Actor Kat Graham has teamed up with PETA to reveal the neglect and filthy conditions that hens face on egg farms in a breaking new video exposé.The footage, which was captured by eyewitnesses on three egg farms near Vancouver, shows hens stuck in mounds of feces teeming with maggots and left for dead; others suffering from extensive feather loss, injuries, and illness; and birds forced to live inside cramped cages next to the rotting corpses of their deceased cagemates.“When PETA showed me this video of these poor abused hens, I was so heartbroken,” says The Vampire Diaries star and singer Graham. “And then, I got mad. This cruelty and neglect are commonplace on egg farms all over the world. Please, please help these gentle birds and millions like them — it’s easy. Don’t eat eggs. They’re a product of intense suffering. You can help stop the abuse by going vegan like me.”PETA notes that more than 320 million hens are held on egg farms in the U.S., with an additional 20 million being held in Canada. This video footage was captured in April at Abbotsford facilities that on-site documents identified as Cloverhill Farms, Jaedel Enterprises, and Sonmark Enterprises.
In the eternally running discussion thread “Hey Bill” at billjamesonline.com, the website of sabermetric legend Bill James, the question came up of measuring the growth of sabermetric knowledge. James’s idea? Measure the extent to which teams are taking park factors into account when judging their rosters. But Tom Tango, author of “The Book,” offered another gauge: look at which teams are using good hitters in the No. 2 lineup slot.Traditionally, the two-hole was the domain of contact hitters with good bat control, with premiums placed on the ability to hit behind the runner, to sacrifice bunt, and to generally move the leadoff man over (even if it meant making an out). You can see this statistically: During Major League Baseball’s expansion era (1961-present), the No. 2 slot has the highest aggregate contact rate of any batting order position.But research by Tango and his compatriots suggests teams have been doing it wrong. After examining how important each batting event (single, double, walk, etc.) is to each lineup slot — based on factors such as how many runners are likely to be on base and how many outs they’re likely to hit with — the data says a team ought to bat its three best hitters in the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 slots, with the most balanced hitter occupying the two-hole. That’s a far cry from the conventional wisdom of slotting the best hitter either third or fourth, and putting a weak contact specialist at No. 2.So, if there are more good hitters in the second position, it’s a possible sign sabermetrics has penetrated the managerial mindset. But if there’s a pattern toward a more enlightened lineup card, it’s not detectable by looking at the average quality of No. 2 hitters (according to weighted runs created, known as wRC+) since the introduction of the designated hitter in 1973:If we take a five-year moving average to smooth out year-to-year variance above, it’s even clearer that we’re not in the golden age of great hitters batting second:Historically, the quality levels of MLB leadoff and No. 2 hitters tend to track with each other — and contra the performances of third and fourth hitters. (Meanwhile, Nos. 5 and 6 have stayed fairly stable over the years, with the five slot outproducing six by a decent amount.) The good news is that it appears the two-hole has emerged from the dark ages of the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, when slot Nos. 3 and 4 vastly outpaced Nos. 1 and 2.It may not be coincidental that the bleakest of times for the No. 2 spot came during MLB’s so-called steroid era. The stat we’re using, wRC+, compares a player’s per-plate appearance productivity against the average of all hitters, and the power hitters who frequently bat third and fourth may have received the benefits of performance-enhancing drugs at a greater rate than the overall population of MLB batters. (This would cause No. 2 hitters to move backward relative to the overall average, even if they themselves saw no change in talent.) With the specter of performance-enhancing drugs reduced in today’s game, the gap between hitter No. 2 and Nos. 3 and 4 has returned to its long-term norm.Still, today’s two-hole batters lag behind those of the halcyon late 1980s and early 1990s, when players such as Ryne Sandberg, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Roberto Alomar, Julio Franco and Lou Whitaker were doing a large share of their damage from the second spot in the lineup. It’s plausible that the conditions of the game back then simply favored the traditional archetype of the No. 2 hitter more (batting averages were higher, as was the ratio of on-base percentage to slugging), but today’s managers also don’t appear to be moving toward the sabermetric ideal of penciling the team’s best hitter into the No. 2 spot.Sabermetrics has come a long way since the first analysts began tinkering with mathematical models, and there are certainly places where statistical thinking has made its way onto the field (for example, the explosion of defensive shifts in today’s game is rooted in probability theory regarding where a batter is most likely to hit the ball). But when it comes to the two-hole, baseball’s decision-makers still have a bit of a climb ahead of them.
