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Facebook has backed down from its bullying, making a deal with the Australian government less than a week after it tried to intimidate it into dropping a bill to make tech giants pay for content that drives their traffic.

It’s yet more reason the United States should follow the Aussies’ lead.

Facebook went nuclear against Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code last week, barring users worldwide from sharing Australian news and even pulling the pages of such critical government services as bushfire warnings and COVID information.

Google, also a target of the bill that would mandate tech giants reach agreements with news organizations to pay for use of their content, did the right thing and started negotiating, making revenue-sharing deals with The Financial Times, Reuters and News Corp., the largest owner of newspapers by circulation in Australia (and The Post’s parent company). Facebook, in contrast, opted to play bully.

It didn’t work — indeed, the intimidation campaign prompted Canada to start following in the Aussies’ footsteps and help build a coalition of countries to make the tech giants play more fairly worldwide.

“There’s no doubt that Australia has been a proxy battle for the world,” Aussie Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Tuesday. “Facebook and Google have not hidden the fact that they know that the eyes of the world are on Australia.” He said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised to make revenue-sharing deals with Australian news organizations and will restore Aussie news to users within days.

In exchange, Australia agreed to give Facebook more time to negotiate and add to the bill a mediation process before final arbitration between tech giants and media outlets. And the treasurer will take into account a company’s contributions to the country’s news industry — signaling that Facebook knows it must give back to the journalists whose hard work has helped make its site a success.

It’s a win for Down Under and for journalism. Washington should take notice and make the tech giants who make billions from advertising pay American media their fair share, too.

Filed under australia ,  editorial ,  facebook ,  google ,  social media ,  2/23/21

News Source: New York Post

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Why the SF Giants analytics-based approach is making a strong impression on new pitchers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After a long and prosperous career in his home country of Japan, Shun Yamaguchi’s first season in the major leagues hardly went as planned.

On a late September day in Buffalo, New York, there were no fans in the stands and no sounds to drown out the sound of Yamaguchi’s 89.6 mile-per-hour four-seam fastball meeting the thick of Orioles infielder Pat Valaika’s bat and whistling back up the middle into center field.

Yamaguchi’s 17th and final appearance out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen last year culminated with the four-seam fastball to Valaika, an unheralded hitter on a terrible team who helped hand the right-hander his fourth loss of the year.

Now a member of the San Francisco Giants, Yamaguchi is not at all expected to stop throwing that fastball, despite the fact it wasn’t so effective in his first year in the big leagues. As a matter of fact, manager Gabe Kapler said he expects the right-handed pitcher from Nakatsu, Japan, to continue mixing it in with the rest of his pitches in order for the team’s coaching staff “to get to know him.” Related Articles

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Yamaguchi, however, already understands that his new team wants him to throw his splitter, curveball and slider for strikes this year, something he tended to avoid with the Blue Jays when amassed an unsightly 8.06 ERA. It’s a change brought on by the Giants’ analytics-based approach.

“This year I’m working on that,” Yamaguchi said Thursday through a translator. “I’m working on getting strikes and trying to get hitters out with my secondary pitches. That will be the main difference.”

It’s still relatively early in the spring but the Giants have been able to make an impact on a few of their new pitchers through analytics and subsequent adjustments.

Left-handed pitchers Alex Wood and Jake McGee — both of whom last played for the analytics-heavy Los Angeles Dodgers — raved about the Giants’ coaching staff and their ability to suggest subtle changes.

For example, Wood said he “found his throw” last year with the Dodgers and tried to build off that in the offseason. It wasn’t until he joined the Giants, though, that he made a correction to his posture on the mound to create more depth on his slider, a pitch that was able to generate a swing and a miss 42.4 percent of the time last year.

“The way the game has evolved since I came into the league is pretty unique,” Wood said. “You see in the NFL, NBA, pro fantasy football focus, like all these different things, teams are starting to use analytics more and more. Baseball has really, you know, dove into the deep dive into analytics and how to get answers to questions we’ve never had answers to before.”

For Wood, changes to his approach on the mound could be a welcomed development. In his last 48.1 innings pitched, the southpaw has a 5.96 ERA and has surrendered 2.4 home runs per nine innings and 10.8 hits. If the Giants can refine his technique and arsenal, he could move closer to returning to the numbers he held in his first six years as a major leaguer: a 3.29 ERA in 803.1 innings with a 117 ERA+.

“It’s been amazing,” Wood said of working with the Giants. “The staff they put together here, as far as guys that have played formerly and also guys that have studied a ton and started to learn all the new-age stuff and are able to communicate that to you on a daily basis, I’ve learned a ton. It’s been an absolute blast.”

Unlike Yamaguchi or Wood, there isn’t much work to do on McGee’s arsenal. The left-handed reliever almost exclusively throws a four-seam fastball — last year he offered it 96.4 percent of the time — and there is a good chance he continues to do that this year. That doesn’t mean McGee’s experience as a member of the Giants staff has not been impacted by the organization’s analytics-driven mindset.

In the last several weeks, the team has used metrics to suggest when McGee should throw versus when it might be best to rest him. He said he also receives a full analytics report from pitching coach Andrew Bailey the morning after his outings.

“That’s been nice,” McGee said, “knowing where my stuff is every day and knowing what I need to work on.”

While it hasn’t led to any changes, McGee’s morning report after outings has been a tool to reassure him that his fastball is “where it needs to be.”

“Now if it gets off or sidetracked, I know how to fix it,” he said.

Wood, McGee and Yamaguchi have had exposure to analytics before. There’s no question about that. The Giants have been able to teach all three players something new, though. They’re hoping it continues and translates to success this season.

“We’re seeing the overall picture and formulating a plan for how you want to move forward,” Wood said. “You’re seeing if there’s anything you want to adjust, anything from pitch profiles, pitch grips, whatever it may be. I’ve had an absolute blast so far and I’m looking forward to continuing those talks as we move forward.”

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