TIME Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder Fire Head Coach Scott Brooks

Head Coach Scott Brooks at an Oklahoma City Thunder game on March 28, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Melissa Majchrzak—NBAE/Getty Images Head Coach Scott Brooks at an Oklahoma City Thunder game on March 28, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Brooks took over the Thunder on an interim basis in 2008

The Oklahoma City Thunder have fired head coach Scott Brooks, the team announced Wednesday.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the Thunder were uncertain whether Brooks would return as coach next season. Brooks’s contract had been guaranteed for next season, with a team option on his deal for the 2016-17 season.

“As we all know, this past year we had unique and challenging circumstances and as I have conveyed, not many people could have accomplished what Scott and this team were able to,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a statement. “Therefore, it is very important to state that this decision is not a reflection of this past season, but rather an assessment of what we feel is necessary at this point in time in order to continually evolve, progress and sustain.”

Read more: Enes Kanter undergoes knee surgery, sidelined 4-6 weeks

Brooks took over the Thunder on an interim basis in 2008 after the firing of P.J. Carlesimo and was hired permanently after the end of the 2008-09 season. The Thunder made the playoffs in each of the following five seasons but failed to qualify this season. OKC star Kevin Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion, was limited to just 27 games by a foot injury.

University of Connecticut head coach and former Thunder player Kevin Ollie was rumored to be a target to replace Brooks, but Ollie said in a statement issued Wednesday that he has “no plans to pursue other opportunities.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Innovation

The Way You Watch Baseball Is About to Change Forever

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn during a game against the Washington Nationals in Washington on April 21, 2015.
Alex Brandon—AP St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn during a game against the Washington Nationals in Washington on April 21, 2015.

Statcast can start something special for pro baseball

Tuesday night’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals served as the coming out party for Statcast, Major League Baseball’s refined tracking technology that yields more data than an average fan could ever want or need.

But this technology doesn’t cater to the average fan; it’s directed instead at those who have demanded more insights and numbers in an era of data journalism and Moneyball geek dreams.

Statcast didn’t yet have a name when Fortune wrote about the “combination of cameras, radar, and proprietary software” one year ago. At that time, MLB Advanced Media (commonly called “BAM” by baseball journalists and execs) had big plans to roll it out in every single ballpark. Now it has. The technology was equipped at all 30 stadiums in time for the current season, but it didn’t get its television due until this week, when the commentators on MLB Network described the system and cited its metrics about a dozen different times.

For now, the system is exclusive to MLB Network, but in weeks, not months, it will be available to the rest of the networks that show games. When Statcast is consulted on-air during a game, an MLBAM spokesperson tells Fortune, “Context and narrative are very important… Otherwise, it’s just a data stream without meaning.” He adds: “We think for TV this will be a revolutionary tool for instant replay.”

What can Statcast do, exactly? A whole lot more than its predecessor, Pitch f/x, which came along a few years ago and was designed to record live pitches to gather speed, velocity, and other measurements. Statcast can take a single play and determine a whole host of numbers, many of them particularly exciting in the context of defense: a base runner’s speed as he jumps from one base to steal another; his lead on the player trying to throw him out; the angle of his running path; the speed of the infielder’s throw; and even the time it took the infielder to get the ball out of his glove. MLBAM used the early version of Statcast to tell Fortune that, one year ago, Cincinnati Reds rookie Billy Hamilton was very likely the single fastest player in baseball.

This time around, MLBAM can get such granular details as a single hit’s “exit velocity,” that is, how hard it was hit. Thus far, 17 days into the season, these sluggers have launched the five hardest hit balls: Nelson Cruz of the Mariners, 119 mph on April 19; Mike Trout of the Angels, 117.7 mph on April 8; Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, 117.3 mph on April 16; Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, 117.1 mph on April 7; and Hanley Ramirez of the Red Sox, 116.5 mph on April 19.

Sound exhausting? Then you may not be the target audience for Statcast’s insights—yet. But while Statcast may only end up being cited occasionally in each television broadcast, MLB plans to apply Statcast liberally inside its highly successful “At Bat” app.

This is the beginning of something special for pro baseball. MLB foresaw the stats revolution before its sports-league peers, and acted fast to cater to the so-called “statheads,” a small but vocal group that is fast-growing (just look at the popularity of the ESPN web site FiveThirtyEight, which regularly posts minutia such as comparisons of baseball players’ PECOTA scores) and ever-hungry for more data, more analytics, more ways to scrutinize and inspect the game. Baseball fans are perhaps the wonkiest in this regard (certainly more than football folks, for now), but basketball fans are close, and Adam Silver’s NBA has hopped aboard the stats train in response, partnering with Stats LLC to roll out its own camera tracking technology, SportVU, as well as launching an entire site, NBA.com/stats, devoted to analytics.

