Sunday
November 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2286



is it really "game day" if you don't have a quarterback?


This afternoon in Denver, the Broncos will attempt to do something the Ravens did from, oh, roughly 1999 through 2006.

They'll attempt to play a meaningful NFL football game without a real starting quarterback.

"Thank you, friends. I'll be here for the next three nights. Two shows, 7 pm and 10 pm. Drinks are $1.00 more at the late show."

Not funny?

Sorry. But it's true, sort of. Some folks will argue that Steve McNair was "quality" during his brief two-year stint and I'd counter by saying, "He was kind of washed up by the time he got here, but he was so much better than everyone else the Ravens employed from '99 through '04 that he looked like the second coming of Joe Montana, even in his mostly-delapidated state."

With Drew Lock and the three other Denver QB's on the team's Covid-19 list, the Broncos will play today's game vs. New Orleans without a quarterback.

But this isn't about the Ravens. It's about the Broncos, who apparently are going to play the Saints today without a real quarterback under center. All four of their roster QB's -- including a practice squad guy -- were ruled out of the game due to Covid-19 contact. And yet, even without a quarterback, the NFL is going to make them play today's game.

How they'll handle this issue is anyone's guess. They do have a practice-squad wide receiver on their roster who played sparingly at quarterback while he was at Wake Forest. He might get the nod. Or they might just use a running back in a wildcat formation for the entire game and hope they never face 3rd and 15. Whatever Denver decides to do, they're going to get clobbered and the whole thing will be an embarrassment.

I know what you're thinking and I don't blame you: How do I get a money-line wager on the Broncos this afternoon? Just in case......

The reality is, though, this was always bound to happen at some point in the NFL season, particularly with every team getting hit -- at some point -- by positive Covid-19 tests in the 2020 season.

Perhaps sometime this morning the league will wake up and postpone today's game in Denver, but the Saints arrived there last night and as of 6:30 am this morning, all systems were go for the game to be played. And if the league is fine with Denver playing despite not having a quarterback, it would appear they're going to be fine with the Ravens going up to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night despite having 18 players on their Covid-19 list and unavailable to play against the Steelers.

The Ravens, literally, have three defensive linemen available for Tuesday's game. Three.

They have a quarterback (Robert Griffin III), but no one to back him up, unless Trace McSorley comes off the Covid-19 list by Tuesday.

They do have two running backs; Justice Hill and Gus Edwards.

And they have their full array of wide receivers available, so that's good. (Editor's note: This is where we could make a quip about the wide receivers not being on the Covid-19 list because, well, you know, they can't catch anything. But that would be in poor taste. So we'll leave that one out of today's edition of #DMD. Besides, Willie Snead can catch.)

The issue with the Ravens isn't the 18 players they won't have at their disposal on Tuesday night, assuming the game gets played. The issue is Covid-19 and the Ravens still turning up positive tests every day for the last six days. They can't go a day without having to put someone on the Reserve-Covid 19 list. The Steelers placed running back James Conner on their list yesterday after he tested positive, giving them four players on the list over the last two days.

The NFL planned for this sort of thing to happen, by the way.

They said a month ago if things got really bad, they would just add an 18th week to the schedule, bump the start of the playoffs back a week and eliminate the "dead week" between the conference championships and Super Bowl, and roll on like nothing ever happened. In that scenario, they'd also add an 8th playoff time in each conference.

That option still exists, of course, but the only way the league would do that, in all likelihood, would be if there was some sort of league-wide Covid-19 outbreak where half of the 32 teams were facing some sort of Ravens-like roster decimation. If they can get by with just the Broncos and Ravens getting beat 40-3 and the schedule stays intact, it would appear they'd prefer that kind of scenario to play o ut rather than adding the 18th week.

There's also the thought that perhaps the NFL should take a hiatus, say for two or three weeks, and try and get all of the teams "back on track", Covid-19 wise. Two options present themselves under that scenario. Just bump the Super Bowl back two weeks and resume the regular season in mid-December and play out the 16-game schedule as you normally would. Or, take a couple of weeks off and perhaps try and reconfigure the schedule so that every team only plays 13 or 14 regular season games but everyone has to play their six divisional games.

Or, you can just truck along as is and keep on keeping on, realizing that teams and seasons (and jobs, potentially) will be impacted along the way and whatever happens, happens. In golf, they call a case of bad luck "rub of the green." Maybe the NFL could adopt that slogan for its 2020 highlight film. "Rub of the green (field)".

Anyway, it's a mess. No one is really surprised by this, but it's still a mess. The Ravens might play a game on Tuesday with 35 players on their bench. The Broncos are apparently going to play a game today without a quarterback. And the best part is...things might even get crazier over the last month of the regular season.

Is that even possible?


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about that female kicker...


I didn't see any of the Vanderbilt-Missouri football game yesterday, so when I caught the news via social media that Sarah Fuller became the first female to ever play in a Power 5 football game, I was big-time-intrigued.

Even the headline snagged me and I hit "read more" to see how it all played out: Fuller is first woman to play in Power 5 football game.

With this kick to open the second half yesterday, Sarah Fuller became the first female to play in a Power 5 college football game, but her Vanderbilt team lost 41-0 at Missouri and Fuller didn't factor in the box score.

I had seen a "made for social media" clip of her kicking a field goal at Vanderbilt's practice on Friday and thought, "She looks legit. Great technique." Fuller is the goalkeeper on Vanderbilt's women's soccer team, by the way, so kicking is a very natural athletic move for her.

Anyway, when I saw the headline yesterday, I was immediately intrigued. How far was the field goal attempt? Did she make it? Miss it badly? Did she make 2 of 2 kicks? 3 of 3? So I dove into the article, excited to see what had transpired.

I was left disappointed. And confused.

Fuller did play in the game. That much was true. But it was also only "technically" true. Her college football experience turned out to be a squib kick to start the second half. Apparently the Vanderbilt coaching staff was comfortable with having her only deliver that kind of kick because -- their words -- "it resembled a low kick in soccer" (not really, but that's what the football coaches said...).

They also said that Fuller was only going to attempt a field goal if they were at the 15 yard line or closer. It also turns out the social media clip we all saw on Friday was of her making a kick from 24 yards at the Vanderbilt practice facility.

As fate would have it, Vanderbilt got smashed in yesterday's game, 41-0, and only had one remote opportunity for a field goal and that would have been a 50-yar attempt early in the 4th quarter, which they obviously didn't see Fuller making, so they didn't even send her out there to try it.

So Sarah Fuller did, in fact, play in a Power 5 football game yesterday. That much was true. And good for her. Who knows, maybe someday my now-10-year-old-daughter follows in her footsteps and kicks in a college football game as well. That would be awesome.

But what would really be cool would be to someday see a female kicker actually be a real kicker and get on a roster and then kick in games and be really good at it. I totally understand that Sarah Fuller was a "call-up" because Vanderbilt had Covid-19 issues on their roster and Fuller was available because Vanderbilt's women's soccer season is still going on and she was on campus over the holiday weekend.

That said, I thought she was a "real kicker". I was clearly at fault for not reading more, but I didn't think she was a novelty. I thought she would kick-off, attempt field goals and so forth. And maybe she would have done all of that had Vanderbilt not lost 41-0.

But what I hope we see, someday soon, is a female kicker who is really a female kicker and goes out there and shows that women can kick just as well as men. I do think it would be an awesome story for a female to kick in a Power 5 game.

I thought that's what we were getting yesterday, but instead, we got a headline, a highlight package, a goofy squib kick and only a small glimpse of the possibilities that exist for females who want to play college football.

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#dmd comments








KJ     November 29
@LM You kidding right? Clearly @Billy talking about Drew's former boss, sheesh

Delray Rick     November 29
HOWARD..In EUROPE at the time. Listen on the radio.


Howard     November 29
The Matte qb game vs Green Bay was in 1965, the year before the Super Bowl. The ref who blew the call on Don Chandler’s field goal was none other than Jim Tunney.

Matte wore a wristband so he could call plays.

Although the Colts did not get a chance to avenge their loss to the Browns from the year before in the championship game, they did go on to demolish the Cowboys in the Runner-Up Bowl by a score of 35-3.

LM     November 29
@Billy, Who are u talking about? Name some names.

Adam Porrell     November 29
I didn't know about the Vanderbilt kicker until last night but I guess I have the same questions as @DF. Why didn't she just kick the ball into the end zone? Why squib the ball to start the 2nd half?

Billy     November 29
Shocking that the rest of the NFL just going on as if nothing has happened while some local media members melting down about how they predicted this chaos all along! The upside of being #positive I suppose lol.

Barry Holtby     November 29
That Vandy kicker is thicker than a bowl of Mom's oatmeal.

MJN     November 29
I agree that your use of the word "novelty" was being kind, but then again, that was one heck of a squib she hit. It was perfect. Not many kickers can pull that off in their first game! lol

TJ     November 29
I love @Herman's subtle little dig the lady kicker for Vandy.

"Inspiration of a woman in full pads looking every bit the worthy athlete."

Funny stuff!

Frank     November 29
Spot on about the lady kicker. Great column Drew!

James - Dundak     November 29
Tyler Huntley a Lamar Clone will be RG111 backup

Delray RICK     November 29
The RAVENS game should be canceled cause 18 players out! Down here in the sunshine state a restaurant "DUFFYS" has sports pictures on all the walls.And one is a huge picture of JOHNNY U in black and white ready to throw against the GIANTS in 58. CLASSIC!!

Eric     November 29
M Andrews just tested positive so make it 19

Steve from Cape Coral     November 29
She certainly fills out the bottom part of her uniform nicely !!!

Marc Serio     November 29
Calling Ms. Fuller a "novelty" was being kind. Publicity stunt more like it. But anything goes in a pandemic.

unitastoberry     November 29
The Broncos need a Tom Matte moment. For all you youngins look it up.The B Colts should have been in SB1 with a running back playing qb. But some ref botched a field goal call. The league never admitted it but the goal posts where raised the next season to where they are now and 2 refs positioned underneath not just 1.

HERMAN     November 29
The photo of Ms. Fuller with her arms extended, leg back, foot planted, should be inspirational to generations of women to come. I hope Nike or some other company creates a poster of the photo as a give-away that can occupy bedroom walls across the country.

As a kid I recall a photo of John Unitas, left arm extended straight out, hand flat and pointing skyward, his right arm perfectly cocked as blockers held all at bay around him. I'm sure that photo inspired kids everywhere to dream.

Game results will be lost to memory but the inspiration of a woman in full pads looking every bit the worthy athlete ready to strike the ball skyward will reverberate for generations.

That she was also extremely bright, lit the field with her smile, and had an infectiously positive attitude in interviews afterward was all icing on the cake.

Delray rick     November 28
You is wrong again

..

James - Dundak     November 28
Saturday Afternoon Fluker, Ferguson , Washington, Dorsey,Holden added to Covid list. They aint playin Tuesday

Delray Rick     November 28
Sounds like PITTSBURGH relising COV19 names. Is this game going to be played?

Jeff P.     November 28
Sanders not only failed to disclose his symptoms he then held a team weight lifting session.

CJ     November 28
@Rob, he had Covid symptoms and didn't report them and them on the morning employee survey.

Steve from Cape Coral     November 28
If I made Goodell's money NOTHING would keep me up at night !!!

Rob Really     November 28
Again, “...protocol failure by a team staffer...”. What exactly does it mean??

J.W.     November 28
I have a friend who works at the facility and he says more than one person was suspended by the team.

Tom     November 28
I think we all know "Delray Rick" isn't a deep thinker based on his writing skills, so I'll be the one to mention that the Ravens never said who it was that they disciplined. They just said "an employee". If I'm Drew, I'm also careful not to mention any names unless the team publicly confirms who they disciplined.

As for the forfeit, I also see the merit in it if it's the difference between adding a week on to the regular season. I don't think it would ever happen but I see where Goodell could use it and justify it as well.

Best case scenario would be for Ravens to wiggle out of this Tuesday's game and tack it on to early January.

unitastoberry     November 28
I just read where Jack Dawson died of covid. He was one of the three big tv sports journalists for me growing up in the hay day of the Colts and Orioles. Great memories of him and sympathies to his family. Had no idea he had a degree in chemisty from Hopkins and taught school. Well done sir. RIP

Delray rick     November 28
The RAVENS strength coach name is on the internet.DUH! Don't tell anyone.

George     November 28
@DF -- Do you remember Boy-Boy Moutang?

Dan P.     November 27
Wow Drew, you hit that one right on the nose! Ravens-Steelers is Tuesday and Ravens-Cowboys is next Monday. Good work!!

Delray Rick     November 27
Read interview on TOM WEISKOPF. HE said best golfers ever,HOGAN,SNEAD,JACK and TREVINO with not hard to believe HOGAN 5he best ever.

Delray Rick     November 27
BRIEN....Since you are not there,you don't know.Ya know.

Brien Jackson     November 27
I dunno, I'm a little bit skeptical that one coach is single handedly responsible for a team wide outbreak. I mean you look at multiple Steelers having a social media meltdown about how unfair it is that they weren't exposed to a team with a not yet controlled outbreak last night and I'm not sure I buy that players and coaches are really being that vigorous in observing protocols, ya know?

kevin     November 27
Would be nice to know if this guy routinely did not wear a mask or if this was a one time thing at the worst time. Kinda like a football game itself, do everything right for 59 plays but lose the game on the 60th.

If he was showing symptoms, even minor ones, it would be one thing not to self-report, quite another to combine that with not wearing a mask around others while symptomatic.

Regardless, not sure how anyone can put this on Harbaugh. I get the coach is "in charge" but expecting him personally to monitor every single person in the building, and deal with all the x's and o's of coaching the team on the field, that's just hating to hate.

Kinda like what Stillers fans are doing now.

Although as Drew pointed out, there'd be some Ravens fans doing the exact same thing, we all know this (see Matt Skura). Thankfully on both sides, it is simply a vocal lunatic fringe.




HERMAN     November 27
At 6-4 this is as bad a news as possible for the team. The entire season hangs in the balance and it certainly doesn't look promising.

My own view on the biggest difference between this year and last is that we went into this season with a suspect and substandard offensive line and then lost the two best players on that line. The center that can snap gets pushed into the backfield 3 yards every play, the center that can't snap can hold his own but is a fumble waiting to happen every sixth play.

Lamar can't be all world without blockers.

Rob Really     November 27
Can someone explain in clear, unambiguous words, exactly how the unnamed Ravens strength and conditioning coach violated COVID protocols?

Steve from Cape Coral     November 27
I'm sorry but, you can't suspend the coach, he needs to be FIRED immediately !!! The NFL should suspend this guy from working for any other team for a year. I can only fathom how much money the NFL and Las Vegas has lost because of this clown !!! That person has a boss and whoever that is needs to be suspended because they let this happen.

Steve of Pimlico     November 27
@Umitus to Berry They were definitely the Greatest Generation.After all they went thru that's why they did all they could for us Boomers.We have become a soft and spoiled people

unitastoberry     November 27
"It was announced on Thursday that the Ravens have suspended a strength and conditioning coach who was apparently in violation of strict Covid-19 protocols while conducting a weight training session late last week."



Covid aside has anyone seen any strength and conditioning on the field the last month or so? The league can just take a collective week or so off because after Thanksgiving cases are really going to soar. The things I am hearing coming out of Pittsburgh players and fans are really disgusting but then the only fans worse than they are live in Philly.


Delray Rick     November 27
NOW ITS...Wait til next year!!!

Kevin Cha     November 26
Interested in hearing more about “player safety”- Ravens have failed on many levels- time to look inward on how they DONT manage Covid and now have created a national story for what i can only assume is negligence.

Delray Rick     November 26
Just finish 18. 81 here and smell PUMPKIN PIE.

Delray Rick     November 26
Just finish 18. 81 and sunny. I think I smell a PUMPKIN PIE.

KJ     November 26
I am thankful for @Herman, the great equalizer! Balance is good.

HERMAN     November 26
No need to take a swipe at Florida, living in south Florida is fantastic. It's like living on full time vacation even when you are working for a living. If the cost of living on a Florida island near the beach is missing the Fall colors I'll take 82 and sunshine.

My best to all who visit here, even the misguided SOD.

Gut one out Ravens, take down the hated Squealers.

Pittsburgh tears are the best reason they already have a towel in hand.

edward     November 26
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all stay safe and be thankful for all you have and Drew thank you for you and your wonderful moral character you are a inspiration to us all

unitastoberry     November 26
My mother and father where born during WW1 and the Spanish Flu and grew up in the great depression where they ate potatoes 3 times a day in various ways and only got fresh veggies in the summer. When they got out of high school there was another world war waiting for them. Oh and no penicillin until 1947 or so. They managed to dodge all of lifes bullets in an era where people where dying and getting killed left and right all around them. My dad had friends who's bodies where never found on various battlefields in the Pacific and Europe. My mom always said hell is right here on earth and the older I get I agree with that.

But there is always light that shines thru. Today we celebrate that light and give thanks to our creator no matter what happens in our mortal lives because he is the good in the universe. Happy Thanksgiving. PS stay off social media except for DMD.

Greg Parker     November 25
Francis Chan is awesome!! Just wanted to say that.

Billy     November 25
Who wants to tell "JerryH" that Jesus was a teacher?

Kevin Cha     November 25
Heres what i would tel my team- wash your hands, wear the mask, distance- and make first downs. Looks like Ravens are losing players to Covid more than most so gotta question what org aint doing for “player safety”.

Saturday
November 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2285



saturday nuggets


So now it's set. Well, sort of. For today, anyway.

The Ravens-Steelers game will not be played on Sunday, but instead will take place on Tuesday evening in Pittsburgh (8 pm). That news came on the heels of only one more positive Covid-19 test in Ravens camp -- offensive guard/tackle Will Holden -- and three Steelers getting placed on the Reserve-Covid 19 list yesterday.

With that game now slated for Tuesday, the Ravens-Cowboys game has been moved from Thursday night in Baltimore to Monday evening at 5 pm. I can't imagine the Cowboys are all that disappointed about a 10-day late-season break.

There's one looming issue still, and the only information we have on it is the press release from the NFL that was distributed late Friday afternoon.

It reads: The Ravens-Steelers game has been postponed for a second time, moving from Sunday to Tuesday night for safety reasons. The game at Heinz Field will be at 8 p.m. and broadcast nationally on NBC. If the game is played Tuesday, the Week 13 Ravens-Cowboys game originally slated for Thursday, Dec. 3 will move to Monday, Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon.

No one is talking about it, but the words If the game is played Tuesday, the Week 13 Ravens-Cowboys game originally slated for Thursday, Dec. 3 will move... are interesting. What happens if, say, sometime Monday afternoon the Ravens and/or Steelers report a new set of positive Covid-19 tests and the league decides to again postpone the game in Pittsburgh? Is there any way they'd give the Cowboys three days notice and tell them the game is on again in Baltimore on Thursday night?

Would NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell force the Ravens to forfeit if they can't play this Tuesday in Pittsburgh?

Further, would they make the Ravens play on Thursday night having just told them, "Sorry, you can't play on Tuesday because of Covid issues"?

I don't understand why that line was added to the press release like that. It definitely leaves a lingering "what if?" element to the whole Ravens-Steelers game.


So here's another issue.

Is there any way at all that Roger Goodell would issue a forfeit victory in favor of the Steelers if the Ravens were to get hit with another series of positive Covid-19 tests in the next couple of days and the league deemed it unsafe for John Harbaugh's team to travel to Pittsburgh?

I have been in the camp of "no way he'd award a forfeit" since all of this news broke in the middle of this week. And I'm still in that camp. Mostly. But Goodell does have the authority to award a forfeit if he chooses to do so. He added that language into the modified Covid-19 protocol that was distributed to all teams after the early season Titans virus breakout. Whether he was serious or not is anyone's guess, but he did add the potential for awarding a forfeit into the guidelines for dealing with Covid-19 situations.

And for the most part, I think forfeits are a really bad way to go. It smacks of Little League baseball, when one team has five kids go on vacation on the same week in late June and they can't physically field a team and the league says, "OK then, you forfeit."

A forfeit in the NFL would be crazy talk, right?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

The question isn't whether a forfeit is the right thing to do. The question is whether or not a forfeit is better than adding an extra week on to the end of the regular season in order to potentially accommodate one game and two teams? That's really the issue at hand.

And, I hate to say it, since I am a Ravens fan and all, but for the fairness of the 14 playoff teams, a forfeit might be more reasonable than adding an extra week.

Here's one issue about a forfeit that seems kind of weird to me, but it's in the rules. In the event there is a forfeit of a game in the regular season or playoffs, none of the players from either team get paid for that game. I don't get that at all. If you want to withhold a game check from the team that's forced to forfeit, that's fair, I suppose. But how is it fair to not pay the players from the "winning" team who had nothing at all to do with the game being forfeited to them in the first place?

The NFL does some really weird stuff, as do most professional sports league. Not paying the players in the event of a forfeit is a cake-topper if you ask me.

But anyway...in as much as I think the league doesn't want to add that extra week at the end of the regular season, I assume Roger Goodell is at least tinkering with the idea of making the Ravens forfeit if it turns out they can't play this Tuesday night.

I don't see it happening, but he put the language in the Covid-19 protocol for a reason. If it's available to him, he has to at least consider it.


The identity of the Ravens staffer who was involved in failing to follow protocol is out there. I have chosen not to publish his name here because the Ravens haven't published his name and I'd prefer to follow along with them on this one. I think we all know who he is...presumably.

One associate of the team did say to me on Friday, "Be careful connecting all of the dots to (him). There's more to it than that."

When I pressed them for further explanation, they basically repeated their earlier statement: "It's not as simple as just saying he gave everyone Covid. There's more to it than that."

But there was obviously a protocol-failure by a team staffer, which is why the organization announced he's been disciplined. That discipline was, in fact, a suspension of his employment. My guess -- and no one told me this, but it seems obvious -- is his tenure with the Ravens is over, despite the fact that he's very well liked by the players and coaching staff.

I'm not trying to support or endorse the team staffer when I say this, but it does ring true to me in times like these: This was always bound to happen, in the same way it was bound to happen in Major League Baseball when you let those players treat the season "almost normally".

The two leagues that got it right, for the most part, were the two who had their seasons take place in the so-called "bubble". Having these teams in the NFL travel around the country, stay in a hotel, play football against one another, and so on, was a recipe for the virus running amok in the league for the better part of four months.

And I don't know that a football "bubble" would have worked, either, given how many players are on the roster and so forth. But one thing is for certain: The two leagues that played their re-start seasons in a bubble had almost no issues at all and the two leagues that didn't play in a bubble have both experienced a slew of issues and problems.

Moving forward, this issue lingers every single Sunday, Monday and Thursday in the NFL: What if, on game-day, the star quarterback tests positive?

Even worse, what if the Chiefs and Buccaneers play in the Super Bowl next February and Mahomes and Brady both test positive on Sunday morning?

Sure, the easy answer is, "that's a shame, play the game". But there's something even more wild to consider. What if 12 members of the Chiefs test positive on Sunday morning and 10 Buccaneers also test positive, ten hours before the Super Bowl is slated to kick off?

I assume these thoughts keep Roger Goodell up at night. Perhaps the "real" answer from the league would be, "Who cares? It's the last game of the year. Let everyone play and we'll deal with the collateral damage tomorrow morning."

But right up until the clock hits 00:00 at the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, there will be fears that every game could be impacted by Covid-19. It's just reality.

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mickelson was the best and worst of friday golf


There was a time, circa 1990, when Thanksgiving weekend meant "The Skins Game" on television. Four of golf's biggest names would gather for an 18 hole money-grab, with 9 holes being aired on Saturday and 9 holes being aired on Sunday. It was a great way to show a different side of stuffy personalities like Nicklaus and Watson and Montgomerie, just to name three.

The Skins Game went away a long time ago, sadly. The networks claimed that college football and the NFL made it impossible to draw TV ratings for the event, which might have been true. But the concept was solid, I thought.

If you watched Friday's charity event, you learned that Phil Mickelson has a coffee brand he's associated with, plus you learned the other three guys in the event aren't very good at high-stakes golf.

Yesterday, the 2020 version of "The Skins Game" took place, with an 18-hole match (well, not quite) between Phil Mickelson and Charles Barkley vs. Peyton Manning and Steph Curry.

I know what you're thinking.

"Isn't Phil Mickelson a........professional.......with 5 major championships?"

Indeed he is. Barkely is a lousy golfer, Manning is a capable golfer and Curry is a very good golfer. Curry, in fact, represents that he's a plus-2 handicap, which means he routinely shoots under par at his home course, wherever that might be.

So Mickelson and Barkley (by far, the worst of the four players) took on Manning and Curry yesterday in a made-for-TV event which basically featured Mickelson hawking his new coffee brand, everyone taking shots at Barkley's bad golf swing, and all three amateurs showing themselves as...well...amateurs.

The golf was about as interesting as an oil change.

It was awful.

The Mickelson-Barkley banter was the only thing that saved the day from being a complete loser.

Mickelson coached Barkley around the whole day as they won 4&3. Every hole, every shot, every moment...was Phil telling Charles what to do. It was funny for about the first 30 minutes. Then it got old, quick. Mickelson was only half-trying most of the day, but he hit enough quality shots to remind everyone that he's still pretty good when he takes it seriously.

But the whole event was pretty much a disaster. The only saving grace was the money the four guys were raising for charity.

I find it hard to believe there aren't four PROFESSIONAL players who would have taken a $100,000 check for their favorite charity and showed up to play golf on the Friday after Thanksgiving and yukked it up for a few hours.

And I'm not talking about the big names, either. You don't have to have Tiger or Dustin or DeChambeau. Get some friends together and let them go at it. How about Spieth and Thomas vs. Mickelson and some other old guy? As much as Faldo likes to pick at Phil during CBS broadcasts, having those two together for 18 holes would be fun. Or something else, maybe, besides fun. But it would make for good TV to have two older players take on two younger players.

But trotting out these football and basketball players to tee it up against one of the best players to ever play is so laughably awkward it's actually not funny at all. It's bad TV is what it is.

There are plenty of great TOUR players who would fit the bill for that kind of event. Let the real golfers play golf and see if that might keep people interested.

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Friday
November 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2284



when black friday becomes "ask friday"


Paul Britt asks: "What kind of professional career do you think Jalen Smith is going to have in the NBA?"

DF says: "A very good one. I mean, I don't think he'll be a league MVP or anything like that but I think he'll be a useful piece and will make a lot of money along the way. I would be really surprised if he's a 3 or 4 year guy and then fades out of the league. He's going to be around for a long time."


Tom asks: "Why won't the Orioles cut Chris Davis loose now that he's down to the final two years of his contract? Is there something going on behind the scenes we don't know about?"

DF says: "You know the answer. $40 million-plus worth of guaranteed money is the reason they're not going to cut him. They're going to keep him around until they've exhausted every single option with him. I know you and I think they've done that already, but they don't see it that way. They're going to trot him back out there this spring and see if he can find some magic, somehow. And remember, they're not really trying all that hard to win quite yet. If they were, they might treat Davis differently. But for now, they can keep paying him and playing him and what's the difference? They're going to win 65 or 70 games in 2021 with him or without him."


Tatu led the Dallas Sidekicks to an improbable MISL title in 1986-87, as Dallas rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to upset heavily favored Tacoma.

Cris Porgini asks: "Who was the one player in the old MISL days, besides Steve Zungul, that you wish the Blast could have signed?"

DF says: "Wow, that's a tough one. There were so many outstanding players back in the 1980's. The league was filled with superstars. I'll give you an obvious name and an off-the-radar name. Tatu is the obvious name. Not only was he a great competitor and an amazing talent but he was a marketer's dream. He single-handedly built the Dallas Sidekicks franchise. Off the radar screen was a kid that played in Chicago named Frank Klopas. He had a successful run with the Sting and also had a productive stint with the U.S. National team (outdoor). He was a really nice indoor player with great technique but he was kind of forgotten about in Chicago."


Kevin Jerns asks: "Hey DF, longtime Doors fan like you. What do you think their best 3 albums were? Thanks, Happy Thanksgiving!"

DF says: "They didn't record many albums, but they were all really good, so this is a hard choice. I still think "Morrison Hotel" was their best album. That was, without question, Jim's best song writing effort. The debut album -- "The Doors" -- was probably their second best. And then I'll go with "Strange Days" by a nose over "The Soft Parade." Oddly enough, my favorite song of all-time is "L.A. Woman", but I thought that album was just O.K. in comparison to the others."


Miles asks: "You can only have one of these three things. Ravens win the Super Bowl in 2021. Orioles win the World Series in 2021. Baltimore builds a new 20,000 seat arena on the piece of property where the current arena sits. Which do you want?"

DF says: "Congrats on getting the award for "easiest question of the day". It's obviously the new arena. Would love to see the Ravens or O's win a title, but that arena would take us through the next 25-30 years, at least. I know we don't have a team to put in there at this point, but we'll never get any kind of team without a 20,000 seat state-of-the-art building. Gotta have a new arena!"


S.J. asks: "You and I have similar music tastes so I'm definitely interested in your answer on a personal level. You're only allowed to listen to five albums throughout all of 2021. What five would you pick?"

DF says: "Toughest question of the day right here! I don't know how I'd pick 20, let alone 5. OK, here goes: Dave Matthews Band, Live at Central Park; Rush, Moving Pictures; Bruce Springsteen, Darkness On The Edge Of Town; Live, Throwing Copper; The Cars, Candy-O. My favorite Cars song ever is on Candy-O, in fact. This seems like a good time to play it for you, actually, as a thank you for asking the question! See below."




Tim Jzracki asks: "I saw you beating up "The Office" on Twitter the other day (for the record, I agree that it's not funny) so it got me to wondering. What's the best TV show of your lifetime so far?"

DF says: "Has to be M*A*SH*. I think it had everything. Great acting, awesome characters with clearly defined "differences" in the way they approached handling the war and some amazing storylines."


Carl in Owings Mills asks: "If someone said to you, "What's wrong with the Ravens this year?" and you could only respond with one thing or reason why they're struggling, what would your answer be?"

DF says: "This is a real toughie because we know the answer could be one of several things. In the end, though, the answer is pretty simple. They haven't been able to run the ball as effectively as they did in 2019 and it has caused a myriad of issues within their offense."


C.J. asks: "Which of these is more likely to happen in 2021 for Tiger Woods? 1) He doesn't win an official PGA Tour event. 2) He wins two tournaments. 3) He suffers another back/neck injury in early January and can't play in 2021. 4) He only wins one time but it's the Masters in April."

DF says: "Wow, there's a lot to unpack there. All four of them could happen. Which one is the most likely to happen? I'll go with #1. I mean, he'll probably only play 12 events all year. Four of them will be majors. A few will be WGC events. Those fields are the best in golf. It's tough for anyone to win one of those events, let alone Tiger at age 45. I actually do think he'll win one tournament sometime in 2021, but that wasn't an option in your question."


Barker Smith asks: "Like you, I think John Harbaugh is an excellent coach. But just for kicks, if he wasn't around in 2021 who would you like the Ravens to hire as the team's next coach?"

DF says: "I have no idea. Really, I don't. I would say within the NFL the guy I would zero in on would be Brian Flores of the Dolphins, but I don't think the league looks too kindly on stealing other team's coaches. But I really like the job Flores has done down there over the last few years. Other than that, honestly, I don't have an answer. Here's what I do know: It's not Jason Garrett! He had his chance in 2008."


Dave Rickett asks: "It's bar bet time, Drewski. The year is 2025. Tiger Woods is 50. How many career PGA Tour wins will he have and how many major championships will he have?"

DF says: "This is so hard because it's impossible to know how much longer he's going to be competitive. I'm of the mindset that his career, now, is about 97% complete. I mean, he might still play when he's 46 and 47, but in terms of being able to be healthy enough to compete, I think he's really just about done. I do think he'll win another event or two, though. He won't win any more majors. The only way he adds to his major total is by winning at Augusta and I'd say there's only a 20% chance he can do that again. So my answer is he'll finish with 84 career wins and 15 major titles."


Hal asks: "I know you're a longtime Capitals fan and I'm sure your number one memory is the Caps winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. So what's your 2nd favorite memory as a Capitals fan?"

