RFBowling-0.1Armas+0.3Barfield+0.7Hays+0.0 Baltimore’s place among the worst opening day lineupsAmong American League teams since 1973, the four worst opening day lineups according to the sum of players’ established wins above replacement (WAR) levels Only three teams in our sample — the 1977 and 1982 Toronto Blue Jays and the 1980 Oakland Athletics — had lower established WAR levels for their starting lineups on Opening Day than the Orioles will have this season. 1BAult+0.0Newman+0.7Upshaw-0.4Davis-1.0 PosPlayerWARPlayerWARPlayerWARPlayerWAR 1977 Blue Jays1980 Athletics1982 Blue Jays2019 Orioles CCerone-0.2Heath-0.3Whitt+0.4Sisco+0.1 2BGarcia-0.6Picciolo-0.8Garcia-0.2Villar+1.8 Established level is calculated as a weighted average of WAR from the previous three seasons.Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs DHVelez+0.7Essian+1.6Mayberry+1.8Santander-0.2 SSTorres+0.3Guerrero-0.3Griffin-1.1Martin+0.0 One of those teams, the ’77 Jays, was an expansion club that won just 54 games. But the two others finished around .500, meaning there are limitations to predicting off a lineup’s previous MLB track records. Of course pitchers can come to the rescue, as they did for Toronto in 1982 (led by the underappreciated Dave Stieb). Also, young players can emerge in dramatic breakout fashion: Rickey Henderson had done little as a rookie for the 1979 A’s before erupting for 8.3 WAR in 1980, for instance.But it’s tough to find the next Stieb or Henderson waiting in the wings to save Baltimore this year. De facto staff ace Dylan Bundy had a 5.45 earned run average last season, while the top prospect in the Orioles system, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, is starting the year in the minors and probably won’t be a full-time contributor until 2020. Among those actually in this lineup on opening day, outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays and catcher Chance Cisco probably have the best breakout potential. In fact, FanGraphs currently projects Mullins for a team-best 1.8 WAR, thanks to a combination of power and speed that could make him one of the few Orioles worth watching this season.New Orioles general manager Mike Elias told BaltimoreBaseball.com earlier this month that he wants the rebuild to go quickly: “This team finished last last year with a bad record,” he said. “I want to get out of that phase as quickly as possible, and so every decision that we’re going to make is going to be towards accelerating our advancement to be a playoff-caliber team again. I see no reason to stretch that out, drag it out beyond what we have to.”For now, though, this Baltimore lineup looks like it will battle the Miami Marlins for the saddest collection of mediocre veterans and anonymous prospects in the game. In each case, you’ve probably never heard of half of these guys, and the ones you do know are way past their prime. (Or never had a prime.) We’ll just have to see if this ragtag group can rally together and win the pennant anyway — or more realistically, rally to avoid 115 losses this time around. Total-0.5+1.4+1.8+2.1 The 2018 Baltimore Orioles were so bad that we questioned whether they belonged in the major leagues at all. They were our runaway pick for worst pro team of the year, going far beyond the many wannabe Astros and Cubs who’ve jumped on the tanking fad in recent seasons.Amazingly, things might get even worse this year. Since the middle of last season, Baltimore has traded away established veterans Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, Darren O’Day and Brad Brach, and watched as others such as Tim Beckham, Caleb Joseph and Adam Jones departed in free agency as well. Now there are only three remaining members of the Orioles’ lineup with even two years of MLB service time heading into 2019: Jonathan Villar, Trey Mancini — both average players at best — and Chris Davis, who had arguably the worst individual season in MLB history in 2018 when he hit .168 (in 470 at-bats!) with a .539 on-base plus slugging and -2.9 wins above replacement (WAR).1According to our usual 50-50 blend between the WAR versions found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. Davis’ untradeable contract means the Orioles are stuck with him, so they’ll pencil his name in on opening day no matter how bad he was last season.And those are the guys in the starting lineup who can be remotely labeled as household names. The rest is filled out with either youngish players who are past “prospect” status or journeymen plucked off the scrap heap. Taken as a whole, the 2019 Orioles’ roster basically recalls this scene from “Major League”:(No word on whether Baltimore owner Peter Angelos secretly built this team of cast-offs so he can move the team to Miami.)There have been a few teams who went into a season with less apparent talent than Baltimore — but not many. Using Baseball-Reference.com, we gathered data for each American League team’s opening day lineup since 1973 (to include every team who used the designated hitter full-time) and calculated those players’ established WAR track records going into the season.2To find a player’s established level of performance, we multiplied his WAR from the previous season by three, doubled his WAR from two seasons before and added it on, then added his WAR from three seasons before, and divided by six. This is an old Bill James invention for roughly projecting how much you can expect out of a player (in any given stat) based on the previous three years of performance. The track records for these Orioles — to the extent they have track records at all — place the team at or near the low-water mark at each position relative to all other AL opening day starting lineups since 1973: 3BMcKay-0.5Klutts-0.1Mulliniks-0.3Nunez+0.9 LFScott+0.0Henderson-0.4Woods+0.6Mancini+0.6 CFWoods-0.1Murphy+0.7Moseby+0.5Mullins-0.1
