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    Second Story Addition Ideas: Building Up Instead of Out - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Building an addition to your home requires careful planning. Many people choose to build outwards by expanding the base level of the home with a side addition or an addition at the back of the home. However, building upwards is also an option to give your home the space your family needs. Talk to an expert to decide the safest and practical solution for your home expansion. Homeowners in Scottsdale that are considering adding a second story addition should learn more about the different ways you can utilize the extra space with these creative second story addition ideas.

    Everyone wants to their home to be a comfortable space. Two huge benefits of a second story addition is the added square footage and versatile floor layout. The second story addition increases your square footage which makes the home more attractive to buyers. You can create a master size bedroom fit for a king.

    Typically, the master suiteis on its own floor away from the rest of the bedrooms. This is a great idea if you desire more privacy and a second story addition is the best way to accomplish this look in your current home. The master suite can include a walk-in closet, private bathroom and even a sitting room. You can turn your new space into a private oasis with help experts in home addition construction in Scottsdale.

    Oftentimes, creatives need a space that they can escape to and pursue their hobbies. If you happen to be a craft maker, a second-story addition may be the perfect way for you to create a space that you can draw inspiration from. Build a wing or an entire floor designated for the display and creation of your crafts. With your new addition, you will finally have the space needed to truly expand your artistic creations.

    A split floor planis a house layout that veers away from the traditional home layout. This is a great idea if you desire more privacy and a second story addition is the best way to accomplish this in your current home.

    If you have children, a split floor plan is a great way to give them the space they need to grow and live comfortably. You can create an entire wing just for the children. Build a nursery for a small child or even a playroom for the older kids. The additional space will allow you to get creative and give your kids their own special area.

    You can also create a dedicated home officespace on its floor if you work from home or need a quiet area to do work. Homeowners that work from home need a quiet space to make phone calls, write and do other tasks. Creating an additional floor that is dedicated to your office will give you the privacy and space you need to do your best work.

    Building a private loft space is a great idea if you plan on renting out parts of your home or creating a private space for in-lawsor older children. You can build a second floor addition that has all the amenities of a private apartment. Develop a kitchen area, living room and a private bedroom. You can speak to your contractor about transforming your second story addition into a loft space.


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    Second Story Addition Ideas: Building Up Instead of Out

    How Much Does Second Story Addition Cost In 2020? - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    According to the United States Census Bureau, the median size of a single-family house completed in 2019 was 2,301 sq. ft. On the other hand, the average size of US homes is currently at 1,600 square feet. At 2,000 square feet, a family of five members would be comfortable already. This size typically has a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and can even have a basement.

    Still, a lot of US homes still fall below 1,000 sq. ft. range, especially in states where real estate sells like gold. This is where the idea of adding a second floor becomes an option when you need to add up extra space for your growing family without having the need to buy the next vacant lot or to move elsewhere.

    However, the expensive second story addition cost always gets in the way of the plan. But is it cheaper to add a second story or build-out? Lets find out.

    How much does it cost to add second story? Well, first, it depends on how much you are willing to participate in the construction, how much you want to save, or how much you cant be bothered.

    Those who want to do away with contractors or skilled subcontractors should take note that building your second floor will not be an easy task. Besides being difficult, it is also time-consuming. Also, if you are not an expert, this is not advisable. This will be explained towards the end part of this article.

    Of course, if you decide to build it yourself, it will help bring your cost down. Perhaps a price range of $70 to $150 per square foot would be workable. So, for a house that is 1,500 sq. ft. wide, the range of the overall cost is going to be around $105,000 to $225,000. But as mentioned, this will all depend on how much work you can do yourself.

    The typical range for a remodeling contractor would be around $150 to $300 per square foot. It could also go as high as $400 to $600 or more per square foot as well, depending on the complexity of the designs, materials, and the local labor rates in cities and counties.

    For example, in Seattle, ballpark quotations for 2nd floor building cost range from $500 to 650 per sq ft. In San Diego, quotes range from $300 to $400 per sq ft.

    So basically, the total cost would be around $225,000 to $450,000 for 1,500 sq. ft. of space for a basic job and $600,000 to $900,000 for more complex construction. This would include 2-3 bedrooms and a bathroom plus the stairs.

    If you live in San Diego, expect to spend around $450,000 to $600,000. On the other hand, prepare to shell out around $750,000 to $975,000 if youre from Seattle where the cost of living is around 49% higher compared to the national average.

    The cost of the second floor addition is said to be 20% more than the price of the building on the ground floor. So, if you keep track of your previous project, youll have a better idea of what to expect in terms of your construction budget. Thats as long as there are not many years in between the two projects.

    In planning a second story for your house, it will be more than meets the eye, so to speak. For starter, you will have to find out first if your houses existing foundation will be able to support the additional weight of the second floor.

    There are structural foundation requirements for adding a second story. Everything from the connections right at the main-level walls, leading to the foundation should be able to meet the code requirements. Older homes are the usual victims of seismic risk.

    If you dont have any know-how in this department but want to take the DIY route, brace yourself for a lot of inconveniences and your plate will definitely be full. Worse, youll be prone to committing construction blunders. These include putting your home at risk of collapsing, not getting a construction permit at all, having to redo everything after inspection, or worse, all of these.

    The safest option would be to tap the services of an expert. They will determine if some or all of the foundations will need to be reinforced. For a consultation with a structural engineer, the cost could be anywhere from $200 to $700, depending on the location and the scope of the service.

    An architect service can come in handy to help you create drawings and plans. They usually charge a flat rate of around $700 to as high as $10,000 or even higher depending on the size of the house and complexity of the interior design. At times, architects may instead charge around 7.5% to 15% of the overall cost of the project when the scope includes a full range of architectural services.

    Another consideration is how do you plan to execute the addition. Are you planning to start from scratch by destroying the roof and build the second story? Are you planning to save the roof by lifting it off in its entirety and placing it on top of the newly-built second floor? Or are you thinking about modular second story addition?

    Ripping your old roof will definitely cost a lot. But if thats the plan from the get-go to have a fresh roof and new scenery, its fine. However, if you are trying to save on cost, re-using the roof would be one way to achieve it.

    Mind you, you will be needing to rent equipment to make sure you can lift it off without any damages. But the rental fee would be way cheaper than having to spend on a brand new roof. Renting a crane would cost around $300 per hour if youre in ND, but you need to rent it out for at least 4 hours. That would cost a total of around $1,200 at the very least.

    The list goes on for the cost of adding a second story to a bungalow. If you are hiring a contractor, you only need to make sure to provide the budget. If you are doing it on your own, theres a lot more to consider besides the procurement of materials and hiring construction laborers.

    First is securing a construction or building permit. If you hire a contractor, this will be included in the service contract. Otherwise, you will need to get it yourself, unless you live in areas where building permits are not required such us in unincorporated places of Delta County in Colorado.

    To give you an idea, the permit fee for a 1,500 sq.ft single-family house construction in Seattle would cost you $4,239. It could be cheaper in other areas and some states dont even require permits for home improvements. Consider yourself lucky if this is the case.

    After all the additions, your property could be re-assessed by the government and could result in a property tax increase. In most cases, some areas will only re-assess the value of your second story addition and not on the entire property.

    All other utilities in the house should work for the homeowner. As per an engineers calculation, the water heater, and other electrical items like the panel should be able to work depending on the houses square footage.

    Some of the other addition cost will have to be the replacement of your HVAC system and other systems that is energy efficient. It is very important that as a homeowner you will have to revisit these parts of your home systems to ensure that even when you build a second-floor area, everything you need regarding your utilities should be working fine.

    You can also expect that your monthly utility bills to increase. This is because if you are using a centralized air conditioner or heater for your old bungalow house, that wont work on your second story. You will need to install additional units that will significantly affect your budget for utilities.

    Your insurance premium should also increase with the addition of the second floor. This is also worth considering, unless, you have it all sorted out from the beginning.

    How to add a second floor to an existing house? Ideally, the best way to build a two-story house would be a well-thoughtout structure using sound engineering and architecture. With this, hiring an expert will always be the safest choice if money is out of the question. Its always safe to err on the side of caution.

    On the other hand, if you have already planned for your second floor from the time you were building your single-floor house, your foundation might already be built in preparation for the extra weight later on. If this is the case, then, this can be the best-case scenario for you as you complete the construction of your dream house.

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    How Much Does Second Story Addition Cost In 2020?

    Second Story Additions: What Homeowners Need to Know - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Second storyadditionsbenefit growing families. Whether you're makingspace for in-laws, seeking additional room for more children, or simply need more space to engage in hobbies, a second story addition can give the room you need to spread out.

    This type of major addition involves many steps. Homeowners looking into the possibility of adding on to their home must consider all of the factors before embarking on the process. Knowing what is involved can help most homeowners decide if this type of upgrade is right for them. AtLitchfield Builders, we help homeowners who want to build on to their property.

    A second story addition involves removal of the attic area and insertion of a second useable floor over the first floor of the home. A standard addition is an addition that is built onto the side of the house. These two types of renovations can be very different from one another. Understanding the differences can help you decide which type is right for you.

    With a standard addition, homeowners can remain in the home with minimal disruption to their everyday life. Aside from removal of an exterior wall, all work on a standard addition is done away from the family's living space.

    For a second story addition, this is not the case. Family members must move out of the house temporarily during this type of renovation because it is so disruptive to the structure and functionality of the home.

    A standard addition can generally be added to any home that is in good condition. By contrast, second story additions require the home to have proper structural support before the addition can be made. Before the addition can proceed, the home must be evaluated by an engineer and often changes must be made to the structure.

    Separate building codes may apply to a second story addition versus a standard addition. An experienced contractor will know the particulars of the building regulations for the area, but homeowners who want to know can contact their local building codes office for clarification.

    There are a variety of factors that can influence the shape and scope of this type of renovation. Knowing these factors in advance can help you as you meet with contractors to discuss the upcoming project.

    Staircases can take up square footage on lower levels. Most staircases require approximately 80 to 120 square feet. Knowing where the staircase will be located can help you envision the final product.

