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News story: CT Summer Security

By on April 20, 2021

first_imgSpecialist advice for companies operating in crowded places, split into different sectors such as major events, sport stadia, visitor attractions, bars, theatres and shopping centres, is still available on the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NACTSO) website.Key advice for anyone attending an event this summer Withdrawn by NaCTSO,As the UK prepares to kick off the summer months with a busy May Bank Holiday weekend filled with festivals, concerts and sporting events; police security experts will again be working in partnership with event organisers to ensure that safety and security remains top of the agenda.Launched for the first time last year in response to the terror attacks in both London and Manchester, ‘Summer Security’ has already delivered advice, best practice and training to thousands of festival workers, staff and security guards across the UK.This year, experts from Counter Terrorism Policing will once again be working in partnership with organisers at major entertainment and sporting venues up and down the country to ensure that thousands more staff will be able to minimise the chance of attacks and mitigate the impact they can have.While there is no intelligence to indicate an increased threat to summer events, the new National Coordinator for Protect and Prepare Policing, T/Chief Superintendent Nick Aldworth, wants the public to familiarise themselves with the existing safety information so they too, can play a part in the UK’s collective security.T/Chief Superintendent Aldworth said: You can follow and support the campaign at @terrorismpolice using #ActionCountersTerrorism. Summer Security is all about making sure people can enjoy themselves safe in the knowledge that the staff around them are trained to know what to do should the worst happen. Sadly we have seen that these big public events and crowded spaces can be targeted by those who want to cause harm, but I want to reassure the public that the police, partners and the event organisers are doing all we can to keep them safe and secure. You can help make these events safer by reading our Run, Hide, Tell advice, and to be ready to ACT if you spot suspicious behaviour and activity. Don’t think you might be wasting our time, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If something doesn’t look or feel right, tell someone. Please arrive early for extra security measures. This will help prevent delays in getting into the event. Be patient with security checks and help the staff to help you. We know it is inconvenient but they are there to keep you safe. It is essential that you do not bring unnecessary items to the event; this will help to speed up searches and your entry to the event. If you spot someone acting suspiciously, report it to police or to security staff immediately: don’t leave it to someone else. #ActionCountersTerrorism In an emergency, if you think there is an immediate risk, always call 999 and look around you for help from staff – especially those with radios who can raise the alarm quickly. Don’t leave bags unattended or anywhere they could cause a security scare. And never agree to look after anyone else’s bags, no matter how plausible their story. If there is an incident, listen to staff and any announcements. Organisers will have emergency plans to help you keep safe. Remember, the chance of being caught in a terrorism incident is small. But if it happens – Run, Hide, Tell gov.uk/ACTlast_img read more

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Boldon, Bailey clash over Gay, Powell

