How ARods 3000 Hits Stack Up

Hot Takedown: How Big Is A-Rod’s Asterisk?Subscribe to our sports podcast on iTunes. Late last week, New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez added another milestone to what has been a renaissance of a 2015 season, joining the venerated 3,000-hit club with a home run against Detroit’s Justin Verlander. The accomplishment prompted much debate over whether A-Rod had tarnished the club with his history of using performance-enhancing drugs — and even whether such numbers can be meaningfully compared across different eras of baseball.Call me naive, but when it comes to cross-era comparisons, I don’t think we have to give up the ball and head for the locker room. We can’t necessarily account for who used PEDs and who didn’t, but sabermetrics does have a long history of adjusting player stats for the environments in which they were produced. For instance, here’s a look at how easy it was to compare how many hits per plate appearance were made in the major leagues each season going back to 1901:(The metric is indexed so that 100 represents the average hits-per-plate-appearance rate since 1901.)By this accounting, Rodriguez’s hit total hasn’t been especially inflated by the era in which he played, relative to the entirety of MLB history. Early in his career, hits were easier to come by than the historical average, but a recent string of offensively suppressed seasons have brought A-Rod’s career hitting environment metric down to an almost perfectly average index of 100.3.Of course, we can also adjust for schedule length — normalizing shorter seasons to 162 games — and park factors, both of which do cut into A-Rod’s raw hit count. Among members of the 3,000-hit club, only seven played in more favorable stadiums for hitters than Rodriguez has in his career, and only Derek Jeter and Lou Brock get less of a boost for playing fewer than 162 games per season than A-Rod does. (The schedule adjustment pro-rates Rodriguez’s hits upward by a mere 0.7 percent.)After all of the adjustments are made for era, park and schedule, A-Rod loses 48 hits from his actual total. That’s not the most of any player — Coors Field lifer Todd Helton gets docked more than 356 hits — but it is enough to make A-Rod the only player currently in the 3,000-hit club who would not be a member under the adjusted hits metric. While he will probably hit his way into the adjusted club, too, before very long, the 48 hits he loses under the adjustments is the third most of any actual 3,000-hit club member, most of whom gained hits in the adjustment process.So the critics are right, to a certain extent: Rodriguez has benefited from favorable conditions to join an elite statistical club. But the degree to which his numbers were inflated because of his era has been negligible — with the shortfall mainly owing to differences in park factors and schedule lengths — and he’s only 45 “adjusted hits” shy of 3,000 even after his numbers are tweaked.There’s plenty of room to debate about how much to handicap Rodriguez’s numbers for his performance-enhancing drug use. But putting that aside, Rodriguez has outhit his peers practically as much as many other fellow 3,000-hit club member. read more

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No Drugs or Alcohol Found in Junior Seaus System

There was no alcohol or drugs found in Junior Seau’s system when he shot and killed himself at his home in May, according to the autopsy report released by the San Diego County Medical’s Examiner’s Office on Monday.The girlfriend of the former NFL All-Pro linebacker found his body with a single gunshot wound to the chest.The 16-page report stated that the body of the former NFL All-Pro linebacker was found to have Zolpidem, which is often found in the sleeping aid Ambien, and traces of the anti-inflammatory drug Naproxen. All of the substances were deemed “consistent with therapeutic use,” wrote Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Nelson.Perhaps even more mysterious was that the autopsy found Seau’s brain to be normal with no underlying hemorrhaging or contusions. His family has donated some of his brain tissue for research following widespread concerns over whether his 20-year professional football career played some kind of factor in his death.Questions now remain as to why Seau, 43, chose to kill himself on May 2 at his suburban Oceanside, California home. No suicide note was ever found and friends and family have insisted that Seau never appeared distraught or depressed.Police investigators said Seau killed himself with an unregistered .357 caliber revolver that had five hollow-point bullets inside. Authorities also found his cell phone lying on his bed, although it was missing its memory chip.Seau, a former USC All-American, was the fifth overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft and went on to become a 12-time Pro Bowler in the NFL.He sustained minor injuries in October 2010 when his SUV plunged down a 100-foot cliff, just hours after he’d been arrested for domestic violence following an incident between him and his girlfriend. Seau later insisted that he was never suicidal, but that he’d instead fallen asleep at the wheel. He was never charged in the domestic incident. read more

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John Wall Eyes January Return Return To Relevance