    HVAC and electrical systems are based on a home's current square footage, so these systems will likely have to be upgraded to take on increased capacity. In addition, new ductwork, plumbing, vents and outlets will also need to be added to the second floor.

    The chimney in the home, if there is one, must be extended above the second story. If the chimney is not extended, then it must be eliminated entirely.

    All too often, second story additions are planned from the inside, resulting in an awkward exterior. The following tips will help you ensure consistency between the upper and lower floors of the home:

    When adding a second story to the home, this is a great opportunity to upgrade elements of the main floor as well.

    Making these changes can add to the overall scope of the project, but doing this during the remodel is time and cost effective.

    The cost of this type of project may vary based on the square footage of the existing home. Costs may also vary based on whether or not the existing structure can support an additional story, because reinforcements can be costly. As a general rule, adding a second story to a home will cost between$100 and $300 per square foot. Some homeowners save money by doing some of the work (like painting) themselves.

    In addition to these costs, there are additional, longer-term costs to consider as well.

    Are you thinking of adding a second story to your home? Are you ready to get started on your project? Leave your comments in the box below. For the right family and the right property, adding a second story can be a very rewarding experience. Often families choose to take on this project rather than moving because adding a second story is more cost effective than finding a completely different home.

    All the same, a second story requires a lot of work and long-term planning. This type of project will can involve changes made to the interior and exterior of the house. For a time, the house will even become unusable. If you're not sure whether or not adding a second story is right for you, contact a contractor. At Litchfield Builders, we help households through their interior and exterior renovations. To find out more about adding a second story, or to get a quote,contact us today. For more information, you can alsodownload our free Home Remodeling Guide.

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    MLB Power Rankings, way-too-early edition — How Dodgers, Rays and all 30 teams stack up for 2021 – ESPN - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    We can only hope 2021 will be a more normal season, with 162 games and fans in the stands and hot dogs to eat and overpriced beer to drink. We don't know what the state of things will be come April 1, when the 2021 season is scheduled to begin, but we can speculate on the state of the 30 franchises.

    Yes, we're back with our annual Way-Too-Early Power Rankings. There are a few obvious teams at the top, a handful at the bottom and a whole bunch in the middle. Throw in the difficulty of analyzing a 60-game season and the uncertainty of how the offseason will play out due to the financial losses of this season, and these are the most difficult rankings we have had to do. But we fearlessly move forward.

    (Title odds for 2021 from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill)

    2020 record: 43-17Won World Series2021 title odds: 4-1

    They're reigning champs. They've won eight straight division titles. They have Mookie Betts signed for the long term. They have young starters such as Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin to keep the rotation strong for years to come. They have players capable of better seasons (Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux). They have a good farm system. They have financial flexibility, with only Betts signed past 2022 and all those young players to help them keep the payroll in check. Justin Turner is a free agent, but he would be a nice DH option if the NL makes that permanent. We know they will be good. But we know it's really all about October.

    2020 record: 35-25Lost NLCS to Dodgers2021 title odds: 12-1

    The offense gives them a high floor:Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, even Travis d'Arnaud and Adam Duvall raked in 2020. Marcell Ozuna is a free agent and it would be nice to bring him back, but rookie center fielder Cristian Pache is ready and he looks like he'll be valuable on both sides of the ball. The rotation will see the return of Mike Soroka from his Achilles injury and a full season of Ian Anderson to back up Max Fried. Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson have potential, and Atlanta will probably bring in a veteran starter on a one-year deal the way they did with Dallas Keuchel in 2019 and tried to do with Cole Hamels in 2020. The Braves will be favored to win a fourth straight division title even if they don't do anything this offseason.

    2020 record: 37-23Lost Division Series to Dodgers2021 title odds: 17-2

    Sure, an argument can be made to put the Padres ahead of the Braves, but I think we have to first make sure Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger are completely healthy in spring training. San Diego brings back essentially every significant player after running out the youngest lineup in the NL, with Jake Cronenworth and Trent Grisham looking like foundation additions alongside Fernando Tatis Jr. (All were acquired in trades; good job, A.J. Preller!) We'll see if Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers can match their 2020 rate of production, but if Luis Patino and MacKenzie Gore become impact starters, the Padres are poised to make a multiyear run in challenging the Dodgers for NL West supremacy.

    2020 record: 40-20Lost World Series to Dodgers2021 title odds: 10-1

    The Rays won their first division title since 2010 and did it in quite remarkable fashion, with 12 different relievers recording a save and the pitching staff overcoming a slew of injuries along the way. They were able to pull that off because of the depth of their staff, but having expanded rosters over the 60-game season made it possible to rely so heavily on the bullpen. Of course, you can argue that pitching depth will be even more valuable over 162 games. The offense isn't elite, although we can't wait to see what Randy Arozarena will do over a full season or if super rookie Wander Franco is ready to make an impact at some point in 2021.

    2020 record: 35-25Lost Wild Card Series to A's2021 title odds: 12-1

    Much like the Braves, the offensive firepower of the White Sox should give them a high floor. Even if you see some regression coming from Jose Abreu or Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada should improve and a full season of Nick Madrigal will help. Michael Kopech, who opted out of 2020, will hopefully be back, but he hasn't pitched in two years, so finding another veteran arm to go with ace Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel will be key. Closer Alex Colome is a free agent, but the White Sox have several power arms in their organization, including 2020 first-round pick Garrett Crochet, who could be a dominant reliever right away. Manager Rick Renteria and longtime pitching coach Don Cooper got the boot, with A.J. Hinch a possible replacement for Renteria. That would be an upgrade.

    2020 record: 33-27Lost Division Series to Rays2021 title odds: 6-1

    You can make an argument to put them a couple of spots higher, but not winning the AL East in 2020 points to some flaws. They simply can't count on Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton being healthy for an entire season, plus DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka are free agents, two important players to re-sign or replace. Of course, we know the Yankees will do something big, perhaps signing J.T. Realmuto and moving on from Gary Sanchez or trading for Francisco Lindor and shifting Gleyber Torres to second. Getting Luis Severino back from Tommy John surgery will be a big boost as well.

    2020 record: 36-24Lost Wild Card Series to Astros2021 title odds: 14-1

    The Twins didn't do it quite like they did in 2019, when they bashed a record 307 home runs (although their 162-game pace for 2020 was still 259), as their team batting average dropped nearly 30 points, and they fell from second in the AL in runs to 10th. Still, they've established a foundation of success with three playoff appearances in four seasons. The big issue is they have a lot of free agents to replace or re-sign, starting with 40-year-old Nelson Cruz, but also Jake Odorizzi, Marwin Gonzalez, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May and Homer Bailey. Those players were minor contributors, but with Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers getting more expensive in arbitration, the Twins may not be able to fill out the roster with minor free agents the way they've done of late. They need a healthy Josh Donaldson, especially if Cruz leaves, and they will have to discard the emotional baggage of 18 consecutive playoff losses to get revved up for 162 games just to get back to October again.

    2020 record: 36-24Lost Division Series to Houston2021 title odds: 14-1

    The A's weren't as impressive as they were in 2019 -- Matt Olson morphed into an extreme "three true outcomes" slugger, Matt Chapman's OBP dipped to .276 and Marcus Semien declined from his third-place MVP performance. They still coasted to the AL West title though, and the division projects as being pretty soft, at least right now. Semien and closer Liam Hendriks are free agents as are several other key role players, so this ranking is not presented with a high degree of confidence. The A's always seem to maximize their talent, and I do think the rotation will be much better, making up for some of the likely bullpen regression.

    2020 record: 26-34Tied for fourth in NL East2021 title odds: 30-1

    1 Related

    I feel like we need another National League team here, but let's be honest: There is a wide gap between the NL's top three teams and the block of mediocre teams in the middle. Let's roll the dice on the Mets with new owner Steve Cohen to the rescue (once he gets formally approved). Let's just say Mets fans are pumped about Cohen's WAW (wins above Wilpon). There have already been reports about all the money he'll sink into the franchise, not just on players but things like building out a more robust analytics staff. Aside from any splashy moves Cohen may make -- trading for Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor? Signing J.T. Realmuto or Trevor Bauer? -- there is a strong base of talent here. They ranked third in the majors in wOBA (behind the Braves and Dodgers) and fifth in the majors in pitcher strikeout rate. They should be better -- a familiar refrain for Mets fans, unfortunately.

    2020 record: 34-26Lost Wild Card Series to Marlins2021 title odds: 25-1

    Everyone was down on the Cubs, especially after that sad two-and-out to the Marlins, but we do need to point out Chicago still won the NL Central despite Javier Baez (59 OPS+), Kris Bryant (73) and Kyle Schwarber (88) all producing well below an average major league hitter and Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras performing below their career norms. That continues a downward trend for this once-great offensive core, from second in the NL in runs in 2016 and 2017 to fourth in 2018, fifth in 2019 and 10th in 2020. Baez, Bryant, Schwarber and Rizzo are all free agents after 2021, but frankly, the trade value for Bryant and Schwarber -- and even Baez, to a lesser extent -- has cratered. Theo Epstein also hinted that 2021 will be his last season with the Cubs. Does this group get one last chance? In a weak division, with some bounce-back potential, the Cubs could be better than everyone believes. Or maybe the front office will just tear it all down.

    2020 record: 29-31Lost ALCS to Rays2021 title odds: 20-1

    It promises to be a busy winter for the Astros. George Springer, Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick are all free agents, while Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr. and Zack Greinke are set to be free agents after 2021, as are Justin Verlander and Roberto Osuna, both of whom will likely miss the season following Tommy John surgery. They'll need more from Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman (and don't forget about Yordan Alvarez) but they could have a strong rotation if they keep McCullers and Greinke to go with Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy. The outfield free-agent market is thin, so if Springer and Brantley sign elsewhere, the Astros may have to scramble to find help for Kyle Tucker.