By on August 28, 2020

first_imgFormer world 200m champion Ato Boldon says he has sympathy with athletes who fail drug tests by taking supplements. But former 100m Olympic and world champion Donovan Bailey insists there can be no excuses for athletes taking banned substances.Following sprinters Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell testing positive for banned drugs , Boldon said: “An athlete does not have a degree in pharmacology.” But Bailey said: “Athletes must know what is on the ‘banned’ list.” And he added it could be time to consider life bans for those caught taking banned substances.The Canadian, who will be a BBC Radio 5 live summariser for the Anniversary Games and World Championships, said: “Ultimately it could be the new false start rule—it doesn’t matter who you are, if you false start out of the blocks, you’re out.”It is not known which substance Gay, the fastest man in the world this year having run 9.75 seconds, has tested positive for—that should be confirmed after the result of analysis of his B sample.Powell, who has clocked 9.88 this year, was tested at the national trials in June and returned an adverse finding for oxilofrine (methylsynephrine), a stimulant that boosts fat-burning. Boldon said it was important to make a distinction between blood-doping and “people trying to push the envelope with their supplements”. He added: “An athlete is trusting of the person he is buying the supplements from, or the coach, or whoever is providing these supplements. “When you listen to Tyson, he is saying he put his faith in someone and they let him down. That says to me, OK somebody told me you can take this and it will be fine, there will be nothing to cause you to have a positive test—and obviously that was not the case.” Bailey, who won Olympic and world 100m gold medals, and has held the 100m world record, has a zero-tolerance policy on drug-taking. The 45-year-old said: “Every single athlete is given a banned list and they should look carefully down it. “When money is involved you are going to have cheats, people who push the envelope. We are in a sport where one thousandth of a second can be the difference between success and failure. “Athletes who take drugs tend to be insecure. They don’t believe they have the physical and/or mental capacity to do great things so they take another route—the pharmaceutical route, if you like.” On Gay claiming he was let down by someone he trusted, Bailey added: “You don’t go to an athletics meeting to watch the trainer, coach or masseur run a race. The onus is 100 per cent on the athlete to take responsibility for any substances going into their body.” Boldon suggested stimulants and supplements are here to stay and said it was naive to think they could be banned. He added: “I think the problem is in trying to push the envelope and get to the edge, several of the top names in the sport are falling over the edge.”last_img read more

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New Dodgers pitcher John Axford has a longstanding passion for film

By on August 26, 2020

first_img Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Once, Axford said, he convinced the campus security guard to let him film a ride-along in an actual police cruiser. He considered the effort decent for a Beta tape.“We filmed it on hand-held,” Axford said, “like you would on ‘COPS’.”As a film and television major at Notre Dame, Axford was more successful in the classroom than on the mound. His 2004 college season was wiped out by Tommy John surgery. During his 2005 season, he earned his bachelor’s degree. But when the draft came calling, he slipped to the 42nd round – a far cry from the seventh-round selection Axford passed up out of high school.By the time he signed his first professional baseball contract, in 2007, Axford had made one short film and fulfilled one summer internship at a local television station in South Bend, Ind.“After I had Tommy John and I didn’t have obligations to the baseball team I had some time away to do what I wanted,” Axford said. “A lot of that happened to be stuff for film. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t have surgery.”At Notre Dame, Axford’s curriculum ran the gamut of esotery. One class was titled “Hong Kong Action Cinema,” another “Canadian Contemporary Cinema.” The one film he co-wrote, shot, and directed for a class project does not appear on Axford’s IMBD page (though he does have one).“It ended up being darker than expected,” he said. “I think it was called Mrs. Smith. … It was about essentially, relationship abuse. Not in the physical sense, but the emotional – that side, what you can see and not see within a relationship, certain interactions.