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Things That Caught My Eye Eli deserves way better than this

Eli Manning is the quarterback of the New York Giants, has two Super Bowl victories under his belt and is still somehow poised to become the second banana quarterback on his team. It’s possible that New York will select a quarterback with their second pick in the draft. There have been 31 quarterbacks who threw 25,000 yards or more with a single team and made it to at least one Super Bowl; 23 of them are no longer active, and only seven of them had to sit and watch their team use a first round pick on a quarterback. This will lead to an instant fight for the starter spot; in the past decade 13 quarterbacks were drafted in the top five, and the longest wait those 13 players had to start was nine games. [FiveThirtyEight]

Get me the Brad Pitt of Canada on the line, right now

Using a dataset of about 175,000 contests, curling is now poised to see its own stats revolution. One example of how the numbers are changing the game is that it’s been long held that being down with one hammer in the last end is superior to being on the other side of that. This is a misconception — even though that situation means the curler controls their own destiny, they actually only win 40 percent of the time. [CBC]

Ugly weather at the marathon

Desiree Linden was the first American woman...

If the majority of mock drafts are to be believed, the New York Giants are poised to draft one of the elite quarterbacks available in next week’s NFL draft despite having Eli Manning, the franchise’s all-time leading passer, still on the roster. The NFL is far from a beacon of benevolence, but even for this league, it seems kinda rude.

Whether it’s purely optics or genuine respect for a player who will one day have his number retired, franchise-leading passers have traditionally been spared the humiliation of watching their replacements earn a nearby locker. When the opportunity to draft a highly touted quarterback prospect presents itself, a team tends to get rid of the veteran — like the Colts did with Eli’s brother after Peyton Manning’s 2011 neck surgery allowed them to reboot with Andrew Luck. Even Jay Cutler, who wasn’t exactly earning the keys to the city of Chicago, was given the courtesy of a release last year by the Bears well before they traded up one spot to take Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick.

Eli Manning is the Giants’ all-time leader in passing yards (51,682, sixth in NFL history) and a Super Bowl MVP (twice). New head coach Pat Shurmur says that Manning would understand if the Giants drafted his ultimate replacement. But it’s clear that Manning is still firmly in the Giants’ plans, largely on the strength of a single 434-yard passing day on Dec. 17 against the eventual Super Bowl champion...

On Tuesday, the FBI restored 70 data tables that were missing from the 2016 Crime in the United States report, providing data that researchers consider crucial to their understanding of crime trends in the U.S. over time. The yearly report is considered the gold standard for tracking crime statistics in the United States, gathered from over 18,000 law-enforcement agencies in cities around the country. But the 2016 report, the first compiled under the Trump administration, was missing dozens of data tables that researchers rely on.

The data tables were first noted as missing months ago. In October 2017, FiveThirtyEight reported on their absence, and that November, criminologists lodged a complaint with the FBI over the missing data. In December 2017, FBI Director Christopher Wray faced congressional questioning over the missing data, which he promised would be restored in “a few weeks.” In March 2018, the data had still not been published, and five senators wrote a letter to Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking why the data had not been restored.

But now it is back up. “The decision to publish the amendment is in response to user feedback highlighting the value of additional illustrations of the data,” FBI spokesman Stephen Fisher said in an email to FiveThirtyEight. “The FBI plans to continue publishing all tables annually.”

Additional reporting by Jeff Asher.

By Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner, Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner and Neil Paine, Chris Herring and Kyle Wagner  

Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On Thursday’s show (April 19, 2018), Neil, Kyle and Chris take stock of the NBA playoffs, focusing on the three series that are tied 1-1: Philadelphia vs. Miami, Indiana vs. Cleveland, and Utah vs. Oklahoma City. Should the Sixers’ Joel Embiid come back from injury to face the Heat? Who will step up to help LeBron James? Is Donovan Mitchell good enough for the Jazz to beat the Thunder? They discuss those questions and more.

The crew will be back next week for more coverage. In the meantime, keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictions, which are updated after every game.

