Jets Could Use Tim Tebow At Running Back

The running back-deficient New York Jets could use Tim Tebow in the position, coach Rex Ryan said, although the team had not practiced him at the spot a few days before its game Sunday against New England.Backup running backs Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight missed two practices this week because of injury, opening a question to Ryan about the option of using Tebow as a ball-carrier.“That’s a possibility,” Ryan said. “The thing about Tim, with him being a football player like we’ve always talked about, by playing quarterback he knows all the positions and so, can you plug him in at running back? Can you plug him in at tight end, whatever? I think the answer is yes.”Powell injured his shoulder in Sunday’s win over the Colts, and McKnight hurt his ankle soon after.Tebow, officially the team’s backup quarterback behind Mark Sanchez, has 64 rushing yards this season, but almost all out of the Wildcat formation after a direct snap. He gained muscle mass over the offseason to help block in his new role with the punt-protection team. So although technically a quarterback, Tebow has acquired the physique for contact and has been used to block on offense as well.Tebow has played running back already this season, taking a couple of snaps at the position against the 49ers, but none of his carries have come as a back. They’ve all come from the shotgun as part of the Wildcat and read-option package.“I would be ready for whatever I would be asked to do, absolutely,” Tebow said Wednesday.But to be exclusively a running back?“I don’t know,” Tebow said. “It’s not something that’s been talked (about) or planned or worked on at all, so probably not.”Belichick, speaking Wednesday, said Tebow is “really another running back for them.” read more

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Philadelphia 76ers Andrew Bynum Experiences Setback

The Philadelphia 76ers and their fans may never see Andrew Bynum play in the team uniform as the center told reporters Friday that he experienced a four-to-five day setback after a drill.The 25-year-old Bynum, who is rehabbing from bone bruises in both knees, took part in a five-on-zero drill last week. The drill was the first time he had been able to be involved in any practice since Philly traded for him last summer.“I played in LA with a bit of swelling, but it wasn’t this bad,” Bynum said. “I didn’t really feel the pain when I was playing, but now it’s like really stiff and a lot of pain. Just doing stuff, not even full five-on-five stuff. I played in one scrimmage and it’s a 4- to 5-day setback.”Bynum had been confident all season long that rest and rehabilitation would allow him to make it back to the court this season.“It’s getting late. I don’t know [about playing this season],” Bynum said. “I don’t want to play in pain. … I’m 25, it’s my life.”When Bynum was asked if surgery was an option, he said that there were no surgical procedures possible that could help him return to the 76ers before the season ends.The 76ers could use Bynum’s presence because they are currently 22-34 and in last place in the Eastern Conference with 26 games remaining. They have dropped their last seven games.But 76ers coach Doug Collins said Thursday after seeing Bynum workout, that the player was still in no condition to return.“I know it’s tough on him, he wants to play,” Collins said. “We traded for him to come in here and play, and he hasn’t been able to and that’s hard. Hard on him and hard on everyone, and so I feel badly.”Before being traded to the 76ers last summer, Bynum played in 60 of 66 games with the Los Angeles Lakers last season. He had a surgical procedure in September in Germany  to strengthen his knees. During the procedure, doctors discovered a bone bruise in his right knee. While recovering, two months later Bynum tweaked his left knee while bowling friends, and doctors discovered a bone bruise in that knee as well.Bynum could potentially lose millions of dollars if he is unable to return to the court this season. He is currently making $16.9 million this season and will become a free agent in July.“I think being healthy is more important than everything else,” he said. “If I am healthy, I’ll get a deal. I have to be able to play and I need to get to the point with my body where I’m able to play, however long that takes.” read more

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NY Jets QB Competition Geno Smith to Start Against

Geno Smith will get to show what he’s made of when the New York Jets face the New York Giants in a preseason game Saturday.Coach Rex Ryan announced Thursday that the rookie will start as quarterback over Mark Sanchez in the upcoming game.“We’ll see how far we take him into this game this week,” Ryan said. “Mark will play also. I think (Smith) has looked good and seems like the ankle is obviously a lot better than it was this past week. I’m excited to see him play.”The second-round draft pick has worked with the first-team offense all week during practice. Smith has been in a quarterback competition with Sanchez, but did not play last Saturday in the Jets’ preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars because of an ankle injury.“We want to see him play,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “Hopefully, he’ll get the chance to turn it loose and let his natural abilities show up, and his natural style. I think, and I almost know, that he’s worked so hard that he’s there mentally.”Smith rolled his ankle in the Jets’ first preseason game but reportedly bounced back this week with solid practices as the ankle showed improvement.“I’m proud of Geno last week pushing through it,” Mornhinweg said. “This week, it was still biting him just a little bit, but he was significantly better.” read more

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Somethings Gotta Give In The NBAs 11 Playoff Series

More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On Thursday’s show (April 19, 2018), Neil, Kyle and Chris take stock of the NBA playoffs, focusing on the three series that are tied 1-1: Philadelphia vs. Miami, Indiana vs. Cleveland, and Utah vs. Oklahoma City. Should the Sixers’ Joel Embiid come back from injury to face the Heat? Who will step up to help LeBron James? Is Donovan Mitchell good enough for the Jazz to beat the Thunder? They discuss those questions and more.The crew will be back next week for more coverage. In the meantime, keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictions, which are updated after every game. Embed Code By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner read more

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Byron Buxton Is Teasing Twins Fans Again