“Most of the movies I like are, I would say, darker in context, more open-ended. Something that doesn’t make you feel good, that’s something I prefer. I prefer an ending in which I’m confused or uncertain. I want to be able to chew on it, and actually wonder what happened. Maybe watch it again, see if I missed something. That’s how ours ended, fairly abruptly, with a suicide.”After college, health proved to be a blessing for Axford’s career as a pitcher and a damper on his career in film. His time for non-baseball projects was blissfully limited.According to Baseball Reference, Axford’s career earnings exceed $24 million. At first, that merely allowed him to pay off his student debt. Then it allowed him to dabble.Related Articles Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start center_img Since 2011 Axford has sponsored a local film festival in Milwaukee, where his major league career began. With the exception of one year – 2013, when he went to the postseason with the St. Louis Cardinals – Axford said he’s been able to attend the festival in person and see the fruits of his labor.“All I could think was, if there was some other way to help students or local filmmakers who are trying to get through, to get something that they’re passionate about made … to actually have a backing,” he said. “There are some great people in the Milwaukee community who do that and have kind of ensured, so have the people with Milwaukee Film have ensured that my help ends up going to Milwaukee filmmakers.”Axford also sponsored the production of a 2015 documentary about The Reason – a Hamilton, Ontario-based rock band – titled “If It’s Not Something, It’s Something Else.” He was credited as the film’s executive producer and premiered it in person at the 2015 Hamilton Film Festival. It was his first hands-on involvement in a film since college.Axford said he’s friends with the members of The Reason, so his involvement in the project was a natural one. At 36 years old, he is likely closer to the end of his baseball career than the beginning, but he has no concrete plans for his next film project in mind.“I’ve definitely tried to keep myself as open as possible, try to meet as many people as possible,” Axford said. “Being at certain film festivals, meeting certain people that way has helped. … I think maybe when I’m done playing I’ll be paying attention to it as well.” “I would love to do something like that, have that feeling again. Especially when it’s as extended as something like a feature.”Sign up for our Inside the Dodgers newsletter. Be the best Dodger fan you can be by getting daily intel on your favorite team. Subscribe here.Axford’s talent for Oscar picks is canon. He predicts a winner in every category each year; when he correctly picked all 18 winners in 2014, the talent was no longer hidden. This year, Axford correctly picked 18 of the 24 winners.Lesser known is how Axford came into his famous non-baseball passion.As a student at the Assumption College School in Brantford, Ontario, he took a class in communications. When the school put a television monitor in every classroom, the student-produced morning announcements became a visual medium. The communications class featured “almost an actual newsroom studio,” and Axford was part of the production team.“A buddy and I thought it would be a good idea to start making some videos, kind of like commercials, so we made some promotional videos for events coming up,” he said. “We talked about the sports team. Different dance events or something coming up.” LOS ANGELES — Here’s the basic outline: Boy meets crude video equipment. Boy falls in love with filming things using his crude equipment. Boy studies film and television at a prestigious university and his lifelong passion persists into adulthood.But wait, there’s a twist. The boy grows up to be a 6-foot-5 man with an electric right arm. After some fits and starts, his career as a major league pitcher is born. Since his 2009 debut, only 13 major leaguers have appeared in more games. His career in film is on hold, at least temporarily.This screenplay probably isn’t Oscar-worthy, but John Axford should know. Baseball’s resident cinephile has lived it.“I still like to write,” said Axford, whom the Dodgers acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays at last Tuesday’s trade deadline. “When I do, I have my own vision. I’m sure if I handed it to somebody else, they would have a completely different one – which is frustrating, but also I think wonderful, that someone can have such a different opinion and a different thought, the way something’s written. Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season last_img read more

