1993(13) Southern1555(4) Georgia Tech19188.8 1993(15) Santa Clara1605(2) Arizona20196.0 2012(15) Norfolk State1443(2) Missouri20281.6% YEARWINNERELOUPSET VICTIMELOUPSET PROBABILITY 1999(14) Weber State1601(3) North Carolina19969.0 2014(14) Mercer1652(3) Duke19678.5 1987(14) Austin Peay1592(3) Illinois20226.1 Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by 15-seeds that beat 2-seeds. Six of the eight all-time 15-2 upsets make the list, leaving out Richmond over Syracuse in 1991 and Lehigh over Duke in 2012, which Elo doesn’t consider to have been especially unlikely.3This is partly because Elo accounts for geography; the Richmond-Syrcause game was played just 100 miles from Richmond’s campus in College Park, Maryland, for example. In addition to Norfolk State’s win over Missouri, Coppin State’s win over South Carolina in 1997 also rates as having been slightly more unlikely than the Michigan State result, although only barely so. Florida Gulf Coast’s win over Georgetown in 2013 and Santa Clara’s over Arizona in 1993 are in the same vicinity.But Michigan State was the highest-rated team on the list according to Elo. Not even Tom Izzo is immune from March Madness.CORRECTION (March 20, 12:10 p.m.): A previous version of this article gave the incorrect number of upsets by a No. 12 seed of a No. 5 seed listed in the table. The table lists six such upsets, not seven.[Check out FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 March Madness Predictions. 1995(14) Old Dominion1646(3) Villanova20217.0 1997(14) Chattanooga1593(3) Georgia19249.6 2001(15) Hampton1514(2) Iowa State18886.7 2013(15) FGCU1615(2) Georgetown19905.6 Having grown up a few minutes from the Michigan State campus, I’m a little bit upset about today’s upset. After two decades of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo’s amazing record in post-season play, we Spartan fans had grown to assume this was the sort of thing that only happens to Duke.But No. 2-seeded Michigan State lost to No. 15 Middle Tennessee State in St. Louis in one of the most memorable upsets ever in the NCAA Tournament. Unlike several of the purported “upsets” earlier in the first round, where the worse-seeded team was actually the favorite, this one was a real shock. In fact, our March Madness predictions had given Michigan State a 95 percent chance to win, while Vegas had the Spartans as 16.5-point favorites.So here’s a question I’m almost too embarrassed to ask: Was this the biggest NCAA tourney upset of all-time? The answer is that it isn’t quite, although Michigan State is possibly the best team to have lost its opening game.According to our Elo ratings, the biggest upset since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 was Norfolk State over Missouri in 2012; Elo would have given Norfolk State just a 1.6 percent chance to win.1The FiveThirtyEight forecast model at the time, based on other computer rating systems, had similarly long odds: a 2.8 percent chance for Norfolk State. It isn’t that Missouri was all that great, but Norfolk State looked like an especially easy mark, having barely outscored its opponents during the regular season against one of the weakest schedules in the country.Middle Tennessee, by contrast, can play a little bit. They beat a major conference team, Auburn, during the regular season, and came within 6 points of VCU. No, they aren’t the 1967 UCLA Bruins, but Elo would have seeded Middle Tennessee as a 14 instead of a 15. A big part of that was their .386 shooting percentage from 3-point range entering the game; that translated into 11 for 19 from behind the arc this afternoon.However, Michigan State looked like a very strong 2-seed. Elo had the Spartans as the second-best team in the country, after Kansas, and Las Vegas betting lines had given Michigan State the second-best chance of winning the tournament. Thus, Middle Tennessee’s pregame win probability was just 5.5 percent according to Elo.2Note that our forecast model for this year combines Elo with other rating systems, but I’m using Elo alone for these historical comparisons since we have data on it going back all the way to 1985. In this case it doesn’t matter, however; Middle Tennessee’s upset probability was about 5 percent according to both Elo and our model. Here’s the complete list of the biggest upsets: 2005(14) Bucknell1585(3) Kansas19416.7 2005(13) Vermont1650(4) Syracuse19999.4 2016(15) Middle Tenn.1638(2) Michigan St.20785.5 2015(14) UAB1602(3) Iowa State19599.1 2013(14) Harvard1671(3) New Mexico19589.8 The biggest upsets in the men’s NCAA Tournament, since 1985 1997(15) Coppin State1513(2) South Carolina19635.4
