But in the Olympics’ event finals, when gymnasts can win individual medals on apparatuses, the then-16-year-old American landed on her behind on an easier vault. That landed her the silver medal.Maroney wasn’t impressed, but she wasn’t deterred either. She returned next season with the same tough skill and won her second world vault title.Maroney is the highest flier in a recent line of fantastic American vaulters. But before 2005, only one American woman had ever won a medal in vault at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships: Brandy Johnson tied for silver in 1989. A decade-and-a-half later came Alicia Sacramone, who won four of the eight medals the U.S. has claimed in the event since 2005 — gold (2010), silver (2006) and bronze (2005 and 2007). And since 2009, the American women have won four world vaulting titles.There’s a good chance the medal streak will continue in 2014. Maroney is sitting out the world championships this week in Nanning, China, following knee surgery, but Simone Biles (the current U.S. and world all-around champion) and Mykayla Skinner have qualified to compete in Saturday’s vault final. Of note, Biles posted the highest qualifying score for the vault, balance beam, floor exercise and all-around.Long gone are the days of the perfect 10. In vaulting finals, gymnasts perform two vaults from two groups, and each earns two marks — one for difficulty and one for execution. The difficulty score is predetermined and higher if there are more saltos and twists. For example, the Amanar that Maroney and Biles (below) generally perform has a 6.3 difficulty value, downgraded in 2013 from a 6.5; Skinner’s Cheng is worth 6.4.The execution mark is out of 10 and considers the gymnast’s form on the vaulting table and in the air; her height and distance from the table; and how she lands (i.e. whether she “sticks” the landing). Those values sum to produce a total score for each vault. The average of the two total scores determines the gymnast’s final score.So, Americans are good at vaulting, but just how good are they at eking out the best scores for particular vaults? I used results provided by USA Gymnastics to plot the 76 vaults completed in the most prestigious vaulting event each year since 2009 (for every season except 2012, an Olympic year, that event is the world championships). As the chart below shows, U.S. gymnasts have generally received some of the best execution scores for vaults at the highest levels of difficulty. (A technical note: I plotted only the raw difficulty and execution marks prior to penalties. I omitted four vaults that received a total score of 0.00; a gymnast earns a 0.00 if, for instance, she fails to land on her feet first, or touches the springboard or table without completing the vault.)The two outliers in the bottom right corner belong to Yamilet Peña Abreu of the Dominican Republic, who lacked in execution while performing the demanding Produnova at the London Games and the 2013 world championship. (At the 2011 world championships, she landed on her back and earned a 0.00.) Last year, the vault — a front handspring onto the table followed by two front somersaults — was downgraded by 0.1, to a difficulty score of 7.0. Peña Abreu was the first gymnast to complete it in competition since its namesake, Elena Produnova, in 1999. Two others have landed it in competition in 2014. You may not remember the vault. You probably remember her face.In 2012, McKayla Maroney performed at the Olympic Games what was deemed by women’s gymnastics judges and commentators as perhaps the best-executed vault in the history of the sport. Her jaw-dropping Amanar, which includes two-and-a-half twists, came in the team portion of the competition:
Editor’s note: Tuesday was opening day at The Undefeated, a new ESPN website that explores the intersections of race, sports and culture. In an introductory letter, Kevin Merida, its editor-in-chief, says the site won’t shrink from covering challenging subjects with a mix of original reporting, innovative storytelling, provocative commentary, must-see video, narratives and investigations. At FiveThirtyEight, we’re so excited at having a new sibling that we’ll be running several of The Undefeated’s articles on our site this week — including the one that follows here — and we have big plans for partnerships in the future. More stories from The Undefeated:The puzzling plummet of RGIII, by Jason ReidMass incarceration is a local issue, by Brando Simeo StarkeyKimberly Clay finds solace in running Play Like a Girl, by Kelley D. Evans It’s not enough to hope for brilliant basketball in these Western Conference finals that feature four of the top-seven finishers in this year’s MVP voting. I want to see flawed quotes, in all of their glory, presented without fear of backlash. If Kevin Durant leaves