The questions that kids ask about science aren’t always easy to answer. Sometimes, their little brains can lead to big places that adults forget to explore. That is what inspired our series Science Question From A Toddler, which uses kids’ curiosity as a jumping-off point to investigate the scientific wonders that adults don’t even think to ask about. The answers are for adults, but they wouldn’t be possible without the wonder that only a child can bring. I want the toddlers in your life to be a part of it! Send me their science questions, and they may serve as the inspiration for a column. And now, our toddler …

Q: Who invented houses? — Micah B., age 4

It’s possible that people have been living in houses since before there were technically people. The oldest archaeological evidence of house construction comes from the famous Oldupai Gorge (also called Olduvai Gorge) site in Tanzania, and the structure is around 1.8 million years old. Nobody knows exactly which proto-human species is responsible for the tools (and houses) found at Oldupai. But, whoever they were, they predate the modern human species as we know it by a solid one and a half million years.

But houses, it turns out, are complicated. They’re more than just the walls around us or the roof over our heads. Houses teach us about what people believe, who they are, and even what their health is like.

Let’s start with that ancient one. A house...

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75 percent

That’s the approval rating of President Trump among Evangelical Protestants, the highest it has ever been in PRRI’s surveys. At the start of his campaign and up to wrapping up the GOP nomination, Trump’s approval bounced between 40 and 50 percent. It steadily climbed to the high 60s from the beginning of the general election campaign through his inauguration. [PRRI]

23,000 tons of butter

The Irish butter brand Kerrygold, which is made by Ireland’s largest agri-food cooperative, is having a moment. Last year, it sold 23,000 tons of butter in the U.S. and a billion dollars worth of butter worldwide. Kerrygold has overtaken every other butter brand except Land-O-Lakes in the mere 20 years since it launched in the U.S., and Land-O-Lakes had an 80-year head start. [Eater]

$148,000 a year

Typical cost for a patient to go on Imbruvica, a blood cancer drug. But after a group of doctors found that patients could go on lower and cheaper regimens of the drug without losing efficacy, the drug’s maker changed its pricing strategy to a flat price of around $400 per pill regardless of dosage. That’s around triple the cost of the original pill. So much for cost savings! [The Washington Post]

870,000 homes and businesses

Puerto Rico is reeling from a power outage affecting 870,000 homes and businesses. The outage was expected to last 24 to 36 hours. [The Weather Channel]

70 million...

Television shows are writing the 25th Amendment into their ripped-from-the-headlines storylines. Pundits debate the possibilities of the removal and succession of the president if he is incapacitated. Even former FBI Director James Comey has weighed in on whether Donald Trump is “medically unfit to be president.” (He doesn’t think so.) In the unlikely — but politically fascinating — event that a Cabinet were to use the power to oust a sitting president, what would come next?

Let’s take a deeper look at the 25th Amendment and think about what each section of it has meant in the past — and what it might mean for Trump-era politics.

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

The amendment’s initial section revisits what Article II of the Constitution set up from the beginning — the vice president takes over if the president dies or is unable to serve — but with clearer language to clean up previous constitutional confusion. When William Henry Harrison died shortly after his inauguration in 1841, there were questions about whether John Tyler, nicknamed “His Accidency,” was truly the president or just an “acting” president of some kind. Tyler made clear his intent to fully occupy the office and do everything an elected president would have done — and he forged his own path separate from Harrison. Since then, seven presidents have taken...

In the top of the 10th inning in Sunday night’s nationally televised contest between the Astros and Rangers — one that will most likely be remembered as the night a 44-year-old nearly no-hit the defending World Series champs — the visiting Rangers grabbed a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the frame, the home team’s hopes rested on Jake Marisnick, who, with runners at the corners, two outs, and his team still trailing by a pair of runs, worked a 3-1 count against Jake Diekman. A Marisnick walk would load the bases for the Astros, bringing reigning World Series MVP George Springer to the plate, a hit away from tying or winning the game.

On Diekman’s fifth pitch, it appeared that Marisnick had earned a walk. “This is not a strike, this is off the plate,” ESPN broadcaster Jessica Mendoza opined as the networks’ K-Zone showed the pitch a few inches outside.

