By capturing his second major of the 2015 season, U.S. Open winner Jordan Spieth has placed himself in some very elite company. It’s only the fourth time since 19581Roughly speaking, 1958 marks the beginning of the modern era of major championships; that’s when the PGA Championship adopted a stroke-play format. that the same player has won both of the year’s first two majors, and just the 13th time any player won back-to-back major titles.The conversation has quickly turned to Spieth’s Grand Slam chances. This has been the Year of Spieth on the PGA Tour, and a Slam would solidify his season as one of the best in golf history. And yet he’s not considered to be the best golfer on tour. Spieth is still the second-ranked player in the world behind Rory McIlroy, who is probably the better golfer on a per-round basis and has, in the past, won the two major tournaments remaining on the 2015 schedule.That’s why the betting markets consider McIlroy, and not Spieth, the favorite to win each of the season’s final two majors. After adjusting for the house edge built into betting odds, the sportsbook Bovada.lv assigns2To the best of our knowledge, Bovada only lists the players upon whom they’ve gotten action, and will release odds for other players upon request. The inclusion of additional players could slightly alter the house-edge adjustment we made, but those players’ odds of winning are so low that the change would be minimal at best. McIlroy a 13 percent probability of winning the British Open and an 11 percent chance of winning the PGA Championship; the site gives Spieth a 9 percent shot at winning each tournament.Those numbers are similar to the ones you’d see if you looked at how past back-to-back major winners did in their next two major tournaments. Of those who won back-to-back majors, only Tiger Woods — who won his “Tiger Slam” by capturing the 2000 U.S. and British Opens and the PGA Championship, plus the 2001 Masters — went on to win any of the next two majors, giving the group an 8.3 percent success rate per major.Of course, sometimes you can play well enough to win but run into another great performance. That’s when a method such as Bill Barnwell’s Z-scores is useful, because it tells us how well a player scored relative to the rest of the field on the same day. We can then use that number to track how often a player’s performance would be good enough to win a typical major against typical competition, which helps even out comparisons between fields of varying quality. And according to this calculation, the average back-to-back major champ’s Z-scores over his next two majors were good enough to win a generic major3From 1958 on. 11.3 percent of the time.No matter how you cut it, the odds of Spieth finishing off the Grand Slam are still fairly low — about 1 percent, if the probabilities above are any kind of guide.Even if Spieth doesn’t win the Slam, however, his future looks exceptionally bright. Back in April, we developed a model (based on the historical performance, by age, of people who won majors) to track Woods’s progress in his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s all-time majors record. If we plug in Spieth’s expected major count at year’s end — roughly 2.2, using the odds from Bovada — he’s currently on pace to finish his career with just under 12 major titles, a total that would rank third all-time if it came to fruition. (And remember, that’s just a mean projection — the variance around it means there are plenty of scenarios in which he wins more than 12.)Either way, it’s been an incredible start to Spieth’s career, Grand Slam or not.
