How many galaxies can you fit in a piece of sky the diameter of the full moon? Keep reading.The Hubble Telescope team has been busy. For years, they have been collecting photons of light from a small area of sky, the apparent diameter of the full moon. On May 2, they released their latest mind-boggler. The Hubble team tells the history that led up to their biggest deep field yet:The Hubble Legacy Field combines observations taken by several Hubble deep-field surveys. In 1995, the Hubble Deep Field captured several thousand previously unseen galaxies. The subsequent Hubble Ultra Deep Field from 2004 revealed nearly 10,000 galaxies in a single image. The 2012 Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, or XDF, was assembled by combining ten years of NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observations taken of a patch of sky within the original Hubble Ultra Deep Field.The new set of Hubble images, created from nearly 7,500 individual exposures, is the first in a series of Hubble Legacy Field images. The image comprises the collective work of 31 Hubble programs by different teams of astronomers. Hubble has spent more time on this small area than on any other region of the sky, totaling more than 250 days. The team is working on a second set of images, totaling more than 5,200 Hubble exposures.And so here as the answer to “How many galaxies can you fit in a piece of sky the diameter of the full moon?” Incredibly, the team believes they can see 265,000 galaxies, according to Space.com. The new Hubble Legacy Field will probably hold a record for years to come. But one never knows; there are still many, many more galaxies to see out there.Bored? Need some awe in your life? Meditate on these images for awhile and think about Psalm 8 and Psalm 19. Then think about the Creator of all this stooping to become a man and living with and teaching his creatures. Then ponder what they did to Him. Then think about His triumph over death and sin. Then think of His free gift of eternal life to all who believe. Then think about heaven.Nobody should ever be bored again. (Visited 474 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
12 November 2009UK-based communications research company Informa Telecoms & Media is to open a new office in Johannesburg, giving it direct access to the fast-growing African telecommunications market.Africa, with the launch of new submarine cables, as well as increased interest in mergers and acquisitions, is becoming a high priority for both new players and more established operators from all over the world.“Given the nature of the African market, we feel that now is the perfect time to open an office in the region,” Informa Telecoms & Media MD Martin Hill said in a statement this week.“By having an office in such a strategic location, we’re adding to our primary research capability and ensuring we remain the best-connected, most reliable research house in the market.”Getting closer to marketsSouth Africa was chosen due to its importance in region, both in the field of telecoms and in the economy in general.“We are constantly striving to get even closer to the markets that we serve and recognise the importance of having analysts on the ground in all regions around the world,” Hill said.“We know that only by having a dedicated team specialised in a specific geography, and with the relevant local network of contacts and language skills, can we credibly ensure our research delivers the granular insights demanded by our global portfolio of clients.”‘Significant opportunity’The office will be headed up by Thecla Mbongue, a senior analyst who has been covering the African market for six years.“The African market still represents a significant opportunity for investors. The number of mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 126% year-on-year in [the second quarter of 2009], and when the new submarine cables go live, the competition and price reduction will see data connectivity, whether fixed or mobile, continue to grow,” Mbongue explained.“This is a critical time for the region and I look forward to providing crucial support and advice to the region’s telecoms and media industry.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material
