Authors conduct library protests

first_imgBest selling authors Mark Haddon, Philip Pullman and Mary Hoffman will be among Oxford writers taking part in ‘read-in’ events taking place in Oxford libraries tomorrow.The read-ins, organised by the Oxford Anti-cuts Alliance, will be held in eight libraries around Oxford, including the Central Library in the Westgate Centre. They have been organised in response to proposed cuts in library budgets, which would see 20 of Oxford’s 43 libraries close, and will include speeches and poetry from authors, librarians, councillors and trade unionists.Oxford-based Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night, emphasised the importance libraries play in communities, describing them as the ‘NHS of the Mind’. He will be speaking at Blackbird Leys Library as part of the day-long protest.last_img read more

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Something Rotten! Tops List of 2015 Outer Critics Circle Nominations

first_imgThe nominations for the 65th annual Outer Critics Circle Awards were announced on April 20. Something Rotten! led the pack with 12 nominations. Additional top nominees included On the Twentieth Century with nine nods and An American in Paris with eight. Wolf Hall garnered the most nominations of any play with seven. Winners for the following competitive categories will be announced on May 11, with a presentation ceremony set for May 21 at Sardi’s Restaurant. The Outer Critics Circle is an organization of writers and commentators covering New York theater for various out-of-town media outlets.Outstanding New Broadway PlayThe AudienceThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeWolf HallOutstanding New Broadway MusicalAn American in ParisIt Shoulda Been YouThe Last ShipSomething Rotten!The VisitOutstanding New Off-Broadway PlayBetween Riverside and CrazyThe City of ConversationThe NetherRasheeda SpeakingThe Village BikeOutstanding New Off-Broadway MusicalA Christmas MemoryDisenchantedThe Fortress of SolitudeHamiltonLonesome TravelerOutstanding Book of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway) HamiltonIt Shoulda Been YouThe Last ShipSomething Rotten!The VisitOutstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway) HamiltonIt Shoulda Been YouThe Last ShipSomething Rotten!The VisitOutstanding Revival of a Play (Broadway or Off-Broadway) The Elephant ManFashions for MenThe Heidi ChroniclesSkylightYou Can’t Take It With YouOutstanding Revival of a Musical (Broadway or Off-Broadway) Into the WoodsThe King and IOn the TownOn the Twentieth CenturySide ShowOutstanding Actor in a PlayReed Birney, I’m Gonna Pray For You So HardBradley Cooper, The Elephant ManStephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and CrazyBen Miles, Wolf HallAlex Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeOutstanding Actress in a PlayGreta Gerwig, The Village BikeJan Maxwell, The City of ConversationHelen Mirren, The AudienceElisabeth Moss, The Heidi ChroniclesTonya Pinkins, Rasheeda SpeakingOutstanding Actor in a MusicalChristian Borle, Something Rotten!Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!Robert Fairchild, An American in ParisPeter Gallagher, On the Twentieth CenturyTony Yazbeck, On the TownOutstanding Actress in a MusicalKristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth CenturyLeanne Cope, An American in ParisTyne Daly, It Shoulda Been YouKelli O’Hara, The King and IChita Rivera, The VisitOutstanding Featured Actor in a PlayPaul Jesson, Wolf HallRichard McCabe, The AudienceAlessandro Nivola, The Elephant ManNathaniel Parker, Wolf HallBryce Pinkham, The Heidi ChroniclesOutstanding Featured Actress in a PlayAnnaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It With YouPatricia Clarkson, The Elephant ManFrancesca Faridany, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeJulie Halston, You Can’t Take It With YouLydia Leonard, Wolf HallOutstanding Featured Actor in a MusicalJohn Cariani, Something Rotten!Josh Grisetti, It Shoulda Been YouAndy Karl, On the Twentieth CenturyPaul Alexander Nolan, Doctor ZhivagoMax von Essen, An American in ParisOutstanding Featured Actress in a MusicalHeidi Blickenstaff, Something Rotten!Victoria Clark, GigiMegan Fairchild, On the TownRuthie Ann Miles, The King and IMary Louise Wilson, On the Twentieth CenturyOutstanding Director of a PlayStephen Daldry, The AudienceMarianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeScott Ellis, The Elephant ManScott Ellis, You Can’t Take It With YouJeremy Herrin, Wolf HallOutstanding Director of a MusicalScott Ellis, On the Twentieth CenturyThomas Kail, HamiltonCasey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!David Hyde Pierce, It Shoulda Been YouChristopher Wheeldon, An American in ParisOutstanding ChoreographerJoshua Bergasse, On the TownAndy Blankenbuehler, HamiltonWarren Carlyle, On the Twentieth CenturyCasey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!Christopher Wheeldon, An American in ParisOutstanding Set Design (Play or Musical) Bunny Christie, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeBob Crowley, An American in ParisScott Pask, Something Rotten!David Rockwell, On the Twentieth CenturyMichael Yeargan, The King and IOutstanding Costume Design (Play or Musical) Gregg Barnes, Something Rotten!Bob Crowley, The AudienceWilliam Ivey Long, On the Twentieth CenturyChristopher Orem, Wolf HallCatherine Zuber, The King and IOutstanding Lighting Design (Play or Musical) Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-TimeJeff Croiter, Something Rotten!Rick Fisher, The AudienceNatasha Katz, An American in ParisJaphy Weideman, The VisitOutstanding Solo Performance Joe Assadourian, The BullpenJim Dale, Just Jim DaleTom Dugan, WiesenthalCush Jumbo, Josephine and IBenjamin Scheuer, The LionJohn Gassner Award (Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)Ayad Akhtar, The Invisible HandHalley Feiffer, I’m Gonna Pray For You So HardElizabeth Irwin, My Mañana ComesMarkus Potter, Stalking the BogeymanBenjamin Scheuer, The LionThe Broadway productions of Fun Home, Disgraced and Hand to God were not eligible for nominations this year, as they had previously been considered during their off-Broadway engagements. Fun Home won Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical in 2014; Disgraced and Hand to God were nominated for the John Gassner Award in 2013 and 2012, respectively.Shows with three or more nominations:Something Rotten! – 12On the Twentieth Century – 9An American in Paris – 8Wolf Hall – 7It Shoulda Been You – 6The Audience – 6The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – 6Hamilton – 5The Elephant Man – 5The King and I – 5The Visit – 5On The Town – 4You Can’t Take It With You – 4The Heidi Chronicles – 3The Last Ship – 3 View Commentslast_img read more

