The Festival is an annual juried competition traveling to audiences across the U.S. and abroad, featuring new short works in all genres, and supporting the work of international independent filmmakers.The screening will be Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. where Festival Director Jane Steuerwald will introduce the selection of Jury’s Stellar Award-Winning films to be screened, and filmmakers will be present for a Q & A. There is a suggested donation of $10 at the door. For more information go to www.hobokenmuseum.com HOBOKEN — The Hoboken Historical Museum at 1301 Hudson St. will host the kick-off screenings for the 36th annual Black Maria Film Festival. The Black Maria Film Festival celebrates creativity and innovation in the moving-image arts. It was named for Thomas Edison’s West Orange film studio, dubbed the “Black Maria” due to its resemblance to the type of black-box police paddywagon known as a “black maria.” ×
A drone flying close to the field interrupts a football scrimmage between Ocean City High School and Middle Township High School on Monday, Aug. 24. Credit: Heidi Alfano-Kern A drone flying close to the field interrupts a football scrimmage between Ocean City High School and Middle Township High School on Monday, Aug. 24. Credit: Heidi Alfano-KernA drone flying over a football scrimmage between Ocean City High School and Middle Township High School interrupted play for about 20 minutes on Monday evening.Parents and spectators watching the game reported the small remote-controlled device flying close to the field then moving back and forth in an apparent attempt to buzz by different players during the delay in the game.The referees reportedly would not let players throw a ball at the drone to knock it out of the air.Ocean City police received an anonymous call reporting the incident, according to Capt. Steve Ang. But by the time they arrived the drone was gone, and its operator was nowhere to be found.“I’ve been coaching football for 20 years and never had that happen,” Ocean City varsity coach Kevin Smith said.He said officials have been instructed to stop games when drones are present, in part, because video from drones could provide an advantage to other teams. But Smith said he and the Middle Township coach agreed that was not a concern.“If anybody’s scouting us, we don’t mind,” Smith told referees.He said the incident raised greater concerns about safety, privacy and security.“It’s just an uncomfortable thing to have this person operating this craft over your field,” he said.Smith’s uneasiness echoed that of parents watching the game.A fully rigged drone equipped with a GoPro camera flies over Ocean City in a 2014 demonstration.Jamie Levai, whose son plays on the team, said the drone was flying over her daughter’s cheerleading practice earlier in the day.“Who knows what they recorded from a team of cheerleaders all under the age of 18?” Levai said. “This is crossing the line.”“My concern is not only the privacy of our children but our time also,” she said. “It was unfair to everyone there that we could do nothing about it.”“That thing hovered closely over our kids and both sets of bleachers for a long time,” Heidi Alfano-Kern said.Recreational drones — small and light battery-operated devices that typically include multiple helicopter-shaped rotors — are increasingly common sights. They cost anywhere from $100 to $5,000 with high-priced models carrying more sophisticated cameras and flying for longer periods of time over greater range._________Get the Daily: Sign up for our free Ocean City news service_________A sample $800 model can stay aloft for 25 minutes on a single battery charge and has a range of 500 meters from the remote controller, though operators must remain in sight of the device to guide it. The owner of the drone that buzzed the Ocean City game could have been controlling it from one of the homes overlooking the field.Federal Aviation Administration guidelines prohibit recreational operators from flying their devices higher than 400 feet and ask them to seek permission if they fly anywhere within three miles of an airport.But beyond the FAA guidelines, there’s little in the law to govern the relatively new devices.Ang said police potentially could rely on traditional harassment or private property laws in future drone cases. But it’s uncharted territory for the department.“These are things that are going to have to be thrown against the wall (to see what sticks),” Ang said of different types of instances when drones become nuisances 0r dangers.“It’s going to become a bigger problem as they become cheaper and easier to purchase,” Ang said. “It’s not going to go away.”In a case involving similarly unregulated new technology, Ocean City in 2011 passed a local ordinance prohibiting the possession or sale of any laser pointer that exceeds one milliwatt in output power. The laser pointers had been directed at pilots flying planes, motorists driving cars, visitors riding Ferris wheels and even people sitting in their homes.A Lower Township man was indicted Tuesday for allegedly blasting a drone out of the sky near his home with a shotgun. Russell Percenti, 33, faces charges of possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and criminal mischief, according to Cape May County Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor.The drone owner told investigators he was using it to capture photographs of his friend’s house, which was under construction.At Wednesday’s Ocean City Board of Education meeting, Sea Isle City representative Dan Tumolo said he was at the Monday’s football game in Ocean City and witnessed the drone incident.He told the board he had a later conversation with the Cape May County prosecutor. He told the board that Taylor advised anybody witnessing a similar incident to call police immediately.Even if the legal landscape is murky, police can intervene to scare off the drone operator and to potentially track the drone to its owner.Read more:Know Before You Fly trade association guidelinesFAA Unmanned Aircraft System FAQ
