Sunday
September 19
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#2582


how big is tonight's game?


All week, I've heard varying opinions of the importance of tonight's big showdown in Baltimore between the Ravens and Chiefs.

"It's pretty much a must win for us," a friend said to me on Friday while we were discussing the game. "If we can't beat these guys at home on a Sunday night, we can't beat them in January."

We all know that's not exactly true. What happens tonight has almost no bearing on the outcome of a January game, unless you're taking into account the potential importance of a tiebreaker down the road that gives one of the two teams home-field advantage in the post-season.

Who needs a win over the Chiefs more tonight? Lamar or Harbs?

"We have to send a message," another Ravens fan told me. "We can't keep letting them beat us, especially in our stadium."

I guess some of that's true. I mean, you certainly don't want one team thinking they have your number. But the reality is a really good team like Kansas City will think they can beat you in January whether they win or lose tonight. I can't imagine the Chiefs are all that worried about the outcome this evening.

"It's one game," was one contrasting opinion I heard several times over the weekend. "Even if we lose, our schedule is soft for the next month. We'll be 4-2 and right where we should be."

That's one way to look at it. I outlined the schedule here earlier this week at #DMD and pointed to the fact that the Ravens have an almost-unheard-of four game homestand that starts following the two-game road trip to Detroit and Denver. The schedule does, in fact, get a little more gentle throughout October. The Ravens could lose tonight and then reel off six wins without much of a surprise.

"If this game was played in week 15 instead of week 2 it would be much more meaningful," someone mentioned to me yesterday. "If we lose, no one will really remember it in December or January, whereas a loss at the end of the season would be in everyone's recent memory."

I agree with that point. A late season home loss to the Chiefs, where playoff positions and seeds were at stake, would have more of an impact than a loss will tonight.

But let's not overlook an important fact about tonight's game: It's a big game for a variety of reasons and most, if not all, of the pressure, sits squarely on the Ravens.

How will they respond to it? That's the big question.

Do the Ravens even have the horses to respond it? That's a different question entirely. And one that will certainly be answered when Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs sink their teeth into the game.

This, tonight, is far from any kind of "must win" game for the Ravens. If you're trying to talk yourself into this game being super, super important, please stop. It's only important because the Ravens are 0-1. If the Bills or Dolphins or Steelers were coming to town tonight, it would still be important to stop the bleeding and improve to 1-1. The Chiefs being what they are and all, folks around Baltimore are trying to turn this into a mini-Super Bowl. It's not that important.

But..........

There are some factors in play that make tonight's game different than if some other team were in Baltimore for a Sunday night game.

The injuries the team has suffered over the last three weeks have made a huge dent in the depth chart. Can the Ravens cobble together some kind of decent performance tonight and win -- by any score -- while Ronnie Stanley misses the game with an ankle injury? They lost Stanley last season on November 1st and were able to hang on from there and win a playoff game, so it's not like there isn't some history attached to Stanley missing time. But the depth chart on the offensive line isn't what it was last year, either.

Does Lamar Jackson need this game tonight for his own psyche? It's hard to tell what Lamar's thinking at any given time. His social media videos and posts always reflect the same guy; carefree, happy, living his best life. This isn't to suggest he doesn't care about winning or losing. I'm just not sure how much pressure Lamar puts on himself tonight vs. any other game in the 17-game schedule. Frankly, I'd like to see him weigh them all the same, but I don't know if that's the case tonight. Does this one mean more to him because it's Mahomes and the Chiefs? And if the answer to that is "yes", can he perform up to those expectations or does the moment get the best of him?

I think this is a big game for the Ravens because they lost last week and nothing good comes from losing. An 0-2 start wouldn't be disastrous, mind you, but there are stat geeks everywhere armed with lots of information about teams that have started the season losing both of their first two games. And that data isn't very favorable. That said, all of those records and stats are configured on a 16-game season, not a 17-game season.

So while an 0-2 start wouldn't be crushing, it would also mean Kansas City came to Baltimore again and won. And that, in my mind, wouldn't be so great. The Ravens, as injury riddled as they are, need to figure out a way to win tonight, by whatever score is necessary. If it's 13-10 in overtime, that's fine. If Mahomes torches the Baltimore defense but Lamar torches Kansas City's just a tad more in a 43-40 win, that's fine too.

The Ravens need a win. For their own good and their own mental health.

They have something to prove tonight. Whether they have the horses to prove it is potentially a different story.


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how drew sees tonight's game


If you're one of those folks who believe the gambling angle represents the best way to "figure out" who will win and lose tonight, you have to feel great about the Ravens' chances.

The crystal ball doesn't look so good for the Ravens tonight.

The Chiefs are favored by 3.5 points, although the line has moved a bit since Wednesday of this week. Most people think Kansas City's going to win. The Ravens aren't used to being an underdog, let alone a home underdog.

Everything points to a Kansas City win: the Chiefs pedigree, the Ravens injury list, the warm, summer-like weather...it all adds up to Kansas City winning. Which is why the Ravens might very well pull off the upset tonight. Vegas is dying for you to scoop up the Chiefs and give those 3.5 points. And when Vegas dangles that hook, a lot of folks bite it and swallow it.

What do I think will happen tonight?

I hope you don't scratch me off your Christmas list.

I think Kansas City's going to win easily.

I sure hope I'm wrong. I would love, love, LOVE, to be wrong here. But the battered Ravens will be no match for the Chiefs tonight in Baltimore.

It's 24-14 at the half in favor of Kansas City and they score again early in the 3rd quarter to make it 31-14. A swap of field goals makes it 34-17. The Ravens score early in the 4th quarter to get back within 10 at 34-24 but another Mahomes to Kelce touchdown (3 on the night for K.C.'s talented tight end) finalizes the scoring at 41-24.

I wish I didn't see it or feel it that way, but the Chiefs just have too many weapons and the Baltimore offensive line will not be able protect Lamar well enough for 60 minutes.

I hope I'm wrong. I don't see this one being all that close.