Chance SiscoBAL241029.560.304.256 Byron BuxtonMIN251130.579.297+.282 Domingo SantanaSEA261028.575.344.231 PlayerTeamAgeGamesPASPRINGProjectedDiff Minimum 25 spring plate appearances for players who have already made their regular-season MLB debuts. Stats are through Friday, March 15.Source: Baseball-Reference.com The Minnesota Twins were one of the best stories of the 2017 MLB season: Coming off a 59-win campaign in 2016, they won 85 games and made the playoffs seemingly out of nowhere. Minnesota even spotted itself an early three-run lead against the Yankees in the American League wild-card game (before promptly giving it away in the bottom of the first and ultimately losing). With one of baseball’s youngest lineups, this seemed like a team on the rise, and its best all-around player — 23-year-old center fielder Byron Buxton — had a lot to do with that, putting together a breakout season of his own.By the same token, when Buxton faltered in 2018, so did the Twins. In an injury-plagued lost season, Buxton managed just 94 plate appearances and graded as below replacement level, according to whichever metric you choose to consult. Minnesota, in turn, dipped from 85 wins to 78 and wasn’t really in the playoff picture after the All-Star break. Buxton wasn’t the only Twin to suffer a miserable 2018 decline,1Third baseman Miguel Sano, pitcher Ervin Santana and even franchise-fixture second baseman Brian Dozier — who was traded to the Dodgers at the deadline — all come to mind. but it is fair to say his absence played as big a role in Minnesota’s downfall as anything else.This spring, Buxton and the Twins are looking to recapture the spirit of 2017 — and the early returns are encouraging. Last week, the former No. 1 prospect in all of baseball hit what was already his fourth home run of spring training:It’s been part of a tear that has Buxton looking like the best hitter in baseball during the spring so far. Although spring training results are easy to scoff at, they aren’t completely devoid of meaning — and that’s something the Twins will hang on to if it means there’s a chance Buxton rebounds and helps them close the gap in the AL Central.According to my research from a few years ago, massive spring outlier performances do carry some predictive value going forward. It just takes a lot of improvement to signal real breakout potential: You need a weighted on-base average (wOBA) in the spring 17 points above projected — using the simple-yet-effective Marcel projection system — just to predict a 1-point increase in wOBA (relative to projection) during the regular season. So for most players, they’ll never hit well enough in the spring to move the needle of their season expectations very much either way.But Buxton is hitting so well that it might actually be a much-needed sign of hope for his performance this season. When we compare players’ spring wOBA with their preseason Marcel projections, no player2Minimum 25 plate appearances. has exceeded expectations more than the Twins’ center fielder: Brandon LoweTB241032.560.321.240 Peter BourjosLAA311232.548.285.262 That 282-point difference in wOBA would imply a 17-point increase over projected during the regular season, good for a .314 mark when applied to Buxton’s on-base projection. That’s essentially the same wOBA Buxton had during his breakout 2017 campaign — a number that still wasn’t quite league average but was good enough to combine with his stellar defense to make him worth 4.3 wins above replacement (WAR),3Using an average of the metrics found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. as opposed to the -0.4 number he produced last season. And for a Twins team that we currently project to win 84 games with a 37 percent chance of making the playoffs, even incremental improvements from a key player like Buxton could pay massive dividends in terms of postseason odds. My former colleague Rob Arthur estimated that, in the era of two wild cards, an 86-win team would generally increase its playoff probability by about 10 to 15 percentage points over an 84-win one. (The mid-80s win range is basically the steepest area for adding playoff odds with an extra win.)Now, to pump the brakes a little on Buxton’s spring: 30 plate appearances is a very small sample, and most of them have come against sub-AAA quality pitchers, according to Baseball-Reference.com’s estimation. Buxton currently has a batting average on balls in play of .368, much higher than his regular-season career average of .320. His biggest action items as a hitter — plate patience and strike-zone judgment — have shown some signs of life this spring, but he’ll have to sustain them all season to convince skeptics that his skills have truly improved. And Minnesota can only hope those spring homers are merely a sign that Buxton will be an average power hitter again (like in 2017) rather than the guy who didn’t hit a single home run in 90 MLB at-bats last season.4He did hit four homers on assignment at Triple-A Rochester last year.It really does just comes down to health and hitting for Buxton — defensively, on a per-inning basis, he was just as great last year as in 2017; he was also the fastest player in baseball. If Buxton can recapture a version of his 2017 production at the plate, it would be very good for the Twins in their quest to return to the American League Division Series for the first time since 2010. Minnesota added some impact free agents over the offseason (Marwin Gonzalez, Nelson Cruz, Blake Parker), while the division-favorite Cleveland Indians spent the winter shopping around their stars and generally resting on their laurels. Maybe the Twins are still longshots to truly knock the Indians off of their three-year perch as AL Central champs, but a healthy, star-caliber 2019 season from Buxton would make that task a lot easier. wOBA Jose PirelaSD291531.562.303.258 Cristhian AdamesCHC271536.533.286.247 Francisco MejiaSD231131.541.309.232 Buxton is tearing it up this springMLB players by difference in weighted on-base average (wOBA) between 2019 preseason Marcel projections and spring training performance Greg AllenCLE261028.532.302.230 Lewis BrinsonMIA241334.517.274.243 read more

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Skeptical Football The NFC South Isnt The Worst Division In NFL History

