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Beyond the Arcelor Mittal Violence:

first_imgSome called it the Nimba ‘scare’, others termed it Nimba disturbance; for some, it was the ‘Yekepa Raid’, among others. But what is clear is that last week’s violent incidence in Nimba is a national wakeup call that must be checked on from all fronts; behind-the-scene happenings, hidden but eventual causes, and mechanisms that would prevent future occurrences on not justArcelorMittal but also all current and future investments, whether foreign or locally-owned.The obvious condemnation of what transpired seems, however, to be the only thing on everyone’s lips without a second thought to what may have led to such a violent scene like never witnessed in the post-war country’s decade-long years of peace. With no intention on my part to justify such violence (which warrant immense and immediate action against perpetrators and their hidden supporters), we must use the ArcelorMittal situation to put into place corrective measures on issues bordering around how we sign concession agreements, on how we raise expectations of would-be beneficiaries, how we manage or direct proceeds derived out of social funds, and how we follow-up with the least of the contents of the agreements.As a matter of fact, post-war concessions, be they agricultural like oil palm or rubber or industrial like mining, are all protest-prone to the extent that fire-arms violence erupts at times. The case of the 2007 Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC) anti-expansion violence that killed its Belgian national, Bruno Mitchell who was the Plantation Manager is enough reason for all Liberians and their foreign investors to take cure for avoiding such.For the case at hand, Nimba youths have in recent months never rested from expressing their frustrations over ArcelorMittal’s operations until it reached boiling point last week. They had demanded, or probably appealed for greater Liberian employment, implementation and in some cases completion of projects and other infrastructural developments to include schools, hospitals and roads and even a vocational training center in Yekepa and improvement of workers’ conditions, among others.The company, on the other hand—though maintained that it has lived up to its corporate responsibility at 100 percent—had engaged the locals regularly during and after their protests.Whatever became of the outcomes of the engagements, however, was not reflected in the recent violence that reportedly left about four national police officers injured and millions of dollars’ worth of properties damaged.But as the company picks up the pieces in counting its losses and has since resumed operations, let’s take a look at some of the issues.When Our Lawmakers Pen ‘Hasty’ Agreements The ArcelorMittal deal was initiated during the Gyude Bryant Transitional Government during a time when warring-fractional lawmakers on Capitol Hill were deemed to have ratified the deal under dubious circumstances, prompting the revision of a deal put forth on the table at around US$900 million to be spent over 25 years.On 17 August 2005, the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) entered into a Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) with Mittal Steel to exploit Liberia’s reserves of iron ore.  Of course, it was renegotiated by the current administration in 2006, apparently fueled by a Global Witness report that raised some alarms over some issues in the Byrant deal.But a year and few months after the revision of the deal, ArcelorMittal in 2008 donated 100 Toyota Hilux DXD4 double-cabin pickups to members of the 52nd National Legislature to be used, according to the company’s former CEO Joseph Matthews, for agricultural purposes in their respective constituencies. The donation ceremony which was held in the Executive Mansion yard was said to be in response to the President’s request for Liberia’s partners to assist in the reconstruction efforts of the government’s agriculture development drive. That met public condemnations too on grounds that it was meant to influence the lawmakers over future actions of the company.But the deal had the potential to bring a range of benefits, including increased government revenues, the creation of employment positions and improved infrastructure to a nation fresh from the ashes of war and at the time yearned for investment opportunities. Nonetheless, the terms and conditions of the MDA attracted significant criticism from civil society groups due to their alleged impact on human rights.In a 2006 report entitled ‘Heavy Mittal?’, Global Witness noted that the presence of a stabilization clause in the MDA could undermine Liberia’s right to regulate important public policy areas, such as human rights and the environment. Although the MDA acknowledged that the project was subject to Liberian law, it imposed a number of restrictions on its application including concerns that the MDA precluded modifications to applicable Liberian law without the prior consent of the company. As a result, the report noted that the company was effectively in a position to refuse to consent to any new law or other form of regulation for the duration of the contract.Another concern was that the MDA guaranteed that the duties and rights of the company under the agreement shall never be derogated from or otherwise prejudiced by any law or by the action or inaction of the government. As a result, the MDA guaranteed that the duties and rights of the company would take precedence over any domestic law, international law or other form of regulation and that the Liberian Government was obliged to indemnify the company for any and all “claims, liabilities, costs, expenses, losses and damages” as a result of a failure by the government to honor its obligations under the MDA – even if such failure was required under Liberian law.But the renegotiated MDA of December 2006 between the Liberian Government and ArcelorMittal saw an amended stabilization clause which still superseded Liberian law on income tax, royalties and other payments due to the government substantially restricted. The amended MDA also made expressed provision for the protection of specific human rights in relation to the project. For example, under that renegotiated agreement, ArcelorMittal is bound to ensure that its private security force follows the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, that the company must respect certain rights of third parties within the project area including the right of specified people to use infrastructure within the project area. It also called for the company to no longer has the right to secure (at no additional cost) public land outside of the concession area that is necessary for the operation of the project. Acquisition of such land is now subject to good faith negotiation between the parties.In short, the renegotiated settlement provides for stronger human rights protection. According to Global Witness at the time, “the renegotiated agreement showed it was possible to secure profitable commercial terms, whilst also safeguarding the interests of the host state and its population.” This, it said, gives Liberia a real chance of extracting reasonable benefits from the concession.  However, the real benefits of this contract to Liberia, Global Witness notes, could only be truly assessed once the company started its operations.And so, are the previously raised issues in that report that led to the renegotiation like human rights, improved working conditions and benefits of the locals being addressed?Were Huge Expectations Raised For Locals?Another issue we must consider in the aftermath of the Yekepa violence is whether the expectations of the locals were raised beyond the company’s capacities.ArcelorMittal contributes US$3 million annually to a development fund as enshrined in the MDA for the three counties where it operates (with Nimba where the mines are located receiving the largest trunk of US$1.5 million dollars, Grand Bassa where the company ships ores through its port receiving US$1 million while Bong receives the remaining half a million because the company’s rail passes through that county).I remain a testimony to projects in these counties that derived out of the Corporate Funds including community colleges in Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties, among others. The understanding is that legislators, administrators and the citizenries from these counties derive at how they spend their allotted portions of the Funds which ArcelorMittal boosts of being in full commitment to in terms of up-to-date payments.But aside from this, it is also understood that the company committed itself to other initiatives outside the MDA which may seem to be causing the current problems. Nothing in the MDA says the company should pave the Ganta-Yekepa Road, for instance, but ArcelorMittal made a commitment to this and other issues advanced by the locals. As a matter of fact, locals in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County do have their demands too outside the MDA to which the Company committed to doing but dragging or refusing to do so later may cause problems (which we hope not for).May we use the Yekepa scenario to avoid raising expectations of would-be beneficiaries and how we ratify concessions; how we manage or direct proceeds derived out of social funds, and how we follow-up with the least of the contents of the agreements.In this case, with the reported losses sustained by the company, its target of reaching 100 million tons  by next year would not reached as was in 2012 when its target of 4 million tons could not be met due to weather. A reported capital investment of US$800 million in rails, port, infrastructure, among others is worth protecting but the situation also speaks to how fragile ArcelorMittal’s own security (the hired PGS) is and the need to bolster it.About the Author: Nat Bayjay is a Media Consultant/Communication specialist. Doubling as a PUL Best Investigative & Best Environmental Journalist in 2011, Bayjay uses his journalistic profession to always highlight issues in the country including political, economical and socio issues through in-depth articles and news analyses. He’s reachable on: [email protected]/0777-402737Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Ventilation for Passive House Multifamily Projects, Part 2

