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Cotton quality

first_imgBy Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaDespite an arid midsummer and tropical storms in early fall, Georgia’s 2004 cotton crop is surprisingly good. But the quality still needs improving for farmers to consistently sell their crop on the competitive world market.About 200 farmers, specialists and industry representatives met in Tifton, Ga., Dec. 14 to learn more about Georgia cotton at the University of Georgia’s 2004 Cotton Production Workshop.Weather mixedWeather in early summer was good to Georgia’s crop, said Steve Brown, a cotton agronomist with the UGA Extension Service. But July and August turned hot and dry, generally bad for cotton.Then September brought four tropical storms, all carrying strong winds and heavy rain — 15 to 20 inches around southwest Georgia, Brown said.At the time, farmers were just about ready to harvest a crop that was near maturity and didn’t need more rain. The winds knocked some cotton to the ground, making it unharvestable.Early losses from tropical storms alone were estimated at 20 percent. But farmers expect to make about 686 pounds per acre, about 15 percent less than last year’s good harvest. Georgia will produce about 1.8 million bales.”The crop turned out a lot better than we expected,” Brown said. “It appears we dodged a bullet in 2004.”The United States is expected to produce 22.8 million bales, a record, Brown said. Nine out of 17 cotton-growing states will have record cotton production this year.Quality better?Overall, Georgia’s 2004 cotton quality was good, especially in color and strength, he said. The state’s farmers sprayed to control stinkbugs this year. CAES research has found that stinkbugs can damage fiber development.Timely defoliation and harvest of the crop, Brown said, seemed to improve the crop’s quality.But Georgia’s cotton still fell short in one important grading category: uniformity, the length and consistency of the fiber.Since 1999, textile mills have complained that Georgia’s cotton doesn’t run well through newer, high-speed mills. It was reported last year that some mills will stop buying it because of this.”There is a perception out there that Georgia cotton will perform worse in the mills than other cotton,” said South Bryan, who buys cotton for Avondale Mills.Avondale hasn’t run enough of Georgia’s 2004 crop through its mills to know how it will perform, Bryan said. But if it runs poorly, Georgia’s stigma for poor cotton will only get worse.World cottonThe U.S. textile industry continues to dwindle. Two of every three bales of cotton produced in the United States now have to find a foreign buyer, said Don Shurley, a UGA Extension cotton economist. Just a few years ago, only one of three bales was sold abroad.China continues to need foreign cotton to supply its growing textile industry. But farmers there expect a large crop this year, about 30 million bales.This and other global factors have dropped cotton prices to around 40 cents per pound, down from 68 cents per pound in January, he said.”But with the size of this crop,” Shurley said, “it could be worse.”If the world produces as much cotton next year as it did this year, prices will likely be worse, he said. But if they don’t, prices could be at least 10 cents per pound higher.Not all of Georgia’s cotton is of questionable quality, said Phillip Jost, UGA Extension Service cotton agronomist. Some is excellent.The UGA cotton team and Georgia Cotton Commission will begin giving the Georgia Quality Cotton Award annually next year. Cotton ginners will nominate farmers in three categories related to the number of acres grown. The award is sponsored by Bayer Crop Sciences.last_img read more

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Wisconsin gets back to basics in victory

