An arrest warrant was issued for Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward for an alleged assault stemming from a fight at a Denver strip club on May 9.“We have been aware of this issue and will continue to review all of the facts,” the Broncos said in a statement.Court records show the disturbance happened at PT’s All Nude.Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson did not know details of the incident, but described it as “some type of disturbance at a nightclub.” He said Ward will be charged with a misdemeanor count of assault.A manager at PT’s told The Associated Press that he had no information about the incident.Ward’s agent, Josh Arnold, didn’t immediately return a phone call from the AP seeking comment.Ward is coming off a Pro Bowl season in Cleveland and this spring signed a four-year, $22.5 million deal with Denver.Ward, who was also a second-team All-Pro last season, is one of three marquee free agents the Broncos signed to add an edge to their defense following their 43-8 loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl.“He’s a young, explosive strong safety who is going to bring a lot of energy and toughness to our secondary,” general manager John Elway said when he signed Ward on March 11 to a contract that guarantees the 27-year-old Oregon alum $14 million.
Late last week, New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez added another milestone to what has been a renaissance of a 2015 season, joining the venerated 3,000-hit club with a home run against Detroit’s Justin Verlander. The accomplishment prompted much debate over whether A-Rod had tarnished the club with his history of using performance-enhancing drugs — and even whether such numbers can be meaningfully compared across different eras of baseball.Call me naive, but when it comes to cross-era comparisons, I don’t think we have to give up the ball and head for the locker room. We can’t necessarily account for who used PEDs and who didn’t, but sabermetrics does have a long history of adjusting player stats for the environments in which they were produced. For instance, here’s a look at how easy it was to compare how many hits per plate appearance were made in the major leagues each season going back to 1901:(The metric is indexed so that 100 represents the average hits-per-plate-appearance rate since 1901.)By this accounting, Rodriguez’s hit total hasn’t been especially inflated by the era in which he played, relative to the entirety of MLB history. Early in his career, hits were easier to come by than the historical average, but a recent string of offensively suppressed seasons have brought A-Rod’s career hitting environment metric down to an almost perfectly average index of 100.3.Of course, we can also adjust for schedule length — normalizing shorter seasons to 162 games — and park factors, both of which do cut into A-Rod’s raw hit count. Among members of the 3,000-hit club, only seven played in more favorable stadiums for hitters than Rodriguez has in his career, and only Derek Jeter and Lou Brock get less of a boost for playing fewer than 162 games per season than A-Rod does. (The schedule adjustment pro-rates Rodriguez’s hits upward by a mere 0.7 percent.)After all of the adjustments are made for era, park and schedule, A-Rod loses 48 hits from his actual total. That’s not the most of any player — Coors Field lifer Todd Helton gets docked more than 356 hits — but it is enough to make A-Rod the only player currently in the 3,000-hit club who would not be a member under the adjusted hits metric. While he will probably hit his way into the adjusted club, too, before very long, the 48 hits he loses under the adjustments is the third most of any actual 3,000-hit club member, most of whom gained hits in the adjustment process.So the critics are right, to a certain extent: Rodriguez has benefited from favorable conditions to join an elite statistical club. But the degree to which his numbers were inflated because of his era has been negligible — with the shortfall mainly owing to differences in park factors and schedule lengths — and he’s only 45 “adjusted hits” shy of 3,000 even after his numbers are tweaked.There’s plenty of room to debate about how much to handicap Rodriguez’s numbers for his performance-enhancing drug use. But putting that aside, Rodriguez has outhit his peers practically as much as many other fellow 3,000-hit club member. Hot Takedown: How Big Is A-Rod’s Asterisk?Subscribe to our sports podcast on iTunes.
