Tiger Woods has officially been voted by his peers PGA Tour Player of the Year for the 11th time, based on five big wins and his return to No.1 player in the world.Friday morning, the PGA announced the results and Woods had the votes.“It’s been an incredible year to have won five times, two of those World Golf Championships and one Players,” Woods said on a conference call Friday. “It’s been just a fantastic year all around. It’s also an incredible feeling to be voted by your peers, and to have that type of respect is something that’s very humbling.”On the ballot with Woods was British Open champion Phil Mickelson, Masters champion Adam Scott, FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar. The PGA does not release the percentage of votes, so we will never know who finished second.Also, this is the third time that Woods has won the Jack Nicklaus Award while losing the majors. He is the only player to win the award more than twice, since it began in 1990.
FiveThirtyEight More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS On the latest episode (June 13, 2017) of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast, we first talk about the right way for teams to approach the MLB draft. Then FiveThirtyEight’s Kyle Wagner stops by to talk about the Golden State Warriors’ 129-120 Game 5 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Are these Warriors the greatest team of all time, and what makes them so good? We deliberate. Plus, a significant digit on Rafael Nadal.Here are links to stories we discussed this week:FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine argues that Moneyball’s draft advice has outlived its usefulness.Neil also writes that although the Warriors are still in the GOAT debate, they blew their chance to end it.Check out Kyle Wagner’s piece on how the Warriors duped the NBA.Kyle and Chris Herring write that the Warriors belong to Kevin Durant now.Sports Illustrated’s Deantae Prince does a category-by-category examination of the Warriors vs. the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.Significant Digit: 10, the number of French Open titles Rafael Nadal has won. Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka to win his first Grand Slam in three years.
The fleeting public outrage was enough to force the NFL to reconsider its personal conduct policy, but the league hasn’t yet codified many policies. Public pressure to do so, meanwhile, along with the media spotlight, has largely disappeared. In early September, the story of Ray Rice assaulting his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City casino exploded in the media, sparking a debate about how to prevent — and respond to — domestic violence in the NFL and society at large. But why September? The actual assault happened in February, and yet it took almost seven months for media coverage to reach its height, according to a search of Lexis-Nexis.The answer is simple: On Sept. 8, TMZ released the video of the assault, which brought the story back into the news. But even then, our attention spans — perhaps unsurprisingly — are short. Here’s a more detailed look at the media coverage that Rice, as well as the overall issue of domestic violence in the NFL, has received since the beginning of September.For the week following the video’s release, articles mentioning “Ray Rice” averaged about 1,900 per day, according to Lexis-Nexis; articles mentioning both “domestic violence” and “NFL” averaged nearly 1,120 per day. The past week, however, pales in comparison: “Ray Rice” has been written about 37 times per day, and “domestic violence” and “NFL” have been mentioned in 44 articles per day. This is despite news that Rice could be reinstated as soon as next month.Rather, NFL news is back to covering on-the-field events. For example, Google Trends shows news about Peyton Manning has been chugging along at about the same rate (not including the recent surge in coverage of his breaking the career touchdown record) and has overtaken headlines about Rice.