    2020 record: 35-25Lost Wild Card Series to Yankees2021 title odds: 20-1

    We start with one of the biggest questions of the entire offseason: Will Cleveland trade Francisco Lindor? It seems weird to say this, but there isn't an obvious fit, as most of the top teams are set at shortstop. It will be interesting to see if a team tries to pull the Mookie Betts maneuver: trade for Lindor, then sign him to a big extension before he hits free agency after the 2021 season. Aside from the Lindor issue, it's going to be a similar Cleveland team as we've seen the past two years: enough starting pitching to be a playoff team, but an offense that may prevent them from getting there. Please, find some competent outfielders. Cleveland's outfielders hit .196/.270/.304.

    2020 record: 30-28Lost Wild Card Series to Padres2021 title odds: 30-1

    In one sense, it's harder to evaluate what the Cardinals did in 2020 than any other team, with them having to play 11 doubleheaders after the team's COVID-19 outbreak early in the season. On the other hand, they were exactly what we thought they would be: below-average offense with no power, good defense, good bullpen, decent starting pitching. I just don't how they're going to get better, especially given that some of their pitching peripheral numbers don't quite match the ERA figures. Look, as always, you can never discount the Cardinals. They haven't had a losing season since 2007. The division is wide open. Jack Flaherty will be better. Dylan Carlson could give them an impact outfielder. The bullpen projects as a big strength.

    2020 record: 26-34Tied for fourth in NL East2021 title odds: 30-1

    No team had less incentive in 2020 than the Nationals, and once Stephen Strasburg went down, it kind of felt like the entire team went down with him. Juan Soto played at an MVP level for 47 games, leading the NL in batting average and the majors in OBP and slugging. It wasn't a full season so I'm not saying it compares, but his 212 OPS+ was the best since Barry Bonds in 2004.

    For a second straight summer, we crown Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. as baseball's most fun-to-watch player. Who else made the list? Sam Miller

    There are concerns in the starting rotation, however, beyond Strasburg's nerve issue. Anibal Sanchez fell apart, Patrick Corbin got knocked around (85 hits in 65 innings) and even Max Scherzer had his highest ERA since 2012.The real problem may have been the defense: The Nationals ranked last in the majors with minus-43 defensive runs saved. As always, depth is an issue and they need youngsters Carter Kieboom (no home runs in 99 at-bats) and Victor Robles (.608 OPS) to contribute at the plate. If Strasburg is healthy, don't ignore the 2019 champs.

    2020 record: 32-28Lost Wild Card Series to Rays2021 title odds: 50-1

    The Blue Jays face a very interesting offseason after making the playoffs as a wild card and ranking third in the AL in runs. The offense potentially looks even better if you're buying the breakouts of Teoscar Hernandez and Rowdy Tellez. Worth noting: The Jays hit much better at their temporary home in Buffalo, so we have to be careful about overrating the offense. Hyun-Jin Ryu was terrific (at least until his playoff start), but the rest of the rotation was so problematic that the Jays acquired Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Ross Stripling for the stretch run. Walker and Ray are free agents, but Nate Pearson will help, and the Jays should have some money to spend in free agency.

    2020 record: 28-32Third in NL East2021 title odds: 40-1

    It's hard to see the Phillies much better than the .500 team they've been the past three seasons, which led to general manager Matt Klentak being reassigned within the organization. They had two great starters in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler and finished fourth in the NL in runs, but the bullpen (6.92 ERA, worst of all time) undermined all the positives. The Phillies allowed a .345 average on balls in play, and maybe that would drop over a full season, but it stands as the highest ever. This has been a multiyear problem. They were middle of the pack in BABIP allowed in 2019, but fifth-worst in 2018 and sixth-worst in 2017. They've been unable to fix the defense. Anyway, J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius are free agents. The payroll would have been more than $200 million given a full season in 2020, so you wonder if there is room to re-sign Realmuto and fix the bullpen and replace/re-sign Gregorius and maybe add another starter.

    2020 record: 26-34Fourth in AL West2021 title odds: 40-1

    Billy Eppler is out as general manager after a five-year run that included no winning seasons. Yes, he inherited the bad Albert Pujols contract, but he also inherited Mike Trout and was never able to build a successful team around him, despite additions like Andrelton Simmons, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon. Simmons is a free agent, Pujols is finally down to his final season and Jared Walsh (.971 OPS, nine home runs in 99 at-bats, a low 13.9% strikeout rate) has to play. The immediate concerns are trying to turn Jo Adell into a major league hitter (.161, 55 strikeouts, seven walks in 132 PAs), figure out what happened to Ohtani (.190) and Justin Upton (.204) and -- as always -- address the pitching. Sounds like the same story as the past five years.

    2020 record: 29-31Lost Wild Card Series to Dodgers2021 title odds: 50-1

    This is a difficult team to read. The Brewers didn't hit at all in 2020 (I think the NL must have stored its balls in Lake Michigan, because nobody could hit). Two-time batting champ and 2018 MVP Christian Yelich hit just .205, and I know it was just 58 games, but his strikeout rate went from 20.3% to 30.8%. Something doesn't add up there.

    Is your squad out of the MLB postseason? Here's what's on the offseason to-do list.

    American League

    MIN | CLE | TOR | CHW | OAK | NYY | HOU

    National League

    CIN | MIL | CHC | STL | MIA | SD | ATL

    They do have two great one-two combos in Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes in the rotation and Devin Williams and Josh Hader in the bullpen. Does Williams' stunning breakout (53 K's in 27 innings) make Hader trade bait? Burnes certainly looked like the real deal with his new cutter, but he'll have to prove he can do it over 30 starts instead of 10. David Stearns is one of the more creative GMs around, although he'd probably like a do-over on the Trent Grisham/Zach Davies for Luis Urias/Eric Lauer deal.

    2020 record: 24-36Fifth in AL East2021 title odds: 60-1

    This was the hardest team to project. The pitching was so awful -- 5.85 runs per game, the most for the franchise since 1932 -- that it's easy to assume it will be bad again in 2021. It was also bad in 2019 (5.11 runs per game), so we have a two-year track record. Maybe they get Chris Sale back at midseason and Eduardo Rodriguez returns from his COVID-related heart issue. There is a nice offensive core with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo and Christian Vazquez (and J.D. Martinez if he bounces back). I'm not sure what Bobby Dalbec will be. I guess his upside is Joey Gallo, if that's a good thing. More importantly, is Chaim Bloom playing the long game or will there be pressure to get the Red Sox immediately back into contender status?

    2020 record: 31-29Lost Wild Card Series to Braves2021 title odds: 25-1

    The Reds sneaked into the playoffs as a wild card with a late surge, but the team embarrassingly exited with two shutouts to the Braves, including a 13-inning defeat. The Reds have morphed into the most extreme example of a "three true outcomes" offense we've seen in this launch-angle era. They ranked fourth in the NL in home runs and first in walks, but hit a pathetic .212. The entire package added up to ranking just 13th in the NL in runs, then you dig deeper and realize they hit 55 home runs at home and 35 on the road, so much of their power was simply a result of their home park. It's a bad offense, and I'm not sure it improves much in 2021. Trevor Bauer is a sure bet to sign elsewhere as a free agent, and we still don't know if Nick Senzel is the solution in center field or an injury-prone role player.

    2020 record: 31-29Lost Division Series to Braves2021 title odds: 60-1

    It was a fun ride to their first postseason trip since 2003, but once you get past the starting trio of Sixto Sanchez, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez, holes remain. The pitching staff was next to last in the majors in strikeout rate, and the team's top five relievers were all 30-something guys you can't necessarily count on for 2021. There are no offensive stars as the lineup relied on stopgap veterans, while the young hitters still have trouble controlling the strike zone (and the young hitters aren't really all that young). The minus-41 run differential is a little misleading as the Marlins had to use more players than any other team due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but I'm not sure I see another .500 season unless some of the young hitters suddenly develop into solid regulars.

    2020 record: 29-31Third in NL West2021 title odds: 80-1

    Call me skeptical. They went from the second-worst offense in the NL to a top-five offense -- without making any significant additions. Brandon Belt with a 1.000 OPS? Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson over .900? Donovan Solano chasing a batting title? I smell a lot of regression coming on, and the Giants don't have the rotation to back that up. They also had the oldest lineup in the league: Mauricio Dubon is the only returning regular who won't be 30 or older in 2021. Maybe catcher Joey Bart makes an impact, but a 41 to 3 strikeout-to-walk rate suggests he's not ready for prime time. Several of their big contracts come off the books after 2021 if you factor in buyouts, so look for the Giants to wait until that big 2021-22 free-agent class to start flipping over the roster.

    2020 record: 27-33Third in AL West2021 title odds: 100-1

    There were some nice positives in 2020: Kyle Lewis may win Rookie of the Year, Justus Sheffield was much improved, Marco Gonzales solidified himself as one of the most underrated starters in the majors, Dylan Moore turned into one of the best utility players as a power/speed combo. But there is still zero star power here, at least until Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez arrive as potential All-Star outfielders, Kelenic in 2021 and Rodriguez probably in 2022. Jerry Dipoto will have to reconstruct a bullpen that was one of the worst in the league (5.92 ERA). The Mariners are on the rise and have other potential impact prospects, including pitchers Logan Gilbert and Emerson Hancock, but look for them to hold the course in 2021 and push forward in 2022.

    2020 record: 26-34Fourth in AL Central2021 title odds: 150-1

    The Royals have some interesting young pitchers in Brad Keller, Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, with Josh Staumont as a potential closer, but there are still huge gaps across the roster, especially on the offensive side of things. They need to figure out center field, second base and left field, and even Adalberto Mondesi Jr. now looks like just a placeholder at short until Bobby Witt Jr. arrives in a couple of years. This ranking could be selling the Royals a bit short, as young pitching can carry a team if it comes fast (and 2020 top pick Asa Lacy may not need much time in the minors), but they need to find some hitters.

