The Arizona Diamondbacks are off to a pretty bad start this season. In fact, it’s been downright wretched: Their 4-14 record ties them for the second-worst 18-game season opening of the past 11 seasons (since 2003, when the Detroit Tigers started 1-17).Putting aside who or what is to blame (hint: not their Australia trip), take another look at that 4-14 record. Also note that the Diamondbacks were 4-12 through 16 games. By Major League Baseball standards, these are notably bad records. But in football, a 4-12 record happens with some frequency. Last season alone, seven NFL teams went 4-12 or worse.Ever since the NFL expanded its schedule to 16 games in 1978 — excluding strike-shortened seasons in 1982 and 1987 — 14.5 percent of all teams have won four or fewer games in a season (throwing out teams who had ties). Similarly, over the same range of seasons (1978-present), an even 13 percent of NBA teams began their schedules with a 4-12 mark or worse.By contrast, only 4.3 percent of MLB teams have started the season 4-12 or worse over that span.This underscores two of the major differences between baseball and other sports — the relative compression of team records and the lack of information conveyed in any single-game result. Baseball famously plays the longest schedule (by far) out of the four major North American professional sports, a 162-game sample size which naturally reduces the presence of outlier performances. But as we saw above, even within a smaller chunk of games, baseball teams have more difficulty pulling away from the pack.This goes back to research I conducted two years ago, comparing the NBA’s season structure to those of other sports. Using an unbelievably useful methodology from arch-sabermetrician Tom Tango, I calculated the number of games necessary in each sport to regress a team’s record halfway to the mean — meaning, we’d know half of its observed outcomes were due to its own talent (while the other half results from randomness). For pro basketball and football, the numbers are similar: In the NBA, it takes about 12 games; in the NFL, 11 games. But in baseball, it takes a whopping 67 games for half of the variance in observed winning percentages to come from the distribution of talent and half from randomness.Perhaps the best way to illustrate these differences is to use them to set up equivalent schedule lengths between sports. For instance, if the NBA wanted to convey as much information in its team records as the NFL does in its 16-game schedule, they’d have to play a 17.5-game slate. (As an aside, this underscores how incredibly long the actual 82-game NBA schedule is; in terms of information provided, it’s almost five times too long relative to the NFL.)MLB’s 162 games provide about as much information as a 27-game football season would (meaning the NFL’s 16-game slate is the equivalent of roughly a 98-game baseball season). That’s nothing compared to the NBA, whose 82-game schedule is equivalent to a 458-game baseball season! (If the NBA wanted its standings to provide as much certainty as baseball’s, its teams would only need to play 29 games apiece.)This matches up with what we saw in the data on 16-game starts to each sport’s season. The NBA and NFL are very similar in the spread of records in a given x-game chunk, meaning the amount of information conveyed by any result is close to being the same in each sport. But MLB is a different animal. Its long season sets it apart, but even within the season, baseball teams are bunched together much more closely than their counterparts in football and basketball.CORRECTION (April 17, 3:29 p.m.): A reader pointed out that an earlier version of this post (which said the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 4-14 record tied them for the worst 18-game season opening of the past 12 seasons — since the 2002 Detroit Tigers started 3-15) was incorrect. Indeed, the 2010 Baltimore Orioles started 2-16 and the Tigers went 1-17 to start 2003. We’ve updated the post.
Adrian BeltreMariners281021371+111.92996 David WrightMets24122556+3.81777 PLAYERTEAMAGE2017CAREERAVG. 3K CLUB HITS AT SAME AGEDIFF. Francisco LindorIndians23106410409.5+0.5 Albert PujolsAngels378629112791.1+119.9 The young gunsFor players age 25 or lower, the difference between their career hits and hits of an average 3,000-hit club member at the same age and point in season PLAYER HITS Robinson CanoMariners349923092296.5+12.5 Players in their 20s have historically gone in many different directions. To illustrate this, let’s pretend we were writing this article 10 years ago and evaluating the players who were 30 or younger and on the best pace to reach the milestone. The 3,000-hit club is about to get bigger, as longtime FiveThirtyEight favorite and noted on-deck circle relocater Adrian Beltre gets closer to the milestone with every multi-hit game. Beltre, who notched his 2,996th hit on Wednesday, probably wouldn’t need to cross the 3,000-hit threshold to ensure his place in Cooperstown, but the achievement helps underscore just what a special player he has been over his two decades in the major leagues.Beltre’s milestone, whenever it comes, will mark the third consecutive season in which a player notched his 3,000th hit; Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees homered for his in June 2015, while the Miami Marlins’ Ichiro Suzuki smacked a triple for his 3,000th hit last August. New membership in the 3,000-hit club tends come in bunches, like when nine players1Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Eddie Murray, Dave Winfield, George Brett and Robin Yount. joined its ranks in the 10 seasons from 1992 to 2001, so more members could be on the way.But who will be next after Beltre? Let’s take a look at a handful of candidates coming up behind him on the active hits leaderboard — plus some younger players who might join the chase — and gauge their chances against the historical pace of the average 3,000-hit club member at the same age.2Age is as of June 30 of each season. Starlin CastroYankees279712441084.7+159.3 Mookie BettsRed Sox24112555552.4+2.6 Justin UptonD-Backs191919-43.31409 Mike TroutAngels2567984725.2+258.8 At that time, Beltre, Pujols and Cabrera were in pretty good shape, but every other player that was ahead of the 3,000-hit pace or slightly behind it has since fallen short or