The NBA MVP derby was once a two-man race between James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.Not anymore.After recording his fourth straight triple-double on Wednesday night with a ridiculous stat line of 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is undeniably an MVP contender.Westbrook’s recent output has been mind-blowing: He’s averaging 37 points, 13.5 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game during his triple-double streak, which began as he was closing out one of the best statistical months in NBA history. As ESPN’s Stats and Info group noted, Westbrook’s performance in February (31.2 PPG/10.3 APG/9.1 RPG) was just the second time an NBA player ever averaged 30 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists per game over a calendar month.1Minimum 10 games played in the month. (The first — and, until recently, only — player to do it was inner-circle Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.)But there are barriers to Westbrook’s MVP candidacy. Algorithms based on previous MVP voting trends still consider him a long shot for the award, with Basketball-Reference.com’s MVP tracker assigning Westbrook a mere 6.6 percent probability of winning. By contrast, the tracker says it’s about 66 percent likely that either Curry or Harden takes home the hardware.The key determinant there: Oklahoma City’s record. Both Curry’s and Harden’s teams have won in excess of two-thirds of their games — good for the first- and fourth-ranked records in the Western Conference, respectively — while Westbrook’s Thunder have a winning percentage of 55.7 percent and are clinging to the eighth (and final) playoff spot in the West. Fair or not, team performance has historically mattered to MVP voters. (Although Westbrook will likely get bonus points for keeping the Thunder afloat in the playoff race during spells in which defending MVP Kevin Durant was injured.)Plus there’s the question of where Westbrook ranks statistically, even after his recent streak of brilliance. Single-season Real Plus-Minus (RPM), Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) and Win Shares all have Harden and Curry ranked No. 1 and 2 in terms of value produced this season. So if things hold steady over the next six weeks, Westbrook will have to overcome both the stats and historical patterns of MVP voting if he is to win the award. It’s been done before, but not all that often.Then again, what does “Most Valuable” even mean? It’s a debate that comes up every year, in every sport, and it never ends with a satisfactory answer. The great sportswriter Joe Posnanski put it best in a podcast last fall:I love [the MVP] because it makes us argue about the word ‘valuable.’ … When somebody named the MVP award, you know in their mind they just had: ‘Best Player.’ The best player ought to get an award, and what are you going to call it? Just call it the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award. OK, great.And ever since then, we have been parsing that word to absolute death. I think my favorite argument against somebody winning the MVP award is when they say, ‘Look, it’s not the Player of the Year Award or the Most Outstanding Player — it’s the Most Valuable Player.’ Like there is any difference between any of those things. You’re just pulling synonyms out.I love that, and in a way, I would never want that to change because it brings up such extraordinarily stupid arguments that just rage on and on every year.And this year’s NBA race brings a particularly interesting twist. According to long-term predictive RPM, which is the best single-number assessment of a player’s current talent level,2In the sense that it best predicts out-of-sample lineup results. the best player in the league is still probably Cleveland’s LeBron James — as he has been for the past three seasons running.James was so far out in front of his peers a few seasons ago that he could afford a relative down year (by his standards). But therein lies the problem — the game’s best player hasn’t quite played like it this season. By just about any metric, Harden, Curry and Westbrook have been better than James in 2014-15.This kind of thing happens all the time in baseball, where performance fluctuates wildly around true talent. (Or did anyone really think Ken Caminiti was the best player in a league that featured Barry Bonds in his prime?) But basketball is supposed to be different — in the absence of voter fatigue, there’s a lot of crossover between MVP and “best player” in the NBA, to the point that the former can circle back to become a referendum on the latter.So do you still give the 2014-15 MVP to the best player? OK, then give it to James. Or do you honor the player who has had the best season? Then you have to decide between Harden and Curry. Or maybe you just eschew the whole process and give it to Westbrook — if not the Most Valuable, possibly the Most Electrifying Player in the NBA right now.
A four-star recruit coming out of Coldwater High School, senior co-captain Ross Homan was highly touted coming to Ohio State in 2006. Entering a program in Columbus with a long tradition of great linebackers, Homan said he embraced the challenge. “At Ohio State you always have great expectations, it comes with great challenges,” Homan said. “But I think every person here, all the seniors, we want to be challenged everyday. I think it is a matter of stepping up to those challenges and meeting those expectations.” Now halfway through his senior campaign and with more than 250 career tackles to his name, Homan has certainly lived up to the hype and met, if not exceeded, those expectations. A three-year starter, Homan made an impact right away, appearing in all 13 games his freshman year. Collecting 28 tackles in his first year at OSU, Homan said having premiere linebackers such as James Laurinaitis to learn from definitely helped his transition from high school to college. “When I first came in, the person who hosted me on my recruiting visit was James (Laurinaitis) and he really was my older brother here, which was a huge asset to me,” Homan said. “I saw how he watched film, how he worked out, how he approached the game overall … It just really helped me out playing with James.” With Laurinaitis gone, Homan began to gain fame in 2009 when he led the Rose Bowl-champion Buckeye squad in tackles with 108. Despite now being a focal point on the defense and a captain on this year’s team, the 2009 second-team All-Big Ten selection’s production has stayed strong, once again leading the Bucks in tackles. Recognizing his role as a leader on the team, Homan has taken his job as captain to heart and hopes his all-out playing style rubs off on his teammates. “Now I have to be a leader,” he said. “I’m not a real vocal leader, but I’m more of a by-example leader, so I have to lead this team anyway I can, get on the younger guys and just try to get better at that everyday.” As his Buckeye career comes to a close, Homan continues to cement his name in OSU history. Defensive tackle Dexter Larimore believes, as far as linebackers go, he may be one of the tops this university has ever seen. “I think once you look back on his lifetime here and what he has done here, I think he will be up there,” Larimore said. “If you look at the film and you watch him move side to side and do the things that he has done … I personally think he will be one of the top five guys that have come out of here.”
