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Westlake Legal Group > News Corporation (Page 219)

Hollywood’s Shaky Summer Box Office Points to Larger Issues

LOS ANGELES — This was supposed to be the summer when Hollywood blew the doors off theaters. Stay home and stream? Not with Simba, Spider-Man, John Wick, Snowball, Buzz Lightyear, Aladdin, the X-Men and Godzilla on the way.

Instead, the film business finds itself lagging last year’s surge and facing questions about why. Some box office analysts point to 20th Century Fox, which imploded in Rupert Murdoch’s handoff to Disney and delivered three bombs in a row. Others say moviegoing has become too expensive — concessions, tickets, babysitters — especially given the growing array of low-priced at-home entertainment options that are often already part of a household’s budget.

Or is something bigger going on? “It is another sign that the broader economy is in a fragile place,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, noting that some other leisure businesses — Disney theme parks, Major League Baseball games — also had a soft summer.

From the first weekend in May to Labor Day, a period that can account for as much as 40 percent of annual movie ticket sales, box office revenue in the United States and Canada is expected to total about $4.32 billion, a 2 percent decline from the same period last year, according to Comscore.

For the year, revenue from ticket sales is down 6.3 percent, which roughly translates to a 5 percent decline in attendance. That is despite the runaway success of “Avengers: Endgame,” the Disney-Marvel superhero movie that arrived in late April and collected a record-breaking $2.8 billion worldwide, nearly $860 million of that in North America.

The specialty box office has been in particularly rough shape. Between January and Aug. 25, combined ticket sales for the 20 largest art film distributors (Fox Searchlight, Magnolia and the like) fell 45 percent from the same period last year, according to Box Office Mojo data.

The movie business ebbs and flows depending on factors that vary from reviews to the weather. Ticket sales soared 15 percent last summer in part because of pent-up demand; the “Incredibles” series from Pixar returned after a 14-year hiatus, and “Crazy Rich Asians” was the first studio movie in 25 years to tell a contemporary Asian story. The art-house sector is extra-dependent on quality, and distributors say gems have been in short supply lately, in part because Netflix has snapped up so many of them (for premium prices).

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154729755_b235a455-2b09-444c-bd09-cc58cd5b93d3-articleLarge Hollywood’s Shaky Summer Box Office Points to Larger Issues Walt Disney Company Video Recordings, Downloads and Streaming Twentieth Century Fox Sony Pictures Entertainment Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Netflix Inc Movies

Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner in “Avengers: Endgame,” whose success couldn’t prevent an overall 6.3 percent drop in ticket revenue this year.CreditDisney/Marvel Studios, via Associated Press

Hollywood could make up ground in the coming months with potential blockbusters like “It: Chapter 2,” “Joker,” “Frozen 2,” “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Cats” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Specialty distributors have high hopes for Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” (Neon), which was the top prizewinner at Cannes, and “Downton Abbey” (Focus Features).

But box office experts say the theatrical landscape has shifted, possibly permanently. Before it drowned in red ink, MoviePass, the cut-rate ticket subscription service, trained fans (especially younger ones) to expect deep discounts. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime have also proliferated, offering huge catalogs of movies and shows for a comparatively low price. At this point, many living rooms are equipped with large flat-screen televisions.

Netflix charges $13 a month for its standard plan. Disney Plus, a service dedicated to everything Disney, Pixar, “Star Wars,” National Geographic and Marvel, will arrive in homes on Nov. 12 and cost $7 a month.

For a comparison, standard movie tickets cost $16 to $18 in New York and Los Angeles; IMAX screenings run about $22.

(The average ticket price in the United States in the second quarter was $9.26, down from $9.38 a year earlier, according to the National Association of Theater Owners. The average price reflects discounts — child, senior and matinee tickets — and tickets sold outside the more expensive cities.)

“Pricing was never an impediment to going to the movies, and it is now,” said Chris Aronson, a former distribution chief for 20th Century Fox who now runs his own consultancy. “Streaming services have come along with such attractively priced entertainment that theaters can’t compete, except on a handful of event movies that people absolutely must see.”

Out-of-home entertainment had a down summer in general. Attendance at Major League Baseball games is expected to fall for the fourth consecutive season, according to Two Circles, a sports marketing agency. Broadway attendance has declined 2.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the Broadway League. Full data was not yet available for concerts, but early numbers suggest a decline, according to statistics from Pollstar, a trade publication.

The No. 1 movie of the summer was “The Lion King,” which took in $514 million in North America and $1 billion overseas.CreditDisney, via Associated Press

Attendance eased 3 percent at Disney theme park resorts in Florida and California in the April-June period, according to the company’s quarterly financial report. National Park Service data shows that Yellowstone National Park had fewer visitors in May, June and July.

“Recreation is, of course, a discretionary purchase, and that it has gone soft reflects greater caution by consumers,” Mr. Zandi said.

On a studio-by-studio basis, Hollywood’s summer was severely lopsided. The top 10 movies generated $2.57 billion in domestic ticket sales, and Disney commanded 51 percent of that total — with just three films: “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4” and “Aladdin.” The No. 1 movie of the summer was “The Lion King,” a remake that took in $523.5 million in North America and $1 billion overseas (and is still playing).

Disney was humbled, however, by the performance of its newly acquired 20th Century Fox division, which delivered a hall-of-fame bomb: “Dark Phoenix,” an X-Men movie, cost an estimated $350 million to make and market and collected $252 million worldwide, roughly half of which goes to theater owners. Two other Fox movies, “Stuber” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” also fizzled at the box office. All were well in the works before the Disney deal.

Sony Pictures Entertainment accomplished a unique feat, releasing a juggernaut superhero sequel, “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and a completely original blockbuster, “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.” No other studio showed that range.

“We believe in balance, and you can see this exact strategy in the rest of our year,” said Thomas E. Rothman, Sony’s movie chief, noting the “Jumanji” sequel and an original drama, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which stars Tom Hanks as the television personality Fred Rogers.

“As strong as the audience is for superheroes and sequels, we limit ourselves to serving that audience at our peril,” Mr. Rothman said. “It will ultimately narrow the business. We have to think about every audience.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment has high hopes this fall for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers.CreditLacey Terrell/Sony-TriStar Pictures, via, Associated Press

Sony misfired with “Men in Black International” in June, but the studio limited its financial exposure on that science-fiction film by bringing in outside financiers to share the production costs. “We wish it had gotten more enthusiasm,” Mr. Rothman said.