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the beach house quest


When this 2021 season is over and you buy that nice place at Kiawah or Sanibel Island, I sure hope I get an invite to your member-guest. Please don't forget the guy who made it possible for you to enjoy the fine life of resort living.

Let's get to the games in week #2 and help pave the way for your move to South Florida or Charleston.

By the way, forecasting week #2 NFL games is just as hard as forecasting week #1 games. Are the Texans really going to be competitive or are they going to get blown out today in Cleveland? Same with the Bengals. Can Joe Burrow go on the road and beat the Bears or will the "real" Bengals show up in the Windy City?

Now...on to the games.

The genius in New England isn't starting the season 0-2 is he?

PATRIOTS AT JETS (+6.0) -- This is very dangerous, betting on the Jets and all. I mean, they couldn't even beat the lowly Panthers last week in Charlotte. But the Patriots aren't any good, either, and the guess here is Robert Saleh is in the early stages of getting the Jets back to respectability. It might take a season or two, but the days of just rolling your helmets out there and clobbering the Jets are just about over. We'll take New York and the six points in this one, as New England falls to 0-2 after Saleh and the Jets win 23-19.

49'ERS AT EAGLES (+3.0) -- It would be very Eagles-like for Philly to blow out Atlanta on the road in their opener and then come home and lay an egg against San Francisco. I think the whole west-to-east thing could hurt San Fran here, but they wound up staying in West Virginia for the week so throw that whole concept out the window. We'll take the 49'ers and give the 3-points in a 23-17 win over the Eagles. Philly fans are suffering. You hate to see it.

RAIDERS AT STEELERS (-6.0) -- I realize Las Vegas might not be able to run the ball all that much today, but Derek Carr and his passing weapons will be a handful for Pittsburgh's overrated defense. This smells like a shootout to me, with the Steelers doing what they usually do at home; scoring a lot of points and giving up a lot, too. We're going to take the Raiders and the six points here and dare the fraudulent Steelers to cover the spread. Pittsburgh wins 35-31, but we're closer to Kiawah Island after this one.

VIKINGS AT CARDINALS (-3.5) -- The only thing that worries me here is that Arizona should be 5.5 or 6.5 point favorites. That it's only 3.5 means Vegas is dying for you to take Arizona, who won at Nashville last week while the Vikings were losing on the road to the Bengals. I'm not biting the hook, though. We're going with Arizona and giving the 3.5 points in a semi-blowout, as the Cardinals win 30-16.

FALCONS AT BUCCANEERS (-13.5) -- These NFC South encounters have a history of odd outcomes and this one could be of a similar nature. The Bucs, with 10 days rest, going up against an Atlanta team that got blown out at home by Philly last Sunday. This one should be Tampa Bay 40 - Atlanta 17, right? That seems conventional. Can Atlanta hang in there and lose by 13.5 or less? Everything tells us to take the Falcons here. So we're going with Tampa Bay to win by fourteen and cover the spread by a half-point, 31-17.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We'll take Arizona and give the Vikings 3.5 points as our "Best Bet" game. There's just no way the Cardinals don't win in a cakewalk today.

2021 RECORD TO DATE: 2-3

LAST WEEK: 2-3

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 1-0

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Saturday
September 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2581


harbs, terps and o's


It didn't take John Harbaugh long to lose his cool. One game, in fact.

When asked to speak about Ronnie Stanley's status for Sunday's game after Friday's practice in Owings Mills, Harbs told the media he was no longer going to discuss injuries this season.

A feisty John Harbaugh got terse with the media on Friday when asked about the health of offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.

This, of course, isn't new for Harbaugh. He has always been antsy about discussing the health of his players leading up to games, and rightfully so. Who in their right mind wants to tell their opponent information that could be used to help their team?

But Harbaugh also knows the truth and he knows what lies ahead. The NFL mandates teams release injury information throughout the week and every team is monitored to ensure they're abiding by the rule and dispensing legitimate injury news.

It's all tied into the league's two favorite things these days; gambling and fantasy football. That Ronnie Stanley doesn't play a "points position" might not seem like it matters in fantasy football, but the Ravens offense with Stanley would be more productive than one without him, and that's how Stanley impacts the game. He might make life easier for Lamar Jackson, which then makes life easier for the likes of Andrews, Brown, Watkins, etc.

The folks in Las Vegas need to know the truth about injuries so they can set the proper betting lines. The NFL can try and position it in any fashion they want, but that's the biggest reason why injury disclosure in the NFL is important. It's all about gambling.

Harbaugh couldn't give a rat's rear end about gambling or fantasy football, but one of the reasons why he lives in a really nice house with a great built-in pool is because of the league's connection to both of those things, plus a little TV money thrown in as well.

I don't blame Harbs for bristling at injury questions. Sure, it's his "job" to discuss them, but when he's pressed to give out detailed information -- "How long will Ronnie Stanley be out for, coach?" -- I totally understand why he would get agitated with that line of questioning.

Harbaugh will now create a cute bob-and-weave stance when it comes to answering injury questions and he'll do his best to stick to his guns because that's what old-school coaches tend to do. You can bet John's not going to stand up there at 4 pm this Monday afternoon and say to the media, "I just want to apologize for snapping at all of you last Friday when I discussed the Ronnie Stanley situation. I'll be more than happy to answer injury questions today and moving forward."

A lot of this is tied into the thing John dislikes the most: losing.

And that's why he's a Hall-of-Fame (someday) coach.


Most of you probably don't know it, but Maryland football improved to 3-0 last night with a stirring 20-17 road win over Illinois.

OK, it wasn't Michigan or Ohio State. It's not like the Terps went into Happy Valley and pulled off a stunning upset or anything like that.

Mike Locksley and the Terps picked up a Big 10 road win last night at Illinois, 20-17.

But a road win is a road win in the Big 10 and the Terps got a nice one last night.

Maryland is now halfway to being bowl-eligible and it's not even October yet. I get it. "Everyone makes a bowl game," you're saying to yourself. Well, not really. A lot of teams make it to a bowl game, but not everyone.