first_imgThis is Part 2 of a two-part series. Here is a link to the first article in the series: “Ventilation for Passive House Multifamily Projects, Part 1.” In climates with significant heating or cooling seasons, Passive House projects must have a balanced heat-recovery or energy-recovery ventilation system. These systems use a heat exchanger to transfer heat and moisture between the outgoing and incoming air streams. A heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) transfers heat from the outgoing exhaust air stream to the incoming fresh air stream during the winter (or vice-versa during the summer). An energy-recovery ventilator (ERV) transfers heat and moisture from the exhaust air stream to the fresh air stream in winter (or vice-versa during the summer). The operation of recovery ventilators reduces the energy required to heat and cool, and in the process decreases the building’s carbon footprint.RELATED ARTICLESHRV or ERV?Commissioning ERVsMisconceptions About HRVs and ERVsPreventing Frost Buildup in HRVs and ERVsRating Windows for Condensation Resistance What the industry has learned from the development of airtight buildings and programs such as Passive House and R2000 is that indoor relative humidity must be controlled; in some seasons, this can be achieved through continuous ventilation. Deciding between an HRV and an ERV gets more complex when the Passive House concept is scaled from a single-family home to a multifamily program. The extremely airtight building envelope required of a Passive House combined with high internal moisture gains from an occupant-dense multifamily program (coming from occupants, kitchens, and bathrooms) forces additional moisture management considerations during mechanical ventilation design. Maintaining acceptable interior relative humidity in both the heating and cooling season is paramount for building durability and occupant comfort. It’s appropriate that Passive House professionals claim this simple motto: “Build Tight, Ventilate Right!” Comparing summer and winter operation In New York City (Climate Zone 4A), where the multifamily Passive House market is rapidly growing, there is a significant heating season and a demanding cooling season with high humidity. With this seasonal variation there are four primary operating scenarios for an HRV or ERV that need to be considered during design. Summer Condition – HRV An HRV operating in the summer (hot-humid exterior air and cool-dry interior air) introduces additional moisture to the building through ventilation. Heat is transferred from the incoming outside air stream to the exhaust air stream leaving the building. This cools the supply air, but exterior moisture is not removed from the incoming air. The building’s dehumidification load increases as a consequence of additional moisture from the outdoor air. Winter Condition – HRV An HRV operating in the winter (cold-dry exterior air and warm-moist interior air) exhausts the moisture generated by building occupants. Heat is transferred between the two air streams at the recovery core, but moisture in the exhaust air is not transferred to the supply. As a result, controlling interior relative humidity in the winter can be less challenging with an HRV. Summer Condition – ERV An ERV operating in the summer (hot-humid exterior air and cool-dry interior air) reduces the amount of moisture in the outside air that is delivered to the interior. Heat and moisture are transferred to the exhaust air stream, reducing both the cooling and dehumidification loads associated with ventilation. Winter Condition – ERV An ERV operating in the winter (cold-dry exterior air and warm-moist interior air) transfers both heat and humidity to the supply air at the recovery core. As a result, controlling interior moisture levels can be more challenging with winter operation of an ERV. In summer, outdoor humidity is a factor Project teams should evaluate these situations and identify the highest risk scenario in relation to their climate and building program. The overarching Passive House design intent is to reduce both the heating and cooling demand, decrease equipment size and annual energy consumption, while maintaining occupant comfort and building durability. Being mindful of the Passive House Design intent will help guide this conversation. Let’s consider the primary operating conditions, starting with summer operation. Good Passive House design should result in decreased cooling loads and thus, smaller cooling equipment capacity. An HRV introduces additional moist air to the conditioned building in the summer. This may be problematic if there is a need for dehumidification but there is no need for sensible cooling because the temperature in the space is already low. Since dehumidification will only happen when the cooling system is running (unless supplemental dehumidifiers are installed), the occupants might experience prolonged periods of high humidity and discomfort. Generally speaking, residential occupants are comfortable with higher summer setpoint temperatures only if the indoor relative humidity is kept between 40% and 60%. If the latent load cannot be met and the relative humidity increases