first_imgJEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoLittle expectation led to considerable results.Coming off two straight losses to darken its chances in the Big Ten title race, Wisconsin nearly pitched a complete game shutout against Northern Illinois (1-7, 0-4 MAC), winning 44-3 Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium for the 12th consecutive time.The Badgers (7-2, 2-2 Big Ten) looked good on and off the field — linebacker Jonathan Casillas came out for the postgame interviews wearing matching pink square-toed shoes to go with his pink button-down shirt and tie.“We started off playing with a lot of passion, a lot of energy, and it carried through all four quarters,” Casillas said.From the outset, the Badgers had their way.Electing to receive on the coin toss to “set the tempo,” they took the ball 65 yards in nine plays — capped by a 25-yard strike to tight end Garrett Graham — for the early 7-0 lead. “We wanted to be the aggressors in the ballgame and, based on how we performed out there and how we finished, I think we did that,” UW head coach Bret Bielema said.During the drive, senior wide receiver Paul Hubbard converted a key third down with a 14-yard reception — his first catch since straining his medial collateral ligament Sept. 8 against UNLV.On Wisconsin’s next possession tailback, P.J. Hill broke a career-long 72-yard run to build the Badgers’ lead to 14. In the process of his 27th career rushing touchdown, Hill showed a mixture of power, agility and speed; he burst through the line, spun out of an ankle tackle, stumbled for a few yards and, with a great seal block downfield by Kyle Jefferson, chugged his way to the end zone.“Everybody sees me as a power back, but I got a little something in my package,” Hill said with a laugh. “I have some moves, but it was an opportunity so I had to do something with it.”He finished with 184 yards and two touchdowns to eclipse 2,500 yards for his career and 1,000 this season despite leaving at halftime to get three stitches after a helmet hit his knee.Everyone seemed to get into the action for Wisconsin. Seldom-used fullback Chris Pressley bulldozed his way in for a 10-yard touchdown — the first of his collegiate career — on the first play of the second quarter.“I told Press after he scored that touchdown, ‘You should buy a lottery ticket,’” Bielema said. “Anytime he catches a pass and scores a rushing touchdown in the same game is a rarity.”Just a short time later, Hill’s backup Lance Smith capitalized on a great pancake block by right guard Kraig Urbik to scamper into the end zone for his first taste of paydirt this season and gave UW a 28-0 lead.Wisconsin concluded the first half scoring with a 32-yard field goal by Taylor Mehlhaff. Meanwhile, the Huskies could do nothing offensively. They couldn’t find a first down until there were less than two minutes remaining in the first half.The Badger defense that had given up a voluminous number of yards and points all season long came through with energy, enthusiasm and, above all, sound fundamentals in coverage.It bottled up the nation’s sixth-leading rusher Justin Anderson all game, not allowing him to get into the open field and make a play. He finished with 14 yards on 13 carries. As a team, the Huskies finished with minus-13 yards on the ground — the second lowest total gained by a UW opponent in program history.“We knew we were playing against a great running back and a great rushing attack, and we just stepped up to the task,” Casillas said.In comparison, the Badgers finished with 331 rushing yards.Really the only blemish for the Badgers came near the end of the first half when quarterback Tyler Donovan, who was hit in the helmet as he threw, passed a ball right to the waiting arms of Huskies linebacker Cory Hanson.With a new quarterback in Ryan Morris after the break, NIU moved the chains a few times thanks to a 6-yard run by Anderson and an Allen Langford pass interference penalty. But an athletic interception by UW safety Shane Carter, his second of the game, quickly killed anything the Huskies had going.“They were gaining a little bit of momentum, but a pretty impressive catch there … I really thought Shane prepared the right way,” Bielema said.Carter had a chance to score on the runback, but he stepped out of bounds at the 4-yard line.Hill capped the three-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown to give Wisconsin a 38-0 advantage.It wasn’t until its final drive of the third quarter that Northern Illinois put some points on the board when Chris Nendick booted a 34-yard field goal.UW was helped all game by not only its ability to stop the NIU offense, but David Gilreath and its special teams. Gilreath averaged a career-best 19.4 yards per punt return and gave Wisconsin an average starting field position at its own 46.With the complete game mindset at hand, and after last week’s loss during which the team seemingly quit following intermission, the starters remained in the game for the majority.“You still want to finish football games as a unit, and today one of the statements this week was let’s make this a four-quarter game no matter what the score,” Donovan said.last_img read more

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Sky Bet links with Injured Jockeys Fund for Cheltenham initiative

first_img StumbleUpon Share Share BGC: Charities win big as bookies take beating in Britannia Stakes June 19, 2020 Submit EFL urges government to rethink gambling sponsorship ban July 3, 2020 PokerStars moves to refresh global appeal with ‘I’M IN’ August 18, 2020 Related Articles Sky Bet and Heavyweight Sports has outlined ambitions to raise the profile of a nominated charity, ahead of Sky Bet’s sponsorship of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at next week’s Cheltenham Festival. This year’s high profile Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle will see the UK’s most popular online bookmaker link up with the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF). As Sky Bet not only offers the IJF the honour and profile of walking in the first race winner of racing’s biggest week of the year but also donates £5000 to the charity.For their part the IJF have given the honour of walking in the Festival’s first winner to one of their many beneficiaries; former jockey Richard Hawkins. Darren Haines of Heavyweight Sports commented: “This is what brands should be doing to sweat their sponsorships in 2018. Putting a colourful sash on a promotional team achieves very little and, in any case, is all but invisible to your customer’s brand-wary eyes in this day and age.“People expect companies to do more now and use their brand weight to positive affect, which this certainly does. It is great that Sky Bet are leading the industry in conscientiously breaking away from the old and tired traditions.” Sandro Di Michele, head of PR for Sky Bet, added: “We have long felt the use of Walk-In girls for promotional uses has had its day in sport and the time was right to use this exposure opportunity more positively. This honour that Sky Bet will be providing to a charity each year will afford them some great exposure given there is so much anticipation and excitement for the Festival’s curtain-raising Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race.“As soon as we decided this we knew that the Injured Jockeys Fund was absolutely the right charity to work with for the first winner’s walk-in and their decision to give that honour to one of their many beneficiaries, Richard, is inspired.” How Racegoers Can Give to The IJF with Sky Bet:In addition to Sky Bet’s £5000 donation to the IJF the bookmaker is encouraging Cheltenham racegoers and fans watching at home to also give what they can to the charity. They can do so by donating on line 01638662246Text IJF to 70800 to donate £5last_img read more