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Positive Adult Connections Mean Better Health for Teens

first_imgFacebook4Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Thurston County Public HealthSo many of us have teens or tweens in our lives – at home, at work, at church, or in other activities. Research shows that when kids have at least one stable, supportive relationship with an adult their health improves. This holds true for young children and remains extremely important for older kids.Teens and Elders in the STEP program come together to play games, share stories, and learn from each other. Photo credit: Kaylie RothRecently released results from the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey provide some good news about the presence of caring adults in the lives of local youth, but also signals that too many middle school and high school students are still missing this important connection with adults. According to the Thurston County survey results:4 in 5 middle and high school students say they can talk to a parent or guardian about problems.3 in 4 middle and high school students say there is an adult in their neighborhood or community that they can talk to about important issues.However, the survey also shows that:1 in 10 middle and high school students say they have no adults they can turn to.Kids need positive relationships with adults who support, guide and value them. Positive adult connections help them develop their potential, bounce back when things don’t go well, and reduce their risk for a range of poor health outcomes including substance use, depression and risky sexual behavior.According to the Thurston County survey results:1 in 3 high school students who could talk to their parent or guardian about a problem experienced depression in the past year. For those who could not talk to their parent or guardian, 2 in 3 have experienced depression.1 in 3 high school students who could talk to an adult in their neighborhood or community had experienced depression in the past year. For those who had no adult like this to talk to, the figure was 1 in 2 having experienced depression.The Parents Matter Campaign celebrates those in our community who have important conversations with their teens and inspires them to continue having these important conversations. Photo courtesy: Parents Matter Campaign.Caring adults are often parents or other family members, but not all adolescents have a positive connection with family. No matter where you connect with tweens or teens, consider doing more of the following things:Encourage them to take part in activities they enjoy and that you can do together.Encourage them to try new things. Suggest positive activities that allow them to practice skills and feel good about themselves.Ask about their friends, and help them identify friends that make them feel happy and confident.When you talk with them, ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Help them share.Invite them to talk about their successes and challenges, and teach them the value of the process—not just the final achievement.Say the positive things you notice about them. Don’t just think it. Tell them.Use your time with them to explore their future goals and engage with them about how to establish realistic steps to achieve them.Caring and open communication is important for kids. Every time you connect with a tween or teen and listen to them, comfort them or inspire them you are helping to build their potential and protect their health. The presence of caring adults is a protective factor for children and youth.For more information on talking with adolescents, you can visit:http://www.starttalkingnow.org/https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/parent-guardian-resources/index.htmhttps://changingmindsnow.org/healinglast_img read more

