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South Africa’s youth shine at Children’s Monologues charity benefit

first_imgThe Children’s Monologues is a spoken-word performance piece of soliloquies and testimonies of South African children about their country, performed by some of the biggest names in international film and television. The show had its New York debut on 13 November 2017.The Alexandra pantsula dance group Via Vyndal were personally selected by director Danny Boyle to perform in New York, in The Children’s Monologues, on 13 November 2017. (Image: Via Vyndal Facebook page)CD AndersonThe show, first performed at London’s Old Vic theatre in 2010, features a host of Hollywood and British acting royalty performing the monologues. Previous performances featured stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman.For the New York show, held at the famous Carnegie Hall, performers included Anne Hathaway, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Trevor Noah. The once-off show, a benefit for Dramatic Need, an international NGO that develops the arts across Africa, was directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire).The New York show also featured South African music and dance, including the international debut performance by South African pantsula dance troupe Via Vyndal.A production of the show was also performed in tandem in South Africa on the same day. Acclaimed local theatre director James Ngcobo presented the South African performance with an all-female cast of top South African actresses, including Pearl Thusi, Fiona Ramsay and Lesedi Job, at Johannesburg’s famous Market Theatre.The monologuesThe monologues were written by South African children about their experiences of living in the country. The stories are both harrowing and joyful: ranging from cherished moments of youthful exuberance to indelible accounts of young people’s struggle against violent crime and detached patriarchy. The monologues are comic and tragic, real and imagined, poignant and traumatic.“The monologues are a vehicle for audiences and actors to connect with the children and to almost see inside the children’s hearts and provide a voice of assurance that their future is not bleak and that their circumstances do not define who they are,” Ngcobo said in the run-up to the performance.Critics reviewing the New York show were impressed. Roger Friedman from Hollywood 411 wrote that it was “a five-star night that beautifully captured the spirit of South Africa [and its people]”. The Hollywood Reporter called it “a powerfully emotional presentation”. A particular highlight for the Carnegie Hall audience was the energy of Via Vyndal.Via VyndalThe New York performance was the first time the troupe, from Alexandra in Johannesburg, travelled overseas.They were personally selected by Boyle following auditions across South Africa earlier this year. Boyle said he wanted a group that exemplified the spirit of South African youth culture and he felt the Vyndals possessed an authenticity that could not be recreated, in the same way Indian street performers in his award-winning hit film, Slumdog Millionaire, had done.Via Vyndal artistic director Sicelo Xaba told TimesLive that the group were proud to represent South Africa in New York. “This is not just important for the guys going; it’s also important for pantsula as a culture and a dance form.”Lead dancer Sandile Ngqulunga hoped that the international exposure would show global and local audiences that pantsula was a positive, nation-building art form, as well as lead to more opportunities for South African dance troupes at home and abroad.Source: TimesLive, Hollywood Reporter, WikipediaWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

10 months agoLiverpool boss Klopp surprised by Moreno comments: He’s a fantastic professional

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorFreddie TaylorShare the loveHave your say Liverpool boss Klopp surprised by Moreno comments: He’s a fantastic professionalby Freddie Taylor10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he was surprised by comments made by Alberto Moreno in the Spanish press.Moreno criticised Klopp for mishandling him being replaced by Andy Robertson as the Reds first-choice left-back.The German sympathises with Moreno’s situation, but he insists the 26-year-old has not confronted him personally.”Matt [McCann, press officer] told me about it! I’m still not prepared to say something to be honest,” Klopp told a press conference. “How I deal with things like that is usually; my door is not always literally open, but it’s always open if somebody wants to talk.”As long as they don’t talk to me, it doesn’t really exist!”But that Alberto is not happy with not having too much minutes, it’s obvious. The more important thing is he never shows it in any training sessions, he’s a fantastic professional and trains really well when he can.”The last couple of weeks he has had back problems and that kept him out of a lot of sessions. Yesterday was the first session it looked 100 per cent good again. That’s all.” last_img read more

