The One That Got Away Comes Back to Haunt the Canadiens

As I wrote Monday, over the past decade or so, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers — who are playing in the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals — transformed themselves from a down-on-their-luck former champions to legitimate Stanley Cup contenders; both did this largely through shrewd drafting. One of Montreal’s most successful draft picks put on a fine show in Game 2 on Monday night, notching a goal and an assist.Unfortunately for Montreal, that player was defenseman Ryan McDonagh, and he was wearing a Rangers uniform in the Rangers’ 3-1 win (New York leads the series 2-0).In response to my article, a few FiveThirtyEight readers astutely pointed out that McDonagh ties together the parallel rebuilding stories of the Rangers and Canadiens. He was drafted 12th overall by the Canadiens in 2007, the top prize in a banner haul for Montreal that also included Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban. Pacioretty and Subban, along with 2005 first-rounder Carey Price, are currently three of the Canadiens’ best players (according to the modified version of point shares I described Monday).In his four-year NHL career, McDonagh has produced 28.1 modified point shares, a number in line with Subban (34.6) and Pacioretty (23.4) at similar points in their careers.The fact that he hasn’t produced any of that value for the Canadiens, though, traces back to a major blunder in the summer of 2009, when Montreal traded McDonagh (as part of a package of several players) to the Rangers for center Scott Gomez.Two years prior, New York had signed Gomez to a rather ill-advised seven-year, $51.5 million contract, and the returns had been disappointing; his 14 modified point shares in 2007-08 and 2008-09 (combined) ranked 60th among NHL forwards over that span. Rangers general manager Glen Sather was anxious to rid himself of Gomez’s albatross deal, so the media’s contemporary view of the Gomez-to-Montreal trade was essentially that of a salary dump, billing the Rangers’ primary return as nondescript forward Chris Higgins. Some NHL insiders knew better, however: Yahoo’s excellent hockey blogger Greg Wyshynski wondered at the time how the Rangers managed to unload the Gomez millstone and pick up a promising prospect like McDonagh.As a Canadien, Gomez played decent hockey for one season (6.2 modified point shares), then rapidly declined. He went on a notable goalless streak of 370 consecutive days. His contract was bought out by Montreal during the 2011-12 season, and he’s bounced around as a journeyman the past few seasons. Meanwhile, McDonagh has blossomed in New York; only six other defensemen have produced more modified point shares over the past three seasons. McDonagh even became the subject of Norris Trophy talk late this season. On top of his offensive numbers, McDonagh often finds himself matching up against the opponent’s toughest forwards and is on the ice for a disproportionate number of face-offs in the Rangers’ zone, both marks of a defensive workhorse on the blue line.Without McDonagh, it’s unlikely the Rangers would be sitting where they are, with a 2-0 series lead on the cusp of a Stanley Cup Final berth. The Canadiens have their own pair of good defensemen in Subban and Andrei Markov, but they have to regret letting McDonagh slip away — especially on nights like Monday, when he made them pay for their mistake in a direct way. read more