John Wall has missed the entire wretched season so far of the Washington Wizards because of a knee injury. Hurt more has been Wall’s professional pride.The 2010 No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft hardly is mentioned among the top point guards in the league anymore, and that eats at him — and inspires him.“If you look at the list of the point guards of the future, I’m not up there,” Wall told YahooSports. “That gives more motivation to me when I get back to show the NBA what I really have to give to the league. They will respect me again. Everybody will see. I won’t do the talking. I will let my game do the talking.”Wall said based on how he has felt recently (no pain after three consecutive up-tempo workouts) that he should return to the lineup in January. He averaged 16.3 points, eight assists and 4.5 rebounds last year in the lockout-shortened season.As a rookie, he was sidelined a dozen games for knee and foot injuries, but was the MVP of the rookie vs. sophomore challenge during NBA all-star weekend. Sill, he told YahooSports that he played through injuries to not let his team down, but playing injured limited his mobility and put himself at further risk.“There is no reason to force myself back and re-injure myself and have another setback where I don’t start next season or I got to miss next season,” Wall said. “I’m just taking my time.“If I play 20 games, I just go out there and play them. I’m not giving up on my team and they’re not giving up on me. They know I’m working hard to try to get back.”Watching from the bench with a stress injury to his left patella in general and his team struggling (league-worse 3-23)  in particular has been learning for Wall, he told YahooSports.“I always love the game, but you respect the game more when you can’t play,” Wall said. “I have never been injured before seriously. I’m watching every point guard that comes in and what they’re doing and how teams are doing against my team and what I can do when I get back.“When I feel like I can run and do everything like I used to, cut, jump like I used to, run fast like I used to (I will return). And I feel like I am getting closer and closer to those steps.” read more

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Can The Sharks Win The Stanley Cup With Historically Bad Goaltending

2017-18Capitals59.858.3 2018-19Sharks40.2%50.0% 2011-12Kings60.585.0 2008-09Penguins50.043.5 Despite losing on home ice on Monday, the San Jose Sharks are three wins away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in franchise history. For a franchise that has been consistently disappointing in the NHL playoffs, a Stanley Cup would provide some much needed redemption. The Sharks lifting the Cup would also be strange by playoff hockey standards: Teams generally don’t succeed in hockey’s second season with subpar goaltending.There’s little doubt about San Jose’s offensive prowess — the Sharks have scored the second-most goals in the playoffs, and they tied for the second-most goals in the regular season — but deficiencies on the defensive side of the puck, and especially between the pipes, have been a recurring problem. The San Jose goaltending tandem of starter Martin Jones and backup Aaron Dell was abysmal during the regular season, leading the team to a dead-last ranking in save percentage (.889). To be fair, Jones has been better in the postseason, but he is by no means the playoffs’ hot goalie. His playoff save percentage is .905 — an improvement over his regular-season mark of .896 to be sure, but hardly the stuff of world-beaters.There is a certain mystique attached to the premise of the hot goalie in the NHL playoffs. Save percentage accounts for a higher proportion of a team’s success than any other factor, so it follows that quality postseason goaltending is compulsory if a team wants to win the Stanley Cup in June. The narrative — that these hot playoff goalies appear from the ether — is sexy, but the reality is that most of them build a solid-to-excellent body of work during the regular season and carry that solid-to-excellent form into the postseason.As such, it’s rare to see a team win the Stanley Cup after enduring a regular season of poor goalie play. Since the lockout, only the 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes and the 2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks won the title with below-average goaltending during the regular season. Even then, Carolina goaltenders finished close to the middle of the pack in 2005-06 — but just six teams in 2009-10 got worse regular-season save-percentage performances from their goaltenders than the Hawks did.All this leaves the San Jose Sharks in something of a historical bind. Since the league began recording the stat in 1959-60, no Stanley Cup-winning team has finished last in regular-season save percentage — not even when the league consisted of only six teams. The Sharks are just the third team in the 14 seasons since the lockout to qualify for the playoffs after finishing in the save percentage basement. And not since 1992-93 — an era of the NHL during which it was somewhat unclear whether teams actually put goalies in front of the net — has the eventual Stanley Cup winner posted a worse regular-season save percentage than this season’s Sharks.But wait, it gets even worse! No team since the 2007-08 season, when this data was first collected, has won the Stanley Cup posting a regular-season quality start percentage1Quality start percentage was developed by Hockey Abstract’s Robert Vollman to determine whether a goalie gave his team a reasonable chance to win a game. A goalie must post a league-average save percentage or better to record a quality start. If a goalie faces 20 or fewer shots in a game, he can earn a quality start with a save percentage of .885. worse than 50 percent. Jones and Dell combined for a quality start percentage of just 40 percent. Is San Jose’s pitiful netminding a portent of impending heartbreak, or could the Sharks be the team that overcomes the odds? 2016-17Penguins51.264.0 2015-16Penguins61.062.5 SeasonTeamRegular Season QS%Playoffs QS% San Jose’s goaltending may not be Cup worthyHow the Sharks goaltending compares to previous Stanley Cup winners based on quality start percentage (QS%),* 2007-08 to 2017-18 2014-15Blackhawks68.360.9 2013-14Kings59.853.8 2010-11Bruins69.568.0 2012-13Blackhawks64.682.6 2009-10Blackhawks51.250.0 * Share of quality starts relative to total games started. A quality start is recorded when a goalie posts at least a league-average save percentage in a game. If a goalie faces 20 or fewer shots in a game, a save percentage of .885 or higher earns him a quality start.Source: Hockey-Reference.com 2007-08Red Wings56.159.1 That 2009-10 Blackhawks team might offer a decent blueprint for the Sharks. Chicago goalie Antti Niemi wasn’t that playoffs’ hot goalie, but he didn’t have to be — the Blackhawks simply scored more goals than any other team en route to their first Stanley Cup win in nearly half a century. As luck would have it, Jones is posting numbers that closely mimic those posted by Niemi in 2009-10. (Niemi posted a save percentage of .910 and a quality start percentage of 50 percent in 2009-10; Jones is currently posting a save percentage of .905 and a quality start percentage of 50 percent.) The only difference is that Niemi and partner Cristobal Huet were merely pretty awful during the regular season, and not historically awful like Jones and Dell.Perhaps the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers are a better analog. They qualified for the playoffs in spite of some downright lousy regular-season goaltending by a quartet of journeymen and career backups, and they advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Final because one of those goalies got hot. Could the same be happening in San Jose?If Jones is able to hold on to his newfound mediocrity, the Sharks might have a puncher’s chance to upset six decades of history. Otherwise, the Sharks will remain what they’ve always been: minnows in apex predator’s clothes. read more

