Finn Wittrock on Tackling Othello, Not Singing in La La Land & More

first_imgDoes being around the words take you back to your childhood, getting up on stage at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Massachusetts?We never did a production quite like this! [Laughs.] But just to get to listen to the play… Most of us are onstage for the entirety of the show or, when not onstage, not far enough away that we have any choice but to listen to it, so hearing it every night does bring me back to my youth.You shot a new movie of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, didn’t you? Isn’t that also modern?Yes, I’m Demetrius. I don’t know what’s up with that film. It was very cool and modern. Basically the woods of Athens are the woods of Malibu. And the house of Hermia is a Hollywood movie studio. It’s a clever idea and Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe are also in it, so we got to finally do Shakespeare together, which we’d been dying to do. I hope it comes to a theater near you soon!I loved see you pop on screen in the new movie musical La La Land as Emma Stone’s date. But no singing and dancing for you!For everyone’s sake! [Laughs.]What was it like being on the set? That movie has such a fresh energy. It does, I know. I had a scene with Emma Stone that was actually cut out. It was mostly a great opportunity to work with her. During the read-through of the whole script, [director] Damien Chazelle was reading the scene directions and played us songs off a tape and you could tell just by the way he was reading it that he had the whole thing in his head and the concept was already living in his brain. Whenever that happens, it’s a very unique and special thing. I knew it was gonna be great, even when they all weren’t so sure!But bummer that your big musical number wound up on the cutting room floor!Ha! Sure, our big tap dancing, flying on the ceiling scene was cut! [Laughs.] Such is Hollywood. Related Shows Since holding his own as a newcomer opposite powerhouses like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Linda Emond and Andrew Garfield in Mike Nichols’ Death of a Salesman on Broadway in 2012, Finn Wittrock has enjoyed many well-deserved big moments in Hollywood: an Emmy-nominated turn on American Horror Story: Freak Show (and showy roles on each subsequent season of the FX hit), a part in the SAG Award-nominated ensemble of the indie hit The Big Short and high-profile turns in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, the acclaimed HBO film version of The Normal Heart and more. Now, he’s back on the theater scene doing back to back productions of Othello at New York Theater Workshop, which opens December 12 with David Oyelowo as Othello and Daniel Craig as Iago, and the hotly-anticipated The Glass Menagerie with Sally Field and Joe Mantello on Broadway in February. Broadway.com recently caught up with the stage and screen talent to talk about his golden year.Hey Finn! So happy to have you back on the boards this season. It’s nice to see you doing great in Hollywood, but we like to think of you as one of us.In my bones you know I am.I was looking back on your Broadway.com Fresh Face feature during the run of Death of a Salesman. At that time, you said, “I would love to do Shakespeare in New York. You get thirsty to say those words again.” Safe to say the thirst is now quenched?Definitely being quenched. It’s funny—I remember saying that. I’m a big Dandy Mott fan. It’s been so fun to watch you come back every season for American Horror Story and play all these crazy characters opposite so many great stage actors. Is it ridiculous that I dream of a Broadway version that you can all star in together?[Laughs.] You should put that in print because [AHS creator] Ryan Murphy reads everything and he might just have a great idea!Would you be game to do it?Yeah, sure. I’ll bring Dandy to the stage!You were terrific in Sweet Bird of Youth at the Goodman Theatre. So happy to see you doing more Tennessee Williams, playing the Gentleman Caller in the upcoming Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie. Again, with Sam Gold directing!Yeah, it’s my year with Sam Gold. My golden year! You know, were actually at Julliard together. He directed a few plays while I was there and, randomly, he directed our senior showcase! [Laughs.] So it’s been fun to watch his meteoric rise. It’s all come full circle and now I can’t get away from him. This is really a one-two punch doing these back to back. I’ll be rehearsing Glass and then running down to Othello at night. I’ve always wanted to do the Gentleman Caller since I was in school. In my first year of Julliard, I did a scene from it in Richard Feldman’s directing class and I’ve always been enthralled by it. I feel like there’s more to that character than meets the eye or some people think. He’s not a stereotype. And the rest of the play is so magical and so sad so I said, what the hell and decided to do both shows. We did a three-week workshop in July with Sally [Fields], Joe [Mantello] and Madison [Ferris] and, knock on wood, it was magical. The chemistry of all of us together, with Sam and then [producer] Scott Rudin, who’s at the helm. You just know you’re in good hands.So did anyone explain what the big sculpture on the Glass Menagerie poster symbolizes?[Laughs.] I have no idea! I have an idea, but I’ll leave it to your own imagination! Finn Wittrock(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Top photo: Finn Wittrock and Nikki Massoud in Othello (photo by Joan Marcus); American Horror Story: Freak Show photo by Michael Becker/FX.center_img Show Closed This production ended its run on May 21, 2017 The Glass Menagerie I assume doing playing Cassio in director Sam Gold’s Othello with this incredible cast was too good of an offer to pass up.It sure was. It’s never an easy decision to move your whole life and come back to the city you just left a year before, but it really was a project I couldn’t pass up on. This group of people and the chance to do Shakespeare. And to chance to work with Sam—he has a vision that is something exciting to help bring to the world. I’m really happy he brought me on.So what are audiences in for with this new Othello?It’s not your grandfather’s Othello. Tagline. [Laughs.] So far, audiences have been very surprised and shocked and moved at the same time. It’s a modern setting—when you walk in, you’re in some kind of military barracks somewhere in the Middle East. There’s guns, uniforms, video games. But other than that, we’re really just doing the play. It’s very exciting. Sam is very good at making things relevant to the modern audience—visceral, raw and current—but the most important thing is we’re telling the play as written. It’s a big, bold task that Sam is pulling off so it’s really exciting. 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2015 Ohio Crop Tour I-75 Day #1