The Football Hall Of Fame Has A Receiver Problem

Former Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, joining his longtime teammates Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith in Canton. As a key contributor to the Bills’ four Super Bowl berths in the 1990s,1The lasting memory of Reed’s career for many NFL fans may be his performance in this game — eight catches, 136 yards and three touchdowns — when he helped Buffalo mount the biggest comeback in NFL history. Reed is a qualified candidate for the game’s greatest individual honor. But while he was good, he wasn’t nearly as good as several other receivers the Hall has ignored. It’s not Reed’s fault — it’s the Hall’s. Canton hasn’t figured out how to best judge the careers of modern wide receivers.Even in a sport where an individual player’s statistics are contaminated by the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, his coaches and countless other considerations, wide receiver performance is a particularly tough nut to crack. Raw numbers rarely offer enough to help us properly distinguish between pass-catchers, especially across eras, and statisticians haven’t always agreed on how best to correct biases in the data.Take Reed’s career as an example. It’s a glossy one — at the time he retired, he ranked third all time in catches, fourth in receiving yards and sixth in touchdown receptions. But it’s also one that was entangled with the great ensemble of offensive talent, and one that was a beneficiary of the dawn of the NFL’s passing explosion. Moreover, some advanced stats show that Reed’s on-field influence wasn’t what it appeared to be — the evidence is surprisingly mixed with regard to his actual effect on team passing efficiency.In recent years, the Hall of Fame’s selection committee has reacted to its wide-receiver dilemma either by ignoring the position or by disregarding advanced stats when the committee does deign to induct those who played it. (Until Reed and Cris Carter were tapped in the last two elections, the Hall had only taken seven receivers since 2000, a number that included the controversial selection of Lynn Swann.) But Reed and Carter’s inductions signal that the WR logjam has become too much to ignore — and the tide of qualified receivers is only going to keep surging.2Marvin Harrison, Randy Moss and Torry Holt are either on the ballot or coming soon. It’s time to re-evaluate how we judge Reed and his contemporaries statistically.Wide receivers are products of their eras. When the NFL opened up the passing game in 1978, enacting new rules to make pass-blocking easier and to eliminate downfield defensive contact with receivers, league-wide passing output spiked almost instantly. As a consequence, the numbers that once automatically signified greatness quickly became devalued. For example, using a simple ratio of league passing yards per game in one season compared to another,3If the average passing yards per game in 2013 was 1.4 times as many as in 1960, I would multiply a 1960 player’s stats by 1.4 to “convert” to the equivalent in 2013. Reed’s 1,312-yard campaign in 1989 would have been the equivalent of a mere 883 yards a dozen years prior. What was, at the time, the 22nd-highest single-season yardage total ever becomes the 324th.To appreciate a receiver’s true(r) talent isn’t just about adjusting to his era, though, it’s also about adjusting to his team. The degree to which a receiver’s team throws the ball relative to the league norm has an effect on his stats. It’s a point that sounds laughably obvious, but somehow isn’t often considered when judging pass-catchers: Teams that run more plays through the air give their receivers more opportunities to put up eye-popping numbers.For Reed, this wasn’t a major factor; his Buffalo Bills and Washington Redskins threw about 3.5 percent less often than other teams in the league over the course of his career, which would only be enough to take 35 yards away from a 1,000-yard season. But it does matter for someone like Calvin Johnson, whose Detroit Lions have chucked the ball downfield 12 percent more often than average in a league that already generates 10 percent more aerial yards per game than the historical norm. How we treat this adjustment can make a huge difference in how a receiver is perceived statistically.I tried to solve this issue last August by developing a metric called True Receiving Yards (TRY) with Chase Stuart of FootballPerspective.com. (You can download the raw career TRY data, along with some other metrics I introduce later in this piece, on GitHub.) TRY attempts to boil down a receiver’s production4Including catches, raw yardage and touchdowns. into a single (yardage-like) number that adjusts for differences in schedule lengths, league-wide passing environments and team passing volumes.We initially scaled a player’s TRY in lockstep with the frequency with which his team passed relative to the league average. That downgraded Johnson’s 2012 production by 23 percent, because, despite him breaking the all-time single-season record for receiving yards that year, Detroit also broke the all-time record for pass attempts in a season.But it wasn’t as simple as that. Teams that pass heavily tend to do so for a reason. Namely, because they have a skilled