Ever since the steroid era, baseball fans have been cautious about reading too much into unexpected leaps in player performance. Today’s jaded rooters assume that performance-enhancing drugs are to blame, somehow, whenever a player experiences a breakout or the league undergoes a transformation. So it’s no surprise that, with home runs flying out of parks at nearly an all-time high in 2016, many have reacted by assigning the responsibility to some undetectable new PED.After exhaustive consideration, my former FiveThirtyEight colleague Ben Lindbergh and I concluded that the most likely culprit for 2016’s home run explosion is a change to the construction of the ball. Still, given MLB’s lengthy history with PEDs, I thought it was worth revisiting whether a chemical explanation could possibly shed light on the most recent offensive uptick. And there are some similarities between the steroid era and the present — but 2016’s home run explosion is also missing a few key characteristics that defined the steroid era.One of main reasons PEDs seem an unlikely explanation for baseball’s recent offensive surge is the suddenness with which home runs increased. The league’s rate of homers per game began climbing around the 2015 All-Star break, and this year it’s risen more than 30 percent compared with 2014. In theory, PEDs make their way into the game slowly, with knowledge being passed between players over the course of years, but changes to the game’s equipment could drive a more rapid increase. A new supply of slightly altered game balls would affect all players in the league at once, so even a small modification to the ball’s properties could produce a massive statistical change across MLB. Given the quick, drastic shift we’ve seen in home run rates, a change to the ball appears to require fewer leaps in logic: players take time to become juiced, but balls can become juiced immediately.To further investigate whether the ball — and not PEDs — explains MLB’s quick home run increase these past two seasons, I compared the steroid era with a handful of other times in history when the ball’s construction is known to have changed. Although the build of the modern ball has been nominally consistent since 1976, MLB has an extensive history of openly altering the ball in earlier epochs. The first alteration in baseball’s modern era (since 1901) was the introduction of the cork-core ball in 1910, after which the league’s batting average jumped 17 points. In 1943, wartime rubber shortages forced manufacturers to make baseballs with a substitute called balata, which had different elastic properties. Runs per game fell that season by 0.17, before rebounding by 0.26 runs per game in 1945, when the balls reverted to rubber cores. And in 1974, the surface of the ball changed from horsehide to cowhide, without much discernible impact on the league’s overall statistics.In addition to the times in MLB’s history in which the league has admitted to altering the ball, conspiracy theorists have posited numerous other instances in which the league may have modified the sphere in secret. Perhaps the most intriguing parallel to the current home-run increase came in the late 1980s, when Rawlings, MLB’s official baseball manufacturer, shifted production from Haiti to Costa Rica after the collapse of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier’s regime. From 1988 to 1990, baseballs were produced in both countries before the Costa Rican facility took over completely. Over that period, slugging percentage immediately fell by nearly 40 points, taking seven years to creep back back toward its 1987 level. This production switch is especially intriguing because of shake-ups at Rawlings in the middle of 2015: although it didn’t change where the balls are manufactured, it did move part of its factory operations and laid off 200 employees.To get a better sense of whether MLB’s current offensive spike more closely resembles the steroid era or one of the times the ball changed, I charted home runs per plate appearance around a few of the historical instances of known ball-tinkering, as well as the midpoint of the steroid era. The gap between the best home run hitters in the league and the average was never wider than in 1998, the midpoint of the PED era in terms of average hitter age, according to our definition above. Looking at the list of hitters that year, it’s not hard to tell why: Three of the top five hitters in home runs per plate appearance (minimum 300 PAs) were Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco, all of whom later admitted or were alleged to have used PEDs. The second largest gap occurs in 2001, and features Bonds, McGwire and Sosa at the top of the list.Meanwhile, contemporary HR rates for the best hitters have increased in lockstep with the MLB average. The difference between the top five current hitters’ HR/PA and the average in the last two years has been about the same as the norm across MLB’s