A presentation and panel sponsored by the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics followed the speech. Thursday was the finale of a three-day convention featuring various party leaders and prominent party members, including Clint Eastwood.Typically, the Republican National Convention is a four-day event, but organizers chose to postpone the convention one day because of Hurricane Issac threatening coastal cities in Florida and Louisiana.In his acceptance speech, Romney emphasized the importance of staying optimistic when facing a tough economy and threats overseas.“We are a nation of immigrants. We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life — the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better,” Romney said.Though Romney claims President Barack Obama’s policies and actions have not made America a better place, he admits he wanted the president to succeed for the sake of the country.“I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed,” Romney said. “But his promises gave way to disappointment and division.”Jerry Ting, a junior majoring in public relations, political science and philosophy, politics and law, said he supported Obama in 2008 but is disappointed by the president’s performance.“It’s important to note that Bush did leave a big footprint and didn’t make things easy for Obama, but in hindsight Obama’s campaign was overhyped and his promise to bring about inspiring change was not kept,” Ting said.According to Romney, Obama’s promises of hope and change made for powerful rhetoric rather than realistic solutions. Romney then explained his plan to create 12 million new jobs and the five steps he would take to make it happen.Aaron Taxy, the president of the USC College Democrats, said he believes Obama should be elected for another term.“Romney plans to slash and burn Medicare and has run a negative campaign with no substance,” he said. “Obama has lowered unemployment and is steering the country in the right direction.”According to Romney, however, Democrats are not acting with as great a sense of urgency now as they did in 2008 because the President has not fulfilled the expectations of voters.“You know there’s something wrong with the kind of job he’s done as president when the best feeling you had, was the day you voted for him,” Romney said.Some students like Amy Gebert, a junior majoring in art history and political science, said though she is excited to vote in her first presidential election, she is more interested in voting for local initiatives than for presidential candidates.“Local politics can impact your life and it’s important not just to vote in the presidential election but also in the smaller ones as well,” Gebert said.The viewing at Annenberg was followed by a panel comprising Margita Thompson, former Bush for President Campaign 2000 press secretary in Calif.; Alex Yebri, President of USC Trojans for Mitt Romney; and Gabriel Kahn, an Annenberg professor. Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, moderated the panel. Nearly 100 students filled the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s lobby Thursday night to watch former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accept the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.Discussion · Margita Thompson, Alex Yebri, professor Gabriel Kahn and Dan Schnur participated in a panel following Romney’s convention speech. – Joanne Lin | Daily Trojan
“Many tried to prevent this piece of legislation, but I am happy that it was taken up today,” said Harin Fernando, Sri Lankan sports minister, after the bill was passed unanimously. 9 months ago Will not support proposed FTP of 2023-31: ECB chairman Graves to ICC LIVE TV Kunal Gaurav Last Updated: 12th November, 2019 14:47 IST Sri Lanka Passes Bill To Criminalise Offences Related To Match-fixing Sri Lanka became the first South Asian nation to criminalise offences related to match-fixing after it enacted “Prevention of Offences Related to Sports” bill. Arjuna Ranatunga, cabinet minister and former Sri Lankan captain of men’s cricket team, supported the legislation during parliamentary debates.Read: KPL Match Fixing Case: All About CM Gautam, The Former IPL CricketerLaw on curators, support staff, retired playersThe bill provides for punishment for any person directly or indirectly involved in fixing. If a curator prepares a pitch to benefit betting operators or any other ground staff or support staff receives money or any other reward to disclose the condition of the playing surface comes under the ambit of a criminal offence.In case a retired player or any person connected to a sport provides corrupt figures access to local or foreign players in order to influence their performance for money or any other reward will be penalised accordingly. An independent, impartial Special Investigation Unit consisting of a number of Police Officers with a rank not less than an Assistant Superintendent of Police will be appointed to investigate any offence under this Act. Read: Bangladesh Cricket Strike: Ex-BCB Chief Accuses Board Of Match FixingICC on match-fixing offencesSri Lanka’s Sports Ministry, while drafting the bill, worked in close coordination with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Anti-corruption unit (ACU). The offences under the ICC ACU Anti-Corruption Code is related to match-fixing, betting on cricket, misuse of inside information, failing to report an ‘approach’ or corrupt conduct to the ICC ACU, failing to cooperate with, or obstructing an investigation or proceedings.Read: ICC Suspends UAE Trio For Match Fixing Ahead Of WT20 QualifiersRead: TNCA Gives Clean Chit To TNPL T20 On Allegations Of Match Fixing(With Inputs from Agencies) 9 months ago Jonny Bairstow breaches Level 1 of ICC Code of Conduct against NZ Sri Lanka brought in tougher penalties for match-fixing and became the first South Asian nation to criminalise offences related to it after the Parliament passed “Prevention of Offences Related to Sports” bill on November 11. All the three readings of the bill were passed without any amendment and if found guilty in offence related to corruption in sports, it provides for a fine not exceeding 100 million Sri Lankan rupee or a prison term not exceeding 10 years or both. SUBSCRIBE TO US Written By FOLLOW US 9 months ago ICC asks fans for a ‘Caption This’ moment featuring Jimmy Neesham WE RECOMMEND First Published: 12th November, 2019 14:47 IST COMMENT 9 months ago Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Bringing Smiles Back to Sri Lanka WATCH US LIVE 9 months ago ICC T20 rankings: Latest update after India vs Bangladesh T20I series