quarterback and/or receivers. And so when Chase and I looked into it further, it became apparent that a 5 percent increase in team passing frequency didn’t necessarily lead to a 5 percent increase in individual receiving output. Instead, we found that it was more like a 2.5 percent increase — for any given increase in team passing volume, a player only saw half that increase in production.Our difficulty in pinning down the real effect of something so simple underscores just how ambiguous receiving stats can be. Complicating matters, receivers — unlike players at just about any other position — are competing with their own teammates for touches during a game, in real time. That makes them more like basketball players, and we know that a guy like Carmelo Anthony, who uses a lot of his team’s possessions, appears to exert an influence that goes beyond his personal stats. Having a receiver who commands extra attention seems like an obvious benefit to a team — but it’s difficult to prove that’s true.Not that it’s stopped statisticians from trying. The most commonly cited advanced receiving statistics are generated by Football Outsiders, whose Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) metric tracks a team’s passing success on plays where a given player was targeted by the quarterback as the intended receiver. Measuring performance on a per-opportunity basis is rooted in the traditions of baseball’s sabermetrics, where discrete events can easily be identified as opportunities for specific players. But football is much more fluid than baseball, so we run into a curious phenomenon: By getting an opportunity — even an unsuccessful one — a receiver could be demonstrating a positive in-game influence, if not simply by stretching the defense and opening up opportunities for teammates.Some of this phenomenon also is rooted in Bayes’ theorem. Since coaches and quarterbacks both have strong incentives to funnel targets to their most talented receivers, the very act of being targeted for a pass is evidence of a player’s quality as an offensive threat. Because of this, looking at per-target metrics like catch rate and DVOA may miss the bigger picture of a player’s full on-field value. Those metrics aren’t taking into account how a receiver is shaping the game even when he’s not directly involved in a successful play.And then there’s the matter of adjusting for the quality of a receiver’s teammates, and quantifying how much his conventional numbers truly lead to better team outcomes. A year ago, I took a very rudimentary step in that direction by computing With Or Without You (WOWY) scores for historical receivers. Essentially, WOWY measures whether all of the quarterbacks who played with a given receiver were more efficient5According to Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt (ANY/A) versus the league average. over their collective careers6After adjusting for aging effects. with him or without him. This is, in some ways, a more pertinent question to ask about a receiver — forget individual yardage, is he associated with a more efficient passing offense? But that question isn’t perfect either: It requires using an entire team’s passing-efficiency data, which can be noisy from season to season.Regardless, most of the usual suspects come out looking good by WOWY. For instance, Randy Moss, whose statistical sway over his quarterbacks was legendary, boasts a +1.1 WOWY,7Meaning the average True Receiving Yard gained in Moss’s career came on a pass from a QB whose ANY/A was 1.1 higher with Moss than without him. which ranks second only to Rod Smith’s8Whose influence on John Elway’s numbers was also very notable. among players with 10,000 career True Receiving Yards. And Tim Brown (the long-time Oakland Raiders receiver whom the committee did not select despite better individual receiving statistics than Reed) also ranks among the top WOWY receivers ever at +0.7.Reed’s WOWY, however, comes out tied for second-worst among players with 10,000 lifetime TRY. Despite his impressive raw (and adjusted) receiving numbers, he wasn’t associated with better play from his quarterbacks when they were throwing to him. How much of this merits a serious indictment of Reed as a player isn’t completely clear, but the Hall of Fame isn’t even having that discussion using new metrics.(Brown’s resume, on the other hand, was more impressive by every standard that doesn’t involve the postseason. And while 71 percent of Reed’s career yardage came on passes from Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, Brown put up his superior numbers with an aging Rich Gannon, Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George, Jay Schroeder and Vince Evans at quarterback.)Certainly the challenge of interpreting receiving data, especially across different eras of the game’s history, presents a daunting task to those seeking to fairly analyze Hall of Fame candidates. But the solution to the Hall’s wide receiver logjam isn’t to ignore the data entirely. It’s to dream up inventive ways of answering the pertinent questions about a player’s qualifications. Advanced analytics attempt to answer fundamental questions about a player’s actual on-field influence. Last I checked, that’s what’s supposed to put a player in the Hall of Fame. read more