In broadcast booths, on scoreboards and on Twitter, there’s a wave of new information sweeping across Major League Baseball. It tells us that Carter Capps’s leaping delivery increases his effective velocity and that Giancarlo Stanton hits the ball really hard. (OK, so we didn’t need Statcast to know that.) Those numbers are all courtesy of MLB’s Statcast system — which uses an array of radar equipment and high-resolution cameras to track every object and person on the baseball field — and they’re finally being released to the public this season.Although MLB has made only a limited portion of that information available,1Perhaps because of technical issues. Statcast’s new metrics have enormous potential to change our understanding of baseball, telling us not only what happened, but also how it happened. On the other hand, they’re largely unfamiliar to fans used to thinking in terms of old-school metrics. So today, I’m going to dive into two of Statcast’s new statistics — launch angle and exit velocity, both of which long existed only in the dreams of sabermetricians — and explore what they can tell us about hitters.Launch angle measures the vertical direction of the ball coming off the bat; a launch angle of zero degrees would be a flat line, with positive numbers indicating an upward ball flight and negative ones indicating a ball driven into the ground. Hitters with high launch angles tend to be sluggers who produce lots of fly balls (and, sometimes, pop-ups). Kris Bryant was one of the league leaders in launch angle in 2015, with an average angle of 19.2 degrees. Conversely, low launch angles tend to be the domain of quick, slap-hitting middle infielders who generate lots of ground balls. Dee Gordon, for example, was toward the low end of the spectrum with an average launch angle of 2.9 degrees.Exit velocity, on the other hand, represents the speed at which a ball leaves the bat. Although it was unofficially available from some websites last year, MLB officially packaged and released exit velocity alongside launch angle on April 7, effectively giving us a detailed measure of how hard each ball was hit. Unsurprisingly, at the top of last season’s exit velocity leaderboards you’ll find the game’s greatest sluggers — such as Stanton (99.1 mph), Miguel Cabrera (95.1) and Jose Bautista (94.3) — pounding out average exit velocities well north of 90 miles per hour.We learned last season that exit velocity alone was modestly useful, but it becomes exponentially more powerful when combined with launch angle data. These two numbers together can tell us a great deal about what’s likely to happen after bat meets ball. Meanwhile, the success of a ball struck at a more intermediate angle is extremely sensitive to its exit velocity. For instance, at a launch angle of about 25 degrees,3Specifically, I selected all balls with launch angles of between 22 and 28 degrees, somewhere between a line drive and fly ball. run values can vary sharply depending on how fast the ball leaves the bat. Low exit velocities tend to result in short-hoppers to the infielders, which are easy outs. But as batters hit the ball slightly harder, those liners get progressively stronger, eventually sailing over infielders’ heads for bloop singles. Then the run value drops again, as those line drives begin to travel within reach of the outfielders. At a certain point, though, run value skyrockets again as hard-hit balls become doubles and, eventually, home runs.(The valley in the chart above, with bloop singles on one side and doubles on the other, has been dubbed the “doughnut hole” because it’s surrounded by combinations of exit velocity and launch angle that are more productive.)Except for those few line drives just before the doughnut hole, more exit velocity is generally better for batters. Although exit velocity most directly affects slugging percentage — harder-hit balls go farther and turn into extra-base hits more often — it is also correlated with almost every other positive indicator of offensive performance. It even affects how pitchers approach a given hitter; it’s positively associated with walk rate, presumably because pitchers fear throwing balls in the zone to high-exit-velocity hitters.There are many things we can’t know from these two metrics alone, of course. Anyone who’s ever seen Billy Hamilton leg out an infield single knows that speed plays a significant role in what happens after a ball is struck. In fact, we can see the importance of swift base running by looking at ground balls and grouping batters according to their speed score, a Bill James-designed composite of stolen bases, triples and runs scored. The higher the speed score, the faster the runner. For grounders,4Defined here as launch angles between -50 and 10 degrees. For this graph, we are also considering only players with at least 250 plate appearances. there’s a big difference in scoring value depending on how quick the batter is on the base paths. Exit velocity being equal, the fastest third of batters always produce more value on ground balls than the slowest third. And the difference is especially pronounced with high exit velocities: At 94 miles per hour, a grounder is a net negative play for a slow runner, just about neutral for an average runner, and positive for the fast group. Because of this difference, low exit angles are much more harmful for lumbering first basemen than for speedy shortstops. The effect of speed starts to fade only when launch angles exceed 10 degrees, as exit velocity begins to take over as the biggest determinant of a batted ball’s fate.Even with these preliminary principles from Statcast, there’s much we still don’t know. The statistics have just been released, so sabermetricians haven’t had time to fully digest them, much less conduct full-scale analyses. But every time new data finds its way into baseball, it teaches us fresh lessons. In the years after PITCHf/x was installed in 2006, we learned about the importance of catcher framing, a skill that had been regarded as largely fictitious. Who’s to say what novel theories will be born from Statcast data, now that we finally have our hands on it? The relationship between a batted ball’s launch angle, exit velocity and linear weights scoring value (a measure of the runs a play adds relative to average) is complicated.2This chart plots launch angles above -50 degrees and batted ball velocities higher than 15 mph. There were very few outliers below these thresholds. The very best hitters in MLB tend to smack lots of balls with launch angles around 25 degrees and exit velocities above 90 miles per hour, corresponding to the area of the plot rich in such valuable plays as home runs and doubles. Worse hitters, by contrast, have a tendency to make contact at sharper angles, where positive run values are harder to come by. That’s because balls hit with extreme launch angles (positive or negative) usually find their way into fielders’ gloves as either pop-ups or groundouts, doomed to be outs no matter their exit velocities.