DF says: "This is a trick question, right? You know the answer. It's every Caps fan's answer. I'm not even gonna write it. I'm gonna post it, below, for everyone to see and enjoy."


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ravens have created a major problem


This, I'm afraid, isn't going to end well for the Ravens.

The organization is in the crosshairs now for what is apparently going to be the biggest and worst Covid-19 outbreak among the 32 NFL teams.

Lamar Jackson and several other yet-to-be-named players tested positive for the virus on Thursday, meaning they won't be available for this Sunday's game in Pittsburgh and next Thursday's contest vs. Dallas.

A story circulated on Thursday night that indicated John Harbaugh has told the team they are not permitted to return to the team's training facility until Monday at the earliest.

Lamar Jackson could miss the Ravens next two games after testing positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

That statement -- if true -- would seemingly cast doubt on this Sunday's game in Pittsburgh being played. I mean, if the team can't gather at the team's facility, how are they going to gather on a bus, a plane, a hotel and a football field? But it's fair to point out that Harbaugh might have told the team not to report to the facility until Monday and, at the same time, the league might ask them to report to Pittsburgh on Sunday and play the game.

And if Sunday's game is in doubt because more than a dozen players are on the team's Covid-19 list, what are the chances the Ravens will be able to play the Cowboys in Baltimore on Thursday evening?

One potential option would be for the Ravens-Steelers game to be played on Tuesday in Pittsburgh and then have the Ravens-Cowboys game be played Sunday or Monday in Baltimore.

It was announced on Thursday that the Ravens have suspended a strength and conditioning coach who was apparently in violation of strict Covid-19 protocols while conducting a weight training session late last week. That level of negligence will not be looked upon kindly by the NFL, obviously.

As it stands now, the league is facing the potential of having to delay the start of the playoffs if the Ravens are unable to play for two weeks due to the outbreak. There's also the potential of the league having to add an extra week at the end of the regular season and going with a revised playoff format of 8 teams (and no byes) instead of 7 teams and the team with the best record in each conference receiving a first-round bye.

There is a lot to unpack from this week's news. But the biggest element of the story is going to center on the fact that the Ravens' own negligence is directly connected to the outbreak.

The NFL is already reeling from having to cancel the Thursday night Thanksgiving game in Pittsburgh. How much money that winds up costing the league is anyone's guess.

Now they're facing the potential of no game in Pittsburgh on Sunday and no Thursday night game to broadcast from Baltimore. Oh, and let's remember that next Thursday's game featured.....the Cowboys.....you know, perhaps the league's most popular franchise and TV ratings-grabber.

This is a mess.

My guess, knowing what we all know right now (6:03 am on Friday, 11/27), is that the Sunday game in Pittsburgh will be moved to Tuesday night and the Ravens-Cowboys game will then shift to Sunday or Monday in Baltimore. I'd also suspect the Washington-Pittsburgh game scheduled for Sunday, December 6 would also be moved to Monday, December 7, in fairness to the Steelers.

But in order for the Ravens to play in Pittsburgh this Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, the team will have to go a couple of days without a positive Covid-19 test. This issue is not about "competitive". It's about "health". The Ravens can go up there with half their team and play the game, that's not an issue. The issue is the health and safety of everyone involved, including Steelers players and coaches.

It's not a shock, of course, that the NFL's 2020 season has been altered by the coronavirus. Every other major league in America endured the same thing in 2020. In some ways, this kind of major virus-related scheduling snafu was bound to happen.

But when it happens "naturally", that's one thing.

When it happens because a team staffer failed to adhere to the established protocols, that's another issue entirely.

A 2020 season that had already taken a turn for the worse just went completely off the rails for the Ravens.

Some heads are gonna roll over this one, unfortunately.

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faith in sports


This week's "Faith in Sports" showcases former NFL quarterback Sam Bradford in one of the popular "I Am Second" clips. Bradford speaks about his relationship with God and how it helped him throughout his college and professional career. Thanks to our friends at Freestate Electric for their support of our weekly "Faith in Sports" segment.


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Thursday
November 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2283



people, huh?


So, as you might have heard, the Ravens are in the midst of a Covid-19 outbreak.

Seven players are currently on the team's Reserve-Covid 19 list and others may test positive today as the team tries to diminish the outbreak, which apparently occurred as a result of strength and conditioning coach failing to follow coronavirus protocols established by the NFL.

Tonight's game with the Steelers in Pittsburgh was postponed by the NFL yesterday and moved to this Sunday afternoon.

And, right on cue, people in the Steel City flipped out.

According to reports out of Pittsburgh, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was mad that tonight's game vs. the Ravens was moved to Sunday.

So, too, did some members of the Steelers organization, who shouted from the rooftops on social media about the whole thing being "B.S." and how the team "got screwed" out of a ten day break because the Ravens "can't keep their house in order."

People are nuts, man.

Here's where I'll stop for a second and acknowledge that there's a very good chance Ravens fans and players would have reacted in the same manner had Baltimore's football team been 10-0 and a reeling Steelers team having lost 3 of 4 with a handful of players likely to miss a Thanksgiving Night game in Charm City. I'm not naive. I've seen enough from Ravens fans over the years to know they're very capable of howling at the moon.

But in this case, the good news is it's not Ravens fans or players acting like jerks.

Have these people in Pittsburgh been paying attention to what's going on in the country over the last 11 months? There's this thing called a "virus" going around, claiming thousands of lives every day, still, and showing no real signs of letting up for the holidays.

I expected some degree of outrage from people yesterday, but I didn't expect the amount I wound up discovering as I breezed through the internet and saw post after post from neanderthals who were actually complaining about the game being postponed. Of course it got postponed. Nearly 20% of the team is on the Reserve-Covid 19 list.

And anyone who tested positive this week can't play Sunday, anyway. They're missing the game either way. Oh, sure, the Steelers schedule has already been fiddled with this year and this isn't the first time they've had a game moved because of the virus. That's true. That's also what happens in times like these when people are dying because of a virus we can't control. Steelers players and fans must not watch much TV up there in Western PA.

Here's the kicker...

How funny would it be if the Ravens wind up winning on Sunday? Not only would a victory be a HUGE step in the right direction for the Ravens and their 2020 season, but how glorious would it be to see and hear the reaction from Steelers fans in the aftermath of their undefeated season coming to a halt?

One can dream, right?

So, as you think about things to be thankful for today, be thankful you're not one of those outraged maniacs who would actually complain about a football game being moved when a quarter-of-a-million people have died since February because/related to/connected to Covid-19.

Be thankful that you understand some things are more important than a Thanksgiving Night football game.


happy thanksgiving


On this Thanksgiving Day 2020, I hope you and your family have the best day possible under our current conditions.

I'd ask that you do your best to follow the state-suggested protocols for Covid-19. This will be the first Thanksgiving in a long time that our family isn't traveling to eat and visit with extended family members. We're staying at home and enjoying a day together and trying to stay as safe as possible.

But because you might not be able to travel to celebrate the holiday with friends and family members doesn't mean you can't be thankful for them and perhaps speak with them on the phone or visit "virtually" through the variety of platforms that are available for face-to-face engagement.

Take some time today to call, text or face-time friends and loved ones. I know I'll be doing that throughout the day as the turkey and fixin's heat up for round one, round two and, maybe, round three!

And don't forget that nap. Is there anything better than a late afternoon Thanksgiving Day nap?

Have a great day! Thank you to everyone involved with Drew's Morning Dish, including our list of corporate partners and supporters, present and past, all of the writers and contributors, present and past, and every reader who has visited here since August 25, 2014. I'm thankful for all of you who continue to make this project possible every day.

Be thankful today!

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


happy thanksgiving?


It’s Thanksgiving, and I’ve got a lot for which to be thankful. I still have a job, and even a side gig as a writer for a local sports website.

Instacart and Whole Foods through Amazon have been good to me since March. My family is local, so it’s not like I haven’t seen them at all, even if big get-togethers aren’t happening. I’ve got clothes, shelter, love (at least “like?”), and my recent physical came back with normal cholesterol.

But it’s 2020, the weirdest year of our lives. I think I ought to be allowed to complain on Thanksgiving, because things don’t seem to be getting better. It’s just not right that I have to stay positive all the time. Good mental health can’t just be about putting the best possible spin on everything; sometimes, you have to let some things go. Except for throwing clubs. That ought to be off limits even if you’re the only person on the course.

I’m going to keep it to sports, for now. We’ll see if that changes if this stuff doesn’t get better soon.

As the great Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller, who died this year, damn) once said: “I’ve got a lotta problems with you people, and you’re going to hear about ‘em.”

I’m talking about you, counter guy. You finished up on 18 the other day and I was standing there looking at you, 56 yards away from the pin. Then you stood 10 feet from the pin and started counting, the way golfers do only when they have a bad hole.

One over there…two chunked it…three got it back in the fairway….four managed to get it in the bunker…got it out, five…then two putts…seven. Great, I’ve done that too. How about you drive away and do your counting over there so I can chunk my own shot, ok?


I’m talking about you, Theo Epstein. On your way out the door in Chicago recently, you said that all the stuff baseball front offices have been doing the last 10 years has basically ruined the game. The strikeout rate has to go down, you said. There has to be a way to get more action and get the ball in play more often.

All those analytics, you said, have unwittingly had a negative impact on the entertainment value of a game. You’re finally admitting that now? Wow, and I thought that starting games with a mediocre reliever pitching one inning was just genius and great for the sport.


I’m talking about you, Ravens. You were supposed to win every game by two touchdowns, except maybe against the Chiefs. All the websites said that you had no real weaknesses at any position on the field, that bugaboo receiver slot included.

Then you lost your two best blockers on the offensive line, if you include tight ends as offensive lineman. Pretty much every team has had their issues with COVID, but you’ve become one of the poster children in a bad way. You seem to actually believe that punching the ball away from ball carriers is more effective than tackling them.


I’m talking about you, Maryland basketball. Sure, it wasn’t your fault that you never got to play a postseason game in 2020. But it definitely makes it worse now that you’ve got a roster full of mediocrity for 2021.

If Chol Marial is an effective college basketball player, then I’m seven feet tall. Aaron Wiggins better score 25 every game, because I’m not sure where any other scoring is coming from. ESPN thinks so much of you that they decided to send you to Clemson for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. I didn’t think I’d see the Terps play at Littlejohn Coliseum again.


I’m talking about you, “The Match: Champions for Change.” I thought we were done with you back in the spring, when an uninterested Tiger Woods and weirdly giddy Phil Mickelson slogged through the rain for 18 holes with a couple of great football players who couldn’t play to their handicaps.

This time, it’s even worse. For several days, the sports world will be talking again about the golf swing of Charles Barkley, a swing that should never be talked about publicly. I admire Steph Curry’s game; he comported himself pretty well when playing in a couple professional events. Doesn’t mean I’m interested in watching him play. Yes…I know it’s for charity.


I’m talking about you, Dabo Swinney. I mean…you once threatened to quit college coaching if the players ever got paid. God forbid any of those guys get even a pittance of your $9.3 million yearly salary. Now…is it that you just don’t get that COVID is killing people, or that you don’t care?

Some things are more important than a college football game, you know? You said that COVID was “just an excuse” for Florida State to cancel your game this past weekend. Well, guess what? It is an excuse! A really good one, considering your Clemson team has supposedly been a little looser with the rules than other teams. Hey, you’re a multimillionaire football coach, though. You know best, I guess.


I’m talking about you, Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton, Breshad Perriman and Marquise Brown. Couldn’t one of you have been anything more than a passing memory (no pun intended) in Ravens’ history? I guess “Hollywood” still has a chance, though maybe not this year.

It is completely mind-boggling that a scouting staff such as the Ravens have possessed in the last 25 years has whiffed so often at the receiver position. And I’m not even talking about first-round picks only. You could say that we overdo all the complaining about that considering how often the team has made the playoffs in its history. You could also say that every time the team doesn’t make the playoffs, it’s worth asking the question again.


I’m talking about you, CBS Sports. I kept complaining that Jim Nantz and Tony Romo never seemed to make it here to Baltimore, and you finally listened. They visited here earlier in the month for the Pittsburgh game and then returned the other day for the game against the Titans.

And look what you did? The Ravens gave both games away, seriously damaging their division title hopes with the first loss and their playoff hopes with the second one. Now, those dudes might not be coming back here until Nantz announces Charlie Woods’ win at The Masters in 10 years.


And I’m talking about you, impending cold weather. The golf season is ending. It’s not just the temperatures when you’re playing, either. It’s the fact that the freeze has already come a couple times. The greens have changed until the spring.

Sure, there might be a few days this winter that feel like spring. This is Baltimore, after all, not Minneapolis. But it won’t be the same. It’s almost enough to want to move to Florida at some point, though on second thought that means I’d have to move to…um…Florida. Maybe not. But I’m not getting any younger, so…

Anyway, hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving. And yeah, I’ve got nothing to complain about. Hope everyone that really does in this time of sorrow and malaise has a better 2021.

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Wednesday
November 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2282



what would your message be?


I got into a lengthy and multi-topic discussion about the Ravens with a good friend on Tuesday and one of the things we spent some time on was what a coach says to a team when they are in rough waters. You know, the kind of waters the Ravens themselves are trying to navigate right now, having lost 3 of 4 and with Covid-19 rampaging throughout the team.

How, as a coach, do you come up with something to address these trying times?

John Harbaugh has some rough waters to sail the Ravens through this week...what would YOU say to the team if given a chance?

Even more importantly, how do you come up with something new that resonates with them? Sure, NFL rosters are always flush with new players who might not have heard the "rowboat speech" before or the "elephant chasing the tiger speech", but in general, coaches have to be very leery about regurgitating materal that might have once been effective for a certain moment or a certain opponent.

Any coach has faced this challenge before, of course. You win some, you lose some. Occasionally you lose because the other team got the best of you and there are times when you make mistakes and the loss is more because you failed to do the things you had practiced or game-planned for during the week.

The Ravens are 6-4. If we're being fair, that's about where they should be given what has happened to them over the last 11 weeks. Sure, they could have snagged a win-from-the-jaws-of-defeat against the Steelers, Patriots or Titans. They had the ball late in those games with a chance to pull off a win and didn't do it. But all in all, 6-4 is fair.

So when my friend asked me yesterday what I would say to the Ravens, I gave it some real thought. I love those kind of coaching questions, since I face a dilemma every week or so during my Calvert Hall golf season. Things come along and you have to think quickly, "How do I handle this?"

If I had the opportunity to stand in front of the Ravens today, here's what I would say.

"Gentlemen, put down your iPads. We have something to watch for 12 minutes."

And then I would show them the video you see below. The video is 36 minutes long and I would encourage those of you reading this right now to give yourselves 36 minutes today to watch it. But for the purposes of presenting something meaningful and important to the Ravens, I would show them the video and stop it at roughly the 12 minute mark, because my message to them would all be presented within the first 12 minutes.



My message to the team wouldn't be faith-based, but I would use the first 12 minutes of Francis Chan's sermon to drive home a key point to the team.

The season is a journey. There are ups and downs. It's fun (when you're winning) and tough (when you're losing) at the same time. And here's the deal: It's supposed to be tough. If it wasn't tough, everyone would go 13-3 and have a great season. But one of the reasons why it's tough is because that's ultimately how teams get weeded out. So don't be surprised by fiery trials. Instead, understand they're part of the journey.

These tests the Ravens are going through are pretty much the same ones they go through every year. Wins, losses, injuries, etc. Some years you fight those off and go 12-4 (or 14-2) and some years they get the best of you and your season doesn't go as expected.

My experience (and by no means do I know more about coaching than John Harbaugh or any other NFL coach) in coaching is that we spend a lot of time trying to win every game and we spend a lot of time trying to convince the players we should win every game and we don't spend nearly as much time preparing them for the "trials" and "tests" that are guaranteed to come along throughout the season. No coach wants to say to the team, "Now, look, we know we're going to lose some games this season," but the reality is, your team will lose games this season.

If the Pittsburgh Steelers run the table and go 19-0, I'll be the first to admit I was wrong here, but the Steelers are going to lose a game or games this season. Everyone loses. Coaches spend so much time trying to convince their players they shouldn't ever lose that they forget what to do when they actually do lose.

And coaches need to figure out a way to make losing feel more like "part of the journey" and less like "we suck and we shouldn't ever lose to those guys." That's a general coaching statement and not a direct jab at John Harbaugh.

The video above, at least the first 12 minutes of it, will be required viewing by my Calvert Hall golf team when we convene (fingers crossed) in February to start preparing for our spring 2021 MIAA season. We'll be watching it and learning from it, hopefully.

So my message to the Ravens would be simple. It would contain two parts.

"This -- losing, 6-4 record, in danger of not making the playoffs -- is part of the journey. Don't be surprised by it. Don't consume yourself with worry about it. It is the way it is. You're supposed to be tested. It's the only way way you'll know if you're actually any good or not."

And the second thing I would do is show the post-game handshake between Tom Brady and Jared Goff on Sunday night after the Rams beat the Buccaneers, 27-24.

There wasn't a handshake.

Tom Brady no-showed on the handshake, the same way he no-showed on the handshake with Nick Foles earlier in the season when the Bears beat Tampa Bay.

I don't need to say or write anything about how great Tom Brady is and how he's a first-ballot, unanimous Hall of Famer. Everyone knows that.

But I'd never want my team or my players to shun the midfield handshake after a loss. The only way it might be acceptable is if you also shun the midfield handshake after a win. Even though I don't personally agree with that, I would at least see the balance there. "I don't shake hands with them after a win or a loss." OK, fair enough.

Tom Brady not shaking hands with Jared Goff on Sunday night was really poor. It's a character flaw, if we're being honest.

And while Brady has enjoyed a remarkable career, character counts. And that's the other thing I would tell the Ravens. "Your character matters."

In the aftermath of Sunday's loss to the Titans, there was an initial story circulating that suggested John Harbaugh didn't shake hands with Mike Vrabel, per the traditional gesture at midfield.

I thought that was highly out of character for John. As it turned out, there was a handshake (fist bump, Covid-19, you know) between the two of them, perfunctory as it might have been.

Brady, though, is always quick to run out to midfield after he's clobbered the other guy. But on Sunday night, he scooted out and left Goff standing there at midfield by himself.

My message to the Ravens would be simple. "Watch this video with me, understand that you'll have these fiery trials and tests and there's nothing wrong with them, and let your character shine through whether you win or lose."

And now...it's your turn. What would your message to the Ravens be if you had the opportunity to address them today for 30 minutes? Use the Comments section below if you have a cogent thought.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


Gratitude: /noun: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something for what the person has done to help you.

Several years ago, my life changed in ways that I never anticipated. I was exhausted and confused and worn out. I had been living in a cycle that tilted in a constantly downward trajectory. I was deeply unhappy and, even though I didn’t realize it, full of fear. No matter how I tried to rationalize my thoughts and behaviors, I was stuck in neutral, if not actually backtracking.

When I finally grew sick and tired enough of being sick and tired, an amazing thing happened: There were lots of people waiting to help me, to show me a better way to live, to guide me as I began on an uncertain and unknown path. They were glad to provide assistance and show me how they had found a better way. All I needed to do was listen and start applying the advice they freely and generously gave.

As I acquired better habits and my life gradually improved, so did my thinking and my daily living. There were a few nuggets of wisdom I learned that I abide by every day now. The noise and the distraction that I was surrounded by slowly faded away. A way of living that had always escaped me was now available to me, as long as I narrowed my focus and my thinking and let go of attempting to control everything in my world. In essence, lacking power morphed into being given real freedom.

One of the most fundamental shifts in my thinking became focusing on simple gratitude. For too long I chose to look at situations and circumstances as problems or trials, instead of seeing the little opportunities contained in them. Simply put, I stared at the problem and didn’t consider the solution, or put in the work towards finding one.

The thing is, there are little joys contained in even the most troubling circumstances. We have to be willing to look for them, to slow down, and to appreciate what each situation presents, even the toughest ones. The most striking difference in my approach today is realizing that nothing is done to me, that, in reality, everything is done for me, as long as I’m willing to accept things exactly as they are in that moment. I must remain teachable.

All of this is to say that this Thanksgiving, in this most difficult and unusual year, I’m going to take a few moments here and list a few things that I’m grateful for, both in the world of sports and in my personal life. They’re rather deeply intertwined. This was an exercise that was suggested to me early on as my perspectives changed, and from time to time I’ll pull out my journal and update my list. It’s a good way to keep me grounded and to keep things balanced.

Presented for your consideration is a freeform, stream-of-consciousness gratitude checklist for Thanksgiving 2020:

My family…especially Mom, and my sons Thomas, Mark and Charlie, who have been there every step of the way through this crazy and sad and uplifting year…my little brother Luke, my wonderful sister-in-law Kim, and my beautiful niece Rose and nephew Levi…aunts and uncles and cousins who have lifted us in thought, prayer and action, especially since April 22nd…dear friends, some from long ago, some more recent, who have reached out and supported me in ways they’ll never fully appreciate…my brother John, who will never understand all the lessons he taught me throughout the years, the good ones and the bad ones…funny how much more I learned through the bad ones, and may I never forget them…Hectic Red, for all of the great music and memories and friendships. Those guys are more like family after thirty years…Ben Sherman and Rich Filbert and the late, great Danny Grim and John; you all brought so much joy to so many for so long. May your gifts be forever remembered, and may those memories lift us all as we move forward. Keep on rocking…the feel of a basketball on my fingertips…the sound of a basketball when it hits nothing but net…the lighting in a good gymnasium like the one at Hereford High School…the sights and sounds at a major AAU basketball tournament…the smell of fresh cut grass on a summer evening…my house…sitting on the edge of the ocean on the beach on a hot summer day, when the breeze is blowing and it’s the coolest spot in the entire state…the sticky feel of saltwater on my skin after being on the beach all day…a hot shower on a cold winter morning…the explosion of colors on the trees in mid-October…throwing the football in the yard with the boys and their friends…coaches, especially the ones who have made such lasting impacts on my life and my sons’ lives throughout the years. Mike “Doc” Edwards, Brian Plunkett, Joe Brune, Jerry Savage, Steve Wisniewski, Sam Reider, Eddie Johnson, Gerald Stokes, Marvin Gonzales, Pat McGlynn, Jim Rhoads, Jon Capan, “Rowdy” Bibaud, Justin Seitz, Shaun Gabbidon and Jared Wagner, thanks for all of your tireless effort and dedication over the years, and my apologies to anyone I missed. Your impact on all of us is immeasurable.

Walking the hills in Freeland on a warm spring evening, when the honeysuckle is blooming and the shadows are getting long…Eddie Murray’s batting stance, and seeing him lace the baseball into the gap in the outfield…sitting in the right field upper deck at Camden Yards on a 70 degree night, watching the sunlight reflect on the glass windows of the warehouse with the brilliant colors of the diamond below…Lamar Jackson…seeing Mark set the all-time scoring record for boys basketball at Hereford…sunrise at the beach, sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee, listening to the waves and the seagulls…random text messages from the boys…listening to Bob Marley with the sunroof open on a road trip, any road trip…Sparkling Ice, my new favorite refreshment, any flavor will do…finally, finally, finally quitting smoking after numerous unsuccessful attempts (at least I’m pretty sure I’ve got it this time)…watching Thomas go fully extended on a dive to block a point-blank shot…feeling the sweat soak through my shirt halfway through a workout…listening to Mom play piano after dinner while we sit around and make small talk…having the great fortune to watch Len Bias play, in person, on multiple occasions. Reggie Lewis, too…Spring skiing in northern New Mexico, where the colors are different than anywhere else on earth…seeing the net when Charlie splashes a three-pointer. He’s got such a great touch. It just comes down so softly…making breakfast for the family on Sunday mornings, listening to anything on my playlist, whatever mood strikes…Friday night football games under the lights on the hill at Hereford…the wonders of modern technology. I know we’re all a little weary of Zoom and FaceTime and those platforms, but what an amazing gift to have them and be able to communicate during a year like this one…my brother from another mother, Chuck, who has always been there for me, through everything, with nothing but unconditional love and support and friendship and guidance…growing up in Baltimore in the 1970’s, seeing the Baltimore Colts and the Baltimore Orioles play in Memorial Stadium…while I’m here, Memorial Stadium itself, which was a stadium with a true neighborhood feel to it…modern medicine, which has improved the quality of all our lives immeasurably. Just look at what’s happening with the emergence of the vaccines to get the world out of the throes of our current situation. Science really does matter…all of the wonderful nurses and doctors who have given so much of themselves in this terrible year…the simple joy of those rare nights when all three of my sons are home, and we break bread together, bust on each other, and then play Monopoly and argue…old photographs. I’ve been through quite a few this year, and there’s something about how tangible a picture in your hand is. It’s almost as if touching them and holding them transports me back in time and warms me. We don’t print pictures any more, and that’s something of a loss, in my opinion.

The satisfaction in watching the Ravens win (they still do that more often than they lose, present circumstances excepted)…Westminster College, Franklin & Marshall College, and Lebanon Valley College, and all their coaches, for seeing something in my sons and giving each of them the opportunity to play collegiate sports…a mango snowball with Hawaiian crème topping on a hot summer afternoon…Christmas Eve around midnight, with all the lights off, looking at the tree and listening to Polish carols…the feeling of a well-struck drive (it doesn’t happen very often for me, admittedly)…playing horse or 21 with the boys on the outdoor court at Prettyboy Elementary…cooking on the grill at the beach, feeding a small army…the roar of the crowd in a packed stadium…steamed lobsters in the back yard at my cousin’s house in Maine…a quiet Saturday night, sitting on the porch and looking at the stars…remembering my father and trying to live like he did…my job and even my fellow co-workers, no matter how crazy they can make me at times. I imagine I return that feeling from time to time…a little money in the bank and food on the table…the wonderful opportunity to have played in the Turkey Bowl in 1982 and 1983, and being on the field at Memorial Stadium, where I watched my childhood heroes play…the simple joy of waking up each morning…the certainty that we’re going to get through this, that there will be a return to our traditions, and that we’ve paid enough attention to value everything just a little bit more…patience…

My father had an affinity for the works of the great British author Charles Dickens, who wrote, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” I’m fairly sure that while 2020 has brought plenty of misfortune and sorrow and disappointment, if we stop and pause and catch ourselves, there’s still enough to be thankful for. Take a little time for yourselves over this Holiday season and make a gratitude list, even if it’s not written down. I’m pretty sure it will grow longer than you imagined when you began.

Remember, too, that an attitude of gratitude doesn’t have to be limited by the calendar. Just because it’s May doesn’t mean we can’t say a simple prayer of thanksgiving and lighten our load.

Finally, my sincerest gratitude to Drew for offering me the opportunity to drop in here weekly with my observations. I greatly appreciate his kindness in providing this platform. And thanks to all of you who read my stuff, and those who take the time to comment. It means more to me than you can imagine.

Stay safe. Give thanks. Be kind to one another. Celebrate life.

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Tuesday
November 23
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#2281



ravens have that "reeling" look...but are they?


I've done a lot of public speaking events over the years and one question that regularly comes up is "What's the most important thing you've learned throughout your career in sports?"

I learned this a long time ago, first in the soccer business and then, later, while getting the privilege of seeing the Ravens and Orioles operate on an up-close-and-personal basis.

The most important thing I've learned is this: The toughest thing to do in sports is to stop losing.

Those of you who were around during my days on the radio have probably memorized that line by now. I used it a lot along the way.

It's true. Nothing in sports is harder than trying to stop losing, whether you're an individual or part of a team. There's no manual for it. There's no internet website that will tell you how to do it. If your washing machine stops working, go to YouTube and see how to fix it. If your kitchen sink disposal stops working, download the "fix it" manual and have a crack at repairing it yourself.

When you've lost three of four football games, there's no YouTube quick fix available. You can't go to the library and grab the Chilton Repair Manual (For Losing) the way you can if your car breaks down.

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson faces the media after every game. On Sunday, he offered that perhaps the victorious Titans "wanted it more" than the Ravens.

And so, because of all of that, the aftermath of a loss is both a delicate time and a telling time. Things are often said in the moments after a game that give insight into what's really going on behind the scenes.

Unwittingly, perhaps, Lamar Jackson's recent comments might have given us all a glimpse into some of the issues impacting the Ravens in 2020.

As a third year player, Lamar is still pretty much raw when it comes to understanding all of the intracacies of NFL life. I'm sure he realizes the media -- nationally and locally -- can be mean, savage beasts when they get the opportunity. Sunday's comment about "that other team wanted it more" was a flame thrower as soon as he said it. I remember thinking right away: "You should have never said that, Lamar."

A couple of weeks ago, Jackson went on a national radio show and claimed members of the Indianapolis Colts were barking out the upcoming play as the Ravens settled into the line of scrimmage on offense. Whether it's true or not is almost beyond the point. What's bothersome is that Jackson would feel the need to share that kind of stuff.

Brian Billick offered a lot of great "lines" during his tenure with the Ravens, but none of them were as spot-on or poignant as when he said once, following a game, "Whoever it was that decided having coaches and players speak at a podium ten minutes after a football game is over never had to do it themselves."

Oh, how true that is.

We demand a lot from our coaches and athletes, but expecting them to form a cogent thought in the first few minutes after a loss (or a win, even) is highly suspect. Anyone who has played any kind of sport at a high level knows all too well about the emotional component that comes with competing.

I remember, circa 1995 maybe, a study being published by some fancy team of professors somewhere that said their research showed an athlete's brain doesn't return to its normal, "settled" self until roughly 75 minutes after a competition. It takes that lot long, I guess, for everything upstairs to stop swirling around.

Anyway, this is a somewhat long-winded way of saying in the aftermath of all of this recent losing, and with his brain perhaps not fully locked in on the task at hand, having Lamar Jackson offer commentary on "what just happened" is likely going to provide for some "no, don't say that" moments. Sunday's post-game commentary about the Titans perhaps "wanting it more" turned into one of those moments.

Here's the deal: It could be true that perhaps the Titans did want it more. There are simply occasions when the other team sees the game at hand in a different way. We can go through a list of reasons why Tennessee might have wanted Sunday's game more than the Ravens. I'm not personally saying I buy that theory very much, but I do understand it's there and could be a tangible "thing" in any sporting event.

For the record, by the way, John Harbaugh debunked Jackson's theory in his Monday press conference. You'd expect the coach to disagree on that one, by the way, but it's important to note that Harbaugh was asked about it on Monday and swept it away without much commentary.

Back to Lamar's comments: It's one thing to "think" the other team wants it more. It's another thing, entirely, to say it. And here's why.

When you say what Lamar said after the game, "It looked like that team wanted it more than us," you're almost immediately casting blame on others and not on yourself. You're not saying "Maybe they wanted it more than I did. You're not saying, "Maybe Ryan Tannehill wanted to win this one more than I wanted to win." You're essentially saying, "There are some guys in our locker room who, to me, looked like they didn't want to win as much as the Titans wanted to win."

And when you say that...it brews trouble, and discord, and strife.

It's one thing if Derrick Henry and the Titans come to town and expose the injury-depleted Ravens defense in an easy 30-16 win. Most of us would have shrugged our shoulders and said, "Yep, can't beat Tennessee without Campbell and Williams. On to Pittsburgh."

But it's another thing, entirely, when the defense gets pushed around like Lumpy Rutherford at recess and looks like a group who simply got "out-gutted" down the stretch.

And without saying it, specifically, it sure came across like Jackson was pointing at the defense and a general lack of "want-to" in surrendering that 21-10 lead on Sunday.

Trouble is brewing in Baltimore, it would appear.

I wrote about this here last week and it bears repeating again in light of what we saw on Sunday against the Titans.

This is not a team, for whatever reason, that "plays like a Raven". You can call that a toughness issue if you want, but there's something very obviously missing about this team. Last year's group enjoyed the fruits of a 14-2 season and were never seriously threatened in October, November or December. They didn't just win their last 12 games. They manhandled people in those last 12 games. The Ravens faced very little adversity over the final three months of their 2019 campaign.

But when that warm January day rolled around and the Titans came in loaded for bear, the Ravens wilted.

