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Under Moyes Manchester United Wasnt Particularly Good — Or Lucky

Manchester United fired manager David Moyes with four matches left in the English Premier League season, the club announced on Tuesday. His removal — after only 10 months on the job — left Moyes more than 25 seasons shy of the tenure of his predecessor, Sir Alex Ferguson. Going by results, that’s understandable: Ferguson’s United sides won England’s top league 13 times, while United under Moyes was languishing at seventh in the league, eliminated from the lucrative, Europe-wide Champions League for the coming season.Although Ferguson selected him as his successor, Moyes was always going to have big shoes to fill. Yet less noticed was that Ferguson had been, in his final season, lucky as well as good. By several crucial stats, United wasn’t as good last year as it seemed in winning the league by 11 points. The team has been worse by all these measures under Moyes. But the club has also been far less lucky.Soccer analysts, inspired by ice hockey’s Corsi stat, have begun to examine teams’ ability to create and prevent shots. Teams’ share of all shots taken, and their share of all shots on target, are far more predictive of future success than teams’ percentage of shots converted or of opponents’ shots saved, as soccer analyst James Grayson has shown.Last season, United was far from leading the Premier League in creating the lion’s share of shots, or shots on target. United ranked eighth of 20 teams in proportion of shots, and seventh in proportion of shots on target, according to Grayson; and seventh and fourth, respectively, according to Benjamin Pugsley, who uses a slightly different set of underlying numbers. (Soccer doesn’t yet have completely standardized stats — or, as, Pugsley puts it, “Football and numbers is really new.”)How, then, did Manchester United nonetheless lead the league in goal differential? By leading the league in shooting percentage and placing fourth in save percentage. Grayson calls the sum of those two percentages, multiplied by 1,000, PDO (after its hockey name), and he’s shown that it has essentially no value in predicting future results. United led the Premier League in PDO by a big margin last year. It did the same the year before, which at the time prompted Grayson to forecast a United decline — a year too early, as it turned out.So United’s path to the league title last year was a lucky one; its performance didn’t predict continued success this season. Sure enough, United’s PDO has declined from league-leading to seventh best, and that, combined with less-precipitous declines in share of shots and shots on target, has led to the club outscoring opponents by less than half a goal per game, compared to more than a goal per game last season.Not only did United convert shots, and prevent shots, at unusually high — and unsustainable — rates last season. The club also won more matches than expected based on its goal differential. United won the league by 11 points over Manchester City last season. It also had 12 more points than expected based on its goals scored and allowed. This year, it’s getting about as many points as expected based on goal differential.Was Ferguson just lucky last season, or was he able to conjure consistently high levels of shooting accuracy and goalkeeping even after his club’s edge in shots had eroded? On the one hand, his United clubs sustained high levels of PDO during his tenure. On the other hand, there’s some out-of-sample evidence from United’s Champions League performance, this season and last season.In Ferguson’s last year at the helm, United played eight Champions League games, yielded nine more shots than it took and outscored opponents by two goals. Real Madrid eliminated United in the round of 16. In this season’s Champions League, under Moyes, United allowed 32 more shots than it attempted, yet United still outscored opponents by eight goals, advancing to the quarterfinal stage.These results suggest United’s overachievement in the Premier League last season was due more to luck than to anything Ferguson did. read more

US Open 2012 Tiger Woods Tied For Lead

Tiger Woods, sticking to a conservative, patient game plan on a dried-out Olympic Club course, overcame a string of three straight bogeys to share the U.S. Open 2012 lead heading into weekend play in San Francisco.Woods shot even-par 70 yesterday to follow his opening- round 69 and is tied with fellow Americans Jim Furyk and David Toms at 1 under overall. Woods will be paired today with 2003 U.S. Open winner Furyk, his frequent partner in Ryder Cup and President’s Cup matches. The duo is scheduled to tee off at 3:05 p.m. local time.“I’m in a good spot,” Woods told reporters. “I’m looking forward to it.”For two days, Woods frequently has dismissed his driver in favor of long-flying irons on the majority of his tee shots to avoid thick rough lining the course’s fast-rolling fairways. The plan has worked so far. He leads all players with a driving accuracy of 75 percent, hitting the fairway 21 of 28 times.“It’s one thing to game plan, but you also have to execute the game plan,” Woods said. “I’ve done a pretty good job of that for the first two days.”Woods, who is seeking to end a four-year winless drought with his 15th major golf title, briefly held the lead by himself early in yesterday’s round when he sank a five-foot birdie putt on the par-3 third hole.One hole later, he began a stretch of three straight bogeys that left him at 1 over — three shots off the lead at one point. He had a three-putt bogey on the seventh, a hole that has surrendered 105 birdies over two days, when he knocked a six- foot birdie putt four feet past the hole and missed the comeback attempt.Tough Stretch“It was a tough little stretch,” Woods said.He recovered with birdies on the 10th and 13th holes to regain a share of the lead with Furyk and Toms, the 2001 PGA Championship winner.Toms, a 13-time winner on the U.S. PGA Tour, had missed the 36-hole cut in his previous two tournaments.“Just to be able to turn it around and play really solid golf after the way I’ve played has been nice,” Toms told reporters.Beau Hossler, a 17-year-old high school junior from Southern California, briefly held the tournament lead at 2 under yesterday before making three bogeys and a double bogey in a five-hole span.“I felt I was getting into a little bit of a zone,” Hossler, who has braces on his teeth, told reporters. “Unfortunately I kind of lost it coming in.”Source: businessweek.com read more

Richie Incognito Says Jonathan Martin Sent Harsh Texts Too

Photo by www.sfan.com.Richie Incognito, the embattled Miami Dolphins offensive lineman whose racially offensive text messages to teammate Jonathan Martin created a firestorm around bullying in the NFL, said in his first in-depth interview in a week that he is not a racist, and that Martin laced his cellphone with harsh text messages, too.“When words are put in a context, I understand why a lot of eyebrows get raised,” Incognito told Fox Sports during the interview, which aired Sunday. “But people don’t know how Jon and I communicate to one another. For instance, a week before this went down, Jonathan Martin texted me on my phone, ‘I will murder your whole f—— family.’“Now, do I think Jonathan Martin was going to murder my family? Not one bit. He texted me that. I didn’t think he was going to kill my family. I knew that was coming from a brother. I knew it was coming from a friend. I knew it was coming from a teammate.”Incognito, known around the NFL for overly aggressive play, said he support Martin more than anyone. Martin left the team last week reportedly because he distressed over Incognito’s harassment. Martin, 24, reportedly checked into a south Florida hotel before traveling to California to be with his parents.“You can ask anybody in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room who had Jon Martin’s back the absolute most, and they will undoubtedly tell you [it was me],” Incognito said. “Jon never showed signs that football was getting to him [or] the locker room was getting to him.”Incognito confirmed that he did leave the controversial voice mail message to Martin last April that included a racial slur and a threat to kill Martin.Despite the scathing language, Incognito said his actions “came from a place of love” and that vulgar communication was normal among Dolphins players.“I’m not a racist, and to judge me by that one word is wrong,” Incognito said. “In no way, shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word, even if it’s friend-to-friend on a voice mail.”In the transcript of the April voice mail message that started this controversy, Incognito referred to Martin as a “half n—– piece of s—,” and added, “F— you, you’re still a rookie. I’ll kill you.” read more