a month agoDavid De Gea ‘honoured’ to sign new Man Utd deal

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David De Gea ‘honoured’ to sign new Man Utd dealby Paul Vegasa month agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has signed a new contract.De Gea has signed a new four-year contract with the option to extend that by a further year, ending long-term speculation over his future at the club.De Gea was signed from Atletico Madrid by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2011, taking time to adapt to English football before establishing himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.Now 28-year-old, he has won every major trophy, bar the Champions League, in his time at the club, and has been voted Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year on four occasions.“It has been a privilege to spend eight years at this great club and the opportunity to continue my career at Manchester United is a genuine honour,” De Gea told the club website. “Since I arrived here, I could never have imagined I would play over 350 games for this club.“Now my future is fixed, all I want is to help this team achieve what I believe we can and win trophies again, together.“As one of the senior players in the squad, I want to support and lead in any way that I can to assist the younger players, so they know what it means to play here.”I still feel that I have so much more to achieve at the club and I truly believe that Manchester United can build on the club’s tradition of success and reward our fans for their support.“I am committed to continue repaying the fans for all of the care that they’ve shown me during the good times and the bad.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

No letup for Trudeau as difficult 2018 gives way to wild election

first_imgOTTAWA — Fasten your seatbelt, Canada. It’s going to be a bumpy ride to next fall’s national election.The past year has been a turbulent one on the Canadian political scene and the coming year is bound to get that much more tumultuous as politicians prepare for what both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have predicted will be a nasty campaign.Think of the first six months of 2019 as the semi-finals, with party leaders jostling for position, test-driving their messages and refining their trash talk at opposing teams. The finals will begin when Parliament breaks at the end of June, even though the writ won’t officially drop until Sept. 1, at the earliest, for the vote scheduled on Oct. 21.Trudeau’s Liberals and Scheer’s Conservatives are the main competitors as they head into playoff season; the NDP, Greens and Maxime Bernier’s breakaway People’s Party are bit players but potentially positioned as spoilers who will determine which of the two leading contenders walks off with the prize.But if the past year is any measure, there will doubtless be numerous twists and turns.For Trudeau, 2018 started with a disastrous trip to India that resulted in a slump in popularity from which he and the Liberals never seemed to fully recover. Despite a relatively robust economy, the lowest jobless numbers in 40 years and managing to navigate roller-coaster negotiations to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement, Trudeau has been beset by events that have interrupted his good-news narrative.There was mercurial U.S. President Donald Trump slapping tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum and calling Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest” when he spoke out against them.There was the continuing tide of asylum seekers crossing into Canada at unofficial border crossings.And there was the court ruling that shut down work on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project the Liberals paid $4.5 billion to buy. The ruling knocked down one pillar of Trudeau’s signature promise to tackle climate change by balancing economic growth and environmental protection.And it shook the other pillar — imposing a price on carbon, starting in April — at a time when some of Trudeau’s most reliable provincial Liberal allies on climate change were being replaced by fierce conservative opponents —Doug Ford in Ontario and Blaine Higgs in New Brunswick, who promptly joined Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe in challenging the constitutionality of Trudeau’s carbon tax, along with Manitoba’s Brian Pallister.The pipeline issue has produced angry protests in Alberta, where talk about separating from Canada has been revived, fuelled in part by Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s dismissal of another pipeline to ship Alberta’s “dirty energy” to eastern Canada.After enduring a summer diplomatic meltdown by Saudi Arabia over a Global Affairs tweet, Trudeau is now ending the year in a bitter dispute with China over Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States. China has detained Canadians in apparent retaliation.While Trudeau insists there was no political interference and Canada is simply abiding by the rule of law, Trump has once again complicated his life by implying Meng’s arrest was a ploy to gain leverage in trade talks with China.For all that, pollster David Coletto says Trudeau retains considerable goodwill with voters as he heads into an election year. But an economic slump would undermine Trudeau’s contention that his government has chosen the right path by running up steep annual deficits to invest in things that spur economic growth. The Liberals’ failure to even set a date for a return to balanced budgets, contrary to their 2015 platform promise to do so by 2019, is already among Canadians’ top worries and No. 1 on Scheer’s hit list.There’s no telling what else could happen, particularly with the unpredictable Trump next door.“For me, the big theme is do the Liberals look like they’re in control of what’s happening?” says Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.“I think their greatest weakness or liability is the sense that they’ve lost control over the budget, over the relationship with China, the relationship with Trump, questions around affordability  … You can imagine the narrative being developed by the Conservatives to say that this prime minister has just lost control, that he can’t manage the complex world we live in,” he adds.“It hasn’t fully happened yet but you can imagine that’s a broader issue that’s driven by smaller ones happening across the board that builds into a perfect storm that I think is very damaging to the Liberals politically.”Indeed, Scheer appears to have already adopted the “out-of-control” narrative, dubbing 2018 “a year of failure for Justin Trudeau” on virtually every front.The risk in that approach, however, is that it will strike Canadians as overly simplistic and negative, particularly if Scheer is unable to convince them that he would be able to control the situation. Moreover, Coletto says Trudeau is shielded from such attacks — at least for now — by the fact that there remains a sizeable number of Canadians who still believe he has the country’s best interests at heart and is doing his best in complicated circumstances.While the two leading contenders duke it out, developments among the other parties could be crucial to the outcome of the election, starting with an early February byelection in B.C.’s Burnaby South, where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hopes to turn around his party’s flagging fortunes by winning a seat in the House of Commons.The Liberals, who benefit when the NDP is lacklustre, are hoping Singh wins; they don’t want New Democrats to dump him before the election and potentially choose a more appealing leader who could siphon off progressive votes. Conservatives, who win when the centre-left vote is split, are equally fervent in hoping the NDP can get its act together by Oct. 21.Coletto believes it’s too early to write Singh off, assuming he can win the byelection, or the NDP, regardless of its leadership. His research suggests that just under 10 per cent of Canadians who back a specific party today say they’re very likely to change their minds between now and the election.“The real fluidity is on the left side of the spectrum, it’s the Liberals and New Democrats and Greens and where those voters — more of them voted Liberal last time but some of them have now left that red tent — where do they end up? So I think there is a potential volatility,” Coletto says.By contrast, he says, “The Conservative vote is much more solid.”Which is not to say the Conservatives won’t face their own potential for vote splitting. Bernier’s upstart People’s Party has thus far not made much of a dent in Tory support but Coletto notes it doesn’t have to win any seats to have an impact. If it siphons off just one percentage point of votes from the Conservatives, it could help Liberals win in close-fought ridings and make the difference between a minority or majority government.Moreover, Coletto says Bernier, who prides himself on his willingness to take politically dangerous stances on things like supply management, immigration and multiculturalism, may force Scheer to go further down those roads than he’d like — or than mainstream Canadians are comfortable with — to protect his right flank.Which would likely suit Trudeau just fine. He’s already trying to frame the election as a choice between positive Liberals who try to bring Canadians together and divisive Conservatives who prey on Canadians’ fears and prejudices.It’s essentially a replay of one of the major themes of the 2015 campaign and one Coletto says might actually have more resonance now as the vast majority of Canadians recoil in horror from Trump’s angry, divisive style of politics. If so, Trudeau might finally have a reason to thank Trump.Joan Bryden, The Canadian Presslast_img read more