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South African cola wars III

first_img30 May 2006Pepsi-Cola recently relaunched in South Africa with a breathtaking television commercial featuring its easy-grip bottle, a skyscraper construction site – and footballer David Beckham. It will have to do more as it makes its third attempt to wrest market share from one of South Africa’s most admired brand names.Pepsi-Cola left South Africa in 1985 in protest against apartheid. After Mandela became President in 1994 the company returned with great fanfare. Three years later – after taking a market whipping from Coca-Cola – Pepsi’s South African partner, bottling company New Age Beverages, folded.Ten years on, writes Robert Laing in the Mail & Guardian, “Coke faces a far more formidable foe. Pepsi-Cola’s parent company Pepsico is already entrenched in South Africa – not through drinks, however, but through crisps.”As Laing explains, Pepsico’s other arm – Frito-Lay – also re-entered South Africa after 1994, buying half of local crisp maker Simba for US$55-million in 1995 and upping this stake to turn Simba into a wholly owned subsidiary in 1999.“Frito-Lay’s crisps and Pepsi’s cold drinks each contribute roughly half of [Pepsico’s] sales, but the crisps business – where Pepsico does not face mighty Coke, only small regional players – is far more profitable,” Laing writes.Local franchise partnerThis time around, Pepsi is entering South Africa by way of a franchise deal with Pioneer Foods, home to popular South African household food and drink brands such as Ceres, Marmite, Weet-Bix, Bokomo, Safari and Liqui Fruit.Pioneer’s beverage subsidiary, Ceres Fruit Juices, will produce, bottle and distribute a range of Pepsico soft drinks – including Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, 7-Up and Mirinda – at Ceres’ plant in Gauteng province.In a statement issued in July 2005, Arnold Veraart, general manager of Pepsico’s sub-Saharan Africa business unit, said Pioneer Foods was awarded the franchise on the basis of its “successful track record in the local food and beverage industry – particularly in product development, packaging, distribution and marketing.“By using the extensive Ceres network to make Pepsi products more widely available, this will provide greater choice for consumers and retailers across South Africa,” Veraart said.‘Painting South Africa red’Pepsi will need all the help it can get against Coca-Cola, and not only because of its alliance with the formidable South African Breweries’ Amalgamated Beverage Industries.In an article on brandchannel.com titled “painting South Africa red,” Ron Irwin argues that Coke’s success in Africa “has been due to its savvy advertising as well as its ubiquitous involvement in local community life.“City dwellers in South Africa cannot fail to notice the Coke signs installed in every shop and roadside stand, but Coke has taken the initiative to reach poorer South Africans in rural areas as well. To this end it has initiated sports sponsorships, sports development, entrepreneurial development, scholarships and education projects.“It has also relentlessly found ways to get its products trucked into even the most remote corners of Africa, and has cultivated a reputation for corporate honesty and openness that has won the respect of African businesspeople from Cape Town to Madagascar.”‘Sphincter-tightening’ TV adPepsi knows this all too well, and clearly pulled out all the stops on the spectacular TV commercial announcing its return to South Africa.Chris Moerdyk, writing for Bizcommunity.com, waxed lyrical about the ad: “Those scenes on the skyscraper so high above the ground are breathtaking, and I can imagine they have millions of viewers not only sitting on the edge of their seats but sitting a few centimetres higher than normal as their sphincter muscles tighten up like agitated sea anemones.”But more will be needed to crack the South African market, as Moerdyk suggests, noting that the advert “doesn’t seem to have any sort of back-up. I have looked in vain at my local cafe and supermarket and haven’t seen any sort of Pepsi hype at all.”News24 columnist Stacey Maree is more forthright – nor is she impressed with the commercial’s use of David Beckham to welcome Pepsi back to SA.‘Gee thanks, Beckham!’Maree, in a piece titled “Gee thanks, Beckham!”, echoes the brandchannel article when she writes: “Remember that scene in The Gods Must Be Crazy? The little bushmen who’s struck on the head by a Coke bottle that fell from the sky? It’s an iconic South African scene.“Just recently, there’s the Coca-Cola Soccer Stars with a R250 000 first prize up for grabs,” Maree continues. “And the Coco-Coca Colab concerts in March that delivered international music acts to our doorstep.“Coke has done their homework and come down to grassroots level in a country that appreciates big corporations contributing to our development. It’s obviously a winning strategy.“What has David Beckham done to entrench himself in South African culture? Putting his hair in braids doesn’t count!“Pepsi, you’re off to a shaky start.”The global pictureOf course, South Africa is but a small battlefield in the context of the global “cola wars” – a conflict considerably heightened by the 2006 Football World Cup.What South Africans may not immediately be aware of is that Pepsi’s use of Beckham comes against the backdrop of a massive international “Pepsi Football 2006” campaign that aims to counter Coke’s “We All Speak Football” campaign.While Pepsi’s World Cup strategy revolves around sponsorship of individual football stars, Coca-Cola’s strategy is underpinned by its official partnership of the competition. Coke is one of Fifa’s “elite partners”, owning official sponsorship status for Germany 2006 – and, already, for South Africa 2010.In which case, perhaps Pepsi should take a longer view, and start looking for a South African player to add to its stable of superstars.Or maybe South Africans would have identified more readily if Pepsi had got Ronaldinho to introduce their South Africa commercial. South Africa’s style of football bears a closer resemblance to Brazil’s than to Europe’s.And Beckham is already cast, in the minds of local television viewers, as having “the best (shave) a man can get”.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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With or without injured Salado, Chiefs ready for crucial stretch

