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Why I Don’t Agree With New York Banning DraftKings and FanDuel

On Tuesday, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman ordered daily fantasy sports (DFS) operators DraftKings and FanDuel to stop accepting bets by state residents, arguing that the companies’ games are considered illegal gambling, according to state law. I disagree with the decision, which affects me as a New York resident who has been playing in NFL contests on DraftKings this season. The companies plan to appeal the decision.

For some background, DFS companies are legal under federal law; a 2006 federal law exempted fantasy sports from a prohibition that was instituted on online gaming, under the guidance that it is a game of skill as opposed to luck. Schneiderman apparently doesn’t agree that DFS is legal under that law, saying “it is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country.”

In his letter to DraftKings, Scheiderman stressed some of the differences between DFS and traditional, seasonlong fantasy sports that makes DFS illegal while the seasonlong variety is legal, including that the “instant gratification” makes it easy to play DFS, which has “no long-term strategy.” He also argues that DFS is closer to poker — in that a small number of pros profit at the expense of more-casual players — than a lottery. According to Schneiderman’s investigation of the site’s data, the top one percent of winners get the majority of the winnings.

Let me address the points made by Schneiderman. First, I think comparing DFS to poker hurts his argument because I have long argued that poker is a game of skill that, like DFS, should be exempt from that 2006 ban on online gambling. Schneiderman seems to think that because the outcome of the contests relies on outside forces that the DFS players cannot control — namely the athletes — there’s no skill involved in winning at DFS. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, DFS participants have no control over the performance of the players they select, but there is skill involved in choosing which players you want on your team. The people who do it right study stats of previous games and the players’ matchups in the coming games to determine who to select — you’re not randomly selecting players with no basis for your choices.

This also goes into my counterargument to Schneiderman’s point that the top one percent of DraftKings players win the most money. Many of them are DFS professionals who do it full-time. They spend hours, and even days, to select their lineups each week. Conversely, a casual player like me often spends some time on Sunday morning choosing players before the kickoff the 1:00 games. Naturally, you would expect the people who are able to put more time and research into it to win more often — and that would kind of indicate there’s some skill involved in DFS, not that it’s a “multibillion-dollar scheme,” which was the conclusion that Schneiderman jumped to.

Further, those DFS pros are wagering a lot of money, with the possibility of a large payout. So, of course, they’re going to get the majority of the winnings when most DFS players are probably closer to me; I play in one $3 contest a week, and sometimes add a second, similarly priced contest. I don’t expect to win thousands of dollars when I’m wagering so little. I’ve won $10 each of the past two weeks, which is a decent return on my small investment.

Going back to Schneiderman’s letter, he charges that DraftKings promotes its games as “a path to easy riches that anyone can win,” enticing player with claims of becoming a millionaire. That scenario sounds familiar. Where have I previously heard claims of easy riches and becoming a millionaire? Oh yeah, that’s right, I’m thinking of New York Lottery commercials. Of course, that’s it.

So how do DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s claims of winning big differ from the New York Lottery’s? Simple. New York runs its lottery and profits from the people who gamble on it, hoping to win millions in contests in which they have no control over the outcome. Which is pretty much the argument Schneiderman makes for banning DFS — which, I should point out, New York doesn’t make any money off of. And that, in my opinion, is why Schneiderman is going after the DFS companies — he wants his share of the pie from the more than 500,000 New Yorkers who play DFS, according to DraftKings spokeswoman Sabrina Macias.

The fact that Schneiderman only banned DraftKings and FanDuel — by far the two largest and most successful DFS operations — and not the other, smaller sites that run DFS games seems to confirm my suspicion that it’s about money. He is going after the two sites that make the most money off of DFS becasue the state stands to gain the most by going after those two sites.

So the solution is simple. Rather than banning DFS, New York should regulate and tax it. By regulating it, the state can control how DraftKIngs and FanDuel run their games, to make sure it’s not the “scheme” that Schneiderman thinks the sites are running. By taxing it, New York gets its share of the millions of dollars that the sites take in from New York residents. New York is obviously not opposed to gambling; in addition to the lottery, the state regulates the New York Racing Association, which runs several horse racing tracks across the state, and a couple years ago legalized casino gaming other than the Indian casinos that have long operated on Indian reservations in the state.

Thoughts?

Marlins 2B Dee Gordon

MLB Weekly: Batting champ suspended, playoff teams struggling

In this week’s MLB Weekly, we take a look at a lengthy suspension for a reigning batting champion and a couple of last year’s playoff teams who are struggling this year.

Looking Back

Marlins 2B Dee Gordon set career highs last season in batting average (.333), hits (205) and steals (58) on his way to winning the National League batting title. He was hitting just .266 in the 21 games he played this season when the league announced this week that Gordon has been suspended without pay for 80 games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. He tested positive during spring training for two banned substances, exogenous testosterone and clostebol. Although the failed tests came during March, he had been playing during the appeal process, which he dropped on Friday when he accepted the suspension despite claiming he did not “knowingly” take prohibited substances. The 28-year-old, who is the son of former major league closer Tom Gordon, parlayed last year’s successful season into a five-year, $50 million contract with the Marlins this offseason.

The Astros and Yankees played each other in one of the Wild Card games in last year’s playoffs, but if the first month of the season is any indication neither team will make a repeat trip to the postseason. Entering Sunday, only the Braves had a worse record than the Astros, whose 7-17 mark was tied with the Twins for the second-worst record in the majors. The Yankees aren’t faring much better, with a record of 8-14, putting them in last place in the AL East. Both teams’ struggles involve pitching, as they hold the two worst staff ERAs in the American League. They rank a little better in batting average, and the Astros, who still haven’t won two games in a row, are tied for the third-most home runs in the AL.