Now that the dust has settled on the penultimate week of the NFL season, 10 teams have clinched playoff spots and 16 more have been eliminated.The Philadelphia Eagles are in the latter column. Back in Week 1, Benjamin Morris (who’s on vacation this week) and I made a chart showing how often teams have made the playoffs since 1990, given their records at various points during the season. Take a look at the Eagles’ progress through the playoff “grid.”The Eagles sat at 9-3 through Week 13. From 1990 to 2013, just two teams, the 1993 Miami Dolphins and the 2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, managed to miss the playoffs after starting with that record. The 2014 Eagles now join them, dropping three straight to Seattle, Dallas and, worst of all, lowly Washington, thanks to two field goals missed by Cody Parkey and a killer Mark Sanchez pick.Because the NFL is cruel and unfair, here’s the same chart for the Atlanta Falcons:If Atlanta beats Carolina at home — the Falcons are currently favored by around 4 points — they’ll make the playoffs as the under-.500 champion of the lowly NFC South. This would make the Falcons the first 2-6 team and the first 5-9 team to make the playoffs since 1990. They’d become the second team to make the playoffs despite incurring a five-game losing streak during the season. And they’d do it despite winning only one game outside their division — they are 1-9 outside the NFC South and 5-0 within it.This sort of mediocrity could be short-lived. The first and only 7-9 team to make the playoffs was the 2010 Seattle Seahawks, a member of the 14th-worst division in the history of the NFL. Three seasons later, the Seahawks were Super Bowl champions and the NFC West was the second-best division in NFL history, winning 30 of its 40 non-division games. Make fun of the Falcons — and the NFC South — while you still can.The worst division in historySpeaking of, time to get in our NFC South shots. Going into Week 16, the teams in the NFC South had 9.5 wins against non-division opponents in 38 chances this season (counting Carolina’s tie against Cincinnati as half a win). That .250 winning percentage matched the 2008 NFC West, which ended the season with just 10 non-division wins. Last week, Tampa Bay did its part by getting smoked by the Green Bay Packers, but a fourth-quarter Carolina comeback against Cleveland pushed the division to 10.5 wins, giving the NFC South a .263 winning percentage.This means that the 2008 NFC West remains the worst division in sports history. The table below shows all 897 division-seasons that have taken place in the four major American sports leagues since divisions were instituted.1I performed a similar analysis of “worst divisions” last year for Deadspin, but I didn’t take out games won within each division. Whoops! Also note that for our purposes I’m considering “divisions” to be league organizations that divide teams into more than two groups — the NBA East and West “divisions” before the 1970-71 season are pretty much what we now consider conferences. In all, there have been 296 division-seasons in the NFL (since 1970), 190 in the NBA (since 1970-71), 226 in MLB (since 1969), and 185 in the NHL (since 1974-75). These seasons are sorted by winning percentage in non-division games.2Ties were counted as half a win, and the NHL’s silly overtime loss points were counted simply as losses. The NFL dominates the list, claiming 16 of the 17 worst divisions. The 1978-79 Smythe Division in the NHL takes the fifth spot (.290 non-division winning percentage), and the 1971-72 Central Division in the NBA comes in at 28th (.353). You have to go all the way to 94th to get to the first MLB division on this list, the 2002 AL Central (.412).Of course, the NFL plays a lot fewer games than the other leagues, and its divisions have fewer teams in them (just 4.4 teams on average since they were instituted, compared to the NHL’s 5.2, MLB’s 5.6 and the NBA’s 5.7.) It’s “easier” for a mediocre division to lose 30 out of 40 games than it is to lose 300 out of 400.But there’s a way to correct for this a bit. There’s a possibility that the 2008 NFC West really was average in quality, but just unlucky. We can employ a binomial distribution to figure out the likelihood that was the case, calculating the chances the NFC West would get 10 or fewer non-division wins in 40 games if it were a .500-level division. The 25 worst divisions by this measure are listed below. (In order to use a binomial distribution we have to omit ties, which is why these records are a little different than those in the sortable table above.)The NHL’s 1978-79 Smythe division stands alone here, with about a 1 in 162 billion chance of secretly being average. It’s immediately followed by the 1977-78 Smythe, the 1975-76 Smythe and the 1976-77 Smythe. The ’70s were a dark period for fans of the Black Hawks, Canucks, Blues, North Stars and Scouts/Rockies.MLB sneaks into the Top 25 with the 2002 AL Central’s odds of 1 in about 7,000 of being average. The first NFL division doesn’t come until the 39th spot. The smaller sample actually helps here, as an NFL division would have to go 0-40 in non-division play to beat the terrible 1978-79 Smythe, and 4-36 (.100) to beat the 2010 Atlantic in the NBA.There are other mathematical ways to go about this, and one could also argue that the NFL’s small sample size means that non-divisional records aren’t necessarily a great measure of quality. (The 2014 AFC South has a lower cumulative Elo rating than its NFC equivalent.) For now, let’s agree that the Smythe Division was pretty bad in 1978-79 and so is the NFC South in 2014.A freshman year to rememberWeek 16 is a great time to make fun of terrible preseason predictions, but some pundits got it right. The 2014 wide receiver draft class was touted as one of the best and deepest in NFL history.3Not by everyone; here’s one more prediction to make fun of. It has certainly lived up to the hype.Odell Beckham Jr. has been the most dominant, but he’s far from the only rookie receiver to have an immediate effect. The table on the left shows the draft pick and expected points added (from Advanced Football Analytics) for the nine best rookie wide receivers in the league. Note that the New Orleans Saints’ Brandin Cooks suffered a season-ending injury in Week 11, truncating his production. He was arguably the Saints’ best receiver up to that point.It’s not normal for this many rookie receivers to do so well:This season, rookie WRs have contributed 10.1 percent of the league’s receiving yards and 11.6 percent of its receiving touchdowns. Those are the highest figures since the merger, excluding the 1987 season, when replacement “rookies” were brought in from Weeks 4 through 6 to break a players’ strike.Let’s return to Beckham, who has had 90+ receiving yards in eight straight contests. Ninety yards is a great game but not an extraordinary one — 12 other receivers had 90+ yards in Week 16 — so stringing together a bunch of them doesn’t sound so impossible. And yet, since 1960, there have been just 16 streaks of 90+ yards in at least six games. Only five players have a streak of at least eight games:The chart above shows the yards that Calvin Johnson (2012), Michael Irvin (1995), Dwight Clark (1982), Bill Groman (1961) and now Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) accumulated during their respective streaks. Johnson is the only one to top Beckham’s yardage through eight games, and that 2012 run is probably the best stretch of receiving in NFL history. In Week 17, Beckham will try to tie Michael Irvin’s streak of nine games, against the Eagles in a game of no other real consequence.In fact, a lot of games are of very little consequence this week. Thanks to Philadelphia’s loss to Washington, the NFC wild-card race is already wrapped up, while Cincinnati’s Monday night win leaves just one spot available in the AFC. If you root for one of the 14 teams with playoff berths or seeding on the line (or one of the two in contention for the top draft pick), you can check out some Week 17 game scenarios in the interactive below. For everyone else, enjoy your week off. read more

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Are The Rangers And Blackhawks Clutch — Or Lucky