first_imgLOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Read Next Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  “If I won’t be able to play, I won’t force it. I still trust my teammates that they can get the job done,” he said, as he is set to have his MRI on Wednesday.Arellano coach Jerry Codiñera also shared that Salado’s status for the game against Perpetual remains up in the air, saying, “Hopefully, he can play. But with or without him, we have to be ready.”The Chiefs resume their Final Four drive on Thursday against the Altas before wrapping up their eliminations assignment next week against Mapua. View comments Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC With EAC’s season all but over, Onwubere hopes to go out on a high note MOST READ Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Robredo to gov’t, after accepting anti drug post: Are you ready for me?01:37Protesters 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 Kent Salado. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netKent Salado is hoping for the best after injuring his right knee in Arellano’s 85-79 victory against San Sebastian on Tuesday.“I believe that I can still play. I just hope there won’t be any tears because if there is, there should be swelling. It’s still hurting. I just wish it was just hyperextended because nothing is swelling,” he said in Filipino.ADVERTISEMENT Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PHcenter_img Much to Salado’s delight, Michael Cañete, Levi Dela Cruz, and Zach Nicholls picked up the slack as Arellano pulled off the stunner to stay alive in the NCAA Season 93 Final Four race.With the Chiefs going up 7-9 and forcing a tie with the Golden Stags at fifth place, the Cagayan de Oro native bared that it motivates him to suit up in the team’s last two games as they hope to make a belated run to the playoffs.READ: Salado repays team’s trust with clutch performance“With what’s happening, I need to work to help our Final Four chances. But I’m happy that my teammates stepped up,” he said. “I want to come back because our last two games are important ones.”But if things don’t go his way, Salado said that he’ll gladly be the team’s biggest booster moving forward.ADVERTISEMENT Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight The speedy playmaker hurt his knee after RK Ilagan fell on him with 8:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, prompting the Chiefs to take him back to the bench.READ: Salado the hero as Arellano repulses JRU in OT FEATURED 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 shutoutThough Salado expressed his willingness to finish the game off, the pop he heard was enough to scare him off and keep him in the sidelines. “I heard something earlier so I didn’t force it. I don’t want to make it worse,” he said.He refused to go back to the dugout as he wanted to watch his teammates fight with their season hanging in the balance. Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City LATEST STORIES Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. last_img read more