As debate has intensified over the plan for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, industries across Britain are preparing for a post-Brexit world. Along with the agriculture, automotive, pharmaceutical and financial services fields, there’s another prosperous British business that could feel the brunt of Brexit: the English Premier League.From March 29 onward, all foreign soccer players — regardless of their origin — could require a work permit to sign for a club in the U.K. This would have enormous consequences for English clubs and the future of the English Premier League.By separating from the EU, the U.K. will aim to end “freedom of movement of people” between the U.K. and EU — one of the four freedoms of the EU’s single market.1The others are freedom of goods, services and capital. For many years, freedom of movement has bestowed on citizens of the European Union (or the wider European Economic Area)2The European Economic Area refers to the countries in which freedom of movement of people (and goods, services and capital) applies. It includes all 28 members of the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is not a member of the EU or EEA but is a part of the EU’s single market. the right to travel, reside and work in any member state. Because of this, a baker from Nice can open a shop in Manchester, a bond trader from Frankfurt can join a bank in London, and, yes, soccer players from continental Europe can freely transfer to the English league. If the player holds an EU passport, there are no restrictions: From an employment perspective, he is treated the same as a U.K. national.Freedom of movement has had a seismic impact on the demographics of the league — all of which could change with Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May has stated that freedom of movement will end when the U.K. leaves the EU, but she has yet to announce the new immigration rules that will replace it. Although EPL clubs will not immediately be required to obtain work permits for their players who aren’t British or Irish (citizens of the Republic of Ireland are likely to retain the rights to live and work in the U.K. post-Brexit), new arrivals from the EU3Along with the EEA and Switzerland. could become subject to the rules that currently apply only to non-EU players. Essentially, all players not eligible for a U.K. (or Irish) passport would have to obtain a work permit.To investigate the potential impact on English soccer, we took a look at the characteristics of European players who have played in the EPL over the past 26 years. What proportion of them would have qualified for a work permit? By answering this question, we can gain an insight into what might happen to the EPL in the future. National team’s FIFA rankingMin. share of matches played in past 24 months 1-1030% 11-2045 Before we can assess who might be affected, we first need to look at how the system of work permits works in English soccer. To obtain a permit, a foreign player must secure a Governing Body Endorsement from The Football Association (the governing body of English soccer). Each season, the FA publishes guidelines to help clubs determine whether transfer targets would qualify for an endorsement. The figure above shows two future scenarios. The first is the status quo, in which EU passport holders can continue to play in the U.K. without work permits (or any other bureaucratic hurdles). The second explores the end of freedom of movement to the U.K. In this scenario, EU players are subject to the same immigration requirements as players from the rest of the world beginning with the 2019-20 season. That is, they require a work permit and must meet the relevant criteria.In both cases, we assume that the total number of players in the EPL remains constant, as does the inflow and outflow of players from the rest of the world. In the status quo scenario, we assume that the inflow of players from Europe remains at its recent historical average; in the end of freedom of movement scenario, we assume that it drops to 42 percent of the recent average.In the status quo scenario, the percentage of U.K. and Irish players remains close to its present value, gradually declining over the next decade. The proportion of players from the EU increases slightly, eventually exceeding U.K. and Irish players, while those from the rest of the world remains relatively constant.The end of freedom of movement scenario paints a very different picture. The proportion of EU players declines substantially — from 41 percent last season to 20 percent by 2028-29 — while the proportion of British and Irish players increases from 41 percent to 64 percent over the same period. By the end of the next decade, the EPL would begin to resemble its constitution at the end of the 1990s: Nearly two-thirds of all players would be British or Irish.A large drop in the number of EU/EEA players does not necessarily imply a substantial reduction in terms of the quality of players. The money and allure of the Premier League would still entice elite players to come to play in England, at least for a while. The wealthiest clubs would continue to attract the biggest stars; the rest, on the other hand, would be forced to focus more on the domestic market. Teams often scout for potential in soccer leagues across Europe, but many of those players would no longer be allowed to make the leap. Champions League places would move