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Presented by: Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers See results from the I-71 Route of the 2015 Ohio Crop Tour for Day #1 See results from the I-75 Route of the 2015 Ohio Crop Tour for Day #1 See results from the I-75 Route of the 2015 Ohio Crop Tour for Day #2 See results from the I-71 Route of the 2015 Ohio Crop Tour for Day #2Williams County (Southern)Corn Summary: Looks like the field was initially wet early in the season then things dried out. There was some N deficiency and more disease pressure on the outside of the field, though overall low disease levels. The fields was at R2 as it had a late start. The field is fair but pretty good compared to surrounding fields, but it is awfully late. It will make a crop but it will be wet and has a ways to go. It had a shallow kernel depth and a yield of 148 bushels per acre.Soybean Summary: Soybeans looked good to excellent and the stand was even. No disease or insect pressure. Population was 200,000 to 217,000. Canopy height was 32 to 34 inches and drilled at 7.5 inches. Field is dried and cracking and will probably yield in the mid-40s. Plants were not branching much and the nodes were fairly far apart with first node six inches off the ground.Williams Co. cornWilliams Co. cornWilliams Co. beans and dry soilDefiance County (West Central)Corn Summary: Corn plants were generally pretty short and showing significant N stress. There was little disease and insect pressure. The ears were very small and in R1 or R2 stage, very delayed for this time of year. The field was maybe a bit worse than surrounding fields and was rated poor. The yield estimate was 113 bushels per acre.Soybean Summary: Good even canopy at 23 inches tall. Drilled beans. The first node was four inches up and there was no disease pressure. We saw some limited feeding on the leaves. The nodes were closer together and the plants had a bit more branching than the Williams County field.The population was around 230,000 with a yield potential maybe in the low 40-bushel range with fair potential. We have been seeing much more prevented planting than we expected, especially in corn stalk ground going to beans.Defiance Co. cornDefiance Co. cornDefiance Co. beansDefiance Co. beans Henry County (Central)Corn Summary: Stand was at 32,5000 and relatively even despite reported extreme early season variability. Field was planted on May 3. No insect pressure and very little disease pressure. A little bit of NCLB. The best field of the day and fairly representative of the area. Things have really improved with better weather lately. At the R3 stage, though development is variable, and by far the furthest along of any field we have seen. Yield estimate 159 bushels.Soybean Summary: There was some variable height across the canopy and good population through out. Planted in 15-inch row spacing and very good nodulation on the roots. The canopy height was around 33 inches and the first node was four inches off the ground and 2.5 inches between the nodes. Little to no disease and insect pressure. Pod set was all the way to bottom with many three bean pods. Yield potential is good, maybe 50 bushels, and the best we have seen so far.Henry Co. cornHenry Co. cornNodules on Henry Co. beans.Henry Co. beansWood County (Southwestern)Corn Summary: Uneven stands with flood damage, poor stalk quality, tops falling out, high disease pressure and N loss. It was a non-GMO field planted May 2. There were leaves turning purple throughout the plant. Some ears almost at dent in mature field of the day. Heavy European corn borer feeding, tip back, zipper ears, inconsistent stand, and generally poor field with many problems. The high population of 35,000 is only thing saving yield potent in this extremely variable field. One of worst looking fields in the area. Yield estimate is 136 bushels.Soybean Summary: Good but uneven height from 24 to 36 inches tall. The first node was 3.5 inches off the ground with2 inch node spacing. Rain will really help this field. Population of 156,000 with no disease or insect pressure. Field was sprayed late, after wheat harvest. Overall good yield potential here with pods filling and probably the best field of the day — one of the better fields in the immediate area.Wood Co. cornWood Co. beansWood Co. beansHancock County (West central)Corn Summary: This was 110-day corn planted April 30 at 34,000 population in 15-inch rows. We counted 33,000 to 34,000 population. Has had sulfur applied at planting and sidedressing. Light disease pressure and no insect damage. On the lighter ground ear fill was marginal with some tip back but on better ground filled to the end. The good ground had 16 rows around and averaged 205 bushels. Excellent field and the best of the trip so far. Yields were 135 on the poorer ground. Yield estimate 200 bushels.Soybean Summary: Even and consistent stand with canopy height at 41 inches. They were very bushy with many branches. The first node height was two inches and the first pod was at six inches. There were some four bean pods with 2.5 inches between the nodes. No disease pressure but there was some Japanese beetle pressure worth watching. There