I know the times are different and the playing roster is nearly almost entirely different as well, but does anyone remember that certain New Year's Eve game a few years back where the defense let Andy Dalton and Tyler Boyd strip the Ravens' playoff chances away from them with one 4th and 12 throw?

There might not be a connection there at all. Or maybe there is. But one thing for sure, over the last several years we've seen the Ravens get whipped in the fourth quarter on numerous occasions. I don't seem to remember Ray Lewis and Ed Reed getting whipped like that. That's not a low blow...it's just a fact.

So when Lamar says something about the other team wanting it more, it's one of those things he should have kept to himself, or, at the very least, addressed those concerns privately within the locker room. There's zero benefit -- literally ZERO -- to voicing that sort of concern to the media.

And please don't be one of those folks who says "Good, those players should hear their name on the radio and TV, because maybe that's what they need to wake up."

The reason it doesn't "work" is because Jackson didn't really name anyone in specific. Therein lies the issue. When you say "they wanted it more than we did", you're pointing the finger at everyone. And if Derek Wolfe or Jimmy Smith or L.J. Fort or Yannick Ngakoue are, in fact, giving it their all and busting their hump on every play, you're now lumping them in with the handful of guys you might actually be trying to call out.

Confusing? Yep, it is. And that's why saying stuff like that to the media is bad, bad form. It's one thing if Lamar says, "Look, I'll be honest. I don't really know how much Marcus Peters wants to win. I don't know how much Patrick Queen or Malik Harrison want to win. I wonder sometimes how much Mark Ingram or Hollywood want to win." I wouldn't subscribe to doing that either, by the way, but that's at least far more specific than just saying "the Titans wanted it more than we did."

But.......

That Jackson even said it speaks volumes about what's brewing in the Ravens locker room. There's contention, clearly. One of the other things I've learned by spending nearly 40 years around the world of sports is that nothing good ever comes from losing. It's a terrible recipe. Win them all, I say.

That said, because no one "wins them all", handling losing is as important as is handling winning. Anyone can win. It's easy to deal with winning. The Ravens handled it very well for 12 weeks last season. But when the Titans came in and gave the Ravens the Buster Douglas treatment, John Harbaugh's team laid on the floor and waited for the refs to stop the fight.

And this season, despite that 5-1 start, the Ravens are again showing how prone they are to getting punched in the mouth. They're just not all that tough. Not when it matters most, anyway.

There do appear to be players on the team who love to win but have no idea how to stop losing. There seems to be a general lack of intestinal fortitude when the moment is critical. It seems, to me anyway, like these Ravens know longer know how to "play like a Raven".

Even their quarterback knows it.

And now that the cat is out of the bag, the only thing left is to see how everyone handles the adversity they themselves have created.

The schedule softens up greatly after Thursday night's game in Pittsburgh. The Ravens will likely be favored in all of their final five games, with perhaps the one exception being the game in Cleveland. They will, no matter what happens at Heinz Field the night after next, still be a prohibitive favorite to make the playoffs.

If they're unable to lock away a 3rd straight playoff berth, it will be time to cut open the team and do a deep, deep dive into what ails them.

And blood will be spilled if the Ravens collapse and somehow don't make it to January.

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soccer: americans abroad


European based US national team players resumed their domestic seasons this weekend. Many of the key contributors from the recent friendly matches took the field, but one who was missing from the international camp provided the performance of the week.

One of several Americans featuring in the Bundesliga this weekend, Josh Sargent provided a man of the match worthy performance against European and German champions, Bayern Munich. Bayern dominated possession in the game, forcing Werder Bremen to defend for long periods. Starting as a lone striker, Sargent was able to make the most of a few attacking moments. In the 15th minute, he nearly gave his team the lead when he got to the end of a cross and redirected it toward goal, but was denied by a tough kick save by Bayern keeper, Manuel Neuer.

Just before halftime Sargent broke the game open and provided an assist for the first goal. Receiving a throw deep in Bayern territory, Sargent juked defender Javi Martinez and beat him to the end line, then he placed a pinpoint cutback at the feet of Max Eggestein who slotted it in for a goal. Bayern found an equalizer later in the game then Sargent almost got his team the win in the final minutes. He broke behind the Bayern defensive line and fired a left footed shot to the near post but was again denied by Neuer.

Tyler Adams started for RB Leipzig over the weekend in their 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.

In the end, Sargent was a key factor helping his team to a big upset in a 1-1 draw with Bayern.

The draw gave Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig an opportunity to gain ground in the title race. Adams started at right back against Eintracht Frankfurt, often moving into more of a midfield position when Leipzig had possession. Tasked with the difficult duty of containing Frankfurt’s top attacker, Filip Kostic, he did an admirable job keeping Kostic from causing too much danger. However, Leipzig’s attack struggled and they were only able to pull out a 1-1 draw.

John Brooks was back in his starting center back spot for Wolfsburg as they shut out Schalke for a 2-0 win. Brooks played the same role as he did for the US against Wales, winning clearances and helping to pass out of the back in possession.

Gio Reyna was on the bench to start Borussia Dortmund’s match against Hertha Berlin after starting both the US friendlies. He subbed on for the last 15 minutes of a blowout 5-2 victory, helping to win the ball back and set up Dortmund’s fifth goal. He nearly had a goal of his own a few minutes later, but was denied by a good save by the keeper.

In Italy, Weston McKennie also got some rest after starting both US games. He started on the bench for Juventus, but subbed on for the last 20 minutes of a 2-0 win over Cagliari. McKennie came on after Cristiano Ronaldo had scored two goals to give Juventus the lead. He brought a high work rate to shore up the midfield and help hold up the lead and see out the win.

Sergino Dest started on the bench for Barcelona in a high stakes matchup with Atletico Madrid. Dest subbed on at right back in the 62nd minute when starting center back Gerard Pique was injured. Dest defended his position well but wasn’t able to help Barcelona generate the offense needed to overcome a 1-0 deficit. The loss leaves Barcelona in an unfamiliar 13th place in the standings, well outside contention. In addition, Barcelona lost both Pique and right back Sergi Roberto to serious injuries. The latter opens a spot for Dest to start every game going forward.

Also in La Liga, the newest US national team recruit, Yunus Musah, started at right midfield and played the full game for Valencia in a 2-2 draw with Alaves. Musah showed that he can be effective playing out wide as well as in the middle of the field. He had several bright moments winning possession back and flashing impressive dribbling skills in tight spaces.

In the English Premier League, Antonee Robinson got the start at left back for Fulham against Everton, while Tim Ream was an unused substitute. Robinson struggled a bit defensively, getting beat on the dribble too easily a few times. He did do a good job getting forward and helped create a few chances down the flank for Fulham, providing one cross in particular that should have been scored by his teammate.

Another busy week lies ahead with the crammed schedule due to COVID. Many of the Americans will be suiting up for Champions League matches on Tuesday. Christian Pulisic continues to recover from an injury. He has been ruled out for Chelsea’s Tuesday Champions League game, but is expected to return next weekend for a big crosstown rivalry game with Tottenham.

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Monday
November 22
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#2280



trouble


There's so much to unpack from Sunday's horrifying home loss to the Titans that the movers are going to have to spend the night.

They can't do the whole job in just one day. Boxes are literally everywhere, still.

Hyperbole aside, the 30-24 overtime loss to Tennessee is one of the worst home defeats in the John Harbaugh era. Not because they lost a 21-13 fourth quarter lead. The Titans are a decent enough team, even though they slumbered through most of the opening 45 minutes of the game. And not because it was Derrick Henry who eventually got the best of them. He is, after all, one of the best running backs in the league and the Ravens were without two of their best defensive players for the entire afternoon.

It was one of the worst home losses of the John Harbaugh era because you could feel it happening and there was simply nothing the Ravens could do to stop it from occurring. The big moments, as they did last Sunday night in New England, all went against the Ravens...again.

And, just like that loss to the Patriots, Harbaugh's team had no answer for anything that worked against them. They didn't give up, per se, but they got manhandled, in their own backyard, with the game on the line and, perhaps, even their playoff lives on the line.

We'll do our best not to pile on today, but we're probably going to be guilty of it. Some piling on is deserved, unfortunately.

Where to start?

John Harbaugh's team not only squandered a 4th quarter lead on Sunday, but the coach and his staff got burned by a fake punt when the other team's back-up quarterback snuck on the field.

The easiest place is to go simply to the game-changing moments. There were several along the way, and all of them involved some sort of Ravens blunder, miscue or oversight. No one expects a team to play mistake-free football. The other teams tries, too, remember, and sometimes they force you into mistakes you otherwise wouldn't make. But on Sunday, the mistakes the Ravens authored were used with their own ink, mainly.

After the Titans managed a field goal in the 3rd quarter to cut Baltimore's lead to 21-13, the Ravens took over and started piecing together what appeared to be a promising drive. They churned out 27 yards on six plays and Lamar Jackson used two new receiving targets on that drive; Dez Bryant (2 catches, 8 yards) and James Proche (1 catch, 14 yards). The Ravens were in business.

And then, on 1st and 10 from their own 44, Lamar went to the air for a deep ball to Devin Duvernay. The pass wasn't particularly well thrown, Duvernay thought had to go back for the ball, but misjudged it's trajectory as it sailed over his head, and Tennessee easily picked it off at the nine yard line.

There's no telling what would have happened on that drive if Jackson wouldn't have thrown that interception. People are quick to say the Ravens lost a touchdown or a field goal there, but the reality is they were only at their own 44 yard line. They might have turned the ball over on downs there for all we know. But what is worth talking about is why offensive coordinator Greg Roman (or Jackson himself, if he audibled out of the original play call and went with the deep ball on his own) would take that moment in the game to throw a deep pass when the offense was starting to chip away at the Titans defense on that series.

It's hard to understand. Just at the moment where the Ravens gain a little momentum and start clicking with a series of short throws and a run or two, Roman eschews that progress and goes Air Coryell. And Jackson -- Murphy's Law and all -- then throws an underwhelming ball to a smaller guy in Duvernay who can't get up and fight for it the way someone like Bryant might be able to.

Still, all Tennessee was able to do on that ensuing drive after the pick was kick another field goal and it was 21-16. The Ravens were still in good shape.

The next offensive series featured another massive miscue and a two-play moment-in-time that pretty much summarized the Ravens' recent fall from grace. Four minutes into the 4th quarter and clinging to a 5-point lead, Jackson and the offense started to move the ball. On 2nd and 9 at their own 37, Lamar took off around the right end, ducked in between two defenders and dove in the direction of the first down "line". The officials ruled him just short of the marker -- even though the TV replays sure looked like he made it -- and the Ravens challenged the spot of the ball.

Harbaugh gets grilled for his challenges (even though it's rarely Harbaugh himself who challenges the plays; a two-member "booth team" does most of it for him) but this one seemed fairly simple. Jackson got the first down and the Ravens would continue the drive.

Except they didn't get it. The officials upheld the call and Baltimore was faced with a critical 3rd and 1.

On that 3rd and 1, the play was a Jackson QB sneak. We can debate the smarts of that all day (Dobbins? Edwards?), but the play never developed because Mark Andrews was guilty of a false start. On 3rd and 6, Jackson threw for Andrews over the middle but the ball was a hair off target and it dinked off of the tight end's hands. And the Ravens were in trouble.

If Jackson picks up that first down the 2nd and 9 run or Andrews isn't whistled for a penalty on 3rd and 1, the entire game might have finished differently. But neither of those things happened. If, if, if...

Tennessee promptly marched right down the field and scored the go ahead touchdown on an impressive 10-play drive that stripped the Ravens defense of its manhood. The touchdown pass to A.J. Brown with 2:18 to play was one of the most unsettling moments of the season, as four Baltimore defensive players "tried" (sort of) to tackle Brown, who simply churned his feet long enough to brush everyone aside and scamper into the end zone. The effort by Marcus Peters on that play was particularly discouraging. Or, if you like, it was "dreadfully embarrassing". Pick your description and use it.

But the Ravens weren't done yet. This was Jackson's time to shine. Down 24-21 (after the Titans waltzed in for the 2 point conversion on the previous TD), this would be Lamar's 2020 Mona Lisa. He had the chance to drive the home team down the field and into the end zone to rescue them from a jarring, crushing defeat and turn this Thursday's game in Pittsburgh into something really meaningful.

Mark Andrews had a big day on Sunday but it was his false start penalty that turned a 3rd and 1 into a 3rd and 6 that helped change the course of the second half.

And for the most part, Jackson did that. He moved them 65 yards in nine plays, with a mix of throws (Snead, Bryant, Andrews) and a nice run of his own and the Ravens were in business with 49 seconds remaining. They were at the Tennessee 14 yard line. A game-tying field goal was in the bag, but a touchdown and a victory were an arm's reach away.

But on 1st and 10 from the 14, center Patrick Mekari snapped the ball too soon and Dez Bryant was whistled for illegal motion. That faux pas seemed to rattle Jackson, as he threw three straight incompletions and Tucker had to come on to send the game to OT with a short field goal.

Mekari, subbing for Matt Skura, had himself a decent day overall. But the one moment that will stand out was his poorly-timed snap on that 1st and 10 play late in the game. And so it goes. You can handle your business well for 59:59, but that one second mistake takes all of it away.

In overtime, the Ravens got the ball first, but Jackson and the offense couldn't do anything. Dobbins got 2 yards, Lamar was sacked for a 9 yard loss, and a short throw to Dobbins got them a yard or two in front of the original line of scrimmage.

And we all know what happened on Tennessee's first drive of overtime. Derrick Henry for 29 yards, into the end zone, and that's all she wrote.

But the notes don't stop there.

If you follow social media at all (which is today's in-game "live" sports talk radio...it's just done with a computer instead of a phone), you see a lot of people use the words "outcoached" throughout any given game. It's the easiest thing to fall back on when you don't really know sports all that well. You just assume every mistake, every good thing, every bad thing and, every "thing" is the result of a coach moving a piece or failing to move a piece that resulted in a specific occurrence taking place.

"Outcoached" is the most overused term out there these days. Does coaching matter? Well of course it does. But I'd say about 90% of the time someone says "outcoached" it had little or nothing to do with actual "coaching".

But...

The moment described below is one of those "10% times".

In the second quarter, with the Ravens up 14-7, Tennessee's offense was going nowhere and they were starting to look listless. Yannick Ngakoue was having a field day on the edge and Ryan Tannehill was getting jittery.

On 4th and 7 at their own 49, the Titans snuck back-up quarterback Logan Woodside onto the field to serve as the protection guy between the snapper and the punter. The ball got snapped to Woodside and he threw a perfect strike to a receiver for a first down.

Gutsy call by Mike Vrabel? Sure. If Tennessee fails to connect on the fake-punt-play, the Ravens would have had the ball at midfield with a chance to tack on to their 14-7 lead.

But how on earth does Logan Woodside make it on to the field and someone from the Ravens coaching staff not see it and call time-out? That, plain and simple, is a "coaching mistake".

You can also potentially lay some of the blame on veteran Ravens players if you want. That might not be completely out of order, since they should also be paying attention. But the blame goes on the Ravens coaches who failed to see Woodside standing there. Tennessee would "only" score 3 points after extending that drive with the successful fake punt, but perhaps the game never gets to overtime if Woodside is discovered and the play is squashed with a time-out.

"Outcoached" is an overused term. But in that moment, the Ravens were, in fact, severely "outcoached".

The most revealing moment of the loss came afterwards, though. Perhaps Lamar Jackson meant it as a throw-away line. Perhaps he didn't even mean to say it the way he said it. Maybe he just said it because he was running out of things to say.

But when the quarterback said in the post-game press conference, "That other team wanted it more than we did," you just knew it was going to be a major topic of conversation afterwards.

And it is. And it will continue to be.

We'll take some time tomorrow to really look at that statement by Jackson. It was both revealing and, perhaps, a bad decision by Lamar to air it out after the game like that. We'll do a deeper dive on why Lamar shouldn't have said it tomorrow. But the mere fact that he used those words "they wanted it more than we did" tells you that something might be brewing in the locker room that can't be corrected over the next six weeks.

For now, the Ravens are 6-4 and face a massively significant showdown with the Steelers on Thursday night in Pittsburgh. The division title is all but gone. The Ravens playoff chances are still decent given who they face in the final five weeks, but they'll be playing those five weeks (assuming a loss to the Steelers) without any margin for error at all.

And as we've seen in three of the last four games, the Ravens are an error-prone team in 2020. And that's what's more concerning than anything else, I'd say.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


consider this


It occurred to me during the third quarter of Sunday’s Ravens-Titans tilt at M&T Bank Stadium that all of us are right back where we’ve been for years. And not just for us — for fans of almost every team in the NFL.

The Ravens go into every game with a very good chance of losing, about the same as they do of winning. It’s a crapshoot, really. And it’s terrifying, no matter how clear that should be before almost any NFL game.

Before the end of this season, the Ravens will play Dallas, Jacksonville, the Giants and the Bengals. Combined, those teams have a record of 8-29-1 so far this year. Dallas and Cincinnati have lost their quarterbacks for the year; the Giants and Jaguars don’t have great ones.

For the Ravens, though, it makes little difference right now. They will go into every one of those games as a team that can easily lose it. I don’t even think that’s just the mentality of the fans, either. The Ravens know they’ve lost some key pieces, and they know they have to be a little more perfect to win any game.

The Ravens, as you’ll recall, made the playoffs in each of John Harbaugh’s first five years as head coach. After a year away following the Super Bowl season, they got there again in 2014. After agonizing near-misses in both 2016 and 2017, Lamar Jackson hit the field and led his team to six wins in seven game and a 2018 AFC North title.

There wasn’t one game during any of those playoff seasons, let alone the non-playoff years, where I thought that Harbaugh’s team was a mortal lock. They started as a team that played offense conservatively because they still had a great defense. When the game became more of an offensive show, their quarterback wasn’t good enough to lead the team by himself, no matter how much he was being paid.

Every game was like a fright-fest; you were never quite sure what you would get. It wasn’t as bad as being a fan of the Jets or Browns, but it was nail-biting most of the time.

Maybe the Ravens can win those four games against the NFL’s dregs and even win in Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Like I said, it’s close to a 50-50 shot anyway. But the short-lived days of predictability appear to be over in Baltimore.


People want to talk about paying Lamar Jackson. Fine. People wanted to talk about paying Dak Prescott in Dallas, and I’m sure they are already talking in Arizona about paying Kyler Murray, though he is only in his second season. The quarterback position takes up a high percentage of a team’s payroll, if he’s a veteran anyway. You want to make the right choice.

Pay the man? Some Ravens fans are starting to wonder if forking over big dough for Lamar Jackson is the right move.

And look…there is no way to deny that Lamar Jackson doesn’t look like the same player he was last year. I don’t know if that means that he’s “regressed” on some grand scale, or that he’ll never be as good again as he was last season (very possible). It’s just the truth right now.

I do think that Lamar still seems like a leader to me. I still believe his teammates love playing with him and for him. I like that he thinks the Ravens are good and speaks positively in the simplest, most confident way. I also believe that it isn’t good enough to be a leader if you are unable to play the position with enough quality.

All that said…I don’t think that Lamar has it easy this year. In fact, I think he has the toughest job of any quarterback in the league. He is expected to be something that no other player in the NFL is expected to be, and the thing is…last year he actually proved he could live up to that expectation.

It is an incredibly high level of expectation. Tom Brady and Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers are going to the Hall of Fame, and all of them are still pretty good at what they’ve always been. Those guys are expected to pass the ball with ruthless efficiency, with the occasional spectacular play thrown in.

Guys like Ryan Tannehill, who beat the Ravens on Sunday and is having a career renaissance with the Titans, have a lower level of expectation assigned to them. They are expected to do anything they can to not lose a game. There must be something incredibly freeing about that.

I don’t know what the Ravens are going to do about Jackson and a long-term deal. Like the football team, all we can do is take it week to week right now. I do know that the decision will have to be made with the overall expectations placed upon Jackson in mind.


I’m not sure why John Harbaugh was so upset with the Titans before, during, and after the game. Whatever the Titans did pregame was silly college stuff, and Harbaugh should have treated it that way. Maybe his brother got to him last night or something.

I’m sure about this…the fact that he wouldn’t shake Mike Vrabel’s hand after the game was completely lame. Maybe Harbaugh would have done the same if the Ravens had scored a touchdown at the end of regulation or in overtime to win the game, but it still would have been lame.

Whoever won this game was going to win it fair and square. It was as “old school” as an NFL game gets in 2020. From a distance, if you’re an NFL fan in Alaska (the game was televised in the Anchorage and Fairbanks markets, according to my friends at 506sports.com), I’m sure it was a heck of a battle.

Here are a few ideas on what Harbaugh could have done and said instead.

“Mike. Good win. You’ve got a great team. You’re a total d*** though. Good luck the rest of the year.”

“Mike. Good win. You’ve got a great team. That stuff before the game was total horse**** and you know it. Good luck the rest of the year.”

“Mike. Good win. You’ve got a great team. Maybe they should act like it instead of 12-year-olds. Good luck the rest of the year.”

“Mike. Good win. You’ve got a great team. What exactly does Derrick Henry eat anyway?”

Ok, so I’m kidding about the last one. But the first three would have been perfectly legitimate, I think. If Harbaugh wanted to let Mike Vrabel know what he thinks of him, there was an opportunity. But the bigger opportunity is to congratulate the other team on the win.

John Harbaugh is certainly frustrated at this point. No matter how much every NFL team is supposed to keep fighting, injuries or not, the Ravens have some big ones right now. Because of that, his team cannot be physically dominant on either side of the ball. And his secondary, supposedly a strength of the team, played what had to have been one of the worst games of any defensive backfield in the league this year.

But, c’mon man. Do the perfunctory handshake and tell the other guy that his team deserved to win. It’s true, isn’t it?

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 10


Sunday — November 22, 2020
Issue #2279

Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-6.0)



right time, right place, right opponent?


Today's game with the Titans might just be the perfect tonic for what ails the Ravens these days.

I know, I know. I can read your mind.

"Drew, are you nuts? The Titans -- with one of the best running backs in the entire league -- are the perfect tonic for what ails the Ravens?"

Maybe.

And I'm not just looking for a reason to think the Ravens are going to win today. I mean, I want them to win and all, but I'm not wagering anything on it. And if they lose, I wouldn't be shocked...given what they've been going through the last few weeks.

But I do think the Ravens will bounce back and win today and I think the Titans are a "reason" why the home team will come out on top.

"GET TO THE POINT, DREW!!!"

Will the Ravens be able to contain Derrick Henry and the Tennessee running game today if Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams are unable to play?

I can almost hear you now.

OK, it's simple. I think the Ravens need to face a team with a so-so defense. I think it would be best if they faced that team at home. And I think it would help if that team with a so-so defense was going to face the Ravens without two of its better veteran players.

Check. Check. And check.

The Titans check off every one of those boxes, unfortunately for them.

Tennessee's defense is pretty lousy. Other than creating turnovers, where they're tops in the NFL with 10 so far this season, nothing at all stands out about the Titans defense. They're in the bottom 3rd of total defense and give up the 5th most passing yards per-game of all 32 teams. They allow roughly 120 yards per-game on the ground, which isn't terrible, but won't remind anyone of the Steel Curtain, either.

I think the Ravens need to face a team with a bad defense to get themselves untracked.

Enter: Tennessee.

Do I expect Lamar Jackson to have a field day? I wouldn't go that far. I seem to recall the Titans' coaching staff had a trick or two up their sleeve last January in Baltimore. But their personnel was different back then -- as is the Ravens offensive personnel today, admittedly -- and today's a new day. What happened last January means very little this afternoon.

I realize Derrick Henry is the X factor the Titans are counting on to balance things out. If they can put the ball in his hands 30 times and if he can run for 175 yards, that not only keeps Lamar and the Baltimore offense off the field but it also softens up the Ravens defense for the occasional Ryan Tannehill throw downfield. The Titans do have some decent pass catching weapons.

This one feels like a shootout to me.

We're eschewing some of the "traditional look" of #DMD GameDay today. No "By The Percentages" or "How Drew Sees Today's Game" will be part of today's coverage. I know how that disappoints some of you who sit around and comb through every single word to try and find a math mistake or an incorrect prediction...but you'll survive.

Instead, let's look at this game and the others in the AFC today to try and see how the playoff picture is starting to shape up. After today, only six regular season games remain, including this Thursday's Ravens-Steelers game in Pittsburgh, which will now take on an interesting twist since both teams will apparently be required to wear face masks (not the football kind, the Covid-19 kind) while they are actually on the field playing the game.

Today's game between two 6-3 teams isn't necessarily a "must win" for either team, but it's one of those "we'd definitely love to win this one" kind of game, because it could have playoff implications down the road. A Baltimore win today gives them the tiebreaker over Tennessee should the Titans falter and fail to win the AFC South, but still finish with a good enough record to claim one of the three wild card spots.

The Ravens, truth be told, actually need this game more than Tennessee. While the AFC North isn't locked up yet, the Steelers are in great shape moving forward. If a wild card berth is all the Ravens are in position to muster in 2020, it will help that they already have wins over teams like Cleveland and Indianapolis in the AFC. They see the Browns again, obviously, but a win today over the Titans could come in real handy in January when the playoff picture is firmed up.

Even with their limitations at wide receiver and a patchwork offensive line -- which will evidently include Bradley Bozeman at center in place of Matt Skura -- I still feel like this one's going to be "The Lamar Show" and the Ravens' QB will wind up winning the day for John Harbaugh's team. Dez Bryant will be activated for the game, which gives Jackson a new target and also challenges the Titans to figure out a plan to cover Bryant, who hasn't played in the league in a few years.

Tennessee's run defense isn't terrible, but the loss of Jadeveon Clowney and Kenny Vaccaro will have an impact on the Titans no matter if Baltimore runs the ball or throws it.

Yes, I'm well aware the Ravens defense might be vulnerable today without Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell, assuming both of them miss the game. Hence my thought that this one might wind up in the "shootout" category.

I know Ryan Tannehill beat Lamar Jackson in Baltimore last January, so it would be wrong of me to say, "Ryan Tannehill isn't coming to Baltimore and beating Lamar Jackson."

But he's not doing it today.

Tannehill and the Titans offense might put up some numbers, but it won't be enough to offset a huge day from Lamar Jackson, who rushes for 98 yards and throws for 282 in a 35-26 Ravens victory.


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key afc games


Philadelphia at Cleveland -- As much as this one looks and feels like a Browns win, don't count your chickens just yet if you're in Cleveland. The Browns barely beat the Texans last Sunday, remember, and even though this is not a "look at what happened last week" kind of league, Cleveland's not likely to run roughshod over anyone. The Eagles (3-5-1) need this one just as much as Cleveland (6-3). Sure, Philly can probably finish 6-9-1 and still win the NFC East, but they need as many wins as they can get so something goofy doesn't happen like the Giants or Cowboys somehow finish 6-10 and win the division because the Eagles could only go 5-10-1. We'll go with Cleveland in this one, 23-20, but don't be shocked at all if Philly wins this one. Remember, at the worst time possible time -- for them -- the Browns are always prone to being the Browns.

Are the Steelers good enough to go down to Jacksonville and beat the Jaguars or will the "Cleat of Reality" finally catch up with Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh at Jacksonville -- Remember a couple of weeks ago when Pittsburgh had to scratch out a referee-aided win in Dallas against the lowly Cowboys? If the Steelers don't have their chakras in line today, they could definitely lose to the Jaguars. Do I expect it to happen? No. But I've seen enough of this 9-0 Pittsburgh team to know they're not nearly the juggernaut that their record suggests. Lamar gave them the ball four times in Baltimore a few weeks ago and they had to hold on for dear life just to win that one. Then they nearly lost to Dallas. Trust me, Pittsburgh could go down to Jacksonville and lay an egg. Ben's history on the road isn't all that great. There's the overconfidence factor. And the Jaguars are due for some market correction after their 1-8 start. My guess is Pittsburgh wins the same way they won in Dallas. They'll be trailing in the 4th quarter, the refs will gift them a couple of calls on a big late-game drive, and the Steelers will pull out a 22-20 win that goes down to the wire.

Miami at Denver -- Who woulda thunk it, right? Miami (6-3) could be a team the Ravens have to battle with for a playoff spot in January. But today's game in Denver will tell you a lot about this Dolphins team. It's one thing for Tua to enjoy the sun and warm temperatures down there in South Florida. It's another for him to tee it up in Denver today where the game time temps will be in the low 20's. Denver's 3-6 record is what it is, but the Broncos are 3-3 in their last 6 games and one of those losses came in Atlanta where they choked away a third quarter 27-6 lead. Denver isn't terrible, even though 3-6 might say they are. And the Dolphins have won five straight, but they haven't been beating up on league powerhouses along the way, mind you. Still, that Miami defense is really good and Denver's going to have a tough time moving the ball. We're going with the Broncos in this one, as Tua gets a taste of NFL life on a 20-degree November day in Denver's 17-16 victory.

Kansas City at Las Vegas -- This one should be entertaining, if nothing else. The Raiders are the only team to beat Kansas City this season and a Raiders victory tonight would at least give them a puncher's chance of winning the AFC West. Could the Chiefs have to play a wild card game in January? Maybe. If Las Vegas (6-3) wins tonight, their last six games come against: at Atlanta, at Jets, vs. Colts, vs. Chargers, vs. Dolphins and at Denver. There are some tricky games in there, but the Raiders could be on their way to a 12-4 campaign if they can pull this one out tonight. But it won't be easy. Kansas City (8-1) knows a win tonight all but locks up the division title. And even if their earlier home loss to the Raiders wasn't a fluke, it's tough for any team to beat another division rival twice in the same season, especially when Patrick Mahomes is part of that division rival. We're taking the Chiefs tonight in a barnburner in Las Vegas, as Mahomes rallies Kansas City past Jon Gruden's group, 33-28.

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calvert hall, loyola won't meet on thanksgiving


The Covid-19 crisis claimed another victim on Saturday and this one hurts Baltimore sports fans deeply.

The annual "Turkey Bowl" between Calvert Hall and Loyola will not be played on Thanksgiving morning, ending a 100-year run of consecutive games between the two schools.

Both teams had played a small schedule in 2020, with most of the attention on the truncated season focused on getting ready for the annual Turkey Bowl. But the recent spike in virus numbers coupled with some recent changes to Baltimore County guidelines led the two schools to make the decision to cancel this year's game.

Here's the official statement from both Calvert Hall and Loyola:

When our schools reopened for the 2020-21 academic year, students returned to campuses that felt different than the ones they left in March. Although the year began with a sense of unease and a healthy level of trepidation, our school communities quickly found their groove. A turning point was the commencement of an abbreviated fall sports season. With that came the anticipation of celebrating the 101st Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving morning. With the issuance of the Executive Order restricting gatherings and high school sports contests in Baltimore County, we sincerely regret that this treasured tradition will not be held in 2020. We respect the efforts of Baltimore County government leadership to safeguard its citizens and we share a desire to do our part to avoid contributing to the soaring COVID-19 metrics in our region. While there is disappointment felt by members of our school communities, most especially the student-athletes and coaches who have prepared for this annual matchup, there is also a shared sense of gratitude for the many blessings this school year has already delivered. As we all celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let us honor the proud legacy that 100 years of Turkey Bowl history have brought to the Cardinal and Dons faithful. We look forward to resuming this storied rivalry and having you join us in the stands to cheer on two of the finest Catholic institutions in the nation. Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Saturday
November 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2278



a lost sports year?


I was chatting about the current NFL season with a friend on Friday and for about ten seconds, neither of us could remember who the Chiefs played in the Super Bowl last February.

I mean it. We couldn't remember.

The conversation started by discussing how hard it would be for the Dodgers to repeat as baseball titleists and my friend said, "I mean, the Chiefs are no lock to get back there this year and neither is the team they played in the Super Bowl."

"Who was that?" I asked.

There was silence and we both started thinking.

"Minnesota?" my friend wondered.

"No, it wasn't Minnesota, you dummy. Who was it?" I replied. It's funny when you call someone else a dummy for not knowing something and then you say, "Seattle?".

"Green Bay!" he shot back.

Shane Lowry didn't get the chance to defend his 2019 British Open title because the event wasn't played at all in 2020 due to Covid-19.

