9 April 2009 Cape Town is usually the scene of many international film crews and A-list celebrities, but Johannesburg is catching up. Recently, the crew and actors of a new movie, The Bang Bang Club, arrived in the city to start filming. The indie movie revolves around a group of four friends, all photojournalists, who recorded the violent, dying days of apartheid in and around the townships of Johannesburg in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The four friends – Ken Oosterbroek, Kevin Carter, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva – became known as the Bang Bang Club. The film’s director, South African-born Steven Silver, starting filming a week ago, and anticipates calling it a wrap by the end of the year. So far, he is happy with the way things are going. “I am extremely pleased with the filming – I couldn’t be happier.” He describes the South African crew as “the best in the world”. Silver is primarily a documentary maker who has a law degree from Wits University. His first film experience was working on the six-part documentary series called Soweto. He then wrote and directed a short drama, Blink, which won an award at the Weekly Mail Film Festival. In 1997 he directed Gerrie & Louise, a documentary based on the truth commission, which won an Emmy Award. Silver moved to Toronto, Canada, and directed several documentaries namely Boxcar Rebellion, Doctor’s Strike and The Anglo Boer War. His three-part series Machine Gun: History Down the Barrel of a Gun was aired on the Discovery Channel. His feature documentary The Last Just Man, was based on the experience of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. It won several international awards. He then wrote and directed Inside Information, a feature documentary about a journalist covering the conflict in the Middle East, and The Soul of India, a documentary on the rise of Hindu fascism in India. His recent work includes the feature documentary Diameter of a Bomb, Killer Flu, and The Dark Years, an innovative three-part animated documentary. Hollywood actors The Bang Bang Club stars Hollywood actors Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman and Taylor Kitsch. Phillippe plays Marinovich, Akerman plays a photo editor, and Kitsch plays Carter. Silva is played by South African actor Neels van Jaarsveld and Oosterbroek is played by South African-born actor, Frank Rauthenbach. The movie is based on the book of the same name, written by Marinovich and Silva, the two surviving photojournalists of the Bang Bang Club. Marinovich describes a scene in the first chapter of the book: “Earlier that morning we had been working the back streets and alleys of Thokoza township’s devastated no-man’s-land that we – Ken Oosterbroek, Kevin Carter, Joao and I – had become so familiar with over the years of chasing confrontations between police, soldiers, modern-day Zulu warriors and Kalashnikov-toting youngsters as apartheid came to its bloody end.” Marinovich describes how he got shot in the chest, but also how Oosterbroek was fatally shot in the same township confrontation. “The boys were no longer untouchable, and, before the bloodstains faded from the concrete beside the wall, another of us would be dead.” Silver identifies with the story. He said in a recent interview; “I identify with people who journey to unusual destinations and who return with unusual stories. That’s their job and it’s a service I provide as well.” Silver has been working on the script for the six to seven years, and has written 18 drafts of the script. The movie is to be a feature film not a documentary. Death of Oosterbroek and Carter Two of the Bang Bang Club members died shortly after the transition to democracy. Oosterbroek was shot dead in Thokoza township in Ekurhuleni in 1994, while filming a bloody encounter between hostel dwellers and the National Peacekeeping Force. He died on 18 April, nine days before the country’s first democratic elections. Oosterbroek was the chief photographer of The Star, and won the World Press Award in 1993, the SA Press Photographer of the Year award in 1989, 1991 and 1994. “Ken was a larger than life presence, an intricate personality and a wonderful talent,” wrote fellow journalist Louise Marsland of a 10th anniversary exhibition of his work in Johannesburg in 2004. “His untimely death in the crossfire between hostel dwellers and a South African peacekeeping force was a great tragedy.” Some 16 people died in Ekurhuleni townships at the same time as Oosterbroek was killed. Marinovich was wounded in the crossfire. Carter committed suicide in July 1994, after winning the Pulitzer Prize in March 1993. The winning, iconic picture was taken in Sudan, and recorded a vulture sitting ominously behind a painfully thin child. There has been speculation about whether the photograph and the questions raised by it led to his suicide. Silva and Marinovich Silva, who has been working in Afghanistan and Iraq for the past six years, now works for the New York Times, while Marinovich does social