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Win A Shiny Birthday Lunch With Nathan Fillion

first_imgPrizeo is giving you the chance to win a shiny birthday lunch with Nathan Fillion… and all you have to do to enter is donate to charity.“For a $10 donation to Sawla Children’s Home, you’ll be entered to win a trip to Los Angeles to have a birthday lunch with me!” says Nathan. “If you donate more to Sawla, we’ll give you extra chances to win and rewards at each of the different donation levels — t-shirts, signed scripts and posters, thank you videos, so many options!“This truly means the world to me, helping me celebrate my birthday by supporting such a great cause.”International Assistance Program has impacted the lives of thousands of people through its professional involvement in implementing challenging western business practices in underdeveloped countries.In June, 2007, IAP established the Sawla Children’s Home in northwest Ghana. Sawla Children’s Home has cared for almost 50 orphans, providing for their basic needs and more. Now fed and healthy, these children are rising to the top of their classes in school and are showing great promise for the future. Each child is now loved and part of an amazing family that is impacting the surrounding villages and communities.To find out more about entering, click here.“Already a lot of people excited about lunch!” tweeted Nathan. “I think I’ll start with a salad. With a hamburger on it.”last_img read more

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German court rules Frankfurt must ban some diesel cars

first_imgBERLIN – A German court has ruled that Frankfurt must ban high-polluting diesel vehicles in order to improve the city’s air quality.The dpa news agency reported Wednesday the Wiesbaden administrative court ruled on a complaint filed by the environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe, which had argued the city was not meeting European Union clean air rules on nitrogen oxide levels.It was not immediately clear how many vehicles would be affected or how widely. Hamburg has already banned older diesel models from selected roads, and authorities in Stuttgart plan to ban older diesel vehicles from parts of the city next year as well.Diesel engines, which are popular in Germany, emit harmful nitrogen oxide.The bans follow a February court ruling allowing cities to include diesel bans in their air protection measures.last_img read more

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Northern BC gas pipeline designed to supply LNG industry wins NEB approval

first_img(THE CANADIAN PRESS) CALGARY, A.B. – The National Energy Board has approved construction of a natural gas pipeline originally intended to supply the Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal near Port Edward, B.C., even though that $36-billion project was cancelled last July.The NEB says it will grant an amendment to Nova Gas Transmission Ltd., a subsidiary of Calgary-based TransCanada Corp., to remove the requirement that its construction be preceded by a positive investment decision on the liquefied natural gas export terminal on B.C.’s coast.The approval allows TransCanada to construct the majority of its North Montney Mainline project at a cost of about $1.4 billion, allowing it to bring gas from northern B.C. through 300 kilometres of pipeline to connect with existing pipe about 35 kilometres southwest of Fort St. John, B.C. It has proposed beginning construction this year and bringing it into service, with the gas flowing east instead of west, over a two-year period.In hearings, several producers and pipeline companies argued that the new pipeline shouldn’t be approved because it will add natural gas to a western Canadian marketplace already swimming in it, further depressing prices at the marketing hub in Alberta.Nova responded in an NEB filing that the need for the line is demonstrated by its 20-year contracts with 11 North Montney customers for a total of 1.485 billion cubic feet per day.One of the clients is Progress Energy Canada Ltd., the exploration and production arm of Malaysia’s Petronas Bhd., the main proponent of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.Petronas bought Progress Energy in 2012 and it has been one of the most active drillers in northeastern B.C. in recent years.The NEB says the current Nova tolling method is not appropriate and directed provisional measures until a new methodology is developed and approved.last_img read more

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Roundtable Meetings scheduled this Fall for Electoral Area D

first_imgThe first scheduled meeting will be taking place on October 21 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Tower Lake Hall.The other meetings to follow are October 28 at the Doe River Hall, November 6 at the Tupper Hall, November 18 at the Bessborough Hall, and November 25 at the Cutbank Hall. All meetings are to take place from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.For more information, you can contact Director Leonard Hiebert at 250-784-3200 or email [email protected] FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Peace River Regional District Electoral Area ‘D’ Director, Leonard Hiebert, will be hosting a series of Roundtable Meetings this Fall.According to the Regional District, the Roundtable Meetings will give residents the opportunity to meet with their Area Director about the projects and issues that are important or on-going within the community.A total of five Roundtable Meetings are scheduled to take place in Electoral Area ‘D’ during October and November.last_img read more

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The As Changed Baseball Once They May Be Changing It Again

