Monthly Archives: November 2017

Do Democrats Need To Win In Alabama To Take The Senate In 2018?

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

micah (Micah Cohen, politics editor): Greetings, colleagues! For your consideration today: Do Democrats need to win the special election for Alabama’s Senate seat in order to have a chance to win control of the chamber in 2018?

Implicit in that question, obviously, is: Can Democrats win the Senate in 2018?

So let’s start off with this, from friend-of-the-site Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics:

He says he would buy Democrats to win the Senate at 30 percent. And that it would be 50-50 if Democrat Doug Jones wins in Alabama.

Would people buy at 30 right now?

clare.malone (Clare Malone, senior political writer): Yes. While I don’t think it’s a sure thing by any means, this environment is a lot friendlier for Democrats than Republicans.

harry (Harry Enten, senior political writer): Ohhh boy. I tell ya. This is where a formal model would really help. Here’s what we know: Incumbent senators of the opposition party (the party that doesn’t control the White House) rarely lose in midterms, and Democrats have two clear pickup opportunities in addition to Alabama (Arizona and Nevada). They need a net gain of three seats to get the majority, so the math is there. Of course, the Democrats are defending seats on some very red turf, including in Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia, to name just a few.

natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Answer the question, dude.

micah: You answer it, Nate!

natesilver: A-N-S-W-E-R. T-H-E. Q-U-E-S-T-I-O-N. H-A-R-R-Y.

micah: Clare is the only brave one here.

natesilver: I’d hold at 30.

micah: 😴

harry: Holdin’ Nate.

micah: HARRY!


harry: Fine. Fine. I’ll sell at 30 percent and buy at 25 percent.

micah: 😴

natesilver: Oh, give me a break.

micah: You’re holding, in other words.

natesilver: You’re like, “We don’t have a formal model, blah blah blah,” and then you’re parsing the difference between 25 and 30 percent.

micah: Clare, why would you buy?

And how contingent is your buy on Jones winning in Alabama?

Like, if I told you that Republican Roy Moore is going to win, would you sell at 30 percent?

natesilver: I’d just point out that if Moore wins, he’d probably get expelled, which would compel another special election.

clare.malone: As I said above, before all the bullshit equivocating, I think the Alabama thing, if it happens for Democrats, could really build some momentum.

Would I sell?


micah: My prediction: Moore wins, he gets expelled. He runs again in the new special election and wins.

natesilver: Then gets expelled again?

micah: No.

I’m not convinced Republicans would even expel him to begin with.

clare.malone: It feels a bit like an intimidation tactic right now.

micah: Yeah.

natesilver: Moore would be a huge problem for Republicans if he stays in office. He’s not going to be cooperative at all with the GOP leadership. And he’s basically every liberal’s worst stereotype of a Republican, which isn’t great for the GOP brand. I think the expulsion threat is pretty real.

harry: Read up on your Powell vs. McCormack. Adam Clayton Powell was expelled by the House of Representatives, then elected again and seated.

micah: But here’s my argument for buying Democrats at 30 percent: They basically need one seat in addition to Arizona and Nevada. They might get that in a month. And even if they don’t, if it’s a super Democratic-leaning year, as we think it will be, I’d bet Democrats in red states will be mostly safe.

Moreover! I think people think too narrowly about what states could be in play.

Like, if Democrats have a +10 advantage on the generic ballot and it’s an anti-incumbent year, who’s to say Ted Cruz won’t be in trouble in Texas?

clare.malone: Welcome to Team Buy, Micah.

micah: TEAM BUY!

Defend yourselves, Team Sell!

natesilver: I’d buy at 30 percent on Democrats winning three or more seats. But they also have a lot of their own seats to defend.

I’m not Team Sell, by the way, I’m Team Hold.

micah: You’re Team Sell, Nate.

natesilver: I’m Team Hold, Micah.

clare.malone: The coward’s choice.

micah: You’re Team 😴

harry: I mean, it’s pretty simple why you wouldn’t buy. Other than Arizona and Nevada, the most Democratic-leaning seat that’s up in 2018 and has a Republican incumbent is Texas. Beyond that, where can Democrats pick up a seat? There aren’t good choices. Maybe they have a shot in Tennessee if the Republicans nominate an archconservative and Phil Bredesen, the former governor, wins the Democratic nomination.

natesilver: Given that there are approximately 6 jillion Democratic seats up for re-election and only a few Republican ones, I think Democrats having a 30 percent chance of taking the Senate is pretty good.

harry: What Nathaniel Read just said.

natesilver: The fact that it’s as high as 30 percent indicates that things are going pretty bad for Republicans.

micah: The Cook Political Report rates the Texas Senate race as more solidly Republican than the one in Tennessee.

natesilver: So, traditionally people place a lot of weight on incumbency. Tennessee is an open seat, and Texas isn’t.

I think that incumbency is maybe a little overrated. The incumbency advantage has been dwindling. (We’ll have an article on this soon.)

micah: What if Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch retires, then Mitt Romney wins in Utah and caucuses with Democrats?

clare.malone: He won’t caucus with Democrats.

harry: What if my mother’s dog starts talking, Micah?

micah: So, Nate, you basically think Democrats need Alabama?

natesilver: No, I don’t. I think Texas is plausible-ish. And I think a second Arizona seat could open up for obvious reasons.

clare.malone: OK, what are seats that Democrats hold that we think they are in danger of losing?


micah: Indiana.

West Virginia.

I mean, here are the Cook ratings on Democratic-held seats:

clare.malone: Yeah, I mean … they could DEFINITELY get cut up in some of those.

natesilver: I think Missouri and, to a slightly lesser extent, Indiana are the biggest problems for Democrats.

The reason being that Claire McCaskill and Joe Donnelly had the benefit of running against really poor opponents last time.

clare.malone: Yeah. “Legitimate rape.”

micah: Joe Manchin may have enough of his own brand in West Virginia to be in OK shape. Right?

natesilver: Manchin is still fairly popular there, yeah.

clare.malone: But there’s also the fact that Team Trump could go all out and pool support against Manchin in that state if they wanted.

harry: I wouldn’t discount Florida myself, given that Rick Scott could spend more money than most Americans dream of seeing in a lifetime.

natesilver: Yeah, Florida — you could see Bill Nelson blowing that race, somehow.

Or Sherrod Brown in Ohio.

And to the point earlier about the incumbency advantage diminishing — that could hurt “generic” Democratic incumbents like McCaskill who don’t have their own brands carved out.

micah: I don’t really buy Florida. If it’s a really Democratic-leaning year, why would they lose Florida?