A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Tags:#Facebook#NYT#web Related Posts audrey watters The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Rumors have been circulating for some time now that Facebook is poised to make its entry into China – one of the few remaining countries in which the social network has no presence. As it stands, Facebook is currently blocked in China.But entry into China isn’t as simple as unblocking access or launching a Chinese-language version. Should Facebook enter China (or “when Facebook enters China,” rather), it is likely it will be required by the Chinese government to censor material and hand over user data.That requirement is something that Google has struggled with, eventually withdrawing from mainland China last year. While Google remains the largest search engine in the world, that status doesn’t extend to China where Baidu dominates. Interestingly, some of the rumors of Facebook’s entry into China involve a partnership with the Web services company.“Make the World More Open and Connected” – Unless Governments ComplainQuestions of censorship remain front and center in these discussions about Facebook’s global reach – both abroad and state-side. Indeed, Facebook’s mission is to “make the world more open and connected,” a stance that – much like Google’s “Don’t be evil” mission – seems to run counter of suppression of free speech.But recent remarks from Facebook suggest that the social networking company is evaluating just how that notion of free speech works – and doesn’t work – in different countries. Facebook is indicating that it may be willing to crack down on content posted to the site, in order to appease governments. “Maybe we will block content in some countries, but not others,” Adam Conner, a Facebook lobbyist, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are occasionally held in uncomfortable positions because now we’re allowing too much, maybe, free speech in countries that haven’t experienced it before.”The WSJ notes that this stance might not go over well with Congressional leaders in Washington D.C., many of whom are displeased that Facebook has sidestepped questions about its plans for China. Furthermore, the WSJ adds, Facebook hasn’t signed on to the Global Network Initiative, an industry group to which both Google and Microsoft belong that lays out ways to protect free speech as Internet technologies expand globally.Facebook and Political ExpressionThis concern over free speech isn’t simply about China, of course. And for its part Facebook has been credited with a key role in many of the recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, giving activists an important tool for unfettered political expression. The site has remained tight-lipped about its thoughts on that role, although the company did respond to hacking incidents that appeared to target Tunisian activists. (See Alexis Madrigal’s account in The Atlantic.) However, Facebook has insisted that the actions it took in that case were about security and not about politics.In China, it will be more difficult to separate these intertwined questions of security, free speech and politics, and as such, the waters may be particularly treacherous for Facebook as it works to balance its push to connect the whole world and to do so under the banner of “open.” Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification
In one of World Cup history’s biggest upsets, debutantes Iceland held Argentina to a 1-1 draw at Spartak Stadium in Moscow in their World Cup Group D match on Saturday.The teams went to half-time with a 1-1 deadlock after Alfred Finnbogason hit back to cancel out Sergio Aguero’s opener for the South Americans.Aguero fired Argentina ahead in the 19th minute, finishing brilliantly on the turn from 12 metres, but they kept the lead for only four minutes before Finnbogason swept home a loose ball to equalise.Argentina, playing in all-black and roared on by the vast majority of the crowd in a rocking Spartak Stadium, eventually took command, delivering wave after wave of attacks in the second half.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP : FULL COVERAGEYet they actually created few clear chances either side of the poorly-struck 64th-minute penalty by Messi, who drew a blank despite a remarkable 11 shots during the match.Iceland, by far the smallest country by population to appear at a World Cup and inspired by their “thunderclapping” fans, ran and battled tirelessly as they wrote another unlikely chapter in their short but glorious major tournament history.”People say we celebrate when we won a point — wait and see how we celebrate when we’ve won a game,” said Iceland coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.Lionel Messi misses penalty a day after Cristiano Ronald’s heroicsMan of the match Halldorsson said he had done his homework on Messi, who has now missed four of his last seven penalties for club and country.advertisement”I looked at a lot of penalties by Messi and I also looked at how I had been behaving in previous penalties, so I tried to get into their mindset, how they would be thinking about me,” he said.Frustrated Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli tried to remain upbeat. “We need to be strong as a group, believe in ourselves and know we have all the tools to beat anybody,” he said.COMMITMENTThe remarkable story of Icelandic football has just witnessed a new chapter!