Home plate umpire Adam Hamari disagreed, however, calling the pitch strike two. Marisnick struck out swinging on the following pitch to end the game, and the outfielder slammed his bat in disgust.

Umps miss balls and strikes all the time. But the strike two in that Marisnick at-bat is emblematic of a larger pattern of borderline calls, albeit one that umps probably produce unwittingly: In extra innings, umpires will vary ball and strike calls in ways that tend...

In a series with MVP candidates like Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard, or even a scorer like C.J. McCollum, Jrue Holiday wasn’t the most likely player to have the biggest impact on the first-round series between the Pelicans and Blazers. Yet that’s what is happening so far, and the New Orleans guard — who has put the Pelicans up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series with clutch play after clutch play — is on the cusp of giving Blazers fans the sorts of nightmares they haven’t had since the Greg Oden era.

Perhaps the most fascinating element of Holiday’s performance, though, is how many of the little, often unnoticeable, things he’s done to help seal each victory. A handful of plays in these two games have shown just how underrated the 27-year-old has been at times during his career, one in which many of his best attributes haven’t always been captured by traditional box-score statistics.

Take a look at this reel of eight plays from the first two games of the series. Each is an example of Holiday doing something to earn an extra possession for his team while taking one away from his opponent. Also take note of the time of some of these plays: Half occur in the fourth quarter, when the stakes are highest.

So far, Holiday has had a hand in basically every facet of this series, which would mark the franchise’s first playoff-round...


The first major public poll of the U.S. Senate race in Texas showed Republican incumbent Ted Cruz leading Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke by only 3 points. This week, the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast team debates whether there’s reason to believe that the race is actually that close. Fittingly, the crew also discusses new Associated Press guidelines for reporting on polls. The team also previews Tuesday’s special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.

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 2018 MLB season may not even be a month old, but it’s never too early to start overanalyzing how teams have looked so far. That’s especially true this season, when many of the clubs slated to be favorites going into the year have stumbled a bit coming out of the gate. Most of these teams will probably be fine in the end — seriously, it is still very early to know anything about how the season will play out — but just the same, it’s worth checking on which aspects of their struggles should disappear in due time and which might be cause for real anxiety.

Washington Nationals (10-12)

What’s gone wrong: For a team supposedly built around pitching, Washington currently ranks fifth-to-last in the National League in adjusted ERA — though it hasn’t been the fault of the Max Scherzer-led starting rotation. No, the blame rests with a bullpen that collectively boasts a 5.78 ERA and has performed even worse in clutch situations. (Witness the Nats’ epic meltdown against the Mets last Wednesday.) Some bad early-season defense isn’t helping either, and despite Bryce Harper’s raw feats of power, the offense isn’t hitting enough to make up for the 4.6 runs Washington is allowing per game.

Cause for concern? Maybe. The Nats’ bullpen and defense were nothing special last season, either — they ranked 19th and 17th, respectively, in wins above replacement.

By Neil Paine and Kyle Wagner and Neil Paine and Kyle Wagner  

Welcome to The Lab, FiveThirtyEight’s basketball podcast. On Monday’s show (April 23, 2018), Neil and Kyle discuss three tight series in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Toronto, Boston and Cleveland are each tied 2-2 against their lower-seeded opponents — how much trouble are the favored teams in?

The Lab will be back with another episode later this week. In the meantime, keep an eye on FiveThirtyEight’s NBA predictions, which are updated after every game.