Dolphins will get national exposure in training camp.The Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets declined a chance to star in HBO’s popular, insightful show, “Hard Knocks,” which provides unprecedented insight into an NFL training camp. But the Miami Dolphins, a team struggling for an identity, did not.In its seventh season, this version offers the first time with a rookie coach, Joe Philbin.“It’s a great opportunity to connect with our fans, for the people who aren’t going to be able to come out here daily in 110-degree heat index weather and watch our guys participate in training camp,” Philbin said.HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said in a statement: “We are delighted that ‘Hard Knocks ‘ will be returning this summer and placing the spotlight on the Miami Dolphins, a venerable franchise that had an excited offseason activity. This marks the first time that series has featured a first-year head coach and we are extremely grateful to both coach Philbin and the entire organization for agreeing to participate. As always, there will be plenty on the line for veterans, free agents and rookies.”“Hard Knocks” won three Sports Emmys for its coverage of the New York Jets in 2010. The show made its debut in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens, and has had the Dallas Cowboys (2002 and ’08), Kansas City Chiefs (2007) and Cincinnati Bengals (2009) as the focus in the past.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, who has had a tumultuous off-the-field existence, was arrested Monday after turning himself in to DeSoto, Tx police. The charge: misdemeanor domestic violence against a female family friend, DeSoto (Texas) police confirmed.Bryant was booked around an event that allegedly occurred Saturday, police said. No further information was immediately available.A source said late Monday night that Bryant was in an argument with his half brother and wound up pushing his mother, Angela. According to the source, police responded to a call , but no arrests were made at that point. Further examination of the reports resulted in Monday’s arrest, the source said.Bryant was charged with a Class A misdemeanor for assaulting a female family member, police told KDFW-TV in Dallas. The woman did not need to be taken to the hospital for her injuries, the report said.The station said police declined to elaborate on the circumstances surrounding the arrest or Bryant’s relationship to the alleged victim.Bryant’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, declined to comment. The Cowboys said they were aware of the incident late Monday.The Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail. The arrest also subjects Bryant to possible penalty under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.This is Bryant’s first arrest, but it is not his first incident that required police involvement since the Cowboys traded up to select the former Oklahoma State star with the 24th overall pick in the 2010 draft.In January, Bryant was detained by police but not arrested after an alleged altercation at a Miami Beach night club.Last summer, off-duty police working as security at an upscale Dallas mall kicked Bryant and friends out of the mall because of inappropriate attire (sagging pants) and language. Bryant was temporarily banned from the mall.Bryant, who was widely considered a top-10 talent but slipped in the draft due to teams’ character concerns, has also been sued for unpaid debts for jewelry and sports tickets from before he was drafted.
The rematch between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title will be held Dec. 28 at MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas as the main event of UFC 168. Dana White made the announcement live on ESPN’s Sports Center just moments after the deal closed.Chris Weidman knocked, Silva, the greatest mixed martial artist in the history of the sport, out cold in 2012. Weidman caught Silva with a hard left hook straight to the chin during one of Silva’s infamous cocky moments in the octagon.The day after the fight at the post-fight news conference, Weidman said that he wanted the rematch. He referred to the rematch as “a done deal.”Watch the blow that knocked Silva out cold in the video above.
Predictions NBA See more NBA predictions All newsletters Oh, and don’t forgetA successful no no nearly killed this man We’re launching a sports newsletter. 