About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Man Utd boss Solskjaer: De Gea save best I’ve ever seenby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed David de Gea’s wonder save for victory over Huddersfield.United won 3-1, though De Gea’s intervention came at a crucial moment.Solskjaer said, “The result was great. Obviously, you win the game and get three points. I think we started off slowly and maybe [it was] the whole occasion, we took one touch too many, we didn’t create too many chances early on but, after we got the first goal, I think we settled down, we passed it quicker. “There was a period just before half-time when you thought we would get the second here and it will be game over. In the second half, the first seven or eight minutes, I think we struggled then David’s save was the key moment for us. “You know every team, whatever game you are playing, if you are at home or away, they will get a chance because there is quality in all Premier League teams and that save must be one of the best I have seen – probably the best.”
TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Pochettino declares he could stay with Spurs ‘for 20 years’by Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveTottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has declared he could stay with the Londoners for 20 years.The 46-year-old Argentine has guided Spurs to fifth, third, second and third in his four completed league seasons since joining from Southampton in 2014.”I hope, or I wish to be here 20 years, and decide to leave or to finish my career here,” said Pochettino.”I am so focused here, and want to help the club to achieve what the club want to be in history.”He added: “It would be fantastic. I am so happy to be here. I am so happy to work in that pressure. Why not?”
TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Son of AC Milan director Boban slams coach Giampaoloby Carlos Volcano24 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveThe son of AC Milan director Zvonimir Boban has slammed coach Marco Giampaolo.Giampaolo is under huge pressure at Milan after defeat to Fiorentina – marking the club’s worst start to a season in 30 years.And Rafael Boban has added to the speculation by taking to social media today.”Milan,” he wrote in his stories on ‘Instagram’, “has many quality players, the problem is the coach.”Boban Jr went onto praise the qualities of former Milan coach Max Allegri, now a free agent after leaving Juventus.
ATHENS, GA – SEPTEMBER 26: Running back Nick Chubb #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates with running back Sony Michel #1 at the conclusion of the game against the Southern University Jaguars on September 26, 2015 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Georgia Bulldogs won 48-6. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)Matt Chernoff, a sports talk radio host in Atlanta, posed the following hypothetical question on Twitter this afternoon. Which player would you (Georgia fans) rather have: Todd Gurley or Nick Chubb? Georgia fans If you could have Chubb or Gurley this season, who do you want?— Matt Chernoff (@RealMattlanta) August 26, 2015Gurley, who starred in Athens, Ga., for three seasons, is now a St. Louis Ram. Chubb, meanwhile, burst onto the scene in Gurley’s absence in 2014, rushing for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns. The majority answer for Georgia fans: Chubb. As of 3:40 p.m. E.T., 19 people had responded to the tweet. The responses: 10 for Chubb and four for Gurley (the other five said stuff like “Churley” or “both”).Some of the responses: @RealMattlanta Chubb. Gurley has a bum knee and Chubb was just as good, if not better last year.— Georgia Native (@Georgia_Native) August 26, [email protected] Chubb all the way. #ChubbSmash— Amen…Go Dawgs (@Amen_GoDawgs) August 26, [email protected] Chubb because QB/WRs are question marks. Will need a back who can not only handle workload, but be more effective bc of it— Matt Berry (@MattBerry05) August 26, [email protected] Gurley, I still think he has more take it to the house speed— Kevin Bearden (@KKevin4268) August 26, 2015Who would you take, Georgia fans?