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Man charged with Killygordon murder to appear by videolink at Letterkenny court

By on December 27, 2019

first_imgA man charged with the murder of a young Donegal mother of two is to appear before a court in Letterkenny by videolink.Richard Burke, aged 27, charged with the murder of 28-year-old Jasmine McMonagle, at a special sitting of Sligo District Court last week. He was yesterday remanded in custody again when he appeared at Harristown District Court in Roscommon.Burke, of Forest Park, Killygordon, will appear again by videolink at Letterkenny District Court before Judge David Kelly on January 21st.Burke is charged with the murder of his former partner Ms McMonagle at the home they shared at Forest Park.He did not speak during the brief hearing.Ms McMonagle was buried following funeral mass in her native Castlefin last Monday.The late Jasmine McMonagleMan charged with Killygordon murder to appear by videolink at Letterkenny court was last modified: January 14th, 2019 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Jasmine McMonaglemurderRichard Burkelast_img read more

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Gardaí issue appeal for information on brothers sought over Essex lorry deaths

By on December 21, 2019

first_imgGARDAÍ have appealed for anyone with information regarding two brothers who are wanted in relation to an  investigation into the deaths of 39 people whose bodies were found in Essex last week.Detectives have confirmed that they are seeking to speak to Ronan Hughes (40) and his brother Christopher (34). The brothers are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.The brothers have links to County Armagh, but are said to be living at an address in County Monaghan. Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper, who is leading the investigation, said: “Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial to our investigation.“At this time we believe they are in Northern Ireland but they also have links to the Irish Republic.“If you know where they are or have any information about their whereabouts I need you to call my team.“This is a case where 39 men and women have tragically died and support from the community is going to be vital to help bring those responsible to justice. “You may think the piece of information might be insignificant but even the smallest detail could be vital so please contact my officers on 101 or online at: the UK Police Major Incident Public Reporting site“I appreciate you may not want to speak to the police so you can also contact Crimestoppers 100 per cent anonymously on 0800 555 111.”Maurice Robinson, 25, of Laurel Drive, Craigavon, Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money laundering and is next due to appear at the Old Bailey on 25 November.Three other people arrested – a 38 year-old man, a 38 year-old woman, and a 46 year-old man – have all been released on bail until NovemberAnyone with any information is asked to contact An Garda Síochána at the Garda confidential Line 1800 666 111 or Essex Police on 0044 207 158 0010, the anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0044 800 555 111 or online at https://mipp.police.uk Gardaí issue appeal for information on brothers sought over Essex lorry deaths was last modified: October 29th, 2019 by Chris McNultyShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Christopher HughesEssexEssex Lorry DeathsGardaiMaurice RobinsonRonan Hugheslast_img read more

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DJI Drones Can Now Fly on Their Own and More Major Updates

By on December 12, 2019

first_imgFollow MeThis may be the most anticipated update — though it’s only available for the Phantom 3 series. Set the aircraft to follow you, and it will automatically fly and keep you in the cameras view. WaypointsWaypoints allow users to set multiple GPS points, called Waypoints, that the aircraft will automatically fly to. This allows pilots to set a flight path so they can focus on camera control. The Phantom 3 or Inspire 1 will fly along the same path repeatedly, travel at a set speed, and save the pattern for future use. Home LockPilots can set flight controls to relate to their location at all times. With Home Lock you can flick a switch and the control stick will move forwards, backwards, left, and right all in relation to the set home point. Course LockAn easy navigation option, Course Lock allows the pilot to set the controls to correspond with the aircraft’s current path. This lets you fly in a set direction while moving alongside objects. Point of InterestPilots wanting to circle a specific building or location can lock onto their target with Point of Interest. The drone will continuously circle until the user captures their shot. Owners of the DJI Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 now have their own personal assistant. DJI has announced Intelligent Flight Modes, a series of custom flight paths.Following a new line of Phantom quadcopters and an much improved app, DJI has now introduced Waypoints, Point of Interest, Follow Me, Home Lock, and Course Lock. DJI GO AppImage via DJIIn August, DJI released the updated DJI GO app. The app (now available for iOS and Android) introduced many new features and replaced the previous DJI Pilot app. DJI GO created low-resolution files that would save to the pilot’s phone or tablet, allowing instant playback. It also allowed you to quickly post photos and videos online. The app featured enhanced editing tools and also integrates the DJI forum to allow users to easily share tips and find information. DJI has now announced updates to the app (iOS V2.2.0 and Android V2.1.0) but it’s the firmware updates making all the headlines. Phantom 3 Advanced owners will receive an upgrade that supports 2.7K video recording.Intelligent Flight ModesImage via DJIDJI has just introduced Intelligent Flight Modes, a series of flight paths that can easily be set by pilots. These features are available for the Phantom 3 series and Inspire 1.These aren’t revolutionary updates, as other drones like the 3DR Solo Smart Drone already featured some of these abilities. It is a much needed update to DJI’s line of aerial cameras. Matt Carlson shared his initial review with us. Here you can see the Intelligent Flight Mode in action with Carlson’s DJI Phantom 3 Professional.Over 700 FAA Section 333 Exeptions Issued for DJI Phantom PilotsImage via DJIIn other DJI news, the company has announced that 742 total exemptions have been issued to companies using DJI products. In January of 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its first Section 333 exemption for a DJI Phantom.This made the Phantom eligible for commercial use within the United States – with a Section 333 exemption. A Section 333 exemption and a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) is needed for commercial drone use within the U.S. until a new set of regulations is created.Excited about these updates? Do you use drones in your productions? Are you filing for a Section 333 exemption? Let us know in the comments below.last_img read more