beyond 60%, the majority of occupants will no longer be comfortable. As such, ERV operation in the summer may be desirable when you consider that an ERV will aid in removing moisture from the incoming air and help maintain a lower dehumidification load. This aligns with the Passive House design intent to maintain occupant comfort and reduce annual energy consumption. In winter, indoor condensation is a risk Now let’s consider the winter operation. When evaluating the risk to building durability, winter building operation poses the highest condensation potential. During cold periods, heat is conducted through the building envelope. This can result in cold interior surfaces ideal for condensation especially at the least efficient components, such as windows and doors. Condensation risk is increased by moisture generated in an occupant-dense multifamily building; the higher the interior relative humidity, the higher the surface temperature where condensation can form. Even with high-performance window components, the risk of condensation on windows and doors may be present when the interior relative humidity is high and surface temperatures are near the dew point. Mitigating the risk of interior condensation must be considered during the selection of an HRV or ERV. As a worst case, let’s assume an internal setpoint temperature of 68°F and window frame U-value of 0.275 Btu/hr·ft2·F (1.56 W/M2.K). With an exterior ambient temperature of 14°F (-10°C), frame surface condensation would occur at 60% indoor relative humidity. With an exterior ambient temperature of 4°F (-15°C), frame surface condensation would occur at 50% indoor relative humidity. While these relative humidity levels may seem high, they can be easily realized in a new building with a dense population. It is not uncommon in our multifamily projects to have up to six people living in less than 1,000 square feet. The amount of moisture generated by occupant perspiration, cooking, and showers in addition to construction moisture in a new building can easily drive interior RH to these levels. Even intermittent window condensation can be problematic from the perspective of mold growth and building durability. Condensation should be avoided in all buildings but should never occur in a Passive House where the design intent is focused on durability. Controlling indoor humidity during winter Remember that an ERV operating during the winter transfers some of the moisture generated inside the building back to the incoming supply air. An HRV operating under the same winter conditions exhausts internally generated moisture, helping to control indoor relative humidity and condensation risk. This seems like a cut-and-dried argument for the exclusive use of HRVs, right? It is not that simple. The amount of moisture that is re-circulated by an ERV can be decreased with a centralized system through various control strategies and because the moist air from one apartment will be mixed with a much greater volume of air headed back to the ERV. This is in contrast to unitized ERVs, where the majority of the internal moisture gains would be returned back to the supply air of each apartment. If we assume that all apartments are not experiencing high humidity levels at all times, the shear mixing of these streams will reduce the amount of moisture that can be returned to any one apartment. (For more on HRV/ERV system arrangements, see the first article in this series: Ventilation in a Passive House Multifamily, Part 1). During periods when most apartments are likely to see increased humidity, such as the early morning and evening, moisture transfer of a central ERV can be controlled with partial recovery core bypass or by controlling the speed of the enthalpy wheel. This acts to reduce the latent moisture transfer efficiency from return to outdoor air streams. As a consequence, the sensible heat transfer efficiency is also reduced temporarily. Our analyses show that supply air relative humidity can be reduced 10 to 15 percentage points with moisture recovery control. This additional functionality makes central ERVs a viable option for multifamily Passive House in winter. The data shown below represents a multifamily Passive House building operating a central ERV in a New York City winter. The analysis assumes an equal mix of low, medium, and high humidity generation scenarios, demonstrating possible apartment types in a multifamily building. Winter building operation showing decreased supply air relative humidity resulting from central ERV enthalpy wheel speed reduction. The interior relative humidity peaks in the morning and evening at 55%. With the addition of moisture recovery control and a decreased enthalpy wheel speed, the peak relative humidity is decreased by 10 to 15 percentage points, to 45%. There is no prescriptive path for HRV or ERV selection. However, centralized ERVs can be operated to control supply air moisture content in both winter and summer. This makes ERVs an attractive option for multifamily Passive House buildings in New York City.   Thomas Moore is a certified Passive House consultant and a building systems analyst with Steven Winter Associates, Inc.last_img read more