out a letter of an indefinite article when disparaging an owner or Brazilian Leandro Barbosa uses broken English during a postgame interview, it could end up being the best part of the series — as long as they are allowed to truly speak for themselves.If you think quoting people accurately can’t be controversial then you haven’t read about Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle relaying the English words of Dominican-born Houston Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez verbatim:Gomez: “For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed.”Critics, including Gomez himself, accused Smith of ridiculing Gomez by highlighting the native Spanish speaker’s grammatical inaccuracies. The editor of the Chronicle apologized.Since when should journalists apologize for being accurate?Smith would only be in the wrong if he went out of his way to mock Gomez. Instead, Smith did the opposite, crediting Gomez for an honest self-assessment of his time with the Astros that included a .237 batting average and only four home runs.Reasonable people can make allowances for those who use English as a second language. Instead of teasing them for their shortcomings, we can applaud them for successfully conveying their thoughts.The Smith-Gomez flap brought up a debate about the old journalistic tradition of “cleaning up” quotes — that is, making slight fixes to align grammar and pronunciation with standard English.This is a tradition that needs to go.For one, it’s patronizing, with the implication that anything that deviates from the norm is inherently inferior and must be corrected. Black English, for example, isn’t a referendum on intelligence — it’s a reflection of centuries of segregation, just as American English is a linguistic representation of our country’s split from Britain. Passing judgment based on speech can often say more about the listener than the speaker. (Do we consider Yoda any less wise because of his mixed-up syntax?)And in an age where postgame news conferences are televised and video of most locker room interviews can be found online, altering quotes can damage credibility when the real versions are so readily available for comparison.Sometimes there is no fix to be found, no way to improve on the wonderfully wobbly phrases such as Barbosa’s proclamation last year that “We gonna be championship!”It became a rallying cry for the Golden State Warriors; and when Barbosa’s prediction came true, the Warriors shouted it out in their champagne-drenched locker room Instagram post.Recently, Barbosa delivered the “We gonna be championship” sequel. It still sounds great.Durant’s most memorable line of these playoffs can’t be found in a box score. It came when he responded to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s claim that Russell Westbrook isn’t a superstar by saying: “He’s a idiot.”Technically, it should have been “He’s AN idiot.” The incorrect article didn’t detract from the power of the statement. Nor did it alter our perception of Durant as a thoughtful person. If we can celebrate Westbrook pushing the boundaries of fashion, we can allow Durant to step outside the rigidity of grammar.When we cover the NBA, we cover a diverse array of characters, with all of their successes and failures. And when you get down to it, we cover who’s gonna be championship and who’s a idiot, no matter how those things are phrased.
Houston running back Arian Foster has made a lifestyle change that he hopes promotes better health and tranquility. He’s given up meats.“Officially a vegan now. We’ll see how this goes. But week one down. So far, so good. Feels wonderful,” the 6-foot-1, 229-pound running back said of giving up any form of animal products.News of Foster’s diet decision caused a social media uproar.“People feel so strong about meat and milk. I wish they felt this strong about peace,” the two-time Pro Bowler wrote shortly after his original tweet.“I don’t think there is any better place for a new vegan to gain notoriety than Texas, the only state that shows up twice on the list of America’s most obese cities,” said Cameron Patton, a writer for OneGreenPlanet.Org “People are already converting their diets in the wake of Foster’s decision, tweeting comments that thank him for the push. (Comments like) ‘Arian, you have inspired me to go vegan; I hope I can do it. Gotta try to be healthier.’“Believe it or not, Arian is not the first NFL player from a Texas team to go vegan. Tony Fiammetta, who plays for the Dallas Cowboys is 6 feet tall and 242 pounds is also fueled by a plant-powered diet.”Since taking hold of the Texans’ starting job in 2010, Foster has run for 2,840 yards on 605 carries and caught 119 passes for 1,221 yards. Undrafted out of Tennessee four years ago, he signed a five-year, $43.5 million contract with Houston in March.
Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice has been somewhat of a bully on the football field, running over opponents at every chance. But he has a problem with bullying among kids at school, and wants to stem this growing trend.The 26-year-old Rice has spoken at several local Maryland schools about bullying, having been touched by the death of 12-year-old Bailey O’ Neill.O’ Neill, who was a student at Darby Township in Pennsylvania, was taken off life support Sunday after being placed in a medically induced coma. He was beaten up by fellow classmates on January 10, causing seizures. Doctors placed O’Neill in the medically induced coma to stop the seizures.Rice took to his Facebook page Sunday.“I reached out to the family and was able to spend about 45 minutes on the phone with them,” Rice wrote. “I could hear their sadness, worry, frustration and grief. They would be faced with removing their son, cousin, nephew, and best friend from life support.”The Super Bowl champion expressed confusion in trying to understand why bullying has been so prevalent.“I don’t know if we will ever get to a point where bullying is actually considered a CRIME, rather than “kids being kids” or a “playground incident,” Rice wrote.Rice told between thousands at an anti-bullying rally in Baltimore last July that his sister was the victim of bullying.“Going into the eighth grade, a girl kept on picking [my sister],” Rice said via The Postgame. “The girl threw a rock, hit my sister in the eye, and my mother’s first reaction was to tell her to retaliate. That wasn’t the right answer.”Rice said after getting the police and the principal involved, that his sister has not had any more problems from the girl. Unfortunately, the outcome for Bailey was not the same.“But, I DO KNOW THIS: I will NOT give up my fight. Every day I will continue to fight AGAINST bullying and fight FOR Kindness,” Rice wrote.He added: “Bailey – my little buddy, I will not let you become just another bully statistic…you are my inspiration and one more angel that will help me continue the fight for kids everywhere. You are going to help me save lives. RIP my little friend.”The investigation into O’Neill’s death is ongoing.
2007NL WestSDPARI1.09.3-8.3ARI *Second place in the 2017 AL Central division is currently tied.Excludes strike-shortened seasons in 1981 and 1995.Sources: Retrosheet, ESPN Stats & Info WINS 1992AL WestMINOAK1.08.7-7.7OAK 1997NL EastATLFLA4.09.8-5.8ATL 1972NL EastPITNYM5.013.3-8.3PIT 1989AL EastBALNYY6.011.2-5.2TOR The Indians are on pace to outplay their World Series versionProduction per 162 games for 2016 and 2017 Cleveland Indians So the good news for Cleveland is that it’s badly outplayed both of its would-be division challengers. The bad news is, that’s not always enough. Among the midseason division leaders on the list above, only two-thirds of them ended up eventually winning the crown, despite starting off with an average lead of 3.3 games.Even so, FiveThirtyEight’s MLB Elo ratings give the Tribe a 70 percent chance of winning the Central and an 81 percent shot at making it back to the playoffs, despite what’s shaping up to be a crowded AL wild card picture. You wouldn’t guess it from the standings, but if the Indians just keep playing the way they have been, they should be right in the thick of things again come October.Check out our latest MLB predictions. 1985NL EastSTLNYM3.09.1-6.1STL 2008AL CentralCHWMIN1.07.8-6.8CHW 2008NL EastPHIFLA1.08.9-7.9PHI 1989NL WestSFGHOU2.08.6-6.6SFG 2017AL CentralCLEMIN*2.010.9-8.9— 1993AL WestCHWKCR1.06.7-5.7CHW Nobody has secretly dominated like the 2017 IndiansDivision leaders with largest difference between actual and Pythagorean-predicted leads through 82 games, 1969-2017 YEARDIVISIONLEADERNO. 2ACTUALPYTHAG.DIFF.WINNER 1973AL WestOAKANA1.06.3-5.3OAK 1971AL EastBALBOS3.09.3-6.3BAL 1985NL WestSDPLAD2.08.4-6.4LAD Difference-7.7+1.6+0.1 2017AL CentralCLEKCR*2.08.5-6.5— 2012AL CentralCHWCLE2.08.6-6.6DET 1969AL EastBALBOS12.018.1-6.1BAL The biggest factor holding Cleveland’s record back has been a distinct lack of clutch hitting: Tribe hitters have the majors’ third-worst on-base plus slugging (OPS) with two outs and runners in scoring position, and its second-worst OPS in “high leverage” situations. But their vaunted relief pitching — led by do-everything relief ace Andrew Miller — has been as good as advertised, as have starters Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. Although Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion and Francisco Lindor have all been various degrees of disappointing in the first half, third baseman Jose Ramirez has enjoyed a breakout season (he ranks 11th in the majors in