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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Disney Theme Park prices go up around 5%

Los Angeles (AP) -- As if rising gas and food prices weren't enough, a ticket to the Magic Kingdom will soon cost a few bucks more.

The Walt Disney Co. (DIS, Fortune 500) said Friday it is raising one-day ticket prices at its domestic parks starting Sunday.

Tickets for those aged 10 and older to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., will rise from $71 to $75, while tickets for children aged 3 to 9 will go from $60 to $63.

At Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., one-day prices will rise from $66 to $69 for those aged 10 and older, and from $56 to $59 for children aged 3 to 9.

The price increase applies in varying degrees for longer stays, while the park hopper option, an add-on that allows ticket-holders to move among any of Disney's parks, will cost $50, up from $45

Baseball's Formula for success

Sabermetrics Primer


Bill James has written several books devoted to baseball history and statistics. His approach, which he termed "sabermetrics" in reference to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), attempts to use scientific data collection and interpretation methods to explain why teams win and lose, and to help evaluate baseball talent. His fascinating formulations have produced conclusions that often run counter to years of accumulated "baseball wisdom."

Below are some of the innovative statistical measures developed by James:

Runs Created
A statistic intended to quantify a player's contribution to runs scored, as well as a team's expected number of runs scored. Runs created is calculated from other offensive statistics. James' first version of it: Runs Created = (Total Bases * (Hits + Walks))/(Plate Appearances). Applied to an entire team or league, the statistic correlates closely to that team's or league's actual runs scored. Since James first created the statistic, sabermetricians have refined it to make it more accurate, and it is now used in many different variations.

On Base Plus Slugging (OPS)
OPS is calculated by adding On Base Percentage to Slugging Average: (Hits + Walks + Hit-by-Pitch) divided by (At Bats + Walks+ Hit-by-Pitch + Sac Flys) + Number of (Singles + [2 x Doubles] + [3 x Triples] + [4 x Home Runs]) divided by At Bats. This is not a true statistic by definition, but it is often used as an index for rating an overall player's performance and production versus other players.

Range Factor (RF)
A statistic that quantifies the defensive contribution of a player, calculated in its simplest form as RF = (Assists + Put Outs)/(Games Played). The statistic is based on the notion that the total number of outs that a player participates in is more relevant in evaluating his defensive play than the percentage of cleanly handled chances as calculated by the conventional statistic Fielding Percentage.

Win Shares
Bill James invented Win Shares as a method to compare baseball players at different positions, as well as players of different eras. Since the win is the ultimate measure of success, James developed a statistic that measures each player's contribution to his team's wins, or Win Shares. Win Shares incorporates a variety of pitching, hitting and fielding statistics.

Pythagorean Winning Percentage
A statistic explaining the relationship of wins and losses to runs scored and runs allowed. In its simplest form: Winning Percentage equals Runs squared divided by the square of Runs plus Runs Allowed. The statistic correlates closely to a team's actual winning percentage.

Major League Equivalency
A metric that uses minor league statistics to predict how a player is likely to perform at the major league level.

The Brock2 System
A system for projecting a player's performance over the remainder of his career based on past performance and the aging process.

Similarity Scores
Judging a player's qualifications for the Hall of Fame based on his career's similarity to those of other Hall of Famers.

Secondary Average
A statistic that attempts to measure a player's contribution to an offense in ways not reflected in batting average. The formula is (Extra Bases on Hits+Walks+Stolen Bases)/At Bats. Secondary averages tend to be similar to batting averages, but can vary widely, from less than .100 to more than .500 in extreme cases. Extra Bases on Hits is calculated with the formula (Doubles)+(Triples x 2)+(Homeruns x 3).

Bugatti Veyron targa to be called Grand Sport



MOLSHEIM, France — The long-awaited targa-top edition of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 has been dubbed the Grand Sport. Seen here in these official images, the Veyron Grand Sport will make its public debut on August 16 at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

The first car, slated to roll off the line next spring, is to be sold at this year's Gooding & Company auction at Pebble Beach. The folks at Gooding have a great track record with exotic cars, previously auctioning a rare 1927 Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix for $2,585,000.

Curiously, Bugatti is not referring to the topless Veyron as a targa but as a roadster with a removable roof. The automaker says the variant incorporates a number of "innovative structural solutions" to help reinforce body and chassis.

We brought you early details on the car last month, including the word from insiders that production is likely to be limited to 75-80 units.

What this means to you: The Veyron Grand Sport is likely to be one of the showstoppers at Pebble — no mean feat considering some of the exotic hardware that will be on display at this year's event

Porsche RS Spyder gets Direct Injection



STUTTGART, Germany — Porsche introduced its direct injection technology on the Cayenne and 911. Now the automaker has taken it a step further by applying it to the 3.4-liter V8 in the Porsche RS Spyder.

The Porsche RS Spyder competes in the ALMS LMP2 class and gets output bumped from 476 horsepower to 503 hp with its remapped fuel curve — but the most notable feature of the DFI version of the 3.4-liter V8 is reduced fuel consumption, an important bonus for an endurance-racing vehicle.

"After reaching a very high level with the previous engine we raced, we had to put considerable efforts into the development of the direct fuel injection unit in order to significantly improve performance and efficiency. In order to achieve revs of up to 11,000 with DFI technology, it meant stepping into totally new territory," says Thomas Laudenbach, Porsche's motorsport development chief.

Another feature of the engine is its ability to run extremely lean at partial load — for example, during caution phases — which was not possible with the previous intake manifold fuel injection method.

The engine celebrated a class win during its maiden race at Mid-Ohio earlier this month with help from drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. They will be gunning for the win again in the American Le Mans Series next week at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

What this means to you: Porsche should strengthen its top position in the ALMS with the addition of DFI technology.

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