Modern game consoles are much more powerful than yesterday’s Pong-pads, but their setup and business model remain virtually identical to the Ataris and Colecovisions of yore. But all of that’s about to change – this coming generation of game consoles will be the last to resemble anything you remember.The Basics 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Console hit Call of Duty still generated several times the revenue of Angry Birds in 2011. But Angry Birds cost much less to make and distribute. That’s one reason game publishers aim to widen their scope beyond hardcore gamers.Cloud gaming, meanwhile, is already a big enough threat to convince Sony to buy in for $380 million. Latency on all but the fastest connections makes cloud gaming a non-starter for hardcore games right now, but by the time we’re ready for a Playstation 5 in 2020, that barrier will likely be history.The PrognosisBy the time the XBox 720 and its ilk have worn out their welcome, we’ll have seen a complete shift in the way we buy our games, and how we think about the hardware that plays them. 1. Death Of The Discs The company that invented the Blu-Ray considered dumping it from the Playstation 4. That’s a pretty good sign that version 5 won’t have an optical drive. Physical media will go away, for good reasons. Discs are easy to lose, difficult for publishers to regulate, and – most important – easy to resell. Resold software generates nothing for publishers that would like nothing better than to make every player a customer.2. Free-to-Play Goes Hardcore If discless consoles shut out rentals and resales, something needs to fill the void for the try-before-you-buy crowd. Enter Free-to-Play (F2P), the payment model that already dominates social gaming and Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs). A model that provides a baseline tier of free services (or in Ouya’s case, a set of several free levels) could expose new games to millions of new customers and dramatically reduce buyer’s remorse. We’re already seeing in-game purchases generate serious money in hardcore games, and that trend will only grow.But Free-to-Play has a major downside. It destroys the current model of hardware subsidies paid back by large, up-front game costs. Without a guaranteed subsidy, every system sold will have to pay for itself. That means either dramatically higher up-front costs or dramatically less complex hardware.Raising prices too high would lock out families and teens, and invite competition with more versatile and upgradable PCs. Dumbing down the box would work fine for cloud gaming, but high-end local processing would suffer. Expect to see a fragmentation in hardware offerings to meet these needs, and don’t expect the Big Three to keep making all the hardware themselves. 3. “Playstation” Becomes A Spec. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft will continue to cut deals with cable companies, set-top-box providers (including Apple), and television manufacturers to embed special gaming processors in their devices. We might even see hardware tiers. For example, an Apple TV might be “Wii Streaming Certified,” but the latest Nintendo fighting game might require a compliant PC, or a box with more oomph. This would leave plenty of room for everyone in the ecosystem to sell different combinations of hardware and bandwidth, and where there’s potential profit, there’s industry excitement.Look for Sony to try to beef up its TVs with exclusive Playstation content, while Microsoft inks deals with everyone else. In the words of Twisted Metal creator David Jaffe, the Big Three become “more like movie studios for video games.”4. Tablets Are The New Consoles If you’re going to build a seamless, cross-platform entertainment system, you might as well go all the way. Android will be a major gaming platform, with or without the Big Three, even if Ouya fails. Microsoft’s SmartGlass is already hinting at where this trend is going. By 2020 it wouldn’t be surprising if the remaining video game titans all had proprietary virtual machines running on Android that would stream each company’s cloud gaming service and allow at least some level of local execution for downloadable games.Can This Technology Be Saved?The Crash of 1983 wiped console companies off the map, but that was an extinction event. This is an evolution, and all the players see it coming (Microsoft more than the others). Today’s gaming giants are resilient, and they’ll adapt. It may be possible that the Big Three or their minions will continue to offer a higher-cost hardware bundle – much like Microsoft plans to sell the Surface as a flagship product -but given the economic direction of the industry, innovation is more likely to manifest in a novel controller or a software layer that could be used by multiple hardware and OS configurations. In 2020, your TV may very well be your console.Previous Technology DeathWatchesBlu-RayQR CodesCompany DeathwatchesFor an update on our baker’s dozen of company Deathwatches, check out ReadWriteWeb DeathWath Update: The Unlucky 13.Gamer, “Powered By” and disc images courtesy of Shutterstock. cormac foster Related Posts In 1972, television maker Magnavox introduced the Odyssey gaming system for just under $100. It lacked sound and color, and relied on primitive plastic screen overlays to display backgrounds, but it ushered in a Golden Age. Five years later, Atari released the 2600, which IGN called “”the console that our entire industry is built upon.