Rangers149714801492+12-5 Nationals154615221524+2-22 Braves147415101519+9+45 The A’s meteoric riseMajor league teams by change in Elo from the preseason and the All-Star Game, as of Aug. 22 Mets149114641484+20-7 Rockies150315101519+9+16 Cubs155815681543-25-15 Athletics149015281551+23+61 Pirates148314831493+10+10 At midseason, the American League seemed decided. The number of tanking teams — some intentional efforts, some unintentional — combined with the AL’s super teams1The top four teams by run differential reside in the AL: the Red Sox, Astros, Yankees and Indians. were conspiring to strip the league of postseason races. The league’s playoff teams seemed all but set by the All-Star Game.But then the Oakland A’s came charging out of the baseball wilderness to give us some late-summer drama.After three consecutive last-place finishes, the Athletics began the year with a 16 percent probability of reaching the postseason and a 6 percent chance of winning the AL West. And just two months ago, they were as many as 11.5 games behind the reigning World Series champion Astros. But after winning 42 of their last 58 games entering Friday, the A’s have cut that deficit to 1.5 games, and they now have an 89 percent chance of advancing to the postseason and a 22 percent chance of winning the AL West.The surge is no fluke. Oakland has the game’s eighth-best run differential, at +94 runs, and has seen the greatest improvement in FiveThirtyEight’s team rating since the start of the season.2As of Aug. 22. Phillies149015071496-11+6 EloChange from … The Moneyball A’s didn’t prize defense, fly balls or ace relievers, but this club does. While the formula is different than in the early 2000s, what remains the same is that the A’s are finding value where other clubs are not.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Royals145914081407-1-52 Cardinals152215081540+32+18 Yankees156515891571-18+6 Astros157715991585-14+8 Diversifying their pitchesWhile the A’s have a dominant star in the bullpen, the story is different in the rotation. In the early 2000s, the A’s had a trio of front-line starters in Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. This year’s A’s team has a rotation populated predominantly by reclamation projects like Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Mike Fiers and Edwin Jackson. Without a legit ace — or even a household name — the A’s rank second to the Red Sox in pitching WPA.Signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in the winter, Cahill has become one of the biggest bargains in baseball in part by reducing the use of his fastball and generating more swing and miss with his slider, more than doubling its usage. Cahill has a 3.44 ERA, and his 2.1 WAR according to FanGraphs is the second-best mark of his career.Cahill had once been heavily dependent upon his sinker, but he told FiveThirtyEight that the A’s have given him “weighted pitch” data, which he’s used to diversity his overall pitch mix. For the first time since 2012, he has four above-average pitches, according to FanGraphs linear weights.“If you can throw four different pitches, and they are doing different things in the zone, it’s tough [for batters] to guess,” Cahill said.The A’s also have pitch-tracking Rapsodo technology for use in between appearances, which Cahill uses to monitor his release point and the underlying characteristics of his pitches — like spin rate — between starts.“I go look at my curveball and see if the spin rate is higher,” Cahill said. “I look at where I am releasing it.” Padres145514461444-2-11 Reds146514841474-10+9 Diamondbacks152315231536+13+13 Marlins144314491439-10-4 Treinen also has a slider and cutter that baffle opponents. Tigers144914481441-7-8 Dodgers156815601553-7-15 Brewers151015191515-4+5 White Sox145714371441+4-16 Indians157615551566+11-10 Giants149415021490-12-4 So how did the A’s get here? This isn’t another “Moneyball” story. The once-undervalued metric of on-base percentage is no longer baseball’s best-kept secret — and it’s not even an Oakland staple. The A’s have instead pursued different paths to become one of the better teams in the major leagues despite opening the season with the game’s lowest payroll.Keeping it in the airBecause fly balls and line drives are so much more valuable than ground balls, more and more individual players are trying to launch balls into the air. But the A’s have acquired, and ostensibly tried to develop, the skill at a teamwide level since 2013. As MLB.com’s Mike Petriello found, the A’s have posted five of the eight lowest ground-ball seasons since 2004, including this season’s mark so far. Their average launch angle of 14.9 degrees leads baseball.3The MLB average is 11.7 degrees.While they have acquired fly-ball hitters like Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce and Khris Davis, they have also developed anti-grounder sluggers in Matt Olson (2012 first-round pick) and Matt Chapman (2014 first-rounder). Lowrie told FiveThirtyEight that he never sat down with an A’s official to talk about his batted-ball profile, but the Stanford University product does use the technology available in the home batting cage for tracking his exit velocity and launch angle to fine-tune his swing.