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OSG Expects to Benefit from Improving Market

By on October 23, 2019

first_imgzoomIllustration. Image Courtesy of Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash Florida-based tanker shipping company Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) closed the first nine months of this year with improved earnings.The company reported a net income of USD 18.7 million during the period from January to September 2018, compared to USD 2.3 million posted in the corresponding period a year earlier.What is more, net income for the third quarter stood at USD 11.9 million, compared to a net loss of USD 6.3 million seen in the same quarter last year.“The third quarter saw OSG make meaningful progress in executing on its business plan, notwithstanding our short-term financial results. Highlights for the quarter are that we secured multiple new term-charter fixtures, extended our contract of affreightment with the Government of Israel through the end of 2020, and announced contracts for the construction of two new tankers and one new barge,” Sam Norton, President and CEO, said.Shipping revenues for the first nine months of this year amounted to USD 276.9 million, lower by 7% when compared with the first three quarters of 2017. In addition, shipping revenues for the third quarter 2018 were USD 80.5 million, down 13.7% compared with the same period in 2017.As explained, several factors contributed to the decrease in revenues including an increase in scheduled drydocking, unplanned repair days, one less Government of Israel voyage during the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, one less vessel in operation in the third quarter 2018 compared to third quarter 2017, and seasonal slow-down manifested by fewer spot market opportunities.“We are well along the path to refinance and fully pay off our term debt which matures in August 2019 using a combination of cash and new debt. We have in hand commitments exceeding USD 325.0 million from a syndicate of lenders for a new term loan, as well as a second loan with another lender of USD 27.5 million, both of which we anticipate closing in the coming weeks. We expect these financings to add longer-term stability to our balance sheet, clearing the path for the pursuit of expansion opportunities,” Norton added.“We are confident that the trajectory and mix of our revenue streams position the company well to benefit from the continuing arc of improving fundamentals,” he concluded.OSG’s 23-vessel US Flag fleet consists of seven ATBs, two lightering ATBs, three shuttle tankers, nine MR tankers, and two non-Jones Act MR tankers that participate in the US MSP.last_img read more

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ExOntario Tory leader Patrick Brown writing book on his political assassination

By on October 17, 2019

first_imgTORONTO – The scandal-plagued former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party is writing a tell-all book detailing what he describes as his “political assassination.”Patrick Brown says the new book, titled “Take Down,” will chronicle his nearly three years at the helm of the party and offer a detailed look at the events that led up to his abrupt resignation in January.Two women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Brown, who vehemently denies their claims.His resignation months before a provincial election triggered a hastily organized leadership convention that saw Doug Ford take the reins of the party.Brown says his book will be “a story of betrayal, blackmail, and backroom politicking involving some of Canada’s biggest political names,” though he did not provide further details.The book, published by Optimum Publishing International, is slated to hit shelves on Nov. 1.“Yes, it appeared I would be premier of Canada’s largest province by age 40,” Brown said in a release announcing the new book. “Instead, on January 24th, (2018), I was all but assassinated in public. Who did it, how, and why?…This was my dream, this was my nightmare.”The publishing company said Brown will embark on a full tour to promote the new book. The theatrical rights are available, the company said.Brown’s resignation, which came mere hours after the sexual misconduct allegations were first levelled against him, touched off a turbulent time in Ontario politics.While four candidates quickly emerged as contenders for the Progressive Conservative leadership, they were briefly joined by the man who made the race necessary in the first place.Brown officially entered the leadership contest to reclaim his old job, asserting he had cleared his name in a series of press interviews and social media posts that raised questions about the allegations.One alleged victim did eventually alter the timeline of her claims, but stood by the core allegations she raised against Brown.Just five days after joining the contest, however, Brown withdrew once again citing strain on his friends and family.In the meantime, he had been turfed from the caucus he once led and had come under fierce attacks from party members alleging financial irregularities and other allegations of misconduct.Brown has filed a defamation lawsuit against CTV News, which first reported the sexual misconduct allegations.last_img read more