Bud Light debuts bigger nutrition labels

first_imgDETROIT — Beer drinkers can’t claim blissful ignorance for much longer.Starting next month, packages of Bud Light will have prominent labels showing the beer’s calories and ingredients as well as the amount of fat, carbohydrates and protein in a serving.Bud Light is likely the first of many to make the move. The labels aren’t legally required, but major beer makers agreed in 2016 to voluntarily disclose nutrition facts on their products by 2020.Many brands, including Corona Light, Guinness, Heineken and Coors Light, already have calories and other nutrition information on their bottles or packaging. But it’s in small type, or hidden on the bottom of the six-pack, and ingredients aren’t listed.Bud Light went with a big, black-and-white label, similar to the ones required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on packaged foods. At the top, Bud Light lists its four ingredients: water, barley, rice and hops. Below that, it shows the calories in a 12-ounce bottle or can (110) and other facts. Bud Light contains 2 per cent of the recommended daily amount of carbohydrates, for example.“We want to be transparent and give people the thing they are used to seeing,” said Andy Goeler, vice-president of marketing for Bud Light.Individual bottles and cans of Bud Light won’t have the full labels, but they’ll continue to have some nutrition information printed in small type.Goeler said the brand’s research shows younger drinkers, in particular, want to know what’s in their beer.“They have grown up really in tune to ingredients,” he said.Goeler said he didn’t know when other brands owned by Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch — including Michelob and Stella Artois — would adopt bigger nutrition labels.But the question is: Will such labels make a difference in the choices consumers make? At least one study suggests they won’t.Researchers at Cornell University and Louisiana State University tracked what happened when diners were given menus with calorie counts. It found that diners who knew the calorie counts ordered lower-calorie appetizers and entrees, but the calorie counts had little impact on orders for drinks and desserts.John Cawley, an economics professor at Cornell and one of the authors of the study, said diners seemed to respond most to information they didn’t already know. They were probably surprised by the calories in some appetizers, for example, but already knew the general range for a glass of beer or wine.Cawley said it’s telling that a light beer would be the most forthcoming about its ingredients and nutrition information. Bud Light’s sibling, Budweiser, has 35 more calories and four additional grams of carbohydrates, according to the brand’s website.Ultimately, the biggest changes may come from manufacturers themselves, not consumers, Cawley said. Since nutrition labels were first required in the early 1990s, companies have competed to look healthier or remove objectionable ingredients like trans fats.“That is actually the biggest public health victory of all,” Cawley said.Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Six workers critically hurt in Gurugram factory fire