Ohio is more believable. But I think even that would go blue in a blue-wave year.

clare.malone: The Republican candidate in Ohio (Josh Mandel) is … not super likeable. But who knows.

harry: Democrats in Florida are heavily dependent on a Latino vote that may not show up for a midterm.

natesilver: Democrats probably wouldn’t lose Florida, Micah. And it’s true that all of these outcomes are correlated. But sometimes individual races deviate from the trend, like when Democrats won by a huge margin in Michigan in 2014 despite having a really bad year everywhere else.

New Jersey is also a trouble spot for Democrats with the Bob Menendez trial.

clare.malone: Yeah, Menendez is very unpopular there.

natesilver: He’d probably lose a primary challenge — New Jersey Democrats tend to be fairly pragmatic — but it’s a wild card.

harry: My guess is New Jersey ain’t gonna happen for Republicans. It has a powerful state party that will get Menendez to lose the primary or step aside if necessary.

natesilver: So maybe there’s a 50 percent chance that Democrats win 3+ seats, but some of those times, they also lose one or more seats of their own. Which puts us at 30 or so.

If I were actually betting on this stuff, I’d also want to know how the contracts handle post-election party switches.

If Maine Sen. Collins switched parties, for instance, I think it would be right after the midterm and not before.

Sorta like Jim Jeffords or Arlen Specter after the 2000 and 2008 presidential elections.

clare.malone: Do we think Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski would switch parties post-midterm? Or caucus with the Democrats?

micah: That would be exciting!

harry: And to think, in 2011, I believed that politics had become boring and predictable.

natesilver: Collins is more likely, just because she’s more out of step with the Maine GOP, which is getting more like Gov. LePage.

clare.malone: Yeah, that’s true.

We’re just considering WILD CARDS!

natesilver: But if the Senate balance is 50-50 after the election — and let’s say the Republicans have really gotten slaughtered in the House, so the mood of the country is pretty clear — it becomes very tempting to switch if you’re a pivotal Republican senator. You arguably have more power that way (although you have a lot of power either way).

micah: OK, so party-switching and wild cards aside, does your read on Democrats’ Senate chances basically come down to how you think red-state Democrats will fare?

harry: I think that’s right.

natesilver: I mean, it also comes down to Alabama, where I’m slightly more skeptical of Jones’s chances than the consensus.

And it comes down to where you come down on Arizona and Nevada, on the spectrum between “toss-up” and “leans Democrat.”

I think both are leans Democrat, for what it’s worth.

micah: So, my read, to take just one example, is that Harry and Nate are looking at these races like gubernatorial races, which tend to be more about state-level concerns. But we know Senate races tend to be more nationalized, and the odds are that Trump is going to be super unpopular in 2018, perhaps with a much-ramped-up Russia investigation.

clare.malone: I’d agree with that.

micah: Why wouldn’t we expect the 🌊 to hit the Senate?

natesilver: Even if you have a wave, Democrats might only gain two seats.

That’s the point.

In a non-wave year, they might lose six seats.

So the wave is what takes them from -6 to +2.

It’s a realllllllllyyyyyyy bad map for Democrats

micah: That seems circular to me.

natesilver: OMG

harry: I’ll just drop this in here.

micah: “Democrats will have a really hard time winning races, so they won’t win many races.”

OK, so let’s go back to Alabama …

harry: I love Alabama.

micah: Imagine it’s Dec. 13, and Doug Jones is the senator-elect from Alabama. I give you even odds that Democrats take the Senate back in 2018. Buy, sell or hold?

And remember, if you hold, you suck.

clare.malone: I’m holding and then selling once all the suckers in the betting markets get amped.

micah: That’s the right answer.

natesilver: 50 percent seems in the right range to me, if Jones wins.

harry: Apparently, you suck.

natesilver: Apparently. But it’s actually pretty hard to estimate this stuff without a model

because of how the outcomes are correlated, etc.

micah: We should build a model.

natesilver: Too soon.

harry: We should build a motel.

clare.malone: OK. Let’s cut through the crap: Do you guys think Jones is going to pull this out?

micah: Yes.

natesilver: If there’s no write-in bid, then I think Moore is still the favorite.

harry: Wait. That’s trash. Do you think there will be a write-in bid?

natesilver: Well, I have a whole freaking article about that, which I’m filing to Micah.

Basically, I think all the other outcomes are so bad that it doesn’t hurt the GOP to try a write-in bid, even though it probably helps Jones.

harry: For those wondering, PredictIt has Jones shares selling at 42 cents, as I’m writing this. Moore is at 41 cents, Luther Strange at 6 cents, Mo Brooks at 2 cents and Trip Pittman at 1 cent.

So the conventional wisdom seems to be that Moore won’t win?

micah: Final question: Does the outcome in Alabama matter solely in terms of the seat math? Or would a Jones win tell us something about the political environment? Or would it have more nuts-and-bolts consequences?

harry: Moore would win this race if the environment was neutral to pro-Republican.

clare.malone: I think a Jones win — which might be dependent, as Nate said, on McConnell and national Republicans trying to screw over Moore — would be yet another little battle in the “establishment vs. Bannonites” or whatever we’re calling that emerging wing of the party.

The wing that now makes the tea party look moderate in tone.

natesilver: Right. It would tell us a little something. But, again, mostly it would tell us things that are consistent with what we already know. And people are liable to over-interpret the difference between, say, a 3-point Moore win and a 3-point Jones win — both of which would count as a really bad performance for Republicans, but either of which could sort of be blamed on Moore also.

So basically I think the actual consequences of the Alabama race are larger than the predictive info it contains. In contrast to, say, the Georgia 6th or something.

harry: Right, I think Jones winning is both a sign of the environment and of candidate quality. But yeah, one Senate seat is worth a whole lot when the majority party is at 52 seats.

Politics Podcast: Alabama’s Senate Race



In the past week, several women have accused Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of making inappropriate advances toward them while they were teenagers. Two of those instances allegedly included forced sexual contact. On this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, our team discusses how the accusations have affected a race that Republicans were expected to win handily.

The crew also assesses the disunity within the Democratic Party after a strong showing in the 2017 off-year elections.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Monday evenings, with occasional special episodes throughout the week. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

The Sixers Could Be Dominant Soon. Yes, Those Sixers.

SACRAMENTO — In any of the past three seasons, the Kings beating the Sixers would have been seen as simply business as usual. After all, Philly — which had been mired in one of the worst stretches of any team in history — was liable to lose to just about anyone, even lowly Sacramento.