For the year, Sony is a whisper away from Warner Bros. in domestic market share, a standing that drew double takes in Hollywood. Just a few years ago, Sony was sputtering and Warner was the film industry’s superpower. But Warner, now owned by AT&T, has struggled in recent months.

Warner had hoped that female moviegoers would rally around releases like “The Kitchen” and “Blinded by the Light,” which were directed by women. But they were dead on arrival. “Shaft,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, similarly failed to catch on with black ticket buyers, its target audience. Warner was pleased with the turnout for “Annabelle Comes Home,” which collected $72.7 million in North America, but the film, a sequel to a sequel, trailed its franchise predecessor by 29 percent.

Lackluster marketing? Subpar movies? Fingers have been pointing inside the studio. Warner’s top films of the summer were “Pokémon Detective Pikachu,” which took in $432 million worldwide, and “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which collected a disappointing $386 million. (An independent company, Legendary Entertainment, led the production effort on both of them.)

Warner declined to comment.

In a few cases, studios suffered because hoped-for behemoths were merely big. “Rocketman,” the Elton John bio-musical from Paramount Pictures, sold $190.4 million in tickets worldwide — a very healthy number. But it was less than half the amount Paramount thought was possible.

Universal Pictures and its Illumination animation division had a similar experience with the humdrum “Secret Life of Pets 2,” which generated $414 million. The first chapter sold $875.5 million in tickets.

“Sequels and remakes that do not bring something different, original and outstanding are going to lose their audience fast,” said David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a movie consultancy.

Otherwise, Universal mostly succeeded. A high-stakes “Fast and Furious” spinoff, “Hobbs & Shaw,” has chugged away in theaters since arriving in early August, taking in roughly $700 million worldwide. Comedies, which have struggled in theaters in the streaming age, also came through for Universal, in particular the Beatles-themed “Yesterday.” It was the sleeper hit of the summer, costing about $26 million to make and collecting $135 million.

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Jeffrey Epstein’s eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video

Video obtained by Fox News, taken during a 2005 police raid of Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, shows the convicted sex offender’s eccentric and explicit taste in art, which was displayed throughout the house.

The art included paintings, sculptures, photographs, sketches and posters.

Westlake Legal Group Epstein-Male-nude-art Jeffrey Epstein's eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/sex-crimes fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc article 89caf640-672f-5f5d-bd77-18112a9651f2

Video obtained by Fox News, taken during a 2005 police raid of Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, showed the convicted sex offender’s eccentric and explicit taste in art, which was displayed throughout the house. (Palm Beach Prosecutor Attorney’s Office)

The nearly hour-long video also showed the house was decorated in part with illicit photos and imagery of young women, Fox News reported Thursday.

Inside the home, the video showed a wall covered in artsy nude photos of men and women, a painting of a nude woman lying on her back and a photo of a topless woman – who appeared to be Epstein’s ex-girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell – lying on a sandy beach. Another photo showed a naked young woman lying on a beach.

POLICE VIDEO FROM JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S FLORIDA MANSION APPEARS TO SHOW PICTURES, SOME TOPLESS, OF GHISLAINE MAXWELL

Westlake Legal Group Epstein-Nude-painting Jeffrey Epstein's eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/sex-crimes fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc article 89caf640-672f-5f5d-bd77-18112a9651f2

Inside Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion, video taken by police during a 2005 raid, showed a wall covered in artsy nude photos of men and women and a painting of a nude young woman lying on her back.  (Palm Beach Prosecutor Attorney’s Office)

Entering the master bedroom, police discovered a drawing of a bare female backside and a painting of a naked woman, as well as what appeared to be a sketch of Maxwell. Several photos, sculptures and paintings seen in the video depicted the female backside.

Westlake Legal Group Epstein-Female-Backside-art Jeffrey Epstein's eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/sex-crimes fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc article 89caf640-672f-5f5d-bd77-18112a9651f2

Entering the master bedroom, police discovered a drawing of a bare female backside and a painting of a naked woman. (Palm Beach Prosecutor Attorney’s Office)

Eccentric paintings and sculptures, one of which appeared to depict a blindfolded figure, also appeared in the video.

Westlake Legal Group Epstein-Claws-and-statue Jeffrey Epstein's eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/sex-crimes fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc article 89caf640-672f-5f5d-bd77-18112a9651f2

Eccentric paintings and sculptures, one of which appeared to depict a blindfolded figure, were shown in the video. (Palm Beach Prosecutor Attorney’s Office)

The mansion even included what appeared to be a dentist’s chair and cart, stocked with drills and other instruments, as well as a lamp.

Westlake Legal Group Epstein-Dental-chair Jeffrey Epstein's eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/sex-crimes fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc article 89caf640-672f-5f5d-bd77-18112a9651f2

The mansion even included what appeared to be a dentist’s chair and cart, stocked with drills and other instruments, as well as a lamp. (Palm Beach Prosecutor Attorney’s Office)

The FBI has raided Epstein’s other properties, including his New York City mansion and his private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During a raid of Epstein’s home on Manhattan’s E. 71st St. conducted by the FBI and NYPD after his arrest, investigators said they found in a locked safe a trove of pornographic material apparently featuring young girls.

JEFFREY EPSTEIN FLORIDA MANSION POLICE VIDEO SHOWS MASSAGE TABLES ALLEGEDLY USED FOR SEX ACTS WITH MINORS

Epstein’s bizarre art collection in his opulent Upper East Side home included a massive, life-like human doll hanging from a chandelier and a human-sized chessboard with scantily clad figurines modeled after his employees, New York Magazine reported. The Manhattan home also reportedly included a hallway adorned with dozens of individually framed prosthetic eyeballs from England and a massive, photorealistic mural of a prison yard painted, with Epstein in the center.

In an interview with NBC News last month, Jennifer Araoz, who said Epstein raped her when she was just 15 years old, described his Manhattan home.

“He had a bathtub that was kind of like opened, and there was prosthetic breasts that he could play with while he was taking a bath, I guess,” Araoz said in the interview, calling it “odd.”

BIZARRE ART, PORN AND DOLLS: INSIDE JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S NEW YORK HOUSE OF HORRORS

She also said Epstein adorned his massage room with photos of naked women.

About two weeks ago, Aroaz, sued Maxwell and three other unidentified female staff members for allegedly conspiring to allow her to be raped, according to the lawsuit obtained by Fox News.