They play Kent State next Saturday in College Park, so that's a win. The Terps will be 4-0 and closing in on that 6-win mark.

#5 Iowa (at home) and Ohio State (away) await after that and those two will be tough, but if Mike Locksley wants to know if his team is really any good, that home game against Iowa will certainly tell him something about his 2021 squad.

Games Maryland can win after that? away at Minnesota, home vs. Indiana, away at Michigan State and away at Rutgers.

Any way you slice it, the Terps are a great bet to get to six wins and a really good bet to get to seven. I wouldn't be surprised if the Terps finish 8-4, even.

Maryland looks much improved this season, mainly based on steady quarterback play from Taulia Tagovailoa and an improved defense that held Illinois to a total of 335 yards of total offense last night.

How they stack up against perennial powers like Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State remains to be seen. I seem to recall a certain Friday night home game against the Nittany Lions a couple of years ago that was hyped up like crazy for five days and, well, I *think* the final score was 59-0. It's one thing to produce a nice road win at Illinois or Minnesota or Rutgers. It's another thing entirely to go toe-to-toe with the Penn State's of the world.

For now, though, this much is definitely true: Maryland is better than they were a year ago and the program is starting to show legit signs of improvement.

Not many people in Baltimore care about Maryland football, mind you, and their 3-0 record to date will be met with casual shoulder-shrugs today in Towson, Timonium and Catonsville, but perhaps a season or two of winning football will get Charm City football fans to take notice of Maryland's improved program.


The inevitable happened last night at Fenway Park; the Orioles lost their 100th game of the season, this time by a 7-1 score.

Oddly, the Birds dropped game #100 at the very location where the 2021 season started with so much promise and hope. Remember when the Orioles swept the opening 3-game series at Fenway Park? Ahhhhh...those were the days.

Brandon Hyde said on Friday the O's were sending Jahmai Jones back to Norfolk so he can "play every day".

Austin Hays, who is having a remarkable month at the plate, hit his 21st homer of the campaign for Baltimore's only run last night. The Birds mustered just four hits in total on Friday evening, stymied by Chris Sale and four relievers.

Earlier in the day, though, Brandon Hyde commented on something that is particularly peculiar.

When asked about the O's sending infielder Jahmai Jones back to Norfolk, Hyde remarked that the club wants him to play every day and he wasn't getting that opportunity in Baltimore.

Huh?

Doesn't "the club" decide who plays every day?

Jones hasn't been any great shakes at the plate, mind you. In 55 games with the O's, he's hitting just .164 and his OBP is a dreadful .207. To say he's overmatched at the dish would be like saying David Lee Roth was a pain in the butt as Van Halen's lead singer. There's obvious and then there's really obvious. Jahmai Jones is struggling to figure out big league pitching. That much is true.

But the whole "we want him to play every day" angle makes almost no sense. Jones has been productive at the plate in the minor leagues this season. I mean, he hasn't been Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn, but he has 11 homers and a .246 batting average in the minors, a far cry from his dismal showing with the Orioles.

So it appears as if Jones can at least hold his own with minor league pitchers. Nothing great, but not awful, either. The only way he'll grow into a bonafide Major League hitter would be to -- wait for it -- actually face Major League pitching.

Sure, I would understand the demotion if the Orioles were in the playoff mix or even on the outskirts of a .500 record and they felt it was important to finish September on a positive note. A guy hitting .146 doesn't really deserve playing time on a good team.

But the Orioles are not a good team. Far from it. They're now 47-100 after last night's shellacking.

Jones, by the way, is already Major League-competent with the glove. I realize you want your second baseman hitting more than .146, but Jones does not hit .146 with his glove. His defensive skills are fine.

What harm would it be to play Jones for the final 15 games? Is his confidence going to get shattered more than it probably already is just because he finishes the campaign hitting .133 instead of .146?

I'm not saying he's the Birds next full-time second baseman or anything like that. Ramon Urias, who also plays second base occasionally, looks like he might be a keeper, even as a 5th infielder role-player type.

But Jones -- a former 2nd round pick of the Angels -- came to Baltimore with a lot of promise. Not playing him in the midst of a 110-loss season seems odd to me.

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Friday
September 17
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2580


friday stuff


Well, I'll be the silver lining guy with regard to the Ronnie Stanley news from Thursday.

At least, in Stanley's absence, Alejandro Villanueva will move back to his more natural left tackle position.

How's that for making a positive out of a negative?

The Ravens got more bad injury news on Thursday when it was reported that Ronnie Stanley will miss some time battling an ankle injury.

Of course, it's also possible that Villanueva could move over there and get run over like he did last Monday night in Las Vegas. There's no guarantee the shift from right to left will be the tonic for the Ravens offensive line woes. But we're trying to be positive here. And let's face it, he can't possibly play as poorly on the left side as he did on the right. We hope.

Stanley's absence actually might come at a decent time, Sunday's game notwithstanding. After the Chiefs come to town, the Ravens get a 6-week breather of sorts, playing the Lions, Broncos, Colts, Chargers, Bengals and Vikings, with the last four of those in succession at home.

Editor's note: When's the last time you heard of a team having four straight home games in a season? I had to triple check that to make sure it was right. Unheard of.

If you're going to lose your starting left tackle for a while, the beginning of the season seems like a good time for it. Of course, there's some legitimate concern that Stanley might not be 100% all season. If that's the case, then, yes, the Ravens might be in trouble. But if they lose him for six games and somehow go 4-2 or 5-1 in those six, all is not lost.

As the Ravens saw back in 2015, when the injury bug makes his way into your camp, he tends to put up stakes and settle in. The 2015 campaign was filled with injury after injury, culminating in Joe Flacco's torn ACL in late November that pretty much ended any hope of the Ravens cobbling together a decent-enough season to squeak into the playoffs.

The big question around town this week will surface on Stanley's injury and how much of it, if anything, is connected to the 2020 ankle injury on November 1 that ended his campaign. If the Ravens were unsure of Stanley's return to full health by early-mid September, why not invest in additional offensive line help in the off-season and via the draft?