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WADA suspends accreditation of Africa’s only doping lab

first_imgMONTREAL (AP): The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) yesterday suspended the accreditation of the drug-testing laboratory in South Africa, the only accredited facility in Africa and the latest lab to be stopped from working. The South African lab won’t be able to analyse any doping samples for five months until September 30 for failing to meet WADA standards. WADA will carry out inspection visits during the suspension to ensure that improvements are made. Many other African countries, including top distance-running nations Kenya and Ethiopia, send doping test samples to the lab in the central city of Bloemfontein. They will now have to use other facilities. The South African lab previously said it would be upgrading its facilities for six months from the beginning of April and would send some samples to Doha, Qatar, to be tested during that time. The lab, which is based at Bloemfontein’s University of the Free State, said it would send urine samples to Qatar, but would still be able to analyse blood samples. Yesterday, WADA suspended it from analysing any samples. The lab can apply for the suspension to be lifted before September 30, WADA said. Bloemfontein is the latest facility to lose its accreditation. Last month, WADA suspended the accreditations of doping labs in Beijing and Lisbon, Portugal and revoked the accreditation of the lab in Moscow following allegations of wide-ranging corruption in the Russian anti-doping programme. In March, Brazil just avoided losing the accreditation of its lab in Rio de Janeiro, which needs to test thousands of doping samples at the Olympics in August.last_img read more

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My Donegal – with restaurateur Aidan Friel

first_imgAidan Friel runs the trendy new eaterie in Kerrykeel – the Narrow Quarter. The popular cafe – run with business partner John McDaid – has been enjoying a good summer; one of a number of new businesses to pop up in the village over the past year or so. Here’s Aidan’s My DonegalWhere is your favourite place in Donegal and why?Anywhere in the Fanad peninsula, it’s beautiful. Where in Donegal do you call home?KerrykeelWhat do you think is Donegal’s best tourist attraction?Fanad light house without a doubt. I never get tired of it. Rain hail or shine! Fanad Lighthouse is always a must see when I have friends visiting the county. Summers or winters?Summers. Is there anywhere more beautiful than Donegal (when the sun shines)Ideal day out in Donegal?A trip to Dunfanaghey, A walk on marble hill, coffee from the shack followed by a pint in Patsy Dan’s.Favourite Donegal product? Our tweed products are amazing. McNutts in Downings or Orwell & Browne. (check them both out on Instagram. Stunning products that make great gifts.)Who is Donegal’s best ambassador and why?She might not be known world wide just yet but I really think Erin McGinty is doing a wonderful job promoting Donegal. She has a strong online presence with her Instagram account @coolestplaceontheplanet. She is really showing off the county in all its glory. Her clever posts and busy lifestyle are catching the attention of thousands of online users both from inside the county and further afield.Who is Donegal’s most successful business person? This is a difficult one …. Exactly how are we measuring success?Favourite Donegal sports person?Barry McNamee who hails from ‘the wee toon’ Ramelton, #25 Derry City MidfielderFavourite Donegal restaurant?The Lemon Tree Letterkenny. If you haven’t been you don’t know what your missing.Change one thing about Donegal what would it be?I’d like to see a bigger push for real environmental changes and sustainability.Favourite Donegal expression or saying?“I’m foundered” I spent my whole life thinking that this was a perfectly normal everyday expression. Until I went to Carlow to study. Where I quickly realised it must be just a Donegal thing.Biggest challenge facing Donegal people of today?One of the biggest challenges and perhaps one of the most overlooked facing the people of Donegal is mental health. Many people struggle at some point with their mental health and sadly it seems more common that young people appear to be affected. For the younger generation, social media has transformed their daily lives. However, Online, we are constantly being bombarded with other people’s lives and their perceived success. It can be very easy to begin to question your own circumstances and question your individual successes in life. Also, I feel like work pressures in Donegal has increased, with an increase in corporate employment in the county. I also think the elderly are suffering from mental health challenges such as isolation and loneliness. We don’t visit our neighbours like we used to and this has created a real detachment in the community.Favourite Donegal food?Where do I even start with this one. Honestly, I can’t just choose one. Donegal has some of the finest produce around. The Haven Smokehouse has the best smoked salmon out there without a doubt. Hugh Wilhare and his team from Mulroy Bay Mussels grow such an excellent product. We have some of the best seafood in the country coming in fresh from Killybegs. Ballyholey Farm Shop produce fresh and tasty veg and our local butchers all around the county including Kerr’s butchers in Kerrykeel. If there’s one thing for certain we are spoilt for choice when it comes to good fresh produce.Is there anything that really annoys you about Donegal or its people?Not a thing. After living away for a while I’m just so grateful that I am able to live and work in Donegal.Favourite local bandIn Their Thousands.If you had a million euro in Donegal to improve something what would it be?I’d love to see rural transport links further improved. But I’m afraid sometimes in Ireland, a million euro wouldn’t even cover the cost a feasibility study costs.Daniel O Donell or Packie Bonner?“Wee” Daniel, my grandmother wouldn’t allow any other answer to this one.Is there anything about Donegal that you are very proud of?Yes, I am exceptionally proud of the local people of Kerrykeel and surrounding areas. Whether they realise it or not without them our business, The Narrow Quarter wouldn’t be a success. The local support we have received since we opened in April 2018 has been over whelming. To think in such a small village it would be possible to employ so many people and remain open all year round, It’s amazing and humbling to say the least.My Donegal – with restaurateur Aidan Friel was last modified: August 1st, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Aidan FrielCarrigartdonegalMY DONEGALThe Narrow Quarterlast_img read more