Things That Caught My Eye Seattle to earn more frequent flyer miles

The Seattle Seahawks, by virtue of playing in a city that is very far away from other cities that host NFL teams, spend a lot of time on planes. Once every four years, they get a reprieve and get to play in Oakland, a place only 801 miles away. This year the NFL scheduled that advantage away, as Seattle will play Oakland 4,789 miles away in one of the London games. [ESPN]

Detroit isn’t as bad off as it seems

Every year, people talk about a strength of team’s schedule, and every year they tend to use the one thing that isn’t super predictive of future results, namely total wins and losses. Football is fluky, and a team’s win percentage is often no indicator of how a team will do in a subsequent year. What is helpful is looking at Pythagorean wins, which looks at how a team with a given points scored and allowed would be expected to perform as. Ranking strength of schedule by that, a team like Detroit — which has the second hardest schedule according to wins — can breathe easier, as they’d be more in the middle of the pack, with the 15th hardest schedule. [FiveThirtyEight]

Pine tar seems like a bigger problem?

Gerrit Cole’s spin rate on a fastball jumped from 2,163 rpm last year to 2,332 rpm this season, a jump that Trevor Bauer of the Indians suggested may have been...

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

1 week

An April 16 resolution in Nicaragua to lower pensions has been cancelled after a week of deadly protests. President Daniel Ortega was pressured by everyone from the U.S. to the pope to stop the violence. [Reuters]

4 murders

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” taught us that people love reading about murders in Northern climes. This has led to one interesting side effect: a ton of fictional murders happening on the remote yet beautiful Faroe Islands. One crime series kills 20 people over 10 novels, for example, and it’s not the only series slaughtering people on that spit of land between Iceland and Norway. All this despite the fact that there have only been 4 murders among the 50,000-ish actual Faroe Islands residents in the past 30 years. That’s like setting your surfer novel in Iowa, or a techno-thriller in colonial Williamsburg, or a heartwarming story in Philly. [The Wall Street Journal]

16 states

An E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce has spread to 16 states and at least 53 cases. Most of those affected have been hospitalized with a particularly nasty strain, thus prompting the C.D.C. to discourage salad consumption. Perhaps America can now finally come together and find an alternative way, besides romaine, to shovel Ranch Dressing directly into our faces. [The New York Times]

70 percent

The U.K. Labour Party has rolled out a proposal to link government tax breaks for...

For the second time in 2018, voters will go to the polls to replace a Republican congressman who resigned. But Tuesday’s special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District — which Rep. Trent Franks vacated in December after reportedly offering one of his staffers $5 million to carry his child — is expected to have a very different outcome from last month’s Democratic upset in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. Prominent nonpartisan handicappers all rate the race between Republican Debbie Lesko and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni as “Likely Republican” — but in terms of reading the tea leaves for November, the winning margin will matter more than the outcome.

1. The district

Arcing through the suburbs northwest of Phoenix, including Surprise, Peoria and Litchfield Park, Arizona’s 8th District is usually a Republican stronghold. According to Daily Kos Elections, President Trump carried it 58 to 37 percent in 2016; Mitt Romney won it 62 to 37 percent in 2012. According to FiveThirtyEight’s preferred method for calculating a district’s default partisanship — we call it a district’s “partisan lean”3 — the 8th District is 25 percentage points more Republican-leaning than the nation as a whole.

That’s comparable to Pennsylvania’s 18th District and most other jurisdictions that have hosted special congressional elections since Trump took office....

After Thursday night’s two-hour special on the NFL Network, we now know exactly what every NFL team’s schedule looks like for the upcoming season. But what we don’t know is how hard any of those schedules will be.

Every year when the schedules are released, NFL analysts ritually compare the strength of the 32 teams’ slates. And every year, they do it the one way we know doesn’t work.

This year is no exception: Analysts are adding up last year’s wins and losses for each team’s 2018 opponents. That approach might make sense if we had no data about how NFL teams perform from year to year — but we have an awful lot, and it says that NFL win-loss records are significantly influenced by luck and are a terrible predictor of themselves.

Twelve years ago, Doug Drinen of saw the annual crop of strength-of-schedule articles spring up and decided to test their merit. He compared NFL team records from the prior year (Year N) with the year before that (Year N-1) and their opponents’ win percentage from Year N-1, and he repeated the process all the way back to 1990.

Drinen found that prior-year wins by a team’s opponents are “essentially irrelevant” to following-year success — and while how well the other team plays absolutely matters when toe meets leather, “these strength-of-schedule estimates that are being thrown around right now seem to have no role at all in determining teams’ (upcoming year) records.”