dropped way off pace. Edgar Renteria played just four more seasons, collecting fewer than 500 more hits before calling it a career (two World Series rings were was apparently enough). Likewise, Andruw Jones would retire before the 2016 season while Carl Crawford, Jimmy Rollins and David Wright — none of whom have formally retired yet — have not yet appeared in a game in 2017.And today’s younger hit leaders might have something working against them that previous generations didn’t: Hits are harder to come by in today’s more three-true-outcomes-focused game. The 2010s have seen the fewest hits per game of any decade since the 1960s and the fourth fewest of any decade since 1900.Then again, that could be counterbalanced by the fact that this is a special crop of young talent the likes of which MLB hasn’t seen in a while. And besides, in any given season between 1961 and 2000, an average of 9.2 active players went on to eventually become members of the 3,000-hit club. So odds are good that several of the players racking up hits this season will get to 3,000 before all is said and done — they just might not be the players we’d expect. Ryan ZimmermanNationals22109308+24.21611 The 3,000-hit pace was prorated to 101 games into each player’s current-age season to match where we stand in 2017.For players who are no more than 50 hits behind the average 3,000-hit-club member at the same age.Source: FanGraphs PLAYER HITS The 3,000-hit pace was prorated to 101 games into each player’s current-age season to match where we stand in 2017.For players who are no more than 50 hits behind the average 3,000-hit-club member at the same age.Source: FanGraphs The elder statesmenFor players age 31 and up, the difference between their career hits and hits of an average 3,000-hit club member at the same age and point in season Midseason hit totals were interpolated by prorating a player’s full-season total over 101 games.Source: FanGraphs.com Elvis AndrusRangers2811413801259.4+120.6 Delmon YoungDevil Rays21116156-17.01162 Andruw JonesBraves30791635+28.11933 Eric HosmerRoyals2712210621084.7-22.7 Jeff FrancoeurBraves23117363-46.31373 The middle-agersFor players age 26 to 30, the difference between their career hits and hits of an average 3,000-hit club member at the same age and point in season After Cabrera, nobody over the age of 25 is more than 200 hits above the historical 3,000-hit pace. So, in the absence of strong veteran candidates, younger players such as Mike Trout, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper show up as decent picks for the next generation of 3,000-hit club members — if only because there’s still so much ambiguity about how their careers will turn out. There’s a decent chance that at least one player in this bunch — if not a handful — will get to 3,000 hits, though it’s difficult to say which one(s) it will be.Of course, the uncertainty involved in projecting players’ careers is still huge. Even showing up on the ahead-of-pace list for your age isn’t a guarantee of getting 3,000 hits; far more young and mid-career players fall short of making the club than make it in: PLAYERTEAMAGE2017CAREERAVG. 3K CLUB HITS AT SAME AGEDIFF. PLAYERTEAMAGE2017CAREERAVG. 3K CLUB HITS AT SAME AGEDIFF. Carl CrawfordDevil Rays25115921+195.51931 The 3,000-hit pace was prorated to 101 games into each player’s current-age season to match where we stand in 2017.For players who are no more than 50 hits behind the average 3,000-hit-club member at the same age.Source: FanGraphs Manny MachadoOrioles2491790552.4+237.6 Bryce HarperNationals24116767552.4+214.6 How quickly things can change …Players age 30 and under who were furthest ahead of the 3,000-hit pace in 2007 Adrian BeltreRangers385429962897.4+98.6 AS OF MID-2007 … PLAYER HITS Jose AltuveAstros2714111871084.7+102.3 Grady SizemoreIndians24109518-34.91098 Albert PujolsCardinals271151274+189.72911 We start with the oldest group of candidates. Right behind Beltre is Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels, who — with his 2,911 lifetime hits3Current-season numbers are accurate as of end of play on July 26, 2017. — is almost assured of reaching the milestone either later this season or early next year. And Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera is another strong candidate, with over 300 more career hits than the average 3,000-hit club member had at the same age. The only thing that might hurt Cabrera’s chances is a late-career slowdown; he’s currently suffering the worst hitting season of his major-league career.Cabrera has such a cushion that he can afford some small decline, though he’ll need to bounce back soon to stay on pace. Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners, meanwhile, is also in a down season — he’s on pace for his lowest hit total since his rookie year — and he doesn’t have much room to fall off before losing the pace entirely. After a rough July, Cano’s chances could be evaporating before our eyes. (Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran is also fourth on the hits list among active players — but with fewer than 2,700 hits at age 40, his chances are next to nonexistent.) The next set of players are theoretically in their primes, though their chances might be more complicated to predict than any other group’s. Tigers outfielder Justin Upton started his career with a flourish, recording four 150-hit seasons by the age of 26, but he also turned in a few years below that level of production and is now behind the pace. Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro has a similar story — he led the NL with 207 hits in his sophomore season, when he was with the Cubs, but has since settled into a solid pattern of racking up 150 hits per season. He’s still ahead of pace, but he might not be for long.Some of these guys are on an upward trajectory, though. Beltre’s teammate Elvis Andrus has become a hitting machine — he hasn’t dropped below 150 hits since his rookie year in 2009, and he’s on pace for more than 180 this season. Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is having an MVP-type season; he’s on track for 226 hits this year, which would be his fourth straight 200-hit season. And Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals has swung his way to within striking distance of a 3,000-hit pace this season, producing what works out to a 198-hit campaign over 162 games. Jimmy RollinsPhillies281321227-32.22455 Xander BogaertsRed Sox24103631552.4+78.6 NAMETEAMAGESEASON HITSCAREER HITSVS. PACECURRENT HIT TOTAL Edgar RenteriaBraves301021872+265.12327 Carlos CorreaAstros22104370283.3+86.7 Miguel CabreraTigers348226012296.5+304.5 Rougned OdorRangers2385460409.5+50.5 Miguel CabreraMarlins24117771+218.82601 Justin UptonTigers299414091434.4-25.4 Jose ReyesMets24119643+90.72049