Looking at teams who are doing well, Chicago continues to be the center of the baseball world this spring, with the Cubs and White Sox both holding the best records in their respective leagues entering Sunday’s action. The Cubs got a scare during the week when 3B Kris Bryant appeared to injure his ankle, but the MRI came back negative and he returned to action today. Their pitching continues to shine, with the second-best ERA in the National League, led by SP Jake Arrieta. The White Sox have the AL’s best ERA (2.72), buoyed by sub-2.00 ERAs from SPs Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and, surprisingly, Mat Latos. In the bullpen, closer David Robertson is throwing well, with a 0.87 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 10.1 innings; he is also 8-for-9 in save opportunities.

Elsewhere in MLB, the Phillies continue to surprise people with a 15-10 record, which is good for just third place in the NL East behind the Nationals and Mets. It remains to be seen if they’ll be able to keep up that pace throughout the season, but as long as their pitching continues to perform at the level it has been, with the fifth-best ERA (3.79) in the National League, they will have a chance to remain in the thick of things in the division, sitting 2.5 games back in the division entering Sunday.

The Week Ahead

Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen

Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen batting against the Cubs

Taking a look at series to watch for this week, the White Sox and Red Sox do battle Tuesday through Thursday in Chicago in a series featuring teams competing for the top spot in their divisions. The Rangers visit the Blue Jays for four games starting Friday in a rematch of one of the American League Divisional Series from the 2015 postseason. The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game set with the Pirates Monday through Wednesday in a key NL Central series. Later in the week, the Yankees host the Red Sox in a weekend series that could help the Yankees climb back up toward contending in the division. And the top two teams in the National League have a four-game set Thursday through Sunday, when Bryce Harper and the Nationals travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs.

Some scheduled pitching matchups of note this week include the Cubs-Pirates series finale, with Cubs SP Jon Lester, who has a 1.83 ERA, taking on Pirates SP Juan Nicasio, who has had a good season so far. SP Stephen Strasburg puts his perfect 4-0 record on the line Wednesday against the reigning World Series-champion Royals. As things stand now, there is a nice pitching matchup in Toronto on Friday, with 3-1 Dodgers SP Kenta Maeda and 4-0 Blue Jays SP Marcus Stroman slated to take the mound.

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The Nationals celebrate a win

MLB Weekly: Chicago teams winning, Harper and the Nats stay hot

With another week in the books, it’s time to take a look back at the last seven days and see what lies ahead for next week in MLB Weekly. As we head into May next weekend, the Cubs and Nationals are tied for the most wins in baseball, with 14 apiece, while the White Sox are surprising many, just a game behind with 13.

Looking Back

The Nationals continued their hot start, going 5-2 last week, largely behind the bat of OF Bryce Harper, who hit 3 home runs this week, including as a pinch-hitter today after getting the day off to rest. That game eventually went to 16 innings, with the Nats winning on a walk-off home run by OF Chris Heisey. The Cubs also went 5-2 in a week that included SP Jake Arrieta throwing his second no-hitter in the last two seasons, a game in which the Cubs beat the Reds 16-0 on Thursday.

The Cubs aren’t the only team winning in the Windy City. The White Sox, who were 76-86 last season, are off to a 13-6 record, leading the defending World Series champion Royals in the AL Central. SP Chris Sale is having his typically good season on the mound, 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 26 strikeouts. He’s not the only pitcher on the team who is 4-0, though; SP Mat Latos, after winning today, has the same record and an even lower ERA — 0.74. As the season continues, we’ll see if Latos is for real. The ERA will likely go up, but if he can keep it below 3.00, he’ll make a strong 1-2 combo with Sale.

The Orioles are still leading the AL East at 11-6. It’s the offense continuing to do the damage for the Orioles, led by 1B Chris Davis, OF Mark Trumbo and 3B Manny Machado; Davis and Trumbo each have 6 home runs so far, while Machado has 5 and a .380 batting average, while Trumbo is hitting .373.

The Astros continue to be the most disappointing team in the majors thus far, with just six wins entering Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox. The Astros still have not won back-to-back games, with much of their lack of success due to the pitching staff, which has an AL-worst 4.94 ERA. Even reigning AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel is just 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA. No one else in the starting rotation has a sub-4.00 ERA. The Astros had a chance to make up ground in the AL West this week, playing a three-game series at Texas, but the Rangers swept that series. The Rangers then got swept by the White Sox this weekend, allowing the A’s to tie Texas for the division lead at 10-9.

The Week Ahead

The series to keep an eye on early in the week is the White Sox visiting the Blue Jays Monday through Wednesday. It’s a battle between the AL Central leaders and the team many picked to win the AL East. At 10-10, the Blue Jays are in second in the East, 2.5 games behind the Orioles, who have played three fewer games than Toronto. After Toronto, the White Sox travel to Baltimore for a four-game set against the Orioles. With seven games against Toronto and Baltimore, the White Sox could face their biggest test of the season thus far. If they do well, it could mean their hot start is for real. If they falter, it could be a sign they are pretenders more than contenders the rest of the way.