When athletes on the Ohio State baseball team step up to the plate next season, they’ll be gripping a new and relatively unfamiliar type of bat. Beginning Jan. 1, all NCAA teams must use bats that are aluminum — like the bats they have used in the past — but are designed to knock the ball slower, at the same speeds as wooden bats. “It’s definitely going to change our game,” OSU coach Greg Beals said. “It’s not going to be as offensive.” The new regulation is a response to rising offensive statistics by college baseball teams. Some say the aluminum bats are to blame for the offensive outburst and hope the new bats will level the playing field. “The teams that are going to be successful are teams that get ahead of the curve,” Beals said. “You don’t want to play 15 to 20 games and realize, ‘Oh hey, the games are going to be different.’“ Players also have to adjust to using the new bat. “A well-struck ball that sometimes might go for a double or even a home run, stays in the yard or is cut down to a single,” senior infielder Tyler Engle said. Although teams aren’t required to use the new bats until January, OSU has been practicing with them all fall. “We’ve seen enough in our scrimmage games here in the fall that we know the games are going to be different,” Beals said. “We’ve got to value each base runner and each base that we can get.” Athletes said the Jan. 1 deadline to switch over to new bats won’t be a problem. “Nike is our bat manufacturer and Nike has supplied us with a full line of the new bats for our guys to use,” Beals said. The new regulation also aims to protect pitchers, who have taken more hits from fast-flying balls in recent years. But Engle said he doesn’t think pitchers will be much safer. “They are such a short distance away and the force (of the ball) coming off the bat, I don’t think they have enough time to react anyway,” he said. Some athletes have said the new bats have a smaller “sweet spot,” but the bats aren’t expected to stump batters who have been successful in the past. “Good hitters are still going to get hits, and good teams are still going to score runs,” Beals said. Using an aluminum bat similar to their wooden counterparts might help college players prepare for using wooden bats at the professional level. “It definitely will prepare our guys a little bit more for playing at the professional level,” Beals said. The Buckeyes won’t be the only ones getting used to the new bats, but Engle said to expect lower-scoring games next spring. “I think everybody in the country is going to have to (change) because the balls aren’t leaving the yard,” Engle said. “You won’t see too many double-digit run games.”