even further beyond the horizons of most clubs, and “near miracles” such as Leicester’s fairytale league win — on the strength of the star turn from Riyad Mahrez,7Despite choosing to play for the Algerian national team, Mahrez was born in France and is a French citizen. who was acquired from Le Havre in France’s second tier — would become even less likely.On the other hand, some will argue that a drop in foreign recruitment would be a positive thing if it affords greater opportunities to British players. While the situation would be unchanged in terms of top-end recruitment at the elite clubs, even they would be forced to review their recruitment of young players from abroad. Homegrown players might have more of a chance of making it at the highest level.There is no doubt that the Premier League has benefited enormously from freedom of movement, with the rapid influx of foreign players helping to drive the league’s huge international popularity. But freedom of movement was also a crucial factor in the opposition to continued U.K. membership in the EU. It could well be that one effect of Brexit would be to diminish, perhaps sharply, the number of highly talented European footballers in the Premier League — which could have huge consequences for the future of the sport. Check out our latest soccer predictions. Over the past 20 years, the EU has expanded, bringing more countries into the “freedom of movement” area. The proportion of U.K. and Irish players in the EPL has continued to decrease: Last season, they accounted for only 41 percent of all EPL players. Players from the rest of the EU accounted for 41 percent, while non-EU players accounted for 18 percent.From the inaugural 1992-93 EPL season to the end of last season, a total of 1,022 players have transferred to an EPL club from an EU club outside of the U.K. and Ireland and played at least one league match for that club. This includes players who played nationally for countries outside the EU but also possessed EU passports (such as André Ayew, who was born in France but plays for Ghana). Of the 1,022 players, we judge that only 431 — or 42 percent — would have qualified for a work permit under the current rules when they first arrived in England. Had they not held an EU passport, the remaining 591 players would not have been permitted to play professional soccer in the U.K.6This analysis used data taken from TransferLeague.co.uk, 11v11.com, transfermarkt.co.uk, futbol24.com, Wikipedia, www.parliament.uk and the Transfer Price Index of Tomkins & Riley.What would be the consequences if, from next season onward, incoming players from the rest of the EU were subject to the same immigration requirements that currently apply only to non-EU players? 31-5075 21-3060 There are effectively two paths by which a player can qualify. To automatically qualify, a player must have participated in a minimum share of his national team’s senior competitive matches in the preceding two years.4This is reduced to 12 months if the player is 21 years old or younger. The minimum percentage is determined by the FIFA world ranking of that nation.If a player doesn’t qualify automatically, he can appeal. The appeals process is a points-based system that boils down to this: If the transfer fee is above the average amount paid by EPL clubs the previous year, and the club is willing to make him one of its higher earners, the appeals board can recommend that a permit should be approved. Players age 21 and younger may meet the senior match threshold in just 12 months.Source: The Football Association In the early 1990s, a quota system was enforced for foreign players in English soccer that limited teams to fielding a maximum of three “foreigners” in domestic league and cup matches. A foreign player was defined as someone who held neither a U.K. nor an Irish passport. There was no distinction between players from Belgium and Brazil, even though Belgians had held the right to live and work in the U.K. for several years. Thirteen percent of the players that featured in the 1994-95 season were classified as foreign.In December 1995, after the so-called Bosman ruling, the quota was rescinded, instantly removing all restrictions on fielding players from the rest of the EU.5A new kind of quota would be instituted in 2010, when the EPL introduced a homegrown players rule. This rule requires that at least eight of the 25 players on a Premier League squad were registered with a club in England or Wales for a period of at least 36 months (or three seasons) prior to their 21 birthday. Clubs were still required to obtain work permits for non-EU players — a significant obstruction — but because of freedom of movement, the demand for soccer players with EU passports grew enormously. Cultural barriers aside, there were now no differences between recruiting a player from the Netherlands and one from Newcastle. Share of senior competitive international matches required to qualify for an English soccer work permit endorsement