first_imgGurugram: Six people working in a garment factory in Gurugram received burn injuries after the industrial unit named Shobha designs caught fire due to short circuit on Sunday morning. The incident occurred in the industrial area of Sector-37 at around 3:00 am.All seven workers are from Uttar Pradesh. According to sources all the workers injured in the mishap have received 25 to 30 percent of burn injuries. Meanwhile the two who are critically injured and have been admitted to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital have received 70 to 75 percent of burn injuries. Also Read – More good air days in Delhi due to Centre’s steps: JavadekarThe two workers who are in critical conditions have been identified as Arun and Ravinder. While Arun is from Mirzapur, Ravinder is from Saharanpur. Other victims in the incident have been identified as Satyaprakash (Badohi), Kamlesh, (Prayagraj), Santosh and, Chotelal (Bulandshahr). The four are receiving treatment in a private hospital in Gurugram Three fire tender vehicles were used to douse the fire and it took more than hour an hour for the fire officials to bring the situation under control. Also Read – Union min Hardeep Singh Puri, Delhi L-G lay foundation stones for various projects in DwarkaAccording to fire officials the garment factory was functioning illegally and had not taken required safety measures. The fire officials stated that the fire occurred at the basement and then spread to the other areas. The impact of the loss caused due to the mishap can be gauged from the fact that three machines of the garment unit were completely destroyed. “The main reason for the fire was short circuit. We observed that the owner had not changed the wires and it was extremely outdated. We observed that the factory was functioning illegally and various measures of security were compromised,” said a senior official from Gurugram fire department. Meanwhile the police have also filed a formal complaint in the case and have begun their investigation. This is the second major tragedy that has occurred in the industrial units of Gurugram.last_img read more

King Mohammed VI 50th anniversary of Moroccan parliament a historic moment

first_imgRabat – King Mohammed VI said on Monday that the 50th anniversary of the Moroccan parliament is a “historic moment” in the political evolution process of Morocco, which, thanks to this institution, has succeeded in consolidating the foundations of a representative democracy.In a message addressed to members of the House of Representatives and of the Chamber of Advisors, the Sovereign said the establishment of the parliament, 50 years ago, had “embodied the shared will of the king and the people”, just like other major events and causes that punctuated Morocco’s history since independence.The Royal message, read out by speaker of the House of Representatives, Karim Ghellab, further said that the anniversary “is a historic moment in the process reflecting the political evolution of the State and the Moroccan people, at large and the Moroccan political elite, particularly”.The Sovereign further underlines that the Parliament has accomplished, during half a century of existence, its mission of law-making and control, while emerging as a space for the training of national political elites and a framework of debates, exchange and diverging viewpoints, both with the Government or between the majority and the opposition. The King also recalled that the 2011 constitution has granted the Moroccan parliament a privileged status among the national institutions as a full-fledged legislative power, increasingly open to women’s participation in political life and in public affairs management , in keeping with the Sovereign’s will to increase women contributions in all walks of life, particularly in the political field.last_img read more