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The year on Broadway came to a very sparkly end for theatre producers as many shows recorded their most profitable weeks ever despite theatre-goers facing bitter cold and some eye-popping ticket prices.Ten shows last week earned more than $2 million, led by “Hamilton,” ”The Lion King” and “Wicked,” which each pulled in more than $3 million, according to the Broadway League, a national trade association for the industry. The year ended with grosses soaring to $1.6 billion, attracting 13.74 million patrons, both yearly records.New weekly highs were reached by shows including “Come From Away,” ”SpongeBob SquarePants,” ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” ”The Play That Goes Wrong,” ”Waitress” and “The Band’s Visit.” Even the musical “Chicago” got into the act at the mature age of 21, earning a record $1.3 million.Those who boasted surpassing the $2 million mark included “The Phantom of the Opera,” ”Hello, Dolly!” ”Dear Evan Hansen,” ”Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” ”Aladdin,” ”Springsteen on Broadway” and “The Book of Mormon.”The time around Christmas and New Year’s is usually Broadway’s boom time, but this holiday season was particularly flush, pushed by premium pricing and several shows going from eight performances a week to nine. The average price for a seat at “Hamilton” was $358, while it was $508 to hear Bruce Springsteen. The official top premium price to see Bette Midler in “Hello, Dolly!” was $996.Not every show was popping Champagne. The holiday revue “Home for the Holidays,” which featured the winners of various TV singing competitions, ended its run as one of the poorest performing shows ever on Broadway. It crept out of town with a weekly haul of under $80,000 over eight performances, or 5 per cent of its potential gross. The average ticket was just $26, but the theatre was 70 per cent empty.The data this year is based on a 53-week calendar year, which is periodically necessary so 365-day years can be lined up with 52-week-long sales windows measured Monday through Sunday.___Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
CALGARY – Alberta’s premier says the Trump administration’s recent attacks on Canadian trade show how necessary it is to go ahead with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.Rachel Notley has taken aim at what she called reckless U.S. moves against Canada’s steel and aluminum industries.She told the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary that Canada needs to be strategic with its resources and not put all its eggs in one basket.Virtually all of Canada’s oil exports go to the United States and the Trans Mountain pipeline would enable sales to Asia via the West Coast.The federal government agreed last month to purchase the project from Texas-based Kinder Morgan, which had threatened to pull the plug because of political hurdles in British Columbia.Notley says the United States benefits from Canada’s failure to build a pipeline to a Canadian coast and get a better price for its product.“In these days, I’ve got to say it’s getting harder and harder to stomach, with reckless attacks on our steel and aluminum industries and reckless attacks on the hard-working people that those industries employ,” Notley said Tuesday.“I have a message to send to folks beyond this room, to British Columbia and to all Canadians: if the last days and weeks tell us anything, it’s that we, as Canadians, need to take control of our economic destiny.”Notley directed a few good-natured jabs at the Americans who came to Calgary for the annual energy industry trade show.“For our American guests, let me just say how brave it is for you to join us here in a country that represents such a hostile national security threat,” she said.“I should let you know, that there is in fact a battalion of Canadian geese assembling outside the doors. We’ve cleared the building of maple syrup and, in fact, if some of you are not really, really careful, we may make you drink your own beer.”
Jaipur: The BCCI had acted voluntarily while banning Steve Smith and David Warner from last edition of IPL on ball tampering charges and the former Australian captain said that only the Indian board can answer why it panned out that way. Cricket Australia’s one year ban was from international cricket and the duo were well within their rights to a play domestic T20 league like IPL but the richest cricket board in the world decided to impose their own sanctions. Smith, whose one-year ban ends on March 29 will be available for Rajasthan Royals’ first game on March 25 but it will depend on the condition of his elbow. “I am available for all the matches and BCCI has to answer that why I was not allowed to play earlier,” Smith took a dig at the BCCI during a promotional event on Friday. Speaking after the jersey launch ceremony, Smith said that he was looking forward for the tournament. “It is exciting to be back on field and I am looking forward to the tournament,” he said during an announcement. With his international ban set to end on March 29, Smith will be eyeing good IPL in order to make it to the World Cup squad.
Rio de Janeiro: At least 11 people have been killed in a shooting at a bar in Brazil’s Para state, police said. The shooting took place on Sunday in the city of Belem when seven gunmen arrived at the bar and began shooting, Xinhua news agency reported. They killed six women, among them the bar’s owner, and five men, according to the Military Police. One person was injured and taken to the hospital. An investigation into the shooting was opened by the Civil Police’s Homicide Division, but the motive behind the shooting is still unknown.
By Louise RiondelBordeaux, France – The European Parliament adopted the initial report on the situation of Human Rights in the Sahara prepared by the British Conservative MP Charles Tannock on Tuesday. The text was a real indictment against Morocco, but the Kingdom’s diplomacy foiled the accusations of his opponents and won another victory today. The European Parliament congratulated Morocco for its progress and all amendments against the Kingdom were rejected, including that concerning the fishing agreement between Morocco and the European Union.The report mentions that “a large number of stakeholders, including the Government of Morocco, Moroccan NGOs, and former residents of the Tindouf camps, said that the Polisario authorities limited the residents’ freedom of expression and freedom of movement”, and recognizes the involvement of Algeria in the conflict and its protection of the Polisario.In a statement from the headquarters of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Abderrahim Atmoun, Persident of the Parliamentary Committee of the EU-Morocco announced that the Moroccan diplomacy has managed to remove the “elements claiming falsely that the resources of the southern provinces did not benefit the people . “The report called on Algeria to facilitate the identification of people in the Saharawi refugee camps controlled by the Polisario. In addition, it urges “Algerian authorities to assume their responsibilities for improving the situation of human rights in the Tindouf camps.”The President of the EU- Morocco Friendship Group, Gilles Pargneaux said that “the Parliament should strengthen its relations with those who make more efforts to promote democracy. ““Do not forget that Morocco is the only country to have conducted a real development policy in the Saharan region, to have developed a respectable rule of law as the vector of terrorism and yet , some MEPs forget what the Kingdom of Morocco has accomplished,” he added.