They did add Villanueva and Kevin Zeitler, both veterans, but they also caved in to Orlando Brown Jr. and sent him to Kansas City in what was then, and is now, still one of the more puzzling front office decisions in recent history. Browns' departure is particulary impactful now that Stanley is out for an indefinite period of time.

The biggest issue with any offensive lineman's injury is the stress it puts on the quarterback. In the Ravens' case, the difference between a winning season and losing season depends significantly on the health of Lamar Jackson. If he's 100%, Baltimore has a puncher's chance of going far. But if Jackson gets battered because the line can't protect him, just making the playoffs becomes a real challenge.

Sunday's game will tell us a lot, but that uncomfortable feeling is starting to float over 1 Winning Drive. You know, that cloud that says, "This is going to be one of those years."

Let's hope these injuries come and go, the Ravens keep their head above water, and by the second half of the season they're ramping up while others are slowing down.


We touched on the attendance subject yesterday here at #DMD and wondered about Sunday night's crowd vs. the Chiefs.

No matter what's going on with the immediate fan base, it seems unfathomable to me that 71,000 people won't be in the stadium for the first game of the season. But I'd say right now it's likely that will be the case. Whether there are 58,000 there or 68,000 there, not having a sell-out crowd will be a story. I'm not sure how much attention it will get with the media, but it's a story.

One of the issues that the Ravens face is the idea that tickets actually are available. Most people in Baltimore just assume the games are sold out. And even though the organization has actually done a considerable amount of outbound marketing in the last six weeks to let people know tickets for home games are available, the campaign hasn't been effective enough to sell out the stadium.

This is not a problem unique to the Ravens, by the way. There were empty seats in Nashville, New York and Foxborough last weekend. But this is an issue in Baltimore because of factors they don't have in New York, for example. The Ravens are coming off of two really good seasons and entered 2021 with lots of promise. They have one of the top 3 players in the league from a "marquee standpoint". And their opening game opponent is Kansas City. If that's not a tonic for 71,000 tickets being sold, nothing is.

I don't buy for one second the issue of downtown being unsafe as a mitigating factor for Sunday's lack of a sell-out. In fact, on Sunday night, at least, downtown will actually be and feel safe, just because of the number of people who will be milling around throughout the evening.

I understand people are tired of wearing masks. And I understand that Covid-19 has worn a lot of folks out. But I don't know how much of that is impacting what's going on attendance wise. I think if you really want to go to the game, you're going to the game, mask-wearing and all. If you only sorta-kinda want to go, maybe you're swayed negatively by the team's mask policy. I just don't know that the mask policy is really keeping thousands of people from going.

I do think there's a chance that the on-going fear of Covid-19 might be keeping people away. How many? I don't know that. But there are definitely still folks who don't want to be in "open environments" with groups of folks for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

In the end, here's what I think. And I've been saying this for a while now. The NFL has made it so attractive for you to stay home and watch the game that people are --- wait for it -- staying home and watching the game. Ticket prices are nuts. Parking prices are nuts. Food and beverage prices are nuts. The cost of attending a game is outrageous. Why spend $250 or $300 to watch a game that you can watch in the comfort of your living room for no charge other than whatever your chips, salsa and beer costs you?

It's one thing if it's a January playoff game. You might fork over that dough at that point. But for a Sunday evening regular season game in September? Maybe not so much.

The coverage on TV is superior to the live coverage at the stadium. I think we all would agree on that. And if the Ravens are losing 37-20 with eight minutes left in the game, you can hit the sack at 11:00 pm and be relatively fresh the next morning. If you stay the whole game, you're home by 12:30 or 1:00 am depending on traffic.

I don't know enough about the political climate to make an accurate assessment on how many people are staying home these days because of the player's position on the national anthem, but I'm sure there are former ticket buyers who no longer support the NFL as a result of it.

But, again, how many people are we talking about? 1,000? 2,000? Or 10,000?

If it's 10,000 that's a lot of tickets to sell to make up for that number. If it's 1,000, that's a different story.

In the end, it's probably a combination of everything. A little bit about the NFL pricing itself too high, a little bit about Covid-19, a little bit about the product being better on TV and a little bit about the political climate being stirred up by the players.

It all adds up to problems selling tickets. Not only in Baltimore, but in a lot of other places. But on Sunday night, at least, the focus will be on Charm City. Let's hope the empty seats aren't a big part of the narrative.


For one night at least, the O's avoided hitting the 100-loss mark, as they were gift-wrapped a 3-2 win by the Yankees last night in Baltimore.

Hey, when you're 46-99 going into the game, you'll take a gift-wrapped victory and be thrilled to do so.

Ryan Mountcastle homered for the 29th time last night as the O's nipped the Yankees, 3-2.

Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays played the hero role, with Mountcastle hitting his 29th home run of the season and Hays knocking in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. Those two, along with Cedric Mullins, have been the team's three biggest bright spots in 2021.

I have no idea where the Orioles are going to get pitching in 2022, but they have to turn over every stone possible this winter to add three or four decent arms.

There are players in the minors who will be given their shot either in late '22 or by 2023, but starting next April, the O's will need some reliable arms, somehow, to get them into the 2022 campaign. I don't know where they'll find them, but it's imperative that the pitching improves.

Guys like Ramon Urias and Jorge Mateo will stay on the 40-man roster over the winter and be incumbents next spring. The bet here is they're both on 25-man roster heading north at the start of next season. Trey Mancini has his spot locked up. Anthony Santander, as inconsistent as he might be, also has playing time all but guaranteed to start 2022. The O's offense really isn't that bad looking ahead to next season.

But the pitching...

The pitching is awful, plain and simple. John Means is quasi-dependable and after that, the cupboard's bare. The bullpen has been frazzled since late July. There are a few useful arms, but not many more than that.

I get it. It's the American League East and the competition is fierce. The Orioles have to rebuild twice as well as they probably first suspected because of the sudden rise of both the Blue Jays and Rays. We know the Red Sox and Yankees are always going to be formidable, but Toronto is looking like a legit threat for the next several years. And the Rays...somehow...always piece it together, despite getting rid of most of their good players every off-season.