Egypt police arrest 107 including 27 students

first_imgBy Mohamed AmmarCAIRO– Egyptian security forces have rounded up massive numbers of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters since Morsi’s ouster on July 3A total of 107 people were arrested across Egypt on Wednesday, including 27 university students. In a statement, the Interior Ministry said that 80 people in three provinces had been detained on assault and incitement-to-violence charges.According to the statement, 19 people were arrested in the southern province of Minya, 59 in the central Fayoum province and two in Giza.On Wednesday, 21 students were arrested during clashes with security forces near Al-Azhar University’s Cairo campus, bringing the total number of detained Al-Azhar students to 49, a security source said.Six students were also detained during clashes at Cairo University, bringing the total number of detained students from that university to 24, the source said.According to the source, 11 policemen sustained birdshot injuries during the violence.Egyptian security forces have rounded up massive numbers of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters since the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the military.Most have been charged with “inciting violence” – allegations the Islamist group says are politically-motivated.last_img read more

3 Games This Week Could Tell Us Who Will Make The College

Rivalry week, college football’s cancel-all-plans showcase in late November, is perennially viewed as having top billing on the sport’s calendar — chock-full of postseason implications in addition to bragging rights. But this year, there might be a challenger to rivalry week’s throne: There may be no more pivotal slate of games this season than that of Week 10, with three games on the Nov. 3 docket with critical consequences for the College Football Playoff.Our playoff model simulates every game of the season, extracting the likelihood of each outcome as well as the probability of every team to reach the final four. To help you prepare for Week 10, here are the games that matter most, as defined by their potential cumulative effect on the entire nation’s playoff chances. TeamCurrent Playoff %winslosesWeighted Difference* Kentucky6.8-0.6+1.30.8 31.4 Georgia32.2-1.6+3.72.3 Alabama66.8+12.2-27.817.0 Change in odds if Alabama… * Difference in playoff odds is weighted by the chance of each outcome — win or lose — actually happening.† Total swing includes every game in the country — not just those listed here. No. 4 Notre Dame (8-0) at Northwestern (5-3)Favorite: Notre Dame (70.7 percent)Total potential CFP swing: 31.4 pointsThe stakes: Few teams can challenge Northwestern for the national lead in inconsistency. The Wildcats have pirouetted to double-digit victories over two ranked opponents and come within fourth-quarter scoring drives of losses to upset-minded-but-inferior Nebraska and Rutgers. After dropping three of its first four games — including home losses to Duke and Akron — Northwestern responded by winning four straight Big Ten contests to occupy the driver’s seat of the Big Ten West.Notre Dame has handled its business — and still had to watch as one-loss LSU was ranked ahead of it on Tuesday night. Through no fault of its own, Notre Dame’s victories over then-No. 7 Stanford and then-No. 24 Virginia Tech haven’t exactly aged well. Now under the guidance of dual-threat quarterback Ian Book, Notre Dame’s offense has improved substantially, and Brian Kelly is shepherding one of his top defenses since his arrival in 2010.Considering that no team with three losses has qualified for the College Football Playoff in its four-year history, Northwestern faces long odds. But because of the imbalance in the Big Ten, the Wildcats have a clear path to the Big Ten championship and a resume-boosting opportunity to play a top-tier opponent, likely either Michigan or Ohio State, at the end of the season. So a loss this weekend would serve as a death knell, but a win keeps those slim hopes alive at 1.4 percent.Every team on the outside looking in is pulling for Northwestern, who could provide a huge odds boost to the other contenders with a win. Notre Dame controls its destiny, with a win improving its odds to 61.1 percent. But a loss would drop the Irish’s chances to 23.3 percent, suggesting that even with only one loss, it would need serious help to maintain its spot in the top four. Oklahoma35.3+0.6-1.40.9 Ohio State23.9+0.7-1.50.9 TeamCurrent Playoff %WinsLosesWeighted Difference Change in odds if Georgia… * Difference in playoff odds is weighted by the chance of each outcome — win or lose — actually happening.