29Phillies501442.712Worst since 1962 TEAMHITTINGPITCHINGOVERALL 10Blue Jays515252 11Diamondbacks541512.168Best since 2013 1Rockies9.34.0 19Braves484848 22White Sox511488.122Worst since 2015 4Phillies635056 2017′s deepest pitching staffs 1Astros531573.9100thBest ever! 4Red Sox7.72.7 Which teams have the platoon advantage most?Show more rows* A team has platoon advantage when its hitters face an opposite-handed pitcher or its pitchers face a same-handed batter.Through May 29.Source: Baseball-Reference.com 6Dodgers624252 3Nationals511554.5100Best ever! 26Reds511472.612Best since 2015 4Indians501548.091Best since 1996 18Nationals504749 In just two months, the Dbacks have gone from merely hoping Greinke could bounce back from his disastrous 2016 season to counting up the pitching riches beyond their ace. “Pitching depth” is a nebulous thing to measure, but if we give more weight to the contributions of pitchers deeper into a team’s staff,2Specifically, giving 100 percent credit to its 10th-best pitcher’s WAR, 90 percent to its ninth-best pitcher’s WAR, 80 percent to its 8th-best and so forth. the Dbacks have enjoyed the second-deepest well of pitching value in baseball this season, trailing only the division-rival Colorado Rockies.So Arizona’s pitching is doing its best job to recall the glory days. And the team currently ranks eighth in position-player WAR, roughly where its championship precursor placed 16 years ago.3And better than the team’s 14th-place finish in 2002.But not everything is a carbon copy of the past. The 2017 Snakes have achieved their offensive success in a very different way than the Diamondbacks of yesteryear did. Those teams walked a lot, but they didn’t burn up the basepaths or mash opponents into submission with homers, no matter how many memories you harbor of Luis Gonzalez crushing fastballs deep into the Arizona night. This offense might be the opposite: It has more glaring weaknesses (with the league’s seventh-worst strikeout rate and its 10th-worst strikeout-to-walk ratio), but also a unique combination of strengths, the likes of which has seldom been seen in baseball history. Not only does Arizona rank second in the majors in Bill James’s power-speed number,4Which measures how well a team combines hitting home runs and stealing bases. but pro-rated over a full schedule, the Dbacks’ number would rank 31st-best since MLB’s expansion era began in 1961. They’re an all-or-nothing lineup in the mold of, say, Buck Showalter’s Orioles, but with the added twist of stolen bases and opportunistic baserunning.The surprising catalyst for all this is 6-foot-3 first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.5Who’s already just 1.6 WAR shy of passing Gonzalez as Arizona’s greatest-ever position player by WAR. As the Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg recently pointed out, Goldschmidt steals an incredible number of bases (65 in 77 attempts over the past three seasons) for a player so, well, slow. Instead of using pure speed, he’s been able to strike on the basepaths with a combination of smarts and sneaky lead-taking. And he’s not alone — a handful of Arizona’s regulars are positive baserunners (according to FanGraphs’ measurement, which includes steals, extra bases and double-play avoidance) despite dubious foot speed.6The team’s second-best baserunner (behind Goldschmidt) is the 250-pound Yasmany Tomas, he of the seven career steals. Then, throw in some hitters who do have wheels to go with their pop — such as Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock and even Jake Lamb — and Arizona has an offense that can hurt you with its power and its speed, sort of like a lineup full of Junior Spiveys would have done a generation ago.Of course, for a team coming off a 69-win season, the usual caveats apply to Arizona’s early record. Our Elo ratings, for instance, remain unconvinced that the Diamondbacks are much more than a .500 team that has won a few extra games to start the season, an assessment echoed by other forecasts. Despite the similar statistical profile so far, this year’s Dbacks are probably nowhere near as good as the early-2000s version was. But they’re much younger, playing a style that might be more entertaining (if not as effective).It’s also worth noting that Arizona made its big splash the offseason before last, gearing up for a run just like the one they’re currently on, only to be wrecked by more injuries than almost any team in recent memory. Although the flurry of deals made by former GM Dave Stewart were roundly derided (and not without cause) it’s hard to deny that the Diamondbacks are now living out the future he envisioned — even if it came a year too late to save Stewart’s job.In other words, there is real talent blooming in the desert. What remains to be seen is whether this is merely another one-year blip, like so many before in the franchise’s post-championship era, or the start of something more long-lasting.Trout outAmid the fallout from Mike Trout’s injury Sunday (which will shelve the L.A. Angels star for 6 to 8 weeks), one of the least-pressing concerns was what it will potentially do to his place in the all-time WAR pantheon. But since that’s a topic I’ve covered ad nauseum here, let’s dive right into