had been some foliar applications of manganese, boron, and NPK. The population was 126,000 and was planted at 140,000 population. Best field of the morning for soybeans — good to excellent.Hancock Co. cornHancock Co. cornHancock Co. beansHancock Co. beans with some Japanese beetle feeding.Putnam County (Central )Corn Summary: It is starving for N. It was an even stand but only five to six feet tall. There is quite a bit of GLS and NCLB. There is corn borer feeding in possible refuge corn. There was a population of 33,000. There are zipper ears and tip back that shows signs of extreme early season stress from moisture. Now it is in need of water. Very poor field. There was more variability at the Wood County site which actually helped it there. This field was just consistently bad. Yield estimate at 119 bushels.Soybean Summary: This is the worst field of the day. It is in 15-inch rows and not canopied. Tile lines are evident. It is highly variable with an average height of 25 inches or so. There were big holes in the field with nothing in the low areas. They have been flooded and now need moisture. Poor nodulation in the field. Two inches between the nodes. Pods are small and beans are small. Poor, poor, poor conditions. The population was 94,000.Putnam Co. cornPutnam Co. cornPutnam Co. beans Paulding County (Southeastern)Corn Summary: Uneven field and tile lines are easy to find. Heavy weed pressure due to wet conditions and no chance to apply herbicide. Rains washed residuals away. N deficiency is a significant problem. No real disease or insect pressure, other than  physoderma brown spot. Ear development is poor. with a generous yield estimate of 70 bushels in this very poor field. Soybean Summary: There was a plant population of 83,000 due to water laying in the fields. There were few pods set but the plant was still in bloom and there is still potential to add yield if they get some rain and the growing season is long enough. The canopy was only 20 inches tall and the 15-inch rows had not yet closed. The ground is cracking wide open and needs some water. No disease or insect feeding was found. This was by far the worst stop so far after some very clearly challenging conditions. The low population will mean some lost yield. Paulding Co. beansPaulding Co. beansPaulding Co. cornPaulding Co. corn Van Wert County (South central)Corn Summary: The population was 31,000 planted on May 8. The field had spindly stalks and small leaves. There was a little disease pressure and some corn borer feeding. The plants were short and at R2. It was very uneven following tile lines. There had clearly been quite a bit of rain early in the season here. It has gotten rain but could use more to bump yields up a bit. The plants looked healthy but had small ears. This was a poor field overall. The yield estimate is 110 bushels per acre.  Soybean Summary: These were planted in 10-inch rows at 180,000 population on May 21. The final population we counted was 115,000. The canopy height was variable from 12 inches tall to 21 inches tall.  It was three inches to the first node and 4.5 inches to the first pod. No disease or insect problems. A lot of the pods had beans in them and they still have potential for 35 or 40 bushel yields. Overall it was fair compared to other places in NW Ohio.Van Wert Co. cornVan Wert Co. cornVan Wert Co. beans Allen County (Southeastern)Corn Summary: This is the best corn field of the day so far. It was planted on May 5 with 32,000 plants per acre. We found a stand of 31,000. There was no disease or insect pressure and ear fill was excellent. There were no real N issues. It was among the better fields in the area. No fungicide had been applied. The moisture was adequate. Excellent fie;d and yield potential. Yield estimate is 201 bushels.Soybean Summary: This was a 3.3 maturity bean planted at 150,000 population in 15-inch rows on May 8. The canopy was 38 inches. It was eight inches to the first pod and 2.25 inches between nodes. There was really good nodulation on these beans. There was no major disease and some light feeding from Japanese beetles, especially at the field edges. The final population was at 130,000 in this excellent field, the best of the day.Allen Co. beansJapanese beetle on Allen Co. beansAllen Co. cornAllen Co. corn Auglaize County (South central)Corn Summary:  Corn was pretty well advanced, around R3 or R4. These were some of the fullest ears we have seen today but there were signs of N deficiency. Disease pressure was light. Ear fill was generally good, though there was some tip back. It was an overall excellent field. We ended up with 32,000 plant population with a yield estimate of 160 bushels.Soybean Summary: Soybeans were in 15-inch rows and 38 inches tall. There was excellent nodulation on the roots and they were almost done blooming. It was about two inches to the first node and three inches to the first pod and 2.5 inches between nodes. We did see some frogeye and a little white mold. There was some mild Japanese beetle damage. There was a population of 163,000 plants per acre in this excellent field.Auglaize Co. beansWhite mold in Auglaize Co. beans Auglaize Co. cornAuglaize Co. cornlast_img read more