There are some pitching performances to pay attention to on Monday, with Orioles SP Kevin Gausman coming off the DL to make his first start of the season and Diamondbacks SP Zack Greinke, who has a disappointing 5.25 ERA, looking to get on the right track in a tough matchup with the Cardinals. Tuesday could see a good pitching matchup in D.C., with SP Vincent Velasquez, who has had a couple of impressive starts early this season, going for the Phillies against SP Max Scherzer and the hot Nationals. Wednesday, Arrieta tries to complete “the Vander Meer” with back-to-back no-hitters; he faces the Brewers at home.

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The 2016 MLB All-Star Game is set to be played in San Diego.

My way-too-early MLB All-Star Game ballot

I think the MLB All-Star Game is the best all-star game among the four major pro sports leagues in the U.S., but there are some things about it that I don’t like. One is the fact that the winning league determines home-field advantage in the World Series; an exhibition game shouldn’t factor into something as important to that. The other thing I don’t like is the voting, with MLB allowing up to 35 ballots per person — which really means per (throwaway) e-mail address — allowing them to write articles touting how many hundreds of millions of votes are received during the voting period.

Despite the fact that the 2016 MLB season began just three weeks ago today, MLB has already opened up the voting for mid-July’s All-Star Game. I think it’s too early to start voting for all-stars but I’ll play along. So here is my way-too-early all-star ballot for both the American and National leagues. I’ll be updating my ballot in the coming weeks and months as we approach the game on July 12 in San Diego.

American League

1B Chris Davis, Orioles: He’s not hitting for a high average, but he already has 6 home runs, a strong start to his follow-up season after hitting 47 last season. Astros rookie Tyler White got off to a strong start to the season but has slowed a bit over the last week or so.
2B Jose Altuve, Astros: White’s teammate is off to his usual game of hitting and stealing bases, but he’s also continuing the increased power he showed last season, when he hit a career-high 15 home runs; he’s at 5 so far in 2016.
SS Carlos Correa, Astros: The defending American League Rookie of the Year is starting off strong in his first full season in the majors, hitting .286 with 3 home runs.
3B Manny Machado, Orioles: This was a close one between Machado and the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson. Donaldson has 1 more home run, but Machado is hitting for a higher average and having a better overall season, in my opinion.
C Brian McCann, Yankees: Catcher is a position that historically isn’t known for offense and the veteran catcher is among the best-hitting catchers in the league so far this season; he’s hitting .300 with 3 home runs.
DH David Ortiz, Red Sox: In his final season before retirement, Ortiz is hitting .284 with 3 home runs. Combining his good season with the fact that he plays for the Red Sox and is on the verge of retirement, I think he’s a lock to be voted in as a starter.
OF Colby Rasmus, Astros; Mike Trout, Angels; Mark Trumbo, Orioles: Rasmus may be a surprising pick to people who don’t follow the Astros, but it’s hard to keep him out of the voting right now, as he’s slashing .302/6/16. Trout’s power isn’t quite there yet, with just 3 home runs, but he’s hitting .302 and is still among the AL’s best outfielders at this point in the season. Trumbo is another name that people might not have expected to see here, but he’s hitting well over .300 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI to date in 2016.

American League all-star ballot

My first American League all-star ballot

National League

1B Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers: The veteran first baseman is hitting .352/3/14, helping to lead the Dodgers to first place in the competitive NL West. There are others who have shown more power than Gonzalez so far, but his average puts him over the top. The Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt could overtake him as the season goes on if he can get his .246 average higher.
2B Neil Walker, Mets: The Mets signed free-agent Walker in the offseason, and so far it’s paying off to the tune of an average approaching .290 and 7 home runs three weeks into the season.
SS Trevor Story, Rockies: The rookie got off to a scorching start, hitting 7 home runs in the first week of the season. He’s hit just 1 since then, but he’s still one of the big stories of the season and I think the leading candidate to get the nod at shortstop as of now.
3B Nolan Arenado, Rockies: Story’s teammate has 7 home runs of his own so far, to go along with a .284 average. Unlike Story, Arenado’s hot start isn’t surprising after he hit 47 home runs in 2015.
C Welington Castillo, Diamondbacks: While the Giants’ Buster Posey is perennially thought of as the best catcher in the National League, it’s hard not to recognize Castillo’s 5 home runs in the first three weeks of the season versus Posey’s 2. Posey can easily overtake Castillo in the coming weeks, but for now I’m giving the Diamondbacks’ backstop the nod.
DH With no DH in the National League, fans don’t get to vote for one.
OF Dexter Fowler, Cubs; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; Bryce Harper, Nationals: Fowler is swinging a hot bat for the Cubs, helping to take up some of the slack of disappointing seasons to date by the likes of 3B Kris Bryant and 1B Anthony Rizzo, helping them to one of the best records in the majors. Gonzalez is having a typically strong year, hitting well over .300 with 4 home runs in the early going. Harper, the reigning NL MVP, is already making a strong case to earn that title again this season, with a .311/8/22 slash line.

National League all-star ballot

My first National League all-star ballot

Starting pitchers are not on the ballot and are chosen by the all-star managers, but I’ll go with a couple of Chicago pitchers, Chris Sale of the White Sox in the AL and the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the NL.

Again, I’ll be updating the ballot as the season continues so keep checking back in for updates.

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Rockies shortstop Trevor Story

MLB Weekly: Cubs off to a hot start, Story a big story early

Looking Back

This is the first of what will be a weekly (for the most part) look at Major League Baseball, recapping what went on the previous week and previewing the week ahead. We’re now two weeks into the season and, as is usually the case, there are surprising teams and players, both positively and negatively.