2016Cleveland Cavaliers29-682.8 2010Miami Heat37-588.0% 2015Cleveland Cavaliers30-488.2 2012Miami Heat36-490.0 LeBron’s clubs usually dominate the NBA’s bottom-feedersRegular-season record against sub-.500 teams for teams led by LeBron James, since 2010 2018Los Angeles Lakers*16-1355.1 As the Los Angeles Lakers limped into the All-Star break, there was no use in sugarcoating reality: Just about everything that realistically could go wrong had gone wrong in the weeks prior.LeBron James had suffered the lengthiest injury of his career, which kept him out five and a half weeks. The team’s young players — vitally important to keep the club afloat in James’s absence — had undoubtedly heard the swirling rumors about the Lakers’ willingness to part ways with everyone except James if it meant acquiring superstar Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. Yet once it became clear that a Davis deal wasn’t happening, it became easier to see the biggest problem: Los Angeles, which lost four of five heading into the break, wasn’t finding ways to win and their chances of making the playoffs were edging from likely to unlikely. Heading into All-Star weekend, they stood at 40 percent. seasonteamRecordWin PERCENTAGE 2013Miami Heat27-1367.5 2014Cleveland Cavaliers30-1468.1 Winning some of those games might not have gotten the Lakers into the playoffs. But losing them makes it a little harder to argue that it was the steeper competition in the Western Conference that stopped James from reaching the playoffs.It was the veterans who failed down the stretch.It was fair to criticize the youngsters for awhile. Forwards Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram and guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart didn’t play particularly well early on and really struggled during LeBron’s absence, perhaps making it even more difficult to convince the Pelicans to make a deal with the Lakers.But it’s hard to pin too much of this on Ball, who’s been out with an injury. Kuzma hasn’t shot well from deep this year at all, but he’s still been a decent enough scorer. Ingram has played the best basketball of his life lately. The only young player who’s really struggled is Hart, whose perimeter shooting has fallen off a cliff since the turn of the new year. (And even he’s played better the past few games.)If anything, a couple of the veterans who were brought in this summer have been to blame. Even after his 24-point showing Monday, Rondo has taken more shots than he has points over the past month and a half. And Lance Stephenson, when he’s been able to play, has been even worse. The forward has shot just under 27 percent in the last two and a half weeks of February.All offseason, critics wondered: Why are the Lakers targeting these free-agents, who don’t come close to fitting the mold of the prototypical LeBron teammates? Which leads to the final critique …This roster never made sense.Some were bold enough early on to suggest that the Lakers didn’t have a playoff roster. An abundant belief in LeBron, who’d been to eight consecutive NBA Finals, undoubtedly masked the need for more reinforcements. But Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka now have to shoulder the blame for not having a good enough contingency plan in place for if and when James got hurt.Getting LeBron was fantastic — a coup of epic proportions. But entering the season without a bonafide second star to pair with James — who at 34 may be in perhaps the last true season of his prime, even — was tempting fate. Having that second fiddle could’ve given the club enough to keep its head above water during LeBron’s absence. Assuming that player would have been acquired before the season, at the expense of some of the Lakers’ young talent, it’s a safe bet that the Davis speculation that distracted the team midseason wouldn’t have existed.But setting aside the talk of what it would’ve meant to have a second star, what if Johnson and Pelinka had simply built the roster in the image of James’s former teams? Instead of getting players who struggle to shoot, like Rondo and Stephenson, why not hold onto center Brook Lopez, who damn-near spaces the floor more on his own than the team’s free-agent acquisitions combined?It almost seems like the Lakers treated much of this season like an experiment. They got a chance to see how the youngsters looked alongside LeBron. They saw how Luke Walton handled the spotlight of coaching James and his new teammates.1It’s almost a given that Walton won’t be back next year. And they saw — in very awkward, hardball fashion — that other clubs won’t just hand them stars to help build them into a superteam.But hopefully, above all else, they learned that merely having James on the roster isn’t enough to guarantee success. And that only figures to become more and more true as he gets older. Record against teams under .500 2017Cleveland Cavaliers28-975.6 * Through March 5Source: ESPN There was still plenty of belief in the Lakers, though, if only because of James, and his legendary switch-flipping ability that we’d seen so many times over the past few years. “It’s been activated,” James said late last month of his playoff-level intensity.But fast-forward to now, and all belief has ceased to exist. With Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, James and the Lakers have now dropped nine of their last 12 games, with their playoff probability dropping to a microscopic 2 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s projection model. As such, it’s almost certain that the banner franchise will extend its playoff drought to a sixth year (longest in team history), while James will fail to make the postseason for the first time since 2005.How did things go off the rails so quickly and disastrously in James’s first season out West?James’s injury — a possibility that should’ve been taken more