Statcast may also help baseball claw back to popularity, in a time when it is widely believed the sport has lost some of its luster to the juggernaut NFL, America’s real “pastime,” if measured by eyeballs. A Wall Street Journal story last month mentioned that the polling firm Luker On Trends asked baseball fans during last year’s season which sport was more interesting to them and the NFL beat MLB by 4%—even in its offseason. You can bet that baseball would like to change that.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Baseball

The San Francisco Giants Could Become the First MLB Team to Ban Chewing Tobacco

Minnesota Twins v San Francisco Giants
Brace Hemmelgarn—Getty Images A general view of the exterior of AT&T Park following the game between the San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins on May 23, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

Players have been dipping for as long as anyone can remember, but that could soon change

A San Francisco city ordinance could make the Giants the first team in Major League Baseball to ban chewing tobacco on the field.

City supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban smokeless tobacco in playing fields throughout the city and specifically targeted baseball—a sport infamous for the player’s use of tobacco, according to a statement from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which pushed for the law.

The ordinance must pass one more vote and, if San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signs, the rule will be implemented on Jan. 1 2016—in time for the MLB baseball season.

Jess Montejano, a legislative aide for the ban’s chief sponsor, Supervisor Mark Farrell, told TIME that legislators began working on the ordinance in the beginning part of 2015 because “it’s a serious health issue” in which “kids are seeing their athletic heroes chewing tobacco on the baseball diamond.”

Montejano also added the San Francisco Giants “are fully aware of the intention” and that proponents of the ban believed the team would support MLB’s stance on the issue of chewing tobacco.

After the law was initially proposed in late Feb., MLB issued a statement saying that it “has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level” and that it had been seeking “a ban of its use on-field in discussions with the Major League Baseball Players Association.”

A study published April 10 from the University of California San Francisco suggested that seeing players chewing tobacco was akin to product endorsement. It found that “modeling of smokeless tobacco use by…elite athletes is strongly associated with smokeless tobacco initiation among adolescent males.” The study also cited an NCAA statistic that found that 52.3% of collegiate baseball players tried smokeless tobacco at least once in 2012 to 2013.

When asked if the ban would essentially force players to quit, Montejano cited former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling, who blames tobacco for his mouth cancer. “Schilling said it was the worst thing about his life and if he could change one thing from his younger years it would be to quit.”

TIME Football

Stop Everything: The NFL Has Released Its 2015-16 Season Schedule

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) yells before the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz
Matt Rourke—AP New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) yells before the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz

Are you ready for some football?

The NFL stole headlines on Tuesday by releasing the schedule for the upcoming 2015-16 regular season—including three games to be played in London.

Meaningful games kick off on Sept. 10 (a Thursday) when the New England Patriots begin their Super Bowl defense against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium.

The first Sunday features an intriguing match-up between the Indianapolis Colts and the new-look Buffalo Bills while “Sunday Night Football” will see the New York Giants travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys.

Monday Night Football will be the usual opening weekend double-header; starting with the Philadelphia Eagles v Atlanta Falcons before a Minnesota Vikings v San Francisco 49ers nightcap.

Three games will be played at Wembley Stadium in London this year; in Week 4 the Miami Dolphins play the New York Jets, Week 7 the Jacksonville Jaguars face Buffalo and in Week 8 the Kansas City Chiefs clash with the Detroit Lions.

The annual Thanksgiving Day football match-ups also draw a lot of interest. This year’s turkey games have Philadelphia v Detroit, Carolina Panthers v Dallas and a prime-time game of the Chicago Bears versus the Green Bay Packers.

Of note, NFL legend Brett Favre is expected to have his jersey retired by Green Bay during the Thanksgiving game, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

To find out who your favorite team is playing, click here.

TIME Running

Venezuelan Runner With Muscular Dystrophy Finishes Boston Marathon

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans (L) and Mayor Marty Walsh (C) listen as Maickel Melamed, of Venezuela, speaks during a Boston Marathon ceremony in Boston on April 21, 2015.
Bill Sikes—AP Boston Police Commissioner William Evans (L) and Mayor Marty Walsh (C) listen as Maickel Melamed, of Venezuela, speaks during a Boston Marathon ceremony in Boston on April 21, 2015.

It took him just under 20 hours to complete the race

Maickel Melamed, a Venezuelan college professor with muscular dystrophy, completed the 119th Boston Marathon early Tuesday morning in just under 20 hours.

Melamed, 39, has completed marathons in Berlin, Chicago, New York and Tokyo, and he finished the 26.2-mile run down Boylston Street with a flock of supporters cheering him on and physically supporting him when he grew tired. They also counted in Spanish for every step he took.

Melamed told reporters after finishing the race that Monday’s marathon would be his last. He’s physically unable to run another after the toll on his body and weight loss.

“It was tough, the wind, the rain, the distance, the cold, everything today was overcome,” Melamed said, reports CBS Boston.