When it happened Thursday, though, it was surprising. The Sixers entered the contest as one of the NBA’s hottest teams, riding a five-game win streak. Somehow, expectations had been born.

That’s a key difference between the Sixers of yesterday and the Sixers of today: We actually expect them to win sometimes. The other distinction — the team’s two young potential superstars — means it’s finally possible to see how Philly could someday reach the point where it’s always expected to win.

It’s impossible to overstate just how bad the Sixers were until very recently. That was mostly by design, of course — an elaborate rebuilding experiment under the direction of former general manager Sam Hinkie — but it still resulted in the Sixers’ exploration of the extreme depths of North American team sports. Here’s Philly’s decline in graphical form, tracing its trajectory using our Elo ratings (which measure a team’s strength — or, in this case, weakness — over time):

Philly hit its peak Elo of the past five seasons — 1485, nearly a .500-caliber team — early in Hinkie’s first season at the helm, but then quickly dipped to its Hinkie-era nadir later that same season with a rating of 1175, which is good for about 13 wins per 82 games. From there, most teams tend to improve their rating just by sheer regression to the mean, but the Sixers found a way to drop back below 1200 again in April of 2016. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the 2015-16 season was Hinkie’s last as GM.) Over the past couple seasons, though, they’ve managed to climb back toward the league-average mark of around 1500. Philly’s trajectory has few parallels in NBA history; they’re only the sixth team ever to start at an Elo above 1440, dip below 1200 within two seasons, and then rise back above 1440 within the following two seasons:

Philly’s path to hell and back

NBA teams who started with an Elo rating above 1440, dipped below 1200 within two seasons, and rose back above 1440 in the following two seasons

1971-1975 Sixers 1543 1160 1470
1991-1995 Mavericks 1532 1111 1485
1996-2000 Nuggets 1547 1163 1451
1998-2002 Clippers 1444 1174 1550
2010-2014 Bobcats 1565 1152 1549
2014-2018 Sixers 1485 1194 1443


This may be only the beginning of the Sixers’ rise. Going into the season, ESPN ranked Philly sixth in its NBA future power rankings, representing each team’s potential over the next handful of years. And since the start of the season, only two teams — the Magic and Celtics — have tacked more points onto their Elo ratings than the Sixers have.As of Nov. 9.


We asked Brett Brown, who’s in his fifth season as Sixers coach, about that unusual transition.

“I do it multiple times every day,” he said when asked if he’s already given serious thought to making a title run with this core group at some point. “But I also feel incredibly grounded, because I’ve seen four championships, and my Spurs life helped me understand how hard it is and how long a process it is. You cannot skip steps, and you need some luck with health. I’m not young anymore, so the excitement of what could be is always with me. I think about it all the time.”

And for good reason. In Joel Embiid and rookie sensation Ben Simmons, the Sixers appear to have finally found what The Process ordered: a duo that has the advantage of both being very young and having the sort of size and skill that can’t be taught, a rare combination that the league has seldom seen.

Since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, only five teams have had a pair of players age 23 or younger who each logged at least 25 minutes per game and posted a Box Plus/Minus of +3.5 or greater: The 1984-85 Portland Trail Blazers, with Clyde Drexler and Sam BowieYes, that Sam Bowie, who was infamously drafted one spot ahead of Michael Jordan. Before injuries ruined his career, though, Bowie was a solid up-and-coming big man.

‘>2; the 1993-94 and 1994-95 Orlando Magic, with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway; the 2011-12 Oklahoma City Thunder with Kevin Durant and James Harden; and, if they keep it up, the 2017-18 Philadelphia 76ers with Simmons and Embiid.

Somewhat lost in the wild stat lines Simmons and Embiid are compiling is the fact that they excel by going against today’s NBA grain. The 6-foot-10 Simmons, much like scoring leader and early MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, has managed to foil defenses and log triple-doubles without the threat of an outside shot. In fact, through 11 games, Simmons hasn’t even attempted a true jumperMeaning one that wasn’t an end-of-quarter heave from the backcourt.

“>3 of 20 feet or more, yet he is skewering foes with nearly 18 points and eight dimes a game while shooting 50 percent.

Embiid, on the other hand, would appear to be a bit of a throwback. He’s most comfortable in the post with his back to the basket — his 22.5 post-ups per 100 possessions lead the NBA by far, according to data from Second Spectrum — even as he possesses the new-age ability to spot up.

The two display good chemistry, scoring an above-average 0.94 points per pick-and-roll they orchestrate, according to Second Spectrum data. They sometimes catch opponents off guard at the start of possessions, when defenders expect Simmons to come to the 3-point line to get the ball and initiate the offense, but he darts backdoor instead, with Embiid finding him for an easy bucket.

On a separate play against Dallas, Simmons calls Embiid over to set a screen for him, prompting Dirk Nowitzki to take a step or two forward in anticipation of the pick. That allows Embiid the space he needs to dive behind the future Hall of Famer for an easy lob.

In the nearly 200 minutes Simmons and Embiid have shared the court, the Sixers have played like a contender, scoring 106.2 points per 100 plays while surrendering just 97.2, marks that would rank them inside the NBA’s top 10 on both ends of the court.While it’s early in the season, it’s still noteworthy that the team’s net rating is even better, with slightly better offense and much better defense, when Embiid plays without Simmons. That sample size of 61 minutes is less than a third of the size of the sample for their time playing together, though.


This duo is clearly the source of Philadelphia’s new identity, but a number of other factors also help explain the team’s promising start.

The club — which for years might have had better shooters in the stands than it did on its bench — is lighting things up from deep, thanks to free-agent addition J.J. Redick and two-way stud Robert Covington (who’s outpacing Klay Thompson as the NBA’s best high-volume catch-and-shoot 3-point gunner so farAmong players taking five or more such shots per game.

“>5). The Sixers have made their plays following timeouts count, scoring 1.05 points per possession in those situations, second-best in the league, per Synergy Sports. And the young defense, still holier than a bible at times, is making an extraordinary effort as it learns the ropes. Philly boasts the NBA’s best defensive efficiency after committing live-ball turnovers, per Inpredictable; that’s noteworthy because the Sixers fumble it away more than any other team.

To be clear, no one is saying that Philadelphia, at 6-5, has it all figured out. Forward Dario Saric and Embiid ranked worst and second-worst in turnover rate, respectively, when being aggressively doubled in the post last season,Among players with 100 or more post-up opportunities.