3 Things That Could Decide The Second AlvarezGolovkin Fight

The prime of a boxing career is ephemeral, the sport’s history littered with the legacies of those who stayed too long. The 2015 study “Hand Speed Measurements in Boxing” found that peak performance is often achieved between the ages of 20 and 30. Alvarez is 28 years old, at the zenith of his career. Golovkin is 36, closing in on the sunset of his. “A boxer who fights after 35 is pushing on the gas pedal, accelerating toward an early demise,” wrote Ferdie Pacheco of The New York Times. And yet, Golovkin has been so ruthlessly efficient in the ring that before last year’s Alvarez matchup, he hadn’t so much as seen the final round of a fight in more than eight years, preserving the bloom of his career to such a degree that most sportsbooks give him a 59 percent to 63 percent implied probability of winning on Saturday, consistent with last year’s odds. Those odds support a 36-year-old’s ability to crush his opponent, coming off the longest layoff of his career, in 36 minutes or less. Golovkin’s skill set has been among the best in the sport for years, but he was unable to land lucrative fights because, simply, no one wanted to fight him. Alvarez seemingly does, but he’d be wise not to turn the upcoming nine-figure payday into the blow-for-blow melee his opponent seeks. Almost exactly one year after they fought to a controversial draw — prompting a near-aneurysm from ESPN’s Teddy Atlas — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin will meet once again in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena in a middleweight world title rematch. Alvarez-Golovkin has been the best pure bout that contemporary boxing has produced in essentially three years, so it’s perhaps no surprise that a slab of contaminated meat couldn’t delay its second installment for more than six months.Boxing’s ecosystem subsists on manufactured hatred and braggadocio. Both are far more evident this time around, the mutual respect of their first fight a distant memory. The animosity has risen steadily between the two world champions raised thousands of miles apart: Alvarez grew up hawking ice cream on the streets of Juanacatlan, Mexico, while Golovkin was forced at a young age to fight grown men in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 knockouts) and Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 knockouts) are two of the finest active fighters, universally considered to be among the sport’s top pound–for–pound talents. Here are three keys to their fight:Will Golovkin’s jabs take their toll?A jab is a fighter’s appetizer, a small taste before the main course of hooks, crosses and uppercuts. Certain studies have found the punch capable of packing more velocity than a cross, but typically it’s a weapon deployed to accrue points, find a boxer’s range and conserve energy — not end a fight. How then to strategize against an opponent whose hors d’oeuvres crack like howitzers?Golovkin carries what may be the most lethal jab in the middleweight division. He uncorks it at a high volume to dictate the pace of a fight and to coerce his opponents into vulnerable positions as they try to earn back points. “I don’t think anybody in the past I’ve trained has had such a good jab,” said Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, who has coached 18 world champions.Over his past five fights other than the Alvarez bout, Golovkin connected on 39.7 percent of his jabs to his opponents’ 20.3 percent, landing an average of 12.7 jabs per round, according to CompuBox data. He threw 128 more jabs than Alvarez did the last time the two met, landing 53 more and boasting a superior connection percentage. Alvarez landed more jabs than Golovkin did in just one round (the sixth) and was out-landed 42 to 12 over the final four rounds.Alvarez’s jab has earned the endorsement of Floyd Mayweather Jr., but Alvarez doesn’t often use it more than his opponents do. He has out-jabbed three of his past five challengers other than Golovkin — with a trouncing of hapless Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. largely skewing the data. Miguel Cotto in 2015 more than doubled Alvarez’s total jabs landed. When Mayweather dolled out the lone loss of Alvarez’s professional career, he more than tripled the Mexican’s jab-landed total.Blows wear on a fighter over time. As Golovkin once put it: “Who wants to get hit in the face?” It’s paramount for Alvarez to avoid the unrelenting power that has made it difficult for Golovkin to keep sparring partners. Alvarez cannot afford to let Golovkin impose the rhythm of the fight by way of his jab.Can Alvarez find any space?If Muhammad Ali turned the ring into a stage worth exploring, Golovkin turns it into a treadmill, relentlessly closing in on his opponent as if drawn by a magnet. Golovkin bouts typically resemble bullfights, with the Kazakh fighter charging his opposition with abandon. “I don’t like dancing,” he said upon vaporizing Marco Antonio Rubio in the second round in 2014. “I like fighting.”The surgical precision of his footwork is deliberate, an inverse of the speed-driven, complicated maneuverings of fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and Ali. Golovkin cuts off the ring — using lateral footwork to force his opponents into close quarters or trap them against the ropes — because it isolates his prey and allows him to apply unyielding pressure in a forced slugfest. Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has said Golovkin may have the best footwork in boxing.Not unlike the fictional Ivan Drago, Golovkin has aluminum-bat strength and a rhino-like neck (he’s capable of completing sets of chin pushups). He has never been knocked down in his professional career. Golovkin seems to want to prove the integrity of his jaw by lunging at his opponent, suffocating his space. In the ninth round of last year’s bout, Alvarez unloaded an overhand right that landed flush. Golovkin let it slide across his cheek like a washcloth and continued to move forward, stalking his opponent as if nothing had happened at all. Watch the video, and you can see fear in the eyes of Alvarez in that moment.Stylistically, Alvarez agitated some in the boxing community — most notably Golovkin’s team — during last year’s clash by snaking around the ring, idling along the ropes and largely eschewing the knock-down drag-out brawl Golovkin sought. For Alvarez, a roving, defensive-minded counterpuncher, this was the optimal blueprint. Those who aim to out-punch Golovkin nearly always end up on the canvas.The game plan was mostly effective in their first fight: Golovkin landed 32 percent of his power punches, a drop-off of 14 percentage points from his previous 13 fights. Alvarez was certainly out-hit, but he kept Golovkin to 18.2 shots landed per round — well below his average of 26.2.It didn’t go unnoticed by Sanchez, who told ESPN that he has since asked Jordan Brand — one of Golovkin’s sponsors — to “make some shoes so that we can go a bit faster and are able to catch [Alvarez].”“It’s one thing to be coming forward like a donkey,” Alvarez countered. “It’s another thing to be moving.”Despite the verbal barbs, Alvarez should stay on the outside and pick his moments to earn points when possible, even if it comes at the expense of entertainment for the fans. Alvarez has ample power behind his punches, but he’d be wise not to play into a strategy that would clearly favor the man who has earned 89 percent of victories by knockout.Who gets the late-round advantage?The prevailing opinion of last year’s fight is that Alvarez didn’t earn a draw. He especially didn’t help his case down the stretch.In the opening four rounds, Golovkin out-landed Alvarez by 2.5 punches per round but was out-landed when it came to power punches: Alvarez averaged seven per round, while Golovkin averaged six. But over the final five rounds, Golovkin landed an average of six more total punches per round than Alvarez did (21.6 to 15.6) and generated a higher connection percentage (34.5 percent to 32.4 percent).If we break the bout down into thirds, Alvarez averaged a higher connection percentage than Golovkin in the first through fourth rounds (36.5 percent to 30.8 percent) and the fifth through eighth rounds (31.1 percent to 27.3 percent), but fell behind Golovkin in the ninth through 12th rounds (33.3 percent to 35.1 percent).Controlling the waning rounds is easier said than done, of course. Golovkin’s punches register like those of a heavyweight, with a higher severity than typical of fighters from lower weight classes. Vanquished opponents have compared facing Golovkin to “being hit by a train.” To be sure, after your central nervous system has suffered 24 minutes of battery, elevating your performance over the final 12 minutes is an arduous task. But when the decision is in question, those memories are freshest in the minds of the judging panel, so a strong finish carries considerable weight. read more