LaVar Ball Remains Unbothered As Son Lonzo Gets Drafted

No. HE said he would be a Laker, and basically told everybody else not to bother. Now we’ve got 15+ years of an NBA dance mom. Great.— Paul Scozzari (@edwood_not) June 23, 2017Others applauded LaVar Ball.”Triple b’s. Big Baller Brand”. Lavar is a prophet!— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) June 22, 2017 Lavar Ball a great dad. U don’t understand because u not a Big Baller.— shifty (@ShiftyTheGreen) June 23, 2017 Lavar Ball is gonna get the last laugh— Flex God Daps (@FlexGodDaps) June 23, 2017 I can’t wait to see the son fail in the NBA— Jonathan Ozek (@Jonathan_Ozek) June 23, 2017 Never stop being you Lavar!!! #NBADraft pic.twitter.com/NwIFmsuBmW— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) June 23, 2017It turns out LaVar Ball didn’t hurt his son’s NBA draft chances after all and Ball celebrated by delighting in everyone else’s annoyance.The Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball as the second overall pick Thursday, June 22 and his dad, who expected the Lakers to draft his son, couldn’t contain his excitement.“From the words of Zeus, Jesus everybody said he was gonna be a Laker,” LaVar Ball told ESPN when the decision was announced.“It’s a wonderful feeling, but I already knew what was coming to him,” he added later, noting he’s had his son pegged for the Lakers for 19 or 20 years. “I got two more boys, I gotta come to the same thing [for] two more years.”LaVar Ball, proudly wearing the family’s Big Baller Brand hat in Lakers colors, also declared his former UCLA guard son would take the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year. As LaVar Ball made his way out of the arena surrounded by a booing audience, he tossed the BBB hat into the crowd.LaVar Ball getting booed out of the arena and threw his BBB hat in the air ?It has begun. #NBADraft pic.twitter.com/Tr1vlf5oEH— Krysten Peek (@KP_Rivals) June 23, 2017Online, some still couldn’t put their issues with the outspoken basketball dad and his son to rest.His father’s stupid and his expectations are far from realistic.— Shady_JayiX (@JC_Boltzz) June 23, 2017 read more

Michael Bennett Other NFL Players Ask Roger Goodell for

Justin Britt stands beside Michael Bennett during the national anthem during a preseason game. (Source: Seattle Times)A group of current and former NFL players have asked Commissioner Roger Goodell for the league’s support for their campaign for racial equality and criminal justice reform.Yahoo Sports is reporting the players sent a 10-page memo to Goodell and NFL executive Troy Vincent in August asking for money, political involvement and other commitments from the league. It also asked the NFL to recognize the month of November as activism awareness month.The website reports Wednesday night that Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and receiver Torrey Smith, and former NFL receiver Anquan Boldin co-authored the letter.The NFL declined to comment when asked about the memo by Yahoo Sports. The players behind the letter didn’t return requests for comment or declined to speak about it, according to the website. read more