JEFFREY EPSTEIN HAD PAINTING OF GIRL LYING WITH BIG CAT AT NEW MEXICO HOME, IN LATEST ODD ART REVEAL

Epstein’s sprawling New Mexico home included a massive painting showing a young woman of indeterminate age wearing a wedding ring and cuddled up beside a roaring big cat, according to a photo of the artwork taken by a contractor who worked at the financier’s Zorro Ranch in Stanley, N.M. in 2013. The photo was provided exclusively to Fox News last month.

“It was huge – at least 5-by-5, 6-by-6 – in the main house, at the bottom of the stairs in the basement near the laundry,” the contractor, who requested anonymity, told Fox News of the bizarre painting inside the 10,000-acre residence – which was dotted with pools, a firehouse, log cabins, guest homes and its own airport hangar and runway. “We would talk about how creepy it was, this strange painting with nothing else around it. From the minute you got there, you felt the uneasy vibe.”

BILL CLINTON PAINTING IN JEFFREY EPSTEIN’S HOME A ‘SURPRISE’ TO WOMAN WHO PAINTED PRESIDENT WEARING BLUE DRESS

Another eyebrow-raising item to emerge from the disgraced financier’s art collection: the now-infamous “Parsing Bill” oil painting featuring former President Bill Clinton, Epstein’s onetime friend, posing seductively in the Oval Office while fitted in a blue Monica Lewinsky-style dress.

The video taken by police as they executed a search warrant at Epstein’s Palm Beach home in 2005 gave the most comprehensive look at his art collection.  Epstein was accused of molesting dozens of underage girls at the Florida mansion and by 2006, investigators had interviewed more than 30 young women – some of whom were minors at the time of the alleged molestations.

In the end, prosecutors and Epstein’s lawyers negotiated a then-secret plea deal which led Epstein to serve just 13 months in jail under work-release privileges, allowing him to work in his office six days a week.

He pleaded guilty to a child prostitution charge and registered as a sex offender.

Prosecutors confirmed last week that inquiries into Epstein’s co-conspirators were ongoing and would continue despite the fact that the criminal case against Epstein was dismissed following his suicide in his jail cell earlier this month.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FOX NEWS APP

Epstein, who also owas accused of sex trafficking, was arrested on July 6 over allegations of sexual abuse of dozens of young girls in his Upper East Side townhouse and his Palm Beach mansion between 2002 and 2005. He pleaded not guilty and faced up to 45 years in prison.

Fox News’ Bryan Llenas, Hollie McKay, Andrew Keiper, Tyler McCarthy and Tamara Gitt contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Epstein-Male-nude-art Jeffrey Epstein's eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/sex-crimes fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc article 89caf640-672f-5f5d-bd77-18112a9651f2   Westlake Legal Group Epstein-Male-nude-art Jeffrey Epstein's eccentric, explicit taste in art seen in Palm Beach mansion raid video Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime/sex-crimes fox-news/person/jeffrey-epstein fox news fnc/us fnc article 89caf640-672f-5f5d-bd77-18112a9651f2

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Mail carrier, 29, among 7 killed in Texas shooting rampage, Postal Service announces

A 29-year-old mail carrier was among the seven people killed when a gunman opened fire Saturday afternoon in West Texas, the law enforcement arm of the Postal Service confirmed on Sunday.

The United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) announced in a statement, “The Postal Service is shocked and saddened by the events that occurred yesterday in the Midland-Odessa area.  We are especially grieving the loss of our postal family member, letter carrier Mary Granados, age 29, and we continue to keep her family in our thoughts.”

The mail carrier “was carjacked and murdered while working,” according to a GoFundMe page created to help Granados’ family with funeral expenses.

Westlake Legal Group stolen-mail-truck Mail carrier, 29, among 7 killed in Texas shooting rampage, Postal Service announces Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 78978a12-4849-543f-84bf-192b5f6a0baf

Officials investigating the stolen mail truck used by the shooter who had opened fire in Odessa and Midland. (REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare)

“I had the privilege to work with Mary in the past,” Leslie Aide, who created the page with the permission of Granados’ twin sister, wrote. “She was beautiful inside and out, with a great heart and always ready to be a friend, always had a smile on her face!”

Investigators said Sunday the gunman, whom police did not identify, was acting alone when he killed seven people, ranging in age from 15 to 57, and injured at least 22 others, including three law enforcement officers and a 17-month-old girl, with an “AR-type weapon.”

GUNMAN IN TEXAS SHOOTING RAMPAGE ARMED WITH ‘AR-TYPE WEAPON,’ ACTED ALONE, INVESTIGATORS SAY

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the toddler who was wounded in the shooting will undergo surgery Monday to remove shrapnel from her chest.

Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke suggested Sunday that more people could have died had police not killed the gunman outside a crowded movie theater. Two of the victims died overnight.

The police chief said he wasn’t naming the shooter, described by officials Saturday as a white man in his 30s, because “I refuse to.”

“I’m not going to give him any notoriety for what he did,” the chief said.

The shooting began around 3 p.m. Saturday after state troopers pulled over the gunman for making a left-handed turn without signaling.

In the chaos that followed, the suspect hijacked the mail carrier truck and fired at random, investigators said.

FRIGHTENING VIDEO: FAMILY, OTHERS APPEAR TO TAKE COVER DURING TEXAS SHOOTING

Gerke said 15 separate locations had been designated crime scenes.

Westlake Legal Group Texas-Shooting-2 Mail carrier, 29, among 7 killed in Texas shooting rampage, Postal Service announces Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 78978a12-4849-543f-84bf-192b5f6a0baf

Odessa police officers parking their vehicles outside Music City Mall in Odessa, Texas, after the initial shots were fired Saturday. (Jacy Lewis/Reporter-Telegram via AP)

The Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman said the driver “pointed a rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired several shots” at the troopers as he was still moving.

She said the gunshots struck one of two troopers inside the patrol car, after which the gunman took off and continued shooting.

17-MONTH-OLD GIRL SHOT IN TEXAS RAMPAGE EXPECTED TO MAKE FULL RECOVERY

Two other police officers were shot before the suspect was killed. Investigators said the trooper was in serious but stable condition on Saturday, and the other officers were stable.

Gerke said investigators had not yet established a motive for the shooting. FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs said the killer had no apparent connection to terror groups.

Investigators said the gunman had a criminal history and according to online court records, he was arrested in 2001 in McLennan County, Texas, and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and evading arrest. According to records, he entered guilty pleas in a deferred prosecution agreement where the charge was waived after he served two years of probation.

Investigators have not said where he got his “AR-type weapon.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

The rampage marked the second mass shooting in Texas in a month. A gunman killed 22 people in El Paso earlier in August.