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MLBs Biggest Star Is 40 And He Just Retired That Could Be

“If Mike Trout walked into your neighborhood bar, would you recognize him?” The New Yorker’s Ben McGrath raised that question in a provocative essay last month.I’m reasonably certain that I would recognize the MLB outfielder if he walked into One Star. But McGrath’s point is well-taken. Despite being (as McGrath aptly calls him) a “once-in-a-generation talent,” Trout is relatively anonymous. Based on Google search traffic so far in 2014, Trout is only about as famous as Henrik Lundqvist, the New York Rangers goaltender. He’s one-fifth as famous as Peyton Manning — and one-twentieth as famous as LeBron James or Lionel Messi.Trout’s also much less famous than Derek Jeter, a shortstop who hit .256, with four home runs, this year.That Jeter fellow, as you may have heard, played his last baseball games Sunday. Jeter’s case for being a once-in-a-generation talent is weaker than Trout’s. Jeter never won an MVP (although he probably should have won one in 1999). He rarely led his league in any offensive category. He was one of the best baseball players for a very long time — but he was not clearly the best player at any given time. In that respect, he’s more similar to Pete Rose or Nolan Ryan or Warren Moon or Patrick Ewing or Nicklas Lidstrom — great players all — than generational talents like Peyton Manning or LeBron James or Willie Mays or Ted Williams.Jeter, however, was probably the most famous baseball player of his generation.Google Trends maintains data on Google search traffic since 2004, a period that captures the second half of Jeter’s career. Google searches aren’t a perfect proxy for popularity — as you’ll see, infamy can also get you a lot of Google traffic — but they’re a reasonably objective approximation of it.I looked up the search traffic for Jeter, along with that for every other baseball player to post at least 30 wins above replacement (WAR) from 2004 through 2014. (Jeter’s WAR, controversially, was only 31.4 during this period; about 50 players rated ahead of him.) I also included every MLB MVP winner since 2004 — along with Trout, who might finally win an MVP this year. The chart below lists everyone else’s search traffic relative to Jeter’s.Jeter leads in Google traffic. The only players within 50 percent of him are Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Ichiro Suzuki.Rodriguez and Bonds, of course, have made news in recent years, mostly for their use of performance-enhancing drugs. Suzuki is a better comparison, but most of his search traffic is because of his extraordinary popularity in Japan. In the United States, Jeter generated five or six times as much Google interest as Suzuki did.Otherwise, Jeter laps the field. Based on the Google numbers, he’s been about nine times as famous as his Yankee contemporary Mariano Rivera. He’s been about five times as famous as David Ortiz, another legendarily “clutch” performer. He’s been about 30 times as famous as Jimmy Rollins, a fellow East Coast shortstop and one who did win an MVP award.Jeter’s also considerably more famous than today’s best-in-a-generation players. Even in 2013 — when he was hurt and played in only 17 games — Jeter was about as popular as Trout, Clayton Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen combined, at least according to Google.Playing in New York almost certainly had something to do with this. Lots of Yankees and Mets rank high on the Google list. Robinson Cano, the former Yankee, has gotten twice as much search traffic as the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chase Utley though the two are highly similar statistically.But I hope that Trout, Kershaw, McCutchen or Bryce Harper does something extraordinary this postseason and begins to build a legend of his own. It’s not healthy for a sport when its most popular player is 40 years old. read more