documentary work, and is working on two books. Marinovich won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1990 Soweto picture of a man hacking at the burning, crouching figure of another man, with a panga. Both have been called in to consult on the making of the film, and so far both are happy with the production. Marinovich says Silver is doing “an amazing job”. “He is trying to keep many of the scenes as close as possible to the original,” adds Marinovich. Being on the set, which includes Nancefield Hostel in Soweto, brings back a lot of memories of the time for Marinovich. Silva says that 15 years later, the memory is still raw. “It is not traumatic, but I feel very flat and somewhat depressed.” Marinovich says that film extras include people who lived in the hostels at the time, and newcomers. Scenes have to be re-shot to capture the violence and drama because the extras often burst out laughing, perhaps in disbelief of the times. Silva says that, as a photojournalist, there are times when he wants to burst into tears. “It won’t make a difference – it is always an emotion that won’t go away.” Marinovich recalls taking photographs of the hostel men at the time, who wanted to pose with their weapons, in a “bizarre studio shoot”. “It was amazing theatre,” he says. The book was published in 2000, and the contract for the film was signed in 2002. The club didn’t exist as a formal club, says Silvo. It was labelled the Bang Bang Club by Time magazine, who picked it up as The Bang Bang Paparazzi from an article in another publication. Filming will be taking place in Johannesburg’s central business district, Soweto, Sandton, Melville, the Magaliesberg mountains, and in the Ekurhuleni township of Thokoza. The first scenes are being filmed in The Blues Room cigar bar in the Village Walk shopping centre in Sandton, which has been transformed into Jameson’s, a popular bar in Commissioner Street frequented by journalists in the 1980s. Source: City of Johannesburg
The first quarter of 2010 could see a higher number of investments by venture capital firms than the fourth quarter of 2009, according to figures from new reports by the National Venture Capital Association and information and data services company ChubbyBrain.Data from a report relased by the NVCA yesterday shows that the fourth quarter of 2009 saw a growth of $1.7 billion in venture funds over the previous quarter, similar to numbers seen from Q4 2008 to Q1 2009. Data released today by ChubbyBrain shows that following the earlier growth in venture funds, Q2 2009 saw a $1.4 billion increase in VC investments, a trend that could mean big bucks for startups in the first quarter of 2010. As we reported last week, 2009 was a difficult year for startups and venture capital firms, with venture-backed mergers and acquisitions continuing a downward trend in 2009. Carolynn Duncan, founder and director of the startup incubator Portland Ten, says that the “pressure crunch” of 2009 caused VCs to give prospective startups more than the third degree.“It was more like the fifth degree,” Duncan told ReadWriteWeb. “It was so intense, even for the companies showing great traction and that had bootstrapped the hell out of their project.”Duncan believes that as the new year kicks off, VCs that raised funds at the end of 2009 will be looking at a new class of startups to invest in. When asked if 2010 would be an easier year to find funding, Duncan was hesitant, but optimistic.“I don’t think ‘easier’ is the right word, maybe just not as demanding,” she said. “People are just glad its 2010 and not 2009 anymore.”Photo by Flickr user borman818. Tags:#start#startups chris cameron A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts
BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad CEBU – Talk about going for the kill.Pradera Verde, even with its biggest gun resting, cracked par for the second straight day on Wednesday and is now on the verge of slaughtering the PAL Ladies Interclub Championship division field over a Cebu Country Club layout here that has been at the mercy of Lubao-based squad’s young roster.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa LATEST STORIES Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC NU fights off UST, improves to 2-1 Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:10PNP-HPG to field 695 personnel to secure ‘Undas’05:18After the Typhoon Part 201:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Saso, the 16-year-old former Philippine Team mainstay, birdied all the four par-5s in the opening round as she maximized her length off the tees to conquer the 5,100-yard layout.The Filipino-Japanese will also be looking to put the individual championship in the bag, and she would most likely have to do it at the expense of teammate Effendi and Constantino.Constantino came out for the second straight day and has a total of 109 points, one-under for two days.Meanwhile, Rita Horan fired 49, Christine Popp shot 42 and Jocelyn Garcia 39 as Alabang wrested the Founder’s Division lead with a second day 129 for 255, two points ahead of Manila Southwoods-Legends. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Read Next Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Indonesian Michela Effendi fired a three-under-par 69 worth 57 points, Harmie Constantino chipped in with 56 and Kristine Torralba accounted for 53 as Pradera pooled a second round 166 for 331, the highest ever two-round score recorded in the event’s 12-year history.READ: Newcomer Pradera leaves PAL field gaspingFEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutBreaking par for the second straight day has also never happened before, and taking the brunt of that was reigning six-time champion Manila Southwoods-Masters, which could only come up with 153 to be 34 points behind.And unless Pradera fails to come to the venue to play the third and fourth rounds, it’s all over but the shouting as the rookie squad announced its coming in style and will dethrone SW-Masters in the most convincing way in the next two days. LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary View comments Cebu CC fired 133 points for 273, 24 points behind SW-Masters.Bernice Ilas shot 53 points, Mika Fortuna contributed 52 and Sofia Chabon never got going and accounted for just 48 as SW-Masters sputtered for the second straight round.Coach Norman Sto. Domingo, despite the big lead, is not about to take it easy as he bared that he will have the talented Yuka Saso leading his third round crew to do the mop-up job this early.Saso played in the first round on Tuesday and fired 59 points. She will lead a team that will debut 13-year-old Annika Pineda-Cayabyab.“We will go all out and try and extend our lead,” Domingo said after watching his last player hole out on the difficult 18th hole of the age-old layout. “We would want to get this done early so that the players can relax on Friday (in the final round).”ADVERTISEMENT
Chinese company Meizu on Wednesday launched its flahsip Pro 5 smartphone. The Pro 5 is the company’s first phone in its new ‘Pro’ line up. The Pro 5 is Meizu’s most expensive smartphone to date, and has a spec sheet that looks worthy of it at least on paper.On the downside, the Pro 5 is exclusive to China, at least for now. Seeing as the company is fairly quick in launching its phones in India, the Pro 5 maybe heading to the country soon enough. However, there’s no official commitment from the company as we speak.The Meizu Pro 5 looks a lot like the company’s MX5, which in turn looks a lot like the iPhone 6. But, there are subtle differences so you can’t exactly call it a direct rip-off.The Meizu Pro 5 is made out of Magnesium Alloy and comes with the company’s characteristic mBack physical button on the front that doubles up as a fingerprint sensor.The Pro 5 comes with a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED 2.5D screen with a 1080×1920 pixels resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protective covering on the front. It is powered by a Samsung’s flagship Exynos 7420 64-bit octa-core processor coupled with Mali T760 GPU. Yes, its rocking the same chip that powers Samsung’s top of the line Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge+ and the new Note 5.The Pro 5 is available in two RAM variants: one sporting 3GB RAM and 32GB internal memory and another with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory. The phone supports expandable storage.On the camera front, the Pro 5 comes with a 21-megapixel camera on the rear which is rocking a Sony IMX230 sensor. There’s also a 5-megapixel camera upfront.advertisementThe Pro 5 features a USB Type-C port and comes with Meizu’s proprietary mCharge fast charging technology that can charge the Pro 5’s battery from 0 to 65% in just 30 minutes, according to the company. It uses a 3,050mAh battery.The 4G LTE capable Pro 5 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop-based Flyme 5.The Pro 5 has been priced at nearly CNY 2,800 for the 3GB RAM variant while the 4GB RAM version has been priced at around CNY 3,100. That’s approximately Rs.29,000 for the 3GB variant in India. Both the variants will go on sale starting October 12.
About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Departing Chelsea midfielder Cesc: Hudson-Odoi has the lotby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveDeparting Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas is convinced by the potential of Callum Hudson-Odoi.Cesc, who is set to leave Stamford Bridge after five seasons, spoke to Chelsea’s club website about Hudson-Odoi’s talent after the Blues beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 yesterday.He said: “He has got everything to make it in world football.I have told him that if he does not really make it at the very top I will be disappointed because he is one of these talents you can see can be fantastic.“He can be world class, so he just needs to keep his feet on the ground, keep working hard.“He is a humble boy, he really loves playing football and hopefully he can really make it very soon.”