Students to learn Michif at one Saskatchewan school

first_img[email protected] Priscilla WolfAPTN NewsMichif will now be part of the curriculum for one Saskatoon elementary school.The traditional language of the Métis is a combination of Cree and French.But it’s in danger of dying unless more speakers are trained.So one school is stepping up.last_img

Labatt Breweries of Canada plans 460M investment for competitive edge

first_imgTORONTO – Labatt Breweries of Canada says it is investing $460 million between 2017 and 2020 to enhance its operations and help boost growth.The maker of popular brands such as Labatt Blue, Budweiser and Alexander Keith’s says the figure includes $62.2 million towards brewery operations this year.Each of Labatt’s six breweries has already received at least $19 million in recent years, as it invested $546 million in capital improvements between 2011 and 2016.The company says this investment in new technology and equipment should help it increase production of new and innovative products, as consumer tastes develop and demand is rising for different kinds of beverages.The investments are not expected to result in new jobs or layoffs.Labatt employs more than 3,500 people in Canada and will celebrate its 170th year this fall.“We’ve been steadfast in our commitment to brewing great tasting high quality beer, so with these investments we are enhancing our operations to support further growth for the next 170 years,” said Charlie Angelakos, the company’s vice president of legal and corporate affairs.Labatt — once an independent giant in Canada’s beer industry — was bought in 1995 by a Belgian group that has continued to grow by buying and merging with other companies around the world. The group, now called Anheuser-Busch InBev, last year bought the world’s second-biggest beermaker SABMiller for a combined one-third of the global beer market.AB InBev and SABMiller own hundreds of brands, including Budweiser, Corona, Grolsch, Stella Artois and Labatt.In Canada, the beer market has long been dominated by Molson Coors and AB InBev, through its ownership of Labatt, although the two beer giants have increasingly been challenged by the popularity of smaller local craft brewers.Earlier this summer, beer rival Molson Coors announced plans to spend up to $500 million to build a new brewery in the city, instead of at its original location, which opened in 1786.Labatt has been moving to buy up craft beers, including Shock Top and the 2015 purchase of Toronto’s Mill Street Brewery, its sixth acquisition of a North American craft brewer since 2011. The company now operates three stand-alone craft brewers.Labatt announced a US$350-million deal with the Mark Anthony Group to buy the Canadian rights to Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Okanagan Cider and ownership of the Turning Point Brewery in British Columbia, which brews Stanley Park beers, giving the company a bigger stake in both the growing pre-mixed drinks and ciders markets, which have been growing in popularity.last_img read more