The Save Ruined Relief Pitching The Goose Egg Can Fix It

Mike Henneman3066782.071.620.2 1978Rollie Fingers661991Paul Assenmacher47 Todd Jones319Billy Wagner421 Randy Myers347Kent Tekulve517 Lee Smith478Hoyt Wilhelm641 YEARNAMEGOOSE EGGSBROKEN EGGSCONV. %REPLACEMENT-LEVEL CONV. %GWAR Rollie Fingers339Lindy McDaniel507 1988John Franco56591.873.85.7 Career leaderboards for saves and goose eggs, 1930-2016 1964Dick Radatz712004Brad Lidge53 Mariano Rivera61410885.0%70.5%54.6 Dave Smith3477881.673.019.2 Troy Percival358Sparky Lyle520 Trevor Hoffman601Rollie Fingers663 Bruce Sutter55713480.672.230.3 John Wetteland330Mike Marshall489 2004Joe Nathan41295.371.15.4 Miller and Familia’s league-leading total would have been paltry by Gossage’s standards, however. In addition to being the lifetime leader in goose eggs, he’s also the single-season leader, having recorded 82 goose eggs (almost as many as Miller and Familia combined) in 1975, when he threw 141.2 (!) innings in relief for the Chicago White Sox.The top firemen of Gossage’s day routinely had 60 goose eggs or more in a season, with their totals sometimes reaching into the 70s or — in the case of Gossage in 1975 and John Hiller in 1974 — the 80s.Just one pitcher since 2000 — the Angels’ Scot Shields in 2005 — has had as many as 60 goose eggs in a season, however. These days, it’s rare for a pitcher to record even 50 goose eggs. League-leading goose-egg totals have plummeted even as saves have risen. The turning point seems to have been 1990, when Bobby Thigpen and Dennis Eckersley both beat the single-season saves record while rarely working more than one inning at a time. In the 1970s and 1980s, the average league leader in saves threw 112 innings over 69 appearances. Since 1990, by contrast, the average saves leader has also appeared in 69 games but has thrown only 71 innings. Huston Street324Francisco Rodriguez430 No runs (earned or unearned) are charged to the pitcher in the inning and no inherited runners score while the pitcher is in the game; andThe pitcher either:Records three outs (one inning pitched), orRecords at least one out, and the number of outs recorded plus the number of inherited runners totals at least three. Lindy McDaniel50713079.672.922.3 1980Doug Corbett681087.271.86.3 1987Tim Burke42295.570.75.7 1979Sid Monge651996Troy Percival47 Goose Gossage310Roberto Hernandez404 Joe Nathan3445386.671.930.4 Tom Henke311Stu Miller405 Jose Mesa321Todd Jones425 Dennis Eckersley3528181.372.020.8 1921-1940Lively Ball Era0.2873.8% Bullpens are still built around the saveWhile I come to bury the save, let me first sing some of its praises. The statistic, invented by the sportswriter Jerome Holtzman and officially adopted by Major League Baseball in 1969, came into the world with noble intentions. Relief pitchers were becoming more commonplace — the share of starts that ended in complete games would decline from 40 percent in 1950 to 22 percent in 1970. But these pitchers’ contributions were largely unheralded by fans, Holtzman correctly noted, because they rarely earned wins or losses and ERA did not reveal much about which relievers had been used in clutch situations.Furthermore, some of the intuitions behind the save rule are correct. Modern statistics such as leverage index find that late-inning situations when a team holds a narrow lead are indeed quite important. For instance, an at-bat5With the bases empty and nobody out. Also, throughout this article I’m averaging the leverage index for such an at-bat in the top of the inning and the bottom of the inning, which have slightly different leverage-index values. in the ninth inning when the pitcher’s team leads by one run has a leverage index of 3.3. That means it has more than three times as much impact on the game’s outcome as an average at-bat.The problem is that there’s a fuzzy relationship between the most valuable relief situations and the ones that the save rewards. Take a look at the following chart, which shows the leverage index in different situations based on the inning and the game score:6As in the previous example, these reflect the leverage index with nobody out and no one on base. And they average the values between the top and the bottom of the inning. Armando Benitez3317381.970.723.6 The typical modern closer is really just a ninth-inning specialist. In 2016, the average closer threw 66 innings, and 56 of them came in the ninth inning. This included 11 innings in games where his team led by three runs in the ninth — a save situation, but not a high-leverage one. Conversely, it included just six innings in tie games in the ninth, which is not a save situation but is one of the highest-leverage situations you can find.Again, this is pretty much how you’d use your bullpen if the goal was to maximize the number of saves for your closer (instead of the number of wins for your team). Managers seem so conditioned by the “only use your closer in the ninth inning with a lead” heuristic that they often use their closers in the ninth inning when their team leads by more than three runs, which is a not a save situation8Unless the tying run is at bat or on deck. and is even more of a waste of the closer’s supposed talent.9And before you ask: Yes, the closer is usually the most talented relief pitcher on his team. Other than the Indians and Miller, few teams are deliberately using their best reliever in a fireman-type role, although an increasing number are using co-closers or closers by committee. Baseball teams have supposedly reached a state of statistical enlightenment — but their closer usage is every bit as stubborn as NFL teams’ too-frequent refusal to go for it on 4th down. Francisco Rodriguez4308783.271.930.3 Goose opportunities are increasing You’ll notice that the rules are more forgiving to pitchers who enter the game with runners on base, since these cases can have much higher leverage indexes than situations where the bases are empty. For instance, if a pitcher enters the game with two runners on and records a single out without allowing a run, he’ll earn a goose egg.But the rule is strict about what it means by a scoreless inning. An unearned run cooks a goose egg, just as an earned run does. (The eggs are delicate.) And a pitcher doesn’t get a goose egg if a run scores while he’s in the game, even if the run was charged to another pitcher.Overall, these rules can yield high goose-egg totals among many types of relievers, not just closers. That’s clear when you look at the goose egg leaderboard for 2016, for example. The Indians’ Miller11Miller also pitched for the Yankees in 2016; his 42 goose eggs represent his combined total between both clubs. and the Mets’ Jeurys Familia tied for the major league lead with 42 goose eggs last year, but Familia was used as a typical modern closer (and led the majors with 51 saves) while Miller often entered the game in the seventh or eighth inning. Mets setup man Addison Reed tied for fourth in the majors with 39 goose eggs last season, meanwhile, even though he had just one save. 1946-1962Postwar Era0.5375.9 1998Trevor Hoffman51591.172.75.4 Source: Retrosheet Dennis Eckersley390Trevor Hoffman580 1970Lindy McDaniel70988.674.25.9 Addison Reed77.21.974-214395 Tyler Thornburg67.02.158-5138397 1984Willie Hernandez65790.373.16.4 Plus select seasons since 1921.Source: Retrosheet Sam Dyson70.12.433-2385365 Lee Smith58915679.171.628.9 Single-season goose-egg leaderboard, 1930-2016 1993-2009Juiced Offense Era0.8473.8 1983Bob Stanley701780.568.85.3 1977Bruce Sutter621086.171.15.6 Roberto Hernandez326Ron Perranoski444 1969Ron Perranoski791385.972.26.6 PITCHERINNINGS PITCHEDERAW-LSAVESBLOWN SAVESGOOSE EGGSBROKEN EGGS 1982Bill Caudill651086.772.45.6 