One of the biggest surprises in the early going is Rockies SS Trevor Story — who only got the nod as the starter to begin the season because of Jose Reyes‘ suspension — who came out of the gate strong, smacking 7 home runs in his first six games. He hasn’t hit one out of the park since April 10, but he is still hitting .294 through Sunday, which isn’t bad for the first 12 games of his major league career. He has also helped the Rockies to a 7-5 start to the season, getting the team off to a hot start following a 68-94 record last season.

Also off to a hot start, the Cubs. People had high expectations for the Cubs entering the year, and they are exceeding them — and then some, with a 9-3 record after 12 games, giving them a two-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central. Pitching has been carrying the team thus far, with SP Jake Arrieta posting a 1.23 ERA with 20 strikeouts in his first three starts, en route to a 3-0 record. The offense is off to a sluggish start, with last year’s breakout hitters 3B Kris Bryant and 2B Anthony Rizzo hitting .229 and .186, respectively, through 12 games. If the Cubs have a .750 winning percentage without getting much offense out of their hitters, things are looking good for the team once the sluggers start doing their thing, as they are bound to do as we get deeper into the season.

The Orioles are off to a surprisingly good start in the AL East with an 8-3 record, ahead of the Blue Jays and Red Sox, who most people expected to compete for the top spot in the division. 1B Chris Davis and OF Mark Trumbo are leading the way with 5 home runs apiece. No one in the starting rotation is having a particularly good year so far, with SP Ubaldo Jimenez the only starter with a sub-4.00 ERA through 11 games.

One of the biggest disappointments thus far as the Astros, who are in last place in the AL West with a 5-8 record after finishing last year at 86-76. The Astros have had some bad luck, with some poor baserunning and a questionable interpretation of the new “neighborhood slide” rule that potentially cost them a game during the first week of the season, so the record may be worse than the team has looked. The Astros have, essentially, the reverse of the situation that the Cubs have — good hitting and bad pitching. Veteran 2B Jose Altuve and rookie 1B Tyler White each have 4 home runs, while SS Carlos Correa and OFs George Springer and Colby Rasmus each have 3. SP Dallas Keuchel, last year’s AL Cy Young winner, appears to be on his way to another good season, with a 2-1 record and 2.18 ERA, but the rest of the rotation has struggled. SP Scott Feldman has a decent 3.48 ERA, but SPs Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers and Doug Fister all have ERAs above 6.30 thus far.

The Week Ahead

Looking ahead to some of the big series on the schedule for the coming week, the Blue Jays and Orioles have a three-game series starting Tuesday in what should be a challenge for Baltimore that might give us an idea about whether the team’s hot start is for real. The battle of Texas gets three games from Tuesday through Thursday, with the Astros traveling to Arlington to take on the AL West-leading Rangers in a series that could help the Astros get back in the division race … or push them into a deeper hole. The Cubs visit the Cardinals Monday through Wednesday in a battle between NL Central contenders. A couple of key NL West series take place this week, with the Giants hosting the Diamondbacks in the first half of the week and the Dodgers heading to Coors field to take on the Rockies over the weekend.

Some pitching matchups to look out for this week include a couple pairings of young pitchers in the MetsPhillies series, with Mets SP Noah Syndergaard and Phillies SP Jerad Eickhoff slated to take the mound on Monday, and Mets SP Logan Verrett scheduled to go up against Phillies SP Vincent Velasquez, who struck out 16 batters in his last start on Tuesday. Wednesday, Diamondbacks SP Zack Greinke, who has struggled so far in 2016, looks to get on the right track against the Giants, who will be throwing their ace, SP Madison Bumgarner, in that game.

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HTC 10

HTC introduces its newest flagship, HTC 10

HTC has dropped the One branding from its latest phone, introduced earlier today, but is keeping continuing the numbering scheme from the One M8 and One M9 with the HTC 10. The Taiwanese company is looking to get back in the mix with Samsung and LG as a leading manufacturer of Android phones after disappointing sales over the last couple of years. The HTC 10 has the latest specs you’d expect to see on a top-tier phone, but will it be enough to compete with the other Android OEMs?

The phone features a 5.2-inch, Quad HD (2560×1440, 564ppi) Super LCD display with 4GB of RAM with storage options of 32GB or 64GB, with a microSD slot that supports up to 2TB cards. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor and comes equipped with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The phone, of course, comes with dual cameras. The main camera features a 12MP UltraPixel 2 sensor with laser autofocus and optical image stabilization (OIS); the front camera has a 5MP sensor with autofocus and OIS. Both cameras include auto-HDR functionality and self-timer capabilities. The rear camera can record 4K video, and the front camera has Full HD 1080p recording.

HTC is touting the device’s audio, which includes a new version of the company’s BoomSound technology dubbed the Hi-Fi edition. The HTC 10 has three noise-cancelling headphones on board along with Dolby Audio.

The phone comes with a 3,000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 that HTC says can charge the device to 50% in 30 minutes. It has a fingerprint sensor and all of the usual connectivity — Wi-Fi ac compatible, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC — and is the first Android device to support Apple’s AirPlay technology. As with most recent Android phones, it has a USB Type-C port.

It comes in carbon grey, glacier silver, topaz gold and camellia red colors, although not all options will be available at all carriers or retailers.

Pre-orders began today for the unlocked version through HTC’s site; it can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, and it will be available through T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon. It will not, however, be sold directly by AT&T, which means the unlocked version is the only way to use it on the second biggest wireless carrier in the U.S. Pricing and availability for the carrier variants will be announced by the carriers at a later date; the unlocked version is available for $699, but using coupon code HTC1008 will net you $100 off your purchase for a limited time. The unlocked model is expected to ship in early May.