Womens soccer Ohio State picks up pair of victories over weekend

In the 52nd minute, OSU senior forward Nichelle Prince was fed a ball through Purdue’s defense to face off 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper, ultimately resulting in a score for the Olympian.  This upped the Buckeye’s lead to 3-0.  Two minutes later in the 54th, Prince’s shot again found the back of the net, making it a 4-0 lead.  Strong defense continued throughout the game, but ultimately could not be perfect, as Purdue senior midfielder Milaro Gianna snapped the shutout, scoring Purdue’s only goal of the day.OSU prevailed with a 4-1 victory in the end. The Buckeyes hit the road Thursday, first traveling to College Park, Maryland to face off against the 4-9-1 (1-5-0 Big Ten play) Terrapins.  OSU began with a powerful and quick attack, where senior forward Lindsay Agnew scored the first goal in the first minute to propel the Buckeyes to the lead.  Less than a minute later, junior midfielder Emma Firenze netted her first goal of the season, doubling the Buckeyes’ lead to 2-0. Quick goal-scoring was a common theme on the weekend, as the Buckeyes had a fiery start again versus the Boilermakers, with a goal in the eighth minute by Edwards.  This marked her third goal within the two weekend matches.  Near the end of the first half, senior midfielder Nicole Miyashiro assisted a goal by redshirt senior forward Morgan Wolcott to put the Buckeyes up 2-0. OSU’s shots doubled that of Purdue’s at the end of the first half, with 10 shots to five.   The Buckeyes improved to 9-4-2 on the season (3-2-2 Big Ten play), recording a total of eight goals in two games while maintaining strong defensive play, only conceding one goal.  OSU’s next game is against the Indiana Hoosiers at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday. OSU senior defender Nicole Miyashiro battles a Northwestern defender for the ball on Oct. 1, 2016 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Credit: Aaron Tomich | Lantern reporterA week of practice that constantly emphasized finishing offensive attacks led to a frenzy of goal-scoring this weekend for the Ohio State women’s soccer team.   OSU entered the second half versus Maryland having nine shots against 5.  Agnew created multiple scoring opportunities, including two crosses connecting with junior forward Sammy Edwards, both resulting in goals.  This put the Buckeyes up 4-0 after 58 minutes.  The Buckeye defense held strong, closing the game with a shutout over Maryland, earning the team’s eighth win on the season. Sunday, OSU made its way to West Lafayette, Indiana, to play the 3-10-1 (1-6-0 Big Ten play) Purdue Boilermakers.   read more

OSU studentathletes prove blood is thicker than pool water

Ohio State synchronized swimmer Meghan Kinney didn’t think it was serious when she experienced pain in her knee. Doctors told her otherwise. “I had been training on national team in California for six months and I noticed this pain in my knee,” Kinney said. “I was expecting to hear maybe I needed surgery … instead they sat me down and told me they found a tumor.” Osteosarcoma, or cancer of the bone, was causing the knee pain that Kinney had believed to be nothing more than a tear in her meniscus. “I felt like my life was in jeopardy,” Kinney said. Kinney was diagnosed Oct. 5 and left the synchronized swimming team to recover from her chemotherapy treatments and the surgery to remove the tumor in her knee. “It was complete shock. It was one of those moments they always say, ‘You never thought this could happen to you,’ it was exactly like that,” Kinney said. “I just felt right away nothing else mattered.” Doctors removed the tumor from her knee, and followed up with full body scans to make sure there were no other tumors. They did not find any. After the removal, Kinney has no cancer in her body, but is going through extensive chemotherapy to make sure the cancer never comes back. “The only cancerous tumor they found was in my knee,” Kinney said. “I am getting eight more months of chemo to prevent anything in the future, because if it came about in the first place it could come back in a while.” When word got around to other OSU athletes, the rowing team took charge to help raise money for her. The effort became known as Team Meghan and has been a collective effort of multiple teams across campus to raise money for Kinney. “I think it’s just really cool to see the Buckeye family, especially in athletics, just coming together to support one of their fellow Buckeyes,” said Monica Finnigan, a senior synchronized swimmer. “Some people don’t even know Meghan. Nobody on the rowing team knew Meghan before they started this fundraiser.” Those involved in the effort, which has been going on for nearly two months, set the goal to raise $10,000. The money will be used to help Kinney with medical expenses throughout her fight with osteosarcoma. “I want to do this,” said freshman synchronized swimmer Julia Gaylard. “It’s not something that we just needed a few people to do this. I want to help her family and help her because she’s a Buckeye and one of us.” Team Meghan has raised nearly $4,500 for Kinney from selling wristbands, including $1,925 that was raised during the men’s hockey games on Feb. 18 and 19. The wristbands, which are teal and have “Support TeamMeghan.com” written on them, have no set price. Whatever the amount of the donation, the supporter receives a wristband in return. “We can talk about how Buckeyes are there for each other, but it’s happening. It’s so powerful to see. And the other teams have been huge in helping. It’s so meaningful,” said Katherine Greene, a junior synchronized swimmer. “It’s been so incredible to see that.” Kinney’s teammates said she has impacted the team and holds a place in their hearts, and helping to raise money and support her in her fight with cancer was something that they were more than happy to do. “Meghan is so dear to my heart, that I wouldn’t do this for just anybody. The fact that she is such a close friend, I feel very privileged to be able to help her,” Greene said. “I just feel so happy to do this for her. I really feel so blessed.” Other teams involved in Team Meghan, whether through donating money or volunteering time, are fencing, men’s swimming and diving, men’s hockey, men’s track, women’s volleyball and men’s golf. Kinney said she is grateful that so many people, most of whom did not know her before Team Meghan, are willing to help her. “It means the world to me,” Kinney said. “The rowing team started selling these bands, before I knew it the whole team was involved in this fundraising effort for me.” Kinney said the hardest part for her has been not having control in her own life because of the cancer. “I feel like something’s been taken away from me,” she said. Kinney has hopes to return to the pool when she recovers from the surgery, which also included a knee replacement, and her treatment. “Swimming, it’s my passion, it’s my second home, being in the water,” Kinney said. “As soon as I can I’ll be back in the water.” read more