In a league where...

If we’re living in a golden age of board games, then the website BoardGameGeek is the internet’s sifting pan. The bounty of games overfloweth — one can now sit down at a table with friends and settle strange and bountiful islands, fight Cold Wars and terraform Mars. BoardGameGeek helps sort through it all, a kind of arbiter of popular taste.

A new game now tops those rankings: It’s called Gloomhaven, and it’s the current BoardGameGeek No. 1, having taken over the top spot this past winter. The game has won scads of awards, including more than a handful of Golden Geeks and a Scelto dai Goblin — the goblins’ choice. Its place atop the BoardGameGeek list cements its status as a flagship of the current golden age.

The BoardGameGeek list is valuable real estate in high-end board gaming, and the No. 1 spot is, of course, the prime position — Boardwalk, if you will.8 Only seven games have occupied it since the site launched in 2000. The seven No. 1s are a motley bunch, including a civilization-building game set in the ancient fertile crescent and a war game set in the 1910s. But they all have something that speaks to what’s en vogue among the kind of people who go online to rate board games: intensive strategy.

But the site recognizes that its most highly rated games...

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

4 votes

In a 4-to-1 vote, the Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a new rule regarding the responsibilities of brokers to their clients. An earlier rule adopted by the Labor Department in the final months of the Obama Administration required brokers to act in the best interests of their clients. The new rule — which the dissenting Democratic vote described as less strict — requires brokers to disclose conflicts of interest like bonuses and fees, and apply scrutiny when a trade will benefit a firm. The rule now waits for 90 days of public comment, then goes up for a final vote. [The Wall Street Journal]

46 percent

That is the percentage of registered voters who said that a candidate’s position on guns will be a major factor in their vote in the 2018 elections. That’s down 13 percentage points from February, when the murder of 17 people at a Florida high school was slightly fresher in the nation’s mind. [NPR]

56 percent

Online misinformation is bad — most people agree on that — but how to deal with it is a more nuanced question. A Pew report found that 39 percent of Americans thought the U.S. government should take steps to restrict false information online, even when given the caveat that such a step might limit freedom of information. Still more — 56 percent — thought that tech companies should take more steps to reduce...

Welcome to The Riddler. Every week, I offer up problems related to the things we hold dear around here: math, logic and probability. There are two types: Riddler Express for those of you who want something bite-size and Riddler Classic for those of you in the slow-puzzle movement. Submit a correct answer for either,11 and you may get a shoutout in next week’s column. If you need a hint or have a favorite puzzle collecting dust in your attic, find me on Twitter.

Riddler Express

From Ian Rhile, a riddle regarding a ring of rings:

Suppose you have N circles, all of which are joined so that their centers lie on a larger circle. For example, if N happened to equal 12, you’d have a figure like this: ​

What is the ratio of the diameter of the larger circle to the diameter of the smaller circles?

Submit your answer

Riddler Classic

From Ben Wiener, a puzzle inspired by a conference he attended in downtown Los Angeles:

You and I are meeting a friend at a restaurant in a city whose streets are laid out in a grid. All the city’s intersections have pedestrian signals that only let people walk in one direction at a time. The...

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.

Poll of the week

The electorate in 2020 is likely to be similar to 2016’s. This should worry people in both parties — for different reasons, of course.

Our poll of the week is not technically one poll, but an in-depth study that looks at the changing demographics of the U.S. electorate and how those shifts are likely to affect future presidential elections. The study was a joint project of the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress and the Public Religion Research Institute, all think tanks based in Washington, D.C.

Using U.S. Census Bureau and other data, the authors of the study project that the eligible voting population in 2020 will break down like this:

  • 44 percent white people without college degrees (down from 46 percent in 201613
  • 23 percent white people with college degrees (compared to 22 percent in 2016)
  • 13 percent black people (12 percent in 2016)
  • 13 percent Latinos (12 percent in 2016)
  • 8 percent people who are either Asian or another race or ethnicity that is not black, white or...