Fame can be fickle in sports, especially for the rare player skilled (and fortunate) enough to cash in big on his athletic talents. Five years ago, Albert Pujols was baseball’s most marketable superstar. But one massive contract and two disappointing seasons later, that goodwill had faded.Until this week, that is. Pujols belted his 499th and 500th career home runs Tuesday night, and the milestones seemed to remind fans of what he once was, and maybe still can be. Specifically, Pujols’s homers recalled the fearsome slugger who once made us seriously suspect he had been created by Cyberdyne Systems just to hit baseballs.Still, Pujols, now 34, is fighting an uphill battle against Father Time, as well as the backlash of unmet expectations. So amid the hyperbole and wild swings in public opinion — we loved Pujols, then turned on him, and have recently warmed to him once again — let’s survey the full arc of his career to date, even if, as we saw just this week, it’s still a work in progress.Pujols’s origin story begins with his 13th-round selection in the draft and ends somewhere during his express ride through the St. Louis Cardinals’ entire minor league system in one season. By the time he hit .329 with 37 home runs as a 21-year-old major league rookie in 2001, he had arrived. In his entire career, Pujols’s batting average has been below .300 for exactly four games. That’s it. He last finished a game with a sub-.300 lifetime average on April 6, 2001.In his prime, Pujols’s greatest strength at the plate was his ability to hit for power without sacrificing contact. From 2001 to 2010, he was tied with Ryan Howard for the major leagues’ third-highest rate of isolated power,1Isolated power (ISO) is a metric that subtracts batting average from slugging percentage, in essence capturing a player’s rate of extra base hits per at bat, weighted by his total bases. a .293 ISO that trailed only Barry Bonds’s .406 and Jim Thome’s .299. (Bonds’s stat is staggering, and mostly compiled during the performance enhancing drug-aided phase of his career, when he resembled more of a video game character than a baseball player.) Pujols struck out in only 9.5 percent of his plate appearances over that span. Among power hitters in the Late Steroid Era, a strikeout rate so low was unheard of. On the ISO list, you’d need to go down to Nomar Garciaparra at .183 (ranked 177th) to find anyone with a strikeout rate lower than Pujols’s.Pujols was also unusually disciplined about when he chose to swing, offering at only 42.3 percent of the pitches he saw (the average player swings at about 46 percent of pitches faced), and even swinging at balls in the strike zone 2.2 percent less often than the typical hitter.2According to Baseball Info Solutions data. He also swung at the first pitch less often than the norm (20 percent for Pujols versus 28 percent for the league), and constantly worked himself into hitter’s counts, seeing a 2-0 count 50 percent more often than the average hitter, and a 3-1 count 32 percent more often.Pujols could hit nearly everything. Among MLB batters from 2002 to 2010, only Pujols and his once-teammate Matt Holliday were at least one run above average per 100 pitches against every single pitch classification that hitters see with any regularity — i.e. the fastball, curveball, changeup, etc.3This excludes the knuckleball, which only makes up about 0.5 percent of all pitches seen by major leaguers. And when Pujols swung, he usually hit the ball hard. His hits went for extra bases 50 percent more often than the average player’s did. His fly balls left the yard twice as frequently as the norm. He hit home runs 2.4 times more often (on a per-at-bat basis) than the major league average.It was all of these elements working together — the combination of contact-hitting ability, patience and raw power — that made Pujols the most devastating hitter of his generation. And then there were the non-hitting skills. Despite very little speed, Pujols was a surprisingly good baserunner, adding somewhere between 15 and 20 runs above average on the basepaths over the first decade of his career, depending on which statistical estimation you look at. And he was also the game’s best fielding first baseman during his prime, likely deserving of more than the two Gold Gloves he won in 2006 and 2010.As dominant as Pujols was, by 2011 — the final season of a longterm deal he signed with St. Louis in 2004 — the cracks were starting to show. In his first 10 major league seasons, Pujols had never dropped below 5.5 wins above replacement (regardless of whether you look at Baseball-Reference’s or FanGraphs’ version of the statistic) and was often in the 7 to 9 WAR range. But In 2011, Pujols, then 31 years old, posted roughly 4.9 WAR4Splitting the difference between Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs. — easily a career low. His seasonal batting average fell below .300 for the first time ever, and his power was down. Plus, by FanGraphs’ estimation, he also had his worst baserunning and fielding performances in years.It was easy enough to write those numbers off, though. Pujols’s average was down largely because of a low .277 BABIP,5Batting Average on Balls in Play. which can vary from year to year due in no small measure to luck. His ISO matched his previous career lows, but in each prior case he’d bounced back to post monster power numbers within two seasons of the down year. Pujols turned in a great postseason performance for the Cardinals in 2011, culminating in a 1.064 OPS during the World Series. Why look for trouble with Pujols, baseball’s most automatic hitter?Then came The Contract.Star players leaving teams in free agency is nothing new, but