“>6 per Synergy, and Brown said his team still needs to reduce the number of “my bad” situations it finds itself in over the course of each game. Simmons’s reluctance to pull the trigger on jumpers may be an extension of him still figuring out which hand he wants to shoot with on a primary basis. (Simmons, who shoots free throws left-handed, spent time during Thursday morning’s shootaround in Sacramento practicing midrange jumpers with his right hand. He missed the rim four times during a two-minute span.)

Philly’s rim protection crumbles into dust when Embiid goes to the bench, as opponents shoot just 57 percent from the restricted area with him in the game, yet hit a whopping 71 percent — which would rank worst in the league — when he’s sidelined, according to Then, obviously, there’s the question of whether the team’s key pieces can stay healthy, which is far from a given considering their injury histories. (The calculus could also change for the better depending on the status of No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz and what he’s able to give the Sixers once he comes back.)

But make no mistake: A healthy Sixers team — with Simmons infusing life into the offense by forcing help when he drives to the basket and Embiid bringing the sort of post D that makes players think twice about shooting — will factor into the playoff race this year, with a chance to do far more damage going forward.

Simmons’s creativity on offense is bolstered by his ability to see over the top of the defense. His 10.6 assists per 100 possessions and 2.1 assist-to-turnover ratio compare favorably to the first few seasons of LeBron James’s career. And the Philly point forward, who leads NBA ballhandlers in passes per game, at times has flashed a James-like ability to spray the ball around to shooters.

As for Embiid, whom Brown referred to as his “crown jewel,” his impact can’t be overstated, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. As ESPN stat guru Micah Adams pointed out, teams have seemingly avoided trying to post up Embiid at all this season, perhaps aware of how effective he was at the rim last season, even when compared with the league’s other elite bigs.

Asked if it’s difficult to stay focused on what’s right in front of the team rather than thinking big-picture, Embiid smiled. “I guess I’d just say that I have to trust the process,” he said.

9 Key Questions About Roy Moore And The Alabama Senate Race

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate race in Alabama became the latest avenue of American life to be rocked by a scandal involving improper sexual conduct. The Washington Post reported allegations that Republican Roy Moore pursued relationships with four teenage girls, one of whom was 14 at the time of a sexual encounter with Moore. Moore has unequivocally denied the report.

The Alabama special election was already getting national attention as one of the fronts upon which former Trump adviser Steve Bannon said he would be waging his war against the Republican establishment, so the race has several facets to be closely watched — social, cultural and, yes, political.

Although it’s difficult to predict what effect a scandal will have on an election, here’s what we’re looking at and considering as it unfolds.

Where did the race stand before the Post story?

The five most recent public pollsters to survey the race — all before Thursday’s allegations — found, on average, Moore ahead of his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, 48 percent to 42 percent. That sounds like a pretty decent lead until you realize that President Trump won Alabama by 28 points in 2016.

Why was Moore underperforming?

Alabama is a ruby-red state, but Moore has a had a long and controversial record there — which might explain why he’s not doing as well as you might expect for a Republican.

Polls differ a bit on why Moore has been struggling, but they all agree that he’s having trouble with voters who don’t identify as evangelical. (Moore has been doing fine among Alabama’s heavily evangelical Republican base.) Hillary Clinton won non-evangelical voters in Alabama by 12 percentage points in 2016, according to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. But Moore is doing much worse than Trump did among that group. Jones was leading Moore among non-evangelical voters by around 40 points, according to a JMC Analytics and Polling survey and an Opinion Savvy poll.

Another weakness for Moore? Alabama’s independent voters. Both a Fox News poll and the Opinion Savvy poll have Jones winning independents even though Trump carried them in Alabama by 49 percentage points according to the CCES.

It’s possible that Moore has already lost the Alabama voters who would have been most likely to abandon him in light of the Post story. That said, the Fox News poll found that 42 percent of Moore’s supporters had reservations about him, so either they’ve made their peace voting for a candidate they see as flawed or they already have one foot out the door and the Post story could send them the rest of the way.

What will Republican officials do?

How national Republicans react to the scandal could do quite a bit to tip the balance of the race, forcing talk of the scandal into the conservative media and increasing pressure on Moore and his campaign.

Senators from the establishment wing of the Republican Party who have already been at odds with the Bannon-esque contours of the Moore campaign were quick to speak out. Sen. Lisa Murkowsi of Alaska and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona were among the first to tell reporters that if the reports of sexual conduct with minors were true, Moore should resign from the race. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said much the same, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a statement to the same effect.

Republican elected officials, perhaps aware that Moore was already problematic, seem to be in a holding pattern, loath to out-and-out call for him to drop out (and risk angering the base) but far from willing to vouch for Moore. Arizona Sen. John McCain went the furthest of his caucus, calling the allegations “disturbing” and “disqualifying.”

How will Trump react?

The president is, as always, a wild card. Trump didn’t endorse Moore in the primary, instead favoring McConnell’s choice of Luther Strange. But in the waning days of the race, Trump seemed to express some regret with his decision, and after Moore won, he deleted some tweets expressing support for Strange.

Trump, who has weathered his own sex scandals, seems to always take the line of fighting allegations, so he might stand by Moore. Or, ever eager for approval from the electorate, Trump might bide his time to see how conservative media reacts, gauging how he thinks his base might take the news — as “fake news” or troubling allegations involving teenage girls.

How will the conservative media react?

News of the Post story first made its way onto the internet by way of a Breitbart report headlined, “After Endorsing Democrat in Alabama, Bezos’s Washington Post Plans to hit Roy Moore With Allegations of Inappropriate Relations with Teenagers; Judge Claims Smear Campaign.” Breitbart is, of course, Bannon’s domain, and Moore is Bannon’s horse in the race — so the website’s sympathetic coverage makes sense. How Fox News and other conservative outlets cover the scandal could play a part in how the Republican base comes to view it.

Trump won the presidency despite allegations of sexual assault, but the allegations against Moore involve underage girls, which might change how Republican voters view the scandal. The allegations led the right-leaning Drudge Report and Washington Examiner on Thursday evening, as well as Fox News’s homepage.

Can Moore be replaced on the ballot? Could there be a write-in campaign?

No and yes.

Moore’s name will appear on the ballot — it’s too late to switch it out for the Dec. 12 election — but there’s certainly still a chance for Republicans to launch a write-in campaign. Who’s at the top of the list? Strange. Murkowski, who famously won a write-in victory of her own, has already said that she’s in touch with Strange about this very thing. Should Moore stay in the race — as he has said he will — and Strange jumps in, the Republican vote could split. That would be good news for Jones.

Does it matter that Moore ran as a “values” candidate?