#ISL #VikingClap pic.twitter.com/gPZVEa4spvFIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 16, 2018Iceland signalled their intent from the kick off, sending seven men charging into the box to challenge as the ball was pumped long, leading to just the first of several uncomfortable moments for a decidedly shaky Argentine defence.The South Americans looked more assured in attack, though, and went ahead when Aguero turned tightly in the box and smashed in an unstoppable shot.Iceland stunned the stadium soon afterwards though when keeper Willy Caballero palmed Gylfi Sigurdsson’s low shot straight into the path of Finnbogason, who swept the ball into the unguarded net.After Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Spain on Friday, all eyes were on Messi to respond but he was generally kept at arm’s length by the rugged but controlled Iceland defenders.The great man was given the ultimate opportunity after Hordur Bjorgvin Magnusson got entangled with Aguero in the box, only for Halldorsson to fly to his right and palm his mediocre strike clear.Iceland then defended superbly, almost fanatically, with Halldorson making another fantastic full-length save from substitute Cristian Pavon in the dying moments.Iceland’s players rushed to the stands to share their celebrations with their fans and now will have real belief that they can get out of Group D that also contains Croatia and Nigeria, who meet later on Saturday.”This match was a kind of a milestone for this team,” said Hallgrimsson, who vowed pre-tournament that his team would not sit back.”We are bluntly honest in our ability. With a team like Argentina it is just a fact they have players with superior skills.”I think for everyone it is more enjoyable to play this way and achieve something than to play in a different way and not achieve anything.”(With inputs from Reuters)
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Bournemouth boss Howe insists Faria influence not stretching to transfer policyby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBournemouth boss Eddie Howe has played down the influence of new coach Hugo Faria on transfer policy.The former Portugal under-20 international recently joined the Dorset club as a first-team assistant coach. Howe bolstered his squad over the summer with the signings of Jefferson Lerma and Diego Rico from La Liga outfits Levante and Leganés, respectively.However, he played down suggestions Cherries would prioritise foreign recruits in future transfer windows following Faria’s arrival.“I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from it but we have a group of players who need to be communicated with perfectly,” said Howe to the Daily Echo.“We can’t take chances on information which may get lost. For that alone, it was important.”
Twitter/@timringTVNotre Dame hosts its senior day today in South Bend, and when it was Sheldon Day’s turn to greet his mother on the field, things got pretty emotional. Day’s mom couldn’t quite wait for him to hit midfield, so she jogs up to meet him, the two do a special handshake, and then emotionally embraced. It was a fantastic moment:Sheldon Day’s mom doesn’t wait for her son at midfield. Great Senior Day moment at Notre Dame Stadium pic.twitter.com/9vSKZ4PJPK— Tim Ring (@timringTV) November 14, 2015Notre Dame leads Wake Forest 21-0 early in the second quarter.
zoom Greek dry bulk owner Diana Shipping has entered into a time charter contract with Geneva’s SwissMarine Services for one of its Capesize dry bulk vessels.M/V Norfolk was hired at a gross charter rate of USD 13,250 per day, minus a 5% commission paid to third parties. The 164,218 dwt vessel will work for a period of minimum twenty-one to maximum twenty-four months.Diana Shipping expected the charter to commence on December 1, 2017.M/V Norfolk is currently chartered to Singapore-based Trafigura Maritime Logistics at a rate of USD 12,000 per day.This employment is anticipated to generate around USD 8.35 million of gross revenue for the minimum scheduled period of the time charter.Diana Shipping’s fleet currently consists of 50 dry bulk vessels, including 4 Newcastlemax, 14 Capesize, 5 Post-Panamax, 5 Kamsarmax and 22 Panamax ships.