† Total swing includes every game in the country — not just those listed here. Georgia32.2%+12.4-30.1+/-17.5 No. 1 Alabama (8-0) at No. 3 LSU (7-1)Favorite: Alabama (69.4 percent)Total potential CFP swing: 43.6 pointsThe stakes: With both programs having two weeks to prepare, the Crimson Tide and Tigers will clash in a matchup that has often decided the SEC West division. This year’s installment pits one of the best LSU defenses in recent years against potentially the best offense Alabama has ever fielded.After losing to then-No. 22 Florida in Gainesville, LSU rebounded with consecutive wins over ranked opponents: a 36-16 disposal of then-No. 2 Georgia and a 19-3 thrashing of then-No. 22 Mississippi State. Four wins over ranked opponents charmed the College Football Playoff committee into putting the Tigers third in the first iteration of its rankings.1The Tigers are at No. 4 in the Associated Press poll.Behind Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley’s run-pass option attack, Alabama’s point margin is plus-252 in first halves this season, nearly 100 points better than any other team, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group. In most seasons, it would be absurd to label a team as two-touchdown favorites against the third-ranked team in the nation, a team with a 1-in-5 chance of reaching the playoff — but that’s how good Alabama is. It’s been 21 years since LSU was this big of a home underdog.Even though the Tide have been unquestionably the most dominant team this season, a loss would still hurt — dropping their likelihood of reaching the playoff by nearly 30 points. An LSU win would give the Tigers nearly coin-flip odds (49.8 percent) of reaching the playoff, and it would provide a bump for Georgia (from 32.2 percent to 35.9 percent) and Kentucky (from 6.8 percent to 8.1 percent) because it would likely mean that neither of those SEC East leaders would face Alabama in the conference championship game. Should Alabama win, the Tide’s odds of reaching the playoff would spike to 79 percent. A loss for LSU would drop the Tigers’ chances to 7.1 percent, effectively removing the team from contention. Michigan26.6-2.0+4.82.8 Georgia32.2-0.9+2.11.2 TeamCurrent Playoff %WinsLosesWeighted Difference* Kentucky6.8-6.7+16.29.5 Alabama66.8-2.7+6.43.8 LSU20.2-0.8+1.81.1 Change in odds if Notre Dame … Ohio State23.9-0.5+1.10.6 Notre Dame50.0%+11.1-26.7+/-15.6 36.0 Total † Neil Paine contributed research.Check out our latest college football predictions. How Notre Dame-Northwestern swings the playoff picturePotential changes in College Football Playoff probability for selected teams based on the outcome of the Nov. 3 Notre Dame-Northwestern game Oklahoma35.3-0.6+1.40.8 LSU20.2%-13.0+29.6+/-18.1 Total† How Alabama-LSU swings the playoff picturePotential changes in College Football Playoff probability for selected teams based on the outcome of the Nov. 3 Alabama-LSU game Alabama66.8-0.8+1.91.1 How Georgia-Kentucky swings the playoff picturePotential changes in College Football Playoff probability for selected teams based on the outcome of the Nov. 3 Georgia-Kentucky game Total† No. 6 Georgia (7-1) at No. 9 Kentucky (7-1)Favorite: Georgia (70.8 percent)Total potential CFP swing: 36 pointsThe stakes: For the better part of three decades, Kentucky has served as the doormat of the SEC East, while Georgia has routinely contended for conference championships. So while it’s no surprise that the loaded Bulldogs have a 1-in-3 chance of returning to the playoff, few preseason prognosticators would have guessed that the Wildcats would be relevant this late in the season. But here we are, with coach Mark Stoops crowd-surfing in locker rooms as his team rattles off victories. The winner of Saturday’s ground-and-pound clash is guaranteed a spot in the SEC title game.Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm, who last season led Georgia to the national championship game as a true freshman, has withstood ample criticism and an eye-gouging in his sophomore campaign. As it stands, the Justin Fields experience is on hiatus. Across the field, Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson is largely tasked with getting the ball to Benny Snell Jr. ad nauseam. The sophomore has attempted only 153 passes this season — one more than Tagovailoa, who largely sits the second half of games.Saturday should be a blistering defensive fight. Kentucky has held seven consecutive opponents to fewer than 20 points, a feat last accomplished by the Wildcats nearly six decades ago. Both teams rank in the top 20 in opponent adjusted quarterback rating and in the top eight in defensive efficiency, according to ESPN Stats & Information.Whoever loses this game will see the near-annihilation of its playoff hopes: Kentucky’s odds would drop to 0.1 percent, and Georgia’s odds would drop to 2.1 percent. A win would improve the Wildcats’ odds to 16.2 percent, while Georgia’s odds would spike by 12.4 points to 44.5 percent. Kentucky toppling Georgia would greatly benefit just about every other team in the running: Alabama’s odds would jump to 73.2 percent, Notre Dame’s to 51.1 percent, Oklahoma’s to 36.7 percent, Ohio State’s to 25 percent and LSU’s to 22 percent. LSU20.2-1.1+2.61.5 43.6 * Difference in playoff odds is weighted by the chance of each outcome — win or lose — actually happening.† Total swing includes every game in the country — not just those listed here. Oklahoma35.3-1.1+2.81.6 read more