1Patriots2017Titans77.2%Jaguars71.0%54.8%? 21Bills1990Dolphins64.4Raiders61.639.7✓ Generic Team’s Chances Note that the Pats’ situation this year — with several upsets leading to easier-than-expected playoff matchups — is a pretty common thread across all of these smooth-sailing runs from the past. Being lucky enough to face a low-seeded opponent in one or both conference playoff games is a major advantage, and it’s no coincidence that eight of the nine teams below New England on the list above went on to represent their conference in the Super Bowl.In these topsy-turvy AFC playoffs, that’s not exactly guaranteed for the Pats, despite their seemingly straightforward path to Minneapolis. Jacksonville was one of the most inconsistent teams in football this season, so it’s difficult to predict which version of the Jags will show up Sunday. If it’s the one that torched the Steelers for 45 points last weekend, New England’s relatively unimpressive defense could be in real trouble.But the odds are that Brady, Belichick and company will punch that return ticket to the Super Bowl. And if they do, they can be thankful that one of the softest playoff red carpets ever was rolled out in front of them. The generic team has an Elo rating of 1646, which is used to generate probabilities against each opponent.Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com 2Eagles2004Vikings75.6Falcons72.254.6✓ 15Saints2009Cardinals69.4Vikings60.942.3✓ 7Patriots2011Broncos81.4Ravens57.046.4✓ 9Giants2000Eagles67.2Vikings66.044.3✓ 20Patriots2012Texans64.7Ravens61.439.7 23Bills1991Chiefs62.4Broncos63.339.5✓ 3Bears2006Seahawks74.6Saints72.754.2✓ 12Jaguars1999Dolphins74.1Titans58.343.2 The Patriots’ Super Bowl cakewalkThe teams with the easiest roads to the Super Bowl, based on how their opponents would have fared against a generic conference finalist 1990-2017 Game No. 1Game No. 2 25Dolphins1992Chargers62.6Bills61.338.4 17Eagles2002Falcons70.9Buccaneers57.941.0 22Steelers2001Ravens61.9Patriots63.839.5 16Eagles2003Packers59.9Panthers69.841.8 11Steelers1994Browns65.0Chargers66.643.3 5Steelers1995Bills74.2Colts69.951.9✓ 14Bears2010Seahawks84.3Packers50.842.8 18Seahawks2014Panthers70.5Packers57.540.5✓ 19Redskins1991Falcons67.7Lions59.640.4✓ 10Patriots2016Texans76.2Steelers56.943.4✓ 13Vikings1998Cardinals80.2Falcons53.743.1 On Sunday, the New England Patriots will make their 12th AFC Championship Game appearance under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and the legendary coach/QB combo will be gunning for a record eighth Super Bowl appearance together against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Cut through all the drama, the speculation about Brady getting old and questions about the Pats’ defense, and it has been a pretty vintage championship-caliber season in Foxborough: another year, another seemingly effortless trip to the Super Bowl.They’ve had a little help, though. According to our Elo ratings, which estimate a team’s strength at any given moment, the Pats will have faced the easiest pair of opponents of any conference title-game participant with a first-round bye since 1990 (when the NFL established its current playoff structure). Given who they’ve played, it would have been much more surprising for New England to not make the Super Bowl than to return to it for a third time in four seasons.For one thing, the AFC was exceptionally weak this year. In inter-conference play during the regular season, NFC teams went 41-23 against their AFC counterparts, which was the second-best record for one conference against the other in a season since 1990. (Only the 2004 season, in which the AFC went 44-20 against the NFC, saw a wider split.) As a result, the AFC playoff field contained only two teams with more than 10 regular-season wins, as opposed to five in the NFC. That meant a path was already forming for the top-seeded Pats to sail through to another Super Bowl.Then a few key upsets boosted New England’s advantage. First, the Tennessee Titans toppled the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card game, setting up a huge divisional-round mismatch at Gillette Stadium. According to Elo, the Pats were favored by 12, since Tennessee rated at 1499 — below the league average rating of 1505 — even after knocking off K.C. That made it the third-most lopsided divisional matchup since 1990, trailing only the Pats vs. the Tim Tebow Broncos in the 2011 season and Minnesota vs. Arizona in 1998. The Titans hung with the Pats for about a quarter, but New England eventually dropped 35 unanswered points on Tennessee and rolled to victory.The next day, another upset further cleared the way for New England. The Jaguars went into Heinz Field and took a quick 28-7 lead over the stunned Pittsburgh Steelers, then hung on for a 45-42 win. Elo had only given the Jags a 24 percent chance of winning — even lower than Tennessee’s chances at Kansas City — and it still only ranks Jacksonville as the 12th-best team in football, below five teams that were knocked out of the playoffs and three that didn’t even make it to the playoffs.Just like that, the two AFC teams Elo thought had the best chance of beating the Pats going into the playoffs — the Chiefs and the Steelers — were gone, and in their place were a below-average team and another that doesn’t rate much higher. According to Elo, New England is a 10-point favorite to beat Jacksonville, with an 81 percent chance of winning the Lamar Hunt Trophy yet again.If we multiply together the Patriots’ pregame odds of beating the Titans (85 percent) with that of the Jaguars (81 percent), we could say they had a staggering 69 percent chance of making the Super Bowl before they ever played a game. (This is assuming we’d somehow know that both of their opponents would pull off the upsets they did.) That’s easily the best number for any conference title-game participant since 1990.Of