history.5Specifically, the top five from 2015 ranked in the 55th percentile of all years, and 2016 ranks in the 25th percentile. And while the rate of HR/PA across the league has never been higher than today, the rate of the top five lags far behind that of the steroid era. MLB’s recent offensive explosion has seen the average hitter perform significantly better without creating a new wave of outliers.That extraordinary evenness with which MLB’s latest HR surge has affected all players is maybe the best reason to discard the steroid explanation. The start of the steroid era was associated with a massive jump in home runs, but it affected some hitters more than others. Even most steroid users didn’t turn into musclebound hulks, but for those who did, the results were sometimes extraordinary. The recent offensive surge, on the other hand, has been both sudden and uniform across the league, resembling previous times in MLB’s history when the ball changed. Although historical comparisons like this cannot definitively prove that the ball is different now, they do suggest that whatever is causing the ball to fly farther is affecting all hitters equally.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Most historical instances of the ball changing were accompanied by rather dramatic shifts in HR/PA, which helps confirm that the makeup of the baseball can indeed influence power rates.1It’s worth noting that many of the largest jumps had dips immediately preceding them, suggesting either efforts by MLB to correct the ball’s performance or simple regression to the mean. And 2016 currently holds the second-largest two-year shift in HR/PA since 1901. Then again, the largest change came in 1994, at the very beginning of the steroid era. (It’s impossible to precisely date the onset of PEDs in the game, but the massive increase in home runs, coupled with changes in the productivity of older hitters and an increase in outlier seasons at the same time, suggests that 1994 is as reasonable a guess for its beginning as any.)2Also, both 1994 and 2016 may have slightly elevated HR rates due to our data not including September, when home runs tend to be slightly less frequent. Even so, the addition of September would be expected to change the home run frequency by less than 1 percent, so any adjustment wouldn’t meaningfully affect the results. But although that means PEDs could also explain the current offensive leap, the start of the steroid era came with a number of other statistical changes that aren’t being repeated in 2015 and 2016.In addition to the dramatic rise in home runs per plate appearance, one of the hallmarks of the PED era was a jump in the average age of hitters. Instead of withering away, many older hitters remained productive into their late 30s and early 40s, in some cases putting up their best seasons toward the end of their careers. (We’re looking at you, Barry.) MLB’s average plate appearance-weighted age in 2005 was 29.3, the second-highest history behind 1945, when many young would-be players were at war. Most of the top 10 years for weighted player age, whether you weight by wins above replacement or by plate appearances, are either within the steroid era or around World War II.By contrast, the average age of hitters hasn’t undergone much of an increase between 2014 and 2016. If anything, it’s gone down: last year featured the lowest WAR-weighted age since 1990, and while that number has ticked upward slightly in 2016, it’s still only level with 2013 and below 2014.3 Probably some of the blame for the year-over-year increase lies with the slowing pace of MLB games, a factor which disproportionately aids older hitters. The 1994 season, which saw the largest jump in HR/PA, also saw a 0.75-year increase in WAR-weighted age relative to 1992. At least so far, there has been no significant increase in older players’ value as there was in the steroid era.Finally, we can look at parity between players, since one of the PED era’s defining features was the profound imbalance between the chemically-altered juggernauts like Barry Bonds and the average player. Not only did the rate of home runs increase across the league, but the top players in particular saw their dingers increase by an astounding degree. Record-breaking outlier seasons, like the famous 1998 single-season home run chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, became almost common. Roger Maris’s all-time record of 61 homers, which had stood for 37 years, was exceeded six times from 1998-2001.To measure this outlier effect in the steroid era, I calculated HR/PA for the top five home-run hitters in baseball each season.4There’s nothing special about the top five, but I got similar results when I used the top 10, 15, 20 and 25 hitters each year. I’m not necessarily assuming that all of the top five were PED-users, but if there were artificially-enhanced players in the top five, they acted to drive the highest HR/PA rates even higher.
