to 64 year olds (59.9g/day) and then 4 to 10 year olds (53.5g/day). Free sugars are any sugars added to food or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices. Children are eating the equivalent of five donuts a a day as a result of “hidden sugars,” a coalition of obesity experts has warned.New research from the Obesity Health Alliance shows that the average child is eating as much sugar as if they were consuming 20 chocolate biscuits or five slices of cake each day.The group of 39 charities, royal colleges and medical experts is calling for urgent changes to “reformulate” foods, to reduce the amount of sugar contained in convenience foods and soft drinks.Last year the Government childhood obesity strategy pledged to reduce sugar content in foods by 20 per cent by 2020. It comes alongside a sugar tax on drinks, to encourage manufacturers to reduce sugar levels, and to persuade consumers to choose healthier options.Public health experts last night urged the food industry to act quickly to reduce the sugar content from common foods. 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. Government advice recommends that sugar should account for no more than 5 per cent of daily calories.But the research shows the average 11 to 18 year old is consuming 73.2 g of sugar a day – more than twice the recommended 30g daily.The alliance said children were regularly consuming high amounts of hidden sugars from soup, ready meals, and breakast cereals, without their parents realising how unhealthy such foods were.Dr Modi Mwatsama, from the Obesity Health Alliance said: “Most parents would never hand over 20 chocolate biscuits a day to their children, but with so much hidden sugar in our food and drink it can often be hard to know just how much children are consuming.”“That is why we are calling the food and drink industry to urgently comply with the Government’s reformulation programme.” Savoury foods often have higher sugar content than consumers realiseCredit:PA The alliance includes the Royal College of Physicians, Cancer Research UK, the National Obesity Forum and Diabetes UK.The charities said the presence of hidden sugars was contributing to record levels of childhood obesity, with one in three obese or overweight by the time they leave primary school.Government recommendations say that adults and children aged 11 and more should have no more than 30g sugar daily.Parents were often shocked to find that savoury foods – such as tomato soup, baked beans, and ready meals – contained high levels of sugar, along with the breakfast cereals that their children consumed daily.One can of Sainsbury’s Cream of Tomato Soup contains almost 24g of sugar, with more than 20g sugar in one can of Heinz Baked Beans, their research found, while many ready meals contained almost 40g of sugar each.
The stance appears to contradict efforts made by Theresa May whilst Home Secretary to clamp down on the crime, following disclosures last year that there has not been a single conviction for FGM in the UK – despite it being an offence since 1985.Tim Loughton, a member of the Home Affairs Committee, said the reluctance to pursue prosecution was “extremely dangerous”, adding it made “no sense” to go after cases of historic child abuse whilst at the same time allowing FGM offenders to “get away with it”.“It is absolutely key to expose perpetrators and to nail them for it,” he added. “The police must go after offenders. This is deeply disturbing because a key part of eradicating the violence of FGM is exposing, prosecuting, and nailing the perpetrators.“This is something the Home Affairs Committee has looked into closely. Our report in September raised key concerns that nobody has been prosecuted, and that we need a high level prosecution to show people that this is a serious criminal offence.“Every time a prosecution fails to materialise, it encourages those that are behind this – that it is not a serious crime, and they can get away it.” West Midlands Police have since deleted the tweet Credit:Twitter Echoing Mr Loughton’s comments, the NSPCC said that police forces must pursue prosecution where necessary to act as a proper deterrent.An estimated 137,000 women and girls living in the UK having moved here from countries where the abuse is still practised are believed to have been victims of FGM. The number of British FGM victims is currently unknown.However, there is yet to be a single conviction for the crime; police forces across the country have carried out only a small number of investigations since 2003.Wendy Bird, detective inspector at West Midlands Police, said the force was committed to “raising awareness” and educating against the dangers of FGM.“We continue to lead the way in the use of new FGM Protection Orders to safeguard women and girls thought to be at risk. If a victim is identified we safeguard other children within the family and potentially any unborn children.A spokesman for the Home Office said it had “significantly strengthened” the law in recent years, adding that the FGM must be viewed as a crime and child abuse. Parents caught practising female genital mutilation on their children should not be prosecuted, a police force has claimed as it says the best course of action is to “educate parents”.The claims, made by West Midlands Police on social media yesterday, have provoked criticism from MPs and child welfare activists, who said the force’s reluctance to seek prosecution was “deeply disturbing”.The feud comes after a spokesman for the force claimed that it was against “prosecuting/jailing” parents who had carried out FGM on the grounds that it would be “unlikely to benefit” children who fall victim to the crime.Instead, they claimed that the force had opted to focus on “education and safeguarding vulnerable girls”, rather than seeking prosecution in court. 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.