course, some of that is also because the Patriots are a very good team; they went into the playoffs with the sixth-best Elo of any Pats season since the Brady Era began in 2001. We shouldn’t penalize them for being so darned good that they created some of their own easy path. There’s an easy fix for this, though. We can swap out the Patriots’ Elo ratings for a generic rating of 1646, which represents the average for all conference title-game teams since 1990, and then recalculate the odds of reaching the Super Bowl against the opponents a team faced.For our generic NFL “final four” team, that requires multiplying together a 77 percent chance against the Titans and a 71 percent chance against the Jaguars, which gives a 55 percent Super Bowl probability. In other words, that number represents the relative ease of any good team making it through the Pats’ specific path to the Super Bowl — and it’s the easiest of any championship-game entrant since 1990. 4Patriots1996Steelers68.7Jaguars77.853.4✓ 24Cowboys1995Eagles70.6Packers54.638.5✓ 8Bills1993Raiders73.8Chiefs61.145.1✓ TeamSeasonOpponentWin %OpponentWin %Super Bowl %Made SB? 6Packers2007Seahawks68.6Giants67.746.5
Team TypeNO. teamsPrev. SeasonApril, current seasonRest-of-season Wins vs. Exp. All others134.447.591-0.1 That difference is just on the border of statistical significance, but if it holds true for the Braves, it would imply that they’re due to win more than expected based on their pessimistic win projections at FanGraphs and in our Elo interactive — and those extra wins could be enough to elevate them from a mid-80s win tally (sketchy territory, playoffs-wise) to a number closer to 90 wins (a much safer bet for making the postseason).That could be a huge step for an Atlanta club still trying to fill seats in its shiny new suburban stadium. These aren’t the old Greg Maddux/Tom Glavine/John Smoltz Braves, of course, but there’s real potential building in Atlanta right now. We’ll have to see where it takes the team — and how long it takes before the sabermetric indicators pick up on it. Top 10 in age and farm25.450.605+2.7 Win share *Team age is ranked from youngest to oldest, so a top-10 team would be among the 10 youngest rosters. Excludes the strike-shortened 1994 and 1995 seasons.Sources: baseball America, retrosheet Young, talented teams tend to build on hot April startsActual vs. expected rest-of-season wins (based on Elo) for teams who were below .500 in previous season but above .500 in April, by average age and farm-system ranking,* 1984-2017 The Atlanta Braves are, as they say, “ahead of schedule.” Going into the season, we commended their young talent base but gave them just a 15 percent shot at making the playoffs, figuring that they’d need another year of rebuilding before truly making the leap toward contention. Fast-forward a month, however, and Atlanta is blowing away those expectations: Against a difficult schedule, the Braves are 19-11 and occupy first place in the NL East — one and a half games clear of the New York Mets, who they just swept in a three-game series. So far, at least, the Braves’ future appears to be now.Even so, statistical algorithms such as FanGraphs’ rest-of-season projections and our own Elo system aren’t fully convinced. The former only has the Braves winning at the majors’ 21st-best clip over the rest of the season, while the latter is barely more optimistic, with Atlanta ranked 14th in the big leagues in terms of Elo. The stats are optimized for prediction, of course — but they have blind spots, too. So, a couple of days into May, is it too soon to call this a breakout year for Atlanta?Certainly Atlanta has played at an elite level over the first month of the season. On top of its impressive record (a 103-win pace over 162 games), the Braves rank1This and all following 2018 stats are up-to-date through Wednesday’s games. fifth in the league in Pythagorean winning percentage2Essentially, the winning percentage we’d expect the team to have based on its runs scored and allowed. and third in wins above replacement per game.3Averaging together the WAR metrics found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. This isn’t merely a case of an outclassed team getting lucky by squeaking out close wins and moving up the standings; the Braves have come to their record honestly.Although Atlanta’s pitching (12th in WAR) has been more or less average — which actually represents a big improvement over last season’s 24th-ranked showing — the highlight of the 2018 Braves season thus far is a lineup that’s generating 5.6 runs per game, easily the most in the National League. First baseman Freddie Freeman ranks as one of the best hitters in baseball after a month of play, while 21-year-old second baseman Ozzie Albies has been a revelation. Albies was already way ahead of the curve as a rookie last season (he had a 112 OPS+, one of the best marks ever by a 20-year-old rookie), and he’s made major strides as a power hitter, upping his slugging percentage from .456 last year to .603 this season. (Granted, his elevated rate of homers per fly ball is sure to regress — but his hard-hit ball rate is up, too.)With all the attention on prospect Ronald Acuña Jr. going into the season, Albies was the one who got off to the red-hot start while Acuña was toiling in the minors (thanks to some service-time chicanery by the Atlanta front office). Now that Acuña and Albies are both in the majors together, the Braves have one of the most exciting young position-player duos we’ve seen in a long time. Not only were Acuña and Albies the two youngest players in MLB at the time Acuña was called up,4In the couple weeks since, yet another Brave has joined the majors and sandwiched himself between them in the youngest-player rankings: Pitcher Mike Soroka. That’s right: Atlanta has each of the three youngest players in baseball right now. but the duo also became the youngest pair of teammates to homer in the same game since 1978 when each went yard against the Reds on April 26.5Oddly, the last time it happened also featured two Braves (Glenn Hubbard and Bob Horner) going deep against the Reds. Go figure.Throw in a renaissance year from veteran right fielder Nick Markakis (151 OPS+), much-improved hitting from former top prospect Dansby Swanson and the late-career blossoming of 34-year-old catcher Kurt