Simons apologizes for bra named after chief justice Beverley McLachlin

first_imgMONTREAL – The president of Quebec-based retailer La Maison Simons said he “sincerely regrets” naming his women’s lingerie line after famous Canadian women, including former Supreme Court justice Beverley McLachlin.Peter Simons said in a call with The Canadian Press that the line was meant to honour women who made historic contributions to Canada, but instead caught the ire of McLachlin, who called Simons recently because she was “quite upset” with the company’s “Beverley bralette” and wanted an apology.“The way it was structured was in poor taste…It was not acceptable the way we went about it,” he said, of the line of lingerie that also sought to commemorate suffragette Nellie McClung and author Gabrielle Roy.“It was a lack of judgment on our part, on my part.”Simons said he decided to discontinue and destroy all the materials related the line following his call with McLachlin, who retired in December after spending 28 years at the Supreme Court, including almost 18 as chief justice.He also agreed to two demands from her: a public apology and a request to get involved with a fundraising campaign for the Cornerstone Housing for Women emergency shelter organization in Ottawa.Simons said McLachlin was not the only person to complain about the line. By the time he spoke with McLachlin, his company received complaints on their social media accounts and saw some letters that were critical of the line in local newspapers.“The process of realization had already started when Ms. McLachlin called me,” he admitted.The naming misstep, he said, arose when the Simons team was looking for inspiration for their new lingerie line and the team thought “why don’t we look towards inspiring Canadian women that we respect and admire?”To ensure its products don’t generate anger again, Simons said he has been meeting with staff and stressing the importance of privacy and naming rights.He also emphasized “the right to dissent” because McLachlin was neither informed or asked for approval on the products bearing her name.Simons said that he has told staff that despite everyone having a job to do, staff should feel comfortable standing up and expressing concerns.And he’s not assigning blame.“I take full responsibility,” he said.He has yet to reach out to McLachlin to see if she finds his conciliatory efforts satisfactory, but said he hopes to eventually express his apologies in person.“I made a mistake and I sincerely do regret it,” he said.“I am just trying to make it right because in my heart I really wanted to celebrate (the women). These are inspiring women that have changed the history of our country.”last_img read more

SC asks EC to pass order on plea to prepone poll timing

first_imgNew Delhi: The Supreme Court asked the Election Commission on Thursday to pass “necessary orders” on a representation seeking advancing of the voting time to 5 AM from 7 AM for the remaining phases of the Lok Sabha polls due to heat wave conditions and onset of the holy month of Ramzan.A plea in this regard was mentioned for urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. The bench, also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, took the petition on board and said, “The Election Commission of India is directed to pass necessary orders. The writ petition is disposed of in the above terms.” Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghThe petition, filed by advocates Mohammad Nizamuddin Pasha and Asad Hayat, sought advancement of polling hours by two to two-and-a half hours, for voting to commence from 4.30 or 5 AM instead of 7 AM, in the remaining phases. “The petitioners pray for a direction to the Election Commission of India to extend the polling hours during the fifth, sixth and seventh phases of the ongoing general elections, 2019 on May 6, May 12 and May 19, respectively, by 2-2.5 hours so as to commence at 4:30/5 AM (instead of the notified time of 7 AM) on account of the unprecedented heat waves prevailing in several parts of the country and the onset of the holy month of Ramzan,” the plea said. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadThe plea said that Ramzan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, is likely to commence from May 6, the day of fifth phase of voting in the Lok Sabha elections. It said that during Ramzan, Muslims keep fast and do not consume food or water from one and a half hours before dawn till dusk every day. The petitioners said they had given a representation to the Election Commission on Monday last in this regard, but the poll panel has not responded to it. “On April 29, a representation was made to the respondent (EC) on this behalf bringing the aforesaid facts to its notice and requesting it to extend the polling hours in the fifth, sixth and seventh phases of the general elections 2019 so as to commence at 4.30 or 5 am instead of 7 am but no response has been received so far,” the plea said. It also said that Indian Meteorological Department has issued warnings indicating severe heat wave conditions over the next few days, with temperatures rising up to five degree celsius than normal in poll bound areas of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. The plea said that the harsh weather conditions would make it difficult for Muslims to go out and vote. “In the intense heat, it will be very difficult for Muslim voters to queue up at the poling booths during the day in the intense heat to exercise their franchise. During Ramzan, most practising Muslims stay up for an early morning meal and sleep after the morning prayer,” it said. “Thereafter, they avoid going out in the heat to the extent possible to avoid thirst, dehydration and the possibility of a heatstroke. Therefore, in the present weather conditions, a lot of Muslim will be unable to go out to exercise their franchise,” the plea said.last_img read more