“” The Atari 2600 popularized game consoles, making the home gaming industry a multibillion dollar industry almost overnight. By 1982, the Atari 2600 was generating $2 billion in yearly revenue, with the competing with Colecovision and Intellivision systems also performing well.Perhaps inevitably, the boom made publishers sloppy, and game quality started to slip. Lousy games, overproduction, a tight economy and heavy competition from PC gamess combined to derail the console industry in the infamous Video Game Crash of 1983. Two years later, Japan revitalized the industry with the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The NES (IGN’s #1 console of all time) offered more polished graphics and sound, more versatile controllers and much more quality control than previous systems. The public ate it up, and the gaming industry has bought tens of millions of consoles and hundreds of millions of games ever since.The console business model hasn’t changed since. Every 5-7 years, hardware vendors release new, dramatically more powerful dedicated gaming systems. The vendors subsidize these consoles, breaking even or losing money on each sale, in order to gain wider distribution than competitors. Over time, they turn a profit through a handful of “must-have” in-house titles and licensing fees from third-party publishers. The market supports two-to-three major players at any one time, and Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have ruled the roost since 2001. 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Tags:#Deathwatch#gaming#web 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App The ProblemNobody’s really happy with the current console scene. Consumers worry about backwards compatibility and format wars, so sometimes wait for years to buy new systems. Microsoft and Sony worry about selling enough titles to justify their hardware costs. Publishers spend way too much money for the tools and rights to produce games for multiple platforms. Samsung and Apple want in on the action. Something has to change.There are plenty of industry experts who feel the console era is over, but most of them attribute that to one particular threat or another. To Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek, that threat is the trend toward casual gaming. To Sony/GaiKai’s David Perry, it’s cloud-based games replacing consoles. The truth is a bit of everything.Let’s start with Yerli’s point about casual gaming. A 2011 ESA study revealed some interesting statistics:55% of gamers play games on their phones or handheld devicesPuzzle, board games, game shows, trivia and card games represent 47% of the total market, while action, sports, strategy, and role-playing games (the bread-and-butter of console gaming) account for only 21%Non-traditional formats (downloadable games, digital add-ons, in-game purchases, mobile games, etc.) accounted for $5.4 billion in 2009 and $5.8 billion in 2010 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…
What do you think of autonomous aerial drones? Let us know in the comments. MIT Researchers are developing a new software-based system for aerial drone cinematography.Cover image via Shutterstock.The days of dual drone pilots and camera operators may be numbered. According to MIT News, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently developing a new software that allows drones to frame (and maintain) shots while performing aerial maneuvers — while also avoiding obstacles).Autonomous Filming“There are other efforts to do autonomous filming with one drone. They can follow someone, but if the subject turns, say 180 degrees, the drone will end up showing the back of the subject. With our solution, if the subject turns 180 degrees, our drones are able to circle around and keep focus on the face. We are able to specify richer higher-level constraints for the drones.” —Daniela Rus, MITWhile self-flying drone technology already exists on the market, MIT’s new software may be the beginnings of a far more autonomous and intelligent version that can recognize more precise framing concepts and opportunities. As you can see in the examples above, the technology can recognize and program variables such as shot size, viewing angle, and screen position.Viewpoint and Obstacle Avoidance“The key to the system is that it continuously estimates the velocities of all of the moving objects in the drone’s environment and projects their locations a second or two into the future. This buys it a little time to compute optimal flight trajectories and also ensures that it can get recover smoothly if the drone needs to take evasive action to avoid collision.” —Javier Alonso-Mora, MITThe new software also represents a major advancement in AI-recognized elements such as velocity and location. The drones can “update its position projections about 50 times a second,” which allows for greater calculations and predictions for where it needs to be to avoid collisions while maintaining viewpoints.An Open FutureWhile MIT’s new technology and software may be a work in progress, it shows how quickly the tech is advancing and offers a glimpse into just how intuitive and autonomous future iterations may be.For more resources on future tech and drone technology, check out some of these resources.This Stabilization Tech Will Change Drone Footage ForeverThe Technology Behind Brain Farm’s Breathtaking CameraworkNAB 2017: DJI Announces New Goggles
On Friday, August 25, a port condition Zulu was announced for the Port of Galveston and surrounding area, resulting in the closure of the port for marine traffic. The heavy rain from the storm in Galveston and Houston has caused severe flooding, impacting the roads leading in and out of Galveston.According to the latest update, the tropical storm continues weakening and is nearly stationary, drifting slowly South East towards Matagorda Bay. The storm is causing torrential rainfall from Southwest Louisiana to the south of Port O’Connor and inland to near Austin and San Antonio.The Captain of the Port, Sector Houston-Galveston expects to remain at Port Condition ZULU for at least until August 29, possibly longer. USCG Houston-Galveston Vessel Traffic Service confirms they are approving emergent vessel movements on a case by case basis.US Army Corps of Engineers have positioned numerous survey vessels locally to begin waterway surveys as soon as conditions permit, in