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Roberts scores hat-trick as Fulham beat Spurs in Youth Cup

first_imgFulham prospect Patrick Roberts scored a hat-trick as the Whites’ Under-18 side beat Tottenham 3-2 in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.Roberts netted the winner eight minutes from the end of a lively encounter at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Victoria Road ground, where both teams finished the match with 10 men.Joshua Onomah gave Spurs the lead after only three minutes, but Roberts levelled following a defensive mix-up and then put Fulham ahead by slotting home after Josh Smile’s effort had been parried.Tottenham equalised through Nathan Oduwa early in the second half but Roberts restored his team’s lead when he pounced during a goalmouth scramble.A late melee then led to Smile and Onomah both being red-carded.Fulham will face Manchester City in round five.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

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World leaders line up to bid Mandela farewell

first_img9 December 2013Some 70 heads of state have confirmed that they will be attending the memorial service for the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation reported on Monday.The memorial service, to be held at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday, is shaping up to include one of the biggest gatherings of world leaders in history.US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron will be among those attending the memorial service, along with former US presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.Department of International Relations: list of heads of state and royalty travelling to South Africa to bid farewell to Nelson MandelaThe government has been working around the clock on the preparations for the event, with most of the world leaders due to arrive in South Africa on Monday.“The world literally is coming to South Africa,” Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, told reporters in Pretoria on Monday morning. “On the numbers for the memorial service, we are sitting at over 70 heads of state and government in office and we are looking at 10 for former heads of state and government.”Monyela said the large number of high-profile guests was unprecedented.“I don’t think it has ever happened before,” he said, adding that the United Nations would be represented by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the African Union by AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, “and we have princes and princesses, kings and queens coming”.Monyela said it was a tough task logistically, but that the government was up to the challenge and would ensure that everything went according to plan.The majority of international guests will not travel to Qunu in the Eastern Cape for Mandela’s funeral, which is taking place on Sunday, 15 December.For the memorial service, once the venue is full, people will be redirected to three other stadiums that will be broadcasting the event on giant screens: Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and Orlando Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto.Cars will not be allowed near the stadiums, but special bus and train services will be running. The event is scheduled to start at 11am, with the stadium entrances scheduled to open at 6am.Source: read more

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Messi finally conquers Buffon as Barcelona beats Juve 3-0

first_imgTwo of soccer’s all-time best players, the 39-year-old Buffon had denied Messi a goal in their previous three meetings, including Juventus’ 3-0 aggregate win in last season’s quarterfinals.But once he found room to work, Messi picked Buffon’s Juventus apart – to take some revenge from last year’s elimination and continue his superb start to the current season.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutMessi grabbed his 95th and 96th goals in the Champions League, breaking the deadlock just before the end of the first half in the Group D game. After he had hit the post and played a part in Ivan Rakitic’s second goal, Messi rounded off the commanding win.“Tonight (Messi) did score (against Buffon) because we left him too much space,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “(Messi) plays perfectly well in tight spaces, but today he had more space, and I would even say that we made it easier for him, leaving him so open.” Barcelona’s forward from Argentina Lionel Messi (L) vies with Juventus’ defender from Brazil Alex Sandro during the UEFA Champions League Group D football match FC Barcelona vs Juventus at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENEBARCELONA, Spain — Lionel Messi finally added Italy great Gianluigi Buffon on his long, long list of vanquished goalkeepers.Messi struck two shots past Buffon to lead Barcelona to a 3-0 victory over Juventus in their opening match of the Champions League on Tuesday.ADVERTISEMENT Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Barcelona defender Gerard Pique cleared a header by Medhi Benatia off the line in Juventus’ best scoring opportunity in the 81st.Barcelona’s all-time top scorer, Messi has now scored eight goals in six games across all competitions this season.In the other Group D match on Tuesday, Sporting Lisbon won 3-2 at Olympiakos.Dembele, who debuted as a substitute in a 5-0 rout of Espanyol on Saturday, showed some of the speed that Barcelona wanted when it signed him, but otherwise had a subdued match.“Dembele was fine. It’s true that he has to adapt to the team, to learn some tactical questions,” Valverde said. “We have to help him come along. He has just arrived, he is young, and he has a long career in front of him.”To pry Dembele away from Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona reinvested a large part of the world record 222 million euros ($262 million) it received from Paris Saint-Germain for Brazil star Neymar. It paid Dortmund 105 million euros ($124 million) in a deal that includes possible add-ons that could bring the total to 147 million euros (about $173 million).Juventus was without injured defender Giorgio Chiellini, forward Mario Mandzukic and midfielder Sami Khedira. Juan Cuadrado was suspended. During the match, the Italian champions also lost De Sciglio to an injury in the first half, when he was replaced by Sturaro. Read Next Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Lakers to retire Kobe Bryant’s two jersey numbers in December The first half was dull, apart from long-range attempts by Miralem Pjanic and Mattia De Sciglio for Juventus, until Messi struck just before the interval.Ousmane Dembele, the most expensive signing in Barcelona’s history, made his first start for the Catalan club. The 20-year-old France forward helped with a counterattack that caught the Juventus defense off-guard. Messi took the ball from Dembele, worked a quick one-two with Luis Suarez and then rolled a left-foot shot just inside the far post.Messi helped make it 2-0 in the 56th when his dangerous low cross was cleared by substitute Stefano Sturaro back to Rakitic, who fired it home.Messi got his second in the 69th when he took the ball on the right side and cut back to go around two defenders. He left Buffon with no chance against another left-foot strike that smacked into the lower corner of his net.As Barcelona’s coach Ernesto Valverde put it, “when Messi has the ball, anything can happen.”ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad  LATEST STORIES WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight View commentslast_img read more