Fox News’ Maggie Kerkman, Robert Gearty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group stolen-mail-truck Mail carrier, 29, among 7 killed in Texas shooting rampage, Postal Service announces Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 78978a12-4849-543f-84bf-192b5f6a0baf   Westlake Legal Group stolen-mail-truck Mail carrier, 29, among 7 killed in Texas shooting rampage, Postal Service announces Talia Kaplan fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/crime/mass-murder fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 78978a12-4849-543f-84bf-192b5f6a0baf

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Astros Ace Justin Verlander Throws 3rd No-Hitter Of His Career

Westlake Legal Group rts2ot7h-a5ae386ad8abdcb26d4db9985c26a2a459c97a39-s1100-c15 Astros Ace Justin Verlander Throws 3rd No-Hitter Of His Career

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander celebrates after throwing a no hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, marking his third career no-hitter. USA Today Sports/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters hide caption

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USA Today Sports/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Westlake Legal Group  Astros Ace Justin Verlander Throws 3rd No-Hitter Of His Career

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander celebrates after throwing a no hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, marking his third career no-hitter.

USA Today Sports/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander lifted both his arms aloft then bent to his knees with the clenched fists of a victorious warrior before his teammates thronged him from all sides.

Verlander was not just not marking any old win. The right-hander tossed a no-hitter Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

It is his third career no-hitter, putting Verlander among an elite group of just six other major league pitchers with three or more no-hitters under their belt. It’s a group that includes Cy Young, the namesake for the award that goes to the best pitcher each year in the American and National Leagues.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know that the list of guys who have thrown three instead of two gets pretty small — some of the guys I’ve idolized,” Verlander said after the game. “It’s a special moment. I’m so happy to be able to celebrate this with my teammates.”

Verlander, 36, struck out 14 and allowed just one base runner after walking Cavan Biggio in the first inning.

Propelled by Verlander’s blazing fastball, the Astros topped the Blue Jays 2-0.

His last no-hitter was also against Toronto, in 2011, when he was throwing for the Detroit Tigers.

He now has the bragging rights to becoming the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter twice against a team in its own stadium.

While Verlander now joins a small cadre of pitchers who have hurled three or more no-hitters, the top record-holder belongs to Nolan Ryan, who completed seven career no-hitters.

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Hurricane Dorian Updates: A ‘Catastrophic’ Category 5 Storm With Ferocious Winds

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Westlake Legal Group 01dorian-briefing02-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 Hurricane Dorian Updates: A ‘Catastrophic’ Category 5 Storm With Ferocious Winds Hurricane Dorian (2019)

The storm made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane, with winds in excess of 180 miles per hour.CreditCreditMark Hall and Christopher Hall, via Reuters

As Hurricane Dorian struck the Abaco Islands in the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said that the maximum sustained winds around the eye of the “extremely dangerous” storm had reached 185 miles an hour, making it a “catastrophic” storm with “devastating winds.”

By 2 p.m. Eastern time, the storm had made landfall at Elbow Cay and was moving westward fairly slowly — 7 miles an hour — over Great Abaco; it was expected to continue near or over Grand Bahama later Sunday or early Monday, forecasters said. Storm surges of as much as 18 to 23 feet were possible, enough to swamp many low-lying areas of the islands, and as much as 25 inches of rain could fall before the storm passes.

The hurricane center warned in a 4 p.m. update that no one should venture outdoors into the eye of the storm.

By late Monday or early Tuesday, forecasters said, the storm could be near the Florida coast.

Westlake Legal Group hurricane-dorian-map-promo-1566933204147-articleLarge-v202 Hurricane Dorian Updates: A ‘Catastrophic’ Category 5 Storm With Ferocious Winds Hurricane Dorian (2019)

Maps: Track Hurricane Dorian’s Path

Maps tracking the hurricane’s path as it makes its way toward Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Hurricane-force winds extend 45 miles outward from the center of the storm, the center said, with tropical storm-force winds as much as 140 miles outward.

The National Hurricane Center said on Sunday that there were wind gusts exceeding 220 miles an hour — three times the wind speed to qualify as a hurricane. Officials said the storm was the strongest on record in the islands.

Hurricane Dorian aimed its fury at the northern reaches of the Bahamas archipelago on Sunday, sending residents scrambling to find shelter as they braced for rising waters and torrential rains.

Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Saturday that 73,000 residents and 21,000 homes would be affected by the storm.

[ Read more about the impact of the storm in the Bahamas. ]

The Bahamas prides itself on withstanding powerful storms, but this hurricane brings greater dangers than most. Meteorologists warned of a storm surge that would raise water levels as much as 18 feet to 23 feet above normal, as well as the possibility of more than two feet of rainfall in some areas. Much of the island nation is low-lying, and some areas could be completely flooded.

“We will pray and hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” Michael Pintard, the Bahamian minister of agriculture, said in a text message on Saturday evening.

Louby Georges, director of international affairs for Human Rights Bahamas, said people on Great Abaco Island, in the direct path of the eye, were growing desperate as the storm bore down on them.

“People are sending voice notes, people are crying,” he said. “You can hear people hollering in the background.”,

He said the shelters on the island were full and that many poorer residents had taken refuge in churches in Marsh Harbour. But he was worried that the churches, which were not on official lists of shelters to receive food and water, may run out of supplies.

“My guy at St. Francis Church said there is no drinking water,” Mr. Georges said in a telephone interview from Nassau, the capital. “There are no trained emergency personnel with them.”

There was concern that some would try to brave the storm in homes that could not withstand so powerful a storm. “Some people are saying that they’re not going to go because they have nowhere to go,” Frankie Fleuridor, an activist who works with Haitians living on Great Abaco, said on Saturday. “It’s tough for people in the shantytowns,” he said.

Mr. Fleuridor said that he had rented hotel rooms for the most vulnerable people, but could not afford to do more. “I’m maxed out,” he said. — Elisabeth Malkin

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160049874_ba0f791c-2bca-4c4f-8702-78f41a76d93f-articleLarge Hurricane Dorian Updates: A ‘Catastrophic’ Category 5 Storm With Ferocious Winds Hurricane Dorian (2019)

A baby slept in a shelter in Freeport, Bahamas, on Sunday. Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas with sustained winds of 185 miles an hour.CreditRamon Espinosa/Associated Press

Forecasters expect the storm to creep nearer to the coast of Florida through Monday and then swing northward, paralleling the mainland coast. Though it may not make landfall all week if it follows that track, its strong winds and heavy rains, storm surge and punishing surf could still have the potential to do major damage in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The National Hurricane Center posted a hurricane watch on Sunday for the Florida coast from Deerfield Beach to the Brevard-Volusia county line north of Titusville, meaning that hurricane-force winds are expected there within 48 hours. A tropical storm warning extends north from there to Sebastien Inlet, and storm watches were posted for Lake Okeechobee and for the coast south of Deerfield Beach to Golden Beach.