How did these “hot” teams fare? They played 56 games … and won 28, or exactly half. So they’re basically doing as well as you would by flipping a coin. Previous clutch performance in playoff games doesn’t seem to count for much.There’s just a teensy tiny bit of good news for Blackhawks and Rangers fans. While a 50 percent winning percentage isn’t great, it’s slightly better than the overall winning percentage for teams facing elimination, which is 45 percent. (Teams facing elimination are usually underdogs because of selection bias: If they were playing as well as their opponents, they probably wouldn’t be facing elimination to begin with.) The difference is too small to be statistically significant, however.4A more thorough study would need to control for factors like home-ice advantage and overall team strength. Still, in my experience, your prior when working with hockey data should be that if something looks random, it probably is. The Rangers may have some other advantages late in playoff series. They have Henrik Lundqvist. And they’re an excellent five-on-five team, whereas their special teams are just average. Games 6 and 7 of playoff series historically feature relatively few penalties, which could play to the Rangers’ strengths.The problem is that Tampa Bay has been a very good five-on-five team, too. And should the series go to Game 7, the Lightning have also been pretty good in the clutch, with a 6-2 record in elimination games since 2010. But, hey: Having to win two coin flips isn’t so bad; the Rangers have come back from much worse odds before. Fear not, Blackhawks fans. Your team might have lost to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, going down three games to two in the insane Western Conference finals. But the Blackhawks have battled back before. Since 2010, when faced with elimination from the playoffs, they have an excellent 9-3 record.And there’s hope for you, too, Rangers fans. Your team also needs a win — on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals — to stay alive. But the Rangers have been through this before — a lot. Since 2010, they have been faced with playoff elimination 18 times. They are 14-4 in those games.There’s just one problem. Having a good record in elimination games doesn’t seem to predict much about how a team will fare the next time it must win or go home.In the table below, I’ve listed all instances in the NHL expansion era1Since 1967-68. in which an NHL team faced elimination in the playoffs but came in with a “hot” record in previous such games. A team qualified as “hot” if it was at least five games over .500 in playoff elimination games2I define an “elimination game” as one when a team faces elimination by losing — not when it has the chance to eliminate its opponent. So Tuesday’s Game 6 counts as an elimination game for the Rangers, but not the Lightning. If the Rangers win and the series advances to Game 7, it will count as an elimination game for both teams. in the current season plus the past five seasons.3So since 2010, for instance, for playoff teams this year. read more

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Mike Trout Somehow Found A Way To Get Better

201725.350.466.757.487.40717%19%7.0-6.211.0 PER SEASON 201119.220.281.390.296.1717226.0+7.20.7 Trout is on pace for new career bests in almost every offensive category, from the conventional (batting average; slugging percentage) to the wonky (isolated power; walk and strikeout rates3If Trout ended the season with his current stats in the latter two categories, they’d be tied with Trout’s 2016 and 2013 seasons, respectively.). And while Trout’s batting average on balls in play is outrageously high — currently at .368, a number that would be unsustainable for most players — it’s not too much higher than his career BABIP of .360. The man is simply the best at hitting ’em where they ain’t.At a more fundamental level, Trout’s plate discipline is approaching early-2000s-Barry-Bonds levels. (Maybe it’s no coincidence that Mets manager Terry Collins considered walking him with the bases loaded over the weekend.) He’s swinging far less at balls outside the zone but offering much more at balls inside the zone. He’s attacking the first pitch more than ever but working his way into some of the league’s highest rates of 2-0 and 3-0 counts. This strategy of selective aggression has only made the game’s top player even tougher to get out.However, there are also some signs that Trout’s hot start will eventually cool off. Despite the incredible power numbers, his exit velocity is down pretty substantially from the previous two seasons, and he’s making the best kind of contact4As measured by “barrels,” MLB’s designation for batted balls with a combination of exit velocity and launch angle that is associated with a batting average of at least .500 and a slugging percentage of 1.500. less than he did last year. Trout’s rate of home runs per fly ball — which measures how fortunate a player has been for his deep flies to find the stands (and not an outfielder’s glove) — is far above his career average. Even a player as great as Trout needs a dash of luck sometimes.To surpass his epic 2012 coming-out party, Trout was always going to need some lucky breaks. But considering that some of the luck he received as a fresh-faced youngster is offset by his improved hitting skills, Trout really only needs a little bit of good fortune to put up career-best numbers. And so far, that’s exactly what he’s gotten. 201422.287.377.561.402.27412267.0-6.47.9 201523.299.402.590.415.29014235.0+4.49.2 201624.315.441.550.418.23517206.6+3.910.0 201321.323.432.557.423.23415196.8-2.69.9 201220.326.399.564.409.23811228.6+16.310.5 In almost every category, Mike Trout is playing better than ever SEASONAGEAVGOBPSLGWOBAISOBBSOSPEEDDEFWAR WAR and DEF (defensive runs above average) are an average of FanGraphs’s and Baseball-Reference.com’s metrics. SPEED is Bill James’s Speed Score, an approximation of a player’s running speed (using his rates of stolen bases, triples and runs scored), scaled where average is around 5.0. Per season numbers are scaled to a full schedule (1,200 defensive innings and 162 team games).Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs.com As a general rule, baseball players — specifically, the non-pitching variety — tend to break into the majors in their early 20s, improve pretty rapidly over their first handful of seasons, peak around age 271Or possibly older. But probably not. and then begin the inexorable decline toward mediocrity (and retirement). But some special players begin their careers with such a bang that it’s difficult to imagine how they could get better, at least without breaking the game as we know it.Twenty-five-year-old Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is one of those players. During his first full MLB season in 2012, Trout burst onto the scene with 10.5 wins above replacement (WAR),2Averaging together the competing versions offered at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com. a tally that not only led the majors but also ranked as the 14th-best season by a position player since World War II. He was only 20 at the time; if he followed the typical aging curve, a 27-year-old Trout would make Babe Ruth look like B.J. Surhoff. Or maybe Trout’s sky-high WAR meant he’d already peaked (in production, if not skill), simply because such a year requires a ton of good fortune and might not be repeatable in future seasons.And through last season, even as Trout continued to build his case as the potential G.O.A.T., the 2012 campaign still stood as his greatest performance. But that might not be true anymore. Just a third of the way into the 2017 season, Trout is tracking for his best campaign yet. read more