There was silence again for a second or two and then as I raced through the teams in the NFC West -- after suggesting Seattle -- I remembered it was San Francisco.

"Ohhhhh, right," my friend said. "The 49'ers were winning the whole game and then Kansas City came back to win."

That's life in a pandemic world, I suppose, where two guys who love sports and follow it couldn't remember who won the Super Bowl nine months earlier. I guess that's also what happens when neither of the teams who played were your own favorite team.

We continued chatting as we hit golf balls on a nice, sunny late fall day in Baltimore. I recently got new iron shafts through a club-fitting at Five Iron Golf in downtown Baltimore and was eager to test them out. Editor's note: If you're even remotely serious about golf, you absolutely have to take part in a club-fitting session at Five Iron with Matt Decker. You will learn so much about your swing and your golf clubs (most likely, that the ones you're playing with now don't "fit" you properly) that you won't believe it. Reach out to me if you want an introduction to Matt and I'll make it happen. It's a great experience.

Anyway, as we hit balls, the realization came to me that 2020 will always be remembered as the year that sports got really weird. I know what you're thinking: "Gee Drew, tell me something I don't already know."

As we enjoyed a late Friday range session and an adult beverage, I asked my friend what single sports "event" that either didn't happen at all or happened but was delayed was the one that really made him understand how crazy 2020 was/is, sports-wise.

He thought for a minute. "I guess the one I missed the most was definitely the NCAA basketball tournament," he said. "The build-up to that is really cool and I thought Maryland had a great chance to go deep in the tournament this year (in March) and having that all swept away by Covid was a real bummer."

"I was kind of depressed all throughout March because there was no March Madness," he admitted.

I had a personal sports experience on my list, which was the MIAA high school golf season. My Calvert Hall team -- by far the best roster and team of my 8 years at the school -- got to play one match (a non conference win over a D.C. school) before our season ended. 2020 was going to be our year. We were senior heavy with three (out of six) starters headed to college to play golf. Who knows how it would have all turned out, of course, but I would have wagered a chinese lunch with you that the Cardinals would have gone 12-0 in 2020 and won the title.

So, personally, I'll always remember 2020 as the year we didn't get to play golf at Calvert Hall, leaving a hole in the legacy of that team that had worked so hard to get to 2020 and show what they could do.

But from a sports standpoint, the thing that felt the weirdest to me was not having baseball.

Oh, sure, we eventually got baseball, but it was only sorta-kinda-baseball. Some of the games weren't nine innings, if you got to extra innings it was almost akin to playing rock-paper-scissors to see who won the game, and, of course, the biggest story was the fact that no fans were allowed in the ballparks for the 60-game *thing they called a season.

I really missed going to the games in Baltimore and taking my now standard once-a-summer trip to an away ballpark with my son.

One year isn't much, I know, but yesterday my little boy was born at GBMC and last week he took his "shadow day" tour at Calvert Hall, where he will hopefully attend next year. (Side note: If you're reading this, son, you better get working on that entry essay. Dad's not gonna help you with it.)

So missing one summer of baseball games with him was disappointing. It's one thing if he's four or five and we don't get to go to the ballpark. But he was 12 last summer and those days and nights sitting in the seats and trying to catch foul balls and eating chicken tenders and fries are getting better and better the older he gets.

"You don't know what you have until it's gone."

I watched the games on TV, of course, because it's part of my "assignment" here at #DMD and because I love the team, but we all knew the truth about the 2020 thing*. It was only "real" if your team had a chance at the playoffs, which the Orioles never really did. Oh, sure, they hung around and had a mathematical shot at making it all the way up until the final week, but that was a math equation that only Will Hunting could have figured out. Watching your team play a meaningless September baseball game is about as exciting as raking leaves.

But the games in April, May, June and July are always very real, even if you're watching the Orioles and they're 18 games out of first place at the All Star break. You go to a home game in mid-June on a Tuesday night when the Mariners are in town and that game "matters", even if both teams are lousy. This past season, watching the Orioles play the Red Sox in August when neither team had a chance of doing anything except playing out the string was just bad TV. So, I watched some of it, used some of the games for "white noise" and didn't watch some others.

"How many games did you watch last season?" I asked my friend on Friday as we emptied the large bucket of balls.

"I'm embarrassed to say," he replied. "You'll probably write about me in the Dish."

"Come on man, you know I wouldn't do that," I shot back, even though I was starting to see the roots of a Saturday piece here at #DMD.

"I think I watched five games," he admitted. "I definitely didn't watch one game start to finish."

"How about you?" he asked.

"I probably saw some or all of 40 games," I said as I thought back about my viewing habits. "I followed another 10 on-line as I did some work and my family watched something on the living room TV and I didn't have the energy to walk downstairs and watch it in the basement."

"But I did catch about 40 of the 60 games. It was pretty boring, to say the least."

I also missed the British Open. That's one of my favorite sporting events of the year, for sure. I stopped for a second and thought to myself, "Who won the British Open in 2019?"

I couldn't remember. That's what 2020 has done. I scratched through names ("It wasn't Koepka, it wasn't J.T., it wasn't Rose or Fleetwood. Molinari won it the year before.")

Then I remembered it was Shane Lowry who won the British Open in 2019. Editor's note: Yes, I'm aware they call it the "Open Championship" over there and everyone else is supposed to call it that as well, but Jim McKay and Jack Whitaker always called it the British Open so I'm gonna call it the British Open.

And I really missed the horse racing Triple Crown in 2020. Sure, I know they had the races and all, but it wasn't the same. They were just three horse races with fancy names attached to them but it wasn't the "real" Triple Crown, not when the schedule isn't followed in its proper order.

"I missed the Memorial Day weekend lacrosse championship too," my friend added as we cleaned off our clubs.

Nothing has felt normal since March 12, 2020. I think we would all admit that. It's still not normal today, even, although this, perhaps, is our "new normal". I saw a Johns Hopkins doctor on TV last night say that even with a virus vaccine, he suspects the incoming president/administration is going to mandate masks be worn throughout 2021.

One thing for sure: I hope we get a baseball season in 2021, with fans and all. My Orioles ticket rep reached out to me earlier this week to inquire about my renewal of the 13-game plan and I said, "Let's see how things look in February..." That's code word for: "If there are fans in the stadium I'm in, but if not, I'm not giving you $600 to just sit in your bank account while it could be sitting in my bank account."

What have you missed the most about 2020? Please use the Comments section below and tell the world.

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show this to your high school/college athlete


I know it's a year old, nearly, but if you have a son or daughter who plays high school or college sports, this 1 minute video clip from Texas Tech basketball coach Chris Beard is an absolute MUST-SEE.

Please show it to them. Like, today. And send it to their phone, too, so they have it there. And then watch it again with them in a few weeks. And months.

You can never watch this video enough.


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Friday
November 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2277



"please the court, is there a question anywhere in our future?"


Pat Greeley asks: "Is it too early for the Orioles to make a play or two for a couple of veteran free agent pitchers? Are they not close enough to competing to justify spending big bucks?"

DF says:"I don't think it's too early. They definitely need some pitching help. And there are gobs of good arms available this off-season. Notice I said "good" arms. Not "great". But there are a dozen pitchers who would fit in nicely for a couple of years, like Mike Minor or Jake Odorizzi. Dependable but not bank-breakers. It's worth noting, of course, that Baltimore might not be a desirable location for free agents. The Orioles have been pretty lousy recently, in case you haven't noticed."


Mike asks: "I know you like playing the odds and percentages. What are the percentages (100% being highest obviously) that the following six teams make the Super Bowl this season: Chiefs, Steelers, Ravens, Buccaneers, Packers, Saints. Thanks, Drew."

DF says: "Good question. Kansas City is 80%. Pittsburgh is 40%. Ravens are 20%. Buccaneers 40%. Packers are 35%. Saints are 30%. All of those numbers, of course, are predicated on the starting QB's of those teams staying healthy. And the Saints are at 30% because of the uncertainty of Brees. If he's healthy, they're probably 40% or maybe even 45%. Oh, and you didn't ask, but I'd say the Seahawks are probably also at 35%. And the Flyers are 0% to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals."


"Is Justin Tucker a Hall of Famer" and "Will Justin Tucker make the Hall of Fame someday?" are two different questions and, sadly, might have two different answers as well.

Curt Froole asks: "Is there any chance at all Justin Tucker doesn't make the Hall of Fame or is he now a slam dunk?"

DF says: "Of course there's a chance Tucker doesn't make it to Canton. He's a kicker. In fact, there's probably a very good chance he doesn't make it. We all know Justin Tucker most certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame. He's a Hall of Fame performer. But kickers just don't make it that often, no matter how they good are. Adam Vinateri will be a good litmus test for Tucker. If Vinateri makes it, Tucker will have a great chance as well. But nothing would surprise me. If neither of them get in I would say, "Yeah, that figures." They've never given kickers and punters enough credit in my opinion."


Mark in Perry Hall asks: "I know you say that Baltimore couldn't support a NBA and NHL franchise at the same time, but which of those two could possibly work in Baltimore if they came here on their own? Like in Pittsburgh, where they have hockey and no basketball or Charlotte where they have basketball and no hockey."

DF says: "This is a good one! I'm still not sure either of them would work, honestly. I just don't think Baltimore can pony up the corporate dough for a NBA or NHL team and I don't see 19,000 people going to 40-some home games a year. But I'll humor you. Of the two, I do think Baltimore would take to a NHL team more than a NBA team. I think the NHL lends itself to a "blue collar town" more. I can just see the headlines now: CLIPPERS CRUSH FLYERS IN HOME OPENER, 9-0."


Lee asks: "Are you buying into all of the Kyler Murray hype?"

DF says: "I mean, he's obviously an excellent young quarterback. There's no doubting that. But I think we (sports fans) do this thing a lot where we anoint these guys to be the next great player and they've still never won a game in their life that really matters. Murray is in that boat right now. Honestly, so is Lamar. When those guys win a playoff game or two or take their team to the conference championship or play in a Super Bowl then we can start discussing their rise within the league. So, yes, I'm buying into the fact that Murray is an exciting young player. But I think we need to see him actually accomplish something that counts before we start comparing him to Joe Montana. And the same goes for Jackson. I realize he won the MVP award, but at the end of the day that's just a trophy. When he wins some playoff games, we'll start looking at him differently."


Tar Heel Tom asks: "Hey Drew, love your question and answer blog you do occasionally. Underrated or overrated on a few actors if you don't mind answering these in a future edition: Tom Cruise, Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Hanks. Thanks!"

DF says: "You know I love me some Underrated and Overrated! Easy one here, for me anyway. I know Cruise has had some flops in his day (but anyone who does 40 films has to have a few stinkers) but I think he's generally underrated. Some of his best work was sensational. He was obviously outstanding in A Few Good Men. He was great in Rain Man. And I thought he was really good in Born on the 4th of July. I don't get the whole Tommy Lee Jones thing. To me he always plays the same basic role; the gruff, hardened, spiteful detective or law enforcement guy. But maybe I just haven't seen enough of him. I'll call him overrated with an admission that I probably should instead just say, "no opinion". And I can't even begin to imagine a world where anyone would think Tom Hanks is overrated. He's one of the five best actors ever. So if he's not overrated, that only leaves one thing: underrated."


Paul B. asks: "What do you miss the most and least about being on the radio?"

DF says: "Talking to callers is probably what I miss the most. Just having that sort of relationship where you get to know those people not only as callers, but as friends. Jerry in Timonium, Ralph in Towson, Fergie in White Marsh, just to name three. I got to know those guys personally. When Fergie passed away in a car accident, I went to his viewing/funeral. Ralph actually represented the radio station in the severance negotiations when I was fired. But we got past that and we're still good friends and keep in touch to this day. Jerry and I would have regular chinese lunches and argue about Joe Flacco. What do I miss the least? Oh, that's easy. Having to work from 6 am to 10 am and not seeing my children in the morning. I didn't realize how great it is to help your children get ready for school until...I helped get my children ready for school."


Chris asks: "What would you say are the chances of a junior golfer qualifying for/making the PGA Tour someday?"

DF says: "I think some of that depends on where they grow up and where they go to college to play golf. A kid growing up or going to college in Florida, California or some other warm weather environment definitely has an advantage over a kid who lives in the northern part of the country. But the difference isn't all that big, actually. I'd say it's about 5%. Maybe a shade higher if you're in Florida or California. It's really, really hard to get on TOUR and stay out there and make a living playing golf."


Jon Rahm will win one of golf's next 8 majors says #DMD.

Vince Fiduccia asks: "Of the next eight golf majors, how many different players will win them?"

DF says: "Great question! I'll say six. There are so many players who are "next up" on the major horizon. Schauffele has to win one soon. So does Rahm. I love Matt Wolff's game. I think Eric van Rooyen and Dylan Frittelli, two South African players, are sneaky good and have "major games". The same for Tyrrell Hatton of England. And then there's that Fowler guy. I mean, at some point the stars have to align for him to win one, kind of like they did for Pavin and Couples and Azinger and Love III. And I think Reed, DeChambeau and Koepka will be heard from again, and maybe soon. So, I'll say we'll see six different winners. I guess that math means *someone* will win three of the next eight and five other guys will win one, right? Who might that 3-time winner be? I would guess Dustin Johnson given what we've seen from him in 2020."


P.M. asks: "A couple of Mount Pleasant regulars were wondering about your thoughts on the following: Hardest hole at the Mount, easiest hole to birdie at the Mount and your favorite hole at the Mount. Thanks DF!"

DF says: "I guess by "hardest hole", I would calculate which one is the hardest to par if you played the course 7 straight days. To me, from the back tees, it's still #17. #14 would be a close second. There's just so much that can go wrong on #17. It's a 215 yard par-3 with bunkers on the left and "amateur alley" on the right and the green is huge. For some weird reason, I always found the 12th hole to be the easiest to birdie. I have no idea why but I definitely birdied that hole more in tournaments than any other hole at MP. My favorite hole has always been #2. Again, not sure why. I just think it has the best "look" of a public, city golf course. Road on the left, relatively short, need to hit a good drive, difficult green. I've always loved the 2nd hole at Mount Pleasant. Thanks for the trip down memory lane."


John Carter-Rebb asks: "What's the one Baltimore sports moment you saw in person that you still get chills thinking about today?"

DF says: "Well, this one took about 5 minutes to think about and answer. I'm going to eliminate the Blast's 1983-84 MISL title because I worked for the team and had to be there. I was in New Orleans in the press box for the Ravens Super Bowl win over San Francisco. That was really special. I was at UMBC when they beat Hartford to go to the NCAA tournament for the first time back in 2008. That was an incredible atmosphere. But the night Reggie Holmes broke the Morgan State scoring record at Hill Field House was probably the single most memorable sports "thing" I ever saw. Glenn Clark and I were there on press row and I remember saying to him at one point, "There are at least 7,000 people in this place. It's so crowded the fire marshals can't even get in to shut the place down." It was a wild night and Holmes just couldn't be stopped. It was the most memorable "Baltimore moment" I've ever seen in person."


Jamie asks: "I heard you on with Jeremy Conn tonight (Wednesday) talking about Daryl Hall being underrated and it led me to wondering who you think the most underrated BAND is in your lifetime? Thank you. Love your Morning Dish website!"

DF says: "No doubt about this one: The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). They were so good back in the '70's and 80's it was crazy. Jeff Lynne is amazing. "Mr. Blue Sky" is one of my all-time Top 25 favorite songs. ELO was absolutely, incredibly, wildly underrated."




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faith in sports


This week's edition of "Faith in Sports", presented by our friends at Freestate Electric, takes us to Kansas City, where we'll hear from three members of the Chiefs.

If you'll give this 5 minute video a chance today, I think you'll see three professional athletes who represent themselves well and, at the same time, shed some light on how their Christian beliefs have helped them navigate both football and their personal lives.





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Thursday
November 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2276



quick hits and a podcast


It always warms my heart to see athletes take to social media to praise God and give him Glory, in the best and worst of circumstances. Recently, in fact, we saw Ravens offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley praise Him after suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

Former Mount Saint Joseph and Maryland star Jalen Smith was picked in the first round by the Phoenix Suns last night.

So it was especially gratifying last night to see a large number of young men who were selected in the NBA Draft take a second to mention/praise God in their initial social media message after hearing their name announced.

And it was really cool to see two local players do that; Maryland's Jalen Smith and Kentucky's Immanuel Quickley. Smith went to Phoenix and the New York Knicks traded up to snag Quickley.

I was fortunate enough to see both of those young men play in high school when their teams visited Calvert Hall. Smith, of course, hails from Mount Saint Joseph and Quickley played for John Carroll. They were both not only standout performers but seemed -- from my vantage point -- to be good teammates as well. I remember once a player from John Carroll missed a big foul shot in a game against Calvert Hall and Quickley was the first player on his team to go over and wrap his arms around him after the final whistle.

Anytime young athletes like those two guys take a second to offer praise for God, it sends a great message to their young fan base that there's more to their basketball accomplishments than just their talent(s) alone.


Speaking of the NBA Draft, I'm no expert on it by any means. You can fit my knowledge of international basketball into a thimble. And feel free to bring the smallest thimble along, if you want.

But I can say two things with my admitted "limited certainty" about last night's Draft.

First, I have no idea if the Wizards' first round pick, at #9, will be a great NBA player. I've never seen Deni Avdija play one second of basketball, mostly because I don't follow professional basketball in Israel and the NBA just isn't on my radar screen enough to know anything about him. If you want to know which college golfers from Pepperdine and San Diego State and Oklahoma State are going to be rock stars on the PGA Tour, I can tell you that. But basketball in Israel? I know nothing.

So while I have no idea about Avdija, I do know about Michigan State's Cassius Winston, whom the Wizards acquired in a draft night deal with the Boston Celtics. Cassius Winston can play. I think he'll be a terrific NBA player. Who knows if the Wizards are the right spot for him? I mean, it's the Wizards and all. We know they have a chance of messing up anyone on their roster, especially young players.

But I love the Cassius Winston acquisition/pick.

And I also love Charlotte selecting College of Charleston's Grant Riller in the second round. I saw Riller play several times over the last few years when C of C visited the Towson Tigers at SECU Arena. I became such a Riller fan I actually made it a point to watch other C of C games on the internet/TV.

I've seen a lot of kids come through SECU Arena/Towson Center over the last 15 years. I'm one of the few "media people" (insert your quip here) who actually knew how to get to the gyms at Towson, UMBC, Loyola, Coppin State and Morgan State without the aid of a GPS. I saw hundreds of college basketball games and Riller was the best shooter of any mid-major player I've seen. And he plays great defense, too.

On any given night, CAA opponents would do their best to stifle Riller. They'd blanket him at all times, put their best defensive player on him, and generally do anything they could defensively to not allow Riller to beat them. And it almost always failed.

If Riller could score 25 points a night in the CAA with the whole team trying to stop him, just wait until he gets to the NBA and he faces "real" defense about 25 nights a year and "NBA defense" the other 55 nights. Whether Charlotte is a good fit for him, I have no idea. But I know that kid is a terrific basketball player.


During my appearance on 105.7 last night with Jeremy Conn and my earlier appearance in the day on Glenn Clark Radio, I brought up a topic with Jeremy and Glenn that has really been front-and-center with me this week, for some reason.

The Ravens are going to have a very interesting dilemma on their hands next April when their draft rolls around.

Let's pretend they finish the regular season at 11-5. Not knowing what they'll do in the playoffs, let's just imagine they pick 25th in the draft. We all know that's sort of the dreaded "dead spot" in the first round. Do you trade up to #15 or so and get a real standout or trade back into the 2nd round and give up your pick at #25 because the same basic quality of player you'd get at #25 will also be there at, say, #38?

Anyway...more important than where they pick is this question: What position should they fill with their first round selection?

I know almost everyone's reaction is the same as mine: PICK A WIDE RECEIVER!

But as soon as we say that, we all stop for a second and remember...the Ravens have never been any good at selecting wide receivers in the draft. Mark Clayton had a good career and so, too, did Torrey Smith. Clayton was a first round pick and Smith went in the second round. But other than that, honestly, it's been a futile exercise. Remember Ron Johnson? Yamon Figurs? Demetrius Williams? Jordan Lasley? Yeah, no one else does, either.

So, sure, the Ravens should take a receiver in the first round. They probably should have taken one last April when the whole first round was stocked with outstanding pass catching talent. But they didn't. And Patrick Queen might turn out to be a really good NFL player. But the Ravens annually either pass on taking a wide receiver (no pun intended) or take one who winds up stinking.

Maybe, just maybe, they should just concede on the wide receiver thing as it relates to college players and spend some real money on talented NFL free agents who can get open and catch the ball. That might just be the way to go given the organization's inability to latch on to talented receivers coming out of college. I'm sure there will be a few top free agent receivers peddling themselves next March when free agency begins.

Also...I think it's very fair to point out this has been an organizational failing since 1996. It's not a John Harbaugh thing or a Brian Billick thing or an Ozzie Newsome thing or an Eric DeCosta thing. Sure, all of those men have had a hand in the selection(s) of various wide receivers who didn't pan out over the years. But there were dozens of other scouts and team employees who share in the whiffs at receiver. It's totally bizarre, but the organization has just never been any good at selecting wide receivers in the draft.

So, with that said, let's look at the list of "can't-miss" offensive tackles who will be eligible for the draft next April. Sound good? Yeah, I think so, too.


Speaking of the Ravens and their offense, they are also going to be faced with another enormous "issue" this coming off-season. Are they going to give Lamar Jackson a contract extension after his 3rd season (allowed by NFL rules) or will they allow Jackson to continue playing on his rookie deal in 2021?

I'll delve into it more here next week, because I don't think is one of those five-sentence decisions, but I will say the answer isn't as easy as just saying, "Of course you do!"

I'm a Jackson fan, so I have to work especially hard to just not say "Of course you do!". It's a complicated scenario, particularly when you take into account that a significant number of people the Ravens have drafted recently or might draft next April are selected with Jackson in mind. In essence, the Ravens are building their offense around Lamar.

But there's a history in place of giving quarterbacks big money and the Ravens, I suspect, are going to do some fairly in-depth homework to see how those scenarios worked out for the organizations who ponied up big bucks for their quarterback. They will, of course, have their own experience in Baltimore to investigate. They gave Joe Flacco a gazillion dollars after winning the Super Bowl in 2013 and the franchise was -- for better or worse -- hampered by the amount of money they gave Flacco and other players around that same time frame.

Let's tackle this one next week, but I did want to mention it's on the horizon here at #DMD and you're welcome to opine on it, obviously.


I saw a lengthy exchange in the Comments section below about my piece yesterday regarding Dustin Johnson. Honestly, I don't really understand the nuances of the debate, so rather than cobble something together today, I'll take some time to read through the various comments again and try and get a better understanding of what everyone is arguing about. I guess that's the benefit of writing instead of being on-the-air.

Patrick Reed is one of golf's most demonstrative players and also one of the best players in the world.

In the "old days", if you called my radio show and tried to corner me on something, I'd have to give you some kind of immediate reaction or response. Here, I have the opportunity to "pass" on the topic for a day while I try and understand the question/issue and then give a more measured response. So I'll try and tackle this today and come up with something for tomorrow.

Here's one thing I'll say that might be germane to the topic and has no bearing at all on sports.

I'm a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I've seen him in concert 27 times. I've owned (or, own) every album he's ever put out, whether with the E Street Band or as a solo artist.

I haven't always liked every single piece of music Bruce has made, produced and distributed, but I'm the hugest-of-fans. He's been a very important part of my life and continues to be. My daughter, age 10, shared with me her five favorite Springsteen songs last weekend. Talk about a "proud Father" moment! She's 10!!

Anyway...

While I love Bruce Springsteen as a musician, I have almost no connection to him from a political standpoint. We are probably about as misaligned as two people can be on the subject of politics and government.

I would tell you to rush out right now and buy his new album, "Letter to You". I would urge you to buy a ticket to one of his live shows the next time he -- and the E Street Band -- tours in the United States.

I would also tell you not to pay any attention at all to his politics and political ramblings during those shows or at any other time, for that matter.

I can like the musician and the music and everything else about the "artist" but at the same time, there are things about Springsteen I don't align with, personally.

Listen to his music, but not his politics. That's my "coaching" for those of you who are Springsteen fans like me.

Wait a second...I don't have to put this topic off until tomorrow.

I just gave you the answer there.

It's entirely possible to like Tiger Woods as a golfer -- which I most certainly do, he's the greatest player I've ever seen -- and not particularly care for some of the things he does on or off the course, in the same way I'm a huge Patrick Reed fan but find some of the "issues" he's been involved in over the years (alleged and confirmed) to be very dicey. I would never tell my players (never have, never will) to scream and jump around and fist-pump and act like a maniac (like Woods and Reed both do) when they make a big putt. But I would tell my players to hit their 8-iron like Woods or learn that awesome bump-and-run that Reed often utilizes around the greens. And I most certainly would love to see my players compete with the same level of intensity and heart as both Woods and Reed have displayed in their respective careers.

One of my coaching axioms in golf is you have to learn how to make yourself tough and you have to learn how to be difficult to beat. I think the way to go about that is by conducting yourself in the same general manner as Dustin Johnson, who shows little reaction, good or bad, and saves most of his energy for just hitting great golf shots. I could be wrong, by the way. Maybe part of being "tough" and "difficult to beat" is by showing emotion and pumping your fist like a madman and screaming after you've made a big putt against Rory in the Ryder Cup. I mean, those guys are making a gazillion dollars playing golf and I'm a high school golf coach.

But I can still admire Woods and Reed as golfers and yet consider certain parts of their respective games to be things I teach and other things I wouldn't -- and don't -- necessarily teach.

Who knows if that answer's good enough for folks, but that's the answer. And it frees up my Friday here as well.

Oh, and for the record, my favorite golfer of all-time, by a landslide, is Fred Couples. I still have that Lynx poster somewhere, in fact!

And, as someone pointed out here, I do have a strong affection for Tim Tebow. Of "current" athletes (even though he doesn't play any longer), Tebow is my favorite.


Speaking of my appearance on Jeremy Conn's show last night, I mentioned to Jeremy during an off-the-cuff discussion about underrated singers that I think Daryl Hall (Hall and Oates) is the most underrated singer of my lifetime.

I could show you any number of clips that highlight Hall's incredible voice. The one below, where he sings someone else's song, is one of the best examples of how talented he is. Of all the songs I've ever seen on the TV show "Daryl's House", the one below is in my personal Top 5. Oh, and the dude singing with him is no slouch, either.



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a #dmd podcast with tim miller


I sat down with Tim Miller of Freestate Electric earlier this week and chatted with him about all things sports, including Ravens, golf and some other cool stuff you'll hear if you click the podcast below and give it a listen.

Tim is a Ravens season ticket holder and has followed the team -- like most of us -- since they got to Baltimore. He offers some interesting insights, I think.

I hope you enjoy the podcast!


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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


think before you act


There used to be a different world than this. I remember it; it’s not some pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Nobody would have threatened Matt Skura’s family after he screwed up a couple snaps in the rain in Foxboro. What kind of a sick person does that? Even if the person would surely tell you he or she was just joking, you know…

Remember that bitterly-cold New Year’s Eve three years ago? The Ravens were one play away from the playoffs, only to give up a game-winning 49-yard Cincinnati touchdown pass on a fourth-and-12 with 44 seconds left.

Three days later, I was in the 7-Eleven on Owings Mills Boulevard. I looked up and saw Lardarius Webb, who started the game in the defensive backfield for the Ravens. I’m not sure if he was on the field for that play; if he was, it was actually the last snap he ever played in the NFL. I made eye contact with him. I said something to the effect of “Sorry about that, man. That’s a tough one.” I shook his hand and wished him well, knowing he wouldn’t be back the following season.

I’m not looking for a medal for my performance. Believe me, I was still catatonic about the end of the game 72 hours later. But it’s a game. The men who play it may be big and strong and powerful and fast and well-paid, but they’re human. They take losses like that about 100 times harder than you do, considering their livelihoods are on the line every time they hit the field.

It didn’t use to be this way, and I don’t blame it on social media, as ridiculous as that can be, or on the various television news channels, as intentionally polarizing as they can be, or on any “isms,” though as Ferris Bueller once said: “Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism. He should believe in himself.” Word…

Somewhere along the line, we’ve all become trolls. I used to think that trolling was the domain of a relatively small group, sociopaths, people with certain traits that a psychiatrist would notice in a split second. And sure, those people are out there, otherwise going unnoticed in a busy world. But this is all of us now, me included.

Forget for a moment about losers who anonymously threaten players and their families, as nauseating as that is. All we seem to have now is visceral reactions to things in the moment. There’s no context, no history, no reasoning. There’s no belief in anything besides what our exact emotion is in that flash…and then we move on to the next flash, behaving in the same way.

The Ravens attempted to make a key fourth-down conversion in the third quarter against the Patriots, a couple yards shy of midfield. They trailed by 10 points, with slightly more than five minutes elapsed in the quarter. It was raining at the empty Gillette Stadium, and the winds were gusting near 40 miles per hour. Just painting the picture…

In came the play…Mark Ingram, just returning from injury, lined up in the shotgun formation, the “Wildcat” made popular by the Miami Dolphins a while back. An aside…you may remember that the Patriots were riding a 21-game regular-season winning streak back in 2008 when the Dolphins blitzed them by a 38-13 score in Foxboro, doing so with tailbacks Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams running the “Wildcat” for the entire game.

Anyway — back in 2020 — thousands and thousands of Ravens’ fans started screaming at their televisions. They were already annoyed—by the end of the first half, when Lamar Jackson threw an interception right before halftime as Justin Tucker stood on the sideline, unable to even attempt a long field goal that might have tied the game, and by the beginning of the third quarter, when the Patriots marched 75 yards in four plays for a touchdown as if they were playing against a junior varsity high school team. And now, there was the 2019 NFL MVP reduced to a bystander, just like the guy he replaced used to be on those plays early in the 2018 season.

I was one of the people screaming…inside, anyway. Someone was trying to sleep upstairs. And then whatever we thought about it didn’t matter anyway. Skura’s snap busted the play before it ever started—the official NFL statistics refer to such plays as “aborted”—and some anonymous jerks used it as an opportunity to make themselves famous and get a response from a professional athlete on Instagram.

It wasn’t until later on, maybe even the next day, that I thought about the play outside the moment. After all, the game goes on, and the Ravens had several chances to go ahead in the fourth quarter and couldn’t succeed then either.

My first thought went back to two weeks earlier, the game against the undefeated Steelers in front of 4,000 screaming fans at M&T Bank Stadium. Down by four, the Ravens marched down the field with six consecutive runs, reaching the 15-yard line with four minutes left. Jackson and company would certainly score a touchdown, and maybe even give Ben Roethlisberger almost no time to respond.

But then the running game stalled. At the two-minute warning, on a 4th-and-3 play inside the 10-yard line, the Ravens put the ball into their MVP’s hands…and he didn’t win the battle.

My next thought went to Week 2, a game against the Texans in an empty dome in Houston. This time, the Ravens led by 10 points, and the fourth quarter had just started. At the Texans’ 30-yard line, on a 4th-and-1 play, Ingram lined up for a direct snap, followed the lead block of Patrick Ricard and ran untouched into the end zone. Game over.

Finally, I thought back to literally seconds before Skura’s bad snap, as in the play immediately before. Jackson lined up in the shotgun, with an empty backfield and four wide receivers in a tight formation. The play screamed “run,” and on the replay you can see the outside linebacker point to his left immediately before the snap, perhaps recognizing the play when Willie Snead came in motion toward Jackson. Whatever happened, the quarterback couldn’t get the first down, crashing out of bounds about a yard-and-half short.

In retrospect, that play clearly affected the next play call; I don’t think the offensive staff wanted Jackson on a designed run for two plays in a row. Instead, they went with something that had worked before, the same kind of “power” run they’ve excelled on the last two years. We’ll never know if Ingram could have gotten two yards, let alone 30.

Our visceral reaction to that play, good snap or not, is understandable. But there’s no reason not to consider plays like that again with a cooler head. The Ravens had recently experienced failure with Jackson running on fourth down, and experienced success with Ingram on a direct snap. As we later saw, there would plenty of time remaining to win the game even if the play failed, for whatever reason.