“Heavy rains, capable of producing life-threatening flash floods, are possible,” the center said.

Dennis Alexander at his home on Tybee Island, Ga. He and his wife Shirley White are planning to evacuate.CreditAudra Melton for The New York Times

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida warned on Sunday that while forecasts now suggested that Hurricane Dorian may veer north offshore, a slight nudge could bring its powerful eye to landfall somewhere along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

“We’ve got to prepare for that eventuality,” Governor DeSantis said, speaking from the state’s emergency operations in Tallahassee, the capital. He was surrounded by a small group of grim-faced public officials.

Even if the storm stays offshore, the state will probably still experience dangerous storm surge and some flooding. At least four counties have begun evacuating coastal communities, with several more expected to follow soon. Mr. DeSantis suspended tolls on a number of major highways to facilitate the movement of coastal residents inland.

Mr. DeSantis sought to put Dorian’s sustained winds of 185 m.p.h in perspective: “That’s significantly stronger than Hurricane Andrew, which reached landfall at 165 m.p.h. It’s significantly stronger than Hurricane Michael, 160 mp.h. South Florida has had one hurricane in our history — the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 — that reached that level, and that was total destruction. The strength of this storm cannot be underestimated.” — Patricia Mazzei

Kevin Rosas, 6, waits for his father, Jose, to buy a generator on Sunday in Lakeland, Fla.CreditEve Edelheit for The New York Times

Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, declared a state of emergency for the city on Sunday afternoon, as the 2 p.m. forecast from the National Hurricane Center showed the city still within the “cone” of places where the storm’s eye may go.

Residents of Orange County had picked up more than 187,000 sandbags by Sunday, which was 67,000 more than were handed out for Hurricane Irma. Jerry Demings, the mayor of Orange County, took that as a sign that people were taking Hurricane Dorian seriously, which he said was vital.

Mr. Demings said he remained “cautiously optimistic” that the storm would spare Orlando the worst of its wrath, but that it is “still a massive storm that is somewhat unpredictable.”

Orange County opened at 8 a.m. Sunday, and about 50 people arrived during the day, according to State Representative Anna Eskamani.

Lisa Simpson grew up on Merritt Island and has evacuated twice, including in 2004 for Hurricane Ivan. She said she just moved into a condo this year in the coastal city of Titusville and doesn’t know how well it will weather the storm, so she planned to head inland to stay with a friend in Orlando. She said she had a week’s worth of clothes packed in her car and was considering leaving Sunday night with her pet Shih Tzu, Gomez.

She said she was worried about her brother, who was determined to say on Merritt Island and ride out the storm with some friends.

“Dude, this is a 5, don’t mess around with it,” she said she told her brother. “You’re going to be without power for who knows how many days.”

If the storm isn’t too bad, she said, she planned to make a vacation out of her trip. But Ms. Simpson is also prepared in case the storm keeps her and her friend from venturing outside: she bought a bottle of wine.

One of the Florida counties ordering evacuations on Sunday was Palm Beach County, which ordered the evacuation of residences in low-lying and coastal areas of the county, including the barrier island where Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and favorite winter destination, is located. The order took effect at 1 p.m. Eastern time and also includes areas with vulnerable types of residential construction, like mobile home parks.

The eastern half of the county is included in a long stretch of the Florida coast now under a hurricane watch, indicating that Hurricane Dorian’s hurricane-force winds are expected within 48 hours.

“If you choose not to evacuate to a shelter, please evacuate miles, not hundreds of miles,” the county said. “With the unpredictable nature of Hurricane Dorian, evacuating north is not recommended.”

Experts can see Hurricane Dorian’s compact eye and near-circular symmetry clearly in satellite images, signifying a ferocious storm. What is much harder for them to discern is whether the storm will it be a disaster for the United States?

Computer models on Sunday showed a range of possible tracks Dorian could follow, with landfall in Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas, or nowhere. And if the hurricane does make landfall, its intensity at that point — whether it will still be a Category 5 or substantially weaker — is equally uncertain.

So nearly the entire southeast coast of the United States, from South Florida through the Carolinas, is at risk — but in the end, many of those places may well see little or no impact. How should all the people along this long coastline deal with this confusing, indefinite forecast?

Adam Sobel, a professor at Columbia University and director of the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate, explains why meteorologists must speak in probabilities, not certainties, and focus on the worst-case scenarios rather than the best cases.

It comes down to this: It is better to over-warn than to under-warn. An alarm that turns out to have been needless is just an annoyance, but an alarm that was needed but never issued can have deadly consequences.

A worker installed plywood over windows in Miami Beach on Saturday in preparation for Hurricane Dorian.CreditJohnny Milano for The New York Times

Families arrived in Orlando this weekend carrying Disney-themed suitcases, wearing Mickey Mouse ears and closely monitoring Hurricane Dorian’s path as they plowed ahead with long-planned vacations to Walt Disney World.

The theme park complex is mostly operating normally, though its Blizzard Beach Water Park was closed as a precaution on Sunday.

Cierra and Louis Gosselin, who live in Bermuda, booked their nine-day vacation at Disney World more than seven months ago for their wedding anniversary and were especially excited to visit Galaxy Edge, a new Star Wars-themed section of Disney World that opened on Thursday.

The couple has been keeping a close eye on the latest hurricane models and said they were hopeful Dorian would not have much effect on their visit. But just in case, they rented a car and are ready to evacuate if necessary.

“I think we’re a little less intimidated because we live in Bermuda,” said Ms. Gosselin, an accounting consultant. “We’re more accustomed to the hurricanes, and we know what to do.”

She joked that her biggest fear was that the park’s replica of the Millennium Falcon, the Star Wars spacecraft, would be swept up by the storm.

Daniel and Kristin Russell arrived in Orlando on Saturday from Grand Rapids, Mich., with their 4-year-old daughter, who was particularly excited for the “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” event.

Mr. Russell said the family had considered canceling, but decided to go ahead with the trip when forecasts began to indicate that the hurricane may not make landfall in Florida.

“We had lots of friends and family that told us it might not be good to go, but we kept watching it, and we don’t think it’s going to be a problem now,” he said.