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The Cardinals And Diamondbacks Are Now On Very Different Paths

Before Wednesday’s trade headlined by Paul Goldschmidt, the Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals were relatively even on paper. But today, the two clubs inhabit completely different neighborhoods.Arizona and St. Louis ended last year separated by 25 points in Elo rating, and the teams entered Wednesday just two games apart in FanGraphs’ projected standings for 2019. With the trade of the six-time All-Star, the clubs have seemingly chosen different paths. The Diamondbacks appear ready to join the Seattle Mariners as teams that contended in 2018, fell short and have elected to become less competitive to restore their depleted talent bases. The Cardinals add a star talent with the hope that they can close the gap in the National League Central and return the club to the postseason after a three-year absence.The Diamondbacks are in a division with the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers, who are loaded with cash and talent and are heavy favorites in the NL West. Arizona already lost one key free-agent pitcher in Patrick Corbin, who agreed Tuesday to a deal with the Washington Nationals, and free-agent center fielder A.J. Pollock also figures to land elsewhere. The club has also expressed interest in trading ace Zack Greinke, whose contract accounted for 25.8 percent of the club’s opening day payroll this past season — the second-highest share in the majors. It’s a reminder that such contracts can hamstring teams’ abilities to build complete, competitive rosters.Conversely, the Cardinals do not have a clear super team in their way in the NL Central. The Cubs might have limited ability to improve this offseason, but the FanGraphs’ forecast has the Brewers regressing in 2019. The Cardinals entered Wednesday projected for four fewer wins than the Cubs, three more wins than the Pirates and six more wins than the Brewers. After the trade, the FanGraphs projection had the Cardinals picking up three wins to be just one game behind the Cubs and nine games better than the Brewers. (The Diamondbacks fell from 82 to 80 wins.) The Cardinals have been stuck in the standings purgatory — winning 88, 83 and 86 games the past three years — where no club wants to reside, but they could break that streak this year.The Diamondbacks went for it last year on the heels of a 93-win season and in the final year of control over Corbin and Pollock. St. Louis is now in a similar situation, as contributors like Marcell Ozuna, Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha are free agents after 2019. Goldschmidt is under control for just one season before entering free agency. For the Cardinals, this is a win-now move.And what St. Louis received in the deal is not only one of the game’s best hitters but also one of its most consistent.In wins above replacement,1Using FanGraphs’ metric. Goldschmidt finished the past three seasons at 5.1, 5.2 and 5.0. He’s been worth at least 4.3 WAR every season since his first full year in 2012, when he finished at 2.8. Goldschmidt’s career slash line is .297/.398/.532. His slash line this past season? .290/.389/.533. He’s played in at least 155 games in five of the past six years.Goldschmidt, 31, is still near his physical prime and offers consistent star power for a club sorely lacking it. St. Louis thought it was landing a star in Ozuna last winter, but he had a mildly disappointing season. Since 2016, the only Cardinals to deliver seasons of 4 WAR or better were Matt Carpenter (5.0) and Mikolas (4.3) this past season and Tommy Pham, who was traded to Tampa Bay last season, in 2017 (6.1). Goldschmidt’s 4.3 projected WAR is a big upgrade over the Cardinals’ weakest projected starting infielder, Jedd Gyorko (1.7 WAR) — who could be supplanted in the lineup by Carpenter moving from first to third. And Goldschmidt may not even be the Cards’ final step: Ownership hasn’t ruled out a pursuit of Bryce Harper.While there is not a young star in the trade package, Goldschmidt didn’t come cheap. Some executives liked the return for Arizona, which included young major leaguers in pitcher Luke Weaver and catcher Carson Kelly, infield prospect Andy Young and the Cardinals’ Compensation Round B selection in the 2019 draft. The deal gives the Diamondbacks youth and a number of controllable years.The Diamondbacks had the fifth-oldest groups of batters (at an average of 29.2 years old)2Weighted by games played. and pitchers (29.6) last year. According to FanGraphs, Arizona entered the offseason with the game’s 26th-ranked farm system. Teams prize young, cheap, controllable talent — and now more than ever before, they are willing to endure deep, painful rebuilds to accumulate high draft picks and signing bonus pool space. The Astros and Cubs created a model to get to super-team status that other teams are following. Those clubs took rebuilding to extreme degrees, stringing together multiple 95-plus-loss seasons, but those paths resulted in World Series titles.The Diamondbacks consider themselves to be retooling rather than entering a deep rebuild, though that might be an optimistic assessment: Arizona third baseman Jake Lamb, outfielder David Peralta and starting pitchers Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker are all eligible to become free agents within the next two to three years.Kelly and Weaver immediately fill needs on the major league roster. They are not prospects that are years away from the majors, though they also lack star-level upside.3The Diamondbacks were in the market for a catcher after free agent Jeff Mathis signed with the Texas Rangers. “There are decisions that you want to do and there are decisions you feel like you have to do,” Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen said of Wednesday’s trade.More than ever, teams seem comfortable entering retooling periods, but not every rebuild is a successful project. For the Cardinals, perhaps they’ll have to consider such a path down the road. As for 2019, they’re going for it. read more