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The Right Way To Ask For A Professional Favor

first_imgNeed a favor for your film or video project? Here’s 5 tips on doing it the right way.[Above photo by Vancouver Film School on Flickr]When you’re trying to get your film project made the old adage of ‘beg, borrow or steal’ often comes into play. You might have little or no real funding or you’re paying for the whole thing out of your own pocket. To get this project done you’re doing to have to ask a whole lot of people to work on your project as a favor. Asking for ‘free’ help is never easy. Here’s a few thoughts on how to make that process go smoothly.Tip 1: Be Up FrontWhen you’re tapping someone up for a favor, just come right out and say it. Especially if it’s in an email saying something like…I’m working really hard on an exciting personal project and I wondered if I could ask you to help make it happen.This is much better than wading through “Hi, hope you’re well, it’s been ages, how was that thing I saw you at ages ago? How’s your dog? What you been working on? So I was just wondering…..” The preamble won’t help and more than likely will seem disingenuous. End with some pleasantries but don’t try to lay out the carpet with them.Tip 2: Show You’re WorkingYou want to show you’re already working on this and are already highly invested in making it happen…whatever it takes. Your friend is more likely to agree to come on board when they can see that the ball is already rolling and that they might be one of the final pieces of the puzzle. Also, a bit like charity match funding, it’s easier to get people to give when they are matching someone else’s donation. They’ll feel like others must believe this will have an impact too. People follow other people, so help them see that others are already on board.Photo by Vancouver Film School on FlickrTip 3: Make it Easy for Them to Say YesDo as much of their hard work for them as you can, it’ll make it that much easier for them to say yes. In doing so, they have to put in less initial effort to get started. It’s all about making their first step as friction free as possible. Even if that’s as tenuous as ‘I’m speaking to all the rental houses to try to get some free gear, all I need is your talents to operate it.’  You may not have the gear you need yet, but at least you’re already trying and doing the leg work.Whatever their ‘barriers to entry’ might be, try your best to lower them. Also, cover their expenses (this is always the right thing to do).Tip 4: Make it FunImage from Kenny Louie on FlickrProvide good food and plenty of it. Keep the vibe upbeat. Always show your appreciation. Help out as much as you can.You are not compensating their time and efforts with cold hard cash , so making the job as fun and enjoyable as possible goes a long way to making them feel like saying yes was the right decision. There’s nothing worse than a tense working environment and people silently wondering about why they ever agreed to do this in the first place. People enjoy working with people they enjoy. Be nice and never turn up empty handed, even if all you can afford is coffee and doughnuts for all.Tip 5: Say Thank You and Follow UpEven though this is the last tip, it’s undoubtably the most important. Taking the time to say a personal face-to-face thank you at the end of each day or at the end of the gig is a small gesture but an incredibly good investment.If you can afford it, some kind of token gesture of appreciation (a bottle of wine/whiskey/chocolates/crew T-shirt whatever!) is also a nice touch and helps to make people feel valued and appreciated. They’re also more likely to say ‘yes’ next time!Always follow up after the project is wrapped and send them a high-res link to a download for their showreels, invite them to wrap parties or screenings and generally demonstrate that their investment of time and effort was worth it.Share Your TipsAsking for favors is never easy. How do you approach it?Hit the comments below and share your wisdom with the rest of us!last_img read more