9@ TBD@ TBDTBDTBDTBD 8W–IowaL–MinnesotaL–NebraskaW–N’Western 3W–NebraskaL–MarylandL–IllinoisL–Michigan Here’s what a schedule would look like with these rules in place: 2Ohio St.@ Mich. St.N’western@ Penn St.Minnesota Indiana3-1Ohio State3-1 7L–Penn St.L–WisconsinL–IowaW–IllinoisW–Michigan WeekMichigan St.MinnesotaNebraskaNorthwesternOhio State Michigan4-0Penn State4-0 5L–PurdueL–Ohio St.W–MarylandL–IowaW–Penn St. I’m going to proceed — fairly quickly — through a simulation of this schedule, in order to show you how the power-pairings would work. If a matchup was actually played in real life during the 2016 Big Ten regular season, I abided by the original result — so Ohio State still beats Michigan, for instance.3This holds even if there’s a different home team than in the original matchup. Otherwise, I simulated the result using ESPN’s Football Power Index, accounting for home-field advantage. Based on FPI, for instance, Iowa would have an 87 percent chance of winning a home game against Maryland, a matchup that didn’t occur in the actual Big Ten schedule but which could occur under power-pairing.We’ll zoom ahead to Week 5, when we encounter our first flex-scheduling week. (To see the simulated results for every game, scroll down to the big table toward the end of this article.) Here’s how it works: We take the 14 Big Ten teams and split them into pools of seven home teams and seven away teams based on where they’d been assigned to play ahead of time. We then have to pair the teams so as to give each one exactly one opponent for the week. There are, in theory, 5,040 possible ways to do this. An algorithm sorts through each of the combinations to find the best possible set of pairings, using the following rules:It eliminates all combinations that involve a game that was already played or which was already scheduled to be played. This cuts down on the number of legal combinations quite a lot — to about 600 for Week 5, for example.From among the remaining combinations, the algorithm finds those cases where the win totals match up as well as possible.4More specifically, it identifies cases where the average number of wins separating the paired teams is the smallest. It’s best to pair three-win home team Indiana against a three-win team from the road pool, for instance. If you can’t do that, then pairing Indiana against a four-win team or a two-win team is the next-best option.If several combinations are tied after Steps 1 and 2, the algorithm picks the set of matchups that are least likely to occur in the future, based on how the teams are assigned to home and away games in subsequent flex weeks.5For instance, Nebraska and Northwestern are both scheduled to play on the road in Week 8 and both scheduled to play at home in Week 9, so if they aren’t matched up against each other in Week 5, the only other chance is Week 6. The algorithm will prioritize that matchup before others in which teams have several more opportunities to face each other.If several combinations are still tied for being the most optimal after Steps 1, 2 and 3, the algorithm picks one of them at random.Here’s what the algorithm came up with for Week 5, for example: TEAMRECORDTEAMRECORD 9TBD@ TBDTBDTBD@ TBD 6TBD@ TBD@ TBDTBDTBD 9@ TBD@ TBDTBD@ TBD 1MarylandPenn StateOhio St.@ Rutgers@ Nebraska 4@ MichiganIowaWisconsinMarylandPenn St. WeekPenn StatePurdueRutgersWisconsin Wisconsin2-2Michigan State0-4 Nebraska1-3Northwestern1-3 2L–Ohio St.W–Mich. St.L–N’WesternL–Penn St.W–Minnesota That worked out pretty nicely — 12 of the 14 teams were power-paired against an opponent with the same win total, generating a key early matchup between 4-0 Michigan and 4-0 Penn State. Still, the home pool was slightly stronger than the road pool and some team had to draw the short end of the stick. It turned out to be 0-4 Michigan State, which was matched up against 2-2 Wisconsin.From there, Michigan beat Penn State in that matchup of undefeateds to go to 5-0. Meanwhile, a couple of overachieving 3-1 teams encountered a dose of reality against stiffer competition, as Indiana lost to Ohio State and Maryland lost to Iowa. That’s one of the benefits of power-pairing teams: The pretenders who benefited from quirky wins are fairly quickly weeded out because they face a tougher schedule.Since hearing about a hypothetical college football season is about as exciting as someone else’s fantasy football team, we’ll work through the rest of the schedule quickly. Ohio State ruined its chances by losing to Iowa in Week 6 (in a matchup that didn’t occur in real life). After Week 8, Penn State and Michigan both wound up at 7-1, with Michigan in the driver’s seat for the conference championship by virtue of having defeated Penn State in Week 5. However, Michigan drew a tough matchup against Iowa in Week 9, which