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue questions an official’s call during a game on Feb. 8 at in Cleveland, Ohio. Credit: Courtesy of TNSAlthough it may be a microcosm for the performance of the team in an entire final’s series, the first game of the 2016 NBA finals was a rocky one for the men of the Wine and Gold.A severe lack of bench scoring and minimal output by key team members led to the Cleveland Cavaliers dropping the game 104-89 to the Golden State Warriors. Golden State only really seemed to be challenged mid-way through the third, when Cleveland took its first and only lead of the game.45 bench points by the Warriors, 20 of which came from veteran guard Shaun Livingston, and just nine team turnovers made easy work of a fully healthy Cleveland squad. After having so many hopes running high that the starters were at full power this year, it would seem the Cavs are in trouble after the opening frame of the finals.Game 2While the Cavaliers have had a tendency to bounce back from ugly losses all season, it is worth noting how impressive the Warriors home record has been. Golden State is 39-2 at Oracle Arena this season, and has more than once pummeled teams in back-to-back appearances. In order to regain momentum and even the series at one apiece, there has to be more output from shooting guard JR Smith and the bench. Combined, the entire bench and Smith only picked up 13 of Cleveland’s 89 points. Channing Frye, picked up by Cleveland earlier in the season to solidifying the bench with a scoring big man at power forwards, played just seven minutes.During that time, he missed the only shot he took, grabbed only one rebound, and made two free throws. If the Cavs want to make a bigger impact tonight, the Smith and Frye have to pick up more points in Game 2. Forward Lebron James had an overall solid performance, and was only one assist shy of a triple-double.Look for point guard and unanimous MVP Steph Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson to return to form in the next game. Combined, the Splash Brothers had just 20 points, a fairly anemic number compared to the numbers put up by the team during the course of the season. The Cavaliers will look to correct the mistakes of Game 1, the biggest being guarding Curry and Thompson, but forgetting about the rest of the team.Although the competition will be close, it seems the momentum earned by the Warriors paired with the success they have had at home spells trouble for Cleveland. Game 2 prediction: Golden State 111, Cleveland 101.Looking aheadDepending on if the Cavs fight back or experience another night of head scratching performances will dictate the rest of the finals.If the Warriors do pull ahead 2-0, it would most likely lead to the end of the title hopes to ‘Believeland,’ and could very well drive James out of Cleveland once again. But, if the Cavaliers claw their way back, look for fireworks when the Warriors come to Cleveland. All eyes will be on Game 2, which is slated for June 5 at 9 p.m at Oracle Arena
Kalyani: In a significant stride towards ensuring that people can buy LPG cylinders according to their financial capacity, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) has introduced cylinders with 5 kg refilling capacity.”There is a section of people, who face difficulty in doling out an amount of Rs 780 at one go for cylinders with 14 kg capacity. Hence, we have introduced 5 kg refill cylinders. Customers can now opt for either 14 kg or 5 kg LPG cylinders,” said Abhijit Dey, General Manager (LPG) IOCL. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedThe 5 kg refill will cost around Rs 300, a senior IOCL official added.The IOCL will soon introduce LPG gas supply at its two plants in Durgapur and Kalyani via pipeline to ensure uninterrupted supply. We have our two refineries at Paradip and Haldia. The gas pipeline will connect Paradip-Haldia with Durgapur and Kalyani. The link with Durgapur will be achieved in three months time, while Kalyani will be completed by theend of this year.It will not only bring down transportation cost via road but most importantly will usher in an uninterrupted supply,” Dey maintained.Presently, the bottling plants receive cylinders in bulk by tankers and then refilling is done at the plants before being despatched to customers. “In the next phase, the Budge Budge bottling plant will be linked through pipeline,” said RS Bhattacharya, deputy general manager, marketing (eastern region), IOCL.