I’m sure Matt Skura will be fine. He’s dealt with worse, like tearing his ACL, MCL and PCL in a game against the Rams last year. And if he can’t snap the ball well consistently, he’ll be looking for work elsewhere.

But what about us? Sure, we don’t owe the players our loyalty or our appreciation, good times or bad, and of course they don’t deserve our cyberbullying either. But we owe it to ourselves, as fans, to consider more than just the moment at hand.

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Wednesday
November 17
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#2275



evolving


Four years ago in a pre-season meeting with my Calvert Hall golf team, I asked them to gather around the computer and watch a video.

I showed them an internet meme making the rounds that was supposed to poke fun at PGA Tour player Dustin Johnson.

The meme contained two clips of Johnson. In the first, the caption read, "Dustin Johnson makes a 4-footer at the 18th hole to finish off a round of 73 and miss the cut at (insert tournament here, I forget which one, honestly). In that clip, Johnson calmly rolls in a putt, picks the ball out of the hole, takes off his hat, strolls over to his playing competitor, shakes his hand, and walks away.

In the second clip, the caption read, "Dustin Johnson makes a 4-footer at the 18th hole to finish off a final round 66 and win the (I forget, again, which event). In that clip, Johnson calmly rolls in a putt, picks the ball out of the hole, takes off his hat, strolls over to his playing competitor, shakes his hand, and walks away.

The meme was produced in an effort to make fun of Johnson. It was meant to say, "Look at this dummy. You can't tell if he won or just missed the cut." The comments associated with the meme were interesting. Nearly everyone laughed at Johnson or associated him with being stupid. People watched those two reactions from Johnson and just assumed he wasn't that bright.

I showed that video to my team and then said to them, "This, right here, is how you want to play golf. This is how you should react when things go great and this is how you should react when things don't go great."

I went on to explain one of my personal coaching axioms when it comes to junior and high school golf. "If I stumble upon you on the 5th fairway, I shouldn't ever be able to tell how you're playing by looking at you and your body language. I shouldn't know if you're 4 over or 4 under. If I can tell how you're playing by the way you look, you'red doing it wrong."

Phil Mickelson famously said a few years back that in order to be an elite, competitive golfer, "You either have to be incredibly smart or incredibly dumb." Mickelson's entire career has been largely built on his "go for it" style of play, which often times led people to thinking the 5-time major champion wasn't all that smart. Yet, if you asked guys on TOUR to name the three "smartest" players on the circuit, Mickelson's name would routinely be part of most of the answers you'd hear.

Dustin Johnson now has 24 career wins on TOUR after Sunday's victory at the Masters.

In winning Sunday's Masters with a record-setting score of 20-under-par, Dustin Johnson went from a guy no one really trusted in the big moment to a guy who appears to have actually been doing it right all along.

Everyone thought Johnson was dumb -- and there was a time, by his own admission, when he probably was dumb -- when, in reality, he's actually evolved into one of the smartest players on the PGA Tour. And with that "smarts" has come 24 career wins on TOUR, two major titles, and the possibility that he might very well go down as one of the game's all-time winningest players.

If you watched Sunday's final round, you saw Dustin Johnson exhibit the same sort of body language as those two internet memes displayed a few years back. He dumped his 3rd shot into the bunker at the 2nd hole, an uncharacteristic flub of a relatively simple flop shot from 15 yards in front of the green. There was zero body language after that poor shot. He didn't angrily swipe at the ground. He didn't toss his club to his caddie in disgust. He didn't fall to his knees and look to the sky and say, "Lord, please no. Not another Sunday collapse in a major."

Instead, Johnson walked to the bunker, sized up his shot, dug in, hit the ball to two feet, and made a par. And he moved on to the 3rd hole, which he promptly birdied.

Johnson bogeyed the 4th and 5th holes, but you'd never know by watching him play or react to any of the 9 shots he hit on those two holes. As he stood on the 6th tee, with now a one-shot lead, the cameras panned to him. I remember sitting in my living room as the cameras focused on Johnson and thinking to myself, "I'm sure he's petrified right now...but you'd never know it by looking at him."

And that's the way he played the entire final round. He made birdie at 6, gave the slightest-of-slight-fist-pumps -- with the energy of removing mail from your mail box -- and moved on from there. He birdied the 8th hole and had the same general reaction, which, essentially, was no reaction. He made birdie at 13 and 15 and if you wouldn't have known better, you might have assumed he made pars on both holes.

And even when he rolled in the last putt of the day, a 10-inch putt that cemented his legacy as one of the greatest players to ever play the sport, Johnson's enthusiasm level went from 3.4 to 3.9. He barely produced a fist pump after he removed the ball from the hole. The event was over and he had won, yet D.J. never broke character.

For years, people thought Dustin Johnson was dumb. They thought he lacked intensity. They thought, because of all of that, that he was "missing something." Rory McIlroy summed it up beautifully on Sunday evening when he spoke about Johnson.

"He's far more aware of what's going on than people think," Rory said of D.J. "He's one of the smartest players out here. He just lets his golf clubs do the talking for him, and over the last few years, they've been doing a lot of it. I think a lot of guys watch him play and want to figure out a way to carry themselves the way he does. It's been impressive to watch."

When Rory McIlroy compliments you, it's worth framing. He knows a thing or two about winning, after all.

Johnson didn't evolve as a golfer on Sunday. He evolved as a man. The Masters was the one tournament he always wanted to win, as do most players. It's the event he grew up loving as a young golfer and it's the event he cherished the most because it's the one that gives you a lifetime legacy. You win at Augusta National and you're "in the club, forever."

It wasn't always easy for Dustin Johnson. He burst onto the scene after a successful amateur career, once telling some folks at a table during the 2007 Walker Cup that he was going to play on the PGA Tour and "bash some skulls out there." His penchant for late nights, parties and everything else that comes along with being a professional athlete were part of his image, but they were also what held him back. There was a well publicized "leave of absence" from the TOUR which was actually a suspension after a series of failed drug tests. Because TOUR players are 1099 employees, there are very strict rules about what they can and can't publish about an employee's personal record. The TOUR chose to say Johnson opted to take a 6-month leave of absence but everyone knew the truth and some reporters even published it.

For a while there, Dustin Johnson was just a wild kid from South Carolina who could smash a golf ball a long way, do 10 shots with you at night, and flirt with your girlfriend while you went back up to the bar to secure more drinks for the group. He was out of control.

But he evolved. He evolved as a man, giving up the wild life and settling down. He evolved as a man by realizing there was more to his life than booze and drugs and hitting on PGA Tour wives at Pro-Am parties. He evolved into a husband and a father, putting those responsibilities first and changing the course of his life.

And then, on Sunday, he evolved as a golfer, winning the greatest golf tournament in the world.

There are lots of people who think the Masters is the easiest tournament to win -- of the majors -- because it's the one that's played at the same place every year and it looks the same, except for the 2020 edition, every time the players show up at Augusta National. Players get to learn the nuances of the course. They know where to miss it on the 2nd hole. They know you can't ever be long at the 4th or the 6th. They know where to lay up on the 8th hole to give themselves the best angle. And so on and so on. If you've ever paid attention to the Masters as a spectator, you know the course almost as if you've played it yourself.

The "reaction" from Dustin Johnson after making a birdie putt is often like this...a simple fist pump and back to business.

I see it differently, though. I don't think the Masters is easy. Actually, I think it's incredibly difficult. And the reason it's difficult is because the entire back nine is filled with a lifetime of tragedy that every player in the field knows all about, even if they weren't the ones who authored those mistakes.

Everyone remembers Rory hitting a screaming hook at the 10th hole in 2011 and squandering his 4-shot lead with 9 holes to play by making triple at 10 and double at 12. You remember Len Mattiace firing a wild shot into the left trees as he approached the green in the 2003 playoff with Mike Weir and losing the Masters with one awful, errant shot. And, of course, you remember Scott Hoch missing a 28 inch putt in 1989 on that 10th green that would have given him the green jacket.

You remember Ray Floyd at the 11th, dunking it in the water from the middle of the fairway on the second playoff hole in 1990 and losing to Nick Faldo.

You remember all the history of #12, where Jordan Spieth threw away the 2016 Masters and where Francesco Molinari's cruise control button shorted out in 2019 after he dumped one in the water there while ahead by two shots.

You remember Curtis Strange hitting it into the water at the 13th hole in 1985 during his back-nine collapse that led to Bernhard Langer's first Masters win.

You remember Seve hitting the worst shot of his career in the 1986 Masters at the 15th hole, a standard, hit-this-in-my-sleep 5-iron from 210 yards away that splashed into the pond to the left of the green and ended his chances of winning a 3rd green jacket.

You remember Greg Norman fatted an 8-iron in the water at 16 while he was collapsing on the back nine in 1996 and giving Faldo his 3rd Masters win.

And, of course, you remember Norman's horrible 4-iron in 1986 at the 18th hole, where all he needed was a par for a playoff with Jack Nicklaus.

You remember those things as a golfer because you watched the Masters every year, watched replays of the tournament every year, and read books and articles about players like Floyd and Spieth and McIlroy and Norman.

Some of those mistakes have names for them, even. "Don't Scott Hoch this one..." How many times have you said that to a friend as he had a short putt to beat you out of five dollars?

So when Dustin Johnson owned a 4-shot lead heading into last Sunday's final round at Augusta National, the tournament was far from over. One of the reasons it was far from over is because golf, being what it is and all, never allows you the comfort of assuming that because you played great yesterday, you're just going to play great today. You know that's not true. And one of the other reasons the tournament was far from over was because Johnson would have to navigate those final 9 holes with years and years of tragedy, failure and heartbreak lurking like billboards every couple of hundred yards.

"Here's where Rory hit it in 2011 and lost the Masters!"

"This is the spot where Scott Hoch missed a 28-inch putt to lose the '89 Masters!"

"Francesco Molinari teed off from this area when he dunked his tee shot in the water in 2019."

"This is where Seve Ballesteros hit a 15-handicap duck hook in 1986. Right here!!!"

If you're a player with any acumen at all, you know all about those misfortunes.

But if you're a player worthy of winning the greatest tournament in the world, you don't think about any of that stuff. Those demons don't exist. Those scars aren't there, even though they are, forever.

If you're Dustin Johnson, you don't think about any of that and you just play this shot, the one right now, and you take whatever it gives you and you move on to the next one. And you do it without the slighest trace of joy or anger because all those things do is take you away from the job at hand, which is playing golf shots until there are no more to be played.

When I showed that internet meme a few years ago to my team, I took them through the importance of "staying steady" throughout the round.

"If you want to make a birdie and fist pump like a maniac and dance around on the green like Kevin Bacon in Footloose, feel free. But what you're going to find about three minutes later is you'll be on the next tee box and what you did on the previous hole has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the next shot you're about to hit. When you've hit a shot or made a putt, that moment is over. No amount of joy or agony coming from you is going to change the result. So why waste energy on that shot when it's already finished?"

Dustin Johnson is the best golfer in the world right now in large part because he conquered his demons both ON and OFF the course. Are they conquered for good? Who knows? But for now, at least, the guy everyone thought was dumb has turned out to be the smartest guy in the room.

The player with the energy level of an orange peel had it figured out all along.

The guy people poked fun at on the internet is the Masters champion.

The man everyone said would never win at Augusta National because "he doesn't have the smarts for it" will be ordering next year's Champion's Dinner.

The joke, as it turns out........is on everyone else.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


It’s mid-November, which means the start of high school and college basketball seasons, wrestling, swimming, indoor track and field…oh, wait.

It’s 2020.

Pardon me for just a moment while I step aside.

Walks offstage, opens the Closet of Grievances, roots around. Where is it? I know I left it right here near the front. After all, I’ve been using it a lot lately…Ah, there we go! Reaches down and picks up his drum and soapbox, pulls them out, and walks back to center stage. Spotlight, please…

Bear with me a moment as I unload.

What are we doing? Honestly, what are we doing?

I’ve beaten this drum before, I’ve stood upon this soapbox before, and I’m here to do it again.

Because nothing has seemingly changed. I mean, sure, some things have changed, but here in The Land of Pleasant Living, not much has changed.

In Baltimore County, public schools remain closed and student-athletes are forced to wait for seasons that are currently postponed. Not yet outright cancelled, mind you, but postponed. But it’s fairly easy to see the handwriting on the wall, even for a guy with poor vision, like me.

Meanwhile, private schools are open on modified schedules, and those student-athletes are playing fall sports, even with shortened schedules. But at least those kids are getting the opportunity to practice and play.

What’s the difference? Why is there such an obvious disparity between the approaches of the two systems, especially when the coronavirus doesn’t discriminate between public and private schools? I know the answer is politics and money, but it shouldn’t be that way. If it’s alright for some, then it should be alright for all.

This scattershot approach is maddening to see. I live one mile from the Mason-Dixon line. Schools in York County, Pennsylvania have been open and kids are playing sports. West Virginia schools have been open, and kids played football. Even in Florida and Texas, where cases and positivity rates are astonishing, kids have been going to school and playing sports. What, did you think a global pandemic would stop the state religion of high school football there?

Then there’s the matter of colleges. The football factories are open, of course, because there’s television advertising to be had. The show must go on. So some players and coaches tested positive, so what? They quarantine for two weeks and then they get back to business.

But the athletes at smaller schools? You’ll just have to wait. Keep practicing, keep working out, but stand over there and wait, please. It’s not safe enough yet for you to compete.

Apparently, it’s safe enough and controlled enough for professional sports. We’ve seen plenty of confirmed cases throughout the NFL, but the games go on. Here in Baltimore, Marlon Humphrey tests positive and has to miss a game, but it’s just next man up.

I warned you I was going to unload…

Here’s the reality: The coronavirus is here for good. It’s not going away, even with multiple vaccines on the horizon. I’ve told friends of mine that if you think masks have been a politicized issue, just wait until the vaccines roll out. Our lives are forever altered and that’s just reality. We have to accept this fact and take the proper steps to figure out a way forward.

The best advice is still the first advice I heard way back in March: Act as if you have the virus and everyone you come into contact with does too.

Being a lifelong basketball player, coach and connoisseur, I’m going to make an analogy:

My team is losing by 25 points early in the 2nd quarter against Team Coronavirus. They’re using a full-court press against us and trapping the ball at every opportunity. We keep inbounding the ball to the corner, where they trap us, we turn it over, and they go uncontested to the rim and dunk it on our heads. We can’t even get the ball to midcourt. It’s a blowout.

I keep calling timeout and drawing up different press breaks, but my players don’t pay attention. Nobody goes to the middle of the court for a pass. Nobody releases on the opposite side for an outlet pass. No matter how much I yell at them to listen, my guys keep inbounding the ball to the corner, then get dunked on again. I’m going crazy with frustration.

But I have a vaccine on my bench for Team Coronavirus. There’s Lebron James, and Steph Curry, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and James Harden, and Klay Thompson. The only thing is, I can’t get approval from the league to play them just yet. I have to wait another quarter or two before I can get them in the game. But once I do, I know we’re going to rain threes and dunk on Team Coronavirus’ heads and not only cut their lead, but beat them.

Right now, though, I just have to get my current players on the floor to break their press. Just once. And try to keep the score within reach, so when my vaccines on the bench come in, we’re not further behind.

For the second time since July, I had a coronavirus test come back negative. I had an elective procedure done on my left foot and ankle, and this past Monday I had to have a follow up procedure. As a requirement, I had to be tested.

Since March, I’ve been fortunate to stay gainfully employed. My business was deemed essential when Governor Hogan closed things down in Maryland last spring. I haven’t done anything special other than what’s been suggested from the beginning: Wear a mask, keep at least six feet apart, wash my hands and don’t touch my face. So far, so good. I’m two for two on negative tests, so I’ll keep following the suggestions.

During that time, I’ve gone to basketball tournaments, the beach, several business meetings and visited my sons at their colleges. I always “wear the damn mask” and keep my social distance. It’s working. I’m always aware of the reality that the virus is everywhere.

And it is everywhere. By now, nine months into the pandemic, I know several people who have contracted it. Some were asymptomatic, some had mild symptoms, and some had a rough experience for a few days. Some were in great physical condition, others definitely weren’t, and some were like me, somewhere in the middle. Thankfully, none required hospitalization. They’re all fully recovered.

This is the place where I could go into a deep dive on the numbers and statistics and percentages, but the data is there for everyone to research. Everyone can see it and interpret it for themselves and draw their own conclusions. The numbers are staggering and sobering and awful. This is a deadly virus. In no way am I trying to diminish that fact.

But we have to recognize where we are at this point of the game and adjust our strategy accordingly. Any good coach is always looking at other teams to see what they do successfully and incorporate some of their plays and schemes into their own.

In Europe, many countries are doing the opposite of what we’re doing. They’re keeping schools open while closing restaurants and bars. They’re taking all suggested precautions as they work at education. They’re putting an emphasis on children’s schooling and social lives while working to mitigate the risks.

I’m seeing some instances of kids really struggling. A few of these kids are having trouble being socially isolated, trying to learn virtually, and not having the structure of sports or other extracurricular activities there to fill their time. The consequences of this current response to the pandemic are real. I’m not exaggerating when I say that kids’ lives are at stake. They’re making poor choices that could have disastrous consequences. Many educators and pediatricians agree.

Let’s go back to my analogy and call a timeout and draw up some new plays in an effort to stop turning the ball over. Given what I’ve seen and what I’ve done over the past eight months, I humbly offer the following suggestions in an effort to let kids play sports again:

Waivers. Since we live in an age ruled by lawyers and insurance companies, have everyone who wants to participate sign a waiver. Teachers, coaches, students, athletes, parents, officials, maintenance staff, anyone and everyone associated with extracurricular activities, must sign a waiver that holds the county board and/or local governing body harmless if anyone contracts the virus from participating in said activity.

I can tell you that I signed a waiver every weekend this summer at every basketball tournament that Charlie played in. I had to sign a waiver just for him to play for his team. I can also tell you I have no idea what was written on those waivers. I didn’t need to read the specific language because I knew that both Charlie and I were assuming the risk because he chose to play. And I wanted him to play.

Limit attendance. This one is easy. Allow only two people per player to come to the game. Again, this was the rule for every tournament we went to this summer. Easy peasy and nobody ever complained. Contact trace. Have everyone attending provide their name and phone number so they can be contacted if someone tests positive. I know that people raise a ruckus about privacy, so if you’re not willing to do this, then just stay home. You can watch the game on a livestream or Hudl.

Wear a mask, keep your social distance, and wash your hands frequently. I know I’ve heard this somewhere before…

And consider moving seasons back a little longer in an effort to have them played. Even Rick Pitino has suggested moving the college basketball season back, and making March Madness into May Madness in 2021. I’ve never been a big fan of his, but on this one, I have to agree. And not just for Division I, but for all levels of the NCAA. It can be done for high schools too. After all, they just played The Masters in November.

So there you have it, Coach Such’s strategy to break the coronavirus press and get our kids back on the fields, or courts, or mats, or pools. Whatever sport they play, we can help get them there. But please, let them play.

Think back to your own life in high school and college. Try to imagine not being able to play your chosen sport. Use those thoughts to help you draw up some new plays in an effort to help the kids of today get back to their lives while accepting and respecting the times we’re living through.

Steps off soapbox, puts drum down. Spotlight fades…

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soccer: usa vs. panama recap


The US played their second of two friendly matches on Monday afternoon against Panama. Facing an opponent that was a step down in competition from the previous match with Wales, the US came away with a comfortable 6-2 win.

Coach Gregg Berhalter made a few changes to the starting lineup for this match. Veteran center back John Brooks was given a chance to rest with Tim Ream replacing him. Reggie Cannon received the start at right back and Sergino Dest shifted over to left back. In the attacking line, Berhalter elected to play a more traditional striker with Nicholas Gioacchini starting up top. Ulysses Llanez got the start at left wing over Konrad de la Fuente.

The US controlled the game for long stretches but did allow several spells where Panama threatened to make it competitive. In the end, the US did well to exploit the gaps in the Panama defense and pile on the goals.

#DMD soccer contributor Randy Morgan says Weston McKennie (here, in red) was once again the key player for the U.S. national team in their 6-2 win over Panama on Monday.

The Americans got off to a slow start and were punished eight minutes in, when Panama found space on the left wing to play a cross into the box which found a wide open attacker to head in a goal. The early goal seemed to snap the US into focus and they leveled the score just ten minutes later on Gio Reyna free kick from just outside the box. Shortly after, striker Nicholas Gioacchini netted a pair of goals in a three minute span to push the US lead to 3-1. The first was a put back when the Panama keeper spilled a rebound from a Ulysses Llanez shot. The second was a header in front of goal to cap off a nice passing sequence in the Panama box.

Panama pulled a goal back in the 79th minute when a quick first touch ball caught the US center backs off guard and the Panama attacker struck a powerful shot past Zack Steffen. That was as close as Panama would get. The US regained control of the game in the final stretch and poured in three more goals in the final ten minutes. Substitutes Richie Ledezma and Sebastian Soto connected twice with Ledezma providing crosses for Soto to head home. Reggie Cannon assisted the other goal, hitting a cross in from a short corner that found Sebastian Lletget’s head at the near post.

Weston McKennie was once again the key player in the match for the US, leading the very effective midfield trio. McKennie didn’t get his name directly on the scoresheet, but he was crucial to the first three goals the US scored. On the first, McKennie made a slaloming run through several defenders in midfield to initiate the sequence that led to the foul at the edge of the box. The next goal was enabled by a McKennie counter press that won the US the ball back in a dangerous position just outside the Panama box. McKennie provided the “hockey assist” on the third goal, making a clever run into the box to get on the end of a pass from Tyler Adams and then chipping a pass back across the six yard box for Matt Miazga to head on to Gioacchini for the goal. McKennie embraced the “box to box” midfield role, popping up to make plays all over the field.

Yunus Musah had several more exciting moments in midfield as well. Showing off some outstanding dribbling skills to evade defenders in the middle of the field and drawing the foul to set up the first goal. The two strikers, Gioacchini and substitute Soto had big days, each demonstrating their goal scoring instincts and ability to get in the right place at the right time to finish off their chances.

Despite these two matches being exhibitions, there are several lessons the US can take from the games. The most exciting takeaway was the play of the young midfield trio: Adams, McKennie, and Musah. This is a midfield that has the potential to be world class for a long time if Berhalter can convince Yunus Musah to officially commit to the US program. The combination of athleticism and technical ability the trio possesses will cause opponents fits in attack and defense.

The lineup tinkering between the two games seemed to show that the American attack functions better with a true goal scoring striker. It remains to be seen who that player will be in a full strength lineup, but the performances of Gioacchini and Soto at least give hope that there could be some depth developing at that position.

The last takeaway is the sheer depth of young talent in the current US player pool. These games saw nine players make their debut with the team, and all of them are under 23 years old. After suffering a lost generation of players and a talent gap that caused the US to miss out on the 2018 World Cup, this new generation of players between 17-23 years old appears to have both elite level players and quality depth. It is an exciting development as the core of the squad that will compete in the 2022 and even 2026 World Cups continues to emerge.

The full US team will likely not convene again until the Spring when they begin preparation for a busy summer and fall. However, there are plans for the team to play in both December and January, with a roster involving exclusively MLS based players.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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Tuesday
November 16
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#2274



the morning after the morning after


Most of the talk radio and social media reaction to Sunday night's Ravens loss in New England was what you expected.

A lot of people -- at least from what I heard and saw in my world -- were quick to pile on three people in particular; center Matt Skura, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.

In a sport where you most certainly do "win as a team, lose as a team", it's hard to pin a loss on three people, but those three guys definitely played a role on Sunday evening. Well, Brown didn't play a role. He had two catches for 14 yards and was about as a dangerous as a blind bank robber.

But Skura's two bad snaps were a key part of the game. He might have done a lot of other stuff well on Sunday night, but those two snaps that bounded past Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson were game-changers.

Hollywood Brown was targeted six times on Sunday night in New England made two catches for 14 yards.

Roman's name got muddied on Monday because he's the guy who called the play on 4th and 1 where Ingram was in the backfield, alone, in the wildcat formation. He might have made a dozen other good, successful play calls on Sunday night but that one with Ingram stood out because it came with the Ravens down 20-10 and it was near midfield.

It's also very fair to point out that Baltimore running backs carried the ball 17 times on Sunday night. That's "17". Lamar Jackson also hauled it 11 times. In a half-a-monsoon, Greg Roman had his running backs carry the ball a grand total of 17 times. By contrast, New England running backs were called on 28 occasions. Greg Roman, we assume, called a majority of those plays for the Ravens. Perhaps Lamar checked out of a handful and called his own number and that's fine. But when you're losing 13-10, 20-10, 23-10 and 23-17 and you only run the ball 17 times, something's wrong.

Here's where I'll also ask the question virtually everyone else is asking of Greg Roman: "Why are you so afraid to get J.K. Dobbins involved in your offense?" I don't have an answer, obviously, but I would hope Roman does. Dobbins only carried the ball 6 times on Sunday night (for 13 yards).

But the truth of the matter is those guys were just part of the "pizza" from Sunday night's loss. Do they each own a "slice"? Sure. But Lamar owns a slice as well. He played decently enough, I thought. His overall game on Sunday graded out to a "B", but the late first-half interception was 90% on him and 10% on Hollywood, who put up just about no fight at all as the ball was coming down.

I don't think that was a "crushing" interception or anything like that. As it stood, the Ravens were going to be faced with something like a 55 yard field. Justin Tucker's good and everything, but 55 yarders aren't easy to make on a clear Sunday afternoon with no wind. In a driving rainstorm like the one they were enduring in Foxborough on Sunday? I doubt he makes it from 50, even. But that's not the issue in that situation.

The issues there are two fold, really. If you're going to throw caution to the wind there and heave a ball downfield, why go to the smallest guy? Was it because you were hoping he'd get some separation based on his speed? Good thought. But in case you haven't noticed, Brown doesn't get much separation. Like, ever.

Why not go to Miles Boykin there? At least he's big enough to go up and fight for the ball. Maybe? I realize he only got 19 snaps on Sunday evening and it's quite evident the coaching staff has lost confidence in him, but if you can't use Boykin in that kind of deep throw/jump ball situation, what good is he to you?

Devin Duvernay has the same basic speed as Hollywood and, to my untrained eye, Duvernay looks more "dangerous" than Brown in those go-pattern situations. And I've seen Duvernay at least go up and fight for the ball.

If it sounds like I'm piling on Brown a little, I probably am. And maybe I shouldn't be.

I'm doing my very best not to launch into the whole "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" tangent, but Brown's recent play is somewhat reminiscent of his cousin, Antonio Brown. Talk a big game, dance around on social media platforms, get agitated when you don't get the ball thrown your way 10 times, go back on social media and post a cryptic but between-the-lines-criticism of the coaches, then disappear for a few weeks when your team needs you the most.

I'll stop now. I'm coming close to piling on. But when you're the first round draft pick and you swagger around like you're the next coming of Jerry Rice, you need to man up and make a difference.

OK, I'm definitely done with the Hollywood Brown topic. That's the old radio talk show host coming out in me. I'll move on...

I saw a couple of things on Sunday night that also irked me, and while I can't say for certain how much of an impact they had on the result, I can say for sure they definitely impacted one drive in particular.

I totally understand that Marlon Humphrey has developed a very favorable penchant for punching the ball out of the hands of an opposing pass catcher or running back. He creates a turnover every game or two with that move. It's awesome.

But on Sunday night, Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison both eschewed attempts to make a standard tackle in favor of trying to quickly sneak around the body of New England running backs in an effort to strip the ball away. On one run, Damien Harris bullied his way past Queen for a big gain and on another, Rex Burkhead crashed past Harrison, who was too busy trying to strip the ball instead of wrapping him up in a tackle. Queen tried the strip/punch move on several occasions Sunday night. I'm not here to say that's the only reason Damien Harris racked up 121 yards on 22 carries (5.5 average) but I am here to say Harris didn't get tackled very often. You figure it out.

The Ravens have gotten away from playing Ravens football. Ozzie Newsome had a saying every year when the draft rolled around and he selected a player: "He plays like a Raven."

To my admittedly "untrained eye", I don't see this particular Ravens team playing like Ravens.

I see an offensive coordinator trying these silly junior high school plays when you have the most athletic guy on the team pulled from the field and on the sidelines.

I see wide receivers running down the field waving their arms for the ball, but forgetting they have to actually get open in order to have the ball be thrown to them.

And I see guys failing to make basic, technically-sound tackles when running backs are getting past the line of scrimmage.

I get it. We're not watching Ray Lewis or Anquan Boldin. Quality does matter. But if you're drafted to "play like a Raven" and you don't play like one, either you're the problem or the club shouldn't have picked you in the first place.

And, yes, these are very early days in the careers of people like Hollywood Brown, Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. I certainly do understand that. They have lots of room to grow. And I suspect all three of them will turn into high quality NFL players at some point.

But these games count, now. And the Ravens, at least throughout most of this 2020 season, look nothing at all like the team we saw waltz through the 2019 regular season at 14-2.

And with that...I will officially stop piling on.

(I didn't make up the saying, "Play like a Raven", they did.)

OK, I'm done now.

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a (free) lesson from rory and tiger


There was a moment in the recent Masters tournament when both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were done. And by "done", in both of their worlds, that means "no longer have a chance to win."

McIlroy's "done" came in the form of an opening round 75, which left him 10 shots behind first-round leader Paul Casey. The Masters record for coming-back-to-win-from-a-first-round-deficit was 7 shots, last done by Tiger in 2005. Craig Stadler opened the '82 Masters - which he won - with a 75, but 69 was the low score in round one that year.

McIlroy's tournament was over on Friday morning when he completed his opening round at 3 over par.

Tiger's Masters probably ended on Saturday when he had to play 26 holes and was only able to shoot one under in that span to finish 54 holes at 5-under, 9 shots behind leader Dustin Johnson. But it officially ended on Sunday when he made a "10" on the par-3 12th hole. That score left Woods at 4 over par for the tournament and also put him in danger of carding an 80 (or worse) in the final round.

But a funny thing happened to Rory and Tiger on Sunday.

While out of contention on Sunday at Augusta National, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy both provided some impressive teaching moments.

Neither of them quit. Neither of them stopped playing. Neither of them stopped putting everything they had into every shot.

And the results were staggering. Neither won, of course, but the free lesson they provided to those who were paying attention was probably worth more than a victory in terms of future success.

I texted my Calvert Hall players right away as McIlroy shot up the leaderboard and Woods rebounded from his disastrous "10" to birdie 5 of his last 6 holes.

"You never stop playing...ever. Just keep trying to hit great shots and there's no telling what might happen."

McIlroy wound up finishing at 11-under-par, sneaking into a tie for 5th place. He shot 75-66-67-69 and at one point on Sunday, after a birdie at #8, he was 11 under par while Dustin Johnson was at 16 under. That he finished 5th after shooting 75 in his first round was remarkable. It wasn't a win, which Rory craves so much. But the fact he couldn't win makes what he did on Saturday and Sunday even more impressive. With nothing at all to play for, really, McIlroy just kept plugging away. He never quit.

Why McIlroy stuck it out only he knows. He is, after all, one of the wealthiest athletes in the world, has four major titles to his credit, and just needs a Masters win to wrap up the career grand slam. Once his chance of winning the 2020 Masters ended, what was in it for Rory to gut it out?

Every athlete is born with a heart. Some, though, have a bigger heart than others.

Tiger Woods could have easily folded after his calamity at #12. I mean, what was really in it for Woods to try and coax anything of significance out of the final six holes? He has 15 majors, 5 green jackets, 82 wins and a gazillion dollars. In 25 years, will anyone remember what he did on the final six holes of the 2020 Masters that Dustin Johnson won by five shots?

But if you were paying attention on Sunday, you might remember what Tiger did. He birdied 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18 to finish off one of the most impressive 90 minutes in Masters history. If, instead of those five birdies, he would have made two more bogeys coming in, Wooods would have posted a final round score of 83.