it lost, while Penn State (having already defeated most of the good teams in the conference) beat Illinois to win the conference title. Here are all the simulated games in one chart, in case you want to see the dirty detail: WeekPenn StatePurdueRutgersWisconsin 4L–IndianaW–IllinoisW–MinnesotaW–N’WesternW–Mich. St. Minnesota1-3Rutgers1-3 3@ Nebraska@ MarylandIllinoisMichigan 4@ Ohio St.Rutgers@ Purdue@ Nebraska 5@ TBDTBD@ TBDTBD 6TBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD Big Ten simulated schedule with power-paired matchups 8L–IllinoisW–PurdueW–RutgersL–WisconsinW–Maryland WeekMich. St.MinnesotaNebraskaNorthwesternOhio State HOME POOLROAD POOL 1L–MarylandL–Penn St.L–Ohio St.L–RutgersW–Nebraska A Big Ten schedule with predetermined and power-paired games 7@ N’westernPurdueNebraskaRutgers@ Ohio St. 4L–MichiganL–IowaL–WisconsinL–MarylandL–Penn St. 1W–MinnesotaL–IowaW–N’WesternL–Indiana 9L–NebraskaW–MarylandW–Mich. St.W–PurdueW–Wisconsin WeekIllinoisIndianaIowaMarylandMichigan 5@ TBDTBDTBD@ TBDTBD For me at least, that feels a lot cleaner than having a conference championship game. Thanks to power-pairing, the top four finishers — Penn State, Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan in our simulation — all played one another, so a championship game wouldn’t have left a lot more to prove or disprove.It’s true that we got slightly lucky in this simulation by having a lone champion (Penn State) instead of a tie. But the bounty of head-to-head games between the top teams under power pairing makes potential ties easier to break, because the best teams would play each other more often.I hear what you’re saying: Penn State beat Ohio State in the real-life Big Ten and the committee chose to ignore that, or at least to de-emphasize it. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that power-pairing would remove every controversy. But in the spirit of a team debate, I have a couple of rebuttals.First, power-pairing would create a higher number of meaningful games, making it more likely that disputes would be settled on the field. In our simulated season, Penn State played (and defeated) Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois, a decent group of opponents whom they didn’t play in the actual regular season,6Penn State played Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, but not in the regular season. but skipped games against mediocre Indiana, Purdue and Rutgers, whom they pointlessly faced in real life. That made Penn State’s schedule harder and made its one-loss conference record even more impressive. On the flip side, Ohio State’s schedule got tougher also,7Ohio State played Iowa and Illinois in our simulated season, sacrificing real-life games against Michigan State and Rutgers. but they couldn’t handle the heat, blowing a game against Iowa that they didn’t have to play in real life. This is the algorithm working as intended: It improves the résumés of the very best teams while also thinning out the crop with (at least theoretically) entertaining games against closely matched opponents.Second, power-pairing would make teams easier to compare, by eliminating divisions and the potential ambiguities created by conference championship games (such as if Florida had become the nominal conference champion despite having more losses because it beat Alabama in the SEC championship). The top teams would simply be those that won the most games from the start of the regular season to the finish. And under power-pairing, the top teams would usually play one another, further aiding comparison.And third, eliminating conference championship games would free up a week in the schedule, so we could tack on another round to the College Football Playoff without further bloating the college football schedule. That would make it easier for strong conferences such as the Big Ten to place two or three teams into the playoff when deserving.It isn’t a perfect system, and it’s easy enough to imagine what some of the complaints would sound like. A team’s partisans would curse “the computer” every time the algorithm came up with an opponent they didn’t like. Coordinating travel logistics would become mildly more annoying. But power-pairing would get the best teams in the conference to play one another more often and create more deserving conference champions. It might be a nerdy solution, but it would make for better football. 6L–NebraskaW–MarylandW–Ohio St.L–IndianaW–Purdue Purdue1-3Illinois1-3 3@ RutgersMinnesota@ Mich. St.Purdue@ Wisconsin 9W–IllinoisL–N’WesternL–IndianaL–Ohio St. 1L–MichiganW–WisconsinW–PurdueW–Mich. St.W–Illinois 2Indiana@ Michigan@ Purdue@ Iowa@ Illinois 8TBD@ TBDTBDTBD WeekIllinoisIndianaIowaMarylandMichigan 7@ Penn St.@ Wisconsin@ IowaIllinoisMichigan 7Mich. St.