Pujols’s move to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim struck a particular nerve with fans. Words like “greed” and “betrayal” were quickly thrown around. It didn’t help that Pujols had previously spoken about his desire to end his career in St. Louis. Money, he’d said, didn’t matter to him.After leaving St. Louis for Anaheim, Pujols invited the expectations that come with a $240 million deal — expectations that are rarely met. Take a look at the dollar-value returns on other notable MLB position-player contracts of the last decade-plus, according to FanGraphs data6FanGraphs’ dollar-value estimates for players only go back to 2002; dollars paid are not included for prior years. Also, Alfonso Soriano’s 2014 projected production is included.:Ironically, the only one of those contracts that ended up being a big bargain for the signing team was Pujols’s previous seven-year pact with the Cardinals, signed in February 2004.7The base term of the contract was seven years, but with a club option for an eighth season, which the Cardinals eventually exercised. Wikipedia’s list of the largest professional sports contracts doesn’t include extra terms like option years. But that deal was given to a 24-year-old Pujols, and would take him through age 30 (with a team option for his age-31 season). The next contract, with the Angels, was for a 32-year-old Pujols, and would run until the slugger was 41. That’s why some critics panned the Angels’ move before Pujols had ever played a game for the team.When Pujols did finally start playing for Los Angeles, the initial results were mixed at best. A miserable .570 OPS in April 2012 gave way to good — if not exactly Pujolsian — numbers over the rest of the season, but his overall value was down by about .5 WAR in 2012. Meanwhile, 2013 was a complete disaster: Pujols missed 63 games with a foot injury and posted the worst statistical rates of his career when he did take the field, likely a byproduct of playing through the ailment for four months before being placed on the disabled list in late July.The once great mix of power, patience and contact skills was disintegrating. Instead of rebounding after 2011, Pujols’s isolated power continued to plummet, bottoming out at .179 (still above the MLB average, but 100 points lower than his career rate) a year ago. Only 10.6 percent of his fly balls have left the ballpark since he became an Angel, a career low.Some of this is attributable to ballpark effects — Pujols played in hitter’s parks (both the second and third Busch Stadiums) during his prime, while Angel Stadium is one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in the majors. But it also reflects a change to Pujols’s underlying skills that we can detect by looking at his strike zone outcomes. Pujols’s strikeout rate immediately spiked to 11.3 percent upon arriving in Anaheim, followed by another increase to 12.4 percent in 2013 — his highest whiff rates since he was a rookie. He was showing uncharacteristic vulnerability to breaking pitches, and not punishing the fastball the way he used to. And, most alarming, he began swinging the bat far more often than he had in St. Louis. Cardinals Albert rarely chased balls outside the strike zone, but Angels Albert was suddenly going after bad pitches 3 to 5 percent more often than the average player.The little things were falling by the wayside as well. The smart, heady baserunner who, in his prime, made up for a lack of speed by capitalizing on 49 percent of his advancement opportunities was suddenly taking extra bases at only a 39 percent clip. And Pujols’s defense in 2013 was worse than it had been in a decade.The preseason narrative was that this year would be different. Every player claims health in spring training, so much so that it’s a running meme to mock stories about players coming to camp in “the best shape of their lives.” Pujols tried it in March, telling anyone who would listen that his painful plantar fascia injury was a thing of the past, and that he was ready to silence the doubters. You would have been forgiven for being skeptical, though, given that this was a 34-year-old slugger coming off four straight years of declining production.However, this season already seems promising. There’s the 500th home run, of course, but also an April that was reminiscent of Cardinals Albert. Pujols is hitting the ball with terrific power again — over 14 percent of his hits have gone for extra bases — and he’s mashing fly balls for home runs, instead of harmless flyouts. His strikeout rate is back down under 9 percent, where it was during his best seasons. And his per-inning rate of defensive runs saved at first base is back up where it was before last year’s collapse.All isn’t what it once was, though. Worryingly, Pujols is still swinging the bat more than he used to — and chasing more pitches outside the strike zone than the average hitter. In spite of his decreased strikeout rate, he’s also making less contact now than ever before, as a percentage of his swings. And his baserunning may never again be where it was in his prime.In other words, age is catching up to Albert Pujols, as it does to every ballplayer. But the early returns suggest his 2014 won’t be nearly as trying as his 2013, or even his 2012, was. And, perhaps more important, his reception this week suggests that fans may be ready to move past heaping scorn on his mega-contract with the Angels and the way he left St. Louis. Pujols probably won’t ever again be the same all-around superstar he was during his peak years as a Cardinal, but we should still enjoy what he is now: a future Hall of Famer who still has plenty of artistry left in his once-legendary bat.