Full details are available here. Specs and the official press release can be found below:

Display 5.2-inch, Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels, 564 ppi), Super LCD 5
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, Quad Core, 64bit, up to 2.2GHz
Software Android 6.0 with HTC Sense
RAM 4GB RAM
Storage 32GB/64GB storage expandable up to 2TB via microSD
Camera Rear: 12MP (HTC UltraPixel 2, 1.55μm pixels), laser autofocus, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), f/1.8 aperture, Pro mode, Auto-HDR, Zoe Capture, hyperlapse, 12X Slow motion mode, 4K video recording with Hi-Res Audio
Front: 5MP (1.34μm pixels), autofocus, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), f/1.8 aperture with ultra wide-angle lens, Live Makeup, Auto-HDR
Sound HTC BoomSound Hi-Fi Edition, Dolby Audio, Personal Audio Profile, Hi-Res Audio Certified, Hi-Res Audio Earphones, Three microphones with noise cancellation, Hi-Res Audio Stereo Recording
Other USB Type-C, Nano SIM, Fingerprint Sensor, Sensor Hub
Connectivity NFC, BT 4.2, Wi-Fi@: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz)
Battery 3000mAh
Quick Charge 3.0 with cool charge
Up to 50% charge in 30 min
Colors Carbon Grey, Glacier Silver, Topaz Gold, Camellia Red
Network 2G/2.5G – GSM/GPRS/EDGE
850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CDMA: 800/1900 with EVDO Rev A
3G UMTS
850/AWS/900/1900/2100 MHz
4G LTE (up to 450Mbps)
FDD: Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 17, 20, 28, 29, 30
Support Cat 9 LTE, download up to 450 Mbps, upload up to 50 Mbps
Dimensions 145.9 x 71.9 x 3.0 – 9.0 mm
Weight 161g

HTC’S NEW FLAGSHIP: SCULPTED TO PERFECTION

Power of 10: HTC’s engineering excellence delivers obsessive craftsmanship, unparalleled performance and imaging leadership

Seattle – April 12, 2016 – HTC has today unveiled what it has been working on behind closed doors for the last 12 months with the launch of its latest smartphone. With customer feedback an integral part of the development process combined with an obsessive attention to detail, the HTC 10 delivers everything that you would want from a flagship device.

Playing to the Power of 10 – symbolizing greatness and independence but also that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – this newest addition to the HTC phone family combines a world-class camera with gold-standard audio, bold new metal unibody design and unparalleled performance.

Designed to Perfection

Inspired by light and sculpted to perfection, the HTC 10 employs a new approach to design where bold contours are carved out of solid metal. Capturing the light beautifully, the chamfered edges boast a slimmer, more slender look with its full-glass front merging seamlessly into the metal body.

Passionate about the small details, it’s not just the materials that come under scrutiny when we create a new handset. With the HTC 10, our design teams worked tirelessly to build a phone where even the power button has been beautifully crafted, where the speakers deliver a sleeker look and better sound quality and where the fingerprint sensor recognizes your finger from almost any angle.

It is also important that we got the build absolutely right. Mercilessly engineered to handle everyday knocks, bumps and scratches, the HTC 10 was subjected to over 168 hours of extreme temperature tests, ranging from a freezing -20’C to a scorching 60’C; and over 10,000 drop, bend, scratch and corrosion tests.

World-class camera!

With HTC 10 we’ve delivered what we believe to be the best smartphone camera available on the market today. With the world’s first optically stabilized, larger aperture f/1.8 lenses on both the front and rear cameras, new larger sensors, 12 million of our new generation UltraPixels (1.55um per pixel), faster laser autofocus powering the main camera and a wide angle lens and screen flash on the front UltraSelfieTM camera, this smartphone delivers brilliantly sharp, low light and high-resolution photos whether behind or in front of the lens.

With the camera designed to launch in as little as 0.6 seconds, and a 2nd generation laser autofocus that gives you focused shots faster, it’s quick enough to even work in burst mode. All the settings are also conveniently located at your fingertips with Pro Mode still offering advanced options for more experienced photographers, including RAW format functionality.

Boasting a DxOMark score of 88*, this is one of the highest camera quality scores of any smartphone to date and is the result of tens of thousands of hours spent fine tuning each element to deliver world-class photos and videos.

Best in sight, best in sound

But it’s not just the imaging that puts this smartphone at the top of its game – the HTC 10 combines vivid 4K video with the world’s first stereo, 24-bit, Hi-Res audio recording – capturing 256 times more detail than standard recordings across twice the frequency range and enabling you to bring to life your recorded content as if you were actually there in person.

Built for audiophiles, the HTC 10 is certified for Hi-Res audio and has been designed to make music sound the way that the artist intended. A headphone amp that delivers two times the power of a conventional headphone amp, the ability to upscale from 16-bit to 24-bit audio and high performance digital to analogue conversion combine beautifully to produce ten times lower distortion than other devices on the market, delivering an all round audio performance that cannot be beaten.

Everyone hears things differently, which is why the HTC 10’s all-new Personal Audio Profile system enhances your audio experience even further. By creating a unique profile that is tuned to your individual hearing, it dynamically adjusts specific sound frequencies to each ear, allowing you to hear music the way that the artist intended. Re-engineered HTC BoomSound™ Hi-Fi edition speakers feature the same separated tweeter and woofer design as leading acoustic systems and combine with a dedicated amplifier on each speaker, adding to the experience and delivering sound clarity unprecedented on a smartphone.