Waddle urges Tottenham star Alli, Lingard to change approachby Paul Vegas14 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveChris Waddle says Tottenham star Dele Alli and Manchester UnitedJesse Lingard must find a new approach to their games if they want to return to the England fold.Both players have endured a tough start to the 2019/20 and were recently omitted from Gareth Southgate’s squad for this week’s qualifiers against Czech Republic and Bulgaria.Speaking to racingpost.com, Waddle said: “The players who have been dropped need to think about having a Plan B. When young players come on to the scene, they get all the headlines and are talked about as though they have been doing it for 400 games. They can have unbelievable seasons but then go off the boil. Players can get lazy and believe the hype.”Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had a bad injury. He’s a good all-round footballer who acts as an engine for the team and scores goals. I think there’s plenty more to come from him for England if he stays away from injury. Dele Alli has wonderful ability but I just think he has been worked out by opposing coaches. The same goes for Jesse Lingard. It’s time for him to look at his game and work at it on the training ground – it can take as little as 20 minutes per day – and develop a new approach.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
As word spread quickly in January 2007 that Mike Tomlin would be the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, no one needed to explain the significance of the move to Steve Jackson. Then a safeties coach with the Washington Redskins, Jackson was among the many African-American assistants rooting for Tomlin to get the job. Just a few years earlier, Tomlin, who had just completed his first season as the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator, probably wouldn’t have been on the short list for one of the most prestigious coaching gigs in professional sports. But under the Rooney Rule, times were changing.“For me, that’s the one that really stood out,” said Jackson, now the Tennessee Titans’ assistant secondary coach. “It was the Steelers. That’s one of those jobs that everyone looks at. And he wasn’t the leading candidate when he walked in for the interview, but he got in that room and he made his case. That’s what we all want: just to have a real chance to compete for the job. A lot of us [black coaches] looked at that and said, ‘Yeah.’”There’s no debating that the Rooney Rule has had a positive impact on the NFL. By providing owners with the first leaguewide tool to make hiring potentially more inclusive, the NFL took a significant step toward changing its culture. The rule continues to be expanded, and major corporations have followed the league’s lead. But in a workplace in which the overwhelming majority of players are African-American, the NFL has many more opportunities to strengthen the rule and further increase diversity in its management ranks.In place since 2003 for head coaches and expanded in 2009 to include general manager jobs and equivalent front-office positions, the rule — named after Dan Rooney, Pittsburgh Steelers chairman and onetime head of the league’s diversity committee — mandates that an NFL team must interview at least one minority candidate for these jobs. The rule, however, has two fatal flaws: the temptation to substitute sham interviews in place of a search for real diversity, and coordinator-level positions, a crucial step to head-coaching jobs, are not under the umbrella.The NFL did recently expand the rule again to include women: For all executive openings in the commissioner’s office, a woman must be interviewed. The San Francisco 49ers were the first team to formally adopt the practice, but the same flaws still apply.But the league did provide a blueprint for corporate America to improve its poor hiring record when it comes to diversity. Facebook, Pinterest, Intel, Xerox and Amazon are among the major companies that have instituted their own version of the rule. Even the Pentagon has explored using some form of the rule to diversify its officer corps.“The Rooney Rule really has become the best practice for diversity and inclusion,” said Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s executive vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer. “The Rooney Rule is all about access and opportunity, and it’s exciting to see where we are now after having the Rooney Rule in place for 12 years when you look at what the Rooney Rule has delivered.”In the 12 seasons before the rule was instituted, the NFL had only six non-white head coaches. In 12 seasons under the rule, the league has added 14 head coaches of color. From the NFL’s standpoint, there were other encouraging numbers last season regarding diversity. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida found that:At the start of last season, there were six head coaches of color, one more than in 2014. In 2011, the NFL had an all-time high of eight head coaches of color.There were seven African-American general managers in 2015 and for the ninth consecutive year, there were at least five general managers of color.Eight of the last 18 Super Bowl teams have had either an African-American head coach or general manager.Clearly, minorities have made modest strides in filling leadership positions. The problem is, there are 32 NFL teams. Even at its highest point, minority representation among coaches was a meager 25 percent. Almost 68 percent of the NFL’s players are African-American, but there are no African-American team presidents, and only one team president of color. Although the NFL received an A grade for overall racial-hiring