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The NBAs Wild Wild Western Conference Playoffs Race

Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On this week’s show (March 8, 2018), Neil, Chris and Kyle explore the surprisingly stacked playoff race in the Western Conference. First, they take a look at the Portland Trail Blazers’ hot streak, which on Tuesday hit eight straight wins. Next, they turn to the rest of the conference, where only four games separate the No. 3 seed from the No. 10. Plus, a significant digit on Gary Harris of the Denver Nuggets.Here are links to what was discussed this week:Keep an eye on our 2017-18 NBA predictions, updated after every game.Kyle recently took a look at the question on everyone’s mind: Are the Trail Blazers for real?A panel at ESPN made some predictions about how the Western Conference will shake out come playoff time.Significant Digit: 2.8, the ratio between the number of good shooting games (defined as an effective field goal percentage at or above 60) and bad shooting games (eFG% of 40 or below) for Harris, whom Chris wrote about this week. By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed read more

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Why The Raptors Need To Strike Early

The NBA Finals kick off Thursday night when the Toronto Raptors host the Golden State Warriors in Game 1. Golden State is dealing with several key injuries, and in the video above, FiveThirtyEight breaks down why the Raptors should try to strike early, before the Warriors can field their full team.

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In 10 years at OSU Tressel has given new life to Buckeyes

A lot can change over the course of a decade. Ten years ago, current Ohio State students were unassuming preteens, in awe of some newfangled MP3 device, the awkwardly capitalized “iPod.” In 2001, the Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the worst teams in the NBA, Britney Spears was on Billboard’s Top 100 charts and The Rock was still in pro wrestling. OK, maybe the world hasn’t changed that much — but the landscape of OSU football has. Coach Jim Tressel was introduced Jan. 18, 2001, as the new leader of one of the nation’s most-potent football programs. In many ways, when he took over, the program was a sleeping giant. The departed John Cooper, in the two years prior to Tressel, led the Buckeyes to consecutive seasons of mediocrity. In 1999, OSU didn’t even make a bowl game, a moral sin by Buckeye standards, and finished with a record of 6-6. In 2000, Cooper triumphantly returned to the postseason, with an 8-4 squad and, naturally, lost the bowl game. The caliber of talent was there but the winning mentality wasn’t. Those teams were known for wide receivers Ken-Yon Rambo, whose leadership was publicly questioned by linebacker Matt Wilhelm, and Reggie Germany, whose 0.00 GPA fell just short of dean’s list standards. Most importantly, Cooper was 2-10-1 against Michigan. For all of the talent he recruited, he fell short in the biggest game almost every season. So, when Tressel took the microphone at halftime of an OSU-Michigan basketball game the day he was hired, he knew what Buckeye fans wanted to hear. Without even donning the sweater vest on the sidelines for the first time, Tressel was an instant legend. Buckeye fans can still recite his speech word for word. “Three hundred ten days” later, in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tressel’s team didn’t disappoint — it beat the Wolverines in Tressel’s first year on the job. Back then, it wasn’t an automatic win. The next season, Tressel delivered a National Championship, OSU’s first since 1970. As a Cleveland fan, knowing that I won’t see a title from my professional teams in my lifetime, I see no problem deifying Tressel on one title alone. On the field, Tressel is 106-22 at OSU, and his teams have won 10 or more games eight times. Off the field, the Buckeyes have had about as many problems as any other major program, yet Tressel isn’t a Jabba the Hut-sized slimeball like Alabama’s Nick Saban or USC’s Lane Kiffin. Former Florida coach Urban Meyer recently said, on Indianapolis radio station ESPN-1070 The Fan, “What I’ve seen the last five years is a complete turn in the integrity of the college coaching profession.” He meant that in a negative fashion. Plus, I can’t imagine he’s talking about Tressel. There’s a reason why ESPN’s Chris Fowler calls Tressel “The Senator.” He handles himself with the tact of a well-respected politician. Just look at the aftermath of Tattoo-gate. Telling players they can’t play in the Sugar Bowl unless they promise to return next season? Ingenious. In hindsight, I would feel different if the Buckeyes weren’t perennial national title contenders. Yet, under Tressel, they are, and the momentum of the last 10 years feels like it will carry on for decades to come. read more

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Ohio State synchronized swimming team wins 2014 US National Championship

Members of the OSU Synchronized Swimming team compete during the Jessica Beck Memorial Competition Feb. 1 at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The team finished 1st.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorRoutines based on the elements of fire and ice solidified the Ohio State synchronized swimming team as national champions.An overall score of 57 points secured a first-place finish for the Buckeyes at the 2014 U.S. National Championship Saturday in Oro Valley, Ariz., making for the team’s first U.S. Senior National title since the 2010-11 season, according to an OSU press release.The team, led by coach Holly Vargo-Brown, was awarded three medals at the competition.OSU’s Scarlet Team, consisting of seniors Chelsea Aton and Yuliya Maryanko , juniors Katie Spada and Khadija Zanotto and freshmen Emma Baranski, Elizabeth Davidson, Morgan Boneberg and Lorraine Hack, tallied an overall 85 points to receive the gold medal in the team competition, while the Gray Team, consisting of seniors Lauren Nicholson, Julia and Natalie Gaylard, juniors Samantha Golomb, Heidi Liou and Emily Muma and freshmen Alexa Aton, Jasmine Pulido and Sarah House, was awarded silver with a score of 81.0667 points.The two squads within the varsity team are divided based upon skill, with the athletes more refined in technicality and execution placed on Scarlet.Hack and Maryanko picked up a bronze medal in the duet competition with a score of 164.1038, and the two tied for fourth for the Individual High Point Award with 29 points.Baranski placed fifth in the solo competition, the highest placing for the Buckeyes in that contest, with 81.7333 points.Vargo-Brown said not only was competing in the U.S. Senior National Championships less than three weeks after the U.S. Collegiate Championship challenging, the team also lost senior All-American Lauren Nicholson and freshman Natalie Huibregtse to injury, forcing the teams to make “huge adjustments to each of the free team routines,” she said in an email to The Lantern.However, she said she is proud of the team’s performance.“I’m so happy for our seniors,” Vargo-Brown said in the email. “Our strong finishes in the two biggest competitions of the seasons are really a testament to the leadership they have provided the team all year. Every one of them has a ‘fight until the end’ attitude.”The team’s win follows a second-place finish at both the North Regional Championships March 1 in St. Louis and U.S. Collegiate National Championships in Oxford, Ohio, March 19.Correction: A previous version of this article listed the members of the Scarlet and Gray squads incorrectly. The current version reflects the correct roster. read more