Sparky Lyle52013080.073.621.6 Plus select seasons since 1921Sources: Retrosheet, baseball-reference.com Roberto Hernandez40411178.469.823.3 Kent Tekulve51713479.472.523.4 1973Mike Marshall791996Trevor Hoffman55 Jeurys Familia77.22.553-4515427 1979Kent Tekulve711384.571.75.6 1977Sparky Lyle662007Heath Bell48 Kenley Jansen68.21.833-2476346 1974John Hiller802005Scot Shields60 1950Jim Konstanty691997Trevor Hoffman50 Plus select seasons since 1921Sources: Retrosheet, baseball-reference.com 1980Doug Corbett682011Tyler Clippard50 Jeff Reardon52013080.072.525.4 Dave Righetti3729280.272.219.2 Rollie Fingers66316480.274.325.3 1977Rich Gossage741993Jeff Montgomery54 2008Brad Lidge340100.069.55.4 1980Bruce Sutter661992Lee Smith47 YEARPITCHERGOOSE EGGSYEARPITCHERGOOSE EGGS Goose Gossage67714682.373.139.4 THROUGH 1989SINCE 1990 Jonathan Papelbon368Tug McGraw521 1984Willie Hernandez652004Tom Gordon47 1979Aurelio Lopez54788.570.65.7 Imagine that one evening, Pitcher A throws a scoreless eighth inning in a game where his team leads by one run — a situation that has a leverage index of 2.4 — before being pulled for his team’s closer. Meanwhile, in another ballgame on the other side of town, Pitcher B enters the game in the ninth inning when his team holds a three-run lead — a leverage index of just 0.9 — and gives up two runs but eventually records the final out. Pitcher A’s performance was quite valuable. Pitcher B’s was not — in fact, it was kind of crappy. But Pitcher B gets a save for his troubles whereas Pitcher A doesn’t. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.There are other problems with the save, also. It doesn’t give a pitcher any additional reward for pitching multiple innings — even though two clutch innings pitched in relief are roughly twice as valuable as one. And a pitcher doesn’t get a save for pitching in a tie game, even though it’s one of the highest-leverage situations.I know I’m not breaking much news here: Stat geeks have been complaining about the save for years. But don’t modern, post-“Moneyball” teams know better than this? Aren’t they using their best relievers in the highest-leverage situations, whether or not they yield a save? In a word: no. (In 11 words: Mostly not, except maybe for the Cleveland Indians and Andrew Miller.) The next table reflects how teams used their closers (as defined by closermonkey.com, a site that tracks bullpen usage obsessively) over the course of 2016,7The closer could change over the course of the season; the stats are based on who closermonkey.com listed as the team’s closer on the day the game occurred as measured by the number of innings the closer pitched in different situations: Todd Jones42510180.869.730.2 Defining a goose eggIf managers were thinking about goose eggs rather than saves, they’d find plenty of better ways to use their best relievers. So let’s define a goose egg, officially. Just as for the save rule, the formal definition is a bit more complicated than the quick-and-dirty version I described above. But here goes:A relief pitcher10Starting pitchers, who have plenty of their own statistics, aren’t eligible for goose eggs. records a goose egg for each inning in which:It’s the seventh inning or later;At the time the pitcher faces his first batter of the inning:His team leads by no more than two runs, orThe score is tied, orThe tying run is on base or at bat 1974Tom Murphy661993Jim Gott48 Broken eggs and GWAR(goose wins above replacement)Having only learned about the goose egg a few moments ago, you might still be a little suspicious of it. Sure, closers are pitching fewer innings than they used to and getting fewer goose eggs. But perhaps they’re pitching more efficiently and providing more overall value as a result? It goes without saying that pitchers like Miller and Zach Britton are really good at their jobs.To properly value relievers, we need a companion statistic called the broken egg, which is to a goose egg as a blown save is to a save. (I wanted to call this companion stat a “blown goose,” but my editors decided that vaguely dirty jokes were the hill they wanted to die on.) We’ll define it as follows:A relief pitcher records a broken egg for each inning in which:He could have gotten a goose egg if he’d recorded enough outs;At least one earned run is charged to the pitcher; andThe pitcher does not close out the win for his team. In other words, you get a broken egg when you could have gotten a goose egg but are charged with an earned run instead, with an exemption if you get the last out of the game.12This is to deal with the specific situation where the pitcher enters the ninth inning with a two-run lead, gives up one run, and finishes the game with his team earning a one-run victory. I’m not sure a pitcher should get a lot of credit for that performance, but I don’t know that he should get much blame for it either. Therefore, it’s a “meh,” rather than a goose egg or a broken egg. Note that this leaves some situations that result in neither goose eggs nor broken eggs, which we’ll say are a “meh.” For instance, if a run scores while you’re in the game but it isn’t charged to you, that’s neither a goose egg or a broken egg; it’s a meh. I’ll speak no more of mehs in this article because they’re pretty boring; when I use the phrase “goose opportunity,” it means a goose egg or a broken egg.There are usually about three goose eggs for every broken egg, meaning that relievers convert about 75 percent of their goose opportunities. And unlike saves and blown saves, which are highly punitive to guys who aren’t closers,13Last year, for example, the White Sox’ Nate Jones — an excellent middle reliever who converted 83 percent of his goose opportunities — led the American League with nine blown saves, whereas he had only three saves. The problem is that you can only get a save if you finish the game, whereas blown saves aren’t restricted to the final inning. the goose system gives middle relievers a fair shake. For instance, Mark Eichhorn — a good-but-not-great middle reliever for the Blue Jays and other teams in the 1980s and ’90s — converted 76 percent of his lifetime goose opportunities, about the same rate as an average closer.Goose eggs and broken eggs — when taken together — also do a good job of replicating more complicated statistics. For instance, there’s a 0.78 correlation14Among pitchers since 1974 with at least 50 relief innings pitched in a season. between a simple linear combination of these stats15Namely, goose eggs minus (3 x broken eggs). This is based on the ratio of goose eggs to broken eggs; also, when running a regression of goose eggs and broken eggs on WPA, a broken egg hurts a pitcher’s WPA about as much as three goose eggs help it. and the highly sophisticated statistic win probability added (WPA), which is arguably the best way to value relief pitchers. WPA is a lot of work to calculate, however, so goose eggs and broken eggs get you to mostly the same place but are relatively simple counting statistics. Saves and blown saves,16When combined in the same way — that is, saves minus (3 × blown saves). on the other hand, have a much noisier relationship with WPA (a correlation of 0.50). Robb Nen3146084.071.224.8 1965Stu Miller791990Bobby Thigpen56 David Robertson62.13.475-3377367 1941-1945World War II0.2177.2 2000Keith Foulke42393.367.76.0 PITCHERSAVESPITCHERGOOSE EGGS 1963Dick Radatz731186.973.95.7 So perhaps you can argue that modern closer usage at least helps the best relievers to preserve their longevity, even if it almost certainly doesn’t maximize their value over the course of a given season. Then again, Rivera and Hoffman and Billy Wagner might just have been freaks; there’s been a ton of