    2020 record: 25-35Fifth in NL West2021 title odds: 60-1

    That was ugly, and the fans are turning on the team after a couple of years of trades (Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke and the deadline deals this season) that don't appear to have returned any front-line talent. Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, so good in 2019, fell off, with Marte inexplicably deciding he no longer wanted to walk. Robbie Ray couldn't throw strikes and was finally traded. Merrill Kelly hurt his shoulder. Madison Bumgarner didn't win a game. The problem for 2021? The Diamondbacks had the second-oldest lineup in the NL (six of their top eight regulars were 29 or older). Bumgarner now looks like a bad $80 million gamble. They're only a season removed from going 85-77, so there is rebound potential, but the Snakes are a mess at the moment.

    2020 record: 25-35Fourth in AL East2021 title odds: 150-1

    Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of positives in 2020, especially after losing 108 games in 2019 and 115 in 2018. Anthony Santander had a small-sample breakout with the metrics to back it up. Ryan Mountcastle looks ready to join the lineup in 2021 and Trey Mancini will hopefully be back at full strength after finishing his chemo treatment in September. Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer could be arms to watch for the rotation.

    Is the Astros' title forever tainted? Is Jeter overrated? We offer the final word on every team's most burning question. Story

    They do have financial flexibility, especially as they get closer to the end of Chris Davis' deal, and with Adley Rutschman close to the majors and starters D.L. Hall and Grayson Rodriguez perhaps ready in 2022, the farm is better than it's been in at least 10 years. But the base level of talent here remains pretty low.

    2020 record: 26-34Fourth in NL West2021 title odds: 100-1

    Right now, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are still on the roster. Will they be there come spring training? The relationship between Arenado and the Rockies is strained, making him a trade candidate this winter. He won't be easy to trade, though: He didn't have a good 2020 at the plate, ended the season on the IL, has a full no-trade clause and can opt out of his deal after 2021. If Arenado is traded, you could see the Rockies dealing Story as well since he's a free agent after 2021. Mostly, this team just needs a makeover. They ranked eighth in the NL in runs, and for a Rockies team, that's horrible. (They had finished below fifth just one other time in franchise history.)

    2020 record: 23-35Fifth in AL Central2021 title odds: 200-1

    Sometimes you just have to point out the obvious: Jeimer Candelario was the team's best player in 2020 -- a 26-year-old first baseman who hit .203 the year before. Look, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal project as good starters at some point, but their struggles in limited action in 2020 suggest that may not be in 2021. Along with Spencer Turnbull and prospect Matt Manning, there is a rotation to dream on, but there is no offense, and Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, their top position player prospects, are more on a 2022 timetable.

    2020 record: 22-38Fifth in AL West2021 title odds: 100-1

    The Rangers continue to go backward. They were bad in 2020 in a year they thought they could contend, they weren't particularly young and the farm system has struggled to develop pitchers and turn toolsy position players into quality hitters. The offense had a brutal year -- and not just because of the new park. They didn't hit on the road either. It's time to admit that Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor are never going to be the core of a championship lineup, and if Lance Lynn is traded -- he'll be a free agent after 2021 -- the rotation will have a huge hole to fill.

    2020 record: 19-41Fifth in NL Central2021 title odds: 300-1

    Let's see, a small-market team coming off the worst record in the sport, won't spend any money in free agency, and whose three best players in 2019 were all terrible in 2020. The first step is to hope Josh Bell, Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman rebound, but with most of the organization's top prospects still a ways off, the short-term outlook looks bleak. Heck, the long-term outlook isn't exactly full of roses and puppies.

    Read more here:
    MLB Power Rankings, way-too-early edition -- How Dodgers, Rays and all 30 teams stack up for 2021 - ESPN

    7 Inspirational House Extension Ideas To Enhance Your Living Space – We Heart - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    If your living space seems a little tight, or youre looking to increase your homes value, then house extensions are exactly what you need. Opting for one can breathe new life into your space and improve the overall aesthetic of your property.

    Photo, Brett Jordan.

    It doesnt even matter if youre looking to resell your home in the future; you can go for an addition even if you want to switch things up. Apart from this, there are many ideas you can explore, making it entirely possible for you to execute one on your budget.

    Of course, house extension costs vary based on the idea you decide to pursue. However, the average cost ranges from 15,000 to 125,000, so youll definitely be able to find a design idea that suits your financial needs. If youre still confused about which home extension you should go for, here are a few ideas that can help get your creative juices flowing

    Create a Room Above Your Garage: The key to nailing an extension is utilising the space you already have. One way you can add an extension is by adding a room over your existing garage. An extra bedroom will instantly boost your propertys value and this method is also more cost-effective than extending your ground floor.

    However, you need to be mindful of whether your foundation can bear the extra weight or not. Additionally, a professional contractor or designer can guide you through on the most feasible way to execute this. Regardless, creating an extra bedroom on top of your garage is an excellent idea for when you want to extend your house without breaking the bank.

    Use Your Garden Space: A garden extension is a brilliant idea when you want more space for your house, but are unable to extend near the property itself. You can utilise the space in your garden and create a home theatre or even a home office. An office, in particular, is great because the concept of working from home has never been more popular and, in a post-COVID world, we can expect people and organisations to be more comfortable with the idea than they were before. This new normal is exactly why adding a home office is a great idea.

    Apart from this, you can also create an outdoor seating or dining area. An outdoor seating area is a huge selling point because everyone needs a space to relax in. Even if youre not planning on reselling your home, you can utilise the area to host family and friends for a BBQ.

    Photo, Brett Jordan.

    Build A Porch And Create A Hallway: You can extend the front portion of your house to add a porch that converts into a hallway, which is a great idea when you want to add character to your living space. A porch also provides practical storage space for when you want to keep anything extra. If your house is designed in a way that the front door opens into the living room instead of a hallway, then a porch-cum-hallway is a brilliant design extension idea.

    Extend your Kitchen: One of the most essential areas in your homeif not, the most importantthe kitchen is where the entire family gets together to have a meal. As the heartiest room in the house, this space needs to reflect the mood, too. Apart from this, though, a kitchen extension also yields the greatest return on investment and instantly boosts your homes resale value. Since this area is used so frequently, a bigger kitchen automatically piques any potential buyers interest.

    If you have the budget and an open space, you should consider an enhanced space that includes a lounging area in addition to the kitchen and dining area. You can add bi-fold or sliding doors to create the transition.


    Expand Your Living Room: If you think your living room deserves to be a little more spacious, then you should consider extending it. While you cant exactly create a new room if you just have a couple of meters to spare, you can extend an existing space. You can consider adding a utility room or cloakroom to your living room.

    Photo, Alexandra Lammerink.

    You should also consider adding a glazed extension that gives the impression of a larger room by merging the outside with the inside. You should especially think of building this if your living room overlooks your garden. You can further improve the space by adding colourful trees and plants.

    Create a Sunroom: If youre considering increasing the number of leisure spaces in your house, then look no further than a sunroom. A sunroom is a relaxing space ideal for when you want to host people or want to take a breather and sit down with a book and a cup of coffee. Its especially great for the winter season when you want to experience the outdoors without freezing in the cold.

    Consider a Two-Story Extension: If you have the budget and space, few additions can add as much value as a two-story extension. You can easily enhance your living space by adding a balcony that could extend a bedroom or a living room. You can create an entryway using glass doors and even get additional space by adding a patio or a deck. For a second story, you should ideally get a qualified architect or builder on board to determine whether your homes foundation can bear the extra weight and whether an addition will be applicable to your homes structure.

    A house extension is a tedious process that will ultimately be rewarding. By exploring different ideas and determining what different options you have available with the space and budget you have at hand, you can easily extend your living space and increase your propertys value at the same time.

    Go here to read the rest:
    7 Inspirational House Extension Ideas To Enhance Your Living Space - We Heart

    ‘It’s a tennis family’: Christ Church looks to advance to another state championship – Greenville News - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder


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    When current Christ Church Episcopal School senior girls tennis player Avery Nuckolls was in fifth gradeher older sister, Day Nuckolls, was about to start playing for the Cavaliers' varsity tennis program as a seventh grader.

    Avery Nuckolls has been playing tennis since she was 4-years-old.She has won four state championships as a member of the Cavaliers, and is looking at a run to win Christ Church's fifth straight Class AA state championship this season.

    Even with the success she's experienced, she still remembers wanting to play with her sister as an elementary school student on the Christ Church girls tennis team.

    "I always wanted to be on the team with her," she said.

    As the Cavaliersattemptto win the Class AA Upper State championship against Whitmire, and coach Sherry Adams goes for her 11th state championship in 14 seasons at Christ Church, one thing has been true of the Cavalier program throughout her time at the helm.

    "Its a tennis family," she said of her program. "You can have a lot of good can be a lonely sport for those who only play tournaments, but when they become a part of a team they realize that they have some cheerleaders."

    Christ Church tennis player Mary Cage Carter hits a ball during a Class AA second round playoff matchup against St. Joseph's Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.(Photo: RICHARD SHIRO/Contributor)

    That family extends to players who started playing for the varsity team in middle school, according to current senior Mary Cage Carter.

    Carter is the No. 3singles player for Christ Church andstarted playing for the Cavaliers in seventh grade. She has helped Christ Church win four state titlesand has alwaysfelt welcomed and challenged.

    "I thought that I would be bottom of the ladder, or a practice player (in seventh grade) but at Christ Church no one is a practice player," she said."Coach Adams does a great job of putting us all in to get match experience, and that all pays off when were put into stressful situations like state or playoff matches when things get tight."

    With each passing season, there is turnover and additions in locker rooms where players graduate, transfer in, or start playing in middle school or at the junior varsity level.

    It can make keeping locker room synergy difficult, especially for a program that has won four straight state championships. For Christ Church, it's about making players feeling welcome from the second they come into the program.

    Sarah Allen is the current No. 2 singles player for the Cavaliers as a senior, and is one of three captains along with Carter and Nuckolls.

    Sarah Allen, tennis, Christ Church High School.(Photo: Ken Ruinard/Independent Mail)

    She remembers the nerves of being a young player coming into a program that already had state titles, but also that the older players made her feel like she belonged from day one.

    She views it as her job to do the same to new members of the program.