Huge blunder AP Sports mistook Minister of Youth for King of

first_imgNew York- Here is what happens when Journalists are under heavy deadlines to be the first ones to beat the world to the news without checking their sources and crossing their dots. A monumental blunder happened and it should be worthy of a correction by AP. This was the case with this mislabeled photo that was published by the giant Associated Press, and is now being picked as is and shared by various news organizations around the world. Above the picture the headline in bald letters screams error of the first kind: “King Mohamed VI of Morocco, left, and FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter”. Below the headline the time and date stamp of the news release with the name Matthias Shraeder December 21, 2:03 PM AP Sports. The following caption was written below the picture: “King Mohamed VI. of Morocco, left, and FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter arrive for the third place soccer match between Guangzhou Evergrande FC and Atletico Mineiro at the Club World Cup tournament in Marrakech, Morocco, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)” The person in the picture is Not the King of Morocco but the Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Ouzzine and the person next to him was correctly identified as the President of FIFA Mr. Joseph Sepp Blatter.King Mohammed appears in the following picture along with FIFA president entering the pitch of Marrakech stadium. Mistakes like this tend to happen in the news world, but not one of this reckless nature. Hopefully AP will realize this blunder and correct the caption.last_img read more

Do We Even Need Minor League Baseball

Since the 1970s, Major League Baseball clubs have generally added more and more minor league affiliates. In 1979, there were an average of 4.7 affiliates per major league club.1According to Baseball-Reference.com data analyzed by FiveThirtyEight. This season there are 8.2 — a total of 245 minor league affiliates, the most since 1948, spread across 30 major league organizations.But the Houston Astros, a model of modern player development, bucked that trend a few years ago. After the 2017 season, they reduced their affiliate count from nine to seven clubs.2 The Astros cut ties with their Appalachian League team in Greeneville, Tennessee, and their second Dominican Summer League team. The Astros believed they could become a more efficient producer of talent with fewer farm clubs. Highest levelnumber of BattersAvg. First Year OPS+Avg. First Year Age So if some players are good enough to skip the upper levels of the minors, perhaps minor league resources should be spent trying to identify and develop those players — and perhaps a few rungs of the ladder ought to be removed. A Baseball America study of the 1981-2010 drafts found that only 17.6 percent of drafted and signed players reached the majors, and only 9.8 percent produced 0.1 career wins above replacement, a minimal level of production. Perhaps optimized skill development requires fewer games, and thereby fewer players and teams. “For the baseball people, it was a feeling that it was better to concentrate the coaching resources. We were trying to support a bunch of players that had a less than one percent chance of making the major leagues,” said an ex-Astros official whose current team didn’t grant him permission to speak to us.The Astros felt comfortable cutting the teams in part because of data harvested from new tech. Since turning over the vast majority of their player development staff and minor league coaches under GM Jeffrey Luhnow, the Astros feel they have become better at identifying which players have a chance to rise through their system. For example, while a number of teams were experimenting with their first high-speed cameras this spring to study pitch grips and body mechanics, the Astros had 75 such cameras hard-mounted at stadiums throughout their minor league affiliates last season. According to the ex-Astros official, the team believes it needs less time and fewer games to understand potential, and it is better served by consolidating resources around their most promising players.The Astros aren’t the only ones questioning the structure of the minor leagues in their organization. For decades, baseball has generally treated player development as a ladder. First comes Rookie ball, then multiple levels of Single-A ball leading up to Double-A, then Triple-A, then finally the majors.3More advanced amateur players, like college stars, often skip Rookie and Low-A levels. But recently some players — like young stars Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr., and lesser talents like David Peralta and Rougned Odor — have skipped rungs. And they aren’t worse for it. AA or lower3299.022.2 AA or lower38118.623.3 Highest levelnumber of PitchersAvg. First Year ERA+Avg. First Year Age Minimum playing time for first-year players included 50 innings pitched or 100 plate appearances. Some players were demoted from majors to a higher minor-league level during their first-year seasons.ERA+ is earned run average adjusted for year and ballpark. OPS+ is on-base plus slugging adjusted for year and ballpark.Source: Baseball-Reference.com A year before the closing of two affiliates, in March 2016, the Astros hired Jose Fernandez to be part of their sports science department. He had worked with pro soccer teams in Europe. European soccer giants have centralized training centers focused on building skills rather than a decentralized sprawl of affiliates. The Astros were curious how FC Barcelona developed its players. Barcelona’s “La Masia” — which translates to “Farm House” — is regarded as one of the breeding grounds for talent. The information Fernandez shared was eye-opening.“On site in Barcelona, they have their whole development academy, from the little kids all the way up to the professional teams. They have one big campus. They do everything on-site. Everything is coordinated. Everyone is doing the same drills. Everyone was being measured with the same technology. That makes a ton of sense,” the ex-Astros front official said.While minor league baseball reorganized in 1963 to the classifications we are familiar with today (Single-A, Double-A, etc), the idea of affiliated minor-league baseball has fundamentally remained the same since Branch Rickey bought a stake in the Houston Buffaloes in 1919 and began building the first farm system. As Kyle Boddy, who runs the independent training facility Driveline Baseball, put it in my book, “The MVP Machine”: “Why is the minor-league system set up the way it is? Why does every coaching staff and player development staff feature the same titles, the same backgrounds and are approximately the same size? Why for so long has the minor league system been immune from