@ Indiana@ MarylandMinnesota 8@ TBD@ TBD@ TBDTBDTBD 8TBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD@ TBD 9L–Penn St.W–RutgersW–MichiganL–MinnesotaL–Iowa 6TBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD@ TBD 2MarylandNebraskaWisconsin@ Rutgers Ohio State somewhat embarrassed the Big Ten in getting shut out by Clemson 31-0 in the College Football Playoff semifinal last week. Still, hindsight is 20/20, and I don’t necessarily begrudge the playoff selection committee for having turned down Penn State, which won the Big Ten championship, in favor of the Buckeyes. Ohio State was probably the better regular-season team and had fewer losses against a tougher schedule. Penn State — which for its part blew a big lead to lose the Rose Bowl to USC — had a head-to-head win against Ohio State and the conference title, two factors the committee explicitly says it considers in ranking the teams. It was a tough decision.My point is simply this: Conference championships, as currently devised, don’t make much sense. Because of imbalanced divisions, championship games often don’t pit the two best teams in a conference against each other (Big Ten championship participant Wisconsin was probably the fourth-best team in its league, for instance). They’ll sometimes result in an awkward rematch of a game that was already played during the regular season. And conference championship games waste a weekend that could be better spent on something else, such as expanding the College Football Playoff to six or eight teams.And now we have pretty good evidence that the playoff selection committee doesn’t really care one way or another. So let’s get rid of them! Imagine a world in which we’re spared the annual indignation of having to watch Florida lose to Alabama 59-2. Imagine a world in which historical rivals always play each other every year and yet, by almighty Rockne, the best teams in a conference always play one another, too. Imagine a world with no divisions. By which I mean: a world in which we eliminate divisions such as the ACC’s perplexingly named Atlantic and Coastal divisions, and all teams within the same college football conference compete as one.Not only have I imagined such a world, my friends, but I have seen one. I have seen it in the hallways of a high-school debate tournament.High-school debate tournaments — all of you will be shocked to learn that I was a master debater in high school — face some of the same constraints that college football conferences do. In any given tournament, there are lots of teams of radically varying quality levels, and there’s not nearly enough time to have them all play one another. A typical debate tournament, for example, might involve 60 teams but only six rounds of competition, with the best eight or 16 teams advancing to the playoffs (or what debaters call the “outrounds”). Each round is precious, and you don’t necessarily want to watch some some pimply-faced sophomores from a Class D school debating a Class A juggernaut like my alma mater, East Lansing High School, any more than you want to watch Rutgers lose to Michigan 78-0.The solution that debate tournaments devised is something called power-pairing. Power-pairing just means that teams with the same record are paired off against each other, so that a team that starts off the tournament 2-0 will face off against another 2-0 team, for instance. It usually works by drawing the first two rounds of a tournament at random,1Alternatively, the teams may be seeded somehow, such that everyone starts out with one matchup against an experienced team and another matchup against an inexperienced team in their first two rounds, for example. and after that, everything is power-paired.This turns out to be a surprisingly elegant solution. It helps to make the matchups relatively even, which not only helps students to learn more but also usually tells you more in determining the best teams. Furthermore, the pairings are somewhat self-correcting. Suppose a good team happens to randomly draw very tough opponents in its first two rounds and gets off to an 0-2 start. They’ll receive some compensation by being paired with easier opponents the rest of the way out — an 0-2 team and then a 1-2 team, and so forth. As another bonus to this system, the best teams are put through the gantlet and really earn their keep. A team that finishes its tournament undefeated or with just one loss will have beaten a lot of very good teams along the way.What would power-pairing look like in the context of a college football season? Here’s an example that I drew up involving this year’s Big Ten. I experimented with a few different setups, and happen to like this one, but feel free to disagree with the particulars (this is more a proof-of-concept than anything I’ve thought all that much about).It works like