Suzuki at the plate (133 OPS+ over the past two seasons), and it’s no surprise the Braves’ scoring is up more than a full run per game compared to a year ago. The only question is how much of the team’s sudden improvement will persist for the remaining five months of the regular season. And that’s where the advanced metrics’ lack of faith in Atlanta’s breakout gets especially complicated.According to research by myself and others, it takes about 70 games before observed results from a season in progress reach even a 50-50 balance with preseason expectations, in terms of how much weight each deserves when assessing a team. The Braves have played less than half that many games so far this year, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why the statistical projections haven’t budged much off of Atlanta’s relatively bearish spring-training predictions. The past data says you can’t read too much into a month’s worth of results.However, that premise was designed to hold true for all teams as a group. What happens when we look at a smaller group of teams, especially just the ones that have as much breakout potential as the Braves? Atlanta went into the season with Baseball America’s top-ranked farm system and currently has the eighth-youngest roster in baseball (if we weight each player’s age by their wins contributed this season.6For this metric, I couldn’t use straight-up WAR, since the averages would be skewed for teams like the Marlins and Orioles, who barely have any WAR across their entire roster. Instead, I added back in the replacement-level wins generated by each player’s raw playing time to get an estimate of total wins created, then weighted every team’s age by that number.)To get a sense for whether this matters, I looked at all teams since 19847The earliest season for which I have data about farm-system rankings. who were coming off a sub-.500 season but had a better-than-.500 record in April. Over the rest of the season, teams in that group who were both among MLB’s 10 youngest and went into the year with a top-10 farm system (again, according to Baseball America) ended up winning 2.7 more games over the rest of the season than Elo would predict.8Using the same rest-of-season projection method I used here. By comparison, all other teams won roughly as many games as Elo thought they would.9Specifically, they won 0.1 fewer games than expected.
Just like that, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team’s season is over. After sweeping Notre Dame, 3-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday in Lexington, Ky., the No. 14 Buckeyes were dropped at the hands of a No. 14 Kentucky team playing in their own backyard. In the second round of the tournament, the Wildcats (22-10) outlasted OSU, 3-1, Saturday night at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington.. The Buckeyes, who finished the year with a 23-11 mark, killed and aced their way to a 25-18 victory in the contest’s first set, though they didn’t seem able to carry such momentum. In what might have felt like a back-and-forth period, Kentucky pulled off a 26-24 victory in the second match that propelled them past the Buckeyes. “We were under in the second game, but we came back and we got the lead,” said senior outside hitter Mari Hole. “It was just those few plays, they really got some good plays going. We weren’t able to respond right away, and they kind of just took the air out of the balloon at the moment. We kept talking like we really wanted it and we kept working through it, but we weren’t able to respond at the same level as Kentucky did and just kept pushing us.” The second set might have been crucial in terms of controlling pace and tempo. Senior outside hitter Emily Danks said it was a tough loss. “It was rough because we had been rolling through that set, and I think we were feeling pretty good and it was just that moment of let up that they took control of the game – they grabbed it and ran with it,” Danks said. During halftime, the Buckeyes tried to regroup after losing set two, but Danks said it wasn’t enough. “In the locker room, our fellow senior (middle blocker) Mariah (Booth) really got fired up and kind of lit a fire, and I guess it was just a little too late,” Danks said. “It was a little disappointing to see it go down like that, but you have to give it to Kentucky for being so steady and aggressive with everything they did.” OSU coach Geoff Carlston said he knew going into this game that his team would have to defend and react well against Kentucky’s tough serves. It wasn’t the only thing that seemed to give OSU fits, though. “We knew they were a tough serving team. They are a little bit tougher than I thought they were when I watched video last night, but we knew that coming into the game,” Carlston said. “Really they won the serve and pass game. We knew that was No. 1. We had to win that.” Like Danks and Hole, Carlston emphasized the importance of the second set and said it might have been what cost the Buckeyes in the end. “Whoever won (set two) was going to win the match, and they did,” Carlston said. “Especially at the end of the second set, they kept it going in the third and fourth set and we didn’t respond very well.” The opportunities were there for OSU, though. “Our plan was to spread out, but we just didn’t pass the ball,” Carlston said. “We passed very well in the first set and first two sets up until the very end in the second set. We had some chances to win that second set, which obviously makes it a whole different match.” A rematch with No. 1 Penn State, which defeated the Buckeyes on Oct. 17 and Nov. 21, was something OSU was hoping for, along with advancing to the tournament’s Sweet 16 for the third straight year. For Danks, Hole, Booth and senior setter Amanda Peterson, their journey as Buckeyes has ended, but in their time together they might have helped the program get to where it is today. Danks, Booth and Peterson have played in the NCAA Tournament four years in a row. Hole, who transferred to Columbus after playing two years at UCLA, joined the Buckeyes for her junior and senior seasons. This senior group has also led their team to the Sweet 16 twice, and the second round four times. With their conference record at 13-7, they finished fourth in the Big Ten this year, which is OSU’s best finish since 2009.