WAR). Taken altogether, Cleveland is playing just fine.But the team happens to be caught up in one of the most misleading division races ever, as far as the standings go. Through 82 games apiece, the AL Central-leading Indians’ record was two games better than those of the Royals and Twins.2Cleveland played its 82nd game on July 4, while Kansas City and Minnesota have currently played 83 games. But according to Pythagorean records, Cleveland “should” be 8.5 games up on Kansas City, and 10.9 games up on the Twins, whose -54 run differential is almost exactly the negative mirror image of the Indians’ mark.That 8.9-game difference between Cleveland’s actual and Pythagorean leads over Minnesota is the biggest gap between a division leader and runner-up at this stage of the season3Through 82 games. in the history of divisional play (since 1969): 201786.992.847.1 1976NL WestCINLAD6.013.5-7.5CIN 1970NL EastNYMPIT2.07.1-5.1PIT SEASONACTUALPYTHAGOREANWINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs DIVISION LEAD 1998NL CentralHOUMIL7.013.2-6.2HOU 201694.691.247.0 Just like its struggling World Series counterparts in Chicago, things haven’t been easy for the Cleveland Indians’ pennant defense this season. The team that was one ninth-inning run away from stunning the Cubs last November looked even stronger heading into this season. The core of young talent was intact, a pair of aces missing from its postseason run were healthy, and the normally frugal Indians’ front-office shelled out $60 million for a new slugger. But despite an enormous on-paper advantage in talent, the Tribe hasn’t exactly blown the doors off the American League.Cleveland was trailing in the American League Central as recently as the last week of June; even now, they only lead the second-place Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals by a game and a half each. For a franchise that hasn’t made back-to-back playoff appearances since 1999, the 2017 Indians appear on the surface to be headed for disappointment, just like every other season on the Cuyahoga since 1948.But unlike the Cubs, who’ve mostly earned their disappointing sub-.500 record, Cleveland has played much better this season than their Ws and Ls would indicate. The team’s +58 run differential ranks seventh-best in major league baseball, placing it firmly in the next tier of contenders below the dominant Dodgers/Astros/Diamondbacks/Yankees/Nationals group at the top of the game’s pecking order. According to both the Pythagorean expectation (which converts a team’s run differential into an expected winning percentage) and total team wins above replacement1All mentions of WAR in this story will refer to an average between the competing versions offered at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. (WAR), the 2017 Indians have been superior to the 2016 version that ultimately ended up winning the AL pennant:
With a few notable exceptions, one being Brother Eli on the 2007 Giants, even the dumpier quarterbacks who get to the Super Bowl tend to play at about a league-average level. But Manning has blazed a new trail for ineffective passers with eyes on the Super Bowl, so long as they play in front of a superlative defense and cobble together a few decent playoff starts. There’s a reason the 2015 Broncos’ most similar team was the 2009 New York Jets.Funny thing, however: Manning playing poorly doesn’t seem to matter very much for Denver’s chances of winning the game. Based on regular-season value over average, Cam Newton and the Panthers have a huge advantage in the passing game over the Broncos — the sixth-biggest in any Super Bowl since the merger, in fact2The biggest passing mismatch was the aforementioned 2007 Eli against the record-setting Tom Brady. — but that hasn’t mattered much in past Super Bowls. Whether you look at total or per-attempt measures of value, there’s essentially zero correlation between the disparity in regular-season QB performance for the Super Bowl opponents and the eventual point margin of the game itself. This makes sense, as the equilibrium of a successful team will account for poor play from any given position (even QB) if the rest of the team is strong enough. And given the importance of quarterbacks to modern NFL play, the Broncos’ compensation for Manning’s play is just about the most impressive thing we’ve seen out of a unit leading up to a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning, The Sheriff, is back in the Super Bowl saddle. Good for him; we’ve written many paeans to Manning over the years, for the simple reason that he’s the greatest statistical quarterback of all time. But let’s face it: 2015 was also far — faaaaaar — from Manning’s