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Former Ohio State national championship winning quarterback Cardale Jones selected by the

Former OSU quarterback Cardale Jones (12) hurdles a defender during a game Nov. 1 against Illinois at Ohio Stadium.Credit: Lantern File photoAfter earning a national championship ring in 2014, and a mediocre 2015 season where he was benched after a record of 11-0 as a starter, former OSU signal caller Cardale Jones has been drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round. Jones is the 12th Buckeye selected in this year’s draft.Jones drew attention after filling in for the injured JT Barrett for three games, and leading the team to its eighth national title.In those three games, Jones threw for 742 yards and five touchdowns, along with 90 yards on the ground and a score. The performance was enough for many to feel he could enter the 2015 NFL draft and be picked in the first few rounds. During a press conference held at his alma mater, Glenville High School in Cleveland, Ohio, Jones announced he would be returning to school.“The NFL has always been my goal and dream,” Jones said. “It’s literally right there in front of me, but I also have a goal to graduate.”Even though Jones had helped lead the Buckeyes to a national championship victory, OSU coach Urban Meyer stated that the starting position would be up for grabs when JT Barrett was healthy. Jones was the first to stroll onto the field in the 2015 opener at Virginia Tech, but Barrett also saw playing time. Starting the first seven games of the season, OSU was 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country.  But on Oct. 24, Meyer announced Barrett would take over as the starter for OSU. Jones played in the next three games, but was on the bench for the last three games of the year. He finished the year with a 62.5 completion percentage, 1,460 yards, and eight touchdowns with five interceptions. Although Jones possesses a cannon arm and the stature to play quarterback in the NFL, he lacks the pose and refined mechanics that many of the prospects in the draft have. The Bills will most likely have Jones prove his worth during training camp, and work to better mold Jones into a quality quarterback. He joins the likes of Tyrod Taylor and Sammy Watkins under the supervision of coach Rex Ryan.Buffalo begins their regular season against on the road in Baltimore at 1 p.m. on Sept. 11. Jones joins fellow Buckeye Adolphus Washington who was selected by Buffalo in the third round. read more

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Mens basketball Ohio State squanders lead Nebraska wins 5857 in Columbus