it.According to Baseball-Reference’s version of the stat, Trout has never ended a full season without being the all-time WAR leader for a given age. (Let that sink in for a moment.)7This isn’t quite true if you use FanGraphs’ WAR, which considers Mel Ott better through age 20. And regular readers will know that I prefer to average B-R and FG’s WAR numbers together anyway, to smooth out discrepancies between the two methods. But for the purposes of this exercise, let’s stick with B-R, just to see whether Trout can keep up the feat in the eyes of at least one WAR system. Before he got hurt, Trout already had 3.5 WAR this year, so he just needed to produce 3.7 over the remainder of the season to keep pace with Ty Cobb as the all-time leader through age 25.Even a conservative estimate would have called for Trout to generate something like 5.5 WAR in the last four months of the season, which would have enabled him to clear Cobb with ease. However, losing half of that remaining time would put Trout’s G.O.A.T. trajectory in real jeopardy. He’d have to return from injury without a hitch (no guarantee) and play slightly better down the stretch than he’d done over the season’s first two months — when he posted new career highs in virtually every hitting category. That’s a tall order!However, Trout could also come back in only five weeks if he follows the accelerated recovery path of teammate Andrelton Simmons, who suffered the same injury last season. If so, Trout would “only” need to play at an 8.3-full-season-WAR pace (which, comical as it sounds, is something he’s done in four of his five full MLB seasons) to catch up to Cobb.That’s the best-case scenario; in reality, Trout will probably face a real struggle to keep his title as G.O.A.T. at every age. But there’s still a chance.Franchise milestonesIn the day-to-day grind of a baseball season, it can be tough sometimes to zoom out and see the bigger picture of where a team stands in the context of its own history. That’s where something like the FiveThirtyEight Elo ratings come in handy, since they try to estimate how well a team was playing going into (and coming out of) every game in franchise history. I tracked where each team’s current Elo8Using the version from our interactive, which accounts for the starting pitcher in each game, rather than the version from our Complete History of MLB interactive. ranks relative to past seasons9Starting in 1901, the first season of the American League. for the team (measuring that using its percentile ranking) through the same number of games, as well as an Elo “milestone” — how deep in history we have to dig to find a season where it had a higher or lower Elo rating, depending on which number takes us further back in time: 24Marlins484647 20Angels445248 9Rays551515.268Best since 2015 17Cardinals465249 Some teams — like the Astros and Nationals/Expos — are playing the best they ever have at the third-of-a-season mark. Others are in down cycles: amazingly, the Phillies haven’t had an Elo lower than their current rating through 54 games of a season since 1962!Platoon power!I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of platooning, using the natural benefit of facing an opposite-handed pitcher (or a same-handed batter) to help a team become greater than the sum of its parts. Granted, different teams are constructed to use it better than others, so it’s not always up to the manager to play for the platoon advantage. Nevertheless, here are the teams who’ve had the lefty-righty edge in the highest percentage of their plate appearances (both batting and pitching), according to Baseball-Reference.com: 12Mariners531511.988Worst since 2015 SHARE OF PLATE APPEARANCES WITH PLATOON ADVANTAGE* 14Mets501509.565Worst since 2015 6Red Sox511537.978Worst since 2015 2Mets675661 17Orioles501498.259Worst since 2011 18Tigers521496.330Best since 2015 16Angels551501.355Best since 2015 11Brewers495251 24Twins481480.434Best since 2015 PITCHING 29Red Sox454344 * We derived a team’s WAR depth by giving more weight to the WAR contribution of pitchers ranked deeper into a team’s top 10.Through May 29.Source: FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference.com 16White Sox554349 2Dodgers531571.198Best since 1974 26Rockies484245 28Braves501467.122Best since 2015 13Rockies541511.783Best since 2010 7Yankees491531.740Best since 2013 19Giants541494.216Worst since 2009 20Brewers521492.752Best since 2014 25Mariners464747 3Dodgers8.13.0 10Rangers531513.271Worst since 2015 30Padres541438.96Worst since 2003 23Pirates474747 12Padres534850 8Blue Jays521520.963Worst since 2015 5Athletics545353 27Royals511467.210Worst since 2007 7Reds554952 27Royals504045 30Tigers474144 1Indians73%53%63 5Cubs511544.789Worst since 2015 22Orioles454947 23Marlins501483.842Worst since 2015 Welcome to Full Count, our weekly baseball column. Have anything you want me to write about? Email or tweet me at [email protected] or @Neil_Paine.The last