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Churn and Running In Place

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now New business is sexy. The thrill of the chase and the resulting win is exciting. The brand new money from a brand new client is worth reporting. The challenges you have executing are all-hands-on-deck affairs that are worth solving.Old business isn’t sexy. The chase ended a long time ago, and the newness has worn off. The old money is routine; it’s an annuity. The challenges and your existing clients have to together aren’t worth anyone’s time, theirs or yours. Until you are competitively displaced.Running In PlaceIt’s difficult to grow if the new clients you win are only replacing the clients you’ve lost. Even selling more to your remaining clients may not be enough to move the needle when it comes to revenue growth.There is no reason to win new clients only to lose them. It doesn’t make sense to acquire a new client and lose them for the same reason you lost the client they replaced.When you are running in place, your heart rate increases, you sweat a lot, you expend a lot of energy, but you don’t go anywhere.Retention + AcquisitionLost clients are negative revenue. When you lose a client, you lose their revenue. This is anti-sales. While you are busy trying to make sales, lost clients are creating anti-sales, and all the bad things that come with it, like reputation damage.The same effort that goes into winning new deals and solving your new client’s problems needs to be applied to your existing client’s problems so that you can retain them. When you retain clients, all new clients are accretive, they’re growth instead of replacement revenue.If your existing client was a prospect, their challenges would be sexy enough for you to solve if it meant you would displace your competitor.last_img read more

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10 months agoAFA president Tapia: Messi will play again for Argentina

first_imgAFA president Tapia: Messi will play again for Argentinaby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveArgentine FA president Claudio Tapia believes Barcelona star Leo Messi will return to the national team.Messi has stepped aside from playing for Argentina after a disappointing World Cup.But Tapia says: “Leo Messi never left the national team. I believe for the love he has wearing the Argentinian jersey that when he is summoned, he will answer immediately, I have no doubt. “It depends on the coach, not on him. I hope he will appear in the next games so to be able to take advantage of his talent.” About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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The NFC East Will Be An Ugly Magnificent Bloodbath As Usual

How will your favorite NFL team do this year? See all of our predictions for the 2016 season » To go with our 2016 NFL predictions, FiveThirtyEight is previewing each division. Here, we look at the perpetual disaster that is the NFC East. At this time last year, my colleague Walt Hickey and I mocked Washington’s chances of winning the NFC East. Oops. Defying the 4 percent division odds that our Elo ratings gave them in the preseason, the Suing Snyders won their final four regular-season games to capture one of the weakest divisions in recent memory (before promptly losing by 17 points in their first playoff game). The big question for 2016 is whether the team can capitalize again on the weakness of what Elo considers the NFC’s worst division and become the East’s first repeat winner since 2004.By most accounts, Washington had a productive offseason, adding All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman and using the franchise tag to re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins to a reasonable make-good deal. Now the team’s fortunes might hinge on whether Cousins can repeat a 2015 performance that was easily the best of his career. On the one hand, Cousins’s track record heading into last season was subpar at best. On the other, three of his four most similar passers last season were Drew Brees, Joe Montana and Jim Kelly. (The other was Jeff George.) If Cousins can prove that he belongs in the same paragraph as that trio, Washington could have a stranglehold on the East. But things are rarely so easy in this division. Elo ratings suggest that it’s the most wide open in all of football, with Washington holding by far the worst division odds (29 percent) of any division favorite in the NFL.1Also, the standard deviations of NFC East teams’ preseason Elo ratings and division winning percentages were the lowest of any division in football. At 27 percent, the Philadelphia Eagles are right behind Washington. The tumultuous reign of Chip Kelly is over — for better or for worse — and Philly regained some measure of normalcy in an offseason spent undoing many of Kelly’s personnel gaffes: GM Howie Roseman did a good job of rebuilding the franchise for the future, particularly with a recent trade that jettisoned maligned QB Sam Bradford for draft picks. But Roseman’s roster shuffling left rookie Carson Wentz as the team’s opening day starter. Without much of a safety net beneath Wentz on the depth chart, his inexperience could mean that Elo — which doesn’t directly account for personnel changes — is overrating the Eagles.If so, the New York Giants will be there to fill the void. They, too, will be operating under a new coach (for the first time since 2003). Ben McAdoo takes over a team that last year featured good special-teams play and an efficient passing offense led by Eli Manning. The 2015 Giants’ main problem was a leaky defense — third-worst in the NFL — and the team took steps in the offseason to address that flaw, though it didn’t come cheap. Manning is getting older but is still effective, so if those roster moves end up working on D, the Giants could ride a favorable schedule to their first division crown in five years.The Dallas Cowboys should also benefit from soft scheduling — Elo ranks their slate eighth-easiest in the NFL — but Tony Romo’s preseason injury might negate that edge. The Cowboys have been here before, pressing inadequate QBs into action with Romo on the sidelines. This time, they’re rolling with Dak Prescott, one of the lowest-drafted Week 1 rookie starters in NFL history. (The alternative is accomplished butt-fumbler Mark Sanchez.) And even if Dallas does somehow improve on last year’s dismal showing through the air, the team has holes on defense that were only partially addressed in the offseason. No. 4 overall draft pick Ezekiel Elliott may instantly run wild behind the Cowboys’ tremendous offensive line, but without Romo, the team may win even fewer than the seven games Elo projects for it.If we’ve learned one thing from this division in recent years, however, it’s to expect the unexpected. (Washington’s rise last season was the norm in a division that’s changed hands in each of the past 11 seasons.) The NFC East probably won’t be pretty in 2016, but it could once again be the most competitive division in the NFL.VIDEO: How one spurned Rams fan found a new team read more