practices from Central Florida, only 19.4 percent of the league’s professional positions — front-office and business-operations personnel — were filled by “people of color” in 2015. The numbers tell the story: There’s still plenty of work to do.Jeremi Duru wrote the book on the Rooney Rule. Literally. In Advancing The Ball: Race, Reformation, and the Quest for Equal Coaching Opportunity in the NFL, Duru masterfully details the history of the process that resulted in the rule. Duru, a law professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, agrees that the rule is not perfect, but “the whole idea of it is to prompt kind of a culture change in the league,” he said. “It’s not that the outcome of each particular interviewing season is going to vindicate the rule, but rather that the rule will put in place the sense that, in order to be the best, you have to think broadly. It’s the idea that in order to succeed and be competitive, you have to look at a deep pool of candidates.”One of the biggest criticisms of the rule is that it hasn’t effected change fast enough. For the rule to have been in place so long, some African-American commentators have argued, the NFL should have many more minorities in the highest-ranking positions. “It’s extremely difficult to eradicate a long-standing problem quickly,” Duru said. “The Emancipation Proclamation itself isn’t going to be a panacea. But it creates a culture where there’s no longer lawful slavery, and where we start to see progress, slowly but surely.“In the end in the NFL, hopefully, the idea is that it really becomes clear that the best coaches come from all sorts of different places. And if you think broadly about coaching and you slow down and take time with your hire, you’re going to find yourself with the best outcome. It’s not a consequence of the rule itself, but of the culture that the rule has ushered in.”Unfortunately for the NFL, the public perception is that sham interviews are integral to the league’s culture. Invariably each season, rumors have swirled that some teams interviewed African-American candidates only to comply with the rule. In January, the timing and execution of the Philadelphia Eagles’ hiring of new coach Doug Pederson raised questions about whether they had violated the spirit of the rule. The Eagles interviewed Duce Staley, a former Philadelphia player and current assistant coach on the team. Staley had never been a coordinator and only served as a position coach for three seasons. To many league observers, it appeared the Eagles had skirted the rule by interviewing an in-house candidate who obviously lacked the experience to be a head coach.That’s where the Fritz Pollard Alliance comes in. Together with the league’s front office, they determine whether a team’s interview process is legitimate. In the first year of the rule, commissioner Roger Goodell’s predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, fined former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen $200,000 for “failing to discharge his duties” under the rule.Although the specter of fines should serve as a deterrent to teams violating the rule, there’s another step the league could take to ensure compliance besides the removal of draft picks: require teams to provide transcripts of interviews with minority candidates. That way, the Fritz Pollard Alliance and the commissioner’s office could judge for themselves whether teams adhered to the spirit of the rule.“The Rooney Rule requires that there be a meaningful interview of a person of color, not just an interview,” Duru said. “Any mechanism that can be used to ensure an interview that is meaningful should be on the table.”However, among NFL decision-makers, there’s no momentum for detailed transcripts to become part of the process. “What is important is getting interview feedback,” the NFL’s Gulliver said. “We really do find that getting feedback, getting candidate feedback, on what worked and what didn’t work, and what can even be better the next time, will help candidates as they continue their quests to become a head coach or a general manager.”That being said, covering more potential candidates under the rule would seem to be a logical next step. Generally, coordinators have the most responsibility among assistant coaches. Owners often pluck coordinators from successful teams to become head coaches. If there were more minority coordinators in the pipeline, theoretically, there would be more minorities in the applicant pool for head coaching positions. The Rooney Rule does nothing to address that basic fact.In response to the NFL’s horrible hiring record after the 2012 season (eight head coaches and seven general managers were fired; 15 white guys were hired), the Fritz Pollard Alliance proposed that coordinator-level and team president positions should be covered under the rule. The NFL rejected the proposal, but in 2013 the league did restart the Career Development Symposium, which previously ran from 1998-2008.The commissioner’s office requested that teams send two representatives, including at least one person of color, who aspire to be general managers and head coaches, to a three-day program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Besides networking with decision-makers from throughout the league, participants honed their interview skills through presentations and panel discussions. (In March, the league had its first Women’s Career Development Symposium.)But remember: Last season, the league had only six head coaches of color and seven African-American general managers. Obviously, the Career Development Symposium didn’t hobble efforts to improve minority hiring — but how much did it help? It just seems that including coordinator positions under the rule could be another major turning point in the ongoing struggle to level the playing field.In ESPN The Magazine’s Feb. 8 Super Bowl 50 Issue, senior writer Mina Kimes wrote that white position coaches and assistants are more than twice as likely to be promoted to coordinator than their African-American counterparts, according to research from professors at Georgetown, George Washington, Emory and Iowa State University. Moreover, those promotions occur regardless of the white coaches’ performance, experience and coaching background. The data shouldn’t be ignored.The Titans’ Jackson is a 13-year NFL assistant. Despite his experience, Jackson knows it’s downright impossible to make the leap from an assistant coach to a head coach without first being a coordinator.