Can The Mariners Finally End Their Playoff Drought

Of all the storylines to watch as Major League Baseball begins the second half of the 2018 season, the most interesting might be whether the Seattle Mariners can hold on to their current position in the standings — and, in the process, end the longest active postseason drought in major professional sports. (The Mariners earned this dubious honor when the Buffalo Bills grabbed an AFC wild card last season.)It’s been a magical start to the summer so far in Seattle. Picked preseason to finish around .500, the Mariners instead sit nearly 20 games over that benchmark. Surprisingly, they spent much of the first half challenging the defending champion Houston Astros for the top spot in the American League West; they’ve also built for themselves a three-game cushion over the division-rival Oakland A’s in the race for the AL’s second wild card. (And they’ve done it even after losing star second baseman Robinson Cano, who was putting up great numbers before getting busted for steroids in mid-May.) If the regular season ended today, the M’s would finally be back in the playoffs.That would be a major accomplishment for a Seattle club that hasn’t tasted postseason baseball since its disappointing five-game exit from the American League Championship Series 17 years ago. When my former colleague Rob Arthur wrote about the Mariners’ streak a few seasons back, he found that no team in baseball had made the playoffs fewer times relative to expectation (based on their regular-season records) since 1998 than Seattle. It’s undeniable that, with just a little better luck, the Mariners would have sneaked into the playoffs at least a few times over the span of their drought. In that regard, they are long overdue to catch a break.In 2018, however, Seattle might be collecting all of the extra good fortune it’s owed at once. According to The Baseball Gauge, no first-half team exceeded its expected record more through luck in close games or favorable “sequencing”1Bunching hits within innings on offense and scattering them across innings on defense. than the Mariners. For instance, if you simply looked at Seattle’s runs scored (412) and allowed (414), you’d think it was precisely the .500-ish team that the preseason projections had called for. Instead, the Mariners have gone 26-12 in one-run games, which — while not exactly in 2016 Texas Rangers territory — suggests they could be due for a serious second-half downturn.In fact, Seattle’s combination of win-loss record and negative run differential is so unusual that it’s tough to find similar historical teams. Since 1950, the Mariners are the only team to be 19 games over .500 through a similar stage of the season2Specifically, between 90 and 100 games into the schedule. while also having a run differential below zero. But if we just limit ourselves to the 13 teams that were at least 10 wins above .500 and had outscored opponents by 10 runs or fewer through 97 games, those clubs won only 51 percent of their games over the rest of the season (an 83-win pace per 162). So the Mariners probably shouldn’t expect to keep cruising along at a clip remotely close to their current .598 winning percentage.Indeed, if the wheels do fall off for Seattle, naysayers may point to the team’s poor play just before the All-Star break — eight losses in its last 11 games — as a sign of when things started to go wrong. But ace pitcher James Paxton will be back from the disabled list soon, and Cano is eligible to return Aug. 14. Meanwhile, the time off should benefit the slumping quintet of Kyle Seager, Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy and Nelson Cruz, each of whom seemed to be running out of gas heading into the break.In the bigger picture, there’s also something to be said for the team’s overall balance as an antidote to the notion of an impending collapse. The Mariners are one of only six teams in baseball to rank among the top 10 in wins above replacement3Averaging together the WAR values found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. from both its pure hitting and its pitching, joining the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Indians and Dodgers — pretty good company! Of course, that brushes aside Mariner weaknesses such as baserunning (they rank 24th) and fielding (20th), but it also underscores that despite Seattle’s uninspiring run differential, the fundamentals of the team aren’t necessarily unsound.In order to stay on course for the playoffs, Seattle will need to keep getting unexpected performances like the ones they’ve enjoyed from first-time All-Star Mitch Haniger and journeyman-turned-10-game winner Marco Gonzales. Closer Edwin Diaz (who leads baseball with 36 saves) will have to keep slamming the door shut in the ninth inning, and the lineup will need to continue hitting well in big moments. None of that will be easy, especially not with Oakland zooming up in the rearview mirror. But after nearly two decades of the pieces never falling into place for a postseason push, it’s high time the Mariners had the breaks go their way.Check out our latest MLB predictions. read more