seriously all along, given his age and the mileage on his tires — obviously was a killer. The Lakers were tied for fourth place at 19-14 on Christmas (when James was sidelined with the groin strain), then went just 6-11 without him.Many other factors came into play, though.The once-solid defense vanished.Los Angeles ranked eighth in defensive efficiency as it closed out the month of January. That defense routinely gave the Lakers a fighting chance most nights even as the team’s offense was still trying to develop a rhythm with James. But the defense has been nonexistent since the start of February, a span in which the Lakers have ranked dead last on that end of the floor.Lonzo Ball’s absence has been a key factor here. He ranks sixth among point guards in ESPN’s defensive real-plus minus, while veteran Rajon Rondo, who has played most of Ball’s missing minutes, ranks No. 62 in the same metric. The team has also suffered as Tyson Chandler — who gave the Lakers a boost when he first signed with them — hasn’t been able to play nearly as much or as effectively because of a neck injury.But let’s be honest: Some of this boils down to sheer effort at times. LA ranked 11th at securing loose balls through the end of January, but since February sits just 21st in the same category. And while LeBron has put up numbers since his return, he’s been part of the problem on D, where he often looks flat-out disinterested in closing out or making rotations.The Lakers have had a ton of success on defense when they’re willing to work. They rank as the stingiest team in the NBA, allowing just 0.93 points per possession when they close out on jump-shooters, according to data from Second Spectrum. The effort to do so just hasn’t been consistent enough.They didn’t take advantage of the NBA’s worst teams.The decreased hustle has doomed the Lakers lately in games against inferior competition where victories should have come easy. In the past month alone, they’ve lost to Atlanta, the Pelicans without Anthony Davis, Memphis and Phoenix. (This season, they’ve been beaten by five of the six NBA clubs that own sub-.400 records. The Chicago Bulls are the lone exception.)Los Angeles currently sports a mediocre 16-13 record against teams under .500, a considerable contrast from James’s last eight seasons in Cleveland and Miami. 2011Miami Heat21-580.7
The Ohio State men’s soccer team traveled to Conway, S.C., this weekend for the Coastal Carolina Tournament and left with mixed results. Three OSU players, junior forward Chris Hegngi, sophomore forward Omar Vallejo and junior goalkeeper Matt Lampson, were named to the 2011 Coastal Carolina Tournament’s All-Tournament Team as the Buckeyes posted a 1-1 record in the competition. The 24th-ranked Buckeyes impressed during their 3-0 victory against Hartwick College to open the tournament Friday evening, running the team’s winning streak to four games. Junior midfielder Austin McAnena opened the scoring for OSU with a sixth-minute goal off an assist from freshman forward Kenny Cunningham. Hegngi then tallied for OSU in the eighth minute. Hegngi added a second goal in the 67th minute to become the first OSU player to score two goals in a contest since former Buckeye and recent Major League Soccer draftee Konrad Warzycha scored twice on Sep. 5, 2010, against Buffalo. Lampson made four saves to preserve the shutout for OSU. The Buckeyes’ winning streak was then snapped Sunday afternoon by tournament host Coastal Carolina University. Junior forward and tournament offensive MVP Ashton Bennett scored both goals for the Chanticleers in the 33rd and 64th minutes, respectively. OSU (4-2-1) will next face the No. 3-ranked Louisville Cardinals on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith announced Monday that football players DeVier Posey, Dan Herron and Marcus Hall will be suspended for Saturday’s game at Nebraska as part of the NCAA’s investigation of the program. The violations involve the wages the players were paid relative to the hours they worked under Robert DiGeronimo, a Cleveland-area booster who has now been disassociated from the university. Herron was overpaid $292.50. He was paid for 104 hours of work, even though he only worked 84.5 hours. Posey was overpaid by $720, being paid for 70 hours of work, despite actually working only 21.5 hours. Posey also received $102 in impermissible benefits for a round of golf. Hall was overpaid by $225. He was paid for 66.5 hours of work, despite only working 51 hours. Posey and Herron were originally suspended the first five games of the season and were scheduled to be reinstated for Saturday’s game at Nebraska. Melvin Fellows and Etienne Sabino were also involved, though Fellows is no longer playing due to a career-ending injury and Sabino has already been reinstated. The reinstatement process is ongoing, Smith said. In addition to Monday’s announcement, OSU announced on Aug. 12 that it would forfeit $388,811, which was its share of the Big Ten’s payment for playing in the 2011 Sugar Bowl after meeting with the NCAA in Indianapolis. The money earned from the Sugar Bowl was later donated to charity and the trophy won from the Sugar Bowl is no longer in the trophy case at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. OSU has already administered self-imposed penalties, which include vacating the 2010 season, including its Sugar Bowl victory, and a two-year NCAA probationary term. Posey, Mike