The lesson for junior golfers everywhere -- and, honestly, any competitive golfer of any age or handicap level -- was plainly obvious: You're only as good as your last shot. Or your most recent round. Or the last tournament you played.

Golf is a humbling adventure. If you know how to fix someone's transmission today, you'll know how to fix someone's transmission tomorrow. If you know how to fill a tooth cavity today, you'll know how to to do it again tomorrow. If you're a plumber today, you're a plumber tomorrow.

In golf, you can shoot 70 today and 80 tomorrow. Or 80 today and 90 tomorrow. In golf, you can shoot 34 on "this" nine and 44 on the "next" nine. It humbles you in a way that's both painful and impossible to explain unless you've been there.

And the other distinct thing about golf is the importance of your score is really only the concern of one person: you.

I tell my Calvert Hall players this several times a season: "Whatever score you shoot, you post it. I don't care if it's a 90, it goes on the board. You shot it, you own it, you post it. And remember this, if you do shoot 90, half the guys in the field don't care what you shot and the other half of the field secretly wishes you would have shot 95."

Half the Masters field probably wishes Rory would have shot 85 instead of 75 in the first round. And the half the field would have loved to see Tiger make a 15 on the 12th hole instead of 10.

But what those two guys did on Sunday was the best lesson any player could author. They forgot about their last hole and just marched on to the next one. They put their bad shots behind them and just tried to focus on the next one at hand. They never quit. They just kept playing and grinding and trying to make the lowest score they could on the hole they played next.

Dustin Johnson's golf was magnificent over those four days. He was the well deserved winner. We'll tackle his play tomorrow as we continue to review the 2020 Masters.

But the stories that McIlroy and Woods produced were both incredible teaching moments. If you were paying attention, you got remarkable free lessons from two of golf's greatest players ever.

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Monday
November 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2273



that.....was a tough way to lose


Imagine for a minute there are 12 slips of paper in a hat. Six of the slips of paper are blank. And six of them have moments in the game written on them.

Each team will randomly draw a slip of paper. Whatever is on the paper is what your team gets.

Here are the slips of paper with something written on them:

1. With 10:20 remaining in a one score game, the referee wildly mis-spots the ball on a 3rd and 1 quarterback sneak, giving the opposing team a first down which allows them to essentially run three more minutes off the clock. The mis-spot included two officials gesturing 4th down and a third official moving his foot roughly 10 inches as he approached the line with the ball.

2. On a 4th and 1 in the 3rd quarter, trailing 20-10, your offensive coordinator will eschew using the best athlete in the league and will instead call for a bizarre wildcat play in a driving rainstorm, where your center will mis-snap the ball and the ensuing disaster will give the other team the ball and lead to a field goal that creates a 23-10 deficit.

3. Your best run stopping defensive player will get hurt in the second quarter and be unable to return. An already sluggish defense against the run will now get even weaker because of this player's absence.

4. With 7 minutes remaining in the game, down 23-17, your offense starts to move the ball, gaining 18 yards in four plays. On 1st and 10 from your own 38, your center will again snap the ball poorly and it will scoot past the quarterback, who falls on it for a 15 yard loss. You'll have to punt the ball away moments later.

5. Your defense will fall victim to a trick play in the 2nd quarter, with a wide receiver throwing a ball for a touchdown when your #1 draft pick fails to cover the play correctly.

6. Your team's best blocking tight end will suffer a horrific injury in the 3rd quarter that not only puts him out for the rest of the game, but the rest of the season.

OK, so now we do the random drawing.

Cam Newton and the New England offense celebrate Newton's 3rd quarter touchdown that put the Patriots up 20-10 on Sunday night.

New England goes first. They draw a blank slip.

The Ravens go next. They draw #1. That spot was so horrible, Jose Feliciano looked at the TV and said, "Are you kidding me?" In a game where the Ravens only got 9 offensive drives, that bad spot and the 3 minutes New England chewed up on that drive were supremely important. Just a dreadful, dreadful mistake by the officials.

To keep it fair, the Ravens go next in the random draw process. And.....they get slip #2. Why on earth Greg Roman decided that was the moment to get innovative and "cute" -- as Charley Eckman would have said -- is beyond me. Just snap the ball to Lamar with a running back at his side and tell Lamar to get the first down either by running it or pitching it to Gus Edwards, who is outstanding in those short yardage situations (as he showed a few minutes later).

New England's turn. They draw a blank slip of paper again.

New England's turn. Another blank slip.

The Ravens pick now. And.....they draw #3. Without Calais Campbell, the Baltimore defense was already challenged. When Brandon Williams went out, the Patriots were able to run as freely as they wanted, at least until the middle of the third quarter when Wink Martindale woke up and stuck an extra linebacker on the line of scrimmage and a defensive back on the edge.

The Ravens pick again. They draw......slip #4. This was probably the biggest play of the game, because the Ravens had quickly picked up 18 yards in four plays and their defense had stiffened over the last 15 minutes. A TD at that point and the game might have gone to Baltimore. Instead, Skura snapped the ball past Lamar Jackson.

New England's turn. They draw a blank slip.

The Ravens go....and they draw slip #5. The Ravens linebacking group had a disastrous night overall. But the trick play TD throw was all on Patrick Queen, the #1 draft pick. He had the whole play in front of him, saw it happening in high-definition, and still let Rex Burkhead get behind him and collect the 24-yard pass from wide receiver Jakobi Meyers.

And the Ravens pick again...and they draw slip #6. On a night where they needed to run the ball, losing Nick Boyle in the 3rd quarter during the worst of the rain was a huge blow. Boyle's blocking presence will be sorely missed the rest of the way.

New England reaches in to draw out the last blank slip and then laughs.

If a couple of those "slips" go against the Patriots (say #1 and #4), the whole game might have been different. The Ravens somehow drew all six of those slips out of the hat. And none of that stuff happened to New England.

How does a 6-2 team lose, 23-17, to a 3-5 team with an aging, scrubby quarterback, no real wide receivers and a defense that's missing their best player and reigning Defensive Player of the Year?

You go 6-for-6 in drawing those slips of paper, that's how.

Lamar Jackson wasn't the issue on Sunday night. Could he have played better? Sure. He missed a couple of throws in the 4th quarter, but it was raining so hard Noah was on the sidelines with a hammer and nails. He also made a terrible throw late in the 2nd quarter as the Ravens were driving for a game-tying field goal just before halftime, but Hollywood Brown (see below) was of no assistance at all on that play.

Jackson's overall performance was adequate enough. It's fair to note his offense only scored 17 points -- and he does have to accept some responsibility for that -- but when your supposed "best" wide receiving soldier can't get himself open, how do you complete a pass to him? With no disrespect to Willie Snead.....when he's your top receiver, your offense isn't going to be very dangerous.

I wrote this here last week, briefly, and it's worth a second opinion. Opposing teams are now pretty much fully aware that the Ravens don't have a "deep threat passing game". Hollywood Brown is begging for the ball on social media, but doesn't get open. Devin Duvernay is really fast, but he's either, A) not on the field, or B) never open on deep throws. Miles Boykin? I can honestly say I don't remember Al Michaels or Cris Collinsworth calling his name ONCE on Sunday night.

With Jackson not being able to go downfield at all, teams are playing a basic man-to-man coverage in the secondary and doing their best to contain the Baltimore running game at the line of scrimmage, with a linebacker "spy" focused at all times on Jackson to make sure he doesn't run for 15 yards on every play.

Maybe Dez Bryant can help. None of the other wide receivers -- except for Snead -- are even remotely dangerous at this point.

There's no use in blaming the rain. New England also played in the rain on Sunday night.

You can blame those slips of paper, though.

If your team drew those six slips of paper, you'd lose every game, I'm guessing.

All is not lost. The Ravens are 6-3 and still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot and, potentially, a record of 11-5 or 12-4. But the injuries to Stanley and now Boyle will be very hard for the offense to overcome. And if Campbell and Williams can't play next Sunday when Derrick Henry and the Titans come to town, it could be an ugly Sunday in Baltimore.

There's still a lot of football left. But the Ravens are showing some real signs of wear and tear now.

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the best player wins the best tournament


On Wednesday night's edition of Live from the Masters, the two main analysts, Brandel Chamblee and Justin Leonard, made their picks for the tournament.

Chamblee went with Bryson DeChambeau.

Justin Leonard offered up this nugget: "The Masters is the best golf tournament in the world and it offers the best challenge because of the way the course is laid out and the fact that you have to hit golf shots from every imaginable lie and angle. I'm going with the best player to win the best tournament. I'm going with Dustin Johnson."

With rounds of 65-70-65-68, Dustin Johnson won the Masters on Sunday for his second career major title.

Johnson has been the best player in the world over the last five years. The stats and world rankings might say otherwise or they might validate that statement, but it doesn't matter. Dustin Johnson is the best golfer in the world. He's won 16 times in the last six seasons, including two majors, a FedEx Cup title and four World Golf Championships events, which are mini-majors themselves based on the field and golf course.

That Johnson dominated the field at Augusta National isn't a surprise to anyone who follows golf. He's the the most explosive player in the game. As he showed back in August when he torched TPC Boston for a record setting 30-under par score in 72 holes, when he's firing on all cylinders, he's pretty much unbeatable.

No win in golf will ever be as popular as Tiger's victory at Augusta in 2019, but DJ's green jacket acquisition yesterday was highly appreciated by both players and golf fans alike. He's one of the must unassuming, quiet players on TOUR. He doesn't bust into a city and declare "I'm gonna tear this course apart." Instead, he comes in overnight, shows up at the far end of the range, practices quietly, then shoots 20 under to win by 5 shots.

There are several other storylines we'll look at this week in our "Masters in Review" piece. One of them will be Sungjae Im, the South Korean who finished five shots back at 15 under par. If you didn't know about Im before the Masters, you better brush up on him now. He's going to be a major force on the TOUR -- and soon.

Rory McIlroy's resurgence after a distastrous opening round 75 is also worth exploring a bit. McIlroy might be closing in on winning that green jacket, finally, and capturing the elusive career grand slam he so badly wants.

When has someone ever made a "10" on a par 3 hole -- in any tournament -- and still managed to turn that mishap into a positive story? Tiger Woods did it on Sunday. The story of his back nine is one every junior golfer should memorize.

And what of Bryson DeChambeau, the pre-tournament favorite? He barged into Augusta National like Sheriff Andy Taylor and slinked out of town like Barney Fife. DeChambeau did manage to hit eight drives of 360 yards or better over the four days. But he also hit his wedges like a 10 handicap. And as we wrote here last week in our preview, it would all come down to the wedge game for the U.S. Open champion. And by his own admission, his wedge game was terrible.

We'll spend some time over the next couple of days putting the finishing touches on one of the most well played major championships in modern history.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


consider this


The Masters in November? Kind of exciting, I thought. The course was the same—with all the familiarity that makes the tournament what it is—yet it looked different, and not in a bad way.

There was something less “fake” about it, wasn’t there? No strangely bright colors, as if the flowers had been painted that way as opposed to looking like that naturally at the same time every year. No odd bird sounds on the broadcast. Instead, the course looked a lot like most East Coast tracks in November, with the evergreens still green, the shadows long even early in the day, and even a bit of lush rough from wet weather. The overall condition of the place itself, of course, still surpassed almost all of those other courses.

DJ was one of many players able to take advantage of soft course conditions at Augusta National in the 2020 Masters.

Even the lack of fans (er, patrons) somehow made the tournament more authentic, as could be said about most of the professional golf tournaments since this past June. In the case of Augusta National, that means that the television broadcast could see vistas and utilize camera angles like never before, and maybe ever again…though we’ll see what April 2021 brings on that subject.

Heck, the lack of spectators even led to something absolutely realistic for most of us, “losing” a ball when it for sure is not lost. Bryson DeChambeau wasn’t playing nearly well enough to win the tournament anyway, but I’m not sure he could have predicted that particular situation to the left of the third green.

Needless to say, it was way too long between Masters tournaments, which made this one extra important to golf fans. It was so long, in fact, that Tiger Woods, the previous winner, doesn’t even look like the same player he was in late 2018 and early 2019, when he also won the Tour Championship before winning the Masters.

As mentioned above, there will be another Masters Tournament in the blink of an eye, April 8 through April 11 next year, less than 150 days from today. Maybe that will feel more normal, whether thousands of fans hit the grounds or not. Certainly the field will make more sense, as those who played well since the pandemic will finally get their invitation.

So, there might never be a Masters like 2020 again. There are reasons to be happy about that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate this year’s tournament, unlike any other.


The Masters in November? Also a little boring, I thought. The players took advantage of the fall conditions, helped by a little rain of course. The ball does not “plop and stop” at Augusta like it we saw it do, at least not in my memory.

The scoring average for the field for the four days was under par, unheard of for the Masters. There wasn’t just one guy “taking it deep,” as sometimes happens in the majors—it was more like 10 or even 15. Players who were playing their final rounds at 3 or 4 under par might have been 3 or 4 over par in a normal year.

Sure…the lowest score wins, no matter whether it’s 20 under or 8 under. Good for the stud player who accomplishes the feat either way. And some of the scoring has nothing to do with the course itself, as players now hit the ball far enough to reach places that couldn’t be reached before, and in directions that used to be blocked by trees. Not any longer…on any golf course, not just Augusta.

Still, it didn’t always feel like The Masters in that way, and I’ll be interested in seeing if as many players go low in April with different conditions, no matter what the weather is that week.

As far as the patrons (not fans) go, the authenticity of the golf course as it usually plays 51 weeks a year doesn’t mean it wasn’t unnerving not to hear the crowds. There are certain shots on the course on which the players can’t see the results very well, no matter how well they believe they’ve struck it. The approach shot on the difficult 10th hole comes to mind, though that is hardly the only one where the quality of the shot is explained by the roar of the crowd.

On Thursday, when Tiger was keeping himself in the tournament with a great round, there were no Tiger roars. When Phil was near the top of the leaderboard, no screams for him. Very weird, and pretty dreary.

As long as the Augusta National exists as a championship golf course, it will keep a place as one of the most important places in the game. As exclusionary as it is, it opens itself up one week a year in the most fantastic way. When it can’t do that, it doesn’t feel right.


This Masters Tournament, as a whole? Well…the top player in the world, who has been playing like it for a long time, took a four-shot lead into the final round and was never seriously threatened. He hit maybe two bad shots all day, which I’ve seen him do before. He won going away, which he’s done many times before.

As if the tournament was ever in doubt on Sunday, he birdied three holes in a row on the back nine to put it away. Oh by the way…he set the Masters scoring record. No big deal…268 strokes, 20-under-par, two strokes better than Jordan Spieth in 2015 and Tiger in 1997. I suppose it’s just a shame nobody except for family and Augusta members were present to watch.

This may have only been his second major victory, but it was Dustin Johnson’s 27th professional win. In all-time PGA Tour wins, he’s in the Top 25 if you include the two majors. He has four years before he reaches the age of 40, when he can and probably will win a lot, including at the majors.

The greatest players do many off-the-chart type things—Rory’s beautiful and powerful driving, Tiger’s iron game at his peak, the short-game wizardry of so many top players, even ones that haven’t won many tournaments. Right now, I’m not sure what is a more consistent shot then Johnson’s power fade, where he lines up on the right side of the tee, aims down the left rough and takes a mighty whack, knowing all along the ball will bend back toward the middle of the fairway…and probably go 300 yards to boot.

I think my favorite shot of Johnson’s on Sunday was his tee shot on the par-3 12th at Amen Corner. He’s a fast player anyway, but he was having none of the indecision of other players (see: Woods, Tiger) as the wind blew in the afternoon. He picked his club and hit the shot in what seemed like 10 seconds, knocking it safely onto the middle of the green.

As for my pick, Justin Thomas performed pretty well, with an eagle at the 15th on Sunday getting him to 13-under. Elsewhere, I may try to swing as slowly away from the ball as the young South Korean Sungjae Im, if only to prove that I can maintain my balance and still make contact with the ball.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner


#DMD GAME DAY
Week 9


Sunday — November 15, 2020
Issue #2273

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

8:20 PM EDT

Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, MA

Spread: Ravens (-7.0)


the times have changed


There was a time when a road team ventured into Foxborough and Gillette Stadium as an underdog and was virtually certain of leaving town with a loss and their tail between their legs.

Those days ended when Tom Brady headed off for the sunny skies of Tampa, Florida last March.

What can Bill Belichick do to limit the effectiveness of Lamar Jackson tonight?

Now, the Patriots are just another 3-5 team in desperate need of a win to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive. The times sure have changed in New England.

The Ravens are 7-point favorites in tonight's nationally televised contest and should win by just about whatever score they choose. But Bill Belichick is still Bill Belichick, and despite a pedestrian offense and injury-riddled defense, the Patriots still have to be respected tonight. The Ravens can't afford to let this one get out of their grasp.

New England's offense hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in four games. How do they score, you ask? Mostly it's Cam Newton doing the damage. He alone has eight rushing TD's on the season.

If the Patriots are going to try and go to the ground tonight, they'll be doing it without the services of running back Sony Michel, who has missed the last two weeks with an injury. Damien Harris would get the bulk of the carries if he's able to play, but he's listed as questionable with a chest injury.

This one, tonight, is pretty simple for the Ravens. They just need to play turnover-free football and do their best to keep Newton at bay when he's on the field. The only two ways John Harbaugh's team loses tonight is if they give the football to New England two or three times and if they allow Cam Newton to dictate the New England office with his legs and athletic abilities. Other than that, there's no reason at all to think the Ravens aren't winning this one in a big way.

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by the percentages


0% chance that NBC color analyst Cris Collinsworth fails to say "These Patriots sure do miss Tom Brady" at least three times during the course of tonight's game. The betting total would be 2.5 times.

10% chance the Patriots don't score more than two times, total. Two TD's? Maybe. A TD and a field goal? More likely. Two field goals? Very possible.

20% chance the Ravens are up by 17 or more at the half. This could be a blowout, especially if the Baltimore defense creates a big turnover or scores a TD themselves.

30% chance the Baltimore running game goes over the 150 yard mark tonight. New England allows an average of 131 yards per-game on the ground. The Ravens should easily go over 150 tonight.

Are we in for another big game from Lamar Jackson tonight in New England?

40% chance Cam Newton and the New England offense don't go over 200 yards in passing. Their current per-game average is 202 yards per-game passing. Against this Baltimore defense? Newton might not reach 175 in the air.

50% chance Lamar Jackson is responsible for 5 touchdowns tonight, either by throwing it or running it in himself. Remember the big game he had on a Monday night in Los Angeles last November? Tonight could look very similar.

60% chance the "under" hits in this one. The total is 43.5 and the Ravens could plod their way to a very workmanlike 27-10 win this evening. Belichick might be able to do some magic with his game-plan against Lamar and the Ravens defense could hold New England to 10 points. If you're the wagering type, I'd stay away from the "total" in this one. Baltimore could blow 'em out 44-17 or they could have to produce a simple, solid 27-10 win because that's all Belichick gives them.

70% chance the Ravens cover the 7-point spread in this one. There's just no way New England can keep this game close unless Lamar gets injured or turns it over a few times. This one won't be close when the final whistle sounds.

80% chance the Patriots don't accumulate 300 yards of total offense. How are they going to do it? They'd be a minor threat to run the ball decently if Michel were healthy and playing, but he's out. Newton barely cracks 200 yards per-game throwing the ball...and this Ravens defense isn't giving up more than 200 yards to him tonight. Predicted total offense total for New England: 288.

90% chance the Ravens win the game. It's pretty rare a team has a 90% chance of winning a road game in the NFL, no matter the opponent, but that's what the chances are tonight for the Ravens. This would be a massive upset if they lose.

100% chance that Tom Brady watches tonight's game and laughs out loud, saying, "So, Bill, you thought you could win without me, huh?"

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how drew sees tonight's game


The Ravens jump out to a quick 7-0 lead on their first offensive series, as Lamar connects twice with Hollywood Brown for decent gains and then hits Mark Andrews in the end zone just 4:09 into the contest.

After a listless first quarter thereafter, the Ravens extend their lead to 14-0 when Jackson runs it in from 12 yards out.

This one looks pretty clear...a Ravens win, quite easily, in fact.

New England gets on the board with a field goal with 2:14 remaining in the half, but the Ravens march right back down the field and punch it in the end zone with four seconds remaining, as Gus Edwards completes a quick, 7-play drive with a 3 yard TD run. It's 21-3 Ravens at the intermission.

Marlon Humphrey celebrates his return to action with one of his famous "punch outs" after a Rex Burkhead reception, and Chuck Clark picks up the ball and scampers 22 yards into New England territory. The drive stalls there but Justin Tucker's 40-yard field goal puts Baltimore up 24-3.

The Patriots do get in the end zone late in the third quarter when Newton -- who else? -- runs it from 5 yards, but it's 24-10 heading into the 4th quarter and this one's in the books.

New England does create a 3 and out on the next Baltimore offensive possession and Newton then takes them down to the Ravens 28 yard line, but Matthew Judon knocks the ball out Cam's hands on a 3rd down throwing attempt and Brandon Williams falls on it to end the threat.

With 3:11 remaining in the game, Lamar finds Hollywood Brown in the corner of the end zone from 27 yards away and the TD and extra point finalizes the scoring in a 31-10 Ravens victory over the Patriots in Foxborough.

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masters: this one's far from over


By no means do I hope we see a final round collapse from Dustin Johnson today at Augusta National. On the contrary, I very much want to see him follow through and win this afternoon to capture his 2nd career major championship.

It's one thing to have a chance to win a major and come up short because you didn't make a birdie or two coming down the stretch. It's another thing entirely to have a four-shot lead heading into the final round and fail to close the deal.

Here's the fear: Johnson did not handle these situations all that well in earlier stages of his career. Let's hope he can finish the job today and win the Masters.

Dustin Johnson owns a four-shot lead heading into today's final round of the Masters.

One of the reasons for trepidation? It's almost impossible to follow up a near-perfect round of golf -- which Johnson authored on Saturday with a 7-under round of 65 -- with another near-perfect round of golf. If anyone can do it, perhaps Johnson can, but logic and the law of averages say Johnson is more likely to shoot 70 or 72 today than he his to shoot 66 and win going away.

To wit, Johnson posted a 7-under 65 in his opening round (split over Thursday and Friday) and then posted a 70 on Friday afternoon in round two. It's just not that easy to go low two days in a row.

Oh, and speaking of Saturday, DJ was really, really close to pulling off something that hasn't been done in the modern era of major championship golf. Johnson hit every fairway (14 for 14) and missed just two greens on the day (12 and 18). Since records were kept of such statistical accomplishments, no one has played an entire round in major championship golf hitting all of the fairways and all of the greens, but Johnson nearly pulled off golf's equivalent of a "perfect game" on Saturday.

Make no mistake about it, if Johnson doesn't win today, it will be viewed as another major championship he let slip away. Unless something wacky happens and DJ shoots 68 and Sungjae Im or Cam Smith ties the course record with a 63 to win by one, a loss for Johnson today will add to his legacy of not being able to seal the deal on the final day of a major.

But don't count on that happening...

Johnson is playing the best golf of his life these days. Sure, he could hit a wayward shot or two today and post a "mediocre" round of 70 and lose, but the chances of DJ doing that, given what we've seen over the first three days, are pretty slim. Indeed, if anyone is playing Augusta National as a "par 67", it's Johnson, not DeChambeau. He played the par 5 holes in 5 under on Saturday, with an eagle at 2 and birdies at 8, 13 and 15.

Behind him are several players who in any other year would be playing more than well enough to win. Im and Smith are both at 12-under as is Abraham Ancer, who will join Im and Johnson in today's final pairing. Lurking at 11-under is South African Dylan Frittelli, while Justin Thomas is at 10-under-par. Those give guys have a puncher's chance still, if Johnson falters, but it would seem to reason that everyone at 9-under or worse would need a minor miracle.

Tiger Woods won the tournament in 2019 and anyone who loves golf would be hard pressed to create a more stirring backdrop for this pandemic-delayed 2020 Masters. But a win by Dustin Johnson, especially if he goes out today and shoots 69 or better to set a new tournament scoring record, would be very well received in the golf world. His slow, easy pace and friendly nature make him a favorite of both players and golf fans alike.

And after previous final round failures at the PGA, U.S. Open and Masters, it would be awesome to see Johnson slip on that green jacket around 3 pm this afternoon.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Saturday
November 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2272



fact and opinion


FACT: No player outside the top 12 at the halfway point has wound up winning the Masters since Jack Nicklaus did it in 1986. Because the 2nd round is not yet complete, we're not able to list the current top 12 to see if that stat holds up again in 2020. As of 6:30 a.m. today, 13 players were at 7 under or better. It might turn out that more than 13 players wind up being in the top 12 (with ties) and the number could be more like 8 under represents top 12 or better by the time the scores are turned in this morning to complete the opening 36 holes.

OPINION: I can't see anyone coming from "back of the pack" to win this year, either. There are just too many players -- really good players -- who are scoring well and making birdies in droves. It looks like 16 to 18 under could be the winning score. If someone finishes 36 holes at 4-under, they'd have to shoot something like 65-65 to win outright. And 65-65 on the weekend at Augusta National is highly improbable, even with the soft conditions the players are seeing this week.


Is Dustin Johnson on the verge of capturing his first Masters title?

FACT: The Masters is the best golf tournament in the world. Wait, that's an opinion, isn't it? No, it's a fact. No other tournament comes close to being able to produce the kind of excitement Augusta National produces on annual basis. Patrons or not, the place is simply magnificent year after year and the rotation of holes, particularly on the back nine, makes for remarkable theater. The back nine starts with three difficult holes, eases up at 13, requires a precise drive and iron at 14, eases up again at 15, and then finishes with three holes that can all be birdied or bogeyed depending on where you put your tee-shot.

OPINION: There are some sporting events that you must watch, even if you're not a diehard fan of the sport. As an example, I've always watched the Daytona 500, even though I'm not a NASCAR fan. But there's something about that race that is captivating even for the casual race fan, like me. Wimbledon is similar in nature. You don't have to care for tennis all that much to get locked into that tournament and appreciate how valued it is among the world's best tennis players. I think the Masters is like that. Even if you don't like or play golf all that much, I can promise you a riveting four hours of television tomorrow if you'll hunker down with a Sunday beverage and watch the final round. I'm biased, of course, but I think the Masters is the greatest sporting event there is.


FACT: -- In order to win any golf tournament, let alone a major championship like the Masters, a player has to get good breaks for four days. On any given week, players routinely get good breaks and bad breaks, but in order to win an event, the good ones must far outweigh the bad ones. The margin is just too razor thin to get a bunch of bad breaks and still win.

OPINION: The pre-tournament favorite, Bryson DeChambeau, is still looking for his first good break of the week. While much of his undoing is his responsibility (we'll cover that below), it's fair to note nothing has gone right for him from a "breaks" standpoint. The 3rd hole on Friday is a perfect example. At even par, he launched his tee shot on the 350 yard hole, where he had just 35 yards to the pin in Thursday's opening round after a massive tee shot. DeChambeau's ball landed about 40 yards short of the green, in the left rough, and was never found. After a 3-minute search, he took a 2-stroke penalty and headed back to the tee, where he promptly made a triple bogey "7" and basically shot himself out of the tournament. Minutes later, his ball was found by a marshal, where he discovered it was "plugged" (buried) underneath the surface of the grass due to the wet weather. By then, it was too late. A Masters official said after the round it was the first time a ball was lost inside of the general playing area in his memory.


FACT: -- Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel was a journeyman PGA Tour player who was hardly a household name during his career. He won one tournament (1998, Vancouver), played in one Masters (1999, T18) and missed the cut in 8 of 13 other major championships he played.

OPINION: -- Chamblee is the best golf analyst going right now...and could be the best analyst ever, if we're being honest. No one comes close to delivering the kind of analysis Chamblee delivers day in and day out, particularly during major championships. While he did pick DeChambeau to win on Wednesday night, he offered a morsel of caution about DeChambeau's golf swing that has apparently come true through the first two rounds. "The only thing I'd say about his chances, a cautionary tale, if you will, is that nearly every player who wins at Augusta National does so with reverence for the golf course and the tradition. DeChambeau saying the course he's playing is basically a par 67 to him, while certainly a confident approach, is not the way most people would tangle with Augusta National. Now I understand that he marches to the beat of his own drummer, but Bryson might very well find out the old girl doesn't take well to being considered a "par 67"." Not only is Chamblee a great analyst, he's an awesome wordsmith, too.


At 50 years old, Phil Mickelson is still in the hunt at the Masters after shooting 5-under for his opening 36 holes.

FACT: -- Phil Mickelson, at age 50, is in contention at the Masters after posting 5-under par for two rounds. He won't be inside the top 12 after 36 holes, which will make it difficult for him to win, but Mickelson is one of the most experienced players in the field and if anyone could produce some weekend magic, it's the 3-time champion. He drove the ball better than just about anyone in the field on Thursday and Friday, but ranked 3rd to last in putting, which is why he's at 5-under instead of 10-under. Oddly enough, Mickelson's play in 2020 was the exact opposite. He drove the ball terribly during the "season" but putted adequately enough. He wasn't the Mickelson of old with the flat stick, but it was his driver, not putter, that held him back throughout the 2020 campaign.

OPINION: -- Every player can look at missed putts and say "woulda, shoulda, coulda", but Mickelson missed seven putts inside of eight feet in the first two rounds. He could easily be leading or one of the guys at 7 or 8 under if he would have putted even "decently".


FACT: -- I've been to Augusta National ten times. I've never played the course, but I attended a practice round ten times between 2007 and 2020. Television does the place no justice at all. It's far, far harder than it appears when you're watching from your living room.

OPINION: -- Everyone talks about how difficult the greens and chipping areas are, but here's what TV doesn't necessarily show you that makes Augusta National so difficult. Other than the tee boxes, the player is never presented with a flat lie. Every iron shot is hit from a sidehill, downhill or uphill lie. Hitting from those lies requires an incredible amount of precision from the players in terms of their stance and posture. If you're off just a tick, you can't make solid contact with the ball. Of particular note are the par 5's, where a downhill lie awaits players on #2, #13, and #15 and an uphill lie is present for the 2nd shot at the 8th. So, while the par 5's are relatively "easy" from a distance standpoint, the hole becomes difficult when the player has to navigate a downhill or uphill approach shot.


FACT: -- Unless something really wacky happens to Tiger Woods (he's 4-under at 8:05 am as I prepare to publish this), he's going to make the cut and have a chance to make some weekend noise if he can somehow get it to 6 under or so by the end of round 2.

OPINION: -- Watching 63 year old Bernhard Langer (3 under par) make the cut, and even be on the first page of the leaderboard early in his Friday round, has to quietly give Woods (43 years old) some motivation. Even see Mickelson, at age 50, hanging around at 5-under par, has to be a source of motivation for Woods. While he might not physically be able to compete until his 60's like Langer, just seeing Langer and Larry Mize still being competitive in their 60's has to remind Tiger his best days at Augusta National are far, far from over. Woods might not be able to win any of the other three majors any longer, but he can always win at Augusta, like Nicklaus did at age 46 in 1986.


FACT: -- As of this writing, early Saturday morning, a handful of players were at 9 under par and several were at 8 under and 7 under. About 30% of the field still had to finish their 2nd round on Saturday morning before the 36-hole cut is made.

OPINION: -- Who's going to win? Who. Knows. You can throw out first timers like Sungjae Im, if you want, just because they never seem to win (last first timer to win was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979), but the leaderboard is jammed with great players like Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Rose and Patrick Reed. All of those guys except for Rahm and Cantlay have won major championships. Then you have guys like Abraham Ancer and Cameron Smith, both great players as well, who are looking to break out with a major win and establish themselves as a Top 10 player in the world. This feels like a tournament Dustin Johnson or Jon Rahm are going to win, just given how great they've both played in 2020. Who would I like to see win? Cantlay, Reed or Rose would suit me just fine, thank you very much.

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soccer: usa vs wales "friendly" recap


The US men traveled to Wales on Thursday for their first competitive match in over nine months.

Coach Gregg Berhalter picked a starting lineup that featured many promising young talents along with a few reliable veterans. The team lined up in a formation with four defenders, three midfielders, two wingers and a “false 9” center forward. With the absence of the team's top options at striker, Berhalter chose to play veteran Sebastian Lletget in the hybrid “false 9” role instead of an out and out striker.