🏆 Join the squad. Subscribe Things That Caught My EyeSeattle to earn more frequent flyer milesThe Seattle Seahawks, by virtue of playing in a city that is very far away from other cities that host NFL teams, spend a lot of time on planes. Once every four years, they get a reprieve and get to play in Oakland, a place only 801 miles away. This year the NFL scheduled that advantage away, as Seattle will play Oakland 4,789 miles away in one of the London games. [ESPN]Detroit isn’t as bad off as it seemsEvery year, people talk about a strength of team’s schedule, and every year they tend to use the one thing that isn’t super predictive of future results, namely total wins and losses. Football is fluky, and a team’s win percentage is often no indicator of how a team will do in a subsequent year. What is helpful is looking at Pythagorean wins, which looks at how a team with a given points scored and allowed would be expected to perform as. Ranking strength of schedule by that, a team like Detroit — which has the second hardest schedule according to wins — can breathe easier, as they’d be more in the middle of the pack, with the 15th hardest schedule. [FiveThirtyEight]Pine tar seems like a bigger problem?Gerrit Cole’s spin rate on a fastball jumped from 2,163 rpm last year to 2,332 rpm this season, a jump that Trevor Bauer of the Indians suggested may have been due to the use of pine tar. Several years ago a particularly brazen use of pine tar — which can aid in grip and control of the ball and is super illegal — got Michael Pineda ejected from a game. How widespread this practice is is unclear, but pitchers and managers reportedly seem to tolerate it because many people regardless of club are using it. [ESPN]Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?Shady way of doing businessWe are several weeks into baseball, which means that finally top-tier talent that was forced to marinate in the minors for an arbitrary two weeks in order to defer free agency for another year is being brought up to the big leagues. The CBA gives teams control over a player for 4 or 5 minor league seasons, then six full major league seasons. Operative word being full; if you force a rookie to spend a few weeks in the minors and then bring him up, teams can defer free agency for an additional year. [The Ringer]Don’t call it a tankThe Miami Marlins, which FiveThirtyEight forecasts will have an estimated 60 wins at the end of this season (the lowest in the league), are in part owned by Derek Jeter, who oversaw a roster wipe. Confronted about this by HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, Jeter vehemently denied that the tank was on and that he truly expects the team to contend this year. [Miami Herald]Browns attempt to defy historySince 1950, the Browns have drafted 49 quarterbacks. Of those, eight were in the first round. Only one of those eight was a successful pick, Bernie Kosar, who led the Browns to three AFC championship games. In their whole history, they’ve had 55 different starting quarterbacks, of whom only 11 started in a playoff game, and only 2 since 1993. Let’s see what they do with their No. 1 pick. [ESPN]Big Number(s)21 pitchesCongratulations to San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt and condolences to viewers of a baseball game he played in! Belt has the record for most pitches in a single at bat, with 21 pitches. The at bat lasted 12 minutes and 45 seconds. [ESPN]Leaks from Slack: neil:That has to be one of the least likely no-hitters ever(at least based on the opponent)chris.herring:I’m just seeing the highlights of the no-hitter! Thats so shady! The error they called def shouldve been a hit!
2Ohio StateFootball6594 RKTeamSportCountRate* *In preseason polls since 1976-77 season for women’s basketball, 1961-62 for men’s basketball and 1950 for football.Source: College Poll Archive Ohio State has at least five more appearances on the AP preseason poll than any team in any sport, having qualified in 94 percent of available seasons. Since 1989, Ohio State’s average ranking in the preseason AP poll is 10.3. And perhaps no team dominates the opening month of the season like Ohio State, which has gone 21-2 over the last six years in the month of September, winning by an average margin of more than 30 points per game. But preseason rankings aren’t always pinpoint precise: Ohio State typically underperforms relative to its lofty preseason ranking.AP preseason polls typically draw from blue-blood schools, so it’s no surprise that other well-heeled programs like the football teams at Oklahoma and USC and the men’s basketball team at Kentucky are among the most-ranked.But on the gridiron, no team is accustomed to high expectations like the Buckeyes. Columbus has produced the second-most first-round NFL draft picks all time, and the team is expected not only to win, but to dominate. In this weekend’s season opener against Oregon State, Ohio State opened as 38-point favorites, the most lopsided betting line of any opening-week contest for a ranked team. “A place like Ohio State, we’re expected to win every game we play,” Meyer has said. “There’s not many places like that.” Those are expectations that Meyer also noted aren’t always “easy to embrace.” But players and coaches alike should recognize that’s what they’ve signed up for in Columbus: a culture of on-field success, national title aspirations and a preseason ranking. TexasFootball5275 The year was 1956. Ohio State’s college football program was ranked fifth in the annual Associated Press preseason college football poll and was coming off a season in which they had won all but two games. Expectations for a strong season were, no doubt, high.But head coach Woody Hayes was in hot water with the Big Ten for providing loans to