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How Bullpens Took Over Modern Baseball

By on September 28, 2019

The New York Yankees faced a tight spot on July 9 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Their newly acquired starting pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, had gutted his way through 6.2 innings, lacking his best stuff but still holding the Indians to four runs, just one of those earned. Locked in a 4-4 tie, manager Joe Girardi turned to his bullpen, knowing it had no margin for error.The first pitcher out of the pen was Matt Thornton. Instead of battling Indians hitters with an assortment of southpaw soft stuff, Thornton fired two straight fastballs to All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley, the second one resulting in a harmless, inning-ending groundout. The radar gun flashed a reading on Thornton’s heater: 97 mph.The next Yankees pitcher to toe the rubber was Dellin Betances. A 26-year-old rookie, Betances had taken the long route to establish himself in the big leagues. At 6’8” and 260 pounds, he was once a promising starter prospect, but struggled mightily to make use of his huge frame. Converted to relief last season, Betances simplified his repertoire, leaning on his blazing fastball and nasty slurve. The result was a breakout season in a repeat stint at Triple-A, followed by a job in this year’s Yankees bullpen. On this night against the Indians, Betances needed only 10 pitches to retire the side in the eighth inning. The four fastballs he threw in that frame averaged a tick below 99 mph.As the night wore on, a battalion of flamethrowers kept emerging out of the Yankees bullpen. Adam Warren tossed 1.1 scoreless innings, firing 12 fastballs that averaged 95 mph. After David Huff (94 mph) struggled with three batters, Shawn Kelley (94 mph) bailed him out with 1.2 scoreless. The Yankees finally scored a run in the top of the 14th, prompting David Robertson to take the mound. New York’s closer needed 14 pitches to set down the Indians in the bottom of the inning, clinching a 5-4 win for the Yanks. Unlike many of his relief-mates, Robertson almost never throws a four-seam fastball, the kind of straight heat that tends to register the highest radar gun readings. Instead, he throws the cutter, a pitch that bores in on left-handed batters, inducing countless weak groundouts and often chopping their bats into tiny splinters. That night against the Indians, Robertson’s cutter velocity peaked at 95 mph, averaging “only” 93 — a necessary trade-off to get the kind of movement that can cause sleepless nights for its helpless victims.The Yankees are hardly alone in their employment of multiple cheese-huckers. Teams are trotting out pitchers who routinely throw mid-90s fastballs, with gusts up to the high 90s, and occasionally 100 mph or better. Most of those fireballers work out of the bullpen, and they’re needed more now than ever before. In a chicken-and-egg scenario, starters’ inability to go deep into games has created heightened demand for fresh and electric arms out of the bullpen.Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, we can track the upward trend in reliever use over the past 50 years:The broader trend that goes back half a century is clear. In 1964 (four years after the save rule first came to baseball), teams used an average of 2.58 pitchers per game, including the starter; today, they’re using 3.92 pitchers per game. In ’64, relievers tossed an average of 2.64 innings per game; today, they’re throwing an eyelash more than three innings per game. Starters are getting yanked much earlier now than they did during Willie Mays’s heyday, and relievers are shouldering a greater percentage of the pitching load. But what’s most striking is how much bigger the jump is in the number of pitchers used per game as compared to number of relief innings thrown per game.Bullpens weren’t always like this. In 1960, sportswriter Jerome Holtzman introduced the save statistic to baseball. Holtzman wanted a way to better recognize the impressive contributions of pitchers like Joe Page and Hoyt Wilhelm, relief aces who came out of the bullpen to replace tiring starters, often throwing multiple innings at a time. Over the ensuing 25 to 30 years, bullpens slowly evolved, to the point where managers started to ease back on the role of multi-inning stoppers.The person often credited with the next wave of changes is Tony La Russa. The former White Sox, A’s and Cardinals manager figured he could squeeze more value out of