“There’s always a network, an inner circle, and then there are others,” he said. “And if you’re in the others, you have to do everything you can to get in the door.”The argument against expanding the rule to include coordinator positions is that head coaches should be allowed to pick their staffs without any restrictions on interviewing. There may be something to that.During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Brian Stewart directed the Dallas Cowboys’ defense. If coordinators are covered under the rule, Stewart envisions the potential for conflict. “That would be rough,” said Stewart, now a college coach at Nebraska who works with defensive backs. “You really have to leave picking those guys [coordinators] to the head coaches. They have to be allowed to choose their own people.“That’s one of the benefits of reaching the level of head coach. And if you don’t let them interview only the guys they want to interview, it could really open up a can of worms when you talk about relationships on the staff. If guys feel like a coordinator didn’t get the job the right way, there could be a lot of resentment from all the other assistants. It could be a problem. It could be a big problem.”Of course, there’s often resistance to change. When the rule was instituted, many within the league suggested head coaches wouldn’t have credibility if they were hired as a result of the process. But who would argue that great coaches such as Hall of Famer Tony Dungy, Tomlin and Carolina Panthers’ Ron Rivera lack credibility? The Steelers’ pick of Tomlin worked out spectacularly.The Rooney Rule is still evolving and growing pains are part of the process. But with the NFL on the right track, it’s definitely not time to slow down. More stories from The Undefeated:Serena: The embodiment of it all by LZ GrandersonDon’t believe the fairy-tale mythology that sports promote by Domonique FoxworthWill my 2-year-old nephew end up like Michael Brown? by Wendi Thomas Editor’s note: Tuesday was opening day at The Undefeated, a new ESPN website that explores the intersections of race, sports and culture. In an introductory letter, Kevin Merida, its editor-in-chief, says the site won’t shrink from covering challenging subjects with a mix of original reporting, innovative storytelling, provocative commentary, must-see video, narratives and investigations. At FiveThirtyEight, we’re so excited at having a new sibling that we’ve been running several of The Undefeated’s articles on our site this week — including the one that follows here — and we have big plans for partnerships in the future.
CJ.T. Realmuto4.0–5.8– LFAndrew McCutchen2.4–4.2– * A player’s established level of WAR is based on a weighted average of his WAR the previous three seasons.Stats as of May 6, 2019.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs.com PosPlayerEstablishedLevel*Actual RFBryce Harper3.1–3.0– Bryce Harper’s first couple of weeks in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform could scarcely have gone better. Harper introduced himself to his new team — and its infamously passionate fan base — with a .333 average, four home runs and a 1.299 on-base plus slugging in his first 10 games of 2019. Along with such pro-Philly acts as donning Phanatic cleats and ringing the bell at a Sixers game, it was a great first impression for Harper to make after inking what is now the second-richest contract in baseball history.But just like he did last season, Harper has followed up that red-hot start with an ice-cold slump. Since April 10, Harper is hitting .187 with a .632 OPS, including a .617 OPS in the past two weeks and a .477 mark in the past seven days. And despite all of his attempts to endear himself to teammates and fans, he’s already been criticized by Phillies pitcher Jake Arrieta for getting himself ejected from a game, and he was booed at Citizens Bank Park last week.Harper is a streaky player, and he’ll break out of this stretch soon enough. More importantly, the Phillies haven’t suffered too much despite Harper’s issues. The team is still .500 since April 10, it still leads the NL East, and our projections call for it to finish with the NL’s fifth-best record. Harper hasn’t remotely been the Phillies’ best player; he hasn’t even been the team’s best offseason acquisition. According to wins above replacement,1Averaging together the versions from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. Philly has gotten far more out of new catcher J.T. Realmuto, left fielder Andrew McCutchen and shortstop Jean Segura than it has out of Harper so far. Harper was merely one of the Phillies’ top pickupsAmong top four offseason pickups for the Philadelphia Phillies, preseason established* and actual wins above replacement in 2019 WAR per 162 games SSJean Segura3.9–3.8– That may not last, but it was always going to be much closer to the case than you might