The back line consisted of left back Antonee Robinson, center backs John Brooks and Matt Miazga, and right back Sergino Dest. The midfield three had Tyler Adams playing in a deeper defensive role with Weston McKennie and 17 year old newcomer Yunus Musah serving as box to box midfielders. Barcelona prospect Konrad de la Fuente started at left wing and 17 year old Borussia Dortmund star Gio Reyna started on the right.

Sergino Dest is one of the young American players who was impressive in Thursday's friendly match vs. Wales.

Wales ran out a slightly weakened starting lineup, choosing to rest a few of their top players for their upcoming UEFA Nations League matches. On a very wet and rainy night, the home side was more than happy to sit back and defend and look for opportunities to hit the US on the counter attack.

The US dominated possession throughout the game and pressed Wales high up the field. The athleticism of the American midfield trio overwhelmed Wales and quickly won back possession repeatedly, suffocating Wales ability to control the ball. This often led to Wales trying to connect on long balls over the US press, but the combo of Brooks and Miazga were able to win the majority of these aerial duels.

The back line and the midfield lead the way for the US. Weston McKennie and John Brooks especially stood out. McKennie demonstrated his versatility, dribbling through opponents in midfield, pinging cross field passes and providing timely defensive challenges. Brooks contained the Welsh target men with relative ease and was often the starting point for building US attacking movements, breaking down the initial lines of the Wales defense with his passing.

In general the US dictated the game with long passing sequences, but lacked the precision to break down the Wales defensive block near goal. Despite impressive build up play through the midfield the US struggled to find the final ball or decisive pass to create clear cut scoring chances. Given the relative inexperience of the attackers, this was not a big surprise.

The Americans often found success attacking down the right flank through overlapping right back, Sergino Dest. Dest was able to generate several dangerous crosses but the attackers weren’t able to find the correct movements to get on the end of them. The team clearly missed top attacking talents Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent, Jozy Altidore, and Jordan Morris. Pulisic especially would have been helpful to provide the creative spark that was missing in the attack.

Overall this was a positive performance from a young and developing team. It would have been nice to get a goal and leave with a victory, but dominating a solid European team on their own soil and earning a draw is more than just a moral victory. There were plenty of bright moments from young players such as Yunus Musah to provide a glimpse of what is possible going forward. Coach Berhalter will take away several areas for improvement, especially looking for the attacking movements needed to break down a disciplined defense.

Some of those issues may resolve themselves when the full roster is available and others may require some tactical tinkering. He will get a chance to make a few modifications for the game against Panama on Monday. It will be interesting to see if the formation with the “false 9” is deployed again or if Berhalter chooses to start Weah, Gioacchini, or Soto as a more traditional striker. It's likely that whatever formation is chosen, Berhalter will be a little more experimental with his lineup choices in the second of the two friendlies.

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#dmd comments








KJ     November 29
@LM You kidding right? Clearly @Billy talking about Drew's former boss, sheesh

Delray Rick     November 29
HOWARD..In EUROPE at the time. Listen on the radio.


Howard     November 29
The Matte qb game vs Green Bay was in 1965, the year before the Super Bowl. The ref who blew the call on Don Chandler’s field goal was none other than Jim Tunney.

Matte wore a wristband so he could call plays.

Although the Colts did not get a chance to avenge their loss to the Browns from the year before in the championship game, they did go on to demolish the Cowboys in the Runner-Up Bowl by a score of 35-3.

LM     November 29
@Billy, Who are u talking about? Name some names.

Adam Porrell     November 29
I didn't know about the Vanderbilt kicker until last night but I guess I have the same questions as @DF. Why didn't she just kick the ball into the end zone? Why squib the ball to start the 2nd half?

Billy     November 29
Shocking that the rest of the NFL just going on as if nothing has happened while some local media members melting down about how they predicted this chaos all along! The upside of being #positive I suppose lol.

Barry Holtby     November 29
That Vandy kicker is thicker than a bowl of Mom's oatmeal.

MJN     November 29
I agree that your use of the word "novelty" was being kind, but then again, that was one heck of a squib she hit. It was perfect. Not many kickers can pull that off in their first game! lol

TJ     November 29
I love @Herman's subtle little dig the lady kicker for Vandy.

"Inspiration of a woman in full pads looking every bit the worthy athlete."

Funny stuff!

Frank     November 29
Spot on about the lady kicker. Great column Drew!

James - Dundak     November 29
Tyler Huntley a Lamar Clone will be RG111 backup

Delray RICK     November 29
The RAVENS game should be canceled cause 18 players out! Down here in the sunshine state a restaurant "DUFFYS" has sports pictures on all the walls.And one is a huge picture of JOHNNY U in black and white ready to throw against the GIANTS in 58. CLASSIC!!

Eric     November 29
M Andrews just tested positive so make it 19

Steve from Cape Coral     November 29
She certainly fills out the bottom part of her uniform nicely !!!

Marc Serio     November 29
Calling Ms. Fuller a "novelty" was being kind. Publicity stunt more like it. But anything goes in a pandemic.

unitastoberry     November 29
The Broncos need a Tom Matte moment. For all you youngins look it up.The B Colts should have been in SB1 with a running back playing qb. But some ref botched a field goal call. The league never admitted it but the goal posts where raised the next season to where they are now and 2 refs positioned underneath not just 1.

HERMAN     November 29
The photo of Ms. Fuller with her arms extended, leg back, foot planted, should be inspirational to generations of women to come. I hope Nike or some other company creates a poster of the photo as a give-away that can occupy bedroom walls across the country.

As a kid I recall a photo of John Unitas, left arm extended straight out, hand flat and pointing skyward, his right arm perfectly cocked as blockers held all at bay around him. I'm sure that photo inspired kids everywhere to dream.

Game results will be lost to memory but the inspiration of a woman in full pads looking every bit the worthy athlete ready to strike the ball skyward will reverberate for generations.

That she was also extremely bright, lit the field with her smile, and had an infectiously positive attitude in interviews afterward was all icing on the cake.

Delray rick     November 28
You is wrong again

..

James - Dundak     November 28
Saturday Afternoon Fluker, Ferguson , Washington, Dorsey,Holden added to Covid list. They aint playin Tuesday

Delray Rick     November 28
Sounds like PITTSBURGH relising COV19 names. Is this game going to be played?

Jeff P.     November 28
Sanders not only failed to disclose his symptoms he then held a team weight lifting session.

CJ     November 28
@Rob, he had Covid symptoms and didn't report them and them on the morning employee survey.

Steve from Cape Coral     November 28
If I made Goodell's money NOTHING would keep me up at night !!!

Rob Really     November 28
Again, “...protocol failure by a team staffer...”. What exactly does it mean??

J.W.     November 28
I have a friend who works at the facility and he says more than one person was suspended by the team.

Tom     November 28
I think we all know "Delray Rick" isn't a deep thinker based on his writing skills, so I'll be the one to mention that the Ravens never said who it was that they disciplined. They just said "an employee". If I'm Drew, I'm also careful not to mention any names unless the team publicly confirms who they disciplined.

As for the forfeit, I also see the merit in it if it's the difference between adding a week on to the regular season. I don't think it would ever happen but I see where Goodell could use it and justify it as well.

Best case scenario would be for Ravens to wiggle out of this Tuesday's game and tack it on to early January.

unitastoberry     November 28
I just read where Jack Dawson died of covid. He was one of the three big tv sports journalists for me growing up in the hay day of the Colts and Orioles. Great memories of him and sympathies to his family. Had no idea he had a degree in chemisty from Hopkins and taught school. Well done sir. RIP

Delray rick     November 28
The RAVENS strength coach name is on the internet.DUH! Don't tell anyone.

George     November 28
@DF -- Do you remember Boy-Boy Moutang?

Dan P.     November 27
Wow Drew, you hit that one right on the nose! Ravens-Steelers is Tuesday and Ravens-Cowboys is next Monday. Good work!!

Delray Rick     November 27
Read interview on TOM WEISKOPF. HE said best golfers ever,HOGAN,SNEAD,JACK and TREVINO with not hard to believe HOGAN 5he best ever.

Delray Rick     November 27
BRIEN....Since you are not there,you don't know.Ya know.

Brien Jackson     November 27
I dunno, I'm a little bit skeptical that one coach is single handedly responsible for a team wide outbreak. I mean you look at multiple Steelers having a social media meltdown about how unfair it is that they weren't exposed to a team with a not yet controlled outbreak last night and I'm not sure I buy that players and coaches are really being that vigorous in observing protocols, ya know?

kevin     November 27
Would be nice to know if this guy routinely did not wear a mask or if this was a one time thing at the worst time. Kinda like a football game itself, do everything right for 59 plays but lose the game on the 60th.

If he was showing symptoms, even minor ones, it would be one thing not to self-report, quite another to combine that with not wearing a mask around others while symptomatic.

Regardless, not sure how anyone can put this on Harbaugh. I get the coach is "in charge" but expecting him personally to monitor every single person in the building, and deal with all the x's and o's of coaching the team on the field, that's just hating to hate.

Kinda like what Stillers fans are doing now.

Although as Drew pointed out, there'd be some Ravens fans doing the exact same thing, we all know this (see Matt Skura). Thankfully on both sides, it is simply a vocal lunatic fringe.




HERMAN     November 27
At 6-4 this is as bad a news as possible for the team. The entire season hangs in the balance and it certainly doesn't look promising.

My own view on the biggest difference between this year and last is that we went into this season with a suspect and substandard offensive line and then lost the two best players on that line. The center that can snap gets pushed into the backfield 3 yards every play, the center that can't snap can hold his own but is a fumble waiting to happen every sixth play.

Lamar can't be all world without blockers.

Rob Really     November 27
Can someone explain in clear, unambiguous words, exactly how the unnamed Ravens strength and conditioning coach violated COVID protocols?

Steve from Cape Coral     November 27
I'm sorry but, you can't suspend the coach, he needs to be FIRED immediately !!! The NFL should suspend this guy from working for any other team for a year. I can only fathom how much money the NFL and Las Vegas has lost because of this clown !!! That person has a boss and whoever that is needs to be suspended because they let this happen.

Steve of Pimlico     November 27
@Umitus to Berry They were definitely the Greatest Generation.After all they went thru that's why they did all they could for us Boomers.We have become a soft and spoiled people

unitastoberry     November 27
"It was announced on Thursday that the Ravens have suspended a strength and conditioning coach who was apparently in violation of strict Covid-19 protocols while conducting a weight training session late last week."



Covid aside has anyone seen any strength and conditioning on the field the last month or so? The league can just take a collective week or so off because after Thanksgiving cases are really going to soar. The things I am hearing coming out of Pittsburgh players and fans are really disgusting but then the only fans worse than they are live in Philly.


Delray Rick     November 27
NOW ITS...Wait til next year!!!

Kevin Cha     November 26
Interested in hearing more about “player safety”- Ravens have failed on many levels- time to look inward on how they DONT manage Covid and now have created a national story for what i can only assume is negligence.

Delray Rick     November 26
Just finish 18. 81 here and smell PUMPKIN PIE.

Delray Rick     November 26
Just finish 18. 81 and sunny. I think I smell a PUMPKIN PIE.

KJ     November 26
I am thankful for @Herman, the great equalizer! Balance is good.

HERMAN     November 26
No need to take a swipe at Florida, living in south Florida is fantastic. It's like living on full time vacation even when you are working for a living. If the cost of living on a Florida island near the beach is missing the Fall colors I'll take 82 and sunshine.

My best to all who visit here, even the misguided SOD.

Gut one out Ravens, take down the hated Squealers.

Pittsburgh tears are the best reason they already have a towel in hand.

edward     November 26
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all stay safe and be thankful for all you have and Drew thank you for you and your wonderful moral character you are a inspiration to us all

unitastoberry     November 26
My mother and father where born during WW1 and the Spanish Flu and grew up in the great depression where they ate potatoes 3 times a day in various ways and only got fresh veggies in the summer. When they got out of high school there was another world war waiting for them. Oh and no penicillin until 1947 or so. They managed to dodge all of lifes bullets in an era where people where dying and getting killed left and right all around them. My dad had friends who's bodies where never found on various battlefields in the Pacific and Europe. My mom always said hell is right here on earth and the older I get I agree with that.

But there is always light that shines thru. Today we celebrate that light and give thanks to our creator no matter what happens in our mortal lives because he is the good in the universe. Happy Thanksgiving. PS stay off social media except for DMD.

Greg Parker     November 25
Francis Chan is awesome!! Just wanted to say that.

Billy     November 25
Who wants to tell "JerryH" that Jesus was a teacher?

Kevin Cha     November 25
Heres what i would tel my team- wash your hands, wear the mask, distance- and make first downs. Looks like Ravens are losing players to Covid more than most so gotta question what org aint doing for “player safety”.

Friday
November 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2271



notes, good notes and better notes


"Drive for show and putt for dough" -- That's one of the oldest sayings in golf. It basically highlights the importance of putting, where one 20-footer for par can salvage a hole in a way a 300 yard drive can't.

Kevin Na found out first-hand about driving for show and putting for dough in Thursday's opening round of the Masters. Na hit all 18 greens in regulation, something no player had done at Augusta National since 2009. Na had two 3-putts (#7, #11) that resulted in bogeys, two 3-putts on par 5's that resulted in pars, and one birdie (#15) en-route to a one-over par round of 73.

In all on Thursday, Na -- typically a solid putter -- took 39 putts over the course of 18 holes. Any kind of "normal" putting day from him (30 putts) would have made him the first round leader instead of a guy needing a good second round score just to make the cut after 36 holes.

Ben Hogan once scoffed at the importance of putting, saying, "You're telling me it takes more skill to roll a ball in the hole from 10 feet away than it does to hit it 10 feet from the hole from 175 yards away? Putting should count for a half-a-stroke." Kevin Na probably agrees with that philosophy.


Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman dismissed the idea that opposing defenses know what plays the Ravens offense are going to run. "Teams study game film. We all do it. It's our job to mix things up so there's not a pattern," Roman said.

Lamar Jackson sparked a mini-controversy this week when he told a national radio show that members of the Indianapolis Colts were calling out the Ravens offensive plays as Jackson got to the line of scrimmage during last Sunday's 24-10 win over the Colts.

Whether any of that is true or not isn't really the story. Maybe Jackson's tipping a play with a body gesture, like a pitcher unknowingly tips his pitches. Maybe they watched enough game film to make a really good guess on what was coming given the down and distance. Who knows?

But hearing Jackson admit that on the air reminded me of something a Ravens P.R. official told me a decade ago when I asked to have a player as a guest on my morning radio show.

"We don't like having players do those kind of interviews in-season," he said. "There's no telling what you're going to ask and there's no telling what he might say. And there's nothing to be gained out of having him on the air on a Tuesday during the middle of the season. We can't sell any more tickets to the home game this Sunday. The best case scenario is you have a great 10 minute interview. The worst case scenario is he says something he shouldn't say and it becomes a local and national story. We can't afford to have that worst case scenario play out."

I thought of that comment yesterday as I read through the various national stories about how Jackson's admission on the radio show sounded like a jab at offensive coordinator Greg Roman. It wasn't intended to sound critical of Roman. I'm quite certain Lamar Jackson didn't intend to air any dirty laundry on a national radio show. That worst case scenario, though...

Even if it is true, why would your quarterback admit it on a national radio show?


The Ivy League canceled their winter sports on Thursday, meaning there won't be any basketball played at Princeton, Yale, Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League schools in '20-21.

You might remember the Ivy League was the first conference to squelch spring sports last March once Covid-19 became a widespread threat. The Patriot League followed shortly thereafter, and within a week, every major conference did the same thing.

With the virus again spiking all over the country, it seems inevitable that collegiate winter sports will, at the very least, be pushed back into January, if not canceled entirely. Not that the Ivy League is the be-all, end-all of college sports, but it only takes once conference to pull the plug and then others start following suit.


The U.S. men's soccer team played Wales to a 0-0 draw in Thursday's "friendly". Let me tell you this: Forget the score, the roster of this young U.S. national team is as exciting as it has ever been.

Yes, ever.

The team's best player -- Christian Pulisic -- didn't even play, but the U.S. more than held its own against Wales, a Euro 2020 qualifier, who admittedly didn't have a couple of their best players for the contest.

What the American side needed on Thursday was simple -- a finishing touch. They created enough scoring opportunities to put several balls in the net but weren't able to get the right touch at the right time. But from a creativity standpoint, the U.S. team had imagination and a tactical I.Q. we aren't used to seeing from them.

Particularly impressive on Thursday were three guys making their national team debuts: Gio Reyna, Konrad de la Fuente and Yunus Musah. Reyna, just 17 years old, figures to be a mainstay midfielder for the next decade. What Pulisic brings in speed, Reyna delivers in patience and the ability to see the whole field, something the U.S. has dearly lacked from their midfield players for quite some time.

Musah was around the action all day and was difficult to knock off the ball when it was at his feet. He was clearly a problem for the Wales defenders, who applied some physicality to their efforts and were still not able to rattle the first-time performer.

Thursday's game, along with Monday's contest against Panama, are great opportunities for Greg Berthalter to see his young players in no-pressure situations. If yesterday is any kind of sign of what we might see in 2021 during World Cup qualifying, the American squad is going to look and play much differently than the one who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

This U.S. national team has something brewing...it might take a while to fully percolate, but the future looks bright for American soccer on the international stage.

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masters day one: storylines abound


Sure, Tiger Woods and his opening round 68 dominated the sports highlight shows on Thursday, but day one of the Masters was much, much more than Tiger shooting 4-under par at Augusta National.

The weather was the story for the first three hours, as torrential rain pushed the players off the course at 7:30 am and they weren't able to return until 10:30. By then, even with the gazillion dollar sub-air system working overtime to dry out the fairways and greens, Augusta National was there for the taking. The soft conditions led to some impressive first-round scoring.

43 year old Paul Casey, still looking for the first major title of his career, shot an opening round 65 on Thursday at the rain-delayed 2020 Masters.

Paul Casey shot the best score on Thursday with a 7-under par round of 65. Casey's name isn't a surprise on the Masters leaderboard. He has five top-10 finishes in his career, including three straight in '15, '16 and '17. There will be no shock at all if he's wearing the green jacket on Sunday evening.

Webb Simpson and Xander Schauffele are both at 5-under par. Simpson has a major title (U.S. Open) and a Players Championship victory, plus he enjoyed a 2-win campaign in '19-20 that pushed him into the world's Top 10. He finished T5 in the 2019 Masters despite being the 2nd shortest driver, yardage wise, in the entire field. Schauffele, meanwhile, has been one of the best players in the world over the last two years and now just needs a major championship victory to prove that his play and world ranking are legitimate.

Justin Thomas might very well be the first-round leader once he completes his opening 18 holes on Friday morning. Thomas is 5-under par through 10 holes. He was a pre-tournament favorite, so it's no surprise at all to see him steaming his way to the top of the leaderboard.

Lee Westwood is among those at 4-under par. Westwood, at age 47, would become the oldest Masters champion ever he could somehow win the tournament on Sunday. He would also become one of the event's most popular winners ever. Westwood has 19 career Top 10 finishes in major championships, including 6 at Augusta National. His chipping and work around the greens, always the weakest part of his game, were in fine form on Thursday.

Patrick Reed took advantage of the soft conditions to post eight birdies on Thursday. Unfortunately, he also made four bogeys. But Reed, the 2018 champion, is very much in the hunt for his 2nd green jacket.

Matthew Wolff is another player who was unable to finish his first round on Thursday, but the former college All-American is positioned nicely at 4-under par through 11 holes, and Wolff has the easier part of the front nine left to play since his Thursday round started on the 10th hole. He could have wedges into holes 3, 7, 8 and possibly 9.

Others of note --

Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose are each 3 under par and have not yet finished their first rounds.

Two Australians, Jason Day and Marc Leishman are at 2-under par and well in the hunt after shooting 70 on Thursday.

And speaking of shooting 70, Bryson DeChambeau and 62-year old Larry Mize both posted 70 in round one, but there were some interesting tidbits attached to their play. DeChambeau averaged 335 yards off the tee in round one. Mize averaged 250. Yet they both shot the same score. Mize made 6 birdies in the first round, DeChambeau made 5.

DeChambeau's round was crazy. He hit drives of over 350 yards at #2, #3, #5, #8, #9, and #15, but hit awful drives at #11, #13 and #14. He was able to scramble for par at #11 and #14, but a double bogey at #13 (his 4th hole of the day) got him off to an uneasy start. The reigning U.S. Open champion birdied his final two holes (#8 and #9) to salvage a respectable round and stay in contention after a day one that was perfect for good scoring once the rain moved out.

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faith in sports


This week's edition of Faith in Sports is an awesome 10 minutes with NBA player Cody Zeller. You'll learn a lot about Zeller in the video below, as he takes you through his days in college and how his faith helped prepare him for life in the NBA. As always, thanks to our friends at Freestate Electric for sponsoring our weekly "Faith in Sports" video segment.



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Thursday
November 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2270



what, exactly, is a "cultural fit"?


This one sure doesn't shed a favorable light on the Houston Texans.

Even the best helmets in the NFL can't keep the Texans from getting raked over the coals after Wednesday's sudden firing of P.R. Director Amy Palcic, who told members of the media the team informed her she was no longer a "cultural fit" within the organization.

Exactly who it was that informed Palcic of her termination is part of the story. Team president Jamey Rootes insists it was his decision, while others speculate interim general manager Jack Easterby made the call. Either way, if Palcic's account of her firing is correct, "no longer a cultural fit" is a weird choice of words in today's climate.

Amy Palcic was fired by the Houston Texans on Wednesday, sparking a wave of support by both media members and NFL players.

What "culture", exactly, did Palcic no longer fit into within the Texans organization? Everyone around the league -- and that does mean everyone -- lauded the job Palcic did. She was one of the most well respected P.R. people in the entire league. It stands to reason, unless she was guilty of some sort of outlandish behavior, that firing her on the merit of her performance was not a possibility.

"No longer a cultural fit..."

Some are spectulating it could have been Palcic's open support for the Biden-Harris presidential campaign that led to ruffled feathers in Houston.

Palcic tweeted last weekend that the election of Vice President Kamala Harris amounts to a “historic day,” adding "to every little girl out there … you can be ANYTHING you dream of!”

Palcic also retweeted a message from actress Reese Witherspoon, who called Harris' appointment a “monumental day."

Former Texans owner Bob McNair was a staunch Republican who once told Texans players the victory for Barack Obama (over John McCain) "was not the outcome some of us were looking for."

Speculation in Houston is that Palcic's departure could have been connected to her support of the Democratic party during last week's election. It's worth noting her social media messages supporting the Biden-Harris ticket were made on her personal account, not team or P.R. accounts managed by the Texans.

“It was definitely my call,” Rootes said in a statement on Wednesday. “I gave Amy the role a number of years ago and felt the need to make a change. Leadership is sometimes a very lonely role and from time to time you have to make a move that impacts people that you care about deeply. This was one of those unfortunate times.”

On his Twitter account Wednesday, Texans All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt gave support to Palcic: First & only woman to be head of PR for an NFL team and winner of the Rozelle Award for best PR Staff in the NFL. Massive help in my hurricane relief efforts, community events and much more. Whoever picks up @amypalcic will be getting one of the absolute best in the business.

Firing Palcic is one thing. People get fired every day. But if, in fact, Palcic was told she was no longer a "cultural fit", the Texans are likely going to have to define that description for the next person who gets the job, otherwise they risk the same outcome with their new hire.

In the Texans' case, defining "cultural fit" might be more difficult than winning football games in 2020. And they're not exactly tearing up the AFC South, you might have noticed.


I wonder if Tiger Woods has access to The Golf Channel in the home he's renting this week in Augusta, Georgia? If so, he was probably interested to hear what analysts Brandel Chamblee and Justin Leonard had to say on Wednesday on the final show of "pre-Masters" coverage which aired from 7 to 9 pm.

Wouldn't Tiger just love to silence Brandel Chamblee and Justin Leonard this week at Augusta National?

As the show ended, host Rich Lerner asked the two to predict a winner. Chamblee went with Bryson DeChambeau. Leonard went with Dustin Johnson.

Lerner then asked for a darkhorse of sorts. Chamblee chose Hideki Matsuyama. Leonard picked Justin Rose.

And then Lerner asked them what they both thought Tiger Woods would do at this week's Masters.

Chamblee smiled, knowing the question was coming, and shuffled around in his seat for a second. There was silence for a moment. "I think he'll make the cut," Chamblee predicted.

Lerner waited. That was all Chamblee said.

Leonard also moved around nervously in his seat, then offered, "I think that's the best that he'll do..."

My how the mighty have fallen, huh? I guess it's fair to note I'm not even so sure Woods will make the cut, although I guess if you made me bet it one way or the other, I'd predict Woods does make it to the weekend, albeit off the leaderboard. Officially, I'll say his four rounds will consist of scores of 74-73-70-74 for a four-day total of 3 over par, which should get him a T25 finish.

But I'm not Brandel Chamblee nor am I The Golf Channel. My opinion would never reach Woods and even if it did, he couldn't care less about some goof in Baltimore. But Chamblee's opinion does carry weight in the golf world, for sure.

I can't help but imagine that Woods -- if he saw the comments from Chamblee and Leonard, or learns about them before today's first round -- would love nothing more than to prove Chamblee wrong, who has long been a critic of Tiger's while serving as the network's lead analyst.

I get it. Tiger doesn't really need extra motivation. He's stuck on 82 career wins and 15 major titles. That alone is enough to get his blood going, I assume. But proving Chamblee wrong would be special for Woods, I'm sure.



#dmd podcast


I had the opportunity to sit down with former WBAL TV sports producer Sean Caine on Wednesday and chat about all things Baltimore sports, including some great stories about Vince Bagli, Tom Davis, the Ravens, the Baltimore Colts and even some Baltimore Blast stories as well.

Sean is filled with knowledge about sports and sports media. I hope you enjoy our 38 minute conversation.


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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


those quiz show days


I have never taken the online test for Jeopardy, nor the non-online test that surely existed earlier in my life. Never had the chance to try out for the show—for the Teen Tournament, the College Tournament or the regular-old adult games (1). Like most of us, I’ve simply sat in front of the television spouting (wrong?) answers (er, questions). It’s not too late for me, of course, though my ability to retain information gets worse every year.

My own game show memories, for now anyway, are quite clear. Over a span of three years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I went to Television Hill (2) maybe 10 or 11 times to film “It’s Academic,” a Baltimore/Washington quiz show institution. Its own legendary long-time host, Mac McGarry, passed away in 2013.

We had a good team at Randallstown High School then, led by strong teacher/coaches with whom we drilled several days per week after school. We worked not only on knowing information but also on being quick with the buzzer—someone several years before had built a rudimentary buzzer system in a physics classroom.

As a freshman, I made the “varsity” by beating out a senior, who wasn’t too happy about it (3). I joined two juniors on the team that year, then helped us win a few matches again the next year when they were seniors. Mike, the older brother of my friend Yan, was an all-around genius who I believe went on to triple major at Brown University. James was a math and science guy who headed to engineering school in California.

How did I manage to infiltrate this group? Honestly, I think it was sports.

There were enough sports questions to matter, and I got every one of them right. Unlike Mike and James, I played sports competitively, watched sports on television and alternated between joy and despair with my teams. It gave me an advantage over the other eight teenagers (4) who happened to be sitting on the television soundstage with me.

Unlike Jeopardy, on “It’s Academic” players can “buzz in” before the host finishes asking the question. It’s a gamble, because you might miss the eventual context of the question, or the host might say your answer as part of the question instead. I didn’t care about that, not for the sports questions anyway. (5) Riverboat Rosenfeld, you might have called me. The look on Mike’s face when I did so occasionally told me that he wasn’t really the gambling type.

As a junior, I took over as captain, and again we were victorious in two matches, I believe. This time, I was the upperclassman trying to lead neophytes, and I wasn’t all that bad at it. Eventually, our luck ran out; my captaincy was not nearly as knowledgeable as my predecessor’s. And the next year, my sports life actually ended my “It’s Academic” career. The coaches thought I was spending too much time concentrating on tennis, so they told me my services were no longer needed.

The money that teams won for their schools’ college scholarship funds by participating? Gratefully, some of it went to me, after I convinced those same coaches that three seasons worth of hard work toward winning those prizes meant something. In retrospect, as a sports guy, they were right to request that I give a full effort to their team. Any coach would do that, unless the player was Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson. Sadly, I was neither, though I did get a few hours in “Prime Time” during my high school days—prime time being 11 a.m. on Saturdays, I believe.

Jeopardy, meanwhile, has an interesting relationship with sports. It’s not a particularly great relationship, I would say.

In an early 2018 show, the three contestants cleared the other 25 questions off the opening round board before being forced to choose, very hesitantly, the “Football” category. The result was quite embarrassing, but it sure gave the late Alex Trebek an opportunity for humor.

After nobody could answer the “option” play as the $200 answer, Alex said “I can tell you guys are big football fans.” Big applause.

After nobody knew that Tom Landry coached the Dallas Cowboys, Alex looked at the contestants and asked “do you think we should go to commercial?” The laughter was even louder.

After none of the three contestants came up with “fair catch,” Alex stared toward the ceiling and said “two clues left, Ryan.”

The answer for the $800 clue was “offsetting penalties,” after which Alex said that we should all look at the $1000 clue “just for the fun of it.”

The answer to that clue was “the Purple People Eaters.”(6) Before that was revealed, Alex looked directly into the camera and deadpanned “if you guys ring in and get this one, I will die…” Sadly, we couldn’t have known what he’d be diagnosed with only a year later.

Here’s a reminder that NFL football is an industry with approximately $15 billion in revenue each year. It is also a game, for better or worse, that has become synonymous with the stars and stripes and the soul of America itself.

And none of those people — an English teacher, attorney, and a banker — great American jobs all, had any idea what to say.

Of course, not answering a sports question is a smarter strategy than actually saying something ridiculous, such as when a contestant in 2014 credited Magic Johnson with recording an incredible 11 100-plus assist seasons (7) in the National Hockey League. Trebek, a Canadian of course, was particularly put off by this wrong answer.

While some of us are sports fans and some of us are not, it has never made much sense to me that trivia stars aren’t any good at sports trivia. After all, in the grand scheme, what is more trivial than offsetting penalties?

Plus, sports are part of the entertainment industry, no different than the movies, television, music and the arts. For some reason, sports fans can also know a lot about those topics, but experts on those topics often know little about sports.

As a former “It’s Academic” intellectual (ahem) who spent years working in sports, I can tell you that the world is changing. You can see it for yourself without me telling you—surely you are aware of how much modern statistical analysis has changed every aspect of competitive athletics (8). The days of sports being “anti-intellectual” are over, even in football, as are the days of men knowing everything about the game while women are kept away from it like the final scene of “The Godfather.”

But Jeopardy is not intellectual, as brilliant as some of its great contestants have been. It’s about trivia, and at its heart it’s a game, one that must be mastered as much or more as knowing the answers to the clues. You’d think that the game would draw more sports fans, and maybe that whole football category thing was just bad timing. The next night, all of those might have been answered correctly, even Purple People Eaters (9).

Whenever that situation happens again on Jeopardy, one thing is certain: the host won’t respond to it with that same mix of charm and disdain.


Notes --

1 - The only adult game show for which I’ve ever “tried out” is “The Weakest Link,” from its original U.S. run about 20 years ago. That show returned to the airwaves this year with Jane Lynch hosting.

2 - The syndicated show originally taped at and aired on WBAL Channel 11 before moving to WJZ Channel 13 at some point during my high school years.

3 - Stacey Sacks, I hope you are able to forgive me now…

4 - Were most of us “nerds?” Surely. Do “nerds” rule the world? Mostly…

5 - I don’t want to make it seem like I had no general knowledge. I once buzzed in early during a visual round when I saw a picture of an aqueduct and whispered “Segovia” into Mike’s ear, which he then said out loud for a correct answer. So I paid attention in Spanish class, too.