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Can The Cubs Really Win This

christina: We should also remember that base stealers were 23 for 26 against Jake Arrieta, as well, so this isn’t just a Lester problem. I can see arguments that Willson Contreras might help control the damage in games that don’t feature the Lester-David Ross battery, but we’ll see.neil: Sounds like we shouldn’t be surprised if Cleveland’s baserunning makes life difficult all series for what is otherwise a scary good Chicago rotation.christina: They’ll need to try, because they only thing that’s going to take that Cubs’ defense down a notch is the friction multiple baserunners and men in motion can create. Play a static, big-inning offense where you wait around for hits, and the Cubs will find ways to kill your scoring opps. Russell-to-Baez-to-Rizzo is going to merit its own poetry.rob: The defensive skill of the Cubs infield is a major factor that stops potential base runners. It’s all too easy to get caught in a TOOTBLAN* with Javy Baez’s creativity on one side of second base and Addison Russell’s sure hands on the other. In that way, it will be strength against strength.(* Ed. note: That’s “Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop,” for the uninitiated.)christina: I’m also wondering which Arrieta or Kyle Hendricks we get. That could shape the series. Take Hendricks: The Indians are the best team in baseball at killing pitches 90 mph or slower. They’re third in baseball in OPS against off-speed pitches. If anyone is going to get to Hendricks in his magical year, it might be the Indians.rob: I agree that Hendricks and Arrieta are less sure bets. Generally, a major strength of all of the Cubs pitchers is that they suppress batted ball velocity. I believe that’s a genuine skill that the Chicago rotation possesses, but it also seems like a skill that’s more variable than say, throwing 98 mph fastballs that your opponents can’t catch up to. So I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the Cubs have a couple of disastrous starting pitching outings and get BABIP’d to death.neil: All right, let’s close this out with some official predictions. Who ya got, and in how many games?rob: I’ll take the Cubs in 6. They are the better team, and one thing we only briefly alluded to is how tired and tattered Cleveland’s rotation is. I think the Cubs will dampen Cleveland’s bullpen advantage by overworking them, and that will be enough to close the Indians out. But not easily.christina: It’s really tough, because while Cubs in 5 is probably the safest choice, there are so many things that could go wrong with that (or even just extend the series) that I’m sticking with my prediction over on ESPN.com: that the Indians find a way to win in 7. Because, how safe are the safe bets? But I’ll admit, there’s also an element of my wanting this to be an epic series, to give us something to remember beyond one of these two teams’ “curses” ending.neil: Indians in 7? Christina, I knew you were a Chicagoan, but now I see you either are not a Cubs fan, or the most quintessential Cubs fan possible.christina: Hah. Funnily enough, people mistake me for a White Sox fan, but I’m agnostic. (I’ve stuck with the team of my childhood, the A’s — hence my bitterness about Mr. Lester in 2014.) When I polled Chicagoans last week on Twitter, the second-largest group beyond the 39 percent of Chicagoans who call themselves Cubs fans who think they’ll win it all was the 31 percent who said they’re Sox fans who hope they blow it.Besides, if the Cubs win, I can claim I didn’t jinx it, right?neil: Very true, you are zigging where those not-so-covert Cubs fans we saw everywhere on Saturday night are zagging.christina: I did the double-reverse, anti-curse, non-jinx prediction. Shazam!neil: Well, I’ll split the difference and say Cubs in 7. That feels like the way this season is, and always has been, destined to end — though as we know, sometimes real baseball gets in the way of destiny, narratives and whatnot.Either way, though, it looks like one of the more entertaining on-paper World Series in recent memory. I can’t wait! VIDEO: Cleveland fooled us twice In preparation for the World Series, which starts Tuesday night, we invited ESPN MLB writer/editor Christina Kahrl and our own baseball columnist, Rob Arthur, into Slack to chat about the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. As usual, the transcript below has been lightly edited. neil (Neil Paine, baseball editor and sportswriter): Well, we’re finally down to two teams, the Cubs and the Indians, both of whom have long championship droughts on the line. So my first question for the room is just a big-picture one: How did these teams stack up in the overall sabermetric numbers during the regular season?rob (Rob Arthur, baseball columnist): Both teams were good, but the Cubs were also great, fantastic, amazing and 10 other superlatives on top of that. In the first half of the season, they had as good a run differential as any team ever — right up there with the 1927 Yankees. They were merely dominant in the second half, but in either half Chicago was better than Cleveland: the Cubs had a +91 run differential in the second half alone, which is only 10 less than the Indians racked up all season. And, remarkably, some measures (such as cluster luck) suggest this Cubs team got unlucky.Which is not to say that the Indians were a bad regular-season team — they had the fourth-best run differential in baseball. But they also probably got a little fortunate from a cluster luck perspective, and their pitching, while solid, was also weakened due to injuries by October. So this matchup is probably a bit lopsided in favor of the Cubs, at least if we go by regular-season numbers.christina (Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com baseball writer and editor): I would think whatever metric you used, you’re going to get happy answers about the Cubs and Indians that don’t involve a stack of head-scratchy one-run outcomes or players having extraordinary seasons outside their expected range of performance. (Well, except maybe Tyler Naquin’s strikeout rate.) But across 162, these were two very good teams. Outside of the Cubs’ sporadic offensive disappearances, we’ve seen two of the best regular-season teams also play well in October. If not for injuries to the Indians’ rotation, you could have seen that these two teams belonged here months ago.There are interesting distinctions, of course. The Cubs and Indians both walk plenty, but the Indians aren’t in quite the same class when it comes to power production. But they’re