English Heritage launch scheme to nominate more black and Asian people for

first_imgChildhood home of pioneering footballer Laurie Cunningham in Stroud Green,Credit:PA Jimi Hendrix is one of the few BAME figures who already has a blue plaque Childhood home of pioneering footballer Laurie Cunningham in Stroud Green, 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. Jimi Hendrix is one of the few BAME figures who already has a blue plaque English Heritage is launching a new initiative to honour more black and minority ethnic public figures on their famous blue plaques.The organisation said just four per cent of the 900 plaques currently on buildings in London commemorate black or Asian figures from history.As of today, they are setting up a new working group tasked with nominating key people to join the prestigious list of names under the 150-year-old scheme.Those who are already remembered include Jamaican Crimea War nurse Mary Seacole, Chinese writer Lao She, Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and guitarist and songwriter Jimi Hendrix.The low numbers are partly down to a lack of public nominations for people who fulfil the blue plaque criteria and an absence or inaccessibility of historical records establishing a definitive link between the person and the building where they lived, English Heritage said. “And peoples from places that we have touched, have found their way here, to not just make London their home, but to make London and this country what it is.”We want to celebrate that rich complex, sometimes, difficult history, through the lives of those that truly made it.”English Heritage’s curatorial director, Anna Eavis, said: “Since 1866 when the blue plaques scheme was established, our idea of which figures from the past are significant has changed.”Today we are honouring an incredibly gifted footballer who paved the way for many other black players.”But there are many others of national importance within the black community who have not been nominated for plaques – we’ve established this group to help get their names and stories in front of our panel and ensure that their achievements are considered for recognition. Previous English Heritage drives have included efforts to nominate more women Previous English Heritage drives have included efforts to nominate more women “We want the blue plaques scheme to celebrate the contributions of those groups which traditionally have been under-represented in history including women and the working class, Black and Asian communities.”The initiative was launched as a plaque to honour pioneering footballer Laurie Cunningham, the first black player to play for England in a competitive international match and the first Englishman to play for Real Madrid, was unveiled.The plaque marks his childhood home in Stroud Green, north London, where he lived when he was first spotted by a Leyton Orient scout before making his professional debut with the team in 1974.He is only the second footballer to be recognised with a blue plaque after England World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore was honoured earlier this year. To qualify for a blue plaque, nominees must be regarded as eminent within their field and their achievements have made an exceptional impact or deserve national recognition.They must have been dead for 20 years and have lived in London for a significant period in time or importance, while the building where they lived must still survive without significant exterior alterations.The working group will be led by English Heritage blue plaque panel member and cultural historian Augustus Casely-Hayford, who said: “This great city has always been an ethnic melting pot.”We are linked through language, culture, political alliance and economic partnership to every part of the world.last_img read more