OSU junior forward Jae’Sean Tate looks to the basket after a shot attempt against Nebraska on Feb. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 58-57. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorNothing was pretty about the Ohio State men’s basketball team’s game against Nebraska on Saturday. The Buckeyes walked away from the Schottenstein Center with yet another conference loss, this time losing 58-57.“We weren’t as dialed in as we needed to be,” OSU coach Thad Matta said. “There’s certain times when … the game is ongoing. You don’t get to talk about plays that are coming up and we didn’t do what we needed to do or what we wanted to do down the stretch there.”OSU (15-13, 5-10) failed to lock down on defense on Nebraska senior guard Tai Webster, and struggled to produce points of its own. Webster picked up 17 points, and was a constant threat from the floor, going 7 for 12. Nebraska forward Glynn Watson Jr. picked up 14 points.Nebraska coach Tim Miles brought a light mood after the game, saying he wanted to go straight to questions rather than make an opening statement. He, like everyone else, was perplexed by what had just transpired.“I can’t explain it,” Miles said with a laugh.Sophomore guard C.J. Jackson started the game for OSU instead of sophomore JaQuan Lyle, but Jackson struggled mightily. He finished the game with four turnovers, and just six points.The Buckeyes gained their largest lead with seven minutes left in the first, as Tate dropped in a layup to give OSU a 22-11 lead. On four different occasions in the opening half, the Scarlet and Gray had a lead of 11.As the clock wound down in the first, OSU regained possession of the ball after a missed shot was batted in the air by redshirt junior center Trevor Thompson and found its way into the hands of redshirt junior guard Kam Williams. Although the Buckeyes were given a golden opportunity to increase their 30-24 lead right before the break, OSU struggled to formulate a play and was forced to call a timeout.After failing an alley-oop attempt as the clock struck zero, Lyle was visibly upset, clapping his hands hard together as both teams headed to the locker rooms.OSU increased its lead to 11 on a jumper from Jackson and a 3-pointer from senior Marc Loving coming out of halftime. Nebraska started to reel the Buckeyes back in with back-to-back 3-pointers from Watson and Webster.Webster dropped a dime as he was falling to Nebraska sophomore forward Ed Morrow for a slam, and junior forward Nick Fuller dropped in a layup before Morrow hit another shot to cut the OSU lead down to three.Nebraska continuously fought back all game, which is nothing new according to Miles.“We’ve had resolve all year,” he said. “We’ve come from behind in wins. We’ve hung around in losses.”The Buckeyes turned the ball over, and sophomore forward Jack McVeigh of Nebraska nailed a 3 to tie the game at 43 with 8:45 left. A putback layup by Thompson off a fastbreak by Jackson gave OSU a four-point lead and reenergized the crowd with six minutes remaining.Down the stretch and throughout the game, OSU could not find the range from deep. What OSU lacked in accuracy from deep, Nebraska lacked from the charity stripe. Nebraska hit just 4 of 9 attempts from the free throw line, while the Buckeyes made 5 of 17 attempts from deep.Tate made an acrobatic putback layup with four minutes left to give OSU a five-point lead. Nebraska clawed back to within two, but a traveling violation by the Cornhuskers and a deep 3-pointer from Loving appeared to put the game away.McVeigh nailed a 3-pointer, however, and a jump ball gave the Cornhuskers the ball once again. Watson hit a layup and was fouled, and knocked down his free throw to give Nebraska its first and only lead of the game.Tate received the inbounds pass, but was confused where to pass the ball, and settled for an off-balanced shot, which he missed. OSU led for the entire game, except for 11 seconds.“We gotta be smarter,” Tate said following the game. “We beat ourselves tonight, and we deserved it.”Thompson, who had 13 points and eight rebounds in the game, was nearly silent, offering little in terms of any kind of response too media questions.OSU returns to the Schottenstein Center on Feb. 23 to take on Wisconsin. Last time the two teams met, the Buckeyes were dominated 89-66 in Madison.Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. read more

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Teammates making life easy for freshman goalkeeper

With a true freshman playing in goal for the Ohio State women’s soccer team (8-2-1, 2-0-0), an experienced defense and ‘no-shots’ approach has propelled the Buckeyes to the top of the Big Ten standings. Goalkeeper Rachel Middleman currently ranks second in the Big Ten in goals against average, letting in only .33 percent of shots. According to head coach Lori Walker, it’s the play of the defense in front of Middleman that has helped make the transition to collegiate ball trouble-free for the true freshman. “They’ve got a strong no-shot mentality and I think that helps make Rachel’s job a lot easier as a freshman,” Walker said. “I know that the saves that we’re going to ask her to make are going to either be simple saves or game-winning saves. There’s not going to be that kind of in-between thing where we really need to lean on her to be a difference-maker at this point, which is what you want from your freshmen.” The Buckeye defense is led by a trio of senior captains Cassie Dickerson, Lauren Beachy, and Danielle Scoliere. “Our defense is old and mature and we’ve played together for three years, so I just think we really know each other well,” Beachy said. “We have a ton of chemistry and stress a no-shot mentality. We just play together as hard as we can and we know what works for us.” That no-shot mentality has put the Buckeyes at the top of most Big Ten statistical categories, including goals allowed where they rank second with six, and goals against per game average where they rank third with .53. Of the Buckeye’s 11 games, six of them have been shutouts and only once have they given up more than one goal in a game. “That’s the biggest thing that we can contribute to the game, our hard work and our tough defense,” Dickerson said. “If we can shut them down, that gives our forwards a much greater chance. Usually the margin in the Big Ten wins is by a goal each game. We’re not going to win 3-0 or 4-0, it’s always going to be 1-0 or 2-1, so if we do our job it gives us a great chance to win.” Dickerson is a three-time captain for the Buckeyes and the second player in Ohio State women’s soccer history to be named to the Hermann Trophy watch list. The Hermann Trophy is awarded each season to the top male and female players in college soccer. “It’s something that I carry on my shoulders and take pride in,” Dickerson said. “It’s an honor to be a captain, so it’s just something that just comes out of me naturally and I think that when you have people who are willing to follow, it’s an easy role to do.” According to Beachy, help from the team’s offense has been a welcome addition this season. “Our offense is really clicking and that hasn’t always happened,” Beachy said. “As long as we keep those shutouts coming, I think that we always have a really good chance.” Both of the OSU’s Big Ten wins this season have come in shutouts, including a 2-0 win over Michigan and 1-0 overtime win against Penn State. The Buckeyes know that they’ll need to keep up their strong defensive pace to have success through the rest of the Big Ten schedule. “Our defense knows that a mistake that they make could really cost us and so while we don’t ask them to play perfect games, they do a great job of minimizing what those mistakes are that they make,” Walker said. “There’s a nice confidence and a nice aura about our backline, and so it’s just kind of contagious. So when they do make a mistake, they carry that weight and don’t just place it on one individual.” read more