expect from the breathless coverage Harper’s free agency received this winter. Harper is not Mike Trout; a few of the fellow newcomers listed above actually had more WAR last season than Harper did. He is a piece of Philly’s potential postseason puzzle — perhaps even the most important one — but he’s just one of multiple talented pieces.Even so, the Phillies should be encouraged that Harper’s extremely poor defensive metrics — the single biggest drag on his WAR last year — have, predictably, reverted toward his pre-2018 form. According to an average of the fielding values found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs, Harper has been an average outfielder in the early going this season, albeit with some disagreement between the two sources.2Just like last season, Baseball-Reference is lower this year on Harper’s defense than FanGraphs is. The reality is that Harper is probably a below-average defensive outfielder — but nowhere near as bad as some of his 2018 numbers made him out to be.So once Harper’s hitting numbers start ticking up again — his batted-ball metrics are better than his stats would indicate, and his exit velocity ranks among the top quarter of MLB hitters — he’ll quickly rise up in the Phillies’ WAR pecking order. It’s concerning that Harper’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is his worst since 2014, but FanGraphs still projects him to put up the majors’ sixth-best OPS over the rest of the season. The boos will turn into cheers before long.Of course, Philly fans expecting Trout-like production from Harper will still inevitably be disappointed (and maybe the free-agency hype did drive expectations in that direction). A more reasonable outlook would have expected Harper to be one of the driving forces behind the Phillies’ improvement — just not the sole one. Given that the rest of the team has played pretty well despite Harper’s up-and-down start, Philadelphia’s postseason aspirations should be stronger than ever when he heats up again.Check out our latest MLB predictions.
While Penn State is more affably known as “Linebacker U,” OSU seems to produce All-Americans annually at the position. Last season, OSU had to replace all-everything linebacker James Laurinaitis and longtime starter Marcus Freeman. They didn’t miss a beat, however, as Brian Rolle and Austin Spitler were productive in their starting roles. With Spitler gone, the Buckeyes are looking for a replacement to match his production. “We’re going to play the best three linebackers,” said Luke Fickell, linebacker coach.“We’ve got a couple of older guys in Homan and Rolle who have played a lot but we’re really looking to see what the young guys can do.” OSU has several young players eager to fill the void, but it looks like it could finally be Etienne Sabino’s time. Sabino, a blue-chip prospect from Florida, might have been the most-heralded recruit in the 2008 class other than Terrelle Pryor. His size, speed and athleticism made him arguably one of the top linebacker prospects in the country. Some expected Sabino to have an immediate impact, while others looked for him to be a starter last season when OSU replaced two seniors. It wasn’t Sabino’s extraordinary physical gifts that were holding him back, Fickell said. “You just see him a little more confident, a little bit more of a reacting guy and attacking,” Fickell said. “In the past, he has been a cerebral guy who wants to know everything and sometimes in this sport you can’t know everything. You just have to fly and attack and react on the run.” “Sometimes we try to study guys and how they learn, and those kind of guys who want more info just take that extra year to process it,” Fickell said, “but when they are ready to go, they’ll be good to go usually.” Rolle said that he has always known Sabino had extraordinary talent, but at times played too mechanically or like a robot, which held him back. He said Sabino is doing a good job of playing more naturally and is preparing to make his presence known. “He’s such a young kid,” Fickell said. “I know he is going to be a junior, but he is only 19 years old, and you would like to have some more time with him. He is really coming along and I think this is his best spring so far.” Behind the likely starters of Homan, Rolle and Sabino, the Buckeyes are still trying to find the right players who will be able to contribute. Andrew Sweat was another highly touted recruit from 2008 who should be ready to get playing time come September. Right now, however, Sweat is still working his way back from ACL surgery. “Andrew is a guy [who thinks he is ready to roll],” Fickell said. “He is only five-and-a-half months out of ACL surgery and he is the guy we are expecting a lot from. If he was in there it would be interesting to see who our best three guys were. He is probably a month away but he thinks he is ready to go, and the other day he jumped in there and went full go.” Fickell said he would like to have as many as nine guys at linebacker who could take turns playing, and stressed the importance of having more capable players than just the three starters. Along with Sweat, younger players such as Storm Klein, Dorian Bell, Jonathan Newsome and incoming recruits Scott McVey and Jamel Turner could add depth. “You would like to have six guys who can play,” Fickell said. “Would I be comfortable with some of those freshman guys on the field right now? Probably not real comfortable, but how will we know until we do it? With the jersey scrimmage and the spring game and fall camp, that is when we can really get to evaluate and see what they can do.” If there is one position the Ohio State Buckeyes are known for, it could very well be linebacker.