his players, and after an investigation, the conference put the team on probation for one year and banned it from playing in that season’s Rose Bowl.Sixty-two years later, Ohio State is once again entering the season with a No. 5 preseason ranking, having won all but two games the previous season. Controversy blankets the campus once more: Head coach Urban Meyer has been suspended for the opening three games of the season after an investigation concluded that he had mishandled domestic assault allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith.High expectations are nothing new in Columbus. For about as long as college football has been around, the Ohio State Buckeyes have been a force. In the annals of the sport’s history, only Michigan (943) — oh, the irony — and Notre Dame (906) have won more games than the Buckeyes (898).1Excluding Yale, which is not currently a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision team. Since the turn of the century, only Boise State, which has played in three non-Power-Five conferences over that stretch, has won more total games than Ohio’s flagship university.And that prodigious success isn’t lost on Associated Press voters.Ohio State has failed to make the poll just four times in the 69-year history of the poll, most recently in 1988. That was John Cooper’s first year at the helm after taking over for the fired Earle Bruce. Cooper wouldn’t miss another preseason poll. Hayes only missed out in 1966 and 1967, the lone instance of the team failing to crack the AP preseason poll in consecutive years.Which got us thinking: Does Ohio State dominate this poll more than any team in any sport dominates its preseason poll? AP voters produce a preseason, weekly and postseason poll for three college sports: football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. In 1989, the polls expanded to a 25-team format, which remains the current standard.Across the three sports, only the Tennessee Volunteers women’s basketball program has been more of a mainstay on the preseason poll than the Ohio State football team, according to data from the website College Poll Archive. Tennessee has made the AP preseason poll 98 percent of the time. It’s missed just once in the poll’s 42-year history — in 1976, the year the poll was introduced. Largely under their legendary coach, the late Pat Summitt, the Volunteers piled up eight national championships and 18 Final Four appearances, controlling the sport for decades before Connecticut assumed the mantle. 3KentuckyMen’s basketball5088 9GeorgiaWomen’s basketball3276 Appearances North CarolinaMen’s basketball4884 1TennesseeWomen’s basketball4198% 8TexasWomen’s basketball3379 7Notre DameFootball5580 4OklahomaFootball6087 UCLAMen’s basketball4375 The preseason eliteTeams with the highest rate of appearances in AP Top 25 preseason polls in men’s or women’s basketball and college football 5USCFootball5884 10AlabamaFootball5275
The 2-12 Jacksonville Jaguars host the 2-12 Tennessee Titans Thursday night, ending this season’s sad slate of Thursday night games with the saddest game of all. But this awful matchup still matters. The top pick of the 2015 NFL draft is in play.This week, we added each team’s chances of getting the No. 1 overall pick to our weekly playoff implication interactives. In 50,000 simulations, just Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Oakland, Jacksonville and Washington managed to clinch the No. 1 overall pick at least once (the New York Jets blew their chances with last week’s win). The Buccaneers are your clubhouse leader, getting the pick in 54.8 percent of simulations, while the Titans are second at 25 percent.The size of that gap is a little misleading. The Buccaneers don’t control their own destiny, and the loser of Tennessee at Jacksonville will be nipping at their heels:The game also affects a much weirder scenario. If two teams from different conferences finish with the same record and strength of schedule, the pick will be decided by coin flip. These flips aren’t so uncommon, but they’ve never decided who gets the No. 1 overall. Before Thursday’s game, there is a 2 percent chance the top pick will be decided by a Tennessee vs. Tampa Bay coin flip. If the Titans lose, that figure bumps up a bit to 3.2 percent.But which team would actually keep the pick? The presumed top player of the 2015 draft is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. None of the teams in contention saw impressive QB play in 2014: Josh McCown is old, Zach Mettenberger is shorn, Blake Bortles is bad and Derek Carr is dinky. Washington is just a mess, but they’re pretty much out of the running.Jacksonville and Oakland are the most likely to trade the first pick, as Bortles and Carr have likely done enough in their rookie seasons to warrant a second look. Tennessee and Tampa Bay would be much more likely to take Mariota. This means the St. Louis Rams – or even the Philadelphia Eagles – could be keeping an eye on an otherwise terrible Thursday night game, crossing their fingers for a Jacksonville loss.Mike Beuoy contributed analysis.