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Ohio State womens basketball closes out home schedule with 10082 upset over

Redshirt-senior guard Amy Scullion (4th from left) poses for a photo with her family and coach Kevin McGuff during the Senior Night ceremony prior to a game against Iowa on Feb. 21 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 100-82. Credit: Ryan Cooper / Lantern photographerCoach Kevin McGuff knows that for the Ohio State women’s basketball team to be successful this postseason, the Buckeyes need to be playing their best basketball in March.And if Saturday night’s 100-82 drubbing of the No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes is any indication, the Buckeyes are well on their way to that goal.“It is important to be playing our best basketball this time of year,” McGuff said in a postgame press conference. “And I certainly think that we have played two of our best games in the past week.”The Buckeyes took down Purdue, 92-60, on Tuesday and followed it up with an upset against Iowa in front of a home crowd for the final time this season.Facing an Iowa defense that was seemingly focused on shutting down freshman sensation Kelsey Mitchell, the Buckeyes had three players with double-doubles and found offensive contributions to complement Mitchell.And it all started with junior guard Ameryst Alston.“Ameryst was spectacular tonight,” McGuff said. “She did everything right. She was a superstar.”Alston led the Buckeyes with 29 points and a career-high 11 assists. She scored 20 of her points in the second half where the Buckeyes used defensive changes to turn a 48-45 halftime deficit into a big win.“We beat an excellent team today,” McGuff said. “Iowa is a really good basketball team and they are ranked for a reason. I am really proud of our players.”Having two stars like Mitchell and Alston playing side-by-side creates matchup problems for opponents, but Alston said Mitchell is the one who leads the way.“She is doing everything that everyone expected her to do,” Alston said. “We definitely look to her as one of our leaders on and off the floor. She is so much fun to play with.”Like Alston, Mitchell holds playing with her older counterpart in high regards.“It is amazing,” Mitchell said. “I appreciate her and love her on and off the court.”Alston and Mitchell have been key in building an offensive powerhouse in Columbus that has averaged 96 points over the past two games.“It’s a lot of fun when everybody is contributing,” Alston said. “They can take us (Alston and Mitchell) away, but they can’t take everybody away, which makes us very hard to guard.”The Buckeyes have just two games left in their regular season schedule, and are set to hit the road to face Penn State and then travel to Nebraska.As the season winds down, Alston said sticking together will be key as the Buckeyes try to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years.“The chemistry is definitely there,” Alston said. “We have great chemistry and everybody has the same goal.”The Buckeyes are set to take on the Nittany Lions Thursday in State College, Pa. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. read more

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Football Taking a look at Ryan Days and other Ohio State assistant

Offensive coordinator Ryan Day prior to the Ohio State- Oklahoma game on Sep. 9. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIn order to entice recently promoted offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day to remain at Ohio State for the long term, the Buckeyes made him one of their first two assistant coaches to earn at least $1 million in a season. If he stays at the university for more than one season, he will earn progressively increasing raises the next three years, according to a signed terms of employment obtained by The Lantern.Day will earn $200,000 if employed by Ohio State on Jan, 31, 2019, then will make $300,000 if he is on the coaching staff on Jan. 31, 2020. If he is still at Ohio State on Jan. 31, 2021, he will be paid $350,000. His base salary for 2018 is exactly $1 million.Ohio State revealed two assistant coaches — Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano — will make at least $1 million next year in base salary Wednesday evening. The university released signed terms of employment agreements of all 10 assistant coaches — Schiano, Day, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, defensive assistant Alex Grinch, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, wide receiver coach Zach Smith, defensive line coach Larry Johnson, running backs coach Tony Alford, linebackers coach Bill Davis and cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson — in response to a public records request Thursday morning.Grinch, Johnson, Alford and Johnson agreed to two-year contracts. Schiano, Wilson, Studrawa, Smith and Davis signed one-year contracts. Day is the only assistant coach to have a three-year contract.Grinch does not have to pay anything to Ohio State if he leaves during his contract for another job. Wilson would have to pay $50,000 to the university if he leaves for a non-head coach job. If any other assistant coach leaves Ohio State for a non-head coach position, he must pay $100,000.If the Buckeyes are successful on the field, each coach will earn substantial supplemental income.Each assistant coach will be eligible to earn 8.5 percent raises to his base salary if the Buckeyes win the Big Ten East championship and he will make an additional 4.25 percent bonuses to his base salaries if the team wins the conference championship game.All assistant coaches will earn 17 percent raises to their base salaries if Ohio State participates in a College Football Playoff game. If Ohio State plays in a College Football Playoff semifinal, each coach will receive a boost of 21.25 percent of his respective base salaries. If the Buckeyes win that game, each coach will instead receive a bonus of 25.5 percent of his base salaries.If Ohio State makes a non-College Football Playoff bowl game and has at least nine wins, all assistant coaches will earn 4.25 percent bonuses to their respective base salaries.All bonuses would have to be paid back by the coaches to the university if the respective achievements are vacated by Ohio State or the NCAA.Schiano will receive nine Ohio State football season tickets and two men’s basketball season tickets. Every other assistant will receive six football season tickets and two men’s basketball tickets.Ohio State pays each coach stipends of $600 per month, which is used to cover the costs of one car each.The university released the signed term agreements for each of the 10 assistant football coaches Thursday morning in response to a public records request. read more