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Ohio State mens volleyball cruises to wins against NJIT George Mason

The Ohio State men’s volleyball team might be banding together after winning two non-conference games over the weekend at St. John Arena. No. 10 OSU dispatched George Mason, 3-1, Saturday after taking down the New Jersey Institute of Technology to complete the weekend sweep. After four errors in the first five points from George Mason, the Buckeyes took a four-point lead (6-2) in the first set. The Patriots tied the match at 11, then took the lead at 14-12. Back-to-back kills from sophomore outside hitter Michael Henchy and redshirt sophomore opposite Andrew Lutz tied the game at 15 and forced a timeout by the Patriots. George Mason took the set with a 25-23 win. OSU coach Pete Hanson used it as a call “to do better.” “Let’s not just push out a win, but let’s go and beat somebody with some authority,” Hanson said. The defense was strong opening the second set. The Buckeyes recorded 13 kills and three attack errors, winning the set, 25-17. Up early in the third set, the Buckeyes battled to stay ahead. A kill from redshirt senior middle blocker John Tholen pushed the Buckeyes to a five-point lead (22-17). Redshirt sophomore setter Peter Heinen sealed the match with a kill, ending at 25-19. The Patriots came back with a vengeance in the fourth match with a 4-2 lead. After a kill from OSU senior middle blocker Grayson Overman and three errors by the Patriots, the Buckeyes took the game, 25-23. Lutz received his first double-double of his career, totaling 15 kills and a career-best 14 digs. “A lot of them are lucky,” Lutz said after the game. “It’s not really about records right now, I just want to win.” Henchy added 13 kills and tied his career-high in digs for the second double-double of the season. Tholen had a season-best 10 kills and two digs and two block assists. Senior outside hitter Chen Levitan finished with a career-high with 13 digs. Some of the players said the team’s success can be attributed to its focus on teamwork. “It’s a team performance,” Overman said. “If we all do well, then we’re all stoked on it so it’s honestly about the team and we pulled together in the end.” Friday, OSU matched up with the NJIT and cruised to a 3-0 victory. The Buckeyes recorded 14 kills and four attack errors to win the opening set, 25-20. NJIT was able to make a short-lived comeback during the second set and held a 19-17 lead deep into the game. The Buckeyes took control after two kills each from Henchy and Tholen and a service ace by redshirt junior libero Danny Baker, leading OSU to a 2-0 match advantage.  Hanson said Baker was key in the win. “Danny Baker did a heck of a job,” Hanson said. “He came in and served those last two points, made that dig and got that ace and that’s what we are looking for, when a substitute can come in and spark the team and get a couple of points.” In the third set, the Highlanders established an early lead, but OSU countered with an 8-1 run to take a four-point lead (9-5). The Buckeyes increased the pressure, mounting the lead to 17-9. A kill from Henchy put OSU at a comfortable 21-14 advantage. Overman and Levitan contributed kills that gave OSU the match point and a kill from Lutz sealed the 25-17 win. Henchy ended with a career-best 20 kills in the win. “We knew that they were not the best opponent we’d see all season,” Henchy said. “They were a lot better than we expected and they gave us a run for our money in the second game.” The Buckeyes are set to travel to State College, Pa., to take on Penn State on Saturday at 8 p.m. read more