Always be moving forward.That’s the motto the Ohio State men’s track team has going into this weekend’s Indiana Relays in Bloomington, Ind.“It should be a competitive meet,” head coach Ed Beathea said on the teams the Buckeyes are set to run against.Teams like Alabama, Xavier, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois and Indiana are among those set to compete in the meet this weekend.Junior sprinter and hurdler Timothy Faust said he expects the opponents to push the team to greater success and even help him run his best race yet in the 200-meter dash.“This is a chance for us to compete against some good guys from the conference,” Faust said.He added that the team goal for the meet is to continue doing the things they have been doing right and to work hard.Redshirt-freshman sprinter and hurdler Donovan Robertson is expecting the same work ethic the Buckeyes have shown all season from at the meet.“Every week, we are getting better and better,” Robertson said. “Last week was a solid week, I hope we can continue.”Robertson added that getting the chance to compete against conference teams is good for the Buckeyes.“I couldn’t really tell you which (team) is bigger than the other but the fact that they are Big Ten conference teams I think they are all really important,” Robertson said.At the meet, Robertson is slated to only run the 200-meter dash instead of his usual sprints and hurdles. Robertson said this is his first time running the 200-meter dash since high school, but he is excited to run it.Beathea said the coaches start to put runners in single events to get them more competition-minded as they move into February and get closer to the indoor Big Ten Championships.Aside from individuals competing at a high level this weekend, Beathea said he is looking forward to seeing the relay teams show what they can do.“We anticipate running our A (4×4) team this weekend,” Beathea said. “Right now (it’s) a top 10 relay team in the country, we hope (it) will be competitive.”As the indoor season continues on into another weekend of races, Beathea said it is exciting because team members are becoming more tightly knit.“It’s nice to go to the meet and see the guys engaging in what other guys are doing. Guys supporting each other, that’s what it is supposed to look like — less like an individual sport and more like a team sport,” Beathea said.That camaraderie of the team is something he anticipates will help make them successful this weekend.“We want to go out and compete. We want for other teams to know that we were at the meet,” Beathea said. “We want to have a presence at the competition.”The meet is scheduled to start Friday and continue through Saturday.
Sophomore attackman Jack Jasinski heads for the goal in the fourth quarter during the first round of the NCAA tournament against Loyola Maryland on May 14, 2017. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterJust weeks after Maryland ended Ohio State’s men’s lacrosse team’s hopes for a Big Ten tournament title, the Terrapins ended the Buckeyes’ shot at their first NCAA championship in program history.Maryland defeated OSU 9-6 in the 2017 NCAA championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Monday. OSU’s six goals tie the team’s lowest total of the season.This was the third matchup of the season between these teams. OSU beat the Terrapins 11-10 in overtime on April 22 on the Buckeyes’ senior night. On May 6, Maryland defeated OSU’s men’s lacrosse team defeated the Buckeyes in the Big Ten tournament championship game. OSU struck first in Monday’s game as senior attackman Austin Shanks scored the first goal of the game, putting Maryland behind on the scoreboard for the first time in the postseason. Both teams battled through a back-and-forth first quarter before the Terrapins took their first lead of the game when a familiar face to OSU, junior midfielder Connor Kelly, scored his 45th goal of the season. The offensive threat scored five goals against the Buckeyes in the Big Ten tournament championship game.Maryland didn’t just capture the lead, it built a multi-goal advantage. Two upperclassmen – senior attackman Dylan Maltz and junior midfielder Adam DiMillo – found the back of the net early in the second quarter to extend their teams lead to 5-2.The Buckeyes had no answers.Maryland shut down the OSU offense, holding them scoreless the entire quarter. The Buckeyes managed only four shots the entire quarter and struggled to control the ball, turning it over on multiple occasions.OSU ended its 24-minute scoring drought with 10:53 remaining in the third quarter when Logan Maccani found the back of the net to pull within two goals. But unlike in Saturday’s game against Towson when the Buckeyes stormed back from a five-goal deficit, the Buckeyes couldn’t cut into their lead.Maryland junior attackman Tim Rotanz scored his second goal of the game with 5:30 left in the quarter to give the Terrapins a 6-3 lead. His team hadn’t scored in nearly 20 minutes. Maryland extended the lead to 8-3 early in the fourth quarter when Maltz scored his second goal of Monday’s game and senior attackman Matt Rambo scored his 42nd goal of the game.Senior midfielder Jake Withers quickly responded, scoring OSU’s first goal in over 15 minutes, when he won a faceoff and found the back of the net with 10:24 remaining in the game. And finally, after being absent for the first three quarters, freshman attackman Tre Leclaire sniped his first goal to pull within three goals.The run continued with 2:25 remaining when senior midfielder Johnny Pearson scored as the Terrapins led dwindled to 8-6.But, that’s as close as the Buckeyes could come to completing their comeback.Rotanz took advantage of OSU pulling its goalie and scored an empty net goal with :58.1 remaining to take a 9-6 lead, which Maryland hung onto until the clock struck zero.OSU relied heavily on redshirt senior goalie Tom Crey to keep them in the game. He saved X shots against Maryland.The Buckeyes reached the NCAA championship after defeating Loyola Maryland 7-4 in the first round, Duke 16-11 in the quarterfinals and Towson 11-10 in the semifinals on Friday. Maryland earned its spot in the final after beating Bryant 13-10 in round one, Albany 18-9 in the quarterfinals then Denver 9-8 in the semifinals.Moving onThough OSU extended its run further than any prior group of seniors in program history, eleven players played in their final game as Buckeyes on Monday. Of the talented group, over half will have an opportunity to play their sport at the professional level.A program-record six OSU players were selected in the Major League Lacrosse draft on Sunday. Withers was selected ninth overall – the third-highest OSU player ever drafted – by the Atlanta Blaze.OSU will have to replace graduating goalie Tom Carey, who led the conference in save percentage (.544). He was selected by the Denver Outlaws in the eighth round of the draft.Leclaire, who finished second on the team with 63 points and led the Buckeyes with 48 goals, returns along with fourth-leading point scorer attackman Colin Chell.