best season, and in the context of a Super Bowl appearance, Manning’s standard of play pales even in comparison to “game managers” like Trent Dilfer. In a lot of ways, Peyton’s 2015 was worst regular-season performance ever by a QB who would eventually start the Super Bowl.During the regular season, Denver had the NFL’s eighth-worst passing offense according to Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted value over average, with a mark one full standard deviation worse than average. That’s really bad by Super Bowl standards: If we index the Broncos’ DVOA relative to the league, the only post-merger Super Bowl team to throw the ball less effectively were the Vince Ferragamo-led 1979 Los Angeles Rams.Now, Manning was injured during the regular season and missed six games, so you might think others share in the blame over the Broncos’ lousy aerial attack. But you can’t pin this on Brock Osweiler — he was mediocre in Manning’s stead, not outright horrible. Manning, on the other hand, was the league’s worst QB (on a per-drop-back basis) according to adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A), and its second-worst according to DVOA. He ranked among the bottom 15 percent of NFL passers in not just conventional categories such as touchdown and interception rate, but also fancier numbers like the percentage of his throws that were on-target.1In the estimation of ESPN’s Stats & Information group. Plain and simple, he stank.Let’s compare Manning’s overall season to those of other Super Bowl starting QBs over the years. If we judge by ANY/A compared to the league average from the season in question, Manning’s 2015 ranks second-worst, again ahead of only Ferragamo’s catastrophic 1979 numbers. And Ferragamo’s damage was at least limited: He started only five of the Rams’ 16 games, and played in an age when teams passed less, so a poor QB wasn’t as harmful to his team’s chances as today. (Not that it mattered for Ferragamo; his Rams lost the Super Bowl to the Steelers 31-19.)Manning, by contrast, plays in a pass-crazed era and threw the ball about as often per game as his peers, despite his horrible passing efficiency rates. The result, according to Football Perspective founder Chase Stuart’s method of judging QB value versus league average (which considers both passing and rushing value) was by far the worst regular season by a Super Bowl starter since the merger.
Ohio State will be losing some offensive line depth next season, as fourth-year junior offensive lineman Evan Lisle will reportedly transfer to Duke University next season.Bucknuts of 247Sports was the first to report. Duke Athletics confirmed that Lisle had joined the program officially on Jan. 11.Lisle, a 6-foot-7, 308 pound native of Centerville, Ohio, backed up multiple positions this year on the line. Last season, the junior saw playing time on special teams, including extended time on the offensive line against Rutgers.Even with the praise of the backup offensive line from OSU by coach Greg Studrawa in the preseason, Lisle had limited time in the trenches for the Buckeyes this year. Lisle is a graduate transfer, and will be available immediately for the Blue Devils next season. While the departure might hurt the depth of the offensive line, it aids in OSU meeting the scholarship limit of 85. The Buckeyes currently have 91 players on scholarship, which includes the incoming 2017 recruiting class, with that number likely to grow as more members of the commit to OSU for 2017.Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with confirmation from Duke Athletics
Just five games and seven weeks into the season, the Ohio State football team has already found itself with two bye weeks.The Buckeyes (5-1, 1-0) are scheduled to return to the field this weekend, two weeks removed from their 52-24 win against Maryland on Oct. 4. On Monday, OSU coach Urban Meyer met with members of the media to discuss the unusual early-season breaks, the development of offensive skill players and the talent on his young roster.Meyer said the Buckeyes have to find a way to keep the momentum going after a week off between the Maryland win and the week leading up to a matchup with Rutgers.He called the second early-season bye week “a little bit of uncharted waters for myself.”Meyer called Rutgers’ last game — a 26-24 win against Michigan on Oct. 4 — a “tremendous effort.”Meyer: “We’re a young team that’s getting older.” He said the young players on both sides of the ball are continuing to develop and contribute.He said he will talk to the team “like grown men” to discuss keeping the momentum going this week.Meyer said the Buckeyes are “no where near where we will end up.” Said the team