    "When we came in as seventh graders everyone welcomed us, so thats what were trying to do with the seventh graders or transfers, just make them feel welcome so they can contribute to our team," she said.

    Christ Church has won 73-straight dual matches in the regular season since 2016, and is 14-0 this season.

    In most seasons Adams said the parents and fans have been a big part of supporting the tennis program, but with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting how many fans and parents can attend games the team has had to rely on each other for support.

    Like in seasons past, Adams' players have had to come together to to create team camaraderie.

    "With all our COVID guidelines, we couldnt have spectators for the first three matches so all we had was each other," she said."I think that helped bond the girls together."

    Christ Church hosted St. Joseph's in a girls tennis round 2 playoff match Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.(Photo: RICHARD SHIRO/Contributor)

    Carter said that bond has been strong as the team has battled through the pandemic to get back to another upper state championship match.

    She knows that along with Nuckolls and Allen, she will graduate and leave the program after this season. Christ Church continuing to win state titles is important to all three captains after they leave, so Carter and the other two seniors have tried to make sure they pave the way forward for the players who follow them to continue the Christ Church tradition.

    "As captains we try to make everyone feel like we have an equal connection with them, so when we cheer them on it feels like it matters," she said."We try to be good friends with everyone on the team, and I think that pays off."

    As a Class AA school, Christ Church is in a region with some of the smallest schools in terms of student enrollment in the state.

    In order to prepare for tougher competition later in the season, Christ Church has decided to think bigger in recent years.

    As part of their 14-0 record, the Cavaliers have wins against Class AAAAA opponents J.L. Mann, Spartanburg and T.L. Hanna.

    Adams and the Cavaliers face those opponents each season, and if playersenter the program as middle schoolers they are more than ready for a state championship match by the time they are seniors.

    Even if the matches against larger schools can be intimidating.

    "We want to have the experience for when we play in state. When we play in state the environment is different, we want to be prepared," Carter said."Those arentour favorite matches to play, because theyre normally very hard matches but they prepare us for all those tiebreakers we have to play when we have those very hard matches."

    Christ Church hosted St. Joseph's in a girls tennis round 2 playoff match Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.(Photo: RICHARD SHIRO/Contributor)

    Although some of the players are bigger and stronger, especially when Christ Church players come in as middle schoolers, eventually the task of beating them in the regular season becomes more regular.

    Allen said eventually the matches against Class AAAAA teams in the regular season become the same as state championship matches, Region 1-AA matches or preseason scrimmages.

    "It helps with our nerves, stamina for those long matches," she said of matches against larger schools. "Theres not much intimidation because for me all the matches matter the same and we want to win them."

    For Allen, Nuckolls and Carter, beating Whitmire and advancing to the state championship gives them a chance to do something that would be very special to them: winning a state title in their senior year.

    Seeing the joy of the last four senior class winning a title has had them dreaming of what it would be like to complete their careers at Christ Church with one more championship.

    "Its emotionally different than the other years," Allen said."Were the leaders, its different because its our last year and this is the last time we get the opportunity to play."

    From the time Nuckolls was in elementary school, she had dreamed of being a member of the Christ Church tennis program.

    Christ Church hosted St. Joseph's in a girls tennis round 2 playoff match Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.(Photo: RICHARD SHIRO/Contributor)

    Now that she is a senior, she prepares to face Whitmire in the Class AA Upper State championship game.

    Like her sister Day, who won three state championships for the Cavaliers, she will graduate this season and move on.

    She, along with classmates Allen and Carter, will try to put their stamp on the program for a final time.

    And when they graduate, they know the Christ Church is in a strong place as a tennis program.

    "Its weird that its our last year, the three seniors have talked about how special it would be to win it in our last year," she said."We want it for us, but we want it for our whole team. Weve talked to them about how special state is for us and how we want them to keep working hard to get to that spot. We have really good players who are younger than us so it can easily be done again once we leave."

    Go here to read the rest:
    'It's a tennis family': Christ Church looks to advance to another state championship - Greenville News

    NFL Power Rankings Week 8 – 1-32 poll, plus players who need to step up in 2020 – ESPN - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    As the NFL Power Rankings charge toward midseason, this is a good time for assessment. And this week, it's about identifying who must pick up the slack over the final 10 weeks of the campaign.

    While most of the selections below are individual players, position units and even coaches bear some of this burden.

    How we rank in our Power Rankings: Our power panel -- a group of more than 80 writers, editors and TV personalities -- evaluates how teams stack up throughout the season.

    Previous rankings: 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | Preseason

    Jump to:ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CINCLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | INDJAX | KC | LV | LAC | LAR | MIA | MINNE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SFSEA | TB | TEN | WSH

    Week 7 ranking: 3

    Who needs to step up: S Minkah Fitzpatrick

    Yes, Fitzpatrick had a pick-six against the Browns. But he needs to make splash plays more consistently. The Steelers traded a first-round pick last season for Fitzpatrick, who delivered almost immediately. He has been much quieter this season. His biggest play against the Titans was a holding call that gave Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry a fresh set of downs on the goal line after a would-be stop. Henry scored on the next play. Fitzpatrick also missed a tackle of AJ Brown that led to Brown's 73-yard touchdown. For the defense to play at the level it reached last season, Fitzpatrick needs to have a bigger positive impact on the game. -- Brooke Pryor

    Week 7 ranking: 2

    Who needs to step up: K Harrison Butker

    Butker has missed five extra points, and his PAT rate of 79.2% is the worst in the NFL. It hasn't cost the Chiefs yet, but it's only a matter of time until it does. What's puzzling about this is that Butker has been so good on field goals (93%). He hit two 58-yarders in a Week 2 overtime win versus the Chargers. -- Adam Teicher

    Week 7 ranking: 1

    2 Related

    Who needs to step up: S Jamal Adams

    It's not that Adams has underperformed when he has been on the field. It's that he hasn't been on the field enough, missing the past three games while the Seahawks' defense has been gashed at a historic rate. Adams was arguably their most impactful defender before he hurt his groin in Week 3. Part of his impact was as a pass-rusher: His two sacks remain tied for the team lead as Seattle has only nine sacks total. All the draft capital the Seahawks gave up for Adams will make it difficult to trade for another impact defender before next week's deadline. They need their All-Pro safety to get back on the field and start making plays. -- Brady Henderson

    Week 7 ranking: 4

    Who needs to step up: WR Miles Boykin

    Boykin has failed to step up into the No. 2 wide receiver role for the Ravens, totaling 11 catches for 122 yards (ranking 104th among NFL wideouts). Boykin has struggled to develop any chemistry with Lamar Jackson and his increasing miscommunication with the quarterback has become a hot topic in Baltimore. With defenses loading up the box to stop the run game, Boykin can make teams pay with some big plays on the outside. The Ravens need a third option because teams are focusing their coverages to stop wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. -- Jamison Hensley

    Week 7 ranking: 6

    Who needs to step up: OLB Preston Smith

    Though six games last year, the edge rusher had seven sacks (on his way to a 12-sack season), 12 QB hits and a pass rush win rate of 24.2%. His numbers through six games this year: a half-sack, two QB hits and a PRWR of 15.6%. Smith made a key fourth-down stop on a read-option by Deshaun Watson during Sunday's game, and the Packers' defense needs more of that. -- Rob Demovsky

    Week 7 ranking: 5

    Who needs to step up: OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney

    Winning the Clowney sweepstakes was supposed to push the Titans' defense over the top. Clowney has put some pressure on the quarterback, but the Titans have yet to experience the type of game-wrecking performance that compelled them to sign him. Tennessee is last in opponent third-down percentage (60%). A large part of that percentage is due to the Titans' inability to get pressure on the quarterback. Through six games, the Titans only have six sacks. All of the blame shouldn't fall on Clowney, but he hasn't had the impact that was expected when Tennessee reunited him with Mike Vrabel. -- Turron Davenport


    Max Kellerman finally agrees he was wrong about Tom Brady "falling off a cliff" the past few seasons.

    Week 7 ranking: 7

    Who needs to step up: TE Rob Gronkowski

    I wouldn't say Gronkowski needs to step up as much as I think he needs to continue doing what he has done over the past two weeks -- catching 10 passes for 140 yards and two TDs. He is starting to own the middle of the field and is having success on crossing routes and in the red zone on back-shoulder fades. This is especially important without O.J. Howard (Achilles) and with Mike Evans continuing to recover from an ankle injury. -- Jenna Laine

    Week 7 ranking: 8

    Who needs to step up: LB Tremaine Edmunds

    To his credit, Edmunds has played through a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 1 and caused him to miss the Bills' following game. But when he has been out there, the third-year linebacker hasn't looked like the Pro Bowler we saw last season. His reactions seem slower, he has missed tackles and he has difficulty shedding blocks. Buffalo's defensive struggles represent the team's biggest surprise this season, and if the Bills are going to turn it around in pursuit of an AFC East title, Edmunds needs to lead the charge. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

    Week 7 ranking: 9

    Fantasy fallout: How to sort out Steelers WRs Winfield Jr. relies on Dad's FaceTime calls What to expect from Tua in first start Chiefs like their new RB duo Morris' biggest challenge with 1-5 Falcons

    Who needs to step up: The secondary

    It wouldn't be fair to single out just one player in the Saints' secondary, since every one of them has taken turns with busted coverages or pass interference penalties -- which have become New Orleans' most nagging problem all season. The Saints have now allowed six passes of 48-plus yards in their past four games. And they have just one interception since Week 1. They need cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins to live up to their potential as one of the league's best CB duos, and they need a lot more consistency from the talented safety trio of Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. -- Mike Triplett

    Week 7 ranking: 10

    Who needs to step up: K Samuel Sloman

    It could be too little, too late for Sloman, a seventh-round pick from Miami (Ohio), after the Rams signed veteran Kai Forbath to the active roster from the Bears' practice squad ahead of Week 7. Sloman has lacked consistency, especially on PATs and kickoffs, while his field goal range remains somewhat of a mystery because of the Rams' ability to score touchdowns. A ninth-year pro, Forbath could take over the job at any moment. -- Lindsey Thiry