this: Each team plays nine conference games, the same number they play under the Big Ten’s current rules. Five of these are scheduled in advance, while four are power-paired or “flex” matchups determined only once the season is underway. To be more specific:Teams play rivalry games in weeks 2, 4 and 7. These matchups are the same every year. Week 7 features the most storied rivalries such as Michigan vs. Ohio State — the games that the Big Ten currently plays in the last week of the season. The games in weeks 2 and 4 involve secondary or tertiary rivals, such as Ohio State vs. Illinois or Michigan vs. Minnesota. Granted, this doesn’t always work out perfectly, since some teams (such as Michigan) have lots of Big Ten rivals and others (here’s looking at you, Maryland) don’t really have any. In real life, you might retain some of these games but have others chosen on a random or rotating basis.The matchups in weeks 1 and 3 are based on the previous season’s standings. Week 1 is a high-low pairing (the best teams from the previous season play the worst teams) while Week 3 is a high-high pairing (the best teams play the best teams and the worst teams play the worst teams). In theory, this gives each team one relatively tough and one relatively easy matchup within the first few weeks of the season.Weeks 5, 6, 8 and 9 are flex or power-paired matchups, where teams are paired against others with similar records that they haven’t played previously and that they aren’t already scheduled to play against in the future. (I’ll describe the procedure for pairing teams in a moment.) Each team has two home flex games and two away flex games, with the weeks designated in advance: For instance, Penn State has away games in weeks 5 and 9 and home flex games in weeks 6 and 8. Home and away weeks are set up such that every team has the opportunity to play every other team at least once.2For example, since Michigan State and Ohio State weren’t originally scheduled to play one another, there has to be at least one flex week where one of them is scheduled to be on the road and the other is scheduled to be at home. 3L–IowaW–IndianaL–Penn St.L–Ohio St.W–N’Western 4Indiana@ Illinois@ Minnesota@ N’westernMich. St. 5L–WisconsinW–RutgersW–N’WesternL–NebraskaW–Indiana 3W–RutgersL–MinnesotaW–Mich. St.W–PurdueW–Wisconsin 7W–Mich. St.L–IndianaL–MarylandW–Minnesota Iowa3-1Maryland3-1 7L–N’WesternW–PurdueW–NebraskaW–RutgersL–Ohio St. 4W–Ohio St.W–RutgersL–PurdueW–Nebraska 5@ TBDTBDTBD@ TBD@ TBD 1MichiganWisconsinPurdue@ Mich. St.@ Illinois 6W–RutgersW–N’WesternW–IllinoisL–MinnesotaL–Iowa 3Iowa@ IndianaPenn St.Ohio St.@ N’western 5L–MichiganW–IllinoisL–MinnesotaW–Mich. St. 6W–WisconsinL–MichiganL–Mich. St.L–Penn St. 2W–MarylandL–NebraskaL–WisconsinW–Rutgers 1@ Minnesota@ IowaN’western@ Indiana 8W–Mich. St.L–MichiganL–Penn St.L–Ohio St.W–Indiana Power-paired Week 5 matchups in hypothetical Big Ten schedule 2L–IndianaL–MichiganW–PurdueW–IowaW–Illinois
Something strange is happening with the baseball hot stove this winter. Not only is it not hot, it almost seems like it’s off.Available stars who would ordinarily have been snapped up long ago are still sitting on the shelf, which has the MLB Players Association panicking — and looking for answers. Is this simply a weak class of free agents? Have all 30 teams finally figured out that spending boatloads on veterans is usually dumb? Is the gap between contending and tanking teams to blame? Or is it just — gasp! — collusion, like the kind owners engaged in three decades ago?It’s difficult to pin down exactly why this offseason has proceeded so slowly. But the sluggish pace it has taken is quantifiable — and eye-catching. I gathered data on ESPN’s top 40 free agents1For all players ranked 40th or better on ESPN’s yearly free-agent rankings. In some years, the rankings skipped numbers, presumably because some players were ranked but did not actually hit free agency. This means that the top 40 doesn’t always include a full 40 players. for each winter going back to the 2006-07 offseason and tracked how many days it took after the end of World Series before those top players were signed. (Players technically become free agents the morning after the World Series ends.) For instance, today is Day 82 since the Astros beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the Fall Classic, and only 43 percent of the top 40 free agents — including only two of the top 10 — have put pen to paper. How abnormal is that? Between 2006 and 2016, the average offseason saw 76 percent of the top 40 free agents inking deals by Day 82 of the offseason.Here’s what this offseason looks like so far compared to how long it usually takes for top free agents to sign: The freeze on this year’s class of free agents is alarming. For one thing, it took much