Adams, Herron and Solomon Thomas were originally suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season after selling Buckeye football memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Linebacker Jordan Whiting received a one-game ban. The original suspensions were a result of head football coach Jim Tressel failing to report various violations to the compliance department. A Columbus-area lawyer contacted Tressel via email in April 2010 informing him of memorabilia being sold to a tattoo parlor owner, Eddie Rife. Tressel kept that information to himself and knowingly played athletes later deemed ineligible for the duration of the 2010 season. Tressel was forced to resign on May 30 and Luke Fickell was named interim head coach for the entire 2011 season. The university later changed the terms of Tressel’s departure from a resignation to a retirement. Former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor had also received a five-game suspension before departing the university on June 7 to pursue a career in the NFL. Pryor was drafted on Aug. 23 by the Oakland Raiders in the supplemental draft, and after a ruling from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 NFL season.
Sitting in the penalty box during a hockey game can be one of the loneliest places in the sports world. Save for if a fellow teammate commits a foul with or shortly after you, it’s just you and about 40 square feet of encasing glass. That is, unless you are an opponent of the Ohio State men’s ice hockey team. Since Nov. 11, a group of four OSU students, outfitted in red morph suits, greet penalized opponents with jeers, taunts and dances at Buckeye home games. They call themselves the OSU “Red Men.” “We sit behind the penalty box, usually on both sides, two on each side and we make fun of the (opposing) people in the penalty box, basically,” said Brian Gartner, a first-year in actuarial science. Gartner, along with fellow first-years James Meyer, Nick Strah and Connor Daugherty, based the idea of the “Red Men” off of the “Green Men,” a group of Vancouver Canucks super-fans who perform similar antics and gained national notoriety during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Whether it’s heckling opposing players, taking pictures with kids or doing an “O-H-I-O” chant with the Block-O student section, the “Red Men” try their best to make their presence felt at games. “We just dance and try and make the atmosphere more fun,” Gartner said. Strah, who is in business, said that being behind a full-body suit makes it easier to let loose and act a little out of the ordinary. “Whenever we dance, I like it when people laugh at us because they think it’s funny … it’s like you’re a different person and you don’t really care,” he said. “It’s kind of funny because we kind of keep a disguise,” Gartner said. “Not many people around campus know the person in the suit.” The people in the suits are a group of friends that had never met before coming to college this autumn, but quickly developed a friendship from living on the same floor of their dormitory. They all admit that none of them were avid hockey fans prior to forming the “Red Men,” but that the group chose the sport out of a desire to find their own niche among the vast amounts of football and basketball fans around campus. “We just thought it would be really funny to make fun of the people in the penalty box and think of all these crazy ideas,” Gartner said. For example, the group brought bike locks to a November game against Northern Michigan, who at the time had five players facing a trial for alleged bike thefts. “We should have brought bike helmets too,” Gartner said. “It was ridiculous.” Strah said that he has become a bigger fan of the sport ever since he began to don his red jumpsuit for games. “I’m starting to like (hockey) more now that we are doing this and actually going to games,” Strah said. Meyer, however, said it can sometimes be difficult to follow the game when looking through the suits. “It’s kind of hard to see the clear actions when you’re watching the game,” said Meyer, who is in pre-business. “It’s like you can see the guys skating in the general direction, but the farther you get away the more unclear it is. You can see people going in a general direction but not necessarily the puck all the time, so when they score, you can just see them the near the net.” “We cheer when everyone else cheers,” Strah said. The “Red Men” will be in attendance and cheering Sunday when the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes take on No. 15 Michigan in the Frozen Diamond Faceoff at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Gartner said that there is a chance that the group might be featured on some of the Snow Days winter festival attractions inside the stadium, such as the sled hill that comes down from the bleachers of the stadium. While the “Red Men” vow to attend the remaining OSU home games, the group is unsure whether or not they will continue to do so in the coming years. Either way, they want to see the “Red Men” tradition upheld. “Whether it’s us or not, we would like to see it continue, to see it become something that sticks with the program and stays around,” said Daugherty, an exercise science education major. Gartner agreed. “It would be kind of cool to say you left Ohio State and you did that,” Gartner said. “Like you started that, you left your input and footprint.”