How the GOP base in Alabama reacts to this story is certainly the big looming question in all of this. Moore has made his name in the state as a fierce champion of evangelical Christian values, often testing the limits of democratic governance along the way; he was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003 for refusing to take down a replica of the Ten Commandments that stood in front of the court.

Allegations of sexual contact with children are incredibly serious, but it remains an open question whether the state’s Republican voters will see the story as true or not. As the past year has shown, in a highly politicized and polarized national environment, every story seems to take on political shading, including the allegations of sexual assault against men in positions of power. Party loyalty overrode personal affront for many Republican voters in 2016. And Clinton and other Democratic politicians, for instance, were quickly linked to Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein — who has been accused of a litany of wrongdoings, from harassment to rape — given his donations to various Democratic campaigns.

In some ways, the allegations against Moore might test how much American society, in all corners, has absorbed the national conversation on sexual assault allegations. Emerging narratives around that conversation feature a hope that more credibility is being lent to victim allegations. But some also fear witch hunts of powerful men. The next few weeks will surely tell us more about how Alabama voters are grappling with this cultural sea change.

Are there precedents we can look to?

There are past political scandals that involved underage or teenage victims, though most came before the highly polarized political environment of the past 10 years and most candidates dropped out of the race before election day.

In 1990, Republican Jon Grunseth dropped out of the Minnesota gubernatorial race after allegations of sexual misconduct. Among these allegations were that he had encouraged two girls — one 13, the other 14 — to take a nude swim with him. Grunseth’s primary challenger, Arne Carlson eventually won the race as a write-in candidate.

In 1983, the U.S. House formally censured two members, Republican Dan Crane and Democrat Gerry Studds, for sexual relationships with 17-year-old pages. Both ran for re-election, with Crane losing and Studds winning.

In 2006, Republican Mark Foley resigned from office after he was accused of sending explicit text messages to an underage former page. Foley’s name was kept on the ballot, and Democrats won the seat.

Alabama itself is fresh off another sex scandal (though it didn’t involve anyone underage). Republican Gov. Robert Bentley resigned from office in April as he was facing impeachment for allegedly having used his office to cover up an extramarital affair. His approval rating dropped precipitously after the revelation of the affair, showing perhaps, that there are instances when moral outrage outweighs partisan interest.

Is there empirical research on how much “scandals” can change electoral outcomes?

One paper from researchers who looked at senators running for re-election from 1974 to 2008 estimated that scandals involving immoral behavior cost the scandal-plagued candidate 6.5 percentage points and raised his opponent’s vote share 6.5 points, for a net change of 13 points. We don’t know if the Alabama race will move that much, but any penalty approaching that size would be more than enough to significantly darken Moore’s prospects of winning this Senate seat.

Can An NHL Player Finally Score 50 Goals In 50 Games Again?

Scoring 50 goals in 50 games is the crowning achievement of an NHL goal scorer. Players who do so join a club of legends including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Maurice Richard. The club is exclusive — it has only five members, and it hasn’t accepted a new application in 25 years. There are dozens and dozens of active NHL players who weren’t alive yet the last time someone scored 50 goals in 50 games, when Brett Hull did it during the 1991-92 season.

As with throwing dead octopuses onto the ice and shaking hands with the opponent after a playoff series, the 50 in 50 club is like many things unique to the NHL: steeped in history and perhaps devoid of logic. The attention bestowed on the exploit dates back to the days when there were only 50 games on the schedule. So when Richard became to first to do it in 1945, it meant he averaged a goal a game for a whole season. When the schedule expanded to 60 games — and then to 70 games, and then 74, 76, 78, 80 and 84 games, finally settling at 82 games — 50 in 50 remained a thing. Because, you know, why not?

Like with many exclusive clubs, there are also a lot of rules. To gain access, you must score 50 goals in your team’s first 50 games, not your own. Alexander Mogilny scored 50 goals in his first 46 games in 1992-93, but an injury forced him to miss three weeks at the beginning of the season. Mogilny’s 50th tally came in his team’s 53rd game, so he’s not allowed in. No exceptions!

It’s not easy to sustain a goal-per-game pace for 50 consecutive games, but so far this season, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov is doing almost exactly that. With 14 goals in 15 games, the young Russian with a hellacious shot has set himself up to make a legitimate run at hockey’s goal-scoring holy grail.

Of course, many others have started the season on a similar tear in recent years — and all of them ended up way short of the benchmark. Here’s how every player who notched at least 14 goals in his team’s first 15 games post-lockout stacked up against the last three 50/50 players.

Amazingly, only one of these players (Jaromir Jagr in 2006) exceeded 50 goals on the season, let alone in 50 games. In the 2005-06 season, winger Simon Gagne scored 17 in the Flyers’ first 15 games, but he ultimately scored only 17 more in the next 35. In that same season, both Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson had 15 goals through the first 15 games. They both cooled, too — like Gagne, they each netted 17 goals in the following 35 games.

But there’s reason to believe this year might be different: The league itself seems different.

So far this season, goalies are stopping pucks with less success than they have since 2008-09. But not all of the blame can be placed on lackluster goaltending — a number of rule changes have led to an increase in power play opportunities per game. More power play opportunities equal more high-quality scoring opportunities, which means more goalies left hung out to dry.

It’s not shocking to see an analog in the 2005-06 season, when Jagr, Gagne, Heatley and Alfredsson each flirted with a goal-a-game pace: The league instituted rule changes in the wake of the 2004-05 lockout with the express purpose of increasing the number of goals per game, which had tanked in the NHL of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Chief among those rule changes was the elimination of the two-line offside pass. Defenses were slow to adjust to the rule change, which led to a preponderance of breakaways and two-on-one situations.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the NHL was a wide open league, and goaltending often seemed like an afterthought. From 1980-81 to 1993-94, the goals against average for the league never dipped below 3.0 — and the 50 in 50 was accomplished seven times.Mike Bossy, Gretzky (three times), Lemieux, Hull (twice).

“>1 From 1994-95 to the present, the goals against average has risen higher than 3.0 in only one season. It hasn’t climbed quite that high this season, but it’s close.It currently sits at 2.89.


Kucherov isn’t the only one taking advantage of the increase in scoring. Like during the 2005-06 season, this year’s NHL has a handful of players vying for NHL legend status. Alex Ovechkin has also started the year on fire (13 goals in 16 games), while Islanders’ captain John Tavares has 12 goals in 15.