Too much needless NHS treatment says Royal College as it draws up

first_imgstatins  Simon Stevens GP earnings are linked to meeting NHS targets, which include those for drug prescribing Credit:Alamy  It came as Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, said GPs were being driven by “box ticking” systems – which link their pay to treatment targets – which would now be phased out.The list drawn up by medics includes a string of investigative procedures which it says are of little or no benefit. For example, patients with lower back pain should not be offered X-rays, unless there are other concerning symptoms, the report says, while children suffering “buckle” fractures do not need plaster casts.In other cases, it says patients should be told more about the side-effects they may face before deciding whether to embark on treatment.Most controversially, it suggests chemotherapy for advanced cancer should be carefully considered, as “benefit is likely to be small, and the harm may be great,” the report says.It also recommends against regular scans for terminally ill patients, and routine checks for patients who have undergone cataracts and other common forms of surgery.Dame Sue said the changes were not primarily about saving the NHS money, but about having an “intelligent conversation” with patients.“Patients should ask ‘what would happen if I do nothing?’” she said.In time, the Academy will draw up a list of up to 150 treatments in common use which should be reconsidered, she said. NHS sign Fertility  “We all have a duty to look after resources in healthcare, especially when the NHS is under so much pressure, but that’s not the main motivation for this initiative,” Dame Sally said.“What’s much more important is that both doctors and patients really question whether the particular treatment is really necessary. Medicine or surgical interventions don’t need to be the only solution offered by a doctor and more certainly doesn’t always mean better.”Making better decisions would speed up access to treatment for other patients, in need, she said.“For some of these treatments it would simply be better for the patients if they weren’t being used,” she said. “In others, the fact you are giving them to patients who do not need them is meaning that the patients who do need them need to wait longer.” The new campaign urges patients to ask questions of doctors when treatment is recommendedCredit:Dominic Lipinski/PA center_img Fertility charities say IVF ratioining is the worst it has been for more than a decade Credit:PA  The intervention follows a survey of 500 doctors which found 83 per cent had prescribed or carried out treatments they considered unnecessary.The research by the Medix consultancy found that 20 per cent of cases involved antibiotics, while 16 per cent related to X-rays, and 14 per cent to CT scans or blood tests.Overall, 63 per cent of doctors polled said they had proceeded with treatments or prescriptions because of fear of litigation, with just as many saying they had been driven by patient pressures. When it came specifically to decisions to order interventions which were thought to be needless, patient expectations were the key factor cited.Dame Sue said too many doctors were ordering interventions from force of habit, or in order to satisfy patient expectations.Adrienne Betteley, From Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Every single person living with cancer, regardless of what stage they are at, should have access to the treatment and the support they need.“Chemotherapy is a crucial part of cancer treatment, having had an enormous impact on rising survival rates over the years,” she said. “However, it can result in severe side effects therefore, it’s important that health care professionals consider the full impact when delivering something so powerful.”Last year the NHS recorded a deficit of £2.45bn – the highest in its history – amid deepening rationing of treatments, including IVF and cataracts, as services draw up plans to attempt to reduce spending.The academy said doctors needed to help the NHS spend money wisely, but said the needs of patients must be put first. The head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, last week said a system of performance pay for GPs had “descended into too much of a box ticking exercise”Credit:PA  Doctors are giving too many patients tests and drugs they do not need, senior medics have warned, as they published a list of 40 treatments which should no longer be in routine use.The unprecedented intervention by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AMRC) follows research which found doctors commonly ordering X-ray, scans and drugs, in cases they believed to be pointless.More than six in 10 medics said their decisions had been driven by a fear of litigation, with just as many saying they ordered interventions because they felt under pressure from patients.The Academy – which represents all 21 medical royal colleges in the UK – has today drawn up a list of 40 treatments and procedures which it says are of little or no benefit to patients.Prof Dame Sue Bailey, AMRC chairman, said doctors and patients should question whether interventions were “really necessary” before embarking on tests and treatments. It came as a study suggested that up to 46,000 patients a year are dying because NHS treatments are not as good as those available in other countries.Former cabinet minister Owen Paterson said it was time to “debunk the myth” that the UK has the best healthcare system in the world.The study examined 32 countries, for treatment of a range of diseases, ranking the UK 23rd or lower for each condition. Speaking at the launch of the report by think tank UK2020, Mr Paterson said it was considered “almost unpatriotic” to criticise the NHS, which was preventing improvement being made.An independent review of drugs access, commissioned by the Government, today pledges  to speed up access to new advances in treatment.The report said streamlined processes could bring forward access to new drugs by up to four years.Health Minister Lord Prior said: “This Government has a strong commitment to the life sciences and to building a long-term partnership with the life sciences industry. We are determined to make the UK the best place in the world to develop new drugs and other products that can transform the health of patients.”Treatments and investigations that may bring “little or no benefit to patients,” according to the Academy of Medical Royal collegesX-rays for lower back pain, if no other concerning featuresPlaster casts for children suffering small wrist fractures which will heal themselves with a removable splintChemotherapy for those in the final months of terminal cancerBlood tests to diagnose the menopause, if women are over 45 and suffering typical symptomsAspirin, heparin or progesterone to reduce the chance of miscarriagesThe new campaign Choosing Wisely urges patients to ask doctors five questions when seeking treatment. These are:Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?What are the risks or downsides?What are the possible side effects?Are there simpler, safer options?What will happen if I do nothing? Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Revealed in the Telegraph the mystery of the Sherlock baby name