Some visitors were getting out just in time. Inside the Orlando International Airport, the Magic of Disney store was bustling with people snagging one more souvenir before boarding a plane home. They tried on hats with Minnie Mouse’s signature red and white polka dots, and perused Disney-themed oven mitts, stuffed animals and R2-D2 mugs.

Parkgoers head into Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday ahead of Hurricane Dorian’s potential landfall.CreditJohnny Milano for The New York Times

With forecasters now expecting the storm to move north up the coast before making landfall, the governors of North and South Carolina have declared states of emergency, adding to those already declared in all of Florida and in 12 counties in Georgia.

“North Carolinians should prepare, and listen to local leaders for updates on severe weather. Please take the time now to prepare for possible effects of #Dorian,” Gov. Roy Cooper wrote in a Twitter message Saturday night. Several hours earlier, Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina told his state’s residents not to take the storm lightly.

“Given the strength and unpredictability of the storm, we must prepare for every possible scenario,” Mr. McMaster said in a statement. “State assets are being mobilized now and Team South Carolina is working around the clock to be ready, if necessary. We encourage all South Carolinians who may be impacted by Hurricane Dorian to be vigilant and prepare now — there is no reason for delay.”

The National Hurricane Center said some tracking models suggest that the storm may make landfall near Cape Fear, N.C., on Thursday or Friday. Though its winds are expected to have weakened somewhat, the storm could still lash the coastline with winds of up to 80 miles an hour, and could dump as much as 10 inches of rain on coastal areas of North Carolina.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs reported from Orlando and Cocoa, Fla., Patricia Mazzei from Miami, and Patrick J. Lyons from New York. Elisabeth Malkin contributed reporting from Mexico City and Timothy Williams from New York.

An earlier version of this briefing misspelled the surname of the prime minister of the Bahamas. He is Hubert Minnis, not Innis.

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'Waffle House Index' is a real thing during disasters. How does the restaurant chain do it?

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close 'Waffle House Index' is a real thing during disasters. How does the restaurant chain do it?

What is the Waffle House Index? The Waffle House Index is an informal way for FEMA to gauge how quickly a community might bounce back after a disaster. Newslook

PENSACOLA, Fla. – As preparations got underway late last week throughout the state of Florida in advance of Hurricane Dorian, a small but dedicated team of employees at the Waffle House headquarters just outside Atlanta quietly began gearing up for preparations of their own.

Assemble “jump teams” of operators from Waffle Houses across the Southeast: check.

Send in generators, RVs, and gas to areas with restaurants that probably will be impacted: check.

Make sure maple syrup, sausage biscuit and waffle rations are fully stocked: check, check, and check.

“We try to plan, and our plan gets us up to the storm. Once the storm hits, we really just react,” said Pat Warner, director of public relations and external affairs for Waffle House. “We try to be nimble.”

Waffle House restaurants are often used to gauge the magnitude of disasters in the Southeast: If a store is open, your community has been spared. If the store is open but has a limited menu, you’ve probably gotten some damage. If the store is completely closed, you’re in a disaster zone.

State, local and federal governments unofficially use this so-called Waffle House Index as a barometer for how quickly a community is going to recover after a disaster. When Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle last October, for example, it affected nearly 500 restaurants throughout Florida and Georgia in one way or another. All but three of them – located in the Panama City area, which was among the hardest hit by the storm – were back to full operations within hours or days of the storm.

After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Waffle House had to close 107 restaurants in the Louisiana and Mississippi area, and some of those stores took years to open back up because so many employees were displaced. Entire city blocks were leveled, and some stores never opened back up at all. Since then, Waffle House has opened up more than 30 new stores south of Lake Pontchartrain. 

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“Katrina was by far our biggest disaster,” Warner said. “Most of the restaurants opened up quickly afterwards, and some shut down entirely. It displaced a lot of our associates. Even if we could get the restaurants back up, there was no place for our associates to live. They had no homes. That was a long recovery to get those restaurants back open and get the associates back in the stores, and we’re seeing a little bit of that with Hurricane Michael in the Panama City Beach area.”

Even with Category 5 hurricanes, those types of closures are an exception rather than the rule. Which begs the question: How, exactly, is the chain with nearly 2,000 restaurants in 25 states able to stay open during or after storms when most other establishments close down?

The key is preparation and reputation.

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“We have the reputation we’re going to be open quickly. First responders and the National Guard will reach out to us and we’re very happy to open for them,” Warner said. “But the real reason it goes back to is our culture. It’s for our customers. We’re here 24/7/365, so our customers are used to us being there, and we want to get open as quickly as possible after a storm. And more importantly, for our associates. If we’re closed, they’re not making money and we feel like we have a responsibility to be there for them.”

What is the Waffle House Storm Center?

Preparations for the storm typically start days before it’s expected to hit.  

At the Waffle House headquarters in Norcross, Georgia, a team of executives will activate the “Waffle House Storm Center” – a conference room in the building that suddenly turns into a military-level operations room filled with company engineers, restaurant operators, food safety experts, meteorologists and more.

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“The way we’re structured is our leadership is in the field (wherever the storm is expected to hit). For instance, our senior VP and executive VP over the Florida markets are in Florida right now. That’s where they live anyways, they don’t have an office here in Atlanta,” Warner said. “Our role here (at headquarters) is to feed them with information. We take over the conference room and bring in some monitors and watch the weather, and which restaurants are having higher volumes, and things like that, so we can make sure our resources are in the right places.”

Waffle House executives have an overlay that allows them to merge a map of their Waffle House locations with a map of a storm’s projected path, to help executives determine where they need to send in reinforcements; which, in a storm like Hurricane Dorian, changes almost every few hours.

Friday afternoon, Waffle House was ready to send in reinforcements to restaurants on Florida’s eastern coast, with Dorian expected to make landfall somewhere between Miami and Melbourne. Saturday morning, however, with the storm’s track shifting east, skirting up the southeastern coastline and potentially making landfall somewhere in the Carolinas, executives were on conference calls with different restaurant operators ready to set up contingency plans wherever needed.

Sunday morning, with the track shifting left ever so slightly again, Florida was back in play. The bottom line: Waffle House has to be prepared for anything. 

Ninety-four total restaurants from Florida to North Carolina are currently in danger of having minor to severe damage, Warner said.

Jump Teams help Waffle House get open and stay open

When any of the stores are in danger of being hit by severe weather, so-called “jump teams” are activated to be ready to deploy wherever needed. 