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Football Matthew Baldwin secures 2019 role with Tate Martell transfer

Now-Ohio State freshman quarterback Matthew Baldwin looks to throw while at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas. Credit: Courtesy of Shelia ParodiRyan Day was a quarterbacks coach first. His priority for the first two seasons with the Buckeyes has been the quarterback room, helping mold J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins, players he inherited from the previous recruiting classes, into what he expects from his offense.But Day seems to want his quarterback, a player he recruited to come to Ohio State, behind center when the 2019 season begins against Florida Atlantic on Aug. 31. After former head coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement following the Rose Bowl on Dec. 4, Georgia freshman quarterback Justin Fields placed his name in the NCAA transfer portal, allowing other programs, such as Ohio State, to recruit him. But waiting in the wings was Day’s first quarterback: Matthew Baldwin. Baldwin is a quarterback who, if both Fields and redshirt freshman Tate Martell remained on the roster, would remain in the role he held during the 2018 season, a third-string spot with no clear path to the Ohio State starting job. But with Martell announcing his transfer to the University of Miami Wednesday, Baldwin’s career with the Buckeyes seemed to clear up a bit, apparently placing him as the No. 2 quarterback on Day’s depth chart behind Fields heading into the 2019 season. This was not the freshman’s focus during the 2018 season. His focus was to absorb everything he could by watching Haskins and Martell.“Mentally, that’s probably been the biggest part of the season, just getting the playbook down, getting everything we want to do here down,” Baldwin said. Baldwin was sidelined from the moment he arrived at Ohio State in January 2018. After leading Lake Travis High School to the 2017 state title game, he tore his ACL on the first play. He spent the majority of the off-season — the time when a quarterback was supposed to be learning the ropes — rehabbing and healing. Up to the title game, Baldwin had left a big impression on the field, completing 71.8 percent of his passes for 3,842 yards with 44 touchdowns and six interceptions in his senior season, according to MaxPreps. This came off a junior season in which he threw 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 93 pass attempts. Despite not being known as a mobile quarterback, comparing his style of play to that of Haskins, Baldwin averaged 5.2 yards per carry in his high school career with Lake Travis, recording 11 rushing touchdowns despite averaging 17.9 yards per game. But for Day, Baldwin’s health left a big question mark as to where he will be heading into the spring practice of his redshirt freshman season.Day said the knee injury still lingers with Baldwin, and while it has improved, “he hasn’t been able to really do much with the knee.”“This spring will be obviously a huge kind of bar on where he is in his development,” Day said. This was something Baldwin said he was worried about after the Big Ten Championship. He said he felt behind after not being able to compete in the first practices of fall camp, but instead turned his focus to season preparation for the players ahead of him on the depth chart. However, when Day tells the story of how he found and eventually secured the commitment from 2019 five-star wide receiver and former Lake Travis teammate Garrett Wilson, he said it started because he was there to watch Baldwin throw. The interest from the head coach was there. Baldwin matched the attributes Day wanted to see from his starting quarterback. “Our philosophy in that area is competitive toughness, leadership, decision-making skills. Those are all the things that we look for in a quarterback,” Day said. “Not necessarily in there is how tall they are, how well they throw the ball. That’s obviously a part of it, but it’s more about all those things and the intangibles.” Day saw this from Baldwin throughout the 2018 season, saying he did an excellent job in the meeting room, taking advantage of getting “mental reps” when he is on the field. As Haskins took the starting quarterback job in Barrett’s place and ran with it, finishing No. 3 in the 2018 Heisman vote and earning the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year award, Baldwin continued to emulate Haskins’ confidence. “You can’t be tentative. You can’t second-guess yourself,” Baldwin said. “You just got to go because if you do that, you get left behind, if you get all tentative and worrying about if you aren’t doing things right. You just have to go.” Baldwin has not played a snap for Ohio State. However, with Fields’ eligibility for the 2019 season in question, he could enter the season as the Buckeyes’ starter. He would be the player Day would want behind center. It would be his quarterback. “In terms of throwing them out there to the fire, he’s still not quite ready for that,” Day said. “But this spring he’ll have that opportunity.” read more

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