Urban Meyer greets fans as the Buckeyes enter Ohio Stadium prior to the Ohio State-Penn State game on Oct. 28. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorThree days after Ohio State’s 39-38 comeback win against Penn State, the Buckeyes came in at No. 6 in the season’s first College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday evening.Ohio State is the highest ranked Big Ten team in the season’s first playoff rankings. Three other Big Ten teams joined the Buckeyes in the top 25, with Wisconsin at No. 9, Penn State at No. 7 and Michigan State at No. 24. Ohio State will take on the Spartans at noon Nov. 11 in East Lansing, Michigan. No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Clemson led off the opening playoff rankings. Oklahoma, which handed the Buckeyes their only loss of the season, came in at No. 5.Though Ohio State is ranked No. 6 in the playoff rankings, the Buckeyes came in at No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll and the coaches poll. Here are the rest of the College Football Playoff rankings. GeorgiaAlabamaNotre DameClemsonOklahomaOhio StatePenn StateTCUWisconsinMiamiOklahoma StateWashingtonVirginia TechAuburnIowa StateMississippiSouthern CaliforniaCentral FloridaLSUNorth Carolina StateStanfordArizonaMemphisMichigan StateWashington State
Urban Meyer yells on the field in the fourth quarter of the game against Michigan State on Nov. 10. Ohio State won 26-6. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorFollowing Ohio State’s 26-6 win against Michigan State, head coach Urban Meyer was excited about how his team played.“That was a big win, and we’re very satisfied,” Meyer said. “The other ones, you kind of have people didn’t feel like they won. That was a great locker room. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Enjoy the win and get ready for the next one.”The two polls released on Sunday saw the win differently.In the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and Amway Coaches’ Poll, Ohio State dropped one spot to No. 9 and No. 8 respectively.Though the College Football Playoff committee releases the only ballot that matters, the committee was already lower on the Buckeyes, having them at No. 10 the past two weeks.Meyer said he understands the conflict being displayed by his team.“You go on the road and win by 20 points against a ranked team,” Meyer said. “And what happened? What’s the problem? What about this? What about that? I could stand up and say, ‘What are you guys talking about?’ But I get it. I don’t think we played great either at times.”The Buckeyes traveled to East Lansing, Michigan, and defeated the No. 18 Spartans, that is true. But how they won brings up questions Ohio State has seemingly faced every week since its victory against Penn State.Redshirt sophomore punter Drue Chrisman was the main reason for the win, pinning Michigan State within its own 5-yard line on a handful of occasions, leading to an intentional safety, a defensive touchdown and a field goal after the Spartans fumbled on their own 15-yard line.The fumble was recovered by junior defensive end Jonathon Cooper, who said the defense’s game against Michigan State proved what it can do as a unit.“We have been practicing hard. We’ve been going hard and even though everybody kind of telling us to do this or do that, we just stuck with the plan and it pays off, as you can see,” Cooper said. “We went out there and actually showed that we are the defense. We are Ohio State. We are the bullets.”Ohio State’s defense looked better, allowing only 54 rushing yards, 47 of which came on one run by redshirt freshman quarterback Rocky Lombardi. Through the air, Lombardi and redshirt junior quarterback Brian Lewerke combined to throw 18-for-48 for 220 yards and an interception.Offensively, redshirt junior running back Mike Weber ran for 104 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.7 yards per carry while redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw for 227 yards and a touchdown, some of his lowest totals on the season.Haskins said the locker room was “electric” after the win. “It’s the atmosphere we had after to gain a win like that. It meant a lot for a lot of people,” Haskins said. “We didn’t play our best ball, but the good thing is we have another game to play, and we got a lot of potential and we can keep getting better.”It is still unknown if the College Football Playoff committee will see that potential in Ohio State, but in the past two weeks, it has not seen it from the Buckeyes. The AP poll and coaches’ poll do not seem to see it either.“To finish the game we did, against that defense, no one’s done that to them. No one’s done it against a team (like) that,” Meyer said. “You know how much respect I have for that coach, that staff and that place. That was awful. That was a tough environment.”Ohio State now sits at 9-1, two wins away from finishing atop the Big Ten East. It has wins against four teams that were ranked at the time of defeat, and one loss by 29 to Purdue, a team that lost by 31 to Minnesota this past week.The resume is debatable and will be debatable until the playoff is decided. Meyer knows this, but said he still wishes his team had more respect for what it has done this season.“I don’t want to come across saying, ‘Well, we’re 9 and —’ no, we’re not playing great at times,” Meyer said. “But then our defense came out and played the way they did. And our special teams played the way they did. It was a great team win. But we’re not where I would like us to be. Is that fair?”Fair or not, Ohio State has up to three games to prove itself as a team deserving of a Top-4 finish. The win in East Lansing was a start, but the Buckeyes still have a long way to go and need to get there fast if they want a chance at the playoff this season.