disruption?” Is the highest level of the minors always necessary?Average ERA+ or OPS+ for first-year players by their highest minor league level before their MLB debut, for debuts between 2010 and May 20, 2019 AAA221101.924.4 On a late May afternoon in Erie, Pennsylvania, the Erie Sea Wolves — the Double-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers — hosted the Bowie Bay Sox. A light fog rolled in off the lake, UPMC Park was perhaps at half capacity. While minor league baseball remains popular and big business for big-drawing clubs like the Columbus (Ohio) Clippers and Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) Iron Pigs, minor league attendance declined last season for the first time in 14 years last season and by 1.38 million fans. Erie is averaging 3,315 fans this year, 10th out of 12 clubs in the league.Top prospect Casey Mize, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018, pitched that day like he was ready to fit in the Tigers rotation. He tossed eight shutout innings on 89 pitches.Speaking afterward in a cramped, dated and faux wood-paneled clubhouse, where the players consumed postgame meals on card tables before their lockers, Mize seemed ready for another challenge. When asked about the practice of aggressively promoting players upward, Mize said, “I think failure is part of it and needs to be part of it. I see positives in being forced to fail.”Some influencers of modern skill-building suggest that athletes ought to push themselves through practices like weighted-ball training — called overload training — to hasten development. To increase skill, take on more than you’re used to and the body adapts and skills improve. But how does that translate to games? In the NBA and NFL, top amateur players get thrown straight into the fray against top professionals. In baseball, top prospects spend years against lesser competition. How do you improve against inferior players?“Major league [prospects] are seeing a lot of competition that is not helping them,” the ex-Astros official said. Because of this idea that players are feasting on lesser talent, minor league numbers can distort evaluation.All-Star pitcher Walker Buehler has been part of cutting-edge training techniques with the Los Angeles Dodgers and when pitching for Vanderbilt University. While much has been said of the low pay and financial struggles of minor-league players in recent years, Buehler thinks there’s another problem: There are too many players that aren’t MLB-quality in the minors.“At any affiliate, there are three players who have a chance to play in the majors. The rest of the players are there so they so they can play. I don’t think that’s fair,” Buehler told FiveThirtyEight. “You are preying on their dreams.”Rethinking the minor leagues is being discussed at the highest levels of the sport.MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told The Athletic in July that “we have to look at the efficiency of the [minor league] system that we’re running right now, how many teams, how many players, what we’re paying players, and all those issues are obviously related.”What that means for the future of the farm system suggests it could, and perhaps should, look much different than it does today. MLB’s approach to the minor leagues is ripe for change in part because of how much data can be collected off the field these days. Independent hitting instructor Doug Latta tells his clients that they “don’t need much space to get better,” as improving via reps, video analysis and ball-tracking tech lessens the need for a player to play in regulation games. Latta worked with Marlon Byrd, Justin Turner and Hunter Pence in various storage-like facilities just before they changed their approach at the plate and improved their performance. Cody Bellinger was already a good major league player but became great this season after he changed his swing in similar modest spaces last winter. While batting cages have existed since Rickey invented them, they’ve never been the feedback machines they are today when outfitted with ball-, bat- and body-tracking tech.On the pitching side, it’s perhaps even easier to gain skills. Adam Ottavino designed a new cutter last winter in a vacant Manhattan storefront that he outfitted with baseball’s cutting-edge tech. The Los Angeles Dodgers held several low-value minor league pitchers back from minor league games in 2016, giving them something of an extended spring training at their complex to see if they could improve throwing velocity. Dodgers pitchers Corey Copping and Andrew Istler learned how to throw harder and subsequently became trade chips last summer.Author Daniel Coyle has written about the benefits of shrinking training space — like Brazil’s futbol de salao (indoor soccer) — to increase reps and feedback. “How do you tighten the [feedback] loop, and deliver the right signal in a timely way?”This past winter, the Philadelphia Phillies tried to become more like the Astros, rethinking how they teach and train in the minor leagues. Two progessive hitting instructors were asked to implement new ideas, new programs and new technology for the 100-plus minor league hitters in the system, tailoring individual plans for each. They have transformed batting cages at each facility into feedback labs. Phillies minor leaguers in A- and Rookie-ball are required to wear sensors on their bats to record bat speed, bat path and biomechanical data. The Phillies also set up a device to track every ball hit in every batting practice before every minor league game. For decades, box scores were the only sources of data on player progress. But now practice is producing more data than games.“The game is the ultimate test but that’s only three or four at-bats a night,” Russ Steinhorn, one of those progressive hitting instructors, said. “The practice before games, you might be taking hundreds of swings. … For me, the practice environment, the lead-up to the game, is the most important. That’s where the development happens.”While there are rules on how players are assigned to teams, the ex-Astros official suspects we could see fewer affiliates one day and more time spent at facilities. “I think down the road in a few years you will see a guy go to an affiliate and play for a while and the team says, ‘OK, you’ve demonstrated that what you mastered at the training facility is working in games. So now it’s time for you to add a changeup.’ So it’s back to the training facility.”Still, Seattle outfielder Mitch Haniger — who has worked with Latta and hitting coach Craig Wallenbrock to improve his swing — says minor league games will never be replicated despite whatever gains are made in technology.“You can’t really simulate facing a pitcher in front of thousands of people,” Haniger says, “and failing in front of a whole bunch of people.” AAA32790.923.8 read more