But I see the O's getting better. It might be "slightly better", but they are improving. If they can somehow add some legit arms in the 0ff-season, they're a 70 win team next season. By 2023, they could threaten .500 or better. You might think I'm crazy, but I see the O's starting to grow.

Now all we need are for people to actually go to the games once they do get better.

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faith in sports


This week's Faith in Sports looks back at some great stories from the recent Tokyo Olympics, including the faith-based success story of Sydney McLaughlin. Each Friday here at #DMD, we present an athlete or team and highlight their relationship with God. As always, we appreciate our friends at Freestate Electric for their continued support of our Friday feature.


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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. soccer: qualifying window review


A huge second half comeback against Honduras managed to salvage a tough opening qualifying window for the US men. With the win, they emerged from the first three games of the fourteen game schedule with their qualification status in decent shape.

At the conclusion of the first round of games, Mexico sits in first place with seven points, the US is in a three way tie with Canada and Panama, all on five points. The US is currently in third place based on tiebreakers, with the top three teams qualifying automatically for the World Cup.

The good news for the US is that this was one of the tougher slates of games they will face. They return in early October for the next round with an easier set of three games, including two home games. They will be home against Jamaica on October 7th, then will travel to Panama and finish with Costa Rica at home. Both Jamaica and Costa Rica have struggled in the start of qualifying and the US will look to boost their points with the home games.

While the team didn’t live up to the lofty expectations for the first round of games, there were several players who stood out and solidified their positions on the team.

Matt Turner has solidified himself as the favorite to play in goal during the next 3-game cycle for the U.S. men's soccer team.

Though his starting position was never in doubt, Tyler Adams demonstrated just how important he is to this team in the center of midfield. Berhalter’s decision to shift him to right back against Honduras underscored how irreplaceable Adams is in the middle of the field and indeed he was eventually moved back there in the second half to solidify the midfield. He may not be the best or most skilled player on the team, but Tyler Adams is surely the most indispensable in this group.

Among the players that improved their status the most were Antonee Robinson and Ricardo Pepi. Robinson has been in and out of the US lineups for the last year. He has impressed at his club Fulham, despite their relegation from the Premier League last season. In this window he sat out the El Salvador game, then started and impressed against Canada and came on as a key second half sub against Honduras. Robinson’s speed is a huge asset on the wing in defense as he showed multiple times his ability to recover on opposing attackers to slow down counter attacks.

He also provides the best option the US has for an overlapping back on the left side, able to get wide and hit dangerous crosses into the box. He is a better complement to many of the attacking US left wingers than the right footed Sergino Dest. After his performances during this window there should be no question who the starting left back is in our first choice lineup. Robinson is an asset in that spot, allowing Dest to start in his more natural spot on the right.

Another standout in this window, as well as the summer, was goalkeeper Matt Turner. With regular starter Zack Steffen forced to miss the whole window with a combination of back spasms and a positive Covid test, Turner stepped up and provided a solid backstop for the US defense.

Given the continued outstanding performances from Turner and Steffen’s lack of playing time for Manchester City, it may be wise to continue with Turner as the starter. The New England keeper has proven his value as a shot stopper and whatever advantage Steffen might bring with his feet could be diminished by rust from lack of playing time.

One of the biggest question marks throughout the entire year for the US has been the striker position. Josh Sargent has been the mainstay, with the highest club pedigree, but at times Daryl Dike, Jordan Pefok, and Gyasis Zardes have all had chances to claim the position. None has done a convincing job and the weakness at this critical spot has been a big reason for the lack of offensive production from the team.

During the final game in Honduras it seemed that a frontrunner emerged. Teenager Ricardo Pepi had one of the most important debuts the US men have ever seen, scoring a goal and assisting two others. Given that performance, as well as his stellar season with FC Dallas, Pepi should be the go to striker for key games going forward until proven otherwise. Despite his young age, he was able to rise to the occasion in a high pressure road qualifier, that alone should be enough to give him the nod in the next window.

One final player that distinguished himself was summer standout Miles Robinson. This is now two international windows in a row that the Atlanta United center back has impressed. There is no question he is a locked in starter with the US now. If Robinson isn’t playing in a major European league by next January then there are many scouts sleeping on their jobs. His athleticism was well known before this summer, but in the Gold Cup and these qualifiers he has answered all questions about his ability on the ball and his composure in high leverage situations.

The next qualifying window will arrive quickly as it is less than a month from now that the team will reconvene for three more matches. If this window has taught us anything it is that injuries and squad management will be important in this qualifying campaign. Gregg Berhalter called 26 players initially into the team this window, and then added one additional player after a rash of injuries. It seems likely he will call in at least 30 players for the next window, especially considering there are many injury question marks after these games.

Gio Reyna was injured during the first game with El Salvador and missed the final two games. According to reports from Dortmund, he is unlikely to be back in time for the October qualifiers. Christian Pulisic went down late in the Honduras game. He is reported to be out for only about ten days, so he should be ready to return to the US in October. Sergino Dest went down against Canada and missed the Honduras match altogether. Barcelona has reported that he has a minor ankle injury and may miss their upcoming Champions League game, but should be healthy for October.

Tim Weah and Yunus Musah both missed the window completely with injuries, but they look set to return to their clubs soon, which would put them on track to be available for the US in October as well.

This World Cup qualifying cycle opened with high hopes and huge expectations. After a summer where the US downed their biggest rivals not once, but twice, it was assumed they would come out dominating the lesser competition in the region. A young team with little experience in high leverage qualifiers quickly learned a harsh lesson that CONCACAF qualifying is nothing like club European soccer.

Despite poor initial returns, the team came up with a great second half in Honduras to salvage the window, put them on track for qualification, and raise the hopes for the remainder of the campaign. It will be up to the coach and the team to build off these first three games and leverage the lessons to gain more points in the next window.