both very balanced offenses, with good amounts of contact (call it BABIP or just execution on balls in play), power, patience and speed. The fun gets into the differences between how Cleveland manager Terry Francona used his bullpen to compensate when the rotation melted down, and how the Cubs churned through relief combinations before trading for Aroldis Chapman at the deadline. To some extent, both teams are where they are because of how well their answers worked out.neil: So we’re not seeing fluky teams! These two teams might legitimately be some of the very best in baseball! Seems like a departure from recent World Series history.christina: And yet — maybe it’s because I’m in Chicago — because of those injuries in the Indians’ rotation, folks are already anticipating a walkover. The last 15 years or so should perhaps suggest a little less overconfidence on this score. I can’t help but think of the 2006 or 2011 Cardinals as notable examples of underdog winners.rob: Right, and given that it’s only seven games, anything can happen.neil: Yeah, I was gonna ask because Rob mentioned that it was “a bit lopsided” — in baseball, that still doesn’t really mean either team is very likely to win over the other. At most maybe it’s 60-40, or 65-35, for the favorite?christina: Well, the Cubs should be favored, for all sorts of reasons about how awesome they are (not just because the Indians’ rotation is a shambles). And I think you’re right in terms of how far that lean should be. But I also remember “October unbeatable” Jon Lester losing a must-win game in 2014, so I tend not to believe in absolutes.rob: Yeah, and interestingly, everything from betting markets to our Elo ratings to FanGraphs’ simulations puts the probability between 60 to 70 percent for the Cubs. So that speaks again to the randomness of baseball — I think it would be hard to argue that the Cubs aren’t better than the Indians, but despite that edge they only have about a 2-in-3 chance.christina: To put it another way, this series doesn’t feel like the 1998 World Series, where there was almost no reason to watch unless you were a Yankees fan.neil: Hey! Those Padres had a pretty good seas… — ah, I can’t finish that thought. It was a rout. But this one, less so, it sounds like.Now, have we seen anything during the playoffs to make us think either team is better or worse than the yearlong numbers would indicate?rob: Yes, I think it’s fair to say that the Cleveland bullpen — and Francona’s clever use of it — gives the Indians a strong advantage that isn’t reflected in their regular-season numbers. The Cubs don’t really have anything comparable to that; although their bullpen is strong, Chapman doesn’t seem comfortable outside of the eighth or ninth innings. (Even then, he’s looked shaky at times.) I don’t think we can say with much confidence how much exactly fireman Andrew Miller is worth, in terms of series win probability. But I think he probably keeps things to closer to 60-40 than 70-30, as some outlier predictions would put it.christina: I do wonder how well the Cubs will do if the Indians get to their ’pen in the fifth, sixth or seventh innings. The Indians’ lineup has many strengths — it’s front-loaded with Carlos Santana leading off, it’s deep, and Francona isn’t afraid to use his bench. So in those middle-inning matchups, especially during games with the DH, I wouldn’t bet on Joe Maddon securing advantages as easily as he does against some NL opponents. A lot depends on whether the Indians get to the Cubs’ starters early — running up pitch counts, making them work from the stretch — and then forcing the game into the hands of relievers like Justin Grimm or Carl Edwards.neil: Speaking of the managers, this seems like it’s going to be a battle of two extremely smart, saber-savvy tacticians — perhaps the likes of which we’ve never seen before.christina: Well, let’s be fair, Howser vs. Herzog in 1985 was pretty awesome.neil: If you wanted Whiteyball, you got it with last year’s Royals. This year — well, it’s not exactly Moneyball that these two teams play, but maybe something in the same tradition at least.christina: But to your point, yes, it’s going to be a very interesting series in that regard, watching a couple of brilliant skippers with histories of putting players in a position to succeed. For those folks who say “managers don’t matter,” here are two great tacticians who are also extremely smart about how to manage people across six months, and who get the difference between managing the regular season and managing in October.rob: Yes, although Maddon’s strength seems to lie in the parts of baseball that still aren’t visible to us: chemistry, the clubhouse and getting the best performances out of players. Francona is probably good at that, too, but bullpen management is a visible manifestation of his skill, whereas the best we can do to quantify Maddon’s ability is look at how his teams consistently have positive run differentials.christina: Yeah, I wouldn’t put either over the other as far as people management. “Tito” and Maddon both deserve their reputations.neil: So, aside from the battle of managerial wits and the two bullpens, what else will you be keeping an eye on as key matchups in the series?rob: Christina mentioned above that Lester’s been incredible in the playoffs. That’s true — he’s Bumgarner-esque — but he has a critical weakness: the yips that prevent him from throwing over to first. In theory, that should make it easy to steal bases on him, but opponents have been curiously reluctant to exploit Lester’s flaw. The Dodgers tried — and failed — to do so, largely by dancing around between first and second, and Lester turned in another awesome start. But I do wonder if Francona’s tactical savvy can translate into more stolen bases and potentially weaken the Cubs’ best starter.neil: Do the Indians have base runners who might especially be able to take advantage of something like that?rob: The Indians had the third-best baserunning team in the majors, according to FanGraphs’ metrics. The Dodgers were 11th, although they had some good base stealers who just failed to convert. Jeff Sullivan posited that it’s a mental block for potential base stealers, as they are so unused to getting leads of 25 feet (or more!) that they don’t know what to do with them. That’s why I think it will mostly be a matter of Francona getting the base runners to actually take off, and not the skill of the base runners themselves. Almost any major leaguer should be able to get to second base before the throw when they have a 35-foot lead, as some of the Dodgers’ baserunners did: read more