Of course, a goal scorer is nothing without dime-dishing linemates, and Kucherov has benefited from playing with the league’s leading point getter in Steven Stamkos (who missed 65 games last season, and the Bolts missed the playoffs). Stamkos is known best for his goal scoring prowess — he’s a two-time recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, awarded to the league’s top goal scorer — but this year it’s his passing that has him at the top of the NHL’s scoring list. He’s still scoring goals, but his 18 assists pace the league. And 10 of those helpers have come on goals scored by Kucherov.

Every player to hit the 50-goals-in-50-games milestone played on a line with one (or two) very good passers. Lemieux — who also unofficially scored 50 in 50 in two other seasonsSuper Mario scored 50 goals in his first 50 games in both the 1992-93 and 1995-96 seasons, but neither exploit came on or before his team’s first 50 games. Sorry, Mario: Hockey conservatives say this doesn’t count.

“>3 — played the bulk of his career on lines with some combination of Jagr, Kevin Stevens and Ron Francis. Hull played on a line in St. Louis with Adam Oates. Gretzky had Jari Kurri, Mike Bossy had Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, and Richard had Elmer Lach and Toe Blake. And it’s not a stretch to place Kucherov and Stamkos among these all-time great duos and trios.

Kucherov’s gaudy numbers aren’t surprising — he’s scored no fewer than 29 goals in each of his three full NHL seasons and has an astounding career shooting percentage of 15.1. But that historically good shooting percentage is up dramatically this season: At the moment, Kucherov is scoring on 24 percent of the shots he’s taking. That’s destined to regress to the mean, but for now, Kucherov’s shot looks damn near unsavable.

Who knows if Kucherov — or Ovechkin or Tavares — can sustain a goal-per-game pace for all 50 games. Even if they don’t, they’ve already made the NHL feel a little bit like the wild old days of the ’80s and early ’90s. And they’ve given every hockey nerd something to pull for.

2017 Election Day: Live Coverage And Results

Nate Silver 10:12 PM

We’re getting more results from New Jersey, and Murphy’s margin is now up to 15 points, according to The New York Times (which has more results reported than the networks do). But looking at a more comprehensive set of counties, I’m less sure about my earlier assertion that Murphy’s margin will eventually get into the high teens — 15 points may be about where it settles.

(see updates…)

All The Cable News Networks Are Covering The ‘Russia Story’ — Just Not The Same One

If you were tuned in to your TV last week as news broke about the first indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, you likely had a very different experience depending on which news channel you were watching.

Russia-related coverage was much more plentiful on MSNBC and CNN than it was on Fox News as Americans learned of the charges against President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Manafort’s former business partner Rick Gates, and Trump’s former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. However, our analysis of the three major cable news outlets showed that the networks had all been airing Russia-related stories, some of which were about the investigation, in the days and weeks before the indictments became public. It’s just that the ideological leanings of the network tended to determine when each covered Russia-adjacent news and which stories it focused on.

We investigated how those cable news networks covered the story by turning to the Television News ArchiveAnalysis by the GDELT Project using data from the Internet Archive Television News Archive.

“>1 for all mentions of the words “Russia,” “Russian” or “Russians” in roughly the past month.Our query starts Oct. 1 and ends Nov 4. All times reported by the TV News Archive are in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is four hours ahead of Eastern time in the United States.


In the first two weeks of October, MSNBC, whose audience leans left, aired more coverage of stories related to Russia than either Fox, whose audience leans right, or CNN did. (CNN’s audience is between the two ideologically but also leans left.) Some of those stories were about Mueller’s investigation.For example, on Oct. 14, when coverage spiked on MSNBC, the network led several segments with a story that was originally reported by NBC News about Manafort’s connections to a Russian oligarch.

‘>3 Other Russia-related coverage that MSNBC broadcast in the first two weeks of October included revelations originally reported by the The New York Times that Russia was using Facebook to influence what Americans read online during the 2016 election cycle. But perhaps the most interesting spike in MSNBC’s Russia coverage occurred on Oct. 6, when MSNBC’s Russia-related coverage frequently mentioned a dossier of allegations of compromising information about Trump from Russian sources that a former British intelligence officer had compiled during the 2016 campaign.The Television News Archive allows us to query its database for phrases that occur in close proximity to each other, defined as within four sentences.

“>4 The coverage focused on the news that the author of the dossier may have been willing to speak to Senate investigators about the contents of the document.

Although CNN was relatively quiet on Russia during those two weeks, we did see a spike in its coverage near the beginning of the month, when much of it mentioned Facebook.

All three networks’ Russia-related coverage began to spike again when Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified in front of Congress on Oct. 18 about President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and other topics. However, Fox News’s Russia-related coverage spiked the most — in addition to airing coverage of Sessions’ testimony to Congress, it alone among the networks was giving airtime to a re-emerging story about the sale of uranium to Russia while Hillary Clinton was former President Obama’s secretary of state. This story, which was first reported in 2015, returned to Fox after The Hill published an article on Oct. 17 containing new information about an FBI probe that had collected evidence about the corrupt practices of Russian nuclear industry officials involved in the matter. That night, Sean Hannity aired a Fox News segment on the uranium deal, and the story picked up steam from there.

The dossier story also made a comeback during the second two weeks of October, but this time on Fox News rather than MSNBC. That followed a Washington Post report Oct. 24 that the company that had hired the former spy who authored the document was paid by a law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Both of those stories appeared more in Fox News’s Russia coverage than in MSNBC’s or CNN’s during the second half of October.Interesting tidbit I found in my research: Among the major cable business news networks, Fox Business featured the dossier and uranium stories, while Bloomberg and CNBC hardly aired any coverage of them or Mueller’s investigation, right up until the indictments went public.


CNN first reported on Oct. 27, a Friday, that charges had been filed in the Mueller investigation and that subjects could be taken into custody as soon as Monday. That led to a spike in Russia-related coverage at both CNN and MSNBC, but less so at Fox News. On Saturday and Sunday, just before the indictments were made public, words such as “uranium,” “dossier” and “Democrats” repeatedly popped up in Fox News coverage. The table below shows how much more or less often a word appeared in segments about Russia on each network that weekend compared with the three-channel average, expressed in standard deviations above or below the mean. For example, the word “collusion” appeared more often on CNN than it did in the average of the three networks; less often than that average on MSNBC; and right about average on Fox News.The list of words in this table was created by combining the 20 most commonly used words in Russia coverage from each network, with duplicates and common, filler words such as “going” and “think” removed.