Performance at its Best

Whilst the HTC 10 nails it on the hardware, we have also delivered what we believe to be best-in-class software by focusing on getting the fundamentals right. With apps that launch twice as fast and that perform to the highest standard and a next generation quad HD display that is 30% more colourful, creating a true cinematic feel, and that is 50% more responsive to touch than its predecessor, even the smallest and fastest of finger movements track perfectly.

This attention to detail doesn’t stop there! With security high on people’s agendas, we have created a fingerprint scanner, which unlocks in a lightning fast 0.2 seconds and which has been algorithmically designed to recognise you faster and more accurately over time.

Engineered from the inside out to last longer, the HTC 10 boasts the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with enhanced 4G LTE. Each device also comes with Boost+ which is designed to make your phone faster, to consume less power and to provide effective security and applications management features. This includes smart boost, which automatically optimizes your memory; a game battery booster, which uses less battery during gameplay; and a new PowerBotics system, which auto detects and shuts down apps that use excessive power – improving battery life by 30% and delivering up to two days charge.

Not only does Boost+ optimize performance, making it easier to launch apps, but its App Lock function also adds a new layer of security by enabling you to lock any app you choose, whilst App Manager provides an instant fix for when an app isn’t behaving.

The HTC 10 also includes the latest in-box quick charge 3.0 Rapid Charger with improved thermal management that can charge the battery up to 50% in just 30 minutes – ideal for people who find their phone running low on juice before the end of the working day.

Controlled by You!

By reducing the number of duplicative and pre-loaded apps and bloatware and integrating the best of both HTC and Google, we have created a more streamlined phone that enables you to decide what you want on your handset.

With HTC’s specially created new Freestyle Layout, you no longer have an on-screen grid that dictates the layout. Instead you can get creative by dragging icons, stickers and widgets anywhere you like. Layer them, group them, link stickers to apps or get rid of screen icons altogether, the choice is yours.

The latest version of HTC Themes also provides you with access to thousands of professional looking themes that each come with their own icons, backgrounds and sounds so you can customize your phone based on your own personal style.

Accessories and availability

To further streamline your experience, the HTC 10 offers an all-new Ice View case with a semi-transparent and highly versatile single front-cover case. So when that next call or message comes in, when you need to skip a track or snap that perfect shot, you can do it without opening your smartphone’s case. It’s simplicity without sacrificing protection.

The HTC 10 will come in two variants with different Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processors to cater for different market needs. They will both offer the same design, audio, camera and display, with a similar software experience and battery life. In the U.S., the HTC 10 will come with the Snapdragon 820 processor.

In the U.S., HTC 10 will be available across multiple wireless providers including Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile, which will announce colors, availability and pricing. In addition, HTC will be offering an Unlocked edition on http://www.HTC.com, which will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile networks and will be available for pre-orders beginning today, April 12, with shipping in early May. The Unlocked edition from HTC.com comes in Glacier Silver and Carbon Gray, and costs $699. It also comes with UH OH Protection, which includes one replacement at no charge within the first 12 months of ownership for a cracked screen or water damage.

Royals World Series celebration

2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Over/under and playoff picks

Now that we’ve previewed the 2016 season of all 30 MLB teams, let’s take a look at how the season is going to play out. In this post, we’ll be analyzing Vegas over/under totals for each team and pick the teams that will make the playoffs.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: 66.5
They won 67 games last year and added some pieces to their offense, like SS Erick Aybar, but lost their best pitcher in SP Shelby Miller. Overall, I think they’ll win at least as many games as they did last year, which would be an Over.

Miami Marlins: 79.5
They have one of the best power hitters in OF Giancarlo Stanton and a good young pitcher with SP Jose Fernandez, who should be in the running for the Cy Young Award if he can stay healthy. Stanton is surrounded by some young hitters. I think 79.5 is too many wins, so I’m going Under.

New York Mets: 89.5
Again, this number basically equals the 90 games the Mets won last season. They’ll have OF Yoenis Cespedes for the whole season, plus one of the best starting rotations in the league, led by SPs Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. They’ll play a lot of games against bad teams in the Braves and Mets. I think they can get back to 90, so this is another Over.

Philadelphia Phillies: 65.5
The Phillies are a bad team. They won 63 games last season. They lost a key piece of their offense with the departure of OF Ben Revere and they don’t have  a good pitching staff, which could be a problem when playing teams like the Mets and Nationals. Under.

Washington Nationals: 89.5
They’re going to compete with the Mets for the best team in the division. OF Bryce Harper is one of the best hitters in the majors, and they added Revere to their offense. They’ll likely get more out of OF Jayson Werth than they did last season. On the mound, they have SPs Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. They have a good team, and I’ll go Over.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: 79.5
The Orioles have some good hitters — namely 1B Chris Davis and 3B Manny Machado — but lack a great rotation. Closer Zach Britton can get the job done to finish games when the starters give him a lead. They won 81 last year, I think they can get up to 80 this year so that’s an Over.

Boston Red Sox: 86.5
We’re looking at a big number for a team that won 78 games in 2015, but adding SP David Price is huge for the rotation. If OF Hanley Ramirez can bounce back from a difficult season last year, that would be a key piece for the Red Sox to turn things around. I think they’ll finish above .500 in DH David Ortiz‘s last season before retirement, but I don’t think they’re quite to 87 wins yet so I’m going Under.