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There will not be a Bundesliga official match in the US

first_imgThe German competition does not want to follow the steps set forward by Spain’s La Liga, and managing director Christian Seifert has ruled out a similar moveAfter Spain’s La Liga tournament announced they will play at least one official match in the United States, most people expected other leagues to come thru.The English Premier League once toyed with this idea, but so far there has not been anything official.But one league has firmly said no.German Bundesliga managing director Christian Seifert talked to Die Zeit as reported by Goal.Sergio Ramos, Real MadridZidane reveals Sergio Ramos injury concern for Real Madrid Andrew Smyth – September 14, 2019 Zinedine Zidane has put Sergio Ramos’ availability for Real Madrid’s trip to Sevilla next weekend in doubt after withdrawing him against Levante.“We will never play a league game outside of Germany. That’s a limit we will not cross,” he said.“An official league game, which is about points that decide promotion, relegation or participation in the international competition, abroad, is, in my view, a lack of respect for their fans, the players and in the end also Major League Soccer.”“You do not need help from overseas to promote football in this way,” Seifert added.“You can rule out that there are as many kick-off times as there are games, as is the case in Spain.”last_img read more

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Riyad Mahrez The first of many to come

first_imgRiyad Mahrez opened his Manchester City account with a brace as the Blues defeated Cardiff to secure 16 points from a possible 18.The midweek disappointment against Lyon was put to bed as they took the Welsh side to the cleaners in a breathtaking manner.First-half goals from Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, and Ilkay Gundogan left the home side reeling, and a brace from Mahrez after the break completed the 5-0 win.Mahrez who is the club’s record signing was buzzing after the game following his brace against the Bluebirds.Premier LeaguePremier League Betting: Match-day 5 Stuart Heath – September 14, 2019 Going into the Premier League’s match-day five with a gap already beginning to form at the top of the league. We will take a…He said: “I’m really happy to have scored my first goals and to have helped the team – I hope this is just the beginning. I feel better now, and I think you can see that on the pitch.“I have to work hard and keep going. As a team, we responded well to our midweek defeat against Lyon.”The Algerian winger would hope to continue his scoring form when they confront Brighton at the Etihad next week.last_img read more

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