6 - Of all the clues, this was clearly the most difficult one. Unless a contestant was old enough or had watched NFL Films, or maybe was from Minnesota, they’d have no chance. There was no excuse for the others not to be answered correctly.

7 - This record by Wayne Gretzky is one of many from The Great One that is surely never to be broken, by Magic Johnson or anyone else.

8 - I wonder if all the professors at Princeton, Harvard and Yale are happy about all of their students going on to spend their adult lives trying to figure out how the Cincinnati Reds can do something to turn 77 wins into 85 next year.

9 - For those of you who are asking, “The Purple People Eaters” were the defensive line of the Vikings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As for me, I’ll always be loyal to the Baltimore Colts “Sack Pack.”

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u.s. soccer friendly matches


The US Men’s National Team will gather this week for the first time since February to play a pair of International games. The team will take on Wales in Swansea at 2:45pm today (Thursday) and will follow that up with a game against Panama in Austria at 2:45pm on Monday. Both games will air on Fox Sports 1 as well as TUDN.

A great deal has changed since the team last got together for a 1-0 win over Costa Rica nine months ago. Multiple players have seen their club profiles rise significantly with Americans now featuring at such Champions League giants as Barcelona and Juventus. Other young players, such as Gio Reyna, have risen up the ranks and will get their first shot at the national team.

The roster called in by Gregg Berhalter features almost exclusively European players due to COVID restrictions and the MLS season just beginning its playoffs. While it's disappointing to miss out on some of the emerging stars in MLS, the majority of the first choice starting lineup plays in Europe now anyway, so this will be as close to a full strength US team as we have seen in over a year.

Unfortunately there is one key player missing out due to injury. Christian Pulisic has missed his last couple games for Chelsea with a minor injury, and though he traveled to be a part of the camp, he has returned to Chelsea to continue recovering from his injury and will not feature in either of the games.

With Christian Pulisic out due to injury, the U.S. National team will rely heavily on Weston McKennie during two "friendly matches" over the next four days.

The other big name missing is Josh Sargent, who was held out at the request of his club due to concerns over COVID quarantine. The biggest surprise on the roster was the inclusion of 17 year old Yunus Musah. The youngster has previously played for England’s youth teams but was born in New York and is eligible for the US team. Musah is a top young prospect in Europe, starting the last few games for Valencia in La Liga, including a big win over Real Madrid this past weekend. He is an enormous talent and it would be a huge coup if Berhalter can convince him to officially switch his allegiance to the US.

The biggest question marks in the US lineup concern the center back to pair with John Brooks, the configuration of the midfield, and the starting right winger. These matches should give Berhalter an opportunity to tinker with different options at those positions and learn more about the best solutions.

With top MLS performers Mark McKenzie and Aaron Long not included in this roster, the starting right center back role will likely go to Matt Miazga or Chris Richards. They are two players at very different points in their career. Miazga is a solid veteran who has started every game for his new club, Anderlecht, in Belgium. He is the more secure option with a higher floor. The 20 year old Richards is a top prospect for the future who has been on the fringe of the Bayern Munich squad this season, getting a few appearances for the European champions. He certainly has the higher ceiling, but may not quite be ready to take over the starting job yet.

The question in midfield is who plays alongside Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie. With Jackson Yueill not available, it is a chance to experiment with several other midfield options. The most likely option from this roster is the only MLS player called up, veteran Sebastian Lletget. Lletget is coming off a good season for the LA Galaxy and would provide some additional attacking quality to the Adams/McKennie duo. Another option could be Gio Reyna, playing in a “number 10” role in front of the midfield pair. Newcomers Musah and Johnny Cardoso are other options for the final midfield spot, with Musah being a bit more attack minded and Cardoso a bit more defensive.

Right wing is another interesting position in these games. Most likely Gio Reyna will be the top choice at the position, as his biggest competition, Jordan Morris is not in this roster. However, if Reyna is deployed in midfield, or in Pulisic’s left wing role, it could give one of the other young attackers a chance. Uly Llanez, Tim Weah, and Konrad de la Fuente are all promising talents who haven’t fully blossomed at their clubs yet. Each could end up providing good depth in the attacking positions for the upcoming World Cup Qualifying.

With Josh Sargent unavailable it will also be an opportunity to get a look at a few young strikers who are further down the depth chart. Nicholas Gioacchini and Sebastian Soto have both been performing well in second divisions in France and Holland respectively. While neither are likely to challenge Sargent or Altidore for the starting job anytime soon, it will be good to evaluate them against top tier competition. Tim Weah could also spend some time at striker in these games.

Despite missing a few key players from MLS, this collection is one of the most talented the US has ever had.

It will be very exciting to finally see them all take the field together representing the stars and stripes. Given the lack of playing time with each other, expect there to be some bumpy moments, but the individual talent should shine through as these young players build their relationships.

The first game against Wales will be the tougher of the two, providing an opponent with similar talent level. Wales features stars such as Gareth Bale and Ben Davies of Tottenham along with other veterans of top European leagues. I would expect to see the strongest lineup possible starting for that match.

The second game against Panama will give Berhalter the chance to experiment a little more and work in some of the newest and youngest faces. Though these games don’t count for anything, they are an important first step in building the team that will compete in the qualifiers and eventually the 2022 World Cup.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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Wednesday
November 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2269



two in a row?? yes!!!


If you close your eyes, you can hear Jim Nantz, right around 3:30 pm this Sunday, poetically summarize one of the most glorious final rounds in the history of the Masters golf tournament.

"And so, in this oddest of years, with the leaves and trees showing the diversity only fall can bring, and with the color red spilling over the landscape of one of golf's grandest masterpieces, it's only fitting that the man who has made the color red his symbol of success will once again enter the Butler Cabin as a Masters champion. Hello friends, and welcome back to Augusta National, where we're just minutes away from one of the most timeless traditions in all of sports, the green jacket ceremony, where for the second straight year -- and a record-tying sixth time -- Tiger Woods has won the Masters."

You can let the Masters theme music play in your head, too, if that helps heighten the experience of hearing Nantz say those words.

2019 marked the 5th time Tiger Woods celebrated a Masters win on the 18th green at Augusta National.

There was a time, shortly after Woods blew away the field in 1997, where Jack Nicklaus predicted Woods would win more Masters titles than both Nicklaus (6) and Arnold Palmer (4) combined. OK, sure, 11 tournament wins at any tournament, let alone a major, was probably asking just a wee bit too much. Nicklaus, as it turns out, was wrong. By a lot. Woods won 4 times by 2005, then only won one green jacket thereafter, in 2019, when he roared past a group of contenders on the back nine on Sunday to win by a single shot.

But 2020 has been.......well.......very different. It's been different in the world, in our country and, in golf, where a player took the exact opposite approach that everyone else has been taking for the last 20 years and turned the PGA Tour upside down with his dedication to milkshakes, protein, weight gain and a thirst for hitting 400 yard drives.

And yet, there's still Tiger Woods, scratching and clawing his way in the direction of Jack's 18 major championships. With the sun setting on his career, Tiger was able to end an 11-year major-less drought last April when he won at Augusta, but his golf since then -- other than the President's Cup last December -- has been, in a word, lousy. What's hurt Woods the most is the part of his game that saved him over the years: putting. And without the putts going and the birdie roars sending his opponents into a downward spiral, Woods has looked like just another player for most of the last 18 months.

But Augusta National is different.

There was a year when Fred Couples was on the leaderboard all weekend and eventually finished T6. That year was 2010. Couples was 51 at the time, yet he was right there with the game's greatest players, on the verge of a second Masters win.

In 2014, 2-time champion Bernhard Langer had a chance to win going into Sunday's final round before falling back and finishing T8. He was 56 at the time.

Jack Nicklaus was 57 years old in 1998 when he finished T6.

Tiger Woods is 44 years old. His body might not say "44", but the rest of him is still 44. And if there's anyone in the field this week who can turn back the clock and give Father Time a run for his money, it's Woods.

Tiger's first win was in 1997. As he walked off the 18th green, his father was there to hug him.

In 2019, Woods walked off the 18th green and hugged his two children.

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to be a father, you know all too well the feeling Woods had that day. Not much in life is better than the feeling you get when your child hugs you.

Perhaps that's the way it was supposed to end for Tiger at Augusta. If so, he's probably good with that. Not many players get to experience the totality of their career with that sort of memory; a loving embrace from a father and a loving embrace from two children.

But don't ever count Woods out at Augusta, even at 44, as age plays its expected toll on him. In the same way, don't count out Phil Mickelson, either. Even now, at age 50, Mickelson is as likely to contend at Augusta as virtually anyone in the field. If Langer can contend at age 56 and Couples can contend at age 51, Phil Mickelson can certainly contend at 50.

Alas, Woods isn't winning this Sunday. Neither will Mickelson. But it's certainly OK to dream about either of them winning. Cue the voice of Jim Nantz......


and the masters winner is....


If you would have asked me in late September who I thought was going to win the Masters in mid-November, my answer then is the same as it is today.

"The same guy who won the U.S. Open."

Can Bryson DeChambeau make it two straight major championship wins this week at the 2020 Masters?

Yes indeed, make it two in a row for The Mad Scientist.

No, I haven't specifically bought into all of this week's hype. We're hearing about sand wedges into the first hole, second shot 8-irons into the par-5 second hole, pitching wedges into number 11, a drive over the corner at the 13th that leaves 120 yards to the hole. We've been hearing some crazy numbers coming out of the Monday and Tuesday practice rounds and those numbers are staggering, to say the least.

But that's not why I'm picking Bryson DeChambeau to win this week's oddly placed Masters tournament.

I'm picking DeChambeau to win because this is the one tournament -- not the U.S. Open, which he won in September -- where his added length will be impacted the least by off-line drives. There's virtually no rough at all at Augusta National. And it seems obvious that if DeChambeau can bomb and gouge his way to a win at Winged Foot that clobbering a defenseless Augusta National shouldn't be all that far fetched.

Now, there are some qualifiers to DeChambeau's potential play that must be mentioned.

You can hit 375 yard drives all day, but if you can't hit your wedge to within 15 feet of the flag every time, you become just another player. DeChambeau won the U.S. Open because of his wedge play. If he wedges it at Augusta like he did at Winged Foot, he could shoot 6-under every day. That's a 24-under total for you Flyers fans rushing for your calculator.

Do I think DeChambeau can shoot 24 under there this week? No, I don't. But a score in that realm is possible if his wedge game is on like it was at the U.S. Open.

The other key to Augusta National is putting and DeChambeau's biggest professional weakness has been just that: putting. He's not a bad putter, obviously. He's a good putter, at a minimum, and when he wins on any given week, he's a great putter. In order to win at Augusta National, you must avoid the dreaded 3-putt green. That's the stat to watch this week as far as DeChambeau is concerned. If he has less than four, 3-putts in 72 holes, he's on track to win.

In general, PGA Tour players avoid three putts by hitting the ball close to the flag on their approach shot. Three putts mainly happen when you're 35 or 40 feet from the hole at Augusta, run the first one six feet past the hole, then miss the next one. If DeChambeau's wedge game is on and he hits it tight on most of the holes...watch out.

There's no course in major championship golf that allows for wayward driving off the tee like Augusta National. Sure, you can get in trouble on virtually every hole if you hit it way off line, but for the most part, TOUR players miss a fairway by five or ten yards, not twenty or thirty. Most of the trouble off the fairway at Augusta National is considerably off the fairway, not right up next to it.

And with the way DeChambeau has been driving the ball, he avoids most of the trouble areas by simply going up and over it all.

Predicted score? Hard to tell with the wet weather that's coming in over the next three days in Augusta. There's a really good chance, in fact, that they might not even finish on Sunday because play will be stopping and starting throughout the first three days due to storms and heavy rain. But we'll go with a 13-under par winning score for DeChambeau as he captures his 2nd straight major championship.

#DMD's Masters Elite Eight --

1. Bryson DeChambeau

2. Patrick Cantlay

3. Dustin Johnson

4. Patrick Reed

5. Tony Finau

6. Matthew Wolff

7. Louis Oosthuizen

8. Kevin Kisner

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other masters notes


The weather could really shake things up this week at Augusta National. If they get the kind of rain they're calling for down there, it only enhances the possibility of one of the long hitters coming out on top.

Jon Rahm is among the favorites this week at Augusta National.

Brooks Koepka looks and sounds like a guy who knows he's on the verge of playing well this week. Bothered by a knee injury throughout most of 2020, he says he's 100% and players who saw him in practice rounds this week say he looks like the Koepka who won four majors in three years recently. For fantasy golf enthusiasts, Koepka is a guy to add to a team or two this week.

Jon Rahm is also a good fantasy play this week. Spaniards have enjoyed great success at Augusta National, with five titles between Seve, Olazabal and Garcia. Rahm will win a Masters someday, for sure. Maybe even in 2020. Keep your eye on him this week.

The best longshot might be Canadian Corey Conners, who is one of the TOUR's highest ranked ball strikers. Putting has been his nemesis as a professional, but Conners has a terrific game off the tee and in the fairway. If he can get the ball in the right spots on the greens and make some putts on Thursday and Friday to gain some confidence, he could be a surprise threat on the weekend.

I wrote about this above, but don't be at all shocked, seriously, to see Phil Mickelson hang around and play well. Forget what he's done in the last few tournaments. Augusta National is his playground. He knows every nook and cranny of the place and he won't be at all overwhelmed by the greens. Mickelson is also historically an excellent foul-weather player.

A few other fantasy golf names for those of you placing a team or two this week: Abraham Ancer, Webb Simpson, Lee Westwood, Justin Harding, Sungjae Im, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Cameron Smith.

Here are three "win" longshots you might want to play if you find a site taking "win only" bets: Brendon Todd, Corey Conners, Tyrrell Hatton.

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SUCH
a sports fan

MARK SUCHY is a lifelong Baltimore sports fan, youth basketball coach and father of three athletic sons. A former weekend sports radio host in Baltimore, "Such" offers his memories and insights on sports related topics each Wednesday here at #DMD.


November is one of my favorite months of the year.

There’s a lot to recommend November as a good month. For starters, there’s the best holiday of the year, Thanksgiving Day. It’s food and football and a chance to catch up with old friends and family that you actually like. Plus, you don’t have the pressure of shopping for gifts.

There’s the weather transitioning from late summer to fall to winter. As a native of the Mid-Atlantic, I’ve always enjoyed the change of seasons. The brilliant scarlets and golds and crimsons and yellows capture the eye and stir the soul. To me it’s a reminder of the timelessness of things.

In the sports world, in normal times, there’s a bounty of action to keep your eyes on. Professional and college football is rounding the turn into the homestretch of their seasons. The games take on greater urgency and importance. November’s schedule is always full of traditional rivalry games. Those games can make for compelling theater even if you don’t have a connection to the teams.

November also brings the return of basketball, my favorite sport. It seems that college basketball starts its season earlier every year. High school basketball practice traditionally begins around November 15th. There are Thanksgiving weekend tournaments to enjoy. The NBA gets started. The promise of the new season begins to unfold.

Heck, November even has hockey and golf and auto racing, for those people so inclined. In normal times, that is.

The Suchy boys; (L to R), Thomas, Charlie and Mark.

But there’s something else about November that runs a little deeper for me. I think it has to do with the sense of nostalgia that the month always seems to bring to my mind. Perhaps that has to do with the weather and the calendar. There’s the realization that the year is drawing to its close, that winter is almost upon us, and that I should take some time to look back before looking too far ahead.

When I look back, I inevitably look way back. That has something to do with being in my mid-50’s, I’m sure. It probably also has to do with my being something of a sentimental fool. Sometimes the smallest thing can bring back a flood of memories.

This past weekend, Charlie and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm and beautiful weather and headed down to Ocean City. On Saturday morning, we took out the bikes and went for a ride, up and down North OC and Fenwick Island. We raced each other sometimes, we rode side-by-side and chatted, we cruised and laughed and teased each other.

Being on a beach cruiser makes me feel like I’m 15 again. That’s a great feeling. It makes me remember how good life was, and how good it still is, and how good it can be. Especially on a bluebird day at the beach in November.

Stay Humble, Stay Hungry, Stay Healthy

This is how I end every gameday text I send to my sons. I usually include a little message about that particular game, whether it’s a reminder to rebound, or to keep shooting, or to forget about the goal you might have allowed and block the next shot.

I haven’t been able to send one of those texts since March, and just like many other parents of athletes, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to send one again. The games are on hold, just like much of our lives are. The uncertainty is a bit maddening, honestly.

I’ll admit to being a bit jealous and a bit upset at watching Division I football being played, and knowing that Division I basketball is approaching. I have a hard time understanding why college athletes at that level are allowed to compete during this pandemic, while student-athletes at lower levels in the NCAA see their seasons suspended or outright cancelled.

But then I remember that it’s all about the money. It might seem a bit cynical, but it’s true. We demand sports entertainment in our society, and when it comes to college athletics, the only two sports that produce revenue are football and basketball. So that show goes on, coronavirus be damned. Gotta get those advertising dollars, never mind that the players are amateurs. What matters is that there’s programming for Saturdays.

Meanwhile, my sons and their teammates continue to practice and work out in preparation for seasons that probably won’t happen. They seem happy, and they keep a rather healthy perspective about it, but I can’t help but wonder how they really feel, especially when they see a scene like the one from South Bend last Saturday night, with thousands of college students rushing the field.

It’s okay because it’s Notre Dame, but it’s not okay because it’s Franklin & Marshall, or East Stroudsburg University, or any other small college? I can’t help but find the inconsistency upsetting and quite hypocritical.

Drive around Baltimore and you’ll see students on the campuses of private schools while the public schools remain closed. Those private schools have games scheduled, while the public schools have released a modified schedule that seems, at best, difficult to execute. All of the schools, private and public, have abbreviated schedules, but with the infection numbers rising, will they actually play?

Normally, November brings the close of high school fall seasons and the start of winter sports. This year, who knows? Selfishly, I want to see all the kids get to play full seasons. My youngest son has one last year of high school basketball. I want him to enjoy the culmination of his four years of dedication and effort, to be a team captain, to have a senior year that he can remember for the rest of his life.

I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to text my boys any pregame messages this year. But if I could text them a message of encouragement, it would go something like this: You’ve continued to put in the hard work. You’ve kept a positive attitude under extraordinary circumstances. You’ve stayed committed to the team and to yourselves. Now go out there and enjoy every moment and do everything you can to help your team.

Win or lose, you’re a champion because you saw it through. As always: Stay Humble, Stay Hungry, Stay Healthy

One of the funniest moments I’ve seen in any game, ever, had to be watching Phillip Rivers get tripped up by his own two feet while attempting to stop Chuck Clark’s fumble return during the Ravens win over the Colts. The way he stumbled and fell on his back, then flailed helplessly as Clark hurdled him on the way to the endzone, was seriously high comedy. I’ll admit that I’ve shared the photo with my sons and friends several times since it happened, all the while poking fun at Rivers.

And Rivers’ reaction, slapping the turf in frustration, only heightened the hilarity of his futility. Plus, his facial expressions were delightful, at least for this Ravens fan.

But underneath that moment was a reminder of my own athletic failures and embarrassments. I had several, to be sure, and I think most people who played competitive sports would admit that they did, too. Because failing, and looking silly while doing so, is part of the game.

Sports teaches humility, sometimes in spectacular fashion.

I’m proud to tell you that I was dunked on twice, and in both instances, it was by recognizable players.

The first time it happened, I was a junior at Loyola High School. We were playing at Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C. They were always good, a perennial D.C. basketball powerhouse, and although we usually played them tough, their depth and talent would win out.

Sometime in the middle of the game, there was a fast break for Gonzaga, and I hustled after it. I was trailing the ball and running down the other side of the court, anticipating a crosscourt pass. As I came down to the lane, I saw their guard looking in my direction. I knew it was coming my way.

He lofted the ball towards the rim, and I took off jumping, anticipating a steal. What I never saw was that John Thompson III was running a little behind me and to my outside.

My hand was at the rim and the ball was right there when Thompson’s hands appeared above mine. Then the ball was going through the rim, and his hands were grabbing iron, and I was ducking as I came back down. It all happened so quickly that I still can’t believe it. And I can still hear the howls of laughter coming from my teammates on the bench.

In my defense, J.T. III was 6’8” and I was 6’4”. And I deserve credit for hustling back on defense, even if that was the only time I did. That’s why I’ve always said that defense is overrated.

Later that spring I attended a weekend basketball clinic at Gilman School. It ran for three or four consecutive weekends, and it was put on by the great Paul Baker, a basketball lifer and a mentor of the game to me and countless other young men. PB, as he was fondly known, had been the Head Coach at University of Baltimore and Wheeling College. The man knew more about basketball than anyone I’ve ever met.

There were somewhere around 60 kids there as I recall. PB put together a team of 12 All Stars, and as our reward, he scheduled a scrimmage against Dunbar High School. Yes, that Dunbar. Muggsy Bogues, Reggie Williams, David Wingate, and Reggie Lewis, all of whom would go on to college and pro basketball fame. That Dunbar.

It was never close. Those guys were incredible. They were fast, long, and athletic, and had great shooters and incredible chemistry. They were simply the best basketball players I ever took the court against. I’m pretty sure we lost by something like 70 points. I did score 6 points, including a baseline jumper over the outstretched arm of Reggie Williams. Yeah, I still remember it.

At one point there was a loose ball around midcourt. I closed in on it, only to see a blur out of the corner of my eye and a hand flashing out and tipping it away. It was Muggsy.

I chased him down the court, and he went to the right side of the basket. As he approached, I timed my jump. I was going to pin his layup against the glass.

Except he didn’t lay the ball up. Instead, he lofted it high in the air, over and behind me, where Reggie Williams was flying. Reggie grabbed the ball and threw it down right over my unsuspecting head. I never knew he was there. To this day I have no idea how Muggsy knew he was there.

Once again, my defensive effort had been, literally, dunked on. The moral of this story is, obviously, that it doesn’t pay to play defense.

But at least I can say that I was dunked on by two guys who went on to esteemed careers in basketball, and not some no-names. And they were both 6’8”. I consider those dunks to be a sort of badge of honor.

There’s a song by Crosby, Stills and Nash that has always been a sort of anthem for my family. It’s called Teach Your Children.

You who are on the road

Must have a code that you can live by

And so become yourself

Because the past is just a goodbye.

Teach your children well,

Their father’s hell did slowly go by,

And feed them on their dreams

The ones they pick, the ones you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,

So just look at them and sigh

And know they love you.

This particular November, in this year unlike any other, I’m going to listen a little more closely to these lyrics. The past really is just a goodbye.

And we’re all traveling on the road, and we don’t really know where the road leads, but we’re on it together, win or lose, and the losses have lessons too. Sometimes more than the wins.

Pay attention and feed them on their dreams.

Stay Humble. Stay Hungry. Stay Healthy.

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Tuesday
November 10
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at the halfway point


The Ravens are halfway through their 2020 regular season schedule and everything's fine. Really, it is.

Oh, sure, they lost the only two "tough" games they played so far, but in one of those, they thoroughly dominated their opponent, only to see Lamar Jackson cough up the ball four times and hand the game to Pittsburgh on a silver platter.

But 6-2 is plenty good enough in the NFL, particularly now that seven teams are going to qualify for the post-season. Whether the Ravens sneak past the Steelers to capture the AFC North remains to be seen, but unless there's some kind of historic collapse from John Harbaugh's team, they're on track for 12-4, 13-3, or, perhaps, even a repeat of last year's 14-2 record.

Marlon Humphrey has continued his outstanding play in 2020 and has emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL.

I do think it's safe to say this edition of the Ravens isn't as good as last year's team that steamrolled through the league to a 14-2 mark before losing a home playoff shocker to the Titans. There are several reasons why the 2020 club is a tick below the 2019 team, including injuries, a retirement by Marshal Yanda, and the inevitable ebb and flow of both team and individual player performance. But this year's Ravens team doesn't have to finish 14-2 or even 13-3 in order to make the Super Bowl.

The next three weeks will go far in determining where the Ravens finish in 2020. They should skate past New England next Sunday night. Then they have Tennessee at home and Pittsburgh on the road. If the Ravens can go 2-1 in those three games, they're well on their way to a 13-3 record. The final five games should be a breeze.

But there are issues within the team that certainly stand out at the halfway mark of the campaign.

The offensive line is showing significant wear and tear, with Yanda gone and Ronnie Stanley out for the season. Much of the team's success in the post-season will depend on the play of Orlando Brown Jr. at left tackle. Brown now gets the main responsibility for keeping Lamar healthy and upright for the final half of the campaign and playoffs. It was a tale of two halves for the offensive line last Sunday in Indianapolis. They were dreadful in the opening 30 minutes and outstanding in the second half.

Jackson's downturn from his MVP season of a year ago was magnified in the loss to Pittsburgh. While he did right himself in the second half against the Colts, it's fair to point out that Lamar's still not throwing the ball downfield very much. Some of that might be about the lack of quality wide receivers, some of that might be about Lamar himself, and some of that could be opposing teams learning more about game-planning against the Baltimore offense.

Defensively, the Ravens are among the best in the NFL, minor warts and all. They're still not able to chase the quarterback as well as they'd probably like, but the Baltimore run defense is stout and the secondary is better than all other 31 teams in the league. If the Ravens do make some noise in the post-season, it's going to be because of the defense.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has come under fire in 2020 as Jackson's performance has dropped off. Historically, Roman's offenses tend to be very good at running the ball and not so good at throwing the ball. This Ravens team doesn't appear to be all that much different. They're a run-first offense -- with Jackson serving as an additional running threat -- but the emergence of J.K. Dobbins could be vitally important in the second half and post-season.

The issues surrounding Jackson appear to be complex: Is it Lamar? Is it Roman wanting to throw the ball more to upgrade his own resume? Have the other teams figured out how to handle Jackson? The reality -- at least to this author -- of the situation is this: Above all else, Lamar is an athlete. Yes, yes, he's a "quarterback". Nothing here should suggest that his quarterbacking skills are inferior or anything like that. But Lamar is, first and above all else, an extraordinary athlete.

As we saw on Sunday in the second half of the Indy game when Roman went to the no-huddle, up-tempo offense, Jackson flourishes when he can go "off script". That's not to say he can't play quarterback in the standard offensive "setting", but Lamar's best football comes when he can "free-wheel" it, so to speak. Sure, every offense needs structure and routine, but Jackson is at his most dangerous level of play when his athleticism becomes the focal point of the play calling.

And finally...

It's important to remember that teams do not need to go 14-2 and utterly dominate opponents week in and week out to make and win the Super Bowl. The 2012 Ravens team wasn't regular-season-dominant by any means. But they got hot at the right time and won four games in a row when they needed to do it. That's the thing most people forget. Only one team wins four straight games in the playoffs (sometimes it's three). And that's all it takes to win the Super Bowl: A 3-game or 4-game winning streak in January and February.

This Ravens team is good enough to win three or four straight games in January/February, particularly when there's no telling who they might play in those games.

Here's a quick rundown of some halfway points for the Ravens:

Top 3 Players:

1. Marlon Humphrey

2. Marcus Peters

3. Chuck Clark


Most Disappointing 3 Players:

1. Miles Boykin

2. Lamar Jackson

3. Mark Ingram


MVP to date:

Marlon Humphrey

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our masters elite eight


It's Masters week!

The players arrived at Augusta National yesterday and quickly made their way to the course for the first of three practice rounds ahead of Thursday's opening 18 holes at Augusta National.

With wet weather slated for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, players are quickly trying to figure out where they'll be hitting their approach shots from and how to navigate the November edition of Augusta National instead of the one they usually see in April.

Our Elite Eight is down to the final two players.

Patrick Cantlay actually led the 2019 Masters after 15 holes on Sunday, but was unable to close the deal. Could he win in 2020?

Our #8 player was Kevin Kisner, while at #7, we profiled Louis Oosthuizen.

Last Friday, we had Matthew Wolff at #6 and on Saturday, November 7, Tony Finau was at #5.

On Sunday, November 8 we had Patrick Reed, the 2018 champion, at #4 on our Elite Eight list.

Yesterday, we featured Dustin Johnson at #3.

At #2, it's Patrick Cantlay.

People kind of forget that Cantlay was just four great holes away from winning in 2019. After a birdie at the 15th hole on Sunday, he actually owned a one-shot lead over Tiger Woods. But Woods would birdie #15 and #16 and Cantlay would bogey #16 and #18 and Tiger won his fifth green jacket. But Cantlay was right there with four holes to play in 2019.

This year...he might very well take that next big step.

Patrick Cantlay might be one of the most -- if not the most -- underrated American players. He hits it plenty far enough, his iron play is outstanding, and he's a streaky good putter. When his game is in full gear, he makes as many birdies as anyone, anywhere.

We really like his chances this week at Augusta National.

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soccer: americans abroad


It was another week with multiple games for Americans in Europe. The activity was a bit lighter this week though, due to a few players resting with injuries. Most notably, Christian Pulisic was rested for both Chelsea games this week with a minor hamstring injury. There were still a few highlights for Americans in both Champions League and domestic leagues.

Gio Reyna started both games for Borussia Dortmund this week. He started at right wing and played 80 minutes in Dortmund’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Brugge. Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, Reyna was very involved in the attack and demonstrated his intelligent movement off the ball. On Saturday, Reyna started at left wing in Dortmund’s biggest game of the season thus far, the Der Klassiker matchup with German and European champions Bayern Munich. Reyna played 69 minutes in the 3-2 loss. The American teenager created several good chances for his teammates, one of which Erling Haaland should have scored but scuffed the shot. On a few other occasions Reyna could have done better, not finding the best end product, but overall he had a solid showing against the best team in the world.

Tyler Adams will be an important part of U.S. National Team World Cup '22 qualifying.

Tyler Adams was used as a substitute in both of RB Leipzig’s matches during the week. In the Champions League rematch with PSG, Adams subbed on in the 75th minute at center midfield and provided energy and defensive stability to help Leipzig see out a big 2-1 win over the Parisians. In the weekend match Adams came on for the last 10 minutes to help see out a 3-0 win over Freiburg.

In other Bundesliga action this weekend, Josh Sargent started as a lone striker for Werder Bremen in a 1-1 draw with Koln. Sargent had a few nice touches to set up his teammates but generally struggled to make an impact as Bremen did not create much in attack.

John Brooks started and played the full game at center back in a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim. Brooks misjudged a header which led to the Hoffenheim goal late in the game, but the mistake did not prove too costly as Wolfsburg held on for the win.

In Spain, Sergino Dest started at right back for Barcelona in their Champions League match against Dynamo Kyiv. Dest nearly had an assist in the 7th minute when he hit a precise pass across the box that found Pedri, but the shot was denied by the crossbar. Another similar cross later in the game again set up Pedri but this time the keeper denied the shot. Dest was solid defensively as well, helping Barcelona to a 2-1 win. He was rested for their weekend 5-2 win over Real Betis.

Weston McKennie was used as a substitute in both Juventus games this week. The Texan subbed on in the 53rd minute in the Champions League match against Ferencvaros and helped win possession and start the build up to the second goal in a 4-1 victory. Over the weekend McKennie subbed on in the 76th minute of a 1-1 draw with Lazio. McKennie subbed on at right midfield with Juventus leading 1-0 and provided energetic and disciplined defending, but it was not enough to secure the win as Lazio grabbed a dramatic equalizer in the last seconds of injury time.

Finally, in the Premier League, Antonee Robinson once again started at left back for Fulham in a tough 1-0 loss to West Ham. It was another positive showing from Robinson who was stout defensively. He was not quite as sharp in attack as recent games, but still managed to provide several good crosses. Fulham looked set for a 0-0 draw but West Ham scored an injury time goal and then saved a penalty in the final seconds.

Coming on Thursday: We preview the upcoming United States "friendly" matches in advance of World Cup 2022 Qualifying.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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breakfast bytes

College football: Maryland comes back to earth as offense sputters in 27-11 loss at Indiana.

#1 Alabama doesn't need Saban (Covid-19) on the bench, as they roll past Auburn, 42-13.

Ravens place Jaylon Ferguson and Tavon Young on team's Reserve-Covid 19 list.

College hoops: Virginia Tech upsets #3 Villanova, 81-73 in OT.




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