New York Yankees: 85.5
The Yankees are an old team. I don’t think anyone expects DH Alex Rodriguez to come close to the numbers he put up last year. There are question marks in the rotation, especially with veteran SP CC Sabathia, but they have a strong bullpen in the late innings. They won 87 games last year, but I think they’re going Under this year.

Tampa Bay Rays: 81.5
SP Chris Archer proved himself to be one of the best pitchers in the majors last season, but they don’t have much else in the rotation. Outside of 3B Evan Longoria, the Rays don’t have many big-time hitters. After winning 80 games last year, I think they’re around 80-81 again so it’ll be close, but I’m going Under.

Toronto Blue Jays: 87.5
The Blue Jays won 93 games last season, and I don’t see them being much worse this season, especially with SP Marcus Stroman healthy. They still have the reigning AL MVP with 3B Josh Donaldson and OF Jose Bautista. I’m surprised this number is so low because I think they’re winning more than 90 again,so this is an easy Over.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: 92.5
Many people are all-in on the Cubs this season, after winning 97 games last season. SP Jake Arrieta  and 3B Kris Bryant are expected to lead the way again this season. It’s a tough division with the Pirates and Cardinals there, but I’ve got to go Over with the Cubs.

Cincinnati Reds: 70.5
The Reds won 64 games last season, and I don’t see how they’re much better this year. They traded away RP Aroldis Chapman, one of the best closers in the majors and they’re just not a good team. Under.

Milwaukee Brewers: 69.5
OF Ryan Braun is the best hitter on the Brewers, and C Jonathan Lucroy also has a good bat if he’s healthy after being injured much of last season. But they don’t have much else on the team and I don’t see them getting 70 wins, so it’s Under with them.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 86.5
After 98 wins last season, I’m not sure how the over/under number is this low. They didn’t lose anyone from the core of their team, so I expect OF Andrew McCutchen and SP Gerrit Cole to help lead them to well over 90 games again. This one’s an easy Over.

St. Louis Cardinals: 87.5
Again, after a 100-win season a year ago, the Cardinals’ number is this low? They’re getting SP Adam Wainwright back after he missed essentially all of 2015 on the DL. Like with the Pirates, this is an easy Over.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: 80.5
The White Sox added offense this offseason, with 2B Brett Lawrie and 3B Todd Frazier joining 1B Jose Abreu. SP Chris Sale is among the best in the game and SP Carlos Rodon could be a good young pitcher. They’re improved over last season, when they won 78 games, so I think they’ll go Over 80.5.

Cleveland Indians: 84.5
The Indians’ success this season could depend on young guys, like SS Francisco Lindor. If he can step up to the next level, he could be a leader for the offense. They won 81 games last season, and I think they could be a game or two better in 2016, but I’m thinking Under for this number.

Detroit Tigers: 81.5
The Tigers only won 74 games last season, but I think they underperformed some. They added OF Justin Upton and SP Jordan Zimmermann to the mix this season. But SP Justin Verlander is key to this team. If he has a good season, the Tigers could contend for the division. Either way, I think they’ll go Over 81.5 wins, potentially more like 86 or 87 wins if Verlander returns to his old form.

Kansas City Royals: 85.5
The defending World Series champions are coming off of a 95-win season. I don’t expect them to reach that number again, especially with the White Sox and Tigers both improved this season, but 85.5 seems like a low number so I’ll go Over.

Minnesota Twins: 78.5
Unlike the Tigers, I think the Twins overperformed last season when they won 83 games. I don’t think they were that good, and without any major additions in the offseason, I still don’t think they’re very good. They’ll be a sub-.500 team, but I think they’ll get close to .500 so I’ll reluctantly go Over and say 79 or 80 wins.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: 82.5
The Diamondbacks won 78 games last season but have now lost added SPs Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to the rotation and have a good offense with 1B Paul Goldschmidt, but they may have lost OF A.J. Pollock for the season with an elbow injury. They improved significantly this winter, so I’m going Over.

Colorado Rockies: 70.5
They won 68 last year and I think they may actually do a little worse than that this year. They don’t have starting pitching and there’s no telling when SS Jose Reyes may be able to play as rookie SS Trevor Story starts the season filling in for him. Despite having OF Carlos Gonzalez, I’m going Under for the Rockies.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 88.5
The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the majors and perhaps the best pitcher in SP Clayton Kershaw, but they lost SS Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks and they have some injury concerns on offense. They had 92 wins last year en route to a division title but I don’t see it happening again. I think it’ll be close, but I’m going Under, which would likely be a disappointing season for the Dodgers.

San Diego Padres: 72.5
The Padres won 74 games last year. They added OF Jon Jay in the offseason but lost 2B Jedd Gyorko and OF Justin Upton. I think SP Colin Rea is going to have a breakout season in the rotation, helping to get the team Over 72.5 wins.

San Francisco Giants: 89.5
The Giants won 84 games in 2015, then added SPs Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzjia to the rotation and OF Denard Span to the offense. They still have the likes of OF Hunter Pence, C Buster Posey and SP Madison Bumgarner, making them a formidable team in the West. They have a well-rounded team that I think can reach 90 wins, so I’m going Over.

AL West

Houston Astros: 87.5
The surprising Astros won 86 games last year and now have SS Carlos Correa in the majors for the whole season to go along with 2B Jose Altuve. Reigning Cy Young winner SP Dallas Keuchel should have another good season at the top of the rotation. Over.