time the Arizona Diamondbacks won this many games this early in a season, the team was in the midst of defending a world championship, powered by a group of talented veterans taking one of the their last shots at glory before parting ways. That Arizona team was a bit different from its modern-day descendants, but if you strip away the star power and hideous jerseys, the old-school Dbacks also had a lot in common with today’s version (to the surprise of many analysts, including yours truly). Is it possible the franchise is finally set up for its first truly sustained run of success since that championship era?The 2001 Diamondbacks team remains the oldest one ever to win a World Series, and the follow-up edition was (unsurprisingly) even older. Mainly propelled by a stable of power arms — Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in the rotation, plus Byung-Hyun Kim in the bullpen with a host of other deceptive relievers — Arizona ranked second in pitching wins above replacement1As always, averaging together the versions found at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com. (WAR) that year, second in strikeouts per nine innings and second in fewest walks per nine. Feeding opponents a healthy dose of nasty sliders all season long, the Dbacks allowed the league’s second-fewest park-adjusted earned runs, cruising to 98 wins and the NL West crown in the process.This year’s version cuts a similar profile on the mound, albeit with more youth and much less star power. No. 1 starter Zack Greinke is by far Arizona’s most experienced and decorated pitcher; going into the season, he had over 40 more career WAR than anyone else on the roster. And Greinke has certainly been doing his best Big Unit impression in the early going — Johnson was the last qualified D-Back pitcher with a better K/BB ratio than Greinke’s current 6.0 mark. But the rest of the staff is pulling its weight as well. After adjusting for park effects, seven of Arizona’s top nine pitchers carries an ERA better than league average. As a result, Arizona ranks second in pitching WAR this season — just like it did back in 2002. 2Diamondbacks8.33.3 8Rays535152 Each team’s 2017 season, in context 21Giants514447 Percentiles are calculated from franchise seasons since 1901, including the same number of games the team has played so far in the 2017 season. Milestones are determined by finding the last time the team had a higher or lower Elo rating through the same number of games as in 2017. Stats are through May 31.Sources: ESPN, Retrosheet 9Cubs584552 14Astros504950 21Pirates531490.531Worst since 2012 25Athletics511474.033Worst since 1998 TEAMGAMESELOFRANCHISE PERCENTILEMILESTONE 13Yankees534650 3Twins664857 TEAMWARDEPTH* 28D-Backs484145 15Rangers504949 5Yankees7.32.7 15Cardinals491505.739Worst since 2008
The rich just got richer. Four-star inside linebacker Teradja Mitchell announced his commitment to Ohio State at his high school Friday evening. The Virginia Beach, Virginia, native is rated as the No. 38 overall prospect and the second-best at his position, according to 247Sports.He is the 12th player in his class to verbally commit to the Buckeyes and the second four-star linebacker to join OSU’s 2018 recruiting class. The Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School linebacker is the sixth-highest rated played by 247Sports committed to OSU.Mitchell would be the first Virginia native to sign with OSU since redshirt freshman cornerback Wayne Davis, Virginia’s 2015 Gatorade player of the year, in the Buckeyes’ 2016 recruiting class.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. A pensioner went on a vicious “stabbing spree” outside a supermarket, injuring four innocent women, a court has been told.They were picked at random by Ethem Orhon, who wanted to “get revenge on police for what he perceived as their mistreatment of him”, prosecutor Jonathan Polnay told Kingston Crown Court.Orhon, 67, of Hampton, west London, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder and two of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Police forensics at Sainsbury’sCredit:Nick Edwards The women – Suzanna Brand, 53, Janet Morsey, 63, Jean Sullivan, 68, and Charandasi Chandiramani, 71 – suffered “serious and appalling injuries” in or near the Sainsbury’s car park in Hampton, west London, on May 20.The “true bravery” of two schoolboys – who distracted Orhon, warned others that he was armed and dangerous, called police and stayed on the telephone with the 999 operator during the rampage – potentially stopped further bloodshed, the jury was told.Speaking of the boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, Mr Polnay said: “Without their help it may be that more people would have been injured by this man.”Holding up a knife with a 4in blade, Mr Polnay told the jury that Orhon “plunged this knife at least 20 times into four innocent members of the public who had been doing their shopping”.