Sophomore infielder Jacob Bosiokovic (17) throws to 1st base during a game against Toledo April 2 at Bill Davis Stadium. OSU won, 7-2.Credit: Elliot Schall / Lantern photographerWhen the Big Ten announced the 2014 Big Ten Baseball Tournament was expanding to an eight-team field for the first time in conference history after previously having just six eligible teams, the Ohio State baseball team believed it could show up to Omaha, Neb., as the No. 1-seed.Now three weeks into its conference schedule, the Buckeyes might soon be thankful for that expansion.The Buckeyes (19-14, 2-7) currently sit 10th in the Big Ten standings heading into their weekend series at home against Penn State (16-14, 4-1, third in the Big Ten) Friday, a series some players are calling a must-win.Last year, OSU swept Penn State in a three-game series at Bill Davis Stadium.After the Buckeyes were swept in back-to-back weekends at home against Indiana and at Nebraska, they defeated Eastern Michigan, 8-1, Tuesday, and then were tripped up against Dayton the following day, losing 8-5.OSU’s closer and preseason All-American junior pitcher Trace Dempsey got a rare start against the Flyers in the hopes of building confidence after a lackluster start to the season. Dempsey has recorded a 6.23 ERA, four saves, given up 15 earned runs while tallying a 1-3 record in 21.2 innings pitched so far this year.After the loss to Dayton, Dempsey said the team cannot dwell on the past couple weeks and only look forward to its series against the Nittany Lions.“Clean slate from here on out. You can’t look back on the last two weekends or even today, you’ve got to move on to tomorrow,” Dempsey said. “All three of those games at Nebraska, it’s in the past. Nothing really to hang our heads on, just a couple plays here and there. It’s not like we could have won just one of those games, we easily should have won all three of those games.”The first pitcher OSU is set to send out to the mound against PSU is freshman Tanner Tully who has started the season with a 3-1 record and 1.91 ERA.With a 2-7 in-conference record, junior catcher Aaron Gretz said it is imperative the team comes out hot against PSU Friday.“It’s simple — we’ve got to win a series,” Gretz said. “It’s a must-win series. Our goal is to win all three games. Obviously that’s the goal for every weekend, but it’s magnified this weekend. We need to get some wins.”The opener against Penn State is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Friday at Bill Davis Stadium.
Click to enlargeThrough the first six months of 2014, the Ohio State football program self-reported six NCAA or Big Ten rules violations. In the following two months and 20 days, it reported none.In fact — through at least Sept. 20 — the football team hasn’t had a self-reported violation since April 22, or a span of nearly five months.Within that time span, junior defensive lineman Noah Spence reportedly failed a drug test — resulting in a violation of OSU and Big Ten rules — and was declared ineligible by the university for the Buckeyes’ Sept. 13 game against Kent State. Spence — who had not played this season because of a three-game suspension after a separate failed drug test — practiced once after the Kent State game, coach Urban Meyer said, but no further update on his status has been released.Since the most recent football violation, all of OSU athletics has self-reported 18 different violations, just one of which involved the men’s basketball program. In total, OSU has self-reported 30 NCAA or Big Ten rules violations this year up until Sept. 20.This information is the result of two separate public records requests submitted by The Lantern. The first was submitted July 8 and filled Aug. 11, while the second was requested Sept. 23 and filled Tuesday evening. The requests span the dates of Jan. 1 through Sept. 20.Despite lower numbers in recent months, the football program still has the most self-reported rules violations so far in 2014 with six. In total, 18 different athletic programs at OSU had self-reported violations listed among the records, with the institution being listed on a pair of violations.Seven of the teams had multiple violations listed, but only football and women’s rowing had more than two. The rowing team was named on four of the violations, two of which came on the more recent records request that spanned from July 1 through Sept. 20.Women’s rowing is the only OSU program to have self-reported multiple violations since July.Responses to the violations from OSU included issuing letters of education to the coaching staff for teams involved with the incidents, a restriction to one program’s financial aid capacity for the 2014-15 academic year and the repayment of $28 worth of “impermissible per diem” for multiple student-athletes.Regardless of punishment, the 30 violations all count as minor NCAA or Big Ten violations. But those 30 infractions still put OSU on track to hit about 40 for the year.OSU athletic director Gene Smith — who is know also the school’s vice president — said the athletics department usually has about 40 self-reported rules violations every year during an interview with The Lantern on May 15, 2012.“On an annual basis, we have about 40,” Smith said in the interview. “It ranges in that area we’re sitting at. In that 40 range is where we always hang.”Smith added that a lower number wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for OSU.“Our whole thing is if we have 10 (violations), I’d have a problem,” he said. “I mean, I really would because people are going to make mistakes. And that means if I only have 10 out of 350 employees, 1,000 athletes — something’s not right.”While OSU does have one of the largest athletic departments in the nation, its number of violations comes in higher than some other programs. In the second half of 2013, the school self-reported around double the number of NCAA or Big Ten violations than five other schools in the conference.OSU has already self-reported more than double the violations that at least one other school with a major college football program reported during the 2013-14 year. According an Aug. 5 The Oregonian article, University of Oregon athletics self-reported just 14 violations in that academic year.