After more than 18 hours of deliberations, the House Armed Services Committee early Thursday morning approved the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill by a 60-2 vote.The legislation, which authorizes $523 billion in national security spending and $89 billion in funding for DOD’s overseas contingency operations account, now heads to the House floor later this month, reported the Hill.The measure rejects a number of cost-cutting reforms proposed by the Pentagon, including a request to hold a BRAC round in 2017, plans to trim support for commissaries and housing allowances for troops, and retiring the A-10 close air support jet.Late Wednesday, the committee adopted by voice vote an amendment from freshman Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) blocking the Air Force’s plan to retire the A-10 fleet.The draft bill already would authorize $683 million to million to keep the A-10s flying in FY 2016, but it did not include explicit language barring the Air Force from retiring the aircraft. That allowed McSally to offer her amendment and take credit for aiding her southeastern Arizona district, home of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and more than 80 Warthogs.Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) opposed the move to block the aircraft’s retirement and offered an amendment to allow the Air Force to take steps to retire up to 164 A-10s, but leave more than 100 in service. The proposal from the former Marine and Iraq veteran failed, however, reported the Hill.The measure authorizes pay raises for troops at 2.3 percent, versus the administration’s request for a 1.3 percent boost. The legislation is available on the committee website. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
[Representational Image]ReutersIn a freak incident, a woman’s ears were chopped off by her neighbour over an argument regarding drinking water allowance from a common water tank in Karnataka. The incident took place at Bangarpet in Kolar district on May 9 when 40-year-old Indrani was attacked by five people, including her neighbour Yashodamma.The victim is a resident of Kadarigana Koppa village. She was returning home from her cattle shed when Yashodamma, Shashi, Basavarajappa, Santosh and Hosarayappa attacked her. The accused slashed her ears with a blade.According to reports, Indrani had gone to fetch water from the public cistern in the village on May 7 when Yashodamma was also acquiring water from the tank. The village rules permit every person to carry four pots of water for their use. Indrani accused Yashodamma of procuring more pots of water, claiming that she had already collected eight pots of water. This incident led to the squabble between the neighbours and Yashodamma threw away Indrani’s pots.An infuriated Yashodamma retaliated and attacked her when Indrani was returning from the cowshed on May 9. The victim was rescued by her husband Raghupati, who came after listening to her cries for help. It is alleged that the accused’s husband, Hosarayappa, also assaulted the victim.Indrani was taken to Bethamangala PHC where she was given preliminary medical aid. However, since the damage was severe, she was rushed to SNR Hospital in Kolar where the doctors conducted a minor surgery and sutured both her ears, reports TOI.The Bethamangala police have filed an FIR and arrested five people. According to reports, this is the first FIR filed at the police station since 1943.
A bank staff member hands Indian 500 rupee notes to a customer on November 24, 2016, in the wake of the demonetisation of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes in Mumbai.INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty ImagesPersonal Loan comes to a person’s rescue whenever there is an emergency situation – be it medical or any undeclared expense. It has the potential to bail you out of a situation where you cannot meet the expense. The quick and easy accessibility feature of a Personal Loan makes it the most sought after loan options during an unexpected financial crisis. They are also the best borrowing option for short-term financial needs. However, since such loans come with a high-interest rate baggage, caution and restraint are key before opting for it. So, any error or delay in repayment can result in a heavy outgo, possibly leading to a debt spiral.Here are five precautions that can help you ensure that your Personal Loan does not become a liability.1: Say no to multiple loansThe desperation for raising funds in a financial crisis often urges individuals to seek loans from various banks or NBFCs. This is not helpful as multiple applications only reduce the chances of getting a loan sanctioned. With every loan application, banks check the Credit Score and credit history of the applicant. Taking multiple loans could impact the Credit Score negatively and dampen borrowing potential. An individual with a low Credit Score is typically charged higher interest rate than someone with a healthy Credit Score.2: Don’t borrow more than you can repayWith banks offering pre-approved Instant Personal Loans, it is easy to get carried away and borrow more than your repayment capacity. If your EMI towards the loan repayment is beyond your means, you could land yourself in a bigger financial trouble by having to break other funds or take further loans. One way to ensure your Personal Loan repayment remains within your means is by making sure your loan EMI does not exceed 35 to 40% of your monthly income.3: Choose loan tenure wiselyChoosing the right tenure for a Personal Loan is important to reduce the burden on yourself. The longer the loan tenure, the higher is the overall cost of repayment for the loan even though the EMI might seem tempting. You must go for the shortest tenure possible for you to afford. The loan tenure must be determined as per your repayment capacity.4: Ensure timely repaymentsYou must avoid missing or delaying Personal Loan EMIs as it would attract a penalty for late payment. Regular delays can also impact your credit profile negatively, thus affecting your borrowing potential for future. One way to ensure timely repayment is by opting for an auto debit facility from your bank account towards loan EMIs. INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty5: Always read the fine printLegal documents might not be easy to go through but make sure you pay attention while you read through the terms and conditions of a Personal Loan. These documents will help in the event of any dispute between you and the lending institute. As the terms and conditions are different for each bank, it makes sense to compare different loan options before zeroing in on one.Loans are tricky. They can help you build wealth or drag you to financial misery. Make the best use of them through your financial learnings.