“My guess is they probably identify guys like that to try and acquire [the skill],” Lowrie said of the A’s front office. “It’s part of their calculus.”What on-base percentage was to the Moneyball A’s, fly-ball percentage is to this group of upstarts. That’s made them the league’s fourth-most efficient offense despite a near league-average on-base mark of .322.The A’s are also adapting to their environment. Lowrie notes that Oakland Coliseum is one of the most difficult places in the game to drive the ball, and while the A’s have the lowest ground-ball rate on the road in the majors at 37.8 percent, that rate spikes to 40.9 percent at home, good for eighth-lowest. While Lowrie says teammates Davis, Olson and Chapman can hit the ball “out of Yellowstone,” other A’s alter their approach depending on the ballpark environment. The A’s lead baseball in offensive efficiency on the road with 119 weighted runs created plus (wRC+), a stat that adjusts for park and run environment, with 100 representing league-average performance. But Oakland is only about average at home, with 96 wRC+.Lowrie noted that the A’s set a record for most consecutive road games with a home run this season4They hit at least one homer in 27 straight road games. and that they’ve done much more damage on the road. The Athletics rank 18th in the majors in home runs at home with 67, but they lead the majors in road homers with 106. They are one of the best road teams in baseball at 37-26.“We are playing on a [home] field that is below sea level, with swirling winds that are generally blowing in from right field,” Lowrie said. “We’ve pitched much better at home,” with a 3.32 home ERA vs. 4.30 on the road. “We’ve found different ways to win at home and on the road.”Always be closingThe early 2000s A’s rarely overpaid or valued relievers, believing them to be highly fungible. This Oakland team has the most dominant reliever in the game in Blake Treinen and has further bolstered its strong bullpen with trade acquisitions of Jeurys Familia (2.02 fielding-independent pitching, 19 strikeouts in 15 innings with the A’s) from the Mets and former Twins closer Fernando Rodney.Acquired as a buy-low target with a 5.73 ERA last July in a trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington, Treinen is second in the majors in relief WAR and owns a 1.00 ERA.While WAR may not be the optimum way to measure a reliever’s value, win probability added (WPA) accounts for the change in win expectancy between every plate appearance. According to WPA, Treinen has been the most valuable pitcher in baseball this season — ranking ahead of aces Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola. His sinker leads the majors in whiffs per swing, and when put in play, it produces 4.6 ground balls for every fly ball. Per FanGraphs pitch values, it’s the fifth-best sinker in the majors. The pitch, with its combination of elite velocity and movement, can make opponents look foolish. Rays1495151915190+24 Blue Jays150714881480-8-27 Red Sox154915901602+12+53 Orioles147514221416-6-59 Angels151015141511-3+1 The well-traveled, and perhaps forgotten about, Jackson has given the A’s 60 quality innings this season — not bad for a guy playing on his 13th(!) MLB team. Jackson has done this by getting crafty: reducing the use of his fastball from 35.3 percent last season (47.9 percent for his career) to 16.2 percent this season.Among the changes Fiers has made since joining the A’s is creating more separation in height between his fastball and curveball, as Jeff Sullivan found for FanGraphs. He has a 1.47 ERA in three starts with Oakland.Saving more runsThe makeshift pitching staff is also aided by one of the best infield defenses in the game. That’s an effort led by Chapman.While Chapman is an excellent hitter, he’s the best third base defender in the game according to Defensive Runs Saved — and it’s not close. In fact, his 26 Defensive Runs Saved are the best in the game at any position. The next closest third baseman is Travis Shaw of Milwaukee with nine.Chapman leads an elite Oakland infield defense. According to DRS, the A’s also rank second in DRS at first base and eighth at shortstop in the majors. Moreover, Oakland trails only the Arizona in the difference between expected opponent batting average — based on opponent exit velocity — and actual opponent batting average. The A’s are getting to more ground balls and line drives relative to their infielder rivals. TeamPreseasonAll-Star GameCurrentAll-Star GamePreseason Mariners150815221507-15-1 Twins151014941493-1-17 read more

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