The playoff situation is slightly more open in the AFC. The New England Patriots have clinched the top seed. And the Indianapolis Colts are locked into the fourth seed, where they will face either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round. A matchup with the Bengals looks slightly more likely at this point, with a probability of 60 percent.The San Diego Chargers’ playoff fortunes have swung wildly. Their probability of making the playoffs was as high as 76 percent in mid-October, but dropped to near single digits just a month later following some key conference losses. Going into Saturday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Chargers’ playoff chances were just 15 percent. In that game, San Diego overcame a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime before winning on a Nick Novak field goal.With that victory, the Chargers now have a playoff probability of 41 percent going into their matchup this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and a win guarantees the Chargers a playoff berth. However, if the Chiefs can win at home, their playoff chances stay alive, along with those of the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans. With a total “swing” of 200 percentage points, the Chargers-Chiefs game is one of our top matchups this week: With just one week remaining in the NFL regular season, the playoff implications are fairly straightforward, and running thousands of simulations of Week 17 outcomes may seem like computational overkill. But the playoff field is far from settled, particularly the seeding, so a simulation model can still be helpful in sorting out the probable from the improbable.Speaking of improbable, the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers will play for the NFC South division title this Sunday. They are No. 22 and No. 24, respectively, in our rankings based on the betting lines:The winner will most likely face the Arizona Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs, though there is still a 7 percent chance the NFC South winner will face the Seattle Seahawks instead.There are four NFC teams with any real chance at the conference’s top seed.1Technically there are five, but the Dallas Cowboys would need a tie between Detroit and Green Bay for a chance at the top seed — something that’s very unlikely. The Seahawks can clinch the top seed with a win over the St. Louis Rams. A Seahawks loss would boost the chances of securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and the Cardinals.If you find the various clinching and elimination scenarios for your team too difficult to keep track of, we’ve made it easy on you. Use the interactive tool below for a quick summary of which games matter — including those that matter for the top draft pick.2The interactive does not include the 16 teams that have nothing to play for this week, which is all the teams already eliminated from the playoffs that don’t have a shot at the No. 1 pick, plus teams like New England and Indianapolis whose playoff position is set. The race for the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft is between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans. The Buccaneers are the current favorite, owing to a weaker projected strength of schedule than the Titans.
2Chicago Bears19426-01751 TEAMYEARRECORDELO AFTER 6 WEEKS 1Chicago Bears19866-01756 23Indianapolis Colts20056-01697 8Chicago Bears19435-0-11718 Once again, the New England Patriots find themselves atop the NFL heap: 5-0 so far this year with the league’s best points-per-game margin. Las Vegas oddsmakers consider New England far and away the best team in football. Excellence isn’t unfamiliar for the Pats; just last month, we anointed their 2007 squad1Unbeaten in the regular season. as the best single-season team in NFL history. But this year’s version is also one of the greatest teams in NFL history — through a season’s first six weeks.Of course, that last qualifier is important; the Patriots aren’t even a third of the way through their schedule, and you don’t win any prizes for being really good going into Week 7. On the other hand, the Patriots are really, really good.We can measure this using Elo ratings, one of our favorite metrics for ranking football teams. You can read the fine details of how they work here, but in a nutshell, Elo assigns each team a strength rating based on how likely it thinks that team is to win games in the future. The ratings are simple — their only inputs are the score, strength of opponent and location of each game — but they’re also predictive and self-correcting, so a team’s strength estimate is constantly evolving.And in the case of the 2015 Patriots, that rating is ridiculously good. Through the first six weeks of an NFL season,2Which technically encompasses only five games for the Patriots, because