US president Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials on school safety in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on 22 February, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo: AFPUS president Donald Trump threatened to pull immigration and other federal law enforcement agents from California on Thursday, a warning shot to the country’s richest and most populous state.Complaining that California was not complying with his hardline position on migrants, Trump warned he could cut vital help from Washington and prompt a crime wave.”Frankly it’s a disgrace, the sanctuary city situation,” he said, referring to a policy adopted by around 300 local authorities, cities and states of limiting cooperation with strict federal immigration edicts.”We are getting no help from the state of California,” Trump continued, claiming the state was protecting members of the violent MS13 gang.”Frankly if I wanted to pull our people from California you would have a crime mess like you’ve never seen,” he said focusing on the role of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies.”All I would have to do is say ICE and Border Patrol leave California alone and you would be inundated, you would see crime like no one has ever seen crime in this country.”Trump has repeatedly equated migrants with criminals, and made hardline migration policies a central plank of his political platform.”In two months they’d be begging for us to come back. They would be begging. And you know what, I’m thinking about doing it.”
In this 1 July photo, police and firemen work at the site of a deadly suicide attack in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. Photo: APIt’s too early to tell if training or other changes must be made in light of an insider attack in Afghanistan that killed one American soldier and wounded two others, because there’s some uncertainty about whether the assailant was a disgruntled Afghan soldier or an insurgent infiltrator, says a top officer of US army.Mark Milley, army chief of staff, said Friday that the three soldiers who were shot last weekend were protecting members of the new US advisory brigade that deployed to Afghanistan for the first time just five months ago. He said the Army is moving ahead with plans to create more of the training brigades and use them primarily in Afghanistan, although other locations could be considered in the future.According to officials, the attacker fired on the soldiers at the airfield on the base at Tarin Kowt, in southern Uruzgan Province, a hotbed of Taliban activity. He was taken into custody on the day of the attack on 7 July.It was the first death involving the advisory brigade, and the first insider attack in about a year. Joseph Maciel of South Gate, California, was shot by small arms fire and killed. The other two soldiers are in stable condition.In a message to the media last Saturday, Taliban spokesman Qari Yosuf Ahmadi said the shooting was carried out by a member of the Afghan security forces who acted alone, but the militant group “appreciated” his attack.The military, said Milley, is still trying to determine if the shooter was from the Taliban or another insurgency or just an angry Afghan soldier. Either way, he said, it doesn’t change the mission of the new advisory teams, working closely with their Afghan partners. Those jobs carry risk.”Those guys are out there, and they’re in exposed positons and it is a high-risk situation,” Milley said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. “So casualties are going to occur.”That’s a reminder of the challenges facing US forces in Afghanistan in the 17th year of America’s military involvement there. The Trump administration is trying to boost the capabilities of Afghan security forces and increase military pressure on the Taliban in the hope of forcing them to negotiate a peace.During a surge in the US military presence in Afghanistan under the Obama administration, when American forces had a greater combat role, there were dozens of so-called insider attacks.Despite additional precautionary steps since then, the threat has continued. Last June, there were two insider attacks – in which a soldier in an Afghan uniform turns his weapon on US or other coalition troops – within a two-week period, killing three US soldiers and wounding another seven.Speaking to reporters last month, Scott Jackson, commander of the new security force assistance brigade, acknowledged the possible threat of a friendly fire attack.”I will tell you honestly, we have had our Afghan partners come to us with intelligence that pre-empted potential attacks, and they have been proactively taking care of their own problems,” Jackson said during a 13 June briefing.Jackson said that when the assistance brigade arrived in Afghanistan, they began vetting the higher-level Afghan forces and steadily worked their way down to the smaller units. That vetting, said Jackson, goes on continually as soldiers rotate in and out of the units, and has not delayed operations.Just six months ago, Jackson was at Fort Benning, Georgia, pulling together the new training brigade, working to make real the vision of senior Army leaders.The idea was formed early last year, as officials recognized the need for permanent military training teams that could be deployed worldwide to help local forces learn how to fight better. The plan was a reflection of the new reality of America at war: Army soldiers advising and building indigenous security forces, not doing the fighting for them on foreign soil.Under the plan, the Army will build six brigades over the next several years. And Milley said Friday that the second brigade is currently doing pre-mission training to replace Jackson’s unit when it’s time for them to come home.
Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US on 18 May. Photo: ReutersSeeking to build on early momentum in his 2020 presidential bid, former US vice president Joe Biden on Saturday condemned “anger” within his own Democratic Party and pledged to work to unify the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency.At a rally in downtown Philadelphia, Biden, as he has done throughout the beginning stages of his campaign, made Trump his central target, blasting him as “the divider-in-chief.”But he also chided other Democratic presidential candidates in the field, suggesting that anger toward Trump within his party was not enough to win next year’s presidential election.His message, Biden said, was expressly aimed at Democratic, Republican and independent voters alike.”Some of the really smart folks say Democrats don’t want to hear about unity,” he said. “They say Democrats are so angry, and that the angrier your campaign will be, the better chance you have to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don’t believe it.”About 6,000 people attended the rally, which had, by design, the feel of a general-election event. With his poll numbers currently swamping the rest of the Democratic field, Biden has often acted as if his current opponent is Trump and not the other 23 Democrats vying for the party’s nomination.”If the American people want a president to add to our division, to lead with a clenched fist, closed hand, a hard heart, to demonize the opponents and spew hatred – they don’t need me, they’ve got President Donald Trump,” Biden told the crowd, which was bookended by large video monitors.Democratic nominating contests begin next February, giving the dynamics of the race plenty of time to shift. But Biden, 76, has opened up a more than 20-point lead over his nearest rival, US senator Bernie Sanders, in several public opinion polls.Biden, a US senator for 30 years and a two-term vice president under Barack Obama, has argued he is best positioned to take on Trump next year.Attendees at the event said they agreed.”He’s going to be the one who takes Trump out of office,” said Daril Murard, 27, of Langhorne, Pennsylvania. “That’s why I’m here.”Tim Reihm, 48, drove to the event from his hometown of York, Pennsylvania.”I think there’s been a tendency in the party to drift a little too far left and I think that’s going to disenfranchise a large section of the country,” Reihm said. “Joe represents a sort of a more middle ground where we can bring people together instead of becoming more and more fractious.”Biden also answered critics who have mocked his pledge to work with Republicans as unrealistic should he win the White House.”I’m going to say something outrageous,” he said. “I know how to make government work.”Biden’s remarks drew a swift response from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal advocacy group that backs another candidate, US senator Elizabeth Warren.A fundraising memo sent to members after the rally accused Biden of trying to splinter the party.”Joe Biden is dividing Americans when, after the historic 2018 election, he tells voters they are wrong to be angry – and wrong if they don’t want ‘unity’ with corrupt Republican politicians,” the memo said.”We don’t need a Democratic nominee who rejects the fact that people are righteously angry in the Trump era,” it said.Biden has established his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia, illustrating the importance of Pennsylvania to Democratic hopes next year. Trump narrowly won the state over Hillary Clinton in 2016.Trump will hold an event of his own on Monday in northeast Pennsylvania.Prior to Biden’s speech, the Republican National Committee in a release pointed to statistics showing how Pennsylvania’s economy has improved during Trump’s presidency.Biden will not have the luxury of shrugging off the rest of the Democratic field much longer.In recent weeks, he has been criticized by Senator Kamala Harris for his past support for the 1994 crime bill that critics say led to mass incarceration of African-Americans, by Sanders for his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and by Warren for his ties to the credit-card industry.With Biden the clear front-runner, those attacks are likely to intensify. But Biden on Saturday said he would keep his focus on Trump and not his rivals for the nomination.”You will not hear me speak ill of another Democrat,” Biden said.Following the Philadelphia event, Biden is expected to spend the next several weeks focusing on policy announcements and raising money.