At halftime in Honduras it looked like Gregg Berhalter’s job was in serious jeopardy. The gutty performance in the second half, spurred by timely substitutions has secured his position for now. A solid performance in the next window would likely lock Berhalter in for the rest of the cycle. However, a string of disastrous results could easily prompt his removal given the limited time to make changes during this crucial qualifying stretch

The win in Honduras kept the US on track, but the pressure will still be on in October to get results. There is good reason to be optimistic that this young group can learn some lessons from El Salvador and Canada and grow stronger in the next window.

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Thursday
September 16
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#2579


zinger time


It sounded like Paul Azinger was the U.S. Ryder Cup captain on Wednesday when he lashed out at Brooks Koepka.

I wonder if Steve Stricker is happy that 'Zinger did his dirty work for him or disappointed that the NBC golf analyst and 2008 U.S. captain took it upon himself to criticize one of the American players on his team?

Either way, Azinger called out Koepka on Wednesday for the 4-time major champion's comments in a Golf Digest interview earlier this week.

"I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much," Paul Azinger said of Brooks Koepka on Wednesday.

"I'm not sure he loves the Ryder Cup that much, if he doesn't love it he should relinquish his spot and get people there who do love it," Azinger said. "Not everybody embraces it. But if you don't love it, and you're not sold out, then I think Brooks -- especially being hurt -- should consider whether or not he really wants to be there. And if you add the Bryson [DeChambeau] dynamic to that, that would be an even easier decision for him."

Koepka, speaking about the Ryder Cup, questioned the break in normal routine from a regular TOUR event to the team-oriented Ryder Cup. He cited meetings and other obligations during Ryder Cup week that are different than what he normally schedules for himself. And then he talked about the differences between individual play and team play.

"There are times where I'm like, I won my match. I did my job. What do you want from me?," Koepka said. "I know how to take responsibility for the shots I hit every week. Now, somebody else hit a bad shot and left me in a bad spot, and I know this hole is a loss. That's new, and you have to change the way you think about things. You go from an individual sport all the time to a team sport one week a year. It's so far from my normal routine."

“It’s different. It’s hectic. It’s a bit odd, if I’m honest,” Koepka said of the Ryder Cup. “I don’t want to say it’s a bad week. We’re just so individualized, and everybody has their routine and a different way of doing things, and now, it’s like, OK, we have to have a meeting at this time or go do this or go do that. It’s the opposite of what happens during a major week. If I break down a major week, it’s so chill. You wouldn’t even believe me.”

Now, to be fair, nothing in those comments or any others Koepka made to Golf Digest clearly indicated a dislike for the event, which will be played next Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. But it's also not like he went out of his way to glorify the competition, either. And if you read between the lines -- which you're sometimes forced to do when someone doesn't explain themselves well -- it appears Koepka is pretty lukewarm to the idea of team competition.

If you recall earlier this week here at #DMD, I mentioned that very theme as one of the reasons, potentially, that the U.S. hasn't fared all that well against the Europeans over the last two decades. I'm just not sure the Americans care all that much about the event. It's just not as important to today's American players as it was to guys like Azinger.

Azinger was a spirited Ryder Cup competitor during his playing days and was one of the more popular Ryder Cup captains when he guided the team to a thumping of the Europeans in 2008. That Azinger jumped to the defense of the compeition isn't a surprise, nor is it a surprise that he tackled Koepka head on. Azinger's not afraid to speak his mind.

And the reality about Koepka is he's becoming more and more of a lightning rod as his career rolls on. Whether it's by design or just his nature, it's obvious he's trying to create a brand of sorts where he's the guy who plays great golf without giving a (blank) about how he does it, who gets in his way, who he offends, or how he comes across to corporate America.

You've seen Brooks Koepka in exactly one commercial in his career; peddling a low-calorie beer. Unlike many of his TOUR counterparts who promote insurance, networking software, human resources support, banks, financial institutions and much more, Koepka has secured a beer sponsor and that's it.

At the recent BMW Championship pro-am on Wednesday, Koepka -- according to someone associated with the group he played in -- stayed to himself throughout the 18 hole event and hardly entered into any conversation with the group he was playing with that morning.

"He hardly said a word to them," the person who was part of the group told #DMD. "It was pretty obvious he didn't care for the pro-am and was just doing it because the PGA Tour made him do it."

That's Koepka in a nutshell. He just does whatever he wants and if you don't like it, that's on you.

But was Azinger right? If Koepka doesn't care all that much for the Ryder Cup, would he better off removing himself from the competition and turning his spot on the team over to a player who does appreciate the event?

It would be a first, of course. No player has voluntarily said, "You know, this Ryder Cup thing just isn't for me. I think I'll pass this year and let someone else play."

I think the U.S. team is better with Koepka on the team than off. Despite his ever-growing mercurial personality, there's no denying his talent on the course. If his head's in the game, Brooks is an impact player.

But it's certainly fair, based on his comments to Golf Digest, to wonder if Koepka's heart is really in it. It might very well be that the team competition part of the Ryder Cup just doesn't energize him. And if that's the case, there's nothing really wrong with that. It would be weird for someone to admit it publicly, but it wouldn't keep Koepka from making the Golf Hall of Fame someday. It would, frankly, be better to have Koepka remove himself than giving a half-assed effort.

And it's Azinger's job as a TV analyst to pick up on things that are said and/or written and offer his opinion on them. You can argue if you like that perhaps Azinger read too much into what Koepka told Golf Digest, but it certainly sounded like Brooks was bordering on saying "it's just not my cup of tea."

Either way, the heat's on Koepka next week at Whistling Straits. If he doesn't play well, the article and his comments will be a hot-button topic. If he doesn't play well and the American team loses, he'll be firmly in the crosshairs.

I doubt he cares all that much about anything that happens next week, good or bad.


Speaking of being in the crosshairs, Lamar Jackson is right there front and center heading into this Sunday night's home game with the Kansas City Chiefs.

It's amazing how many people in Baltimore don't appreciate him. On the flipsdie, it's also amazing how many people aren't willing to criticize him when he makes two massive mistakes like he did on Monday night in Las Vegas.