Ohio State self-defense instructor Mark Karman (right) and Ohio State Navy ROTC member Scott Wostiac (left) aboard the USS Enterprise. Credit: Courtesy of Mark Karman.Imagine being an Ohio State fan thousands of miles away from Columbus while deployed and stationed on a military base. Now imagine your deployment is during the biggest college football rivalry game of the year. What do you do? How do you manage to watch the game? Who do you watch it with?For some military members affiliated with Ohio State, this scenario is all too real. Yet, those members of the armed forces are resilient in their effort to watch their beloved Buckeyes take on Michigan. From watch parties to finding Ohio State sports bars in foreign cities, the strategies of finding a way to watch the biggest game in college football seemingly never end while overseas.Ohio State self-defense instructor and lieutenant colonel Mark Karman’s experience watching the game differed depending where he was located, but the process of finding Buckeye and Wolverine fans was always the same.“You knew who was from Michigan because it would come out naturally,” Karman said.During his deployment in Africa and Iraq, Karman said he needed people to pick up his watch shifts in order to see the game. He also said watch parties often formed among Ohio State and Michigan military members. There was always some sort of food set-up, like chips and dip or other leftovers scrounged up from dinner before the game started. Each team’s fans would watch in a separate room, just close enough where they could hear the other group cheering and yelling. When Karman was stationed in South Korea, the experience vastly differed. On the night of the game, he and other Buckeye fans in his squadron were led into town to watch the game at a local bar. As they entered the bar, it didn’t take long to realize this bar was unlike any other in South Korea. Hundreds of Ohio State fans packed the small sports bar, anxiously waiting for kickoff at 2 a.m. Korea Standard Time. Karman said it was unlike anything he had seen before overseas, and the atmosphere was “electric.” When asked if the time zone difference played a factor, Karman shrugged it off and said that those determined to watch the game found a way no matter the time zone. The game was always watchable via the Armed Forces Network (AFN), a service network that offers ESPN and other channels streamed to troops anywhere. Ohio State strength and conditioning instructor and retired staff sergeant Jason Sturgill remembered dedicating the entire month of November to the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry during his time stationed at Guantanamo Bay for the military police. Sturgill said his military unit was from Ohio and there were always a few units from Michigan that made their presence known. From flying flags outside tents to repping school colors while off-duty, everyone on base knew who was from Ohio and who was from Michigan. Though he was not able to watch the game, Sturgill said his unit would usually watch the game from inside this huge tent on base that would fit between 500 and 1,000 people. On the day of the game, the tent was filled with both Ohio State and Michigan fans. Sometimes the rowdiness of the fans forced the game to be viewed in separate tents. Sturgill said his time at Guantanamo Bay was filled with small pranks and bets between the schools’ followers. He recalled how the flags of each school often flew over their respective tents leading up to the game.“We would steal [Michigan’s] flag the night before, and give it back the next day,” Sturgill said. One popular bet among the two groups was that the losing school’s unit would fly the winning school’s flag after the game.Sturgill also said another bet from the Michigan units was a push-up wager. The unit supporting the losing team would have to do the same amount of push-ups the winning team scored during the game.“So if Michigan scored 48 points on us and won, the Ohio guys had to do 48 push-ups,” Sturgill said.Karman and Sturgill said the overall tone of the rivalry overseas between the two schools was a friendly rivalry. They stressed how, even though there was animosity between the schools, everyone stationed overseas was there for the same reason: to serve and protect the United States and the rest of the world. Of course the rivalry can get intense at times, but sometimes fans have to take a step back from the feud in order to accomplish something greater. Ohio State fans usually don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, but they sure do give a damn about the whole military and its time and sacrifice.