Heard about the dossier? You were probably watching Fox

Relative use of the most common words in segments about Russia on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, Oct. 28 and 29

Democrats +1.15 -0.66 -0.49
Dossier +1.15 -0.69 -0.45
Uranium +1.14 -0.39 -0.75
Clinton +1.12 -0.32 -0.80
Hillary +1.11 -0.28 -0.83
Russian +1.11 -0.83 -0.27
Deal +1.10 -0.24 -0.85
Russians +0.94 +0.12 -1.05
Information +0.87 -1.09 +0.22
Special -0.03 +1.01 -0.99
Collusion -0.18 +1.08 -0.90
Donald -0.44 -0.70 +1.14
President -0.47 +1.15 -0.68
Election -0.55 -0.60 +1.15
Investigation -0.70 +1.15 -0.45
Charges -0.75 +1.14 -0.39
Campaign -0.77 +1.13 -0.36
Mueller -0.87 +1.09 -0.22
House -0.96 +1.04 -0.08
White -0.97 +1.03 -0.07
Trump -1.15 +0.48 +0.67
Russia -1.15 +0.56 +0.59

The list of words in this table was created by combining the 20 most commonly used words in Russia coverage from each network, with duplicates and common, filler words such as “going” and “think” removed.

Source: Televsion news archive

As the news broke and in the days that followed, Fox News’s coverage of Russia tapered off, while coverage on CNN and MSNBC continued. On Oct. 31, there was a notable drop in Russia-related coverage by all three networks after a deadly terrorist attack occurred in New York City.

Which Team’s Future Is Brightest: The Astros or Dodgers?

Hope you didn’t get sick of the Astros and Dodgers, because you’re going to be stuck with them for a lot of Octobers to come. Based on our analysis of all MLB teams since 1988,That’s when free agency truly began to reshape the way teams build following a period of collusion between owners.

‘>1 this year’s Astros and Dodgers each appear to have two of the brightest futures for any pair of World Series teams ever.

Here’s how we figured that out. We gathered data on all MLB teams from 1988 to 2012 and tried to see which factors best predicted their win totals over the following five seasons. After testing different combinations,Specifically, variable selection was performed using the Lasso.

‘>2 we found that five metrics emerged as significant predictors of a team’s future record: A team’s Elo rating through the end of the World Series (which contributed about 33 percent to a team’s future win projection); its batting wins above replacement (WAR)Averaging together the versions found at and

‘>3 (29 percent); its pitching WAR (13 percent); and the average ages — weighted by playing time — of its batters (6 percent) and pitchers (12 percent) — plus a bonus for making the World Series (7 percent).Winning the World Series, while all sorts of fun, didn’t predict much for the years to come, after accounting for all this other stuff.


Unsurprisingly, having a talented young core (especially on the hitting side) is a good ticket for a return trip to the World Series. After running the numbers for the final two teams standing this year, here’s how the Dodgers and Astros stack up against the other 56 World Series teams in our data set:

Los Angeles Dodgers (90.0 wins per season)

2017 Elo Rating: 1581.6 (11th)

2017 batting WAR: 29.9 (18th)

2017 pitching WAR: 21.3 (21st)

2017 average age, batters: 27.7 (5th-youngest)

2017 average age, pitchers: 29.7 (33rd-youngest)

Despite losing to the Astros in Game 7 on Wednesday, LA appears to have the brighter future of this year’s World Series teams, albeit only just. The Dodgers are projected to win about 90 games per season for the next five years, but that’s nothing new to them. Since 2013, the Dodgers have averaged an MLB-best 95 wins per season and were twice denied a shot at the World Series. The bulk of this year’s production for the Dodgers has come from a mix of young phenoms and veteran stars. Turner, Clayton Kershaw and 23-year-old Corey Seager were the top three WAR contributors to the Dodgers. Seager has emerged as one of the premier players in the league and, with just three years of MLB experience to date, he ranks sixth all-time for the most WAR among shortstops in their first three seasons. Although he was up and down during the playoffs — he missed the NLCS with a back injury and hit just .237 in the postseason — Seager is one of the biggest reasons LA’s future looks so bright.

Baseball’s best young shortstops

In a player’s first three MLB seasons, most wins above replacement (WAR) while playing at least half of games at shortstop

1 Arky Vaughan 1932-34 429 17.3
2 Johnny Pesky 1942-47 433 16.8
3 Francisco Lindor 2015-17 411 16.2
4 Carlos Correa 2015-17 360 15.0
5 Rogers Hornsby 1915-17 207 14.5
6 Corey Seager 2015-17 314 14.1
7 Nomar Garciaparra 1996-98 318 13.8
8 Glenn Wright 1924-26 422 13.3
9 Charlie Hollocher 1918-20 326 12.6
10 Cal Ripken, Jr. 1981-83 268 12.5

WAR is an average of the metrics found at FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.

Sources:, FanGraphs

It’s not just Seager that has Dodgers fans drooling. Twenty-two-year-old rookie sensation Cody Bellinger launched 39 home runs and knocked 97 RBIs in 2017 to lead the Dodgers in both categories, and is a frontrunner for the NL Rookie of the Year award. LA also has 21-year-old left-handed starting pitcher Julio Urias, who missed much of 2017 with a shoulder injury, but is still one of baseball’s most promising talents. And there’s more. LA has one of the top-ranked minor-league systems in the game, so there are even more talented Dodgers to come. Which is likely why they opened the offseason as 2018 World Series favorites.

Houston Astros (88.6 wins per season)

2017 Elo Rating: 1575.0 (15th)

2017 batting WAR: 36.5 (5th)

2017 pitching WAR: 17.0 (42nd)

2017 average age, batters: 28.8 (21st-youngest)

2017 average age, pitchers: 28.5 (17th-youngest)

For Houston, it’s been a completely different journey to the top. The Astros were really bad for more than half a decade, when they averaged an MLB-worst 69 wins between 2006 and 2014. But while the organization floundered at the major-league level, the Astros’ front office steadily stockpiled the organization’s minor-league system with high-ceiling talent through the draft and international free agency.

In 2006, Houston signed a 16-year-old named Jose Altuve for just $15,000 — Altuve is now a three-time reigning AL batting champion. In 2009, they drafted Dallas Keuchel in the 7th round of the draft, and he went onto win the AL Cy Young award in 2015. Two years after that they drafted George Springer out of Connecticut, who this week was crowned World Series MVP. Then in 2012, the Astros selected shortstop Carlos Correa with the No.1 pick in the draft — this year Correa had the team’s second-highest Wins Above Replacement in the regular season.