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How Our NBA Predictions Work

Model CreatorsNate Silver, Jay Boice and Neil Paine / Real Plus-MinusElo ratings / Monte Carlo simulations / Box Plus/Minus / Simple Projection System The DetailsFiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictions have gone through quite an evolution over the years.Our first iteration simply relied on Elo ratings, the same old standby rating system we’ve used for college and pro football, college basketball, baseball, soccer, Formula One racing and probably some other sports I’m forgetting. Basic Elo is generally useful — and we still track it for teams going back throughout history — but it only knows who won each game, the margin of victory and where the game was played. So if a player is injured or traded — or resting, as is increasingly the case in the NBA — Elo wouldn’t be able to pick up on that when predicting games or know how to account for that in a team’s ratings going forward. In fact, even if a team simply made a big offseason splash (such as signing LeBron James or Kevin Durant), Elo would take a long time to figure that out, since it must infer a change in team talent from an uptick in on-court performance.To try to address that shortcoming, in 2015 we introduced a system we called “CARM-Elo.” This still used the Elo framework to handle game results, but it also used our CARMELO player projections to incorporate offseason transactions into the initial ratings for a given season. In a league like the NBA, where championships now feel like they’re won as much over the summer as during the season itself, this was an improvement. But it still had some real problems knowing which teams were actually in trouble heading into the playoffs and which ones were simply conserving energy for the games that matter. Since a team’s underlying talent is sometimes belied by its regular-season record — particularly in the case of a superteam — an Elo-based approach to updating ratings on a game-to-game basis can introduce more problems than it actually solves.Moving beyond EloOne attempt to salvage CARM-Elo was to apply a playoff experience adjustment for each team, acknowledging the NBA’s tendency for veteran-laden squads to play better in the postseason than we’d expect from their regular-season stats alone. This also helped some, but CARM-Elo still had problems with mega-talented clubs (such as the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors) that take their foot off the gas pedal late in the NBA’s long regular season. It was clear our prediction system needed a major overhaul, one that involved moving away from Elo almost completely.As we hinted at in our preview post for the 2018-19 season, we made some big changes to the way we predict the league that year. Chief among them is that our team ratings are now entirely based on our CARMELO player projections. Specifically, each team is judged according to the current level of talent on its roster and how much that talent is expected to play going forward. Here’s how each of those components work:Talent ratingsAt their core, our CARMELO projections forecast a player’s future by looking to the past, finding the most similar historical comparables and using their careers as a template for how a current player might fare over the rest of his playing days. After running a player through the similarity algorithm, CARMELO spits out offensive and defensive ratings for his next handful of seasons, which represent his expected influence on team efficiency (per 100 possessions) while he’s on the court. You can think of these as being similar to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus or other adjusted plus-minus-style ratings.The player ratings are currently based on a blend between Real Plus-Minus (RPM), Box Plus/Minus (BPM) and, on defense, our new DRAYMOND metric. In our mind, each of these metrics represents a different facet of measuring player performance: BPM to capture and weight the player’s contributions in the traditional box score; RPM to measure the effect he has on his team’s efficiency when he is on the court; DRAYMOND to capture a critical but underutilized aspect of defense, which is to reduce opponent shooting percentages by contesting and otherwise disrupting shots. A blend of all applicable metrics appears in the CARMELO individual pages under the player’s offensive rating (using BPM and RPM) and defensive rating (using BPM, RPM and DRAYMOND).These blended ratings provide a prior for each player as he heads into the current season. But they must also be updated in-season based on a player’s performance level as the year goes on. To do that, we have two methods (for both offense and defense) depending on the data available:Using Real Plus-Minus and Box Plus/Minus. Ideally, both metrics will be published during a season, allowing us to use a blend (⅔ weight for RPM; ⅓ for BPM) on each side of the ball to update our prior ratings. When that happens, we assign a weight to the prior that is relative to 1 minute of current-season performance. On offense, that weight is calculated with a constant term of 416 minutes, plus 0.3 times a player’s minutes from the season before, plus 0.15 times his minutes from two seasons before, plus 0.05 times his minutes from three seasons before. That number is multiplied by his CARMELO preseason offensive rating and added to the product of his current-season minutes and current-season offensive plus/minus blend, and divided by the sum of current-season minutes and the prior weight to get an updated offensive rating. (The rating for players with 0 current-season minutes played is, by definition, the prior.) On defense, the weight has a constant of 60 minutes, plus 0.3 times a player’s minutes from the season before, plus 0.15 times his minutes from two seasons before, plus 0.05 times his minutes from three seasons before. This weight is combined with current-season performance in the same manner as on offense.Using Box Plus/Minus only. At a certain stage of each season, ESPN will not have released RPM data for the current season yet. During that time, we must update the in-season ratings using only BPM, which is usually available since the very start of the season via Just like with our blended number from above, we assign a weight to