As the Eastern College Athletic Conference playoffs draw near, the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team is experiencing both the good and the bad in its attempts to secure the conference’s fourth and final tournament spot. Senior attacker Logan Schuss became the third Buckeye of all-time to break the 200-point plateau with 201 career points and moved into sole possession of second place on the all-time goals list with 124 in his career during the Buckeyes’ game against Hobart over the weekend. No. 15 OSU, though, dealt with the loss of junior starting goalie Greg Dutton before the match because of an injury sustained during practice. But the team pulled through and beat the Hobart Statesmen, 10-6. Offensive issues have plagued the Buckeyes for most of the season, but after a goalless first quarter on Saturday, OSU came out firing and scored at least 10 goals for the fifth time this season. Coach Nick Myers was impressed with his team in practice during the week, seeing a change in mentality that the squad needed to get back on track. “We understood the urgency there is,” Myers said. “This is April and kind of the fourth quarter of our season. We knew we were staring down four really big conference games. There were a number of contributors to the effort today but I credit the seniors. They set the tone Monday.” Schuss stepped out of his role as primary goal scorer, only finding the back of the net once but added four assists to give him five points on the day. Schuss said he was happy about getting to 200 career points but felt the game was more about how the team played. “It feels good,” Schuss said. “It’s definitely a team thing, though.” Junior backup goalie Scott Spencer was given the start on the day and did not disappoint, only giving up six goals with 12 saves. Spencer, who had not played much this year before the game, was glad to get his chance but said he wished it didn’t have to come at the expense of Dutton. “Obviously it was bittersweet,” Spencer said about when he found out he was going to start. “I was excited to play but I was definitely feeling for my teammate and just hoping he was OK.” The win improves OSU’s record to 7-3 and 2-2 in the ECAC. The Buckeyes are tied with Fairfield, which the Buckeyes will host for their season finale, for the fourth ECAC playoff spot. In the meantime, a road trip looms for the Buckeyes, who are set to take on Michigan Saturday in Ann Arbor at 3:30 p.m.
Shelby Lum / Photo editorSenior Danica Wu battles with a defender during a game against Eastern Michigan on Aug. 25, at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. OSU won, 2-1.Junior midfielder and co-captain Ellyn Gruber’s overtime goal against Eastern Michigan gave the Buckeyes a 2-1 victory. Her goal also keeps the team’s unbeaten regular season streak alive at 13, tying a women’s soccer team record set in 2004.The Eagles took advantage of a free kick on the left side of the OSU box in the 31st minute, and Cara Cutaia scored her second goal of the season. Heading into the half, the Buckeyes trailed 1-0.Coach Lori Walker said halftime adjustments changed the game.“(We) went into a 3-4-3 and that gave us a little bit more possession in the midfield as well as a better defensive presence, and I think that’s where the game started to shift and change,” Walker said.Freshman forward Lindsay Agnew tied the game at 1 in the 60th minute. Junior defender Ashley Gruenbaum played a long ball into the Eagles’ box and Agnew headed home the goal.With a tie looming, play became more aggressive, indicative with the number of fouls increasing in the second half.Regulation came to a close with the score remaining tied at 1.It was less than nine minutes into overtime when Gruber sent home a rebound for her first goal of the season.The midfielder thought her team did well in playing to the end.“We struggled in the beginning, but we found a way to win,” Gruber said. “We pulled it out in the end.”Agnew said she is looking forward to the possibility of keeping the team’s winning streak alive.“I’m really excited about that and we hope Wednesday we can get it done against Pittsburgh,” Agnew said.OSU is scheduled to take on Pittsburgh Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Columbus.