turnover in the closer ranks lately. Of the top 10 pitchers in saves in 2011,22These were Jose Valverde, John Axford, Craig Kimbrel, J.J. Putz, Rivera, Heath Bell, Drew Storen, Joel Hanrahan, Francisco Cordero and Brandon League. only three23Craig Kimbrel, John Axford and Drew Storen were still in the league in 2016, and only one (Craig Kimbrel) was still regularly working as a closer. As long as teams are burning through relief pitchers, they might as well try to get more value out of their best ones.So how should an ace reliever be used?Managers have a lot of room for improvement if they forget about saves and use goose eggs as a bullpen guide. A bare-bones workload for a goose-optimized closer would look something like this:Pitch in all goose situations, including ties, in the ninth inning. For a typical team, that works out to about 40 or 45 innings over the course of the season.Pitch in goose situations in the eighth inning when his team leads by one run exactly, with the plan of usually also pitching the 9th when the game remains in a goose situation. This will add another 15 innings or so.Pitch in any goose situations in extra innings, up to a maximum of two total innings pitched for the game. Keep in mind that this will often be impossible because the closer will already have been used earlier in the game. Still, this should amount to another five or 10 innings in a typical season.That will work out to a total of around 65 innings pitched for the season — about the same number that closers throw now — over roughly 50 appearances. But those innings would come with a super-high leverage index of about 2.5. And the pitcher would go from around 40 or 45 goose opportunities in a season to 60 or 65 instead, potentially generating nearly 50 percent more value as a result.For an older or injury-prone closer (say, the Los Angeles Angels’ Huston Street), that might be basically all the work they could handle. But there are lot of teams that might want to replicate MiIler’s success, and there are younger, fitter pitchers who could build on this minimal workload. Depending on the day, they could enter in the eighth inning in tie games, for instance. And they could come into the game with runners on, even in the seventh inning; it can be worth using your best reliever to get your team out of a jam in these cases even if you have to remove him from the game later. A pitcher picking up some of these situations might wind up throwing 85 or 90 innings — and a roughly equal number of goose opportunities — over the course of a season in which he makes 60 or 65 appearances. Those pitchers could have roughly double the value that modern closers do. It’s really not that radical a shift from how pitchers are used now.But it doesn’t have to stop there. Modern teams have about 150 goose opportunities in a season. One day, they’ll find a guy with the right genetics and the right mentality to throw two or three innings every second or third day — someone who really could approach Gossage’s usage pattern — and when that happens, Gossage’s 82-goose-egg single-season record might come under threat. It would be a high bar to clear. But it would be an accomplishment worth chasing down, whereas a save record usually isn’t.You can download detailed data on goose eggs and broken eggs for all pitchers since 1930 here. 2010-2016Strikeout Era0.9276.5 1996Mariano Rivera54690.068.76.6 1988Doug Jones51591.171.65.7 1978Gene Garber52788.170.55.4 1963Dick Radatz731996Mariano Rivera54 1965Eddie Fisher661991Mitch Williams48 If managers want to squeeze every ounce of potential and talent out of their top relievers — maybe even doubling their value — it’s time to give up the save and embrace the goose. Francisco Rodriguez430Mariano Rivera614 The best relief-pitching season of all time, according to this metric, belongs to Stu Miller, who had 79 goose eggs and just 7 broken eggs for the 1965 Baltimore Orioles. Miller’s traditional numbers looked pretty good that year — he went 14-7 with a 1.89 ERA and 24 saves in 119.1 innings pitched, finishing seventh in American League MVP balloting. His goose stats make it clear that he was almost unhittable in high-leverage situations, however.21Miller allowed just a .478 OPS against in high-leverage situations that season. He contributed 7.5 wins above replacement according to GWAR, which is a Cy Young Award-caliber performance.After Miller’s 1965 comes Gossage’s 1975, and then there’s a year from Rivera. But Rivera’s best season according to GWAR was not 2004, when he had a league-leading and career-high 53 saves, but 1996, when he was used as a setup man to John Wetteland and had just 5 saves in 107.2 innings of 2.09 ERA relief. Rivera was promoted to closer the next year, but his value declined as the Yankees held him to 71.2 innings despite the success he’d had in the fireman role.Only two of the top 40 relief seasons have come in the past 10 years. You can be literally almost perfect — as Britton and his 0.54 ERA were last year — and yet still not provide as much value as pitchers like Gossage did because you didn’t have enough volume in high-leverage situations.The lifetime GWAR leaderboard is somewhat more forgiving to modern closers. Rivera tops the list, with Hoffman second and Gossage third: Doug Jones303Darold Knowles400 Randy Myers4049281.572.223.9 Kelvin Herrera72.02.752-6123359 NAMEGOOSE EGGSBROKEN EGGSCONV. %REPLACEMENT-LEVEL CONV. %GWAR But if you take your statistics with an extra helping of rigor — and if you’ve read this far, you probably do — there are a few more things to consider. It’d be nice to adjust performance for a pitcher’s park and league; it was a lot easier to convert goose opportunities at Dodger Stadium in the low-offense 1960s than at Coors Field during the juiced-offense era. We’d also like to know how valuable a late-inning reliever is, which will require some notion of what the replacement level is for the goose statistic. Considering that a lot of high-performing closers — including Rivera — were once middling starters, is the job really that challenging?To answer those questions, we need to create another new stat: goose wins above replacement (GWAR). To do that, I went back to the history books. Over time, the number of goose opportunities per game has increased (as teams pull their starting pitchers earlier) while the success rate for converting them has varied. The offense-friendly era from 1993 through 2009 was a rough one for relief pitchers, who converted a middling 73.8 percent of their goose opportunities. The best relievers from this era, such as Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, might be slightly underrated without considering this context. But since 2010, which has seen a revival of pitching, the goose-egg conversion rate has improved to 76.5 percent. 