longer than usual for a team to break the free-agent ice. And, aside from a brief acceleration during the winter meetings in mid-December, the pace of signings has been markedly slower than normal — particularly early in the offseason, when the biggest flurry of signings usually takes place.Only the 2008-09 offseason, when just 53 percent of top-40 players were signed by this stage of the winter, came close to lagging as much as the current slowdown. And even then, most of the biggest available names had already been signed by this point in the offseason. Granted, three of those (Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett) were all picked up by spendthrift Yankees. By contrast, the current Yankees made their big splash in the trade market, where they acquired Giancarlo Stanton, and the team is now trying to squeak in under the luxury-tax threshold rather than adding free agents. Perhaps in the past, slow free-agent classes could always count on the Yankees to open the pocketbook and keep the money flowing — but not this year.Before we jump to any conclusions about the owners being in cahoots, it’s worth noting that many of the explanations for this year’s issues contain at least a kernel of truth. This class of free agents is indeed mediocre — in terms of wins above replacement2Using an average of the WAR metrics found at FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. produced by top-40 players in their previous three seasons, this is the worst crop of available talent since at least 2006.3Looking only at the most recent previous season improves this group’s standing slightly, bringing it up to sixth out of the 12 free-agent classes I examined. At the top of ESPN’s free-agent rankings, ace starter Yu Darvish is as good as any prized free agent from yesteryear, but many of the names further down the list come with legitimate issues, including Jake Arrieta’s declining value, J.D. Martinez’s inconsistent defense and Alex Cobb’s durability.It’s also true that more teams are tanking now than in years past. And the proliferation of statheads in MLB front offices over the past decade could explain why teams are no longer scrambling to offer big free-agent contracts to players who are already past their primes.As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan wrote in an excellent column last week, that final point is part of a bigger issue with the fundamental way baseball’s economics works, particularly as younger players generate more and more of the game’s on-field value. But if teams are suddenly realizing the folly of free agency, it’s also worth asking why they’ve chosen to simultaneously make their stand this year. (Bad deals still got made last season, though perhaps not as many as in the past.) The alternative explanation — collusion — is notoriously difficult to prove, however, and seems like an unbelievable risk for a group of owners who are already making money hand over fist.But the simple truth is that we don’t really know why the market for free agents is so sluggish this year. We can only prove that it is indeed historically slow-moving — and that fact alone demands an explanation.
Cedric Soares has rubbished talks of an in-house fight at Inter Milan and revealed that he is learning a lot from manager Luciano Spalletti.The Portuguese start to life at Inter since joining from Southampton has been marred by the club’s poor form having slumped to three defeats in a row.Coupled with the speculations surrounding the futures Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi, as well as Spalletti. But the former Saints defender is backing the Nerazzurri to bounce back.However, Cedric went on to confirm that he is enjoying life at Milan despite the poor run of results.“Despite the results I’ve had so far, it’s been a good experience,” he told Football Italia.“We can reverse this negative trend and Spalletti’s teaching me a lot, as are my teammates.“I know what to do on the field, but I have to get used to the team’s mechanisms and movements.”Lukaku backed to beat Ronaldo in Serie A scoring charts Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Former Inter Milan star Andy van der Meyde is confident Romelu Lukaku will outscore Cristiano Ronaldo in this season’s Serie A.Cedric Soares plays down talk of divisions at #Inter & reveals Coach Luciano Spalletti is ‘teaching me a lot’ https://t.co/ARdkqi3Lze #FCIM pic.twitter.com/CIspWaroQO— footballitalia (@footballitalia) February 7, 2019The Portugal international is equally gave some insight on his set-piece abilities.“It’s something you learn when you’re very young,” he explained.“You just have to start training well and be confident, in addition to having a good teacher.“I have many friends in Milan and it’s like I have a family here. I feel at home.”