order to open the waterways as soon as possible, however, the current concentration of assets is directed at recovery in Corpus Christi and Matagorda ship channel. zoom Hurricane Harvey, which was downgraded to a tropical storm over the weekend, has left three cruise ships stranded in the Gulf of Mexico as the Port of Galveston had to be closed to all vessel traffic and commercial activities amid heavy weather.Namely, as the port will remain closed on Monday, Carnival Cruise Line said its two ships, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Breeze, will be unable to enter the port until Tuesday at least pending a further notice from the port.” The port announced it will be closed for at least the next 24 hours, so our earliest potential opportunity to debark current guests is on Tuesday. As you can imagine, this is a fluid situation and we have no way of knowing if the port opening could be delayed further. We will continue to maintain close contact with port officials in Galveston monitoring conditions on Galveston Island, and within neighboring areas including Houston, and will provide ongoing updates as we receive additional information,” the cruise line informed.As a result, the two ships will be operating on shortened itineraries once the weather permits them to dock in the Port of Galveston. Guests who opt to sail on the shortened itineraries will receive a pro-rated refund of their cruise fare, the company added.Based on the latest update from Carnival, Carnival Freedom is currently in a position to enter the Port of Galveston as soon as the port reopens, while Carnival Breeze is on its way to New Orleans to make a short technical stop to replenish water and provisions on Monday. The ship will then resume its journey to Galveston.Due to the impact of the hurricane, Carnival decided to cancel the planned voyage of Carnival Valor.Image Courtesy: Hickey Law FirmSeparately, Royal Caribbean International canceled the planned sailing for August 27 of its Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.“Due to the severe impact of Hurricane Harvey and Galveston port closure, we unfortunately have to cancel your cruise scheduled for Sunday, August 27. We are sorry for the impact that this storm has had on your vacation and appreciate your patience as we worked through this. Please know that this decision was made with your safety in mind,” the company said.The ship is being diverted to Miami until conditions at the Port of Galveston permit safe travel.“Due to port closure because of Hurricane Harvey, Liberty was not able to make her scheduled arrival into Galveston today. We anticipate Liberty will be able to return to Galveston on Friday, conditions permitting. We are doing all we can to help guests adjust their travel arrangements and appreciate their patience as we work through this,” the company said in an update on August 27.Around 20,000 cruise passengers are said to be affected by the storm.Sitting off the Galveston Coast on Liberty of the Seas. With most of Houston underwater. Probably the best place to be! @BBCNews pic.twitter.com/Ux6cFg8glO— Marc Randall (@harrierrandall) August 27, 2017
emmaspan: Oh my gosh. I changed my mind: Orioles are going all the way this year. New York Yankeesneil: All right, let’s move on to the Yankees. According to the numbers, at least, they might be the most underrated team in baseball — which I never thought I’d actually hear a Yankee team described as.dszymborski: One surprising — and positive — thing about New York is just how young its good pitching is. I do this thing called “contribution age,” in which I weight a team’s age by its projected WAR, and the Yankees actually have the second-youngest pitching staff based on where they’re getting the value from (slightly behind the Mets).emmaspan: Do you think those young guys are ready, Dan? Luis Severino did look really strong last year, but small sample size and all that.dszymborski: Oh, I’m frightened by the downside, but a lot of the contributions that they’re going to get will need to be from those young/youngish guys. I’m bullish on Severino especially, simply because he’s one of the few starters that actually has his arm completely intact.emmaspan: Speaking of which, I worry about Michael Pineda staying healthy. I mean, also every other pitcher in the league, but Pineda has a long list of injury issues.neil: Masahiro Tanaka, too, has his own injury history as well.emmaspan: A good chunk of the Yankees’ season probably hangs on Tanaka’s elbow, which is pretty precarious. And I think at CC Sabathia‘s age, it’s unlikely he’ll get back to his top form, which is too bad, because he was enormously fun to watch.dszymborski: He was one of the great hopes for the next 300-game winner for a while, too. Watching his ZiPS career projection for wins come down year after year is very depressing. It peaked at 274 five years ago. Now it’s down to 231.emmaspan: Aw, CC. At least it sounds like he’s in a good place off the field and that’s great.neil: But is it fair to say the Yankees will probably once again be somewhere between OK and pretty decent on both the runs scored and allowed fronts? That was their formula last season, but it fell short of what are always the ravenous expectations in the Bronx.dszymborski: That seems about right. It’s an old risky team that can still patch together enough of a run to remain solid.emmaspan: That’s what I think. Their lineup is still overly reliant on old (by baseball standards) players but they shored it up a bit this offseason. I think it’ll be serviceable, and like the last few years, probably enough to put them in contention for a wild card. Money can’t buy you a championship, but it can keep you from totally sucking.dszymborski: I find using “old” a more loaded term these days, given how quickly baseball is running out of players that are older than I am.emmaspan: You should love the Yankees, then, Dan. Speaking of old, I thought for sure A-Rod would be cooked last year, but he was one of their best players. Is there any way he manages that again?dszymborski: I think he could. The question before last year was whether, after