1982Bill Caudill652003Eric Gagne47 Single-season goose wins above replacement (GWAR) leaderboard, 1930-2016 1993John Wetteland56690.371.86.0 Zach Britton67.00.542-1470401 Familia, Miller tied for goose-egg lead in 2016 Francisco Cordero329Gene Garber468 Billy Wagner4218084.069.837.0 Jeff Montgomery3608980.270.821.8 1977Sparky Lyle66889.273.36.1 1999Billy Wagner44491.768.05.9 1979Bruce Sutter631185.170.95.5 2016Zach Britton40197.672.65.3 1979Kent Tekulve711998Trevor Hoffman51 1965Bob Lee721998Robb Nen53 Andrew Miller74.11.4510-1122427 1969Wayne Granger59986.871.05.6 1973John Hiller59789.472.25.9 Tug McGraw52110183.873.034.9 Stu Miller4058183.373.724.3 1963-1972Neo-Deadball Era0.7177.5 1982Greg Minton63888.774.15.4 Plus select seasons since 1921Source: Retrosheet 2008Francisco Rodriguez47 John Franco424Lee Smith589 ERA and W-L record cover relief appearances onlySources: FanGraphs, Retrosheet 1979Joe Sambito52689.771.85.4 1975Goose Gossage821992Doug Jones67 Mariano Rivera652Goose Gossage677 Career goose wins above replacement (GWAR) leaderboard, 1930-2016 2002Eric Gagne46393.972.55.5 1980Dan Quisenberry651998Jeff Shaw47 1983Bob Stanley702011Jonny Venters51 Dan Quisenberry3808781.472.322.1 Hall of Fame relief pitcher Richard “Goose” Gossage isn’t the biggest fan of the “Moneyball” revolution. Here at FiveThirtyEight, we don’t think his expletive-laced tirades about nerds ruining baseball have always found their target the way his fastballs once did. But on one point, he’s absolutely right: The save is a stupid [bleep]ing statistic.Gossage recently lashed out against modern closers — including all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera — arguing that they aren’t used in the right situations and that cheaply earned saves exaggerate closers’ value compared to the pitchers of his day. “I would like to see these guys come into more jams, into tighter situations and finish the game. … In the seventh, eighth or ninth innings. I don’t think they’re utilizing these guys to the maximum efficiency and benefit to your ballclub,” Gossage said. “This is not a knock against Mo [Rivera],” he continued later.1Fact-check: Yes, it was. “[But] I’d like to know how many of Mo’s saves are of one inning with a three-run lead. If everybody in that [bleep]ing bullpen can’t save a three-run lead for one inning, they shouldn’t even be in the big leagues.”Gossage is right about pretty much all of that. A pitcher probably shouldn’t get much credit for handling just the final inning when his team has a three-run lead. Moreover, the top relief pitchers today are less valuable than they were in Gossage’s heyday in the 1970s and ’80s. In large part, that’s because managers are trying to maximize the number of saves for their closer, as opposed to the number of wins for their team. They’re managing to a stat and playing worse baseball as a result.But there’s a solution. Building on the work of Baseball Prospectus’s Russell Carleton,2In a 2013 article for Baseball Prospectus, Carleton came up with a stat called the “new save” that’s similar to a goose egg. I’ve designed a statistic and named it the goose egg to honor (or troll) Gossage. The basic idea — aside from some additional provisions designed to handle inherited runners, which we’ll detail later — is that a pitcher gets a goose egg for a clutch, scoreless relief inning. Specifically, he gets credit for throwing a scoreless inning when it’s the seventh inning or later and the game is tied or his team leads by no more than two runs. A pitcher can get more than one goose egg in a game, so pitching three clutch scoreless innings counts three times as much as one inning does.The goose egg properly rewards the contributions made by Gossage and other “firemen” of his era, who regularly threw two or three innings at a time, often came into the game with runners on base, and routinely pitched in tie games and not just in save situations.3Twenty-seven percent of Gossage’s career opposing plate appearances came in tie games, while just 17 percent of Rivera’s did. I’ve calculated goose eggs for all seasons since 19304Through the end of the 2016 season — there isn’t data for 2017 just yet, but check back in over the course of the season. — plus select seasons since 1921 — based on play-by-play data from Retrosheet. While Gossage ranks only 23rd in major league history with 310 saves, he’s the lifetime leader in goose eggs (677) — ahead of Rivera and every other modern closer. Billy Wagner422John Franco589 Bob Wickman3449278.970.219.7 1965Stu Miller79791.9%75.0%7.5 Roberto Osuna74.02.684-3366354 Troy Percival3546484.769.433.3 1983Dan Quisenberry601184.569.85.4 1974Mike Marshall661997Jeff Shaw48 Rick Aguilera318Jesse Orosco416 1967Ted Abernathy51394.472.56.2 Jeff Montgomery304Randy Myers404 YEARSERAAVERAGE GOOSE OPPORTUNITIES PER GAMECONVERSION RATE Dave Giusti3055485.073.421.5 1996Troy Percival47394.069.06.5 Robb Nen314Doug Jones410 2014Tony Watson47 John Wetteland3076283.269.925.6 1969Tug McGraw46492.071.65.3 1972Tug McGraw65691.575.95.8 1975Goose Gossage821188.274.36.7 2004Eric Gagne46590.269.85.4 Jeff Reardon367Jeff Reardon520 Keith Foulke2636280.969.319.7 Nate Jones70.22.295-339388 Huston Street3256383.872.223.3 Joe Nathan377Bruce Sutter557 Tom Henke3578181.571.423.1 Ron Perranoski4449981.873.722.8 John Franco58913281.772.036.3 Jose Valverde2524584.871.620.5 To determine the goose replacement level, I looked at the performance of pitchers since 199617More precisely, from 1996 through 2015; my source, Baseball-Reference.com, did not have detailed contract information available for 2016. who made no more than 150 percent of the league’s minimum salary18I also included pitchers whose salary information was missing on Baseball-Reference.com. These are usually obscure players who are making at or near the league-minimum salary. and who were acquired in free agency, on waivers, or through the Rule 5 draft. Essentially, these are the guys who are available to any major league team at any time for next to nothing — the literal definition of replacement-level players. But they actually weren’t too bad in goose situations. They converted 71.5 percent of their goose opportunities during this period, as compared to 74.7 percent for the league as a whole. To put that in more familiar terms, these relievers had a 3.91 ERA, weighted by their number of goose situations, as compared to a 3.64 weighted ERA for the league overall.Therefore, a team shouldn’t be spending a lot for average relief pitching — the average relievers just aren’t that much better than the replacement-level guys. Pick up a few failed starters off the waiver wire, tell them to limit their repertoire to their two best pitches, and test them out in Triple-A or in low-leverage situations. You won’t necessarily have the next Gossage or Miller — those guys are scarcer and more valuable commodities — but you’ll probably find a couple of pretty good late-inning relievers without paying a lot to do it.A complete formula for GWAR, which adjusts for a pitcher’s park as well as his league and converts performance in goose situations to wins,19The conversion rate is based on maximizing the fit to WPA. can be found in the footnotes.20The formula for GWAR is as follows:GWAR = .52 * (GOPP) * (pitcher’s GPCT – replacement-level GPCT)In the formula, GOPP is goose opportunities (goose eggs + broken eggs) and GPCT is goose percentage (goose eggs divided by goose opportunities).Replacement-level GPCT, which adjusts for park and league effects, is calculated as follows:Replacement-level GPCT = league GPCT + .105 – .0014 * PPF… where league GPCT is the leaguewide goose percentage (that is, for the American League or the National League, rather than for the major leagues combined) and PPF is the Baseball-Reference.com pitching park factor for the pitcher’s home stadium.The best relievers of all time, according to gooseEven with all this extra work, however, we come to basically the same conclusion that we did before: Most of the best relief seasons came a long time ago, and from pitchers who followed Gossage’s usage pattern rather than Rivera’s. 1970Lindy McDaniel702000Danny Graves51 TRADITIONAL STATSGOOSE STATS Jonathan Papelbon3615287.471.733.7 Trevor Hoffman58011383.771.643.7 1993Jeff Montgomery54788.569.56.0 Todd Worrell3508081.472.220.7 1955Ray Narleski44295.773.35.4 Hoyt Wilhelm64114681.473.831.3 1972Tug McGraw651996Roberto Hernandez47 2004Mariano Rivera47 Craig Kimbrel2273487.073.019.0 2004Mariano Rivera47492.271.85.4 1969Ron Perranoski791993John Wetteland56 1973-1992Balanced Era0.7976.3 read more