Register Now » When you’re writing (or talking) about an app, it’s essential to differentiate between the way you think about the app, and the way your clients think about the app. Your small-business clients largely don’t care about how it works; they care about how their customers will experience it. As an app reseller, write from this perspective, not the developer’s perspective. That means talking about benefits, rather than features.Why is it important to know how to write about an app’s benefits? Because you will have to do it more often than you think. It all starts when you are pitching a small-business owner on your product, you want to be able to convey its benefits in both spoken and written form. After the sale, you will need to write the in-app copy, the app store description, the promotional material and so on. As your small-business client won’t know how to do these things, you will need to guide them through this.So without further ado, here are five ways to write about an app benefits, not features. 1. Write concisely.It’s important not to drone on and on about how great your product is. Be as concise and to the point as possible; we’re talking bullet points, not essays. People want to get their information quickly so they can make a decision, not listen to you wax poetic about how amazing your app is. Consider testing your language with an A/B test over email and seeing which version gets more clicks. “Make a note of what words worked and use them in future descriptions of your product. Whatever language you use, emphasize that your app exists to solve problems and make people’s lives better and easier,” recommends Susie Shore, writer at Assignment Help.2. Focus on the core experience.“If you’re going to effectively write about your app’s benefits, you need to focus on the core experience the app provides to its users. Don’t get bogged down in details and add-ons; ask yourself what its most important job is and focus your writing on that,” advises Brant Jones, tech editor at UKWritings. As the creator of the app, you’re going to be interested in details that the average user may not notice or appreciate as much as you do. What makes your app indispensable? This is what benefits the small business and their customers, not some detail you think is neat. Failing to focus on the app’s purpose will result in a shallow description that could leave readers asking, “What does this app do again?” and walking away.3. Stop adding features.It’s tempting to keep adding more and more features, thinking you’re adding more value. Remember that it’s about the core experience, as mentioned above. The more features you describe, the more confusing and convoluted your product seems. Focus on communicating how great your app does that one very useful thing, and how reliably it does it. Your clients are interested because of your app’s purpose, the one big selling point. Sure, you might have some nice little side benefits, but the more you talk about these perks, the less you are talking about the main reason they’re interested. Does that really help you?4. Remember that an app is never complete.Your app is going to change over time, and so will its features. What is less likely to change is the customer’s experience. When you’re releasing a new version, remember to reinforce in your writing that it’s still the same app people love, just with improvements. While you may think your tweaking and updating is amazing, resist the temptation to present the new version as completely different. People like your app, so don’t sell an update as a new product. Talk about the update in terms of its benefits, but frame them for what they are: an improved version of the app people already love. On the other hand, you shouldn’t write the app description once and then never look back at it. The writing itself can always use tweaking in terms of making it more persuasive and powerful.5. Get feedback about your app.You need to find out what your client’s customer base wants in a mobile experience. The best way to know if your app works as it should is to get it on the market. Don’t waste time and money testing and developing for years; just get it out there and see what happens. You might find, after testing the market, that you need to make some changes to better accommodate the target audience. But it’s better to find that out quickly than to spend a long time in development, eating up resources, before realizing changes need to be made. You can incorporate this feedback into the app’s updates and the app copy.ConclusionWrite with the end user’s perspective in mind. Think about the kind of experience you aim to provide with the app, not its most interesting features. The average person isn’t concerned with the fact that your latest update uses PWA technology, they just want it to work in a way that improves their lives. Focus on how the app will solve a problem and benefit the user — and the small business. A concise and to-the-point description will beat a long-winded and overly detailed description any day.(By Gracer Carter. Grace Carter is a business writer at Assignment Help and Australian Help services. She has helped developers highlight the benefits of their app and, as a result, increase their sales. Also, Grace is a contributor at OXEssays, British educational service.) Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. 6 min read This story originally appeared on Bizness Apps June 13, 2018 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Mike “Mish” Shedlock to talk about the real economy. His economics blog is one of world’s most widely read, according to the New York Times. Filmed in San Antonio after the Casey Research Summit, we discussed Mish’s analysis of global stock markets and how the St Louis Fed’s economic stress indicator’s new lows could be a sign of a coming market crash. Triggered by events to come in Europe, Mish sees the economy—and the stock market—erasing much of their gains over the last few years, ushering in a global currency crisis and a strengthening US dollar.