Jump teams are made up of Waffle House contractors, construction workers, gas line experts, restaurant operators, food providers and other associates who are assembled and ready to go wherever needed at a moment’s notice. Their purpose is to help relieve local Waffle House operators and employees who need to evacuate, be with their families or tend to their homes when a storm hits, and help make sure restaurants are able to open quickly after a storm or stay open during a storm.

“Their role is to go in right afterwards and get the restaurants open and get them running,” Warner said. “The great thing about our system is we try to be consistent across the nation. If you know how to run a Waffle House in Mississippi, you can run one in South Carolina, because all the systems are the same.”

Jeff Camp is the Waffle House area vice president of Southern Middle Tennessee, based in Murfreesboro, about an hour southeast of Nashville, Tennessee. He’s been on eight jump teams, with his first deployment to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, after a series of deadly tornadoes in 2011.

He also was sent to areas impacted by Hurricanes Florence, Matthew and Irma, as well as other natural disasters in the Southeast. He’s on standby for Hurricane Dorian – he was originally prepared to fly into Orlando on Sunday morning to help restaurants in Central Florida, but with the track shifting, he’s waiting to see where he and his team need to be sent. 

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When they parachute in, community members are either preparing for the worst, or are already dealing with its devastation – loss of loved ones, loss of homes and schools, the loss of complete normalcy. Many places have no running water or are on boil water advisories, some places have no electricity other than the glean of the fluorescent Waffle House lights. 

“Most people are living on bottled water and canned food that isn’t able to even be cooked. They’re living off beans out of a can,” he said. “They’re so grateful to have someone there to cook them a hot meal and serve them a cold drink, and in those situations, we try to get our generators in there as quickly as possible so people have a place to come in and sit down. It’s almost like they come in to escape what’s going on around them.”

Camp recalls going to Savannah, Georgia, right after Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. He took a server with him from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and she worked at a Savannah restaurant from 7 a.m. until almost midnight to help relieve some of the other employees.

When Camp came back to the restaurant to pick her up at midnight, he saw her counting her tip money on the table. Before she left, instead of putting it in her pocket, she gave it to the three other servers she had been working with that day.

“She said, ‘I have bills to pay too, but I have nothing going on like they do. My roof is over my head, my kids are safe, life is good back at home, and I just couldn’t walk away and take that money,’ ” Camp said.

It’s one of the reasons getting the restaurants back open are so important – people need jobs even amid the devastation.

But it’s also about normalcy.

“It’s special to be able to do it for the first responders, and that’s part of why we really want to stay open, is for them,” Camp added. “But it’s also about the community. Some of my greatest memories are how appreciative these people are to sit down and get a hot meal or a cup of coffee. It’s a great sense of accomplishment to get stores back open and see the community come in and start getting their lives back to normal.”

An open Waffle House: ‘It’s like the sunrise after the storm’

The resiliency of Waffle House restaurants and the effectiveness of their storm preparations have caught the attention of local and federal government officials before.

Though officials stress the Waffle House Index is an unofficial metric used to judge a storm’s impact, it has consistently been known as an effective marker of how badly a community has been hit.  

Warner says the index began in 2004, when Craig Fugate was the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

“In 2004 Florida had four hurricanes, it was hit pretty hard. He (Fugate) would tell his team to drive to an affected area and if a Waffle House was open, keep driving. If a Waffle House had a limited menu, keep driving but keep your eyes out. If a Waffle House was closed, that was where the worst of the damage was,” Warner said. “It was an unofficial way to see the impact of the storm on the community.”

Warner said keeping restaurants open or getting them back open after a storm is like “throwing chaos at chaos,” but it’s a system they’ve honed and are constantly tweaking with each passing storm. And they’ve translated their storm preparations to other areas of operations as well. When Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl earlier this year, for example, Waffle House sent in jump teams to help their Atlanta stores with the large influx of visitors. 

Plus, having so many locations concentrated throughout the southeast (the state with the highest number of Waffle Houses is Georgia) means the chain is constantly in storm prep or reaction mode.

“We understand the reputation that we’ve built through the years, and we’re really flattered by that,” Warner said. “But it is funny, because a lot of times the state or federal government will tell people to get ready for the storm, but once they see us and other companies closing, I think that really drives the point home to a lot of people.”

In the emergency management world, having businesses that are able to open quickly after storms is important for the community to get back to normal. Businesses up and running allows officials to clear shelters, and if they can clear shelters, they can get schools back open, which prompts more businesses to open and families to return home.

But to people like Daniel Hahn, director of safety for the Santa Rosa County School District in the Florida Panhandle, a Waffle House opening its doors after a storm, cooking up plates of smothered hash browns and buttery waffles, is more than just a symbol of economic recovery.

“It means the community has hope,” he said. “It means that the power is most likely on in that particular area, it means you have a place to eat, which is always good for first responders and locals. It means things might actually be all right. It’s like the sunrise after the storm.”

Follow Annie Blanks on Twitter: @AnniePNJ

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Hugh Freeze coaches Liberty football team, gives motivational speech from hospital bed

Liberty University head football coach Hugh Freeze, who is recovering from a life-threatening staph infection found during back surgery last month, coached his team and even gave a motivational speech from a coaches’ box hospital bed at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia, this past Saturday.

Freeze, 49, arrived at the stadium in a wheelchair where he was taken up to the box and placed in a hospital bed overlooking the football game between his Flames and the 22nd ranked Syracuse Orange.

His effort was in vain, however, as Liberty lost, 24-0.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-611913276 Hugh Freeze coaches Liberty football team, gives motivational speech from hospital bed fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/sports/ncaa/syracuse-orange fox-news/sports/ncaa-fb fox-news/health fox news fnc/sports fnc e3b22096-538f-501a-a564-8c9f5ab31799 David Aaro article

Hugh Freeze, seen here coaching the Ole MIss Rebels in 2016, coached the Liberty Flames from a hospital bed during the team’s opening game in Virginia on Saturday against Syracuse. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images, File)

Even so, his dedication and the images of him lying in the bed with a headset on, or waving to the opposing head coach, Dino Babers, as the clock was about to strike zero made for a surreal day of college football in Virginia.

LIBERTY COACH HUGH FREEZE SIDELINED BY LIFE-THREATENING STAPH INFECTION

“If felt different. It’s odd that I’m not down there talking to officials and calling timeouts when we need to,” Freeze said after the game while lying down and holding a soda in his right hand. “I had a hard time kind of finding the clocks too from here, I didn’t have the game clock here that I could look at. It was kind of hard to see it over there, so it was a little different. Hopefully, I’ll be back down there very, very soon.”