The NHL Has Accomplished Its Goals

Holding stick0.110.07-0.03 Roughing0.840.67-0.18 Interference0.640.71+0.08 Cross checking0.300.31+0.01 If you’ve been paying attention to the 2017-18 NHL season, you may have noticed something: There is no shortage of goals. We’re more than a third of the way through the season, and scores are, on average, the highest they’ve been since 2005-06. Through Sunday, there have already been 31 games settled in regulation in which the teams combined for double-digit goals. A year ago there were only 45 such games across the whole season. We’re still a long way away from the 1980s golden era of goals, but for a league that’s been repeatedly criticized for being too low-scoring, this sudden glut can only be read as a positive development.It’s difficult to point to just one cause for the scoring uptick. The league instituted a number of rule changes at the beginning of the season,1The NHL did something similar after the lockout of 2004-05, introducing a sweeping array of rule changes with the express purpose of increasing goal scoring. and those changes have contributed to an increase in power play opportunities — teams are averaging 3.3 power play opportunities per game so far this season, the highest mark in five years.2Those changes also include a crackdown on slashing and a conservative interpretation of what a center can and cannot do at the faceoff dot: If a center does not stand squarely facing his opponent’s side of the rink, he is subject to being thrown out of the dot. If that happens consecutively to centers from the same team, that team will be subject to a bench minor. The league wants to see less stick work and less cheating on the faceoff dots. And it’s evident the league wasn’t kidding about cracking down on slashing — through Sunday, officials had doled out 623 penalties for slashing. That number was just 791 for all of last season. Through Dec. 17. Differences may not add up because of rounding.Source: ESPN Penalty2016-172017-18Difference Tripping1.081.20+0.12 Slashing0.641.22+0.58 High stick0.690.58-0.10 Hooking1.030.97-0.07 All minors6.657.09+0.44 Goalie interference0.100.09-0.01 The box is getting crowdedMinor penalties per NHL game over the past two seasons Holding0.640.67+0.03 More power play opportunities translate to more odd man advantages, which translate to more shots on net per game: Teams are surrendering more shots per game (31.6) than they have in the past three decades. The math is simple: more shots on goal equals more pucks finding the twine.And even though goals against averages are up across the league — the current mark of 2.76 is the highest it’s been in a decade — the goaltenders cannot be blamed for the league’s recent scoring outburst. Among qualifying goalies,3We looked at goalies who’ve played at least 200 minutes. the league average save percentage (92.18) is slightly higher than the league average expected save percentage (92.13), which is the save percentage an average goalie should post given the quality of shots faced.This suggests that goalies are actually outperforming expectations. During the 2016-17 season, goalies stopped fewer pucks than the data suggested they should have stopped (an actual save percentage of 91.94 versus an expected save percentage of 92.17), and yet goals per game totals remained roughly in line with numbers from the preceding nine seasons.Goalies in 2017-18 are also outperforming their peers from the previous year on high danger shots (unblocked shots with an expected scoring percentage of 9 or greater); this year’s cohort is stopping 79.4 percent of shots considered dangerous, while last year’s stopped just 78.5 percent of those shots.Even though teams are converting their power plays with effectively the same efficiency they did in 2016-17, they’re getting more of those man advantage looks, and likely the rule changes — and not poor goalie play4Goalies are always getting blamed; we need to stop blaming those poor goalies. — offer the truest explanation for the higher-scoring brand of hockey being played in the NHL at the moment.And let’s not forget the cadre of young offensive talent that has flooded the NHL in the past several seasons: Last year, six of the top dozen goal scorers were 25 years old or younger. And the top point getter (Connor McDavid) was just 20. All of these very young men are already sharing the leaderboards with future Hall of Famers like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, who are still both in the primes of their careers. This overlap of generational talent could be contributing to all the scoring, too.To be sure, no one in the league office of the NHL is losing sleep over this. More scoring is good news for a league that has been plagued by a spate of absurd calls from pundits to not only tweak the rules of the game, but to change the shape of it too. Reprimanding centers for lining up at the dots incorrectly? Fine, we can all live with that. But making the nets bigger? That’s downright sacrilege. Thanks to the relatively high-scoring climate of the present-day NHL, maybe we can put that tired argument to bed once and for all. read more

Basketball team ready for war

It’s been more than six months since the Ohio State men’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking, double-overtime loss to Siena that ended its NCAA tournament and its season. For the past half-year, the Buckeyes have been working to make sure their 2009-10 season ends on a better note.Starting the season strong will be especially important this year, with OSU facing the defending national champion North Carolina in its third regular season game.  Sophomore guard Walter Offutt says the impending matchup has served as motivation during their offseason preparations.“North Carolina is a big game,” he said. “It’s one of the first nationally televised games in the country, plus they’re a great team and it’s at one of the best basketball venues in the country in Madison Square Garden.”The team’s preparation included a trip last month to Windsor, Ontario. OSU won all three of its exhibition games against Canadian universities by a combined score of 282-154.While he acknowledges that the University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor may not be North Carolina and Michigan State, Offutt says the experience is still important in getting ready for the season.“Even though the competition level isn’t what we’re going to be facing in the future, it obviously still helped us get familiar with the new defense, the new offense and the new playing style that coach [Thad] Matta is putting in and that’s going to help us in the future to be successful.”Lighty back from injuryIt’s not often that a team begins its season by adding a player with experience as a team captain and 51 career starts, but with the return of junior forward David Lighty from injury, that’s exactly what the Buckeyes will do.Just seven games into his 2008-09 season, Lighty broke a bone in his foot which required surgery and caused him to miss the rest of the season. His last game was actually a career-best, as he totaled a personal high of 21 points. Having to sit out the remainder of the season was a frustrating experience for Lighty.“It was real tough,” he said. “You want to go out there and help your team as much as possible. Just sitting there watching and knowing you don’t have an effect on the outcome of the game was hard.”But the offseason has brought good news for Lighty. First, he was granted a medical redshirt year, meaning he will still have two more years of eligibility for OSU. Second, his recovery has gone as well as anyone could hope for.“I’m back to 100 percent now, no pain at all. I’m running like I can, jumping like I can, I’m doing everything like I was doing before I got hurt,” he said.The trip to Canada provided Lighty his first opportunity to test out his surgically repaired foot against an opposing team.  He played in all three games, averaging 9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per game. “It might even be a little stronger now that they got that screw in there,” he said with a chuckle.Replacing MullensLike Greg Oden and Michael Conley before him, prized recruit BJ Mullens is gone after only one year, leaving a gap in the post rotation for the Buckeyes. Though he only started two games last season, Mullens made the most of his time on the court, leading the team in rebounds per minute and finishing second in points per minute. Replacing his presence inside will be an important factor in the team’s success this season.“Obviously that messed us up a lot when BJ left,” Offutt said. “Our wings are going to have to pick up scoring like they’re capable of, and Dallas [Lauderdale] is going to have to continue to be big in the middle.”Junior Dallas Lauderdale surprised many when he earned the starting position in the post last year. But he capitalized on the opportunity, leading the team in blocks. And although he scored fewer than five points-per-game, he did so efficiently, shooting 71.8 percent from the field, also a team-best. If the games in Canada are any indication, fans should look for Lauderdale to surprise again this year. He upped his scoring to 12 points per game for the trip, while still managing to shoot 76 percent from the field.As for the wings, Coach Matta seems to be currently settled on starting four of them alongside Lauderdale. Juniors Evan Turner, David Lighty and Jon Diebler, along with sophomore William Buford, started all three games in Canada. All four are listed as either shooting guards or small forwards.Offutt’s hope of increased scoring shouldn’t be a problem with that lineup, as the group consists of the team’s four leading scorers from last season. read more