    Week 7 ranking: 16

    Who needs to step up: RB Chase Edmonds

    Even if Kenyan Drake's ankle injury isn't serious, Edmonds will still need to keep playing like he did during Sunday night's win over the Seahawks. Edmonds gained 145 total yards, had a major impact in overtime and helped kick-start the Cardinals' run game. He showed, yet again, that he can handle whatever is thrown at him. If the Cardinals want to make a run to the playoffs, Edmonds will need to play a significant role. -- Josh Weinfuss

    Week 7 ranking: 11

    Who needs to step up: QB Nick Foles

    Chicago is positioned for a playoff run. The Bears have a championship-caliber defense and a better-than-expected kicker, Cairo Santos, but the offense is suspect. Coach Matt Nagy benched Mitchell Trubisky in favor of Foles to smooth out the rough edges and play a more consistent brand of football. The results have been average. The Bears are winning, but the offense under Foles doesn't look a ton better than it did when Trubisky ran the show. Foles is under pressure to elevate his game. The season hinges on it. -- Jeff Dickerson

    Week 7 ranking: 12

    Who needs to step up: WR T.Y. Hilton

    Hilton is on pace for the least-productive season of his nine-year NFL career. He has 20 receptions for 242 yards and no touchdowns through the first six games. What makes Hilton's lack of production even worse is that the soon-to-be 31-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the season. -- Mike Wells


    Marcus Spears details how big of a loss it is for the Browns that Odell Beckham Jr. will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

    Week 7 ranking: 13

    Who needs to step up: WR Rashard Higgins

    With Odell Beckham Jr. out for the season with a torn ACL, the onus will fall on Higgins to replace him in the lineup. Higgins and QB Baker Mayfield, who also are close friends, have enjoyed a rapport on the field going back to Mayfield's rookie season in 2018. The Browns will need Higgins to be Mayfield's security blanket alongside new No. 1 WR Jarvis Landry if the Browns are to finally snap the league's longest playoff drought, which dates to 2002. -- Jake Trotter

    Week 7 ranking: 17

    Who needs to step up: QB Jimmy Garoppolo

    Over the past two weeks, the 49ers have gotten back to their formula of running the ball, playing good defense and having Garoppolo steer an efficient play-action passing attack. But the schedule is about to get tougher, and the burden is probably going to fall more on Garoppolo to deliver. That means pushing the ball down the field more consistently and taking advantage when opposing defenses stack the box to stop the run. Garoppolo has done it before, but for the Niners to remain in the NFC playoff hunt, they'll likely need him to do it again. -- Nick Wagoner

    Week 7 ranking: 15

    Everything you need this week: Full schedule | Standings Depth charts for every team Transactions | Injuries Football Power Index rankings More NFL coverage

    Who needs to step up: RT Trent Brown

    The enigmatic and highly paid right tackle rarely practiced in training camp due to a cranky calf, played three snaps in the season opener after aggravating the injury and was a force in the Raiders' upset win at Kansas City on Oct. 11. Then he tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and because he was not wearing his tracker in the team facility, the four other starting offensive linemen had to self-quarantine and miss practice the rest of the week before facing a fearsome Tampa Bay defense. Since signing a four-year, $66 million deal with the Raiders, Brown has played 10-plus snaps in just 11 of 22 games. Las Vegas needs a better return on its investment. -- Paul Gutierrez

    Week 7 ranking: 18

    Who needs to step up: TE Ian Thomas

    It would be easy to say the entire defense that just allowed the Saints to convert 12 of 14 third downs and has been horrible on third down all year. But I'm going with Thomas, because in seven games, he has only seven catches for an offense in which he should thrive. Sure, the tight end has been downplayed somewhat in Joe Brady's scheme. But one reason it has been downplayed is the lack of consistent playmaking ability by Thomas. It makes that position a possible target before the trade deadline. -- David Newton


    Ryan Clark breaks down why Cam Newton hasn't turned out to be exactly what the Patriots needed thus far.

    Week 7 ranking: 14

    Who needs to step up: QB Cam Newton

    Would the real Cam Newton please stand up? Is it the QB who electrified New England in the first weeks of the season? Or the struggling QB who hasn't looked the same over his next three games? The contrast is striking. Fewer interceptions and better accuracy and decision-making are where the improvement starts. -- Mike Reiss

    Week 7 ranking: 19

    Who needs to step up: RB Matt Breida

    The Dolphins brought in two veteran running backs this offseason -- Breida and Jordan Howard -- to upgrade their run game, and both have been outplayed by second-year back Myles Gaskin. Breida was brought in for his speed and big-play ability, but he has yet to break an impact play. Over the past four games, he has 21 carries for 56 yards (2.67 yards per carry). With Tua Tagovailoa as the new starting QB, Breida needs to be more of a playmaker. -- Cameron Wolfe

    Week 7 ranking: 21

    Relive the NFL's greatest games, original series and more. Watch on ESPN+

    Who needs to step up: The defense

    Melvin Ingram is back from IR and is the leader of the group. In his absence, the D gave up 17-point leads to Tampa Bay and New Orleans and lost both games. The defense also was in danger Sunday versus the Jaguars, losing a 16-point lead at one point. Justin Herbert might be all that, but if the defense doesn't step up, it won't matter. As Ingram said, "We can't keep making the same mistakes. We come in, we look at each other in the eye as men and say, 'It's got to stop somewhere, so why not today?'" The close losses have to stop, and Herbert can't do it on his own. -- Shelley Smith

    Week 7 ranking: 22

    Who needs to step up: DT Fletcher Cox

    Carson Wentz has picked up his game, so now it's critical for the primary driver on defense to do the same. Cox has 1.5 sacks through seven games, putting him on pace for 3.5 this season -- a far cry from his 10.5-sack campaign in 2018. Cox draws plenty of double-teams and has had his share of impact plays, but big expectations come with an average salary of $17 million and the billing as one of the NFL's best defensive players. With Hassan Ridgeway lost for the season and Malik Jackson dealing with a quad injury, it's as important as ever that Cox sets the tone for a defense that's yielding 28 points per game. -- Tim McManus

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    NFL Power Rankings Week 8 - 1-32 poll, plus players who need to step up in 2020 - ESPN

    The Latest: Virus pushes twin cities El Paso and Juarez to the brink – - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    A record surge in coronavirus cases is pushing hospitals to the brink in the border cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, confronting health officials in Texas and Mexico with twin disasters in the tightly knit metropolitan area of 3 million people.

    Health officials are blaming the spike on family gatherings, multiple generations living in the same household and younger people going out to shop or conduct business.

    The crisis part of a deadly comeback by the virus across nearly the entire U.S. has created one of the most desperate hot spots in North America and underscored how intricately connected the two cities are economically, geographically and culturally, with lots of people routinely going back and forth across the border to shop or visit with family.

    We are like Siamese cities, said Juarez resident Roberto Melgoza Ramos, whose son recovered from a bout of COVID-19 after taking a cocktail of homemade remedies and prescription drugs. You cant cut El Paso without cutting Juarez, and you cant cut Juarez without cutting El Paso.

    In other developments Tuesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, banned indoor dining and drinking in Chicago in one of the biggest retreats yet in the face of the latest surge. And Wisconsins governor pleaded with residents to voluntarily stay home as the state shattered records for daily cases and deaths. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued a stay-at-home order in March, but the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court struck it down two months later.

    In El Paso, authorities have instructed residents to stay home for two weeks and imposed a 10 p.m. curfew, and they are setting up dozens of hospital beds at a convention center.

    Read the full story here.

    Governor bans indoor dining in Chicago as virus cases jump

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Surging COVID-19 cases in Chicago prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday to ban indoor dining and bar services and limit the number of people gathering in one place.

    The rules taking effect Friday will force diners and bar patrons outdoors and shut down service at 11 p.m. No more than 25 people may gather at one time, or fewer if that number would exceed 25 percent of room capacity.

    We cant ignore what is happening around us, because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring, Pritzker said, referring to the start of the pandemic, when health care resources were pushed to the limit because of the overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases.

    Chicago, which comprises Region 11 of the states 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions, joins six other regions subject to what the Pritzker administration calls resurgence mitigations. A day earlier, Pritzker imposed the restrictions on Region 10, Cook County outside of Chicago and Lake County to the north.

    After a summer of declining case numbers Illinois fared better than many other states, particularly in the South and West they began climbing again in August and jumped precipitously this month. There were 4,000 new infections and 46 additional deaths Tuesday, bringing total cases to 382,985 with 9,568 deaths.

    There were 2,758 hospitalized, an 86 percent increase from a month ago, and both intensive care patients at 595 and the 241 on ventilators represented increases in the 70 percent range.

    Other regions which hit the mitigation bar did so when positive rates of COVD-19 test results topped 8 percent for three consecutive days. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state public health director, said the latest additions, Cook County on Monday and Chicago on Tuesday, have seen the troubling rise in numbers of sick people requiring inpatient treatment as well as a jump in positive test results.

    Based on current trends, we soon could face reduced hospital bed availability and overwhelming our health care systems, Ezike said.

    Massachusetts governor says virus surge driven by people under 30

    BOSTON The recent surge in confirmed coronavirus cases in Massachusetts is being driven in large part by an increase among younger people, Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday.

    Whereas 15 percent of new cases in April were among people under age 30, now 37 percent of the new confirmed cases are people in that age group, the Republican governor said at a news conference at which he urged people to stop partying.

    According to our most recent data, about 300 people per day under 30 have contracted COVID-19, have tested positive for it, with about 38,000 people in this age group diagnosed since March, he said.

    More than half the new cases have been traced to social gatherings and household transmission, and there have been more reports of indoor parties as the weather has turned cooler, Baker said. He reminded people that outdoor trick-or-treating on Halloween is much safer than an indoor party.

    To keep case rates down, and help us not only keep people healthy, but also ensure that our hospitals continue to have the capacity they need to serve their patients, our young people need to be serious about dealing with COVID, he said.