@JakubKrupa @BBCNews Pity he can only do it once an hour though…— James (@GiNgEr_JaMeS) December 13, 2016 Earlier this year, an Irish weather presenter pulled off a bizarre Halloween trick to stun viewers. Here’s the shocking moment a presenter was impaled by a nail in a failed magic trick on live TV. So this guy at Leicester Square is dancing to @BBCNews’s news bulletin jingle… pic.twitter.com/Tp4J6LvlYB— Jakub Krupa (@JakubKrupa) December 13, 2016 “So this guy at Leicester Square is dancing to @BBCNews’s news bulletin jingle…” he tweeted.Social media users have been impressed with the dancing man’s unusual choice of song in the clip which has been shared and liked by thousands online.Radio 1 DJ Greg James tweeted: “My spirit animal.”While BBC Presenter Huw Edwards simply tweeted in response: “Pass.”Another joked: “You should see his routine for the long-range shipping forecast!”Here’s how Twitter reacted @JakubKrupa @BBCNews Pass.— Huw Edwards (@huwbbc) December 13, 2016 A street performer went viral after offering an alternative take on the BBC News opening title sequence with a brilliant dance.The BBC News team must have seen it – as people watching the channel on Friday afternoon saw an unusual sight during the program.As the music played, the man popped out and started dancing to the theme tune while the anchors looked on delightedly. @RobertCorp @scottreid1980 @JakubKrupa Good luck. I’m sure some of them will pile in.— Huw Edwards (@huwbbc) December 13, 2016 Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. @scottreid1980 @JakubKrupa It’s a steep climb, I have to be honest.— Huw Edwards (@huwbbc) December 13, 2016 @JakubKrupa @BBCNews he loves news— Peter Ian Staker (@TastyAcorn) December 13, 2016 Journalist Jakub Krupa, a UK correspondent for the Polish Press Agency, captured the unusual street performance in Leicester Square, London, on December 13.
Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Mr Farage is expected to celebrate the new president’s inauguration alongside a string of hand-picked guests and will take a seat on the inaugural platform to watch the swearing-in ceremony.Mr Farage will also attend a glitzy luncheon, take part in the inaugural parade, attend the ball, some galas and other politically focussed lobbying events. Helena Bonham Carter could play Angela Merkel Get ready for Nigel Farage… the movie. The Hollywood film-maker behind the Harry Potter franchise is in talks about making a film of the former Ukip leader’s campaign to take Britain out of the European Union.Warner Brothers, one of the world’s most successful film studios, is in talks with Arron Banks, the insurance millionaire who funded Leave.EU, about a film based on his diary of the successful campaign, The Telegraph can disclose.Andy Wigmore, a spokesman for Mr Banks, said: “We have had some very serious Hollywood people in touch with us who are going to buy the rights to the book. They want to buy the option on it.”Producers from Warner Brothers – the studio behind the Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them” – are hoping to meet Mr Farage and Mr Banks when they next visit the United States, for the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump later in January.Mr Banks’ diary, titled The Bad Boys of Brexit, which charts the highs and lows of the campaign has proved to be an unexpected hit in the bookshops.Mr Wigmore said that while the producers “have done a bit of research… effectively that book is like a screenplay so half the work has been done for them”. Arron Banks with Nigel FarageCredit:Matt Cardy/Getty Newspapers and websites which have used the photo have had to pay a licensing fee of £450. “It has been used everywhere,” Mr Wigmore said.It emerged last week that Mr Farage will fly to the US ahead of the inauguration on January 20 at the invitation of Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant who introduced him to Mr Trump before the election. Hilary Clinton: Meryl Streep?She’s already played Clinton’s rival Donald Trump, in a theatre sketch earlier this year, but we’d prefer to see Streep take on the former Democrat leader. The two women even look a little alike – and share a taste for trouser suits. Theresa May: Imelda Staunton?Could Staunton, who can veer from primness to toughness in seconds (remember her chilling Dolores Umbridge?) capture May’s headmistressy authority? Other less successful ventures include a failed BBop concert which would featured see members of 1980s pop band Bucks Fizz and an Elvis impersonator.Amazon describes the book as an “honest, uncensored and highly entertaining diary of the campaign that changed the course of history”.The description adds: “From a David Brent-style office on an industrial estate in the south-west, Banks masterminded an extraordinary social media campaign against the tyrannies of Brussels that became a mass movement for Brexit.”He tore up the political rule book, sinking £8 million of his personal fortune into a madcap campaign targeting ordinary voters up and down the country.”His anti-establishment crusade upset everyone from Victoria Beckham to NASA and left MPs open-mouthed. When his rabble-rousing antics landed him in hot water, he simply redoubled his efforts to wind up the targets.”Lurching from comedy to crisis (often several times a day), he found himself in the glare of the media spotlight, fending off daily bollockings from Nigel Farage and po-faced MPs.”Mr Wigmore also disclosed the sale of rights of the photo of Mr Farage with Mr Trump in his apartment has made £200,000 in the sale of its rights to media outlets.He said the money will be split between two US and UK veterans’ charities. Angela Merkel: Helena Bonham Carter?The German chancellor is no crazed villainess, but being one of the most powerful women in the world isn’t always easy – and Bonham Carter would bring some exciting fierceness to the role. Donald Trump: Clint Eastwood?Like Trump, 86-year-old Eastwood used to be seen as a bit of a cowboy, and is fond of lambasting political correctness. He’d probably have to put on a few pounds (of fake tan) to be entirely convincing, however. Nigel Farage pictured during the Brexit campaign’s Battle of the Thames after being assailed by a boat carrying singer Bob Geldof, insetCredit:Getty David Cameron: Hugh Bonneville?Yes, there’s a slight physical resemblance, but the Downton Abbey star would also be able to capture Cameron’s sleek, upper class charm, and imbue his downfall with a sense of dignified tragedy. Nigel Farage, pictured on Friday, will fly to the US ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20 Credit:Steve Finn for The Telegraph Any cash made from the film would go to charity, Mr Wigmore said. “It is not like it is something we would personally benefit from. The Bad Boys of Brexit – the film. It is a comedy.”The book details how Mr Banks ran the Leave.EU campaign with the help of his key aide Andy Wigmore and American polling expert Gerry Gunster.The trio worked closely with Mr Farage, persuading him to take part in the famous Battle of the Thames when a flotilla of pro-Leave fishing boats was assailed by one carrying singer Bob Geldof. The presence of Mr Farage at the inauguration is likely to frustrate Downing Street because so far Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is yet to meet him.Who might star in Nigel Farage The Movie?As Hollywood bosses hold talks over a potential film about Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign, Rebecca Hawkes looks at who could play some of the key characters.Nigel Farage: Benedict Cumberbatch?Who better to play a divisive maverick who takes on the political elite, fights for the people and wins against the odds than British eccentric turned Hollywood superstar Cumberbatch? Meryl Streep could play Hilary ClintonCredit:AP/AP