You can be a great athlete and still make mistakes. It's allowed. Listening to talk radio the last couple of days, it appears people in Baltimore don't understand that concept at all.

Lamar Jackson's two fumble performance in the season opening loss to Las Vegas has people in Batimore on edge.

"You can't pay that guy forty million a year if he's going to fumble like that in key situations," a caller said on 105.7 on Wednesday.

"Look at Lamar in the playoffs," another caller said. "In every playoff game except for the one against Tennessee, he's made big mistakes that led to a loss."

So the Ravens should now go to Lamar and say, "Hey, you know, you lost those two fumbles against the Raiders in the first game of the year, so we're not going to be able to pay you the $40 million a year you were going to get." Really?

Oh, and Lamar has played in exactly four playoff games in his career, hardly a sample size worth making any kind of concrete observation. He sure looked good to me last January when the Ravens smacked the Titans around in Nashville. He wasn't great against Buffalo, but neither was Justin Tucker, if you remember. It wasn't a great night for football.

So one game into the 2021 season, Jackson is already feeling the heat from the Ravens faithful.

"If he loses to Mahomes again," a caller said on 105.7 the fan early Tuesday, "he's going to have that monkey on his back all season long."

Eh, maybe. I mean, at some point Lamar will have to beat Mahomes just to get that checked off of his bucket list. But if the Chiefs win on Sunday night, it won't only be because Lamar got outplayed by his quarterbacking counterpart. Jackson can't play offensive line, defensive line and cornerback, last I checked.

And what's more remarkable is how the talking heads use the narrative of their choosing to paint their picture of Lamar. When someone notes that Jackson is 30-8 as a starter, the response is, "Well, football's the ultimate team game. That's why they don't give quarterbacks a win-loss record. There's more to it than just quarterback play."

But then someone points out that Jackson is 0-3 against Mahomes. Suddenly, Lamar does have a record. And that all comes with the inevitable: "He has to figure out a way to beat Mahomes or else he'll have that hanging over his head."

As I wrote here on Tuesday morning, Jackson's style of play lends itself to making the occasional mistake or two. He's simply such a wild card out there that someone's going to pop the ball loose or he's going to try and make something out of nothing and throw a ball into coverage when he would have been better off doing something else with it. But he'll more than make up for it by gaining 13 yards with his legs on 3rd and 9 or scampering for a first down on 4th and 2 with 2:05 remaining in the game and the Ravens trailing (someone) by 5 points.

I'll take Lamar and you can have anyone else except Mahomes and I like my chances of beating you. If the Ravens had a Lamar at offensive right tackle and a Lamar at rush end and a Lamar at inside linebacker and a Lamar at wide receiver, they'd be a 15-2 football team, kind of like the Chiefs have been for the last three years. Lamar isn't the Ravens' problem. Their inability to land other players with the same quality as Lamar in other positions is their most pressing issue.

So save the Lamar zingers for mid December. If the Ravens are 6-8 at that point, you can bring it all you want. For now, let's allow the season to get started in earnest before we start criticizing the most reliable guy on the entire roster.


Speaking of the Ravens vs. Chiefs, there's something interesting about Sunday night's big home showdown in Baltimore.

There are gobs and gobs of tickets available for the game.

Empty seats? For a big football game in Baltimore?

And no, I'm not talking about the secondary ticket sites with their extraordinary fees and such. I mean, yes, you can get them there if you want, but you can also contact the Ravens directly if you want seats to the game. The contest is far from a sell-out.

What on earth is going on? The football team has its home opener on a Sunday night vs. the best team in the league over the last three years and it's not standing room only already? How is that possible?

I don't have any answers. I'm just asking the question.

It's one thing for the Orioles to be drawing 10,000 per-game. The team is in the middle of a lengthy rebuilding effort, they've been out of the A.L. East race since Easter, and, well, downtown Baltimore isn't exactly a thriving hotspot these days, in case you no longer watch the 5 pm local news and didn't know that for yourself.

But the Orioles drawing 10,000 per-game and the Ravens not selling out their home opener are two different things entirely. The football team is a favorite to make the playoffs again and could challenge for the AFC title in 2021. They have perhaps the league's biggest draw other than the guy coming to town to quarterback the visitors on Sunday night. That it's Lamar vs. Mahomes and it's not sold out only adds to the intrigue and presses the question even more: what's going on in Baltimore?

Now, one argument might be that it's a Sunday night game and that effectively creates a "school night" situation. I know in my household I'd love to take my son to the game but he has to be up at 6:30 am to get ready for school and we're just not doing a five hour night of sleep for him to get his week off to a rocky start. So we're staying home. And that's two less people to buy up those unsold tickets.

But there's more to it than that. The opening game of the season against the Chiefs is not sold out. That's the story. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Yankees are in Baltimore this week playing to about 20% capacity in Camden Yards and I'm sure that feels awfully spooky to them.

But the Chiefs coming to town and playing to anything less than a sold out standium will feel even more strange to them, I'd assume.

What, exactly, is going on?

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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.


monday night madness


A lot to unpack, or just a difficult loss in a second-straight Monday night thriller for the Ravens in the first week of a 17-game season? You decide. I’ll try to help…

In a game like that, with 900 yards of total offense and extra time, there are plenty of plays to discuss. For a moment, I thought the deciding play was going to be an inexplicable false start by a rookie offensive lineman. A few seconds later, the team that had just “won” the game in overtime had fallen victim to the ball-through-the-hands (Willie Snead actually has decent hands) followed by ball-off-the-helmet followed by interception scenario. You know…the typical NFL play.

Instead, I’ll bring up two plays with the Ravens on offense, both short-yardage running situations. One was just bad, the other was okay, but if the offense had converted either the game probably would have ended with a different winner.

One thing the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens have done frequently is score right before halftime and then, having won the toss and deferred, score again when receiving the second-half kickoff. It was going to happen again — at least the first part — until the Raiders stuffed Latavius Murray on fourth down at the 36-yard line. Derek Carr and his offense then had enough time, a little more than a minute, to gain the yardage necessary to kick a field goal at the first-half buzzer. 17-7 Baltimore, or even 21-7, was now 14-10.