injuries and missing a year, he’d be able to do it at all. That he did it once should make us slightly more optimistic.neil: A-Rod’s regression potential, though, is another limiting factor for that lineup that probably keeps them more “OK” than “great.”dszymborski: Some of the issues in the offense would look less urgent if not for the Greg Bird injury.emmaspan: Yeah, not a great idea to go in without a good Mark Teixeira backup plan.neil: And what do we make of this bullpen Death Star they’ve built when Aroldis Chapman returns from suspension?emmaspan: It could make up for some of those rotation question marks — you don’t need to rely on length from that group of starters. For me, it would be more fun to watch if their buy-low on Chapman while he was under investigation for domestic violence hadn’t been so discouraging. But yes, from a pure baseball perspective, it’ll still be a spectacle.One of the more impressive aspects of the Yankees’ recent history is that for all their issues, they’ve done a good job replacing Mariano Rivera, which is a tall order. None of these guys are Mo, don’t get me wrong, but the bullpen hasn’t really been one of their problems. Baltimore Oriolesneil: You guys have just told me why any of the Jays, Red Sox, Yankees or Rays could win this division without anything too crazy happening. Does it stand to reason that Baltimore, who won this division as recently as two years ago, also fits that description?dszymborski: Pretty much. Although there’s something depressing about the fact that the Os had to increase their payroll to $150 million just to essentially maintain last year’s roster. (Which went 81-81.)emmaspan: They would surprise me the most of any AL East team, but even for them I would say they still have a shot. They’re gonna clobber a ton of home runs. That pitching, though.neil: The rotation looks especially shaky.dszymborski: It’s essentially four soft-tossing righties and Kevin Gausman, who they spent all of last year trying to use in the most awkward way imaginable.emmaspan: We did a big article on Jake Arrieta this week. Between what he said about his time in Baltimore and what the scout we talked to said about Gausman, yikes. Developing pitching prospects is risky for any team, but the Orioles desperately need to break this pattern.dszymborski: I think the Os lead the league in home runs, go 81-81, and the organization can’t quite figure out why.emmaspan: Their path to success is similar to last year’s Jays: out-slug all comers. But, again, for the Jays that involved picking up one of the best pitchers in baseball at the deadline, and that’s a tall order.dszymborski: Baltimore’s closer to a rebuild than any of the other AL East teams, I think. The farm’s dried up, they can’t increase payroll any more, and Manny Machado’s only got three years to free agency now.emmaspan: I feel awful for Orioles fans if the team doesn’t extend Machado and he goes elsewhere. Oof.dszymborski: I’m from Baltimore! I’m slowly coming to terms that he’s signing somewhere else for $300 million.emmaspan: I do think they have kind of a secret weapon in Buck Showalter, who can win you a few extra one-run games. And Yovani Gallardo should be pretty solid. It’s not an inspiring signing, but it’s something.dszymborski: Despite the doom and gloom, they do have a playoff scenario. It’s just that they’re going to have to face some tough questions quicker than the others.emmaspan: Your 2015 Baltimore Orioles: “Well, It’s Something.”neil: Better or worse than “Why Not?” neil (Neil Paine, senior sportswriter): All right — the AL East is perennially one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, but the balance of power has shifted a bit away from the classic Yankees-Red Sox rivalry in recent years. Do we think that will persist this year with Toronto winning again, or do we have reason to think New York and especially Boston will return to their former glories?dszymborski: Well, both teams have a plausible case to contention, though either could come off the rails very quickly. I think it’s truer than ever that there are no great AL East teams or even any great AL teams, period.emmaspan: I’d agree with Dan that the AL East is pretty wide open. It wouldn’t shock me to see any of these teams squeak into a wild-card spot. And I believe SI’s preseason predictions for the AL East last year ended up being an exact inversion of the final standings. So everyone should definitely listen to me.dszymborski: The nice thing about the “all teams are plausible!” prediction is that people end up having to be less specific in their anger at me by the time the season ends.emmaspan: I think Boston will be pretty good this year, although to be fair, I also thought that last year, and, well. But I think the race is likelier to be between the Red Sox and the Blue Jays than the Yankees. All three of those teams have a lot of question marks in their rotations, but I think the Sox and Jays have lineups that can cover for a lot of that, and I’m not sure I’d say the same for New York. Tampa Bay Raysneil: Maybe the real wild card in this division (not literally the AL Wild Card, just the figure of speech — although maybe the literal Wild Card, too) is the Tampa Bay Rays. PECOTA is picking them to win the division, on the strength of a really outlier-ish fielding performance. What do you think? Are the Rays back?dszymborski: Yeah, ZiPS had the opposite: Rays at 80-82.neil: I think most other sources were more in line with ZiPS. Vegas pegged them with an over/under of 78 wins.emmaspan: I don’t think the Rays are back quite yet, but they’re better, and if a few things went right for them, the Wild Card is pretty realistic. I do think they’ll have good defense (Kevin Kiermaier by himself is basically a good defense), and potentially a strong rotation.dszymborski: Yeah, it could happen for sure. They’re a non-terrible team in a wide-open division.emmaspan: I just don’t see them hitting enough. But a few surprise performances and a couple of trades and who knows?dszymborski: You’re really seeing some of the effects of their recent drafts not bearing fruit yet. Only a single drafted Ray since