    Baker also shed new light on the states decision last week to close indoor skating rinks for two weeks in response to an increase in cases linked to youth hockey games.

    He blamed the closures on irresponsible parents and coaches who didnt cooperate with state contact tracers, including some who refused to supply team rosters.

    Youth hockey needs to make some changes, he said.

    He also urged people to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to members of the same household, or if mixing households, limit the number of guests to as few as possible.

    Canadian Thanksgiving may be cautionary tale for Americans as coronavirus surges

    TORONTO As the holiday season approaches amid a surge in novel coronavirus cases across the country, a Thanksgiving-related spike in Canada may serve as a cautionary tale for the United States.

    Case counts in much of Canada are climbing, even in parts of the country that imposed new autumn restrictions. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, and both provincial and federal officials have pointed to the holiday as a culprit.

    In some areas we are learning that gathering during the Thanksgiving weekend contributed to the elevated case counts we are seeing today, Howard Njoo, Canadas deputy chief public health officer, told reporters Tuesday in Ottawa. Our actions matter.

    Before the holiday, officials advised Canadians to curtail their plans by limiting celebrations to those living under the same roof or moving the party online, but it is not clear how widely the advice was heeded.

    In the United States, where Thanksgiving is held on the fourth Thursday in November, officials issued similar warnings. Last week, the United States hit an all-time high in new coronavirus cases, exceeding 80,000 in a day for the first time.

    In an interview with CBS News earlier this month, the nations leading infectious-disease expert, Anthony Fauci, warned that Thanksgiving events could lead to new cases.

    That is, unfortunately, a risk, when you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting, he said. It is unfortunate, because thats such a sacred part of American tradition.

    But in both Canada and the United States, messaging around how to celebrate has been muddled, with officials at different levels of government offering seemingly conflicting guidance. Ontario Premier Doug Ford described his own holiday plans, then appeared to change them after critics pointed out that they contradicted his own governments advice to celebrate only with those in ones immediate household.

    Canadian officials are now dealing with the aftermath of the holiday. Albertas chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw, said last week that the Thanksgiving-related cases showed how the virus can exploit human interaction.

    Read the full story here.

    Birx says Bismarck, N.D. has worst virus protocols shes ever seen

    WASHINGTON The White House coronavirus response coordinator says North Dakotas capital city had the worst COVID-19 protocols shes seen in her travels around the country.

    Dr. Deborah Birx, whose tour has taken her to nearly 40 states, says she found the absence of face coverings and the lack of social distancing in Bismarck deeply unfortunate and a danger to public health.

    North Dakota continues to rank first in the country for virus cases per capita in the last two weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project. The Bismarck area has in recent months been a hot spot.

    North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has not ordered a statewide mask mandate, instead urging people to wear masks out of personal responsibility and care for others.

    Burgum says he and Birx have been in complete agreement since the beginning of this, local media reported.

    Russia imposes nationwide mask requirement

    MOSCOW Russian authorities on Tuesday have issued a nationwide mask requirement amid a rapid resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak.

    Health authorities registered 16,550 new cases and 320 deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily death toll since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Russias public health agency, Rospotrebnadzor, ordered all Russians to wear masks in crowded public spaces, on public transport, in taxis, at parking lots and in elevators starting on Wednesday. The agency also recommended regional authorities put a curfew on entertainment events, cafes, restaurants and bars from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

    Russia has the worlds fourth-largest tally of more than 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases. The governments coronavirus task force has been reporting more than 15,000 new infections every day since last Sunday, which is much higher than in the spring.

    In total, Russia has reported more than 26,000 virus-related deaths.

    Despite the sharp spike in daily new infections, Russian authorities have repeatedly dismissed the idea of imposing a second national lockdown or shutting down businesses. Most virus-related restrictions were lifted during the summer.

    Czech Republic average cases double in 2 weeks

    PRAGUE The Czech government is asking the Parliament to approve its plan to extend a state of emergency it declared a month.

    Prime Minister Andrej Babis says the measure is needed to protect the health and lives of the citizens. The Parliament is expected to take a vote on the request to extend the state of emergency until Dec 3.

    The rolling average of daily cases has risen in the past two weeks from 48 per 100,000 people on Oct. 12 to 115 on Monday.

    Starting on Wednesday, the government is imposing more regulations, including nationwide curfew from 9 p.m. 5 a.m. All stores must close on Sundays. Employees in state and private companies are recommended to work from home. The government says it wont reopen elementary schools as planned on Monday because the rising infections.

    The Czech Republic has 268,370 cases, about a third registered in the last week. There are 5,613 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

    The nation recorded 2,365 deaths since March, with 748 confirmed in the last week.

    New Yorks public university system requiring students test negative before they can go home for Thanksgiving

    ALBANY, N.Y. New Yorks public university system is requiring students to test negative for the coronavirus before they can leave for Thanksgiving break in hopes of preventing community spread back home.

    State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras told The Associated Press that the systems 64 colleges and universities must have plans by Nov. 5 to test about 140,000 students within 10 days before Thanksgiving break.

    SUNY has planned to transition most colleges and universities to remote learning after Thanksgiving. SUNY will require colleges to isolate or quarantine any residential student who tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to COVID-19 in the 14 days before Thanksgiving break.

    Tehran hits record high virus deaths

    TEHRAN Iran has reached another single-day record with 346 deaths. That brings the countrys total virus deaths to 33,299, the highest coronavirus toll in the Mideast.

    Iran Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari says daily coronavirus cases have also hit a record, with 6,968 reported. That brings Irans total number of infections to 581,824.

    She says 4,995 COVID-19 patients are in serious condition.

    Canary Islands to require negative tests for tourists

    MADRID Spains Canary Islands aim to pass a law this week demanding a negative COVID-19 test result from tourists wanting to visit the archipelago off northwest Africa.

    Canary Islands President ngel Vctor Torres says the measure will apply to both Spaniards and foreigners. New infections have been soaring across Spain except for the Canary Islands, a popular tourist destination that is 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) southwest of Madrid.

    He said the law was being prepared even before the U.K. and Germany recently lifted travel restrictions to the Canary Islands. Those two countries account for more than half the archipelagos 13 million annual visitors.

    Any tourist without a certified document confirming a negative test result between 48 and 72 hours before their arrival wont be allowed inside any accommodations on the island. The visitor will be asked to go to a local testing center at their own expense.

    Officials in the Canary Islands have officially recorded almost 17,000 cases of coronavirus and 272 deaths.

    French hospitals filling up with virus patients

    PARIS The French government is warning of possible new lockdowns as hospitals fill up wit COVID-19 patients and doctors plead for backup.

    President Emmanuel Macron is convening top ministers and Prime Minister Jean Castex is meeting with lawmakers, unions and business lobbies as the government weighs its next steps in the fight against surging infections. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told France-Inter radio that we should expect difficult decisions.

    Among possible new measures for the hardest-hit areas are lengthening existing curfews, full confinement on weekends or all week and closing non-essential businesses.

    Doctors describe growing pressure on emergency services and intensive care wards, where COVID-19 patients take up 54 percent of beds nationwide.

    France is reporting more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people each week, and nearly 18 percent of tests are positive. It has reported Europes third-highest virus death toll, at more than 35,000 lives lost.

    Kentucky governor urges residents to take stricter steps to curb infections

    FRANKFORT, Ky. Kentuckys governor is urging people in the states counties hit hardest by the pandemic to take stricter steps to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

    Gov. Andy Beshear stressed Monday that he is only offering recommendations not mandates.

    Beshear says people should avoid hosting or attending gatherings of any size. He says employers should allow employees to work from home when possible, and noncritical government offices should operate virtually. Also, he says, in-person shopping should be reduced, with people opting to order online for pickup.

    The recommendations are aimed at the 55 counties nearly half of all Kentucky counties with the highest infection rates. Those counties have a daily average of at least 25 new virus cases per 100,000 residents.

    Mississippi governor expands mask mandate

    JACKSON, Miss. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is expanding a mask mandate to seven additional counties to try to control the spread of the coronavirus as cases increase rapidly in some areas.

    His new order takes effect Wednesday and lasts until at least Nov. 11.

    Sixteen of Mississippis 82 counties will require people to wear face coverings when they are indoors away from their homes. Social gatherings in those 16 counties also will be limited to 10 people indoors or 50 people outdoors.

    Reeves says the restrictions are in counties that have had at least 200 confirmed virus cases or at least 500 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents during a recent two-week period.

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    The Latest: Virus pushes twin cities El Paso and Juarez to the brink -

    Blood of Zeus Season 2 Release Date on Netflix, Will New Season Air in 2021? – The Cinemaholic - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Created by Charley and Vlas Parlapanides in collaboration with Powerhouse Animation Studios, the production house behind Castlevania, Blood of Zeus tells the story of a young man named Heron, who grows up believing that he is a bastard. But when the world faces an unprecedented danger, his real identity is revealed. He is the son of none other than the king of the gods himself, Zeus. Heron subsequently embarks on an incredible journey.

    He completes quests, acquires magical and divine weapons, and fights an even more diverse set of monsters than what originally is in Greek mythology. The series has an ensemble voice cast, including Derek Phillips as Heron, Jessica Henwick as Alexia, Claudia Christian as Hera, Elias Toufexis as Seraphim, and Jason OMara as Zeus. If you are already done binging the first season and are wondering about Blood of Zeus season 2, this is the article for you.

    Blood of Zeus season 1 premiered on October 27, 2020, on Netflix. It consists of eight episodes, with a runtime of 25-37 minutes each.

    As for Blood of Zeus season 2, here is what we know. Greek mythology is arguably the most influential collection of stories, poems, and legends in the history of human civilization. In the past few millennia, it has served as the source of inspiration for countless works of literature, art, entertainment, and music. Blood of Zeus is one of the latest additions to this astounding legacy.

    Time and again, Netflix has shown that they are willing to invest in good animated content. Considering how incredibly well-made the inaugural season of Blood of Zeus is and the rave reviews it has been receiving, it is only a matter of time before Netflix renews the series. Once that happens, we expect Blood of Zeus season 2 to release sometime in late 2021.