“On one such evening, in front of his senior management team, Mr Ashley was claimed to have challenged a young Polish analyst in my team, Pawel Pawlowski, to a drinking competition: Mr Ashley and Pawel would drink pints of lager, with vodka ‘chasers’ between each pint, and the first to leave the bar area for whatever reason was declared the loser.“After approximately 12 pints and chasers Pawel apologised profusely and had to excuse himself. Mr Ashley then vomited into the fireplace located in the centre of the bar, to huge applause from his senior management team.” Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley during a tour of the company’s warehouse Credit:Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg In a witness statement made public on Monday, Mr Blue also claimed Mr Ashley would simply “have a nap” under the table in meeting rooms if he was bored.The testimony throws light on the unusual business methods of the 52-year-old entrepreneur, said to be worth £2.2 billion and whose assets include ownership of Newcastle United football club.According to Mr Blue’s evidence, Mr Ashley would hold frequent senior management meetings at the Green Dragon pub in Alfreton, Derbyshire, not far from the Shirebrook headquarters of Sports Direct. Normally bosses are cheered by their staff for rousing speeches or else announcing a decent Christmas bonus.Not so Mike Ashley. The owner of Sports Direct was given a round of applause for allegedly triumphantly vomiting in a fireplace after winning a company drinking contest that involved downing 12 pints of lager, each one accompanied by a vodka “chaser”.The astonishing way of doing business is laid bare in a High Court witness statement as part of a £14 million claim against the tycoon. Mr Ashley is being sued by Jeffrey Blue, an investment banker, who alleges Mr Ashley reneged on a deal – made in a pub – to pay him £15 million if the Sports Direct share price doubled within three years. In the event, Mr Blue was paid £1 million. Show more Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Mr Blue, who by then was working directly with Sports Direct, insists the promise was made “before Mr Ashley had consumed any significant quantity of alcohol”. Mr Blue’s barrister Jeffrey Chapman QC told the High Court: “The court must decide whether this was just a night in the pub or an important business meeting.”Mr Ashley will give evidence in his defence this week, probably tomorrow. His lawyers argue that Mr Blue’s claim is “remarkable” and an “opportunistic try-on”. David Cavender QC, who leads Mr Ashley’s legal team, said the case concerned an agreement “over a heavy drinking session at a pub”.Mr Justice Leggatt began analysing evidence at the High Court trial on Monday. The case is expected to last a week.Mr Pawlowski, 37, who now works a senior analyst at Citadel in London, is thought to be abroad and could not be contacted for comment. Mr Blue, who met Mr Ashley when he was working for Merrill Lynch, the US investment bank, said in his statement that the meetings were “effectively a ‘pub lock-in’ with alcohol continuing to be served well beyond closing hours and fish & chips or kebabs being provided throughout the evening. Mr Blue also claimed regular meetings were anything but. He said Mr Ashley’s “ability to express boredom and frustration during client meetings knew no limits, including various episodes where he would lie underneath meeting room tables to ‘have a nap’.”It emerged that Mr Ashley, who also conducted many of his business meetings in a London casino, allegedly proposed a game of spoof – a game of chance well known among City traders – to determine whether he should pay a £750,000 Merrill Lynch legal bill. He lost, according to Mr Blue, and the bill was duly paid.The legal dispute revolves around a conversation between Mr Blue and Mr Ashley, at the Horse & Groom pub on Great Portland Street in 2013, some six years after the “vomiting” incident.
At least old-fashioned philanderers knew where they stood. For them, only an extramarital affair was considered cheating. In the modern, digital age, however, it takes an awful lot less to wreck a relationship. An academic has declared it to be the new method for couples to tear each other apart. According to Martin Graff, a psychologist, all it now requires is the click of a computer button for a partner to be considered unfaithful – and with all the same consequences as a full-blown affair. Micro-cheating is a label increasingly being used to describe behaviour which falls into a grey area between friendly interaction and infidelity. Previously, a suspicious… Welcome to the world of “micro-cheating”.
A magnificent tapestry commissioned by Henry VIII has been rediscovered in Spain, long after it was thought to have been destroyed. It was both a lavish show of wealth and a political statement, commissioned around the time of the Act of Supremacy. It was a stark message from a king who was asserting his religious authority during the destructive phase of the English Reformation, a religious antecedent for his… In exquisite detail, its main scene depicts a spectacular bonfire with Saint Paul directing the burning of irreligious books. Woven in glistening gold and silver thread, and literally costing a king’s ransom, it once adorned the walls of Hampton Court, the Tudor monarch’s seat of power.