David Price in 2007 has five WAR in the majors: Kiermaier.emmaspan: I’m pretty fascinated to see if Kiermaier’s insane defensive stats hold up. I mean, he’s obviously an excellent, excellent centerfielder — but worth five wins on defense alone?dszymborski: There’s gotta be some regression on that. Defensive stats are just so volatile. But even at +15, he’s a valuable player.emmaspan: Yeah, generally you take a single season of defensive stats with large grains of salt. That said, you watch him field, and he really is awesome. Obligatory plug — check out last week’s issue of SI for more on Kiermaier and his crazy centerfielding.dszymborski: I prefer “centerfieldery.” Sounds better after “feats of.”emmaspan: You’re right. Let’s go with “crazy feats of centerfieldery.” I won’t tell the SI copy desk if you don’t.neil: But it sounds like you both are somewhat skeptical of that +56 fielding runs above average PECOTA is spitting out for Tampa. Do they have much of a plausible path to the division crown if that doesn’t end up happening? Looking at the rest of their roster, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough else there.dszymborski: To establish +56 as a baseline, you gotta do it longer. (It’s like projecting Bonds in his 73-homer season. Even though he did hit 73, you probably shouldn’t have projected it beforehand.) And without that +56, it’s tougher for the Rays. But remember, I don’t see them being quite that good defensively and still think there’s a path — just not the most likely one.emmaspan: Right. I don’t think it’s likely but, again, it wouldn’t be shocking. Chris Archer is awesome. Matt Moore’s looked great. I think Drew Smyly can be good. Combine a really good rotation with very good fielding — even if it isn’t +56 fielding runs above average — and stranger things have happened.neil: In fairness, I should also say their catchers — specifically, Hank Conger and René Rivera — are really good framers. So some of that is being factored into PECOTA.emmaspan: Evan Longoria going back to his star levels would go a long way towards helping. I don’t know how likely that is. And even if it did, I still think they need a couple bats. But I don’t think they’re far away from contending.dszymborski: No, just need some things to go right. Like when you don’t want to do your homework and there’s a 40 percent chance of snow in the forecast. In honor of the 2016 Major League Baseball season, which starts Sunday, FiveThirtyEight is assembling some of our favorite baseball writers to chat about the year to come. Today, we focus on the American League East with Sports Illustrated senior editor Emma Span and ESPN analyst Dan Szymborski. The transcript below has been edited.Toronto Blue JaysBoston Red SoxNew York YankeesTampa Bay RaysBaltimore Orioles Embed Code dszymborski: I know the whole “Why Not?” song. I had the 1989 team video on VHS. It also included a Mickey Tettleton version of “I Love Mickey.” Ben Lindbergh joins the Hot Takedown podcast to preview the 2016 MLB season. Toronto Blue Jaysneil: Well, let’s talk about the team that won the division last year, the Blue Jays. They were arguably the best team in baseball last season (sorry, Royals), but neither FanGraphs nor Baseball Prospectus’s projections think they’re the frontrunners this season. What do we think? Was last year their peak, or can they be as good this time around?emmaspan: The Blue Jays are my pick to win the division this year. Like last year, their lineup should be terrifying, but their rotation is less steady than you’d like. They’ll miss David Price. But when you can outscore everyone on the planet like that, it makes up for a lot.dszymborski: I think they come back to earth a bit. Not a lot went wrong last year. They’ll score a ton of runs, but there’s certainly some downside risk there. Though they’re still competitive, like the rest of the AL East.emmaspan: Even assuming that Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion won’t all have 40-HR seasons like last year, they can still bludgeon a lot of pitchers. They should also have a full year of Marcus Stroman, which could be huge (though I do worry a little about putting so much pressure on a kid who only had five starts last year).I covered the Blue Jays in the playoffs last year, including that crazy ALDS Game 5, and it was something else. I actually might be overestimating them a little because of how insane that moment was.neil: It was an incredible moment. But at that stage of the season, they’d also been buoyed by deadline pickups (in addition to actually playing to their run differential). Do they need to go out and get pieces again?emmaspan: I think they need a pitcher. Though there probably won’t be another David Price lying around.dszymborski: And even if there was, trading for a second David Price is tough.emmaspan: Yes. And their new GM has expressed reluctance to make those huge moves, which I know has some Jays fans worried.dszymborski: Yeah, say that the Nats are terrible and Stephen Strasburg is available. That’s all well and good, but it will be harder for the Jays to come up with another trade package in 2016.emmaspan: But one other thing in their favor — their offense was that good without Troy Tulowitzki hitting very well. He’ll help their defense regardless, but if he can return to even kinda his usual form, that’s huge. Even if you don’t get another ace at the deadline, even just a solid mid-rotation guy can be enough when you score 18 runs per game. (Slight exaggeration.)neil: Only slight.emmaspan: They also could use another reliable bullpen arm or two, I think. That might be easier to come by.dszymborski: But they have the mid-rotation guys. It’s the ace-type that you can confidently start six times in the playoffs they don’t have.emmaspan: I think Stroman can be that guy, though they’ll want to watch his innings this year.dszymborski: It’s a lot to put on a guy who just came back from one injury.emmaspan: Also, I personally am ready for the R.A. Dickey renaissance. Is it likely? OK, no. But it would be wonderful and you never fucking know with knuckleballers. (Please feel free to edit out my profanity — I get very worked up about knuckleballs.)neil: Profanity is fine, but only in the context of knuckleball pitchers.dszymborski: Dickey hasn’t been disappointing even, just not super inspiring: a slightly above-average pitcher that never misses a start. He’s also only 41 — he can be around for another decade or so.emmaspan: Right, but I vividly remember his Cy Young season for the Mets. That was crazy fun.dszymborski: That mid-year stretch when nobody scored on him ever!emmaspan: And he had a few great starts last year, too, if I recall correctly. It’s still in there, somewhere, maybe!dszymborski: 2.80 second-half ERA!emmaspan: There you go. In my mind the AL Cy Young is already sewn up. Everyone else can go home.neil: You said it, Emma — you never (fucking) know with guys like that. But barring some kind of Dickey renaissance, the Jays’ only really question mark is the rotation, it seems. Emma said she’s picking Toronto as favorites; what say ye, Dan?dszymborski: Slightly picking Red Sox. But again, this is a year in which I can just project everybody to have a fun time.emmaspan: Red Sox were a close second for me. We pretty much agree, which means this is probably the Rays’ year. Boston Red Soxneil: You guys sound high on the Red Sox, despite the last-place finish a year ago. How much of that is the offseason additions (David Price, Craig Kimbrel, etc.) and how much is simply the guys who had down seasons a year ago bouncing back in some way, shape or form?dszymborski: I’m slightly higher on them than the Yankees. I actually picked them as very slight division favorites, but a lot can still go wrong.emmaspan: The latter, for me — the Red Sox played much better the second half of last year than the first. It looked like things were starting to come together. And any time you can add a durable (so far) ace like Price, it’s a big boost.dszymborski: Hard to go wrong signing David Price!emmaspan: I don’t think Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval will necessarily return to form, but if they can just be decent, there’s still a lot to like in that lineup.dszymborski: Ramirez at least seems to have more buy-in about playing first base. I urged people not to overrate how good he’d be in left field, but I didn’t see that disaster coming. I’m less optimistic on Sandoval. It was such a strange pair of signings. Third base was the logical reason to sign either Hanley or Sandoval going into last winter, but then they signed both.emmaspan: I wouldn’t say I’m optimistic about Sandoval, either, but last year was his worst ever and he’s still only 29, so I don’t think a return to (at least) mediocrity is out of the question. But yeah, those were strange moves even at the time. Personally, I will miss the sheer adventure of Hanley in left. A real adrenaline rush.dszymborski: I think the GM change is good for the Red Sox not just because of any managerial issue, just because it’s easier to walk away from various Sandoval/Ramirez experiments if they go poorly. Dave Dombrowski has nothing personally invested in Sandoval’s contract working out.emmaspan: That “if” is very generous of you.dszymborski: I’m a sunny optimist.neil: Yeah, I wanted to ask about the regime change there — Dombrowski is demonstrably one of the best GMs in baseball, but what is he going to do to succeed where Ben Cherington failed? And what do we make of that story where John Henry backed away from sabermetrics a bit as a guiding strategy?emmaspan: We’ll obviously have to see how it plays out, but I think the John Henry quotes got a little overblown — I think what he was saying is that they want to use a good mixture of analytics and scouting, which at this point is hardly controversial. Or shouldn’t be.dszymborski: Yeah. His comments also came at a slow time in the news cycle, so they got blown up a bit. Though Ruben Amaro and their “secret analytics” was highly entertaining for a few days.emmaspan: One of the most fun aspects of SI’s baseball season preview every year is we talk to a bunch of scouts, anonymously, about every team. They have some really fascinating (and funny) insights that you don’t get from even the best statistical analysis — but, of course, they also are spectacularly wrong sometimes. The Red Sox obviously did very well by sabermetrics and I don’t see them tossing it over the side. Almost all the best teams in baseball right now are teams that have done a good job balancing those perspectives.dszymborski: It used to be you had a serious divide between teams using data well and teams that don’t. That’s so much not the case these days.emmaspan: One thing to watch with Dombrowski is how much freedom he gets from ownership. That was an issue with Cherington, apparently, at several key points in his tenure.dszymborski: Yeah, he never really had the political capital that Theo Epstein did.emmaspan: You can be the best GM in the world, but if the owners insist that you hire Bobby Valentine, well …neil: Fair enough. So if Red Sox fans had any reason to panic, it should be more about maybe, say, the back end of that rotation than any grand shift in organization direction.emmaspan: Yes, although ownership meddling is something to be wary of in that and other areas.dszymborski: As organizations have more complex management structures and ownership groups continue to get more involved, I think chalking moves up to a specific GM isn’t as useful as it once was. A FiveThirtyEight Chat More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed neil: So, to recap: slight edge to the Jays, but maybe the Red Sox, Yankees or even the Rays … And the Orioles will either finish last or recapture the spirit of ’89 in song and performance.emmaspan: That about sums it up on my end.dszymborski: Seems like a reasonable wrapup. And hi, Nate. I see you typing.natesilver (Nate Silver, editor in chief): Thanks, Dan and Emma!emmaspan: Hi Nate! [waves]natesilver: Was gonna say that we really need to work on an oral history of the 1991 Detroit Tigers: Tettleton + Fielder + Deer + Incaviglia = AWESOME.neil: Save it for the AL Central chat, Nate. :)emmaspan: And don’t give me any ideas you don’t want me to steal.