Football Ohio State wide receivers relying on JT Barrett as he depends

Sophomore wide receiver Binjimen Victor (9) runs the ball during the Ohio State game against Maryland on Oct. 7 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeye won 62-14. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller ReporterOhio State redshirt quarterback J.T. Barrett is a confident player and has never been one to say he doubts his wide receivers.Through the issues in the passing game, Barrett has remained steadfast in critique of himself and timing difficulties with his targets. But his confidence in his receivers hasn’t faltered. Likewise, the trust the wideouts have in Barrett hasn’t wavered.Now, it seems that mutual conviction is becoming legitimate with Barrett’s confidence in his arm and his receivers growing with each throw. It has manifested itself in a third different wideout — Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell and now Binjimen Victor— emerging as a potential go-to target for the third straight week.“Not a jump, but a steady incline [from the receivers],” head coach Urban Meyer said. “Very pleased with their attitude and they’re making plays.”Four throws in Saturday’s 62-14 Ohio State victory against Maryland exemplified the strengthening connection between Barrett and his receivers.On Ohio State’s first offensive series, Barrett rifled a third-down pass between two defenders to Dixon to move the chains. Barrett later connected with the 6-foot-4 Victor on third-and-6 from the Maryland 8-yard line in the back of the end zone for a score. Sophomore wideout Austin Mack caught a back-shoulder fade for 20 yards on the following drive, and then hauled in a touchdown reception with a defender on his back while getting two feet in bounds with 10 seconds left in the half.Barrett deserves credit for his play — including 20-of-31 passing for 261 yards and three touchdowns Saturday — and the play-calling has improved. However, the wide receivers have also managed to get open more recently, which has allowed the quarterback to build confidence and compete at a tempo the team will need in a showdown with Penn State in three weeks.“It’s great seeing [Barrett] make those passes and having confidence in us to make those contested catches,” Mack said. “Shoot, keep it coming.”Both Campbell and Dixon recorded more than 100 yards and a score in one of the two most recent games, displaying their potential to be the go-to playmaker at receiver. Saturday, Barrett turned to his big target in Victor for four catches and a team-high 55 yards. Campbell and Dixon each had three receptions during those weeks, but their play was significant enough to be noted by opposing coaches on scouting reports.Victor’s five targets were all against man coverage and thrown to a spot where Victor can elevate above the defender and be the only one to come down with it.“Down in the red zone, top shelf, I mean that’s where the ball has to be,” Barrett said. “Based on coverage, I think that was something good.”Victor is a different receiver than Campbell and Dixon. Campbell is used over the middle or on bubble screens when he can use his speed in the open field. Dixon is a deep-ball threat.Victor might not be more than a red-zone target, but he’s Ohio State’s tallest receiver and its best option in jump-ball scenarios.The trio of Campbell, Dixon and Victor all bring something different to the table for defenses that have to design a scheme to minimize their impact. And Mack, who showed Saturday he can be another option for Barrett, might be the best route runner on the team with less speed than Campbell and Dixon, but more than Victor.The competition hasn’t been great. And it is uncertain whether Ohio State’s wideouts can be difference-makers against the Penn States of college football, but they deserve recognition for finishing the plays Barrett makes and giving him options — two elements of the offense which weren’t present in early September.The next logical step: consistency.“I wouldn’t say we’re where we need to be,” Campbell said. “But I like where we’re at.” read more

The BBC gives Nicola Sturgeon a gorilla toy to apologise for showing

first_imgBBC Breakfast The presenters trying not to laugh Credit:Geoff Robinson/BBC Confusion arose when BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty explained that the SNP leader and First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, was due on the programme as a guest.Unfortunately the show’s producers chose that precise moment to cut to footage of the large silverback gorilla. Kumbuka the gorilla flashed up on the screen instead of Nicola SturgeonCredit:Geoff Robinson/BBC The BBC has apologised for mixing Nicola Sturgeon up with an escaped gorilla at London Zoo by presenting her with a cuddly toy version of the animal.Viewers were left puzzled about why the BBC seemed apparently unable to tell the difference between the 46-year-old leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the 29-stone western lowland gorilla that was on the loose on Thursday.  It’s not the first BBC news gaffe to go viral, after presenter Simon McCoy picked up a stack of printing paper instead of his iPad for an on-air presentation about drunkenness. An awkward moment for BBC Breakfast presenters Naga Munchetty and Charlie Stayt Fortunately her co-presenter Charlie Stayt realised something was amiss.“I’m sorry we’ve … err… very clearly run the wrong pictures over that particular sequence. My apologies there” he said. “The story we will be taking about later, as you’ve probably guessed from the pictures, is about the escaped gorilla at London Zoo.”The presenters saw the funny side  An awkward moment for BBC Breakfast presenters Naga Munchetty and Charlie StaytCredit:BBC Breakfast Nicola Sturgeon, not a gorilla, makes her appearance Credit:Geoff Robinson/BBC The BBC has presented Nicola Sturgeon with an ape to apologise for this morning’s mishap. #snp16 pic.twitter.com/bgCZAJDdID— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) October 14, 2016 And here’s what happened when BBC News interviewed the wrong Guy – the legend that is Congolese taxi driver Guy Goma. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.center_img .@NicolaSturgeon receives official apology from @BBCNews over today’s #gorilla incident at #SNP16 #MediaDrinks @ScotParlJournos @BBCNaga pic.twitter.com/M4uy21CKt0— Lang Banks, WWF (@LangBanks) October 14, 2016 The footage was shared by Twitter user @johnnyTR70. They eventually found the correct guest Pictures posted on social media on Friday evening suggested Ms Sturgeon was delighted, if a little bemused, by the apology gift.She was given the cuddly ape as the SNP party conference took place in Glasgow. When you interview someone it is best to make sure you are interviewing the right person. In this interview BBC… https://t.co/8VFSF2SrSn— Media Training SA (@Mediatrain_SA) October 5, 2016 While this is the shocking moment a TV host was impaled by a nail in a failed magic trick.  Gorilla mix-up with Nicola Sturgeon on BBC Breakfast Nicola Sturgeon Meanwhile, a wildlife group has called for an inquiry over the London Zoo gorilla escape. In April,  this racing pundit ended this live interview in the most spectacular way.  After a slight mishap on BBC Breakfast this morning, the corporation presented the First Minister with an apology. pic.twitter.com/vYB5iBJgJJ— BBC Andrew Kerr (@BBCandrewkerr) October 14, 2016 Kumbuka had expressed his own desire for independence on Thursday by escaping his enclosure at London Zoo, before being tranquilised by his keepers.“We’re going to be joined by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon,” explained Munchetty on BBC Breakfast as Kumbuka popped up on screen. “We’ll talk to her about plans for a second referendum on independence.”last_img read more