the prior that is relative to 1 minute of current-season performance — but we must use different weights because BPM is not quite as reliable an indicator of player performance as RPM (or our RPM-BPM blend). On offense, the weight is calculated with a constant term of 703 minutes, plus 0.27 times a player’s minutes from the season before, plus 0.13 times his minutes from two seasons before, plus 0.04 times his minutes from three seasons before. That number is multiplied by his CARMELO preseason offensive rating and added to the product of his current-season minutes and current-season offensive plus/minus blend, and divided by the sum of the current-season minutes and the prior weight to get an updated offensive rating.On defense, the weight has a constant of 242 minutes, plus 0.48 times a player’s minutes from the season before, plus 0.24 times his minutes from two seasons before, plus 0.08 times his minutes from three seasons before. This weight is combined with current-season performance in the same manner as on offense.Regardless of the version being used, these talent ratings will update every day throughout the regular season and playoffs, gradually changing based on how a player performs during the season.Overnight updatesBecause our data sources for player ratings (ESPN and don’t update individual statistics immediately after the end of every game, we added a function to preliminarily estimate the changes to a team’s rating as soon as a game ends. For each player in our database, we adjust his offensive and defensive ratings up or down very slightly after each game based on his team’s margin of victory relative to CARMELO’s expectation going into the game. These numbers add up at the team level to reflect how we predict that a team’s ratings will change in the wake of a given result.The advantage of this is that we can provide an instant update to the model as soon as a game ends. However, since these estimates are stopgaps, they will be changed to the RPM/BPM-based ratings from above when the data from those sources updates. After any given game, these differences should be small and generally barely noticeable. But we think this change will be particularly worthwhile in the playoffs, when team odds can shift dramatically based on a single game’s result.Playing-time projectionsNow that we have constantly updating player ratings, we also need a way to combine them at the team level based on how much court time each player is getting in the team’s rotation.For CARM-Elo’s preseason ratings, we used to accomplish this by manually estimating how many minutes each player would get at each position. Needless to say, this is a lot more work to do in-season (and it requires a lot of arbitrary guesswork). So as part of our move toward algorithmizing our predictions in a more granular way, we developed a program that turns simple inputs into a matrix of team minutes-per-game estimates, broken down by position.This system requires only a rank-ordered list of players on a given team by playing-time preference (the default order is sorted by expected rest-of-season wins above replacement), a list of eligible positions a player is allowed to play (the system will assign minutes at every player’s “primary” position or positions first, before cycling back through and giving minutes at any “secondary” positions when necessary to fill out the roster) and some minutes constraints based largely on CARMELO’s updating minutes-per-game projections.For that last part, we have developed an in-season playing-time projection similar to the one we use to update our individual offensive and defensive ratings. For each player, CARMELO will project a preseason MPG estimate based on his own history and the record of his similar comparables. We then adjust that during the season by applying a weight of 12.6 games to the preseason MPG projection, added to his current-season minutes and divided by 12.6 plus his current-season games played. (Interestingly, this implies that the amount of weight the MPG prior receives is the same regardless of whether the player is a fresh-faced rookie or a grizzled veteran.)Those minutes are used as the default for our program, which then automatically creates a team’s depth chart and assigns minutes by position according to its sorting algorithm. The defaults, however, can and will be tweaked by our staffers to help the program generate more accurate rosters. For instance, we can mark certain games in which a player is injured, resting, suspended or otherwise unavailable, which will tell the program to ignore that player in the team’s initial rank-ordered list of players before allocating minutes to everyone else. (We also have a method of penalizing a player’s talent ratings if he is forced to play significantly more MPG than his updated CARMELO projection recommends.) New for 2020, there is even a “load management” setting that allows certain stars to be listed under a program of reduced minutes during the regular season.Through this system, we will be able to account for most injuries, trades and other player movement throughout the season on a game-by-game basis.Because of the differences between a team’s talent at full strength and after accounting for injuries, we now list two separate CARMELO ratings on our interactive page: “Current CARMELO” and “Full-Strength CARMELO.” Current is what we’re using for the team’s next game and includes all injuries or rest days in effect at the moment. Full-strength is the team’s rating when all of its key players are in the lineup, even including those who have been ruled out for the season. This will help us keep tabs on which teams are putting out their best group right now, and which ones have room to improve at a later date (i.e., the playoffs) or otherwise are more talented than their current lineup gives them credit for.Game predictionsAs a consequence of the way we can generate separate depth charts for every team on a per-game basis, we can calculate separate CARMELO ratings for the teams in a matchup depending on who is available to play.For a given lineup, we combine individual players’ talent ratings into a team rating on both sides of the ball by taking the team’s average offensive and defensive rating (weighted by each player’s expected minutes) multiplied by 5 to account for