    Although Heron didnt know it, his divine father has been on his side since he was very young, disguised as an old man who took care of him and his mother. But when he finally learns who he is, it puts him and his mother on the receiving end of the wrath of Zeus wife, Hera. In the season finale, Zeus and the gods belonging to his faction prepares for war along with Heron and his friends. Elsewhere, Hera releases the giants from their watery prison and gains control over them.

    During the battle, Heron manages to pull the cauldron out of Heras protection, which leads to giants attacking her. Zeus uses all of his energy to save his wife. Heron fights his half-twin through his mother, Seraphim, and when his fathers powers manifest in him, he emerges victorious. He then reverses the spell on the cauldron, pulling all the energies of the giants back inside it. The series ends with Heron in Olympus and Seraphim in Hades. The latter is approached by the titular god, who tells him that he can have an easy life in his realm if he kneels before him, making Seraphim realize that the gods arent done with him.

    With the introduction of Hades this late in the season, there is a possibility that he might serve as the primary antagonist of the next. We might see a very different Hera in season 2, someone who is kinder and less conniving. There are hints about a romantic relationship between Heron and Alexia sprinkled throughout the first season. In the second, it might get some screen time. Season 2 might also focus on how Heron is getting used to the powers he inherited from his father.

    Read More:Netflixs Blood of Zeus Ending, Explained

    Continue reading here:
    Blood of Zeus Season 2 Release Date on Netflix, Will New Season Air in 2021? - The Cinemaholic

    Neighbor alleges Bill Gross blared Gilligan’s Island theme – Los Angeles Times - October 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    A dispute between bond king Bill Gross and his next-door neighbor over a $1-million outdoor sculpture has devolved into police calls to their Laguna Beach mansions, multiple legal actions and allegations that the billionaire investor blared the Gilligans Island theme song on a loop at all hours to annoy his neighbor.

    The Pimco co-founder and his partner, former professional tennis player Amy Schwartz, are being accused by tech entrepreneur Mark Towfiq and his wife of harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The cause? A 22-foot-long blue glass installation and an even bigger pole and netting structure erected to protect it that Towfiq said blocked his view, prompting a complaint to the city.

    The netting over the Dale Chihuly sculpture that Bill Gross and his partner installed, as seen from his neighbors home.

    (Mark Towfiq)

    Its another in a long line of bitter quarrels between well-to-do neighbors in Southern Californias most expensive neighborhoods, who sometimes find that with a coveted address comes deep-pocketed adversaries and little peace of mind.

    At issue this time is an artwork that can be lighted at night and features cobalt-colored reeds stretching nearly 10 feet in height, swimming marlin and globes inspired by traditional blown-glass Japanese fishing floats. It was created by Dale Chihuly, an artist whose striking blown-glass work adorns the ceiling of the Bellagio hotels lobby in Las Vegas.

    The lawn sculpture was installed in 2019 and in itself appeared not to foment any trouble. The dispute began when Gross and Schwartz installed netting this year to protect the work after it was damaged, according to legal filings and city records.

    Gross and Schwartz in a lawsuit say more than $50,000 damage, apparently caused by a thrown rock, is evidence of an escalating campaign of vandalism; Towfiq and his wife say it was probably damaged by something falling on it.

    Redacted emails released to The Times by the city of Laguna Beach indicated someone associated with Gross and Schwartz told a code enforcement officer the netting was temporary and was needed to protect the sculpture from trees and mother nature, and that a palm frond caused $100,000 in damage.

    Towfiq and his wife, Carol Nakahara, in their lawsuit say the netting was at first removed intermittently but later remained up, with Gross and Schwartz avoiding attempts to resolve the problem. That prompted Towfiq to call the city, which inspected the property and sent Gross a letter July 28 informing him that the netting, lighting and sculpture lacked the proper permits.

    The quarrel has escalated since then.

    VIDEO | 01:01

    Neighbor alleges bond investor Bill Gross played Gilligans Island theme on loop

    What started as a fight over lawn art in Laguna Beach escalated into complaints that bond investor Bill Gross was playing music -- including the Gilligans Island theme song -- so loud it could be heard in his neighbors home.

    The neighbors lawsuit accuses the billionaire and his partner of playing blaring music at all hours, including the Gilligans Island theme song, rap and pop, in an effort to force him to drop the complaint. The couple say they have had to take refuge twice either with relatives or in a hotel room. In an application for a temporary restraining order filed Oct. 15, which was granted, Towfiq cites a text message allegedly sent to him by Gross after he asked the music to be turned down: Peace on all fronts or well [sic] just have nightly concerts big boy.

    Defendant William Gross is a 76-year-old billionaire used to getting his way no matter what. As proven by their behavior here, Gross and his decades-younger-girlfriend, defendant Amy Schwartz, are bullies, states the Superior Court lawsuit filed by Towfiq and his wife.

    Gross and Schwartz, 51, actually beat their neighbors to the courthouse, filing their own lawsuit Oct. 13 and accusing Towfiq of developing an obsession with them, which included installing cameras directed at their property and peeping tom behaviors. In a request for a temporary restraining order filed last week that is pending, Gross said he had played music since moving into the property and felt trapped in my own home.

    Defendant Towfiq appears to have a particular fascination not only with Mr. Gross but also Ms. Schwartz, particularly when the pair are swimming and thus wearing minimal, if any, clothing, states the lawsuit, which accuses Towfiq of invasion of privacy, among other causes of action.

    Towfiq, in his temporary restraining order application, said that after Gross and Schwartz complained to a police officer that he had inappropriately recorded them, he told the officer he made the videos on his property and only to record their harassing noise violations and the intrusiveness of their unpermitted additions.

    Schwartz issued a statement that the dispute was very upsetting to her because the sculpture, with its assorted blue pieces, was bought for her by Gross because her mother was ill.

    Since I have no children of my own, they are like my babies. My mother, who has Alzheimers, and I pray to them and she enjoys looking at them because its her favorite color and makes her smile, she said in the statement.

    Schwartz also said she and Gross were the best neighbors since they were at the house only about five days a month, for five months a year. She added that the noise from the nearby highway and ocean were a lot louder than their music.

    Towfiq and his wife allege in their lawsuit that the harassment escalated to the point this month that loud music was played even when Gross and Schwartz were not home, apparently controlling their sound system remotely.

    Neighborly disputes in Southern Californias wealthiest corners dont only involve celebrities and entertainers, such as Jim Belushi and Justin Bieber sometimes they include business leaders too.

    One highly publicized case in 2017 ensnared KB Home Chief Executive Jeffrey Mezger, accused by Bel-Air neighbor and comedian Kathy Griffin of an obscene rant caught on tape over an allegedly noisy backyard party. The KB Home board announced it would dock his year-end bonus.

    Nobody is docking Gross pay no matter what the outcome of this dispute. The bond investor retired last year and is worth an estimated $1.5 billion, according to Forbes. He made his vast fortune at Pimco, the Newport Beach bond house he co-founded in 1971 but left in an acrimonious 2014 split as returns fell and investors left.

    Pimco co-founder Bill Gross speaks at an event.

    (Tim Boyle / Bloomberg News)

    Gross sued and accused a cabal of Pimco executives of pushing him out because of their lust for power, greed and a desire to improve their own financial position, while Pimco called Gross an abusive and disruptive force. The two sides reached a 2017 settlement that paid Gross family foundation $81 million, with the firm agreeing to honor its co-founder with various gestures, including creating an award that recognized his long history of philanthropy. Gross contributed $19 million to the foundation as part of the settlement, and this year signed the Giving Pledge, which requires signatories to give away the majority of their wealth.

    Around the same time, he went through an acrimonious divorce from his second wife, with both sides obtaining restraining orders and Sue Gross accusing him of turning over a separate Laguna Beach home to her in utter chaos and disrepair, including infusing it with puke and fart smells dispensed from spray bottles. In a mea culpa, Gross admitted in a Financial Times interview last year that he bought the spray at a drugstore and wasnt even sure why he did it, though he alluded to the strain of a divorce that had gotten very ugly.

    Towfiq, 56, an Orange County businessman who owned a data center operator, is no stranger to defending his property rights in court. He bought the South Coast Highway property in 2009 hoping to build his dream home in the exclusive Rockledge neighborhood. But he first had to endure a protracted legal battle with a neighbor who opposed the project, citing its proximity, effect on coastal access and other issues. The neighbor tried to get the City Council and California Coastal Commission to stop the project and took legal action, but Towfiq ultimately prevailed.

    The home also raised eyebrows because of its design by prominent modernist architect Mark Singer. After it was completed, though, the home with its spectacular views, 2,000-square-foot covered patio and infinity edge pool received a glowing write-up in the Orange County Register. The paper lauded Singer, who died in 2015, for creating structures that harmonized with nature while at the same time making a bold, contemporary claim to the space they occupy.

    The Dale Chihuly sculpture with protective netting on the property of Bill Gross and his partner, lighted up in the evening and seen from his neighbors home.

    (Mark Towfiq)

    Gross made his own news when the Register reported in 2018 he had picked up the property next door for $32 million, just a month after buying another seaside Laguna Beach property for nearly $36 million. A spokesman said he jointly owned the Rockledge property with Schwartz.

    The 10,000-square-foot home, dubbed Rockledge-by-the-Sea, features a nearly 3,000-square-foot master suite, gym, wine-display room and commercial-grade elevator, according to the paper. Gross has other museum-quality art inside and outside the mansion, including one of Robert Indianas famous Love statues.

    A hearing on Towfiqs request to convert the temporary restraining order into a lengthier civil harassment order is set for Nov. 2. Meanwhile, Gross has been given an extension until Nov. 16 to seek the proper permits, which a spokesman said were being pursued.

    Neither Towfiq nor Gross agreed to be interviewed, according to their representatives.

    Read more from the original source:
    Neighbor alleges Bill Gross blared Gilligan's Island theme - Los Angeles Times

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