Freeze’s health issues began when he started experiencing back pain last month. He reportedly had suffered from back pain for years, but it started getting much worse during a scrimmage on Aug. 10. The next morning, he could barely walk.

“We had to call the ambulance to come get me,” he told ESPN.

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He underwent surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center the following week. Doctors ultimately found a staph infection, causing him to miss nearly two weeks of football practice.

“The hardest thing is just walking with the muscles being tight in the lower back,” said Freeze, who added he’s been trying to stay off his feet. Technology has helped him stay involved with the team from a distance, through the use of phones, live cameras and a walkie-talkie.

Saturday was the chance for Freeze to get back out there with his team as Liberty hosted a Power Five school for the first time in school history. Liberty had never had a ranked opponent at its 25,000 seat Williams Stadium.

“You got these Orange men from Syracuse that are coming down to our place. They are the bullies, they are the bigger boys,” Freeze said during a pep talk before the game on Saturday “It really doesn’t matter what conference you’re from or what your rating is. Really, what matters is what you do for the given plays that you have out there today… Go get ’em, boys.”

This was Freeze’s first coaching opportunity since he resigned from Ole Miss over a scandal involving an apparent phone call to an escort service. He had a 39-25 record in five seasons as the Ole Miss Rebels head coach.

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He says he will fly to Cajun Field in Lafayette, La., next Saturday, where his team is set to take on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-611913276 Hugh Freeze coaches Liberty football team, gives motivational speech from hospital bed fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/sports/ncaa/syracuse-orange fox-news/sports/ncaa-fb fox-news/health fox news fnc/sports fnc e3b22096-538f-501a-a564-8c9f5ab31799 David Aaro article   Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-611913276 Hugh Freeze coaches Liberty football team, gives motivational speech from hospital bed fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/sports/ncaa/syracuse-orange fox-news/sports/ncaa-fb fox-news/health fox news fnc/sports fnc e3b22096-538f-501a-a564-8c9f5ab31799 David Aaro article

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Astros Ace Justin Verlander Throws Third No-Hitter Of His Career

Westlake Legal Group rts2ot7h-a5ae386ad8abdcb26d4db9985c26a2a459c97a39-s1100-c15 Astros Ace Justin Verlander Throws Third No-Hitter Of His Career

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander celebrates after throwing a no hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, marking his third career no-hitter. USA Today Sports/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters hide caption

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Westlake Legal Group  Astros Ace Justin Verlander Throws Third No-Hitter Of His Career

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander celebrates after throwing a no hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays, marking his third career no-hitter.

USA Today Sports/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander lifted both his arms aloft then bent to his knees with the clenched fists of a victorious warrior before his teammates thronged him from all sides.

Verlander was not just not marking any old win. The right-hander tossed a no-hitter Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

It is his third career no-hitter, putting Verlander among an elite group of just six other major league pitchers with three or more no-hitters under their belt. It’s a group that includes Cy Young, the namesake for the award that goes to the best pitcher each year in the American and National Leagues.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know that the list of guys who have thrown three instead of two gets pretty small — some of the guys I’ve idolized,” Verlander said after the game. “It’s a special moment. I’m so happy to be able to celebrate this with my teammates.”

Verlander, 36, struck out 14 and allowed just one base runner after walking Cavan Biggio in the first inning.

Propelled by Verlander’s blazing fastball, the Astros topped the Blue Jays 2-0.

His last no-hitter was also against Toronto, in 2011, when he was throwing for the Detroit Tigers.

He now has the bragging rights to becoming the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter twice against a team in its own stadium.

While Verlander now joins a small cadre of pitchers who have hurled three or more no-hitters, the top record-holder belongs to Nolan Ryan, who completed seven career no-hitters.

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As #MassacreMitch Trends After Texas Shooting, Democrats Urge McConnell To Act

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Texas shooter who killed 7 in Odessa, Midland identified

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A traffic stop triggered a deadly shooting rampage. Warning: Some viewers may find this video disturbing. Wochit, Wochit

PHOENIX – The mass shooter who killed at least seven people and wounded 22 in the Midland and Odessa area of Texas has been identified as 36-year-old Seth Ator.

At a Sunday afternoon news conference, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said police knew the shooter’s identity, but refused to release it to the media. Gerke said he wouldn’t give the mass shooter additional notoriety. 

The shooter was later named in a Facebook post by the Odessa Police Department.

The incident began when a gold-colored car was stopped by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper for failing to signal.

Police say the shooter grabbed a rifle and shot at a pair of troopers through the rear-view window – wounding one – before driving away. He then sped off and continued his rampage, firing at motorists and pedestrians before hijacking a U.S. Postal Service truck.

The shooter was killed after being chased by officers from neighboring cities Midland and Odessa.

At the news conference, Gerke confirmed seven people had died with the victims ranging in age from 15 to 57.

“Very sincerely I say to those families I offer my apologies and my condolences,” Gerke said.

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Gerke said investigators are still researching potential motives for the shooting, but said law enforcement is confident that only one shooter was involved. Initial reports from law enforcement on social media suggested the possibility of a second shooter. Gerke credited the confusion to the shooter switching vehicles.

Officials claim the shooter used an “AR-style” weapon – probably referring to the AR-15 assault rifle often used in mass shootings – but didn’t know how the shooter obtained it or whether it was a legal transaction.

Background on the shooter

Saturday’s mass shooting was not Ator’s only encounter with law enforcement. 

Records from McLennan County Court in Waco, Texas, show Ator was arrested Aug. 3, 2001, for trespassing and evading arrest – both misdemeanors – to which Ator pleaded guilty in February 2002. He was sentenced to two years of “court probation.” It’s not clear what restrictions that probation entailed.

The massacre is the latest in a string of mass shootings in the last few months: Dayton, Ohio; Gilroy, California; and El Paso, Texas.

Ator doesn’t have much of a digital footprint on first glance. Searches under his name yield few results on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Public records list Ator’s address in Lorena, Texas – a small city with a population of roughly 1,800 people, according to census data. The city is approximately 300 miles east of Odessa-Midland.

Video: ‘They’re shooting right there’: Eyewitness video shows Odessa, Midland, Texas shooting

Injured: 17-month-old girl is one of the victims hospitalized after Odessa shooting

Records also suggest Ator attended Texas State Technical College in Waco, Texas, in 2005. Ator also appears to have attended McLennan Community College – also in Waco – between 2007 and 2013.

Follow Perry Vandell on Twitter: @PerryVandell

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