Police chase in San Diego ends in Escondido on I15

first_img Updated: 12:02 PM Police chase in San Diego ends in Escondido on I-15 SAN DIEGO (KUSI) –A motorist who fled a traffic stop in Encanto Tuesday led officers on a 40-minute pursuit that ended with his arrest near Lake Hodges, authorities reported.The man refused to yield when San Diego police tried to pull him over for a traffic violation in the 6800 block of Akins Avenue shortly after 9 a.m., SDPD public-affairs Officer Michael Stirk said.The motorist drove off to the east toward Spring Valley, then entered state Route 125 and headed north, Stirk said.Reaching Santee, the man entered SR-52 and headed west, then merged onto northbound Interstate 15 when he got to the Miramar area.While passing through northern San Diego with SDPD and California Highway Patrol personnel tailing him and tracking his pursuit aboard a police helicopter, the driver managed to avoid running over several spike strips that CHP officers hurled onto the roadway in his path.After entering Escondido, however, the man finally pulled to a stop on the side of the freeway near Ninth Avenue and was taken into custody without further incident about 9:45 a.m., Stirk said.The arrestee’s name was not immediately available. Mike McKinnon III Posted: March 5, 2019center_img Mike McKinnon III, March 5, 2019 Categories: Local San Diego News, Traffic & Accidents FacebookTwitterlast_img read more