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Exclusive Sam Allardyce may have breached FA rules after discussion about unauthorised

first_imgSam Allardyce The Telegraphdetailed its findings in an email to the FA on Monday morning  which set out 18 questions, including on Allardyce’s comments in his two meetings with undercover reporters.However the FA declined to answer any of the questions without receiving full transcripts of the conversations with Allardyce.  A spokesman replied nine hours later saying: “We have asked The Daily Telegraph to provide us with the full facts in relation to this matter and are awaiting their response.”Allardyce failed to respond to a separate series of questions put to him. He then put a napkin over his head and added: “Oh, oh, you’re not, do not, I haven’t heard that. I haven’t heard that, you stupid man. What are you talking about? You idiot. You can have that conversation when I’m not here.”Later still in the three-hour meal, Mr McGarvey said: “At the end of the day Sam, they know, if I’m going to talk to you about a player, you’re going to advise, you’re going to do whatever. You’re not here for, this is the football. You’re here because, you’re advising on the group, whatever [undercover reporter] wants you to do in that sense. Not football.” Allardyce replied: “But you slipped up tonight. You can’t go there anymore.  You can’t pay a player, you can’t pay a manager, you can’t pay a CEO. It used to happen 20 odd years ago, 30 years ago. You can’t do it now. You can’t do it now. Don’t ever go there.” Mr McGarvey said: “No, no I wouldn’t go down there.”Allardyce went on: “This place is so tight, now. It’s, you just daren’t even think about it. Mr McGarvey is a registered intermediary with the FA, whose regulations state: “An Intermediary must not give, offer or seek to offer, any consideration of any kind, either directly or indirectly, to any club, club official, manager or player as a result of, or in connection with, a transaction or in return for any benefit, service, favour or any kind of preferential treatment in respect of the club’s players, access to those players or the promotion of the intermediary’s services with those players. Clubs, club officials, managers and players are prohibited from accepting such offers or receiving such consideration.”A spokesman for Mr McGarvey said: “There is little doubt that the lure of the project and his role in it has resulted in our client providing colourful information to enhance and secure his role as was being offered to him… our client does not accept that he made statements about apparently improper behaviour.” Sam Allardyce may have breached Football Association rules after he told an agent discussing illicit payments to players: “You can have that conversation when I’m not here.”The England manager told Scott McGarvey that he had “slipped up” by talking in his presence about giving players “a few grand” to help recruit their peers to a sports management company.The suggestion appeared to be a breach of Football Association (FA) regulations which state that agents may not “offer or seek to offer any consideration of any kind” to players  in return for any “benefit” or “service” in relation to promoting their business.center_img Sam Allardyce covers his face with a napkin 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. The FA’s Rules of the Association state that any potential breach of the body’s regulations should immediately be reported to the FA. Both Allardyce and the FA failed to answer questions about whether he did report the conversation.Allardyce, who as England manager is employed by the FA, was at a dinner with two undercover reporters to finalise a deal to become an ambassador to a fictitious investment and sports management firm which he knew to be engaging in the third-party ownership of football players. At the meeting on September 22 Mr McGarvey, who had introduced the undercover reporters to Allardyce and believed he was acting as a consultant to the company, explained a proposed strategy to pay footballers to recommend other players who could be signed up to be represented by the firm. Asked by Mr McGarvey if he agreed with the plan, Allardyce said: “You wouldn’t give them a few grand.”last_img read more

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Paddy Ashdown admits he was a bad Victorian father and not very

first_img 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. He said the problem was particularly rife within politicians’ children. “[They] have terrible stories; far too many of them really suffer as a result,” he said.“I think my family could have suffered, that they didn’t is wholly down to the fact that my wife made sure that they didn’t. She carried that burden.”He blamed his “goal-driven” attitude while he was trying to win his Yeovil seat, which he eventually gained in 1983, and admitted he was only concentrating on what he was trying to achieve. “Looking back on my life I would say that I am very goal driven and the result is that whilst I’m fiercely concentrating on what I’m trying to achieve I am not very sensitive to those around me, especially the closest around me and the impact of what I’m doing has on them,” he said.“In the days when I was trying to win my seat, [I was] probably too insensitive to be able to understand what I should have been doing. I look back on that with regret.”He previously added that he “learnt several things” about fatherhood “much too late”. Paddy Ashdown had admitted he was a bad “Victorian” father and said his family would have suffered if his wife hadn’t carried the burden while he tried to win his seat.The former Liberal Democrat party leader, 75, revealed he was “not very sensitive” to his family’s needs and said he regularly tried to impose his will on his two children, Simon and Katharine.Speaking at the Henley Literary Festival, he said his family would have suffered had his wife not stepped in, adding that he regretted how he acted, including not giving his children enough space to grow. “I think I was not a very good father, I think I was a bit of a Victorian father, I tried to impose my will on my kids,” he said. “They soon told me I couldn’t.” [I was] probably too insensitive to be able to understand what I should have been doing. I look back on that with regretLord Ashdown Lord Ashdown previously admitted his wife, Jane, knew about a liaison he had with his former secretary Tricia Howard in 1985.The affair was reported in the run-up to the 1992 election and his family supported him through the scandal.He later wrote in his memoir: “If it hadn’t been for her [Jane’s] calm centre I would have got into all sorts of trouble.”last_img read more