five players being on the court at all times. Those numbers are then combined into a generic expected “winning percentage” via the Pythagorean expectation:Winning Percentage=(108+Team Offensive Rating)14(108+Team Offensive Rating)14+(108−Team Defensive Rating)14Winning Percentage=(108+Team Offensive Rating)14(108+Team Offensive Rating)14+(108−Team Defensive Rating)14That number is then converted into its Elo rating equivalent via:CARMELO Rating=1504.6−450×log10((1/Winning Percentage)−1)CARMELO Rating=1504.6−450×log10⁡((1/Winning Percentage)−1)From there, we predict a single game’s outcome the same way we did when CARM-Elo was in effect. That means we not only account for each team’s inherent talent level, but we also make adjustments for home-court advantage (the home team gets a boost of about 92 CARMELO rating points), fatigue (teams that played the previous day are given a penalty of 46 CARMELO points), travel (teams are penalized based on the distance they travel from their previous game) and altitude (teams that play at higher altitudes are given an extra bonus when they play at home, on top of the standard home-court advantage). A team’s odds of winning a given game, then, are calculated via:Win Probability=1/(10−(CARMELO Differential+Bonus Differential)/400+1)Win Probability=1/(10−(CARMELO Differential+Bonus Differential)/400+1)Where CARMELO Differential is the team’s talent rating minus the opponent’s, and the bonus differential is just the difference in the various extra adjustments detailed above.Season simulations and playoff adjustmentsArmed with a list of injuries and other transactions for the entire league, our program can spit out separate CARMELO ratings for every single game on a team’s schedule. For instance, if we know a player won’t be available until midseason, the depth-chart sorting algorithm won’t allow him to be included on a team’s roster — and therefore in the team’s CARMELO ratings — until his estimated return date.Those game-by-game CARMELO ratings are then used to simulate out the rest of the season 50,000 times, Monte Carlo-style. The results of those simulations — including how often a team makes the playoffs and wins the NBA title — are listed in our NBA Predictions interactive when it is set to “CARMELO” mode.It’s important to note that these simulations still run “hot,” like our other Elo-based simulations do. This means that after a simulated game, a team’s CARMELO rating is adjusted upward or downward based on the simulated result, which is then used to inform the next simulated game, and so forth until the end of the simulated season. This helps us account for the inherent uncertainty around a team’s CARMELO rating, though the future “hot” ratings are also adjusted up or down based on our knowledge of players returning from injury or being added to the list of unavailable players.For playoff games, we make a few special changes to the team CARMELO process explained above. For one thing, teams play their best players more often in the playoffs, so our depth-chart algorithm has leeway to bump up a player’s MPG in the postseason if he usually logs a lot of minutes and/or has a good talent rating. This year, CARMELO outputs a separate recommended-minutes-per-game projection for both the regular season and the playoffs.We also have added a feature whereby players with a demonstrated history of playing better (or worse) in the playoffs will get a boost (or penalty) to their offensive and defensive talent ratings in the postseason. For most players, these adjustments are minimal at most, but certain important players — such as LeBron James — will be projected to perform better on a per-possession rate in the playoffs than the regular season. (Truly, he will be in “playoff mode.”)And we continue to give a team an extra bonus for having a roster with a lot of playoff experience. We calculate a team’s playoff experience by averaging the number of prior career playoff minutes played for each player on its roster, weighted by the number of minutes the player played for the team in the regular season. For every playoff game, this boost is added to the list of bonuses teams get for home court, travel and so forth, and it is used in our simulations when playing out the postseason.The complete history of the NBAIf you preferred our old Elo system without any of the fancy bells and whistles detailed above, you can still access it using the NBA Predictions interactive by toggling its setting to the “pure Elo” forecast.This method still has the normal game-level adjustment for home-court advantage, but it doesn’t account for travel, rest or altitude; it doesn’t use a playoff-experience bonus; and it has no knowledge of a team’s roster — it only knows game results. It also doesn’t account for any offseason transactions; instead, it reverts every team ¼ of the way toward a mean Elo rating of 1505 at the start of every season. We use a K-factor of 20 for our NBA Elo ratings, which is fairly quick to pick up on small changes in team performance.You can also still track a team’s Elo rating in our Complete History of the NBA interactive, which shows the ebbs and flows of its performance over time. This number won’t be adjusted for roster changes, but it should remain a nice way to visualize a team’s trajectory throughout its history. Version History4.0 CARMELO updated with the DRAYMOND metric, a playoff adjustment to player ratings and the ability to account for load management. Pure Elo ratings now use a K-factor of 20 in both the regular season and the playoffs.3.1 Estimated overnight ratings added as a stopgap between game results and data updates.3.0 CARMELO is introduced to replace CARM-Elo. Pure Elo ratings are adjusted to have variable K-factors depending on the stage of the season being predicted.2.1 CARM-Elo is modified to include a playoff experience adjustment.2.0 CARM-Elo ratings are introduced. Seasonal mean-reversion for pure Elo is set to 1505, not 1500.1.0 Pure Elo ratings are introduced for teams going back to 1946-47. Related ArticlesThe Complete History Of The NBAHow We Calculate NBA Elo RatingsThe Best NBA Teams Of All Time, According To EloHow Our 2015-16 NBA Predictions WorkWhy The Warriors And Cavs Are Still Big FavoritesFrom The Warriors To The Knicks, How We’re Predicting The 2018-19 NBA read more