first_imgMonday’s Daily Telegraph births column includes a message from the characters of the show, revealing the name to be Rosamund Mary Watson.The tidbit is the latest in a string of hints for Sherlock fans, who have embarked on their annual examination of available clues for this year’s series. Martin Freeman plays Dr John Watson from the new series of SherlockCredit:BBC The four-part drama, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, will air in early January, with episode titles and a few key pictures already revealed.A statement released today reads: “Congratulations!  Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, appears in a publicity still for the new seriesCredit:BBC Telegraph birth annoucement Martin Freeman plays Dr John Watson from the new series of Sherlockcenter_img Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, appears in a publicity still for the new series It has been leaving fans guessing for months.But the mystery of the Sherlock baby name has finally been revealed, after an announcement was placed in The Telegraph’s births, marriages and deaths register.The new infant character, the child of Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington’s characters John and Mary Watson, will join the show for the New Year’s Day episode. “To John and Mary Watson on the birth of their beautiful baby daughter, Rosamund Mary Watson.”From your friends, Mrs. Hudson, Molly and Sherlock, although he hasn’t helped us with this at all as he’s always on his phone.”The final line is also a hint towards the plot of the new series, which includes a villain played by Toby Jones, a mystery involving six smashed busts of Margaret Thatcher, and the rumoured appearance of a third Holmes brother. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Staff made redundant at Exeter Cathedral after row over spending

first_imgIn the monthly cathedral newsletter, published last week, the cathedral’s management admitted that the Cathedral’s day-to-day running was being propped up by legacies, which “is not a sustainable position”. A spokesman said that the cathedral was struggling more than others because it does not have any large endowments or properties.He added: “The cathedral has had to take the very difficult decision of making a small number of posts redundant in order to balance the books. “A consultation process has been commenced with the three members of staff that have been placed ‘at risk’ of redundancy. “As we wish to avoid compulsory redundancies if possible, we have also made an offer of voluntary redundancy to all members of staff.” 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. Three employees of Exeter Cathedral are set to be made redundant after a row between the Dean and the Bishop of Exeter about the cathedral’s overspending. Cathedral management have embarked on a series of high-profile and expensive projects including a failed £8.7m plan to restore Roman baths on the site. But in September the Dean of the Cathedral, Dr Jonathan Draper, was criticised by the Bishop of Exeter, Robert Atwell, in a report which said that management had not grasped the severity of the financial situation. The Cathedral has now put three administrative members of staff at risk of redundancy after accounts showed that it faced a funding shortfall of £175,000.Mr Atwell also criticised the cathedral’s management for failing to realise the severity of its financial difficulties and for spending money on the failed Roman baths project. The report said: “The fact is that the project cost money which will not be recovered. “It put back the development of some other projects which would enhance the visitor experience and therefore increase income.”In May 2015 the project was rejected for funding by Heritage Lottery after the fund said protecting the cathedral itself should be the priority. The Dean had also embarked on an ambitious plan to construct a visitor centre, shop, cafe and new sound and lighting systems. He was told that this should be reviewed and that the Roman baths project must be shelved for five years. The report also hinted that jobs could be cut. last_img read more

Britain set to rival Ibiza in temperature on what could be the

first_imgA river cruiser makes its way past Turf Fen Mill along the river Ant at How Hill in Norfolk Temperatures are expected to reach nearly double the average for the time of year on Tuesday on what could be the warmest day of 2017 so far.Parts of the UK will be as warm as Spanish hotspots Ibiza, Barcelona and Madrid. In the South East, temperatures could be as high as 18C, the Met Office said, well above the average maximum 10.3C for the region this time of year.  Temperatures will have to soar higher than the 18.3C (65F) recorded on February 20 in Northolt, north-west London, and Kew Gardens, south-west London, to become the hottest day of 2017. The average maximum temperature for this time of year, taking in all of the UK, is 8.9C (48.02F) – significantly lower than highs reached on Monday.Murlough in County Down reached 15.9C (60.62F), the Giant’s Causeway hit 15.8C (60.44F), Usk in Monmouthshire enjoyed 15.4C (59.72F), and Saint James’s Park in central London reached 15.3C (59.54F). Towards the end of the week temperatures will fall but remain just above the average maximum highs for mid-March.Forecasters quashed hopes that it could be the hottest March week ever, as thousands of race-goers prepare to descend on Cheltenham.It is thought that it is unlikely that the mercury will reach 25.6C (78F) – the highest-ever March temperature, recorded on March 29 in 1968 in Mepal, Cambridgeshire.Race-goers can expect cloudy skies but will enjoy largely dry conditions. center_img A river cruiser makes its way past Turf Fen Mill along the river Ant at How Hill in NorfolkCredit:PA Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more