It is the question that annoyed Marco Pierre White so much he banned it from his restaurants – a hovering waiter asking, “are enjoying your meal, sir?”And, after what happened at south Wales curry house, it is easy to see why.When David Evans, from south Wales, and his wife Michelle gave an honest opinion to that polite enquiry they had no idea what was to come next.”Tough and rubbery,” they said.The next thing Mr Evans knew was a raging head chef had stormed out of his kitchen and thrown chilli powder in his eyes, leaving the 46-year-old pipe-fitter sick in pain.Mr Evans had to be rushed to hospital and have drips flush wash through his eyes. “When our mains came and the meat was like what I can only describe as rubber, we told the young waiter when he came and asked us ‘how is your food?’ that the meat was very tough and rubbery.”To cut a long story short the chef came to our table he was extremely rude and aggressive and accused us of not wanting to pay for our food.”We said we would eat the rest of our food but the meat was really not eatable.”He started swearing at me so David said ‘there’s no need to swear at my wife’. The chef caused quite a scene and was shouting and swearing so David walked back to the kitchen door with him asking for an apology.”The chef came to the door with a large bowl of chilli powder which he threw at David’s face. The couple are parents of West End singer Sophie Evans, 23, who was runner-up in the 2010 series Over the Rainbow which aimed to find a new star for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Wizard of Oz – and she went on to play Dorothy.Mother-of-two Mrs Evans said her husband is having specialist check-ups and is taking steroid eye drops to suppress his body’s severe reaction to the chilli.Meanwhile, chef Kamrul Islam, 46, has said he threw chilli into Mr Evans’s face because he feared he was about to be punched.Father-of-one Mr Islam said: “I ran into the kitchen to get away from him but he followed me. I was frightened and grabbed a handful of chilli just in case I needed to defend myself.”I was frightened and threw it at him. Chilli will burn but it is not life-threatening. I’ve been running this restaurant here for 18 years and I’ve never had to do anything like this. I’m very upset by it all.” “He instantly thought he had been blinded and didn’t know what he’d thrown at him, he was shaking in chock, hanging on to the counter being sick thinking he was going to go blind.”It was horrific. He said he’s never had so much pain in his life and was extremely distressed.”Not one member of staff came to him to help or even ask if he was okay.”We were in the toilet splashing water on his eyes until the police and ambulance came he was treated straight away in A&E. ” David Evans in hospital with drips in his eyes after having the chilli thrown at himCredit: WALES NEWS SERVICE It was horrific. He said he’s never had so much pain in his life and was extremely distressedMichelle Evans The couple were taken from Prince of Bengal in Tonypandy, Rhondda, South Wales, to hospital for treatment.Mrs Evans, of Tonypandy, said: “David had numerous eye washes through a drip into his eyes in A&E as his eyes were extremely red and sore and the pH level was way off what it should have been and the doctor said if he wasn’t treated it was very dangerous for him.”The chilli had even burnt the skin on David’s hands and chest where the chilli had fallen down his shirt.”He has to be on medication for his eyes until the doctor can see an improvement. We can’t believe this has happened and have since read some bad reviews about this man.”We want everyone to be aware of this and what has happened and are taking it further with the police.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. David after having the chilli thrown in his eyesCredit:WALES NEWS SERVICE It was all seen on our CCTV and I’m happy for the police to see it. I was defending myselfHead chef Kamrul Islam The moment the chilli powder is thrownCredit:WALES NEWS SERVICE His wife Michelle, a 47-year-old college tutor, described what happened.”What was meant to be a quick meal out with David turned out to be one of the most frightening times we’ve had,” she said. “We had our starter which wasn’t very good but we ate it and didn’t tell the waiter. What was meant to be a quick meal out with David turned out to be one of the most frightening times we’ve hadMichelle Evans Bangladeshi-born Mr Islam – known as Kam to all his regular customers – said one of his staff had told him the customer had complained about the food.He said: “I said I would reduce the bill which came to £82. I just wanted to get away. I went back into the kitchen where the husband followed me.”It was self-defence and that is why I did what I did. “I’ve never had trouble like this. All the people around here are very nice and I get on with people. I feel I am respected here and have a lot of good customers and friends.”It was all seen on our CCTV and I’m happy for the police to see it. I was defending myself.”Mr Islam said he was arrested at his restaurant but did not need to go to the police station.He said: “I’m happy to talk to the police about it. I believe in the justice system. I have spoken to my barrister and given him all the information – he told me that I was acting in self-defence.”South Wales Police confirmed officers are investigating an incident on the evening of Saturday, Jan 21.A spokesman said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion of common assault and has been bailed until Jan 31, pending further inquiries.” David with his wife MichelleCredit: WALES NEWS SERVICE