Los Angeles Angels: 81.5
Coming off of an 85-win season, the Angels face a tough battle in the division. The offense should be fine with OF Mike Trout and 1B Albert Pujols, but there are concerns about the pitching staff, with SP  C.J. Wilson expected to miss the first month or so of the season. I think the Angels should finish the season above .500, so I’ll go Over.

Oakland Athletics: 75.5
The A’s won 68 games as a last-place team last season and I don’t see how they’re going to be much better in 2016. They added OFs Khris Davis and Chris Coghland, but they’re not game-changers for a team. SP Sonny Gray should have a decent year out of the No. 1 spot in the rotation, but I don’t see the A’s winning eight more games than they did last year, so this is an Under.

Seattle Mariners: 82.5
The Mariners should be on the upswing after acquiring OF Leonys Martin, 1B Adam Lind and SP Wade Miley this winter so they should surpass the 76 wins they had last year, but 82.5 is a big jump. I don’t think they’re there yet, so I’ll go Under for them.

Texas Rangers: 84.5
The Rangers won 88 games last season, and that was with just half a season with SP Cole Hamels, who underperformed with the team, and they’ll now get a full season with him. They added SS Ian Desmond to a roster with DH Prince Fielder and 3B Adrian Beltre. They should get a boost a couple months into the season when SP Yu Darvish is expected to return from Tommy John surgery. I don’t see them winning four fewer games than last season, so I’m going Over for the defending division champs.

the-world-series-trophy-tour-is-coming-to-fort-myers

Playoff Picks

National League

NL East Champs: New York Mets
NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
NL West Champs: San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Cards: Pirrsburgh PIrates, Washington Nationals

American League

AL East Champs: Toronto Blue Jays
AL Central Champs: Kansas City Royals
AL West Champs: Texas Rangers
AL Wild Cards: Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers

World Series: Blue Jays over Cubs in 6 games

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Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre

2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Texas Rangers

We finish previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season with the defending AL West champion Texas Rangers; the monthlong series concludes tomorrow with over/under picks and playoff predictions

The Rangers had a 21-win improvement last season, winning 88 games against 67 in 2014. That improvement was good enough to vault the team from last place to first place. Feeling that the team is good enough to repeat as division winners, the Rangers just made some minor moves to add to the roster, one early in the offseason and the other late. In November, they traded OF Leonys Martin and P Anthony Bass to the Mariners for a package headlined by RP Tom Wilhelmsen; in late February, the Rangers signed free-agent SS Ian Desmond to a one-year deal, but they have moved him to left field, leaving incumbent SS Elvis Andrus in the position.

The Rangers’ .257 batting average ranked as the fifth highest in the American League last season, while their 172 home runs were the seventh-most in the league and their 707 RBI ranked third in the AL. Leading the offense was DH Prince Fielder, who came back from a disappointing, injury-shortened 2014 season to hit .305, with 23 home runs and 98 RBI. 1B Mitch Moreland and OF Shin-Soo Choo showed off their power, as well, by hitting 23 and 22 home runs, respectively. Young 2B Rougned Odor came into his own in his second season in the majors, hitting 16 home runs 120 games, nearly double the 9 he hit in his rookie year. Pitching was a weakness for the Rangers, with the staff’s 4.24 ERA the third-worst in the league, with no starting pitcher in the rotation posting an ERA lower than 3.42, which belonged to SP Yovani Gallardo. At the trade deadline, the Rangers traded for SP Cole Hamels, who had a disappointing 3.66 ERA in 12 starts with the team, striking out 78 over 83.2 innings during that stretch. One reason for the high ERA was the absence of SP Yu Darvish, who missed the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Closer Shawn Tolleson saved 35 games in 37 opportunities, while putting up a 2.99 ERA with 76 strikeouts in 72.1 innings. RP Keone Kela had a strong rookie season in a setup role, posting a 2.39 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 60.1 innings.

The Rangers had a good offense last season, but it could be better if they get good numbers out of Desmond, who hit just .233 with the Nationals last season, significantly below his .264 career average. If he can get on base, he will provide more opportunities for the power hitters like Fielder and 3B Adrian Beltre to drive him in. One wild card is OF Josh Hamilton, who Desmond is replacing in left field. He is expected to begin the season on the DL with a knee injury and perhaps be ready for game action in early May. There is no position for him to play, though, so he could be a dangerous bat for the Rangers to use coming off of the bench or to get spot starts when other players get a day of rest. The rotation is the part of the team that needs the most improvement, and Hamels and Darvish are going to be important in making that happen. Hamels didn’t live up to the expectations that the Rangers likely had when they traded for him, so he needs to get closer to 2014’s 2.46 ERA than 2015’s 3.65 ERA if he is going to be the top-of-the-rotation starter the Rangers thought they were going to get from him. Darvish appears to be on track for a mid-May return to action. Coming off his shoulder surgery, there’s no telling what to expect in his first couple of starts, but he’ll need to get back to his pre-surgery form to take some of the pressure off of Hamels at the top of the rotation.

The Rangers squeaked past the Astros and Angels to win the division last season, and those three teams are going to be in the race again this season. The Rangers need better pitching if they want to increase their chances of repeating as division champs. The Rangers still have the best overall team in the division, but it’s not by a lot and there’s not a lot of room for error, especially if Hamels and Darvish don’t pitch like the aces that they have been in the past.

That’ll do it for all 30 of our team previews — you can see them all here — but there’s one final post in this year’s 30 in 30ish series coming tomorrow; follow me on Twitter or subscribe to the blog to know when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.texasrangers.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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