is “still growing” and “much better” than where it was two weeks ago.He said the defensive line needs to find more depth, young players need to step up and contribute.Meyer said the OSU offensive coaching staff adapts well to the available personnel. Had to adapt to a new-look group this season.He said the offensive staff is in charge of the product on the field as long as the players have the talent, which is the case at OSU.Meyer said he would “always go defense first” if given the option in an overtime game.He said it makes no difference that he and his players haven’t gone up against Rutgers before and said its win against Michigan caught his eye.Meyer said he voted Mississippi No. 1 on his ballot this week.He said he wishes more true freshmen — like freshman linebacker Sam Hubbard — were playing this season, but added it’s not worth wasting a year of eligibility for a player to get into games for a handful of snaps.Meyer: “This is an extremely young team that got hit in the face in training camp with some injuries.”He said despite those injuries, “the cool thing is we had a redshirt-freshman quarterback grow up right in front of our eyes.”He said credit is due for a few guys — Barrett, redshirt-junior tight end Nick Vannett and redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Michael Thomas — who weren’t really factors in the past.With 13 of 24 starters being freshmen or sophomores, Meyer said it’s “a good sign for the future” at OSU.Meyer said injured senior quarterback Braxton Miller gave the Buckeyes the “wow factor,” which isn’t as prominent with Barrett under center.He said he feels better about the offensive skill this season than he has in the past.Meyer said redshirt-senior running back Rod Smith was a “non-factor” during the spring but is now a strong contributor.The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to the field on Saturday to take on Rutgers at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
Ohio State men’s basketball 2017-18 roster receives immediate help in the form of Musa Jallow.The four-star shooting guard committed to coach Chris Holtmann and the Buckeyes Friday night and will reclassify to the 2017 class making him immediately eligible.The prospect was originally a member of the 2018 recruiting class, but Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch tweeted that he had reclassified to the 2017 class just before his announcement. The Bloomington, Indiana, native received offers from Virginia, Vanderbilt and Indiana, as well as an offer from Butler while Holtmann was the coach. The initial offer from Ohio State came in May during former Ohio State coach Thad Matta’s tenure.The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Jallow is the eighth-ranked prospect in the state of Indiana and 120th overall, according to 247Sports composite rankings. The scouting site also pegs the Bloomington North product as the 31st-best shooting guard. Jallow is the second recruit to announce his intention to play for Holtmann at Ohio State, following 2017 forward Kyle Young who flipped from Butler to Ohio State a week after the Holtmann was hired. The Buckeyes had lost all three previous commitments to the 2018 class — each were considered four-star prospects by 247Sports composite rankings. Small forward Darius Bazley decommitted prior to Matta’s exit on April 6, and small forward Justin Ahrens and shooting guard Dane Goodwin both re-opened their recruitments on June 6 and June 21, respectively, after it was announced Matta would be leaving.Bazley verbally committed to Syracuse on Monday while Goodwin gave his word to Notre Dame on Wednesday.
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. They should not shift from an enjoyable lifestyle to a more restrictive one without solid evidence that there is real benefitSamer Nashef Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Mr Nashef said: “The things that do not matter; butter, salt, crisps. These things are not problems.”He later added: “If you have high cholesterol and you are worried about that and thinking of taking a statin then the best thing about it is you can take the statin, which will make your cholesterol drop so far that it doesn’t matter what you eat afterwards.”Statins have been the focus of a long-running debate for years, with many professionals claiming they carry the risk of serious and damaging side effects.For decades, health bodies, including the NHS, have also warned people not to consume excess saturated fats, claiming they can damage the heart.Current guidelines recommend that less than 10 per cent of daily calories are taken from saturated fats to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.