As we approach the end of the NBA’s regular season, awards conversations are all the rage. As usual, the two most talked-about races are for Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year. Whether it’s “Get Up” or The Jump, Sports Illustrated or CBS or NBA TV, or even NBA players themselves, everyone’s got an opinion on who should take home the hardware at the end of the season.The Rookie of the Year debate, at this point, pretty much boils down to the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic, who stormed out of the gate and grabbed onto front-runner status fairly quickly, and the Hawks’ Trae Young, who started off terribly but has been shining during the season’s second half.But lost among this debate is this: The entire 2018 NBA rookie class — or at least the top five picks — deserves an award. Collectively, they are having the best debut season of any group of top five picks in more than 25 years.Doncic (pick No. 3) is carrying averages of 21.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while acting as the primary facilitator and scoring option in Dallas. He is only the second rookie in NBA history to average at least 20, 7, and 5 in those categories, and the other is Oscar Robertson, who did so during the 1960-61 season.The man whom Doncic was traded for on draft night,1The Hawks drafted Doncic and traded him to the Mavericks in exchange for Young and Dallas’s top-five protected 2019 first-round pick. Young, has been nearly as productive, albeit less consistent, in his debut season for Atlanta. Young’s season-long numbers of 19.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game are strong.2He’s one of only three rookies to have gone for 19, 3 and 8 per game. Those numbers, though, are dragged down by his poor start to the year. Since the All-Star break, he’s averaging 25.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 9.2 assists a night, with shooting numbers that are far better than those he was posting earlier in the season as he struggled to adjust to the NBA game.Two of the first five picks in a given draft looking this good, this early, would be impressive on its own; but Doncic and Young are not alone in their shining debuts. The other three players selected in the top five — the Suns’ DeAndre Ayton (No. 1), the Kings’ Marvin Bagley III (No. 2) and the Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. (No. 4) — have each been pretty damned good this year too.Ayton has been a monster offensive force for Phoenix from Day 1, and he is already one of the league’s best post scorers and offensive rebounders. Among rotation players averaging at least 2 post-ups per game, per NBA.com, Ayton’s 1.03 points per play on post-ups ranks third, behind only Joel Embiid and LaMarcus Aldridge. Ayton’s offensive rebound rate, meanwhile, ranks 22nd among the 263 players who have qualified for the minutes per game leaderboard. And he’s been improving on defense throughout the season.Bagley is averaging 14.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game off the bench for the surprisingly frisky Kings. And he’s been even better since returning from a five-game, injury-related absence in early March, posting 18.5 points and 8.2 rebounds a night with an improved shooting line. He has a diverse, varied face-up game and is working to stretch his jumper, and given his athleticism and quick feet, his defense could eventually come around as well.Memphis shut down Jackson in late-February due to a quad injury, but before his season ended he averaged 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 combined steals and blocks in just 26 minutes a night. He did all that despite being, at 19 years old, the second-youngest player in the league.3The Lakers’ Isaac Bonga is about a month younger than Jackson, and Bonga has played less than 100 minutes this season. Jackson also knocked down 35.9 percent of his threes and carried an above-average usage rate and true shooting percentage, which is wildly impressive for a player whose primary contributions were expected to come on the defensive end of the floor.So how does this season’s top five stack up against past classes? The chart below plots the collective win shares and win shares per 48 minutes for the top five picks in each draft class from 1979 through 2018 (otherwise known as the three-point era) during their respective debut seasons. Note that only players who played during the season immediately following that year’s draft are counted in this analysis; because we’re looking at the top five picks as a class, if a player did not debut with the rest of his class, it doesn’t make much sense to count him along with the others. For example, Ben Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, but he did not play during the 2016-17 season, so he counts for 0 minutes and 0 win shares toward the total of that draft class. Simmons was excellent as a rookie once he did step on the floor, but it also would not make sense to group him with the 2017 draft class, because he was not drafted in 2017. Likewise, the same logic applies to Simmons’s Sixers teammate Joel Embiid, who was drafted in 2014 but did not debut until two years later.4It also applies to Jonas Valanciunas (stayed in Europe for a year before coming over and joining the Raptors); Blake Griffin (injured); Ricky Rubio (Europe); Greg Oden (injured); Danny Ferry (went to Italy for a year because he refused to play for the Clippers); David Robinson (naval service); and tragically, Len Bias (an overdose-caused death). 