his bullpen by placing a greater emphasis on putting specific relievers in a spot where they’d have the best chance to succeed. If you want to know why a contemporary manager may use three different relievers in a single inning in the name of getting the lefty-on-lefty and righty-on-righty matchups he wants, you can give a lot of the credit (or blame, if you’re not a huge fan of three and a half-hour games) to La Russa.Still, today’s managers might not be so willing to change pitchers so frequently1La Russa gained the greatest notoriety for his pitching changes while in Oakland, when he helped turn situational lefties like Rick Honeycutt into valuable late-inning weapons. But we can’t put all of this on La Russa: Managers use slightly more than one extra pitcher per game, on average, since 1989, La Russa’s one World Series-winning season with the A’s. if they didn’t have all those guys waiting in the bullpen who can throw 95-100 mph at will. So, using FanGraphs fastball velocity data, we set out to answer the question: What percentage of relief pitchers throw 95 mph or better today, as compared to past seasons?Though reliable velocity data only goes back to 2002, that’s still a big spike in a relatively short amount of time: We’re only two-thirds of the way through this season, and already we’ve seen nearly twice as many innings thrown by relievers who average 95 mph or higher on their fastballs than we did just 12 years ago.OK, so we know that managers are using more relievers, and that more of them throw hard. But what matters is whether bullpens are performing better.To measure this phenomenon, we ran another Baseball-Reference query and found that the average bullpen’s OPS+ allowed2That is, on-base plus slugging percentage allowed, re-scaled so that the MLB average is always 100. has dropped dramatically over the past 45 years, from 103 (3 percent worse than the overall league average, a number that includes starters and relievers) in 1969 to 94 (6 percent better than average) this season. The performance disparity between relief pitchers and starters really began to accelerate in the mid- to late 1990s, as the post-La Russa bullpen era fully took hold.Note how the shaded area of the chart is wider than it used to be. As recently as 1988, the OPS+ allowed by starters and relievers was almost equal; now, relief pitchers are consistently hurling much sharper innings than starters. It’s a change that also goes hand in hand with the aforementioned increase in relievers deployed per game. Managers have gotten wise to the fact that more innings should go to the more effective subgroup of pitchers, and that they’re even more effective when called upon in waves to throw aspirin pills past helpless batters.This data gives us a good idea of the “what.” Figuring out why relievers are getting so much faster and so much better is trickier, because it’s more subjective. It’s possible that teams are doing a better job of recognizing which pitchers should be converted into relievers and which ones should remain starters. In the same way the Yankees figured out that Betances was much better suited to relief work, the Cincinnati Reds resisted the temptation to make Aroldis Chapman a starter and let him unleash his electrifying fastball in the closer role instead. Chapman alone might be skewing our data set somewhat, given the frequency with which he launches blinding fastballs, and the incredible results he produces. According to the excellent site Baseball Savant, Chapman has thrown a staggering 257 fastballs that have topped 100 mph this year; every other pitcher in the majors has combined to throw 103 of them.Earlier this year, in an an article about the recent increase in Tommy John surgeries, I discussed why we might be seeing more pitchers assaulting radar guns than ever before. One frequently cited theory holds that kids are specializing in one sport at an earlier age, so once they lock in on baseball they’re building arm strength and pitch velocity more quickly, but also making themselves more susceptible to future injury. That so many can throw so fast, and so many hit the disabled list, makes relievers fungible (with a few exceptions like Betances and Chapman). As a result, managers choose a few relievers from a phalanx of fireballers, then go get a few more if some of them break down.In other words, the pitchers might be on the mound for fewer and fewer pitches, but the trend of harder throwers looks like it’s here to stay. read more

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