Put that all together and Houston had the largest WAR of any team in MLB from their homegrown players in 2017. They’ve done their time at the bottom, and now with their star trio leading the way, it’s Houston’s time to shine.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that although the Dodgers currently project for the most future wins of any current MLB team, the Astros rank third. Sandwiched in second place between the two World Series participants are the Cleveland Indians, who were upset in the ALDS by the New York Yankees but still had one of the most impressive seasons of any team in recent history. Across their entire roster, Cleveland was a little younger than either the Dodgers or Astros, so they should be a force to reckon with for the foreseeable future. Add in other up-and-coming teams (such as the Yankees) and old standbys (such as the Cubs), and 2017’s glut of good teams should continue into next season and beyond.

Which MLB teams have the brightest futures?

Most predicted wins over the next five seasons, based on 2017 team characteristics

1 Dodgers 1581.6 27.7 29.7 29.9 21.3 90.0
2 Indians 1596.7 28.1 29.1 27.6 32.5 89.2
3 Astros 1575.0 28.8 28.5 36.5 17.0 88.6
4 Cubs 1546.0 26.6 30.8 26.9 15.5 87.5
5 Yankees 1570.7 28.7 27.6 28.8 24.0 85.8
6 Nationals 1550.7 29.0 29.9 23.2 23.4 85.4
7 Red Sox 1549.9 27.3 28.4 19.2 22.8 84.8
8 Diamondbacks 1534.4 28.3 28.3 19.4 25.8 84.1
9 Twins 1509.8 27.1 29.7 26.5 8.4 84.1
10 Cardinals 1514.6 28.0 28.1 24.1 14.6 82.8
11 Brewers 1510.5 27.3 28.1 18.2 17.8 82.7
12 Rays 1505.6 28.3 27.6 24.0 12.0 81.5
13 Marlins 1483.2 28.1 28.7 27.1 2.5 81.0
14 Rangers 1497.1 28.4 28.9 16.1 12.1 80.4
15 Royals 1477.3 28.9 30.3 12.9 14.3 80.3
16 Rockies 1506.4 28.5 26.6 14.9 20.3 80.0
17 Angels 1512.8 29.9 29.2 17.4 12.6 79.9
18 White Sox 1463.9 26.7 28.9 15.1 5.8 79.9
19 Mariners 1506.6 29.6 27.9 22.4 10.4 79.8
20 Braves 1466.5 28.6 29.6 15.0 9.0 79.3
21 Phillies 1470.9 26.5 26.6 12.2 13.1 79.3
22 Reds 1454.1 27.2 27.7 22.8 1.2 79.2
23 Athletics 1491.5 28.7 27.6 17.1 10.3 78.9
24 Pirates 1486.5 28.3 27.1 11.1 13.9 78.1
25 Orioles 1474.2 28.6 28.0 15.4 7.3 78.0
26 Padres 1447.8 26.0 28.0 8.5 5.3 78.0
27 Mets 1460.3 29.1 27.3 18.6 7.7 77.6
28 Blue Jays 1496.6 31.1 28.9 9.3 17.5 77.5
29 Giants 1465.8 29.6 29.0 7.1 12.1 76.8
30 Tigers 1442.9 29.7 28.4 13.6 9.8 76.8

Sources:, FanGraphs

Beside The Points For Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017

Things That Caught My Eye

They finally pulled it off!

After 56 years of not winning a World Series, the Astros have done the seemingly impossible and did that exact thing. It was a record-breaking best of seven, but if you want to know what got the Astros there in the first place, it all comes down to losing nearly 600 games from 2009 to 2014. The team lost at least 106 games in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and all that allowed them to get some of the best players into their farm systems to get this team where it needed to be. Sometimes you have to go down before you go up. [FiveThirtyEight]

St. Louis is in hell right now

One side effect of the Rams being really good this year is that the current (and former) football fans in St. Louis — the city they spurned in order to go to Los Angeles — is pretty unhappy. Those who remain fans of the team or its players remain conflicted and those who rejected the team or even the league are ticked they had to watch bad football — 13 non-winning seasons — for so long only for another city to get the joy of watching good football. [Sports Illustrated]

What was with those balls though?

This past World Series was defined by a thoroughly ridiculous number of homers throughout, compounding the question that has beguiled baseball for the past several seasons: Yo, are the balls juiced? And while the case is pretty watertight that yes, something has been different about the baseballs over the past several seasons, whether they were specifically more slick this postseason or this World Series is a thornier statistical question that’s difficult to ultimately disentangle from the strong offenses involved. We may never have a conclusive answer, but do know that the numbers agree that yeah that was a pretty weird one. [FiveThirtyEight]

Quartback shuffle!

The New England Patriots traded Brady backup Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco in exchange for a 2018 second-round draft pick, and then picked up Brian Hoyer to back up Brady after the 49ers released him. Hoyer and Garoppolo were presumably two ships passing in the night somewhere over Kansas on the Logan-SFO redeye. [ESPN]

The NFL’s offensive line crisis

Scoring in the 2017 NFL season has dropped from 22.8 points per game in 2016 to 21.9 points in the first half of the year, and teams are scoring the fewest number of touchdowns per game since 2006. The declining quality of offensive lines has been a potential source of this scoring difficulty, but the reasons for that crisis are myriad and difficult to fix all at once. [The Ringer]


This weekend is the Oklahoma (No. 5) vs. Oklahoma State (No. 11) game, one of the most compelling matchups of the weekend. We have Oklahoma as the slight favorite, a 55 percent chance of winning. A win for Oklahoma would increase their chances of making the playoff from 30 percent to 52 percent; a win for OSU would increase their chances of making the playoff from 15 percent to 32 percent. A loss for either team pretty much destroys their chances of making it in. [FiveThirtyEight]

Make sure to try your hand at our fun NFL can you beat the FiveThirtyEight predictions? game!

Big Number

18 percent

Over $1 million has been bet on the expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup, dropping their odds from 300-1 to win the NHL championship to 40-1 in the Westgate Superbook. At Nevada’s largest sportsbook, 18 percent of all Stanley Cup bets were on the Golden Knights, mostly smaller wagers. [ESPN]

Leaks from Slack:


guess who’s back.

ESPN: Tiger returning to competitive golf Nov. 30


#tbt to the tiger woods building lobby at nike


Tiger broke my heart. But I think I’m ready for him to be back? Is that weird? Are there polls on how people feel about him?

Also #tbt to this amazing Nike commercial.


Forgot about that one. Was pretty incredible at the time.


Blew my mind. I didn’t want to feel empathy for him. But I did

Damn you Nike


Oh, and don’t forget
God I wish that “pizzagate” was still in play as a scandal name.