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Mummys little lifesaver The brave girl 4 who called 999 when her

first_imgSuzie calmly explained that “Mummy’s got her eyes closed” and that she could not talkCredit:Northumbria Police After Mrs McCash is able to say the word allergy down the phone, Mr Hall asks Suzie to keep talking to her mother until help arrives.Mrs McCash was taken to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital where she stayed overnight before being released the following day. Four-year-old Suzie McCash with her Commendation for BraveryCredit:Northumbria Police Suzie calmly explained that "Mummy's got her eyes closed" and that she could not talk Superintendent Nicola Musgrove said: “Suzie’s mum stopped breathing altogether but paramedics were able to stabilise her. Had it not been for the quick actions of Suzie she would undoubtedly have died.”She rang 999, knocked on a neighbour’s door and opened the front door for the police officers and paramedics. She is a very brave little girl.” Suzie was presented with a commendation for bravery from Northumbria Police at force headquarters.During the call, Suzie, who wants to be a paramedic when she grows up, answers questions from call handler Adam Hall explaining what has happened. Suzie with her mum Rowena McCash and father William Credit:Claire McKie/ncjMedia Ltd Suzie McCash, 4, receives VIP treatment as she collects her Police Commendationcenter_img Four-year-old Suzie McCash with her Commendation for Bravery They say the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree – and that is certainly true for young Suzie McCash.When her mother – a doctor  collapsed from an allergic reaction the brave four-year-old acted quickly and helped save her life by calling 999. Suzie, from Tynemouth, North Tyneside, stayed calm and rang police to explain that “Mummy’s got her eyes closed” and that she could not talk.This led paramedics to mother Rowena’s home after she had suffered a respiratory arrest in the hallway. Suzie with her mum Rowena McCash and father William  Suzie McCash, 4, receives VIP treatment as she collects her Police CommendationCredit:ncjMedia Ltd 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

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New security cordon around Buckingham Palace during Changing of the Guard to

first_imgRoad closures during Changing of the Guard will take place for an initial three-month trial periodCredit:Philip Toscano/PA Armed police outside Buckingham Palace on Wednesday amid heightened security From Wednesday, Constitution Hill, the Queen Victoria Memorial, Spur Road, Link Road and The Mall – up to the junction with Marlborough Road – will be closed between 10.45am and 12.30pm on the days of Changing the Guard.Additional barriers will also be in place to maintain security for the guard movements, Scotland Yard said. Armed police outside Buckingham Palace on Wednesday amid heightened securityCredit:Ben Cawthra/LNP Armed officers survey the area as crowds look on outside Buckingham PalaceCredit:Jeff Gilbert for The Telegraph The road closures will take place for an initial three-month trial period, which the Metropolitan Police said had been planned for some time as part of “ongoing security measures”.But the force confirmed that the trial had been brought forward to Wednesday as a direct response to events in Berlin. Standing by were mounted officers, along with several police cars and bicycles, stationed at various points in the cordoned-off area.  Buckingham Palace is being protected by a security cordon designed to prevent Berlin-style lorry attacks during the daily Changing of the Guard ceremony.Scotland Yard announced that, starting on Wednesday, roads around the Palace will be closed to traffic between 10.45am and 12.30pm on days when the ceremony is taking place.It attracts thousands of tourists to the Palace every morning and remains one of London’s most popular attractions. Met Commander Simon Bray, responsible for security, said: “The threat to the UK from international terrorism remains severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.”He added: “The Met undertakes a range of different activities including strengthening security and high-visibility policing as part of a counter-terrorist strategy, and it will continue to take whatever action it believes is necessary to protect and reassure the public.”Police continue to work in partnership to minimise disruption, but its priority is to ensure the safety and security of those who live, work and visit London.” An armed police officer outside the gates of Buckingham PalaceCredit:Jeff Gilbert for The Telegraph An armed police officer outside the gates of Buckingham Palacecenter_img The announcement came after patrols were on Tuesday stepped up at UK festive markets.Greater Manchester Police said it had strengthened its presence at the city’s Christmas markets, which have almost 350 stalls spread across 10 sites. 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. Meanwhile, Foreign Office travel advice will describe the terror threat in countries abroad in more detail to help travellers make “informed decisions” about their plans, Boris Johnson announced.It will report on whether attacks are likely to happen, the targets of previous attacks and methods used, which groups are responsible, and what host countries are doing to counter the threat. The changes will be implemented in the coming months.The threat to the UK from international terrorism remains severe, meaning an attack is highly likely. West Midlands Police said it was reviewing security measures and increasing visible patrols in Birmingham, and had a dedicated team of response officers ensuring the safety of visitors to the city’s popular Christmas German market.Visitors to the Southbank Winter Festival, next to London’s Royal Festival Hall, were handed cards warning them about the risk of terrorism as police officers chatted to shoppers. Police outside Manchester Christmas market on Tuesday after the Berlin attack The Changing of the Guard ceremony attracts thousands of tourists and remains one of London's most popular attractions Police outside Manchester Christmas market on Tuesday after the Berlin attackCredit: Jon Super for The Telegraph The lockdown did little to dissuade tourists, who still filled the pavements in their hundreds to witness the celebrated spectacle on Wednesday morning.At 11.30am, the guard began marching from Wellington Barracks and through the Palace gates as a sea of tourist cameras tracked their progress.  Armed officers survey the area as crowds look on outside Buckingham Palacelast_img read more

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CCTV catches robber grabbing womans handbag as he knocks her childs pram

first_imgThe suspect is said to be a light-skinned black man, aged between 25 and 30, who is slim, around 5ft 9ins with short cropped black hair.He was wearing a blue trench coat and blue jeans, police said.Chaim Kahan, from Stamford Hill Shomrim, said: “This was a horrific robbery, the woman is still very shaken and scared to leave her home.”The two-year-old girl who was toppled over in the buggy, has since had terrible nightmares, waking up every few minutes, asking if the robber has already been caught.” Pram mugging Her two-year-old daughter was in a buggy at the time of the attack, which can be seen getting bundled over by the suspect.Police said the child was unharmed, but neighbourhood watch group Shomrim, who are also investigating the incident, said she had suffered “terrible nightmares”.The mother did not require hospital treatment, the Metropolitan Police said.Detectives are seeking witnesses to the robbery, which took place shortly after 3.30pm on January 1. Police are still looking for the suspectCredit:Shomrim N.E. Londoncenter_img 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. Police are hunting a robber who violently snatched a mother’s handbag in the street – knocking over her child’s pram in the process.CCTV shows the victim being chased up Darenth Road in Hackney, north-east London, and being pushed by the thief as he grabs her bag.last_img read more

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