“For me I’m so grateful for Boston and to Boston this is an amazing city.”

Melamed’s family took him to Boston when he was young for life-saving treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital, according to CBS Boston. He ran the marathon with supporters from the group VAMOS Boston to spread a message of peace, and will be presented with a finisher’s medal by Boston mayor Marty Walsh on Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Baseball

The Cincinnati Reds’ Manager Bryan Price Dropped 77 F-Bombs in a Pre-Game Rant

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds
Joe Robbins — Getty Images Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Impressive

There may be no crying in baseball, but there’s plenty of cursing — just ask Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price.

During a media session ahead of Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Price unleashed a five-minute, 34-second profanity-peppered onslaught that would have made Ty Cobb wince.

“The final tally was 77 uses of the ‘F’ word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine),” reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Price was upset about media outlets allegedly running information that could be deemed valuable to rival teams and reporting on the status of one player who was being relegated to the minors before the coach had a chance to tell him personally.

Or as Price put it himself: “I’ve been as candid as I can f-cking be about this team and our players, and we’ve got to deal with this sh-t, every f-cking team that we f-cking play has to know every f-cking guy that’s here and what they can and can’t do? F-ck me. It’s a f-cking disgrace. I’m f-cking sick of this sh-t.”

[Cincinnati Enquirer]

TIME Sports

See Boston Marathoners Celebratory Photos

From selfies to colorful costumes, here are the best photographs Boston marathoners and spectators shared on social media today

TIME United Kingdom

Female Chess Legend: ‘We Are Capable of the Same Fight as Any Other Man’

Judit Polgar, Hungarian chess grandmaster.
Ondrej Nemec—Getty Images Judit Polgar, Hungarian chess grandmaster.

“It’s not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of being smart,” Judit Polgar says

Judit Polgar, one of the world’s top chess players, has hit back against a claim by another of the game’s stars that men are naturally better chess players.

“We are capable of the same fight as any other man, and I think during the decades that I actively played chess I proved it as well,” Polgar told TIME in an interview Monday. The native Hungarian became a chess prodigy along with her two sisters and broke Bobby Fischer’s record to become the youngest grandmaster at age 15 in 1991. It’s not a matter of gender, it’s a matter of being smart,” the grandmaster added.

Polgar’s comments came after a storm erupted over Nigel Short’s remarks that people should “gracefully accept it as a fact” that women possess different skills than men, while also suggesting that women are worse drivers.

“I don’t have the slightest problem in acknowledging that my wife possesses a much higher degree of emotional intelligence than I do,” he told New in Chess magazine. “Likewise, she doesn’t feel embarrassed in asking me to maneuver the car out of our narrow garage. One is not better than the other, we just have different skills.”

Polgar, who announced her retirement last year, pointed out that she had defeated Short “quite a few times.” She also defeated Garry Kasparov, widely considered to be the finest chess player in history, in 2002.

“I grew up in what was a male dominated sport, but my parents raised me and my sisters [to believe] that women are able to reach the same result as our male competitors if they get the right and the same possibilities,” she said.

Polgar, who founded the Judit Polgar Chess Foundation to use chess as an education tool, says she sees roughly an equal number of young boys and girls competing in chess at equal levels. But she says fewer girls pursue chess later on, in part because they choose not to and in part because they do not receive the same encouragement from parents, teachers and other people around them.

“Whenever I speak to parents or to kids, I always encourage them that if they believe, if they do the work, if they are really dedicated, then they can do it,” she says. “No matter whether they are a boy or a girl.”

TIME Running

Meet the Man Who Won’t Stop Running

Scott Jurek has been an Ultramarathoner for twenty years

Scott Jurek thought Ultramarathoners were crazy, until he tried his first one.

Twenty years ago Jurek considered himself an average runner, but after falling in love with the long distances of Ultramarathoning — any race over the traditional 26-mile marathon — he really found his groove.

He has won the Western States 100-mile race seven straight times, the Badwater 135 mile race twice, and the 153 mile Spartathalon three times. In 2010 he set an American record at the 24-hour World Championships, running a total of 6.5 marathons in 24 hours.

Two decades after he ran his first Ultramarathon, Jurek is still going strong. He hopes to use his success in his unconventional sport to inspire others to push their minds and bodies beyond what they ever thought was possible.

TIME Sports

See Triumphant Photos of Boston Marathon Runners Through History

The annual event, which takes place on April 20 this year, has been running for more than a century

The 119th Boston Marathon, taking place on April 20, 2015, is sure to be an occasion for remembrance of the tragic crimes that were committed at the race two years ago. As the city continues to recover from that wound, it’s also worth remembering that the marathon has long been a symbol of perseverance, in which runners can conquer obstacles both personal and societal. Here’s a look back at some of those victories.

Read about the history of the Boston Marathon, here in the TIME Vault: A Long Running Show

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