1982WorthyCummingsWilkinsGarnettThompson0.129 The top-five picks in the 2018 draft are in HOF companyThe five NBA draft classes with the highest win shares per 48 minutes Year1st2nd3rd4th5thWS per 48 min 1979JohnsonGreenwoodCartwrightKelserMoncrief0.137 1992O’NealMourningLaettnerJacksonEllis0.118 Hall of Fame inductees in boldSource: Basketball-Reference.com Draft pick 2018AytonBagley IIIDoncicJackson Jr.Young0.102 1984OlajuwonBowieJordanPerkinsBarkley0.174 As you can see, the 2018 class fares extremely well in both win shares — which represent Basketball-Reference.com’s attempt to divvy up credit for team wins to the individual players on the team — and win shares per 48 minutes. The 21.1 win shares collectively accumulated by Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Jackson and Young ranks eighth among the last 40 draft classes during their respective debut seasons, while their win shares per 48 average of 0.102 makes this class one of just six to exceed 0.100 win shares per 48.One of those six classes (2009) saw only three players actually take the floor during their debut season, thanks to an injury that knocked Blake Griffin out for the year and Ricky Rubio’s contract with Barcelona that kept him in Spain for two years before he arrived stateside. Hasheem Thabeet, James Harden and Tyreke Evans saw varying degrees of success during their respective rookie years and ended up posting a collective average of 0.108 win shares per 48 minutes, but they also combined for only 11.9 total win shares, far fewer than the other five classes that stand out in this analysis, each of which exceeded 20 total win shares.It’s worth noting, then, who was actually taken in the top five in those five NBA drafts (1984, 1979, 1982 and 1992). It’s also worth noting that just a single class between 1992 and 2018 saw its top five post a win shares per 48 average better than 0.100, meaning it’s been nearly a generation since we saw an actual top five class debut with a performance as good as the one we’re seeing from the most recent draft class. Among the 20 players selected in the top five of those four drafts, eight are currently in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Another four — Bill Cartwright, Sidney Moncrief, Terry Cummings and Christian Laettner — made at least one All-Star team during their career. And six more became long-term rotation players. Only Greg Kelser and Bill Garnett failed to pan out at all, as they wound up out of the league entirely within a few seasons.That’s an incredible hit rate of solid NBA players, and bodes well for what we should expect from Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Jackson and Young in the future. It’s obviously far too early to predict that any of these players will be enshrined in Springfield one day, but the future certainly appears bright, and it seems likely that the 2018 draft class will be remembered as one of the best in quite some time.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It wasn’t the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and it wasn’t the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La., but the EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., site of the 2012 Gator Bowl, was the best bowl game location Ohio State football could do this season. The stadium, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, holds more than 77,000 fans and was home of Super Bowl XXXIX between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. The mostly-full stadium held 61,312 fans for Monday’s Gator Bowl, and The Lantern was there to cover the game, and rate the quality of the venue. Here is our rating of EverBank Field, should Buckeyes, Browns or Bengals fans find themselves there in the future. All categories were rated on a five-point scale, with a five being the highest. Sight lines/seating: One of the most important factors when shelling out big bucks for an NFL game or a college football bowl game is your proximity to the field and the sight lines. Luckily for those in attendance for Monday’s Gator Bowl, the Buckeyes’ and Gators’ sideline areas were narrow. The front row of seats was quite close to the playing surface. The stadium was not particularly tall, and the higher the row you sat in, the farther you were from the action, kind of like the Rose Bowl. Upper deck seats might not have been the best vantage point, but the expansive lower bowl would be well worth the price of admission. Lantern rating: 2 Access to stadium/location: Though the stadium wasn’t at full capacity, traffic to the game was manageable — a 15-minute cab ride from downtown Jacksonville. Public transit is an option, as is an elevated, light-rail train that runs right past the stadium. Very convenient. The stadium location is also quite nice. The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, home of the Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins, is a beautiful, red-brick ball field adjacent to EverBank Field. Lastly, and perhaps best of all, the stadium is located on the banks of the St. Johns River, which makes for a picturesque scene. Lantern rating: 4 Aesthetics of the stadium: EverBank Field is comprised mostly of large concrete ramps that run up to the upper levels of the stadium. It isn’t very colorful or particularly eye-grabbing. The open-air facility was very open indeed, and probably not conducive to allowing crowd noise to reverberate and bother the team you’re rooting against. Lantern rating: 1 Gameday atmosphere: There was a large tailgate party situated on a lawn outside of the stadium. Hundreds of fans attended, ate, drank and watched college football on a jumbo-sized television screen. The cost of admission to the tailgate was $10, but your “ticket” to enter was the official Gator Bowl patch — worn by both teams during the game — attached to a lanyard. The patch was a fine souvenir and the tailgate grounds gave fans the opportunity to meet and get pumped for the game. Lantern rating: 4.5 To visit or not to visit: All categories considered, EverBank Field garnered a 2.875. A trip to EverBank Field, which was built in 1995, could be justified for a college football bowl game. A trip to see the Jaguars, which finished the 2011 season with a 5-11 record, though? Probably not.