they had a bye in Week 4. only three teams have ever possessed a higher Elo rating than New England’s current mark of 1736: 5San Francisco 49ers19905-01734 19Green Bay Packers19626-01702 12New England Patriots20045-01714 7Denver Broncos19986-01724 11Miami Dolphins19735-11714 15Philadelphia Eagles19505-11711 9Pittsburgh Steelers19795-11717 16Miami Dolphins19846-01709 13Canton Bulldogs19236-01714 24New England Patriots20115-11695 25Cleveland Browns19515-11693 22Los Angeles Rams19686-01697 14Green Bay Packers19635-11713 18Minnesota Vikings19705-11707 3New England Patriots20076-01748 10Dallas Cowboys19944-11716 21Chicago Bears19415-11698 17Green Bay Packers19306-01708 4New England Patriots20155-01736 6Green Bay Packers20116-01728 20Chicago Bears19346-01698 I wrote three weeks ago, when they were 3-0, that this year’s Pats were unlikely to match the 2007 team’s 16-0 regular season record … and they still aren’t. (New England has roughly a 7 percent chance of going undefeated now.) But the Patriots are within striking distance of where the ’07 Pats were at the same point that season, and that ought to strike fear in the hearts of New England’s remaining 11 opponents.CORRECTION (Oct. 23, 10:50 a.m.): An earlier version of a table in this article listed the 1950 Philadelphia Eagles twice. One of the entries, which represented the Elo of the Eagles after five games, was incorrect and has been removed. The teams below that entry have each been moved up a slot, and the 2011 Patriots were added to the list as the 25th team.CORRECTION (Oct. 25, 1:25 p.m.): An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect record for the 1931 Green Bay Packers through the first six weeks of the season. The team was 6-0, not 7-1. The Packers’ Elo through those six weeks was too low for them to be in the top 25, so we have removed them, moved the teams below up a slot, and added the 1951 Cleveland Browns.
Barry Bonds is back in baseball. The Miami Marlins announced Friday that Bonds will become their hitting coach, joining new manager Don Mattingly’s staff.1Since retiring, Bonds has worked as a spring-training guest instructor for the San Francisco Giants, but not on a full-time basis. So now we’ll get to obsessively analyze Bonds’ proportions all over again, this time in arguably the majors’ worst uniform.Bonds is a lightning rod because of his role in MLB’s steroid era, but I’m not here to re-litigate how much he cheated or what his punishment should be. The guy was pretty terrific at hitting a baseball long before we knew what BALCO was.My question is simple: Does a good hitter make for a good hitting coach?Not necessarily.To find out, I looked at every hitting coach going back to 19732The year the designated hitter was introduced. using data from Retrosheet.org, and for those who played in MLB, I gathered their Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+, a per-plate appearance measure of offensive production that we’re quite fond of at FiveThirtyEight) and the number of wins above replacement (WAR) that can be attributed to their offensive contributions.3For sticklers, this means I removed both positional defense and the overall position adjustment from a player’s WAR. But I did leave baserunning in offensive WAR, as is the custom for the statistic, even though that aspect of the game is often managed by instructors other than the hitting coach.But how does one go about quantifying coaching performance? It’s a complex question that I’ve struggled with over the years. One simple way to judge a hitting coach’s effectiveness is how well his hitters outperformed their expectations. To that end, I used a historical database of Marcel projections — named for the pet monkey from the show “Friends” because they’re so basic a monkey could compute them — and measured the degree to which a hitting coach’s pupils performed better in the batter’s box (according to Weighted On-Base Average, or wOBA) than they were projected to.Armed with all this information, we can see the (non-)relationship between a hitter’s offense and his coaching talents. Whether we make the comparison using the hitting coach’s career WAR, as in the chart above, or using a weighted average of his lifetime wRC+, the correlation between hitting well and coaching others to do the same is effectively nonexistent.While Bonds may have been second only to Babe Ruth among career hitters — ignoring steroids — we have no idea what that means for Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and the rest of the Marlins hitters. So while the thought of Stanton becoming even more Bonds-like has pitchers everywhere reconsidering their chosen profession, it’s still anyone’s guess whether Bonds will be able to communicate to others just what drove his preternatural plate discipline and freakishly fast reflexes at the plate.