Ohio State redshirt sophomore tight end Luke Farrell (89) carries the ball downfield in the first quarter of the game against Rutgers on Sept. 8. Ohio State won 52-3. Credit: Casey Cascaldo | Photo EditorOhio State has a tendency to recruit highly-touted tight ends. Of the four tight ends looking to make an impact for the Buckeyes this season, redshirt junior Rashod Berry, redshirt sophomore Luke Farrell, redshirt sophomore Jake Hausmann and freshman Jeremy Ruckert, three of them were rated in the top 10 of their position in their respective recruiting classes. With that, all four players came in with a similar mindset: to change the view of the role tight ends have in the Ohio State passing game. First comes an expectation for a part of the game that many tight ends were not familiar with coming into college: blocking. In high school, Berry said he never blocked as a tight end. However, when he entered the position room at Ohio State, the expectation remained. “As a tight end in high school, you don’t block,” Berry said. “It’s a natural thing. If you got it, you got it, if you don’t, you don’t, it’s going to take time. It took time for me, but once you get it, it’s muscle memory that you are not going to miss.” For Berry, he didn’t have it. The redshirt junior said he was not excited about that part of his position. However, knowing blocking was the only way he would see the field as a tight end, Berry began to work, repeating rep after rep, learning the basics. He created an attitude each block he made against a mat in practice. “You have to have the mindset, ‘I’m about to kill this dude,’” Berry said. “‘I’m about to hit this block.’” In the mind of offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson, blocking is everything. With the running game stagnating with the rise of redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins and the passing game, Wilson has utilized two-tight end sets, using both Farrell and Berry, with one on the line of scrimmage, the primary position, and one as what many consider to be a fullback, blocking for the runner. This is the part of the tight end position that is crucial to the overall success of the Ohio State offense. “As coach Wilson likes to say, ‘You run into a lot of problems when you don’t have a tight end that can block well,’ whether it’s in protection or in perimeter running, running the quarterback too much and getting hits on him,” Farrell said. “He feels and we feel that it’s crucial for our offense for what we want to do.” Berry has a different approach to his blocking skill. Recruited as a tight end out Lorain, Ohio, in the 2015 class, Berry moved to the defensive line for the 2016 season, playing 10 games at defensive end. He was moved back to the tight end position prior to the start of the 2017 season. With experience at both positions, Berry thinks he has a unique ability to pick up blocks other tight ends might not catch. “Just knowing what a D-lineman is going to do just because I did it,” Berry said. “It’s helping me on the blocking side, helping me where the linebackers are going to be at.” The Ohio State tight ends, according to Farrell, are expecting to do everything evenly, excel in the blocking game and in the passing game. Berry said the passing game is going to come. However, the blocking aspect at tight end is a thankless job. But it’s one Berry has embraced, celebrating each time he makes a big block to secure a score for his teammate. “That’s my passion for the game,” Berry said. “When the game is on the line or even if it’s not on the line, just seeing my teammates score, it’s excitement for me, doing what I can for the team.”
Dan Cohen AUTHOR The Federal Aviation Administration has selected Brunswick Executive Airport, Brunswick, Maine to participate in the fiscal 2016 Military Airport Program (MAP), allowing the business and general aviation airport at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station to remain in the program for five additional years.Brunswick was the only former military airport or joint use airport added to MAP this year, the third straight year FAA has picked only one participant. A total of 15 airports can participate in the program at one time.Brunswick’s selection will allow it to complete projects that started during the previous five years, according to an FAA fact sheet. Those projects include converting military hangars to civilian use, obstruction removal, drainage upgrades and installing wildlife fencing.MAP provides a critical source of federal funding for capital needs to support joint use airports and to convert former military airports to civilian use. MAP, a set-aside of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), covers projects such as building or rehabilitating parking lots, fuel farms, hangars, utility systems, access roads, cargo buildings and other airfield projects. Many of these projects are not normally eligible for AIP funding, but projects for MAP-designated airports have unique eligibility rules to convert them to civilian or joint use.Airports already participating in MAP include:Kaleaeloa/John Rodgers Field, Kapolei, HawaiiCastle Airport, Atwater, Calif.Northwest Florida Regional Airport at Eglin AFB, Valparaiso, Fla.Griffiss International Airport, Rome, N.Y.Alexandria International Airport (former England AFB), Alexandria, La.José Aponte de la Torre Airport (former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads), Ceiba, Puerto Rico