Should Jackson have called his own number there? That always seems like the play, but it’s not like the Ravens have been unsuccessful handing the ball off in those situations. Only a few minutes before that, on the other side of the field in the same situation, Ty’Son Williams had busted up the middle for a 35-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1.

Meanwhile, the Ravens most certainly would have won the game had they converted on third-and-4 in Las Vegas territory with 1:29 left in regulation. With a few seconds left, Justin Tucker would have drilled a shorter field-goal attempt than the one he made with 42 seconds left. The thing is…Jackson and the offense ran the “right” play there. He rolled out, seemed to have an option if an easy throw was there, and knew to stay inbounds. Jackson has figured out a way to make four yards in those situations before…but this time he could only get two.

The Ravens on offense Monday seemed a bit “vanilla” to me. I suppose that’s not a surprise, considering the unit with which they could play unlike that (chocolate?) wasn’t out there, and won’t be out there, and some of the guys just showed up a few days ago.

Greg Roman always wants to run the ball a lot; by game’s end, the Ravens had more running plays than passing attempts, and thanks to quarterback scrambles had close to 200 yards on nearly six yards per carry. The runs just seemed more traditional than is typical, especially with Murray, who carried the ball 10 times for only 28 yards.

Quite clearly, Jackson is not comfortable with the “mesh” point with his current stable of runners, so the option-type runs (or “fake” option-type runs) weren’t really there. I believe there was an effort to limit his designed runs, because the Ravens can’t afford to lose him…though to be honest, they couldn’t afford to lose him even if they weren’t so injured.

I don’t think that Jackson was great on Monday, and I’m sure he doesn’t either. He fumbled twice while trying to make a play, something he hasn’t done very often since his earliest starts in 2018. To give Las Vegas credit, the defense punched the ball out both times, so it wasn’t a case of the dropsies while holding onto the ball too loosely. Jackson missed some throws that were there, though nothing crazy.

In the end, he made plays, which is what he does. The scramble and touchdown pass to Marquise Brown in the first half was just awesome, and there can’t be anyone in the league who can do that better. Then he found Sammy Watkins with the deep ball in the fourth quarter. His 28-yard scramble on his team’s final drive in regulation might have been the play that gave the Ravens a road victory…until it wasn’t.

Another initial impression? The offensive line doesn’t seem as physical as in the past, though it’s possible that has to do with the loss of Gus Edwards more than anything else. It may be that the Ravens will have to depend on their speed in the running game (including from wide receivers) more than they’d like. Overall, though, the running backs played pretty well considering where they all were last week.

Anyway, looking at the line score...the Raiders scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and I’d almost say they scored 30 points in that stretch, considering they really had two touchdowns in overtime, only to screw up the first time. My general impression, besides the obvious lack of a pass rush? Wink does what he does, and it doesn’t always work. Give Carr and Jon Gruden credit for countering the Baltimore defensive strategy.

Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith were not on the field Monday. According to the official gamebook, third-round draft pick Brandon Stephens was on the field for 25 snaps, slightly less than one-third of the Raiders’ offensive plays. I doubt that the coaching staff envisioned that would be the case a couple months ago, and it made a difference in the game.

With four minutes left, the Ravens ahead by a touchdown and the ball at midfield on third-and-10, it was Stephens on the coverage of Henry Ruggs, who got past the rookie for a 37-yard bomb thanks to a perfect throw from Carr. In overtime, Carr just threw the ball up for grabs to Bryan Edwards, who wasn’t open, and Stephens, coming over to help in coverage, couldn’t make a play to deflect the pass away.

Sure, Marlon Humphrey and the defense looked silly on the game’s final play, but 99.9 percent of the time it would have been the Edwards reception that won the game several minutes earlier. Stephens was out there in key situations, and he didn’t win those situations.

As for those two pass plays to Edwards from Carr in 30 seconds late in regulation, I give the quarterback props, especially on the second one. The obvious tendency in those situations is to force the ball into tight spaces, and that’s what he did on that one to great success. He has an outstanding arm, though sometimes he lacks touch, as we saw with Snead on the crazy interception in overtime.

Side note: I’d also like to give props to Sam Koch, who continues to amaze. The Raiders’ punter, A.J. Cole, crushes the ball in DeChambeau-like fashion, but at the end of the game it was Koch with a longer net average. His first boot of the second half was a thing of beauty. Dropping the ball nose down, he turned his hips toward the sideline, only to instead hit a miraculous knuckle ball in the middle of the field. Hunter Renfrow wanted nothing to do with the ball, which hit the ground inside the five-yard line and kicked gently backward into the waiting arms of Tylan Wallace at the seven.

Every team every year is a work in progress, especially after Week 1, and even more so in a 17-game season. Whoever you think is the best team in the league—the Chiefs, maybe?—are a work in progress. A month ago, maybe we hoped the Ravens would be as far away from that as possible. That didn’t happen, and that’s ok.

By the way, the Chiefs are headed to Baltimore on Sunday night. Maybe it would be better to have a team with a bit more progress to make coming in, but that’s not how it works.

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Wednesday
September 15
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#2578


week one scorching hot takes


This is what the internet was made for, I say.

These days they're called "hot takes", which is kind of a nice way of saying that your opinion is mostly in place to generate commentary and discourse. It doesn't mean you're making a "good point" per se, but more that you're just making a point for the sake of trying to rattle people's cages.

"Hot take" should be a familiar concept around here. No offense intended.

So without further adieu, because Wednesday seems like a great day for hot takes, here's a snippet about every team in the NFL after one week of the 2021 season.

By the way, post this on your refrigerator, because a large percentage of these "hot takes" are actually reasonably well constructed and will actually play out to be true by the first week in January. Just you watch and see.

NFC North

Green Bay -- No good team gets slaughtered in their first game 38-3 unless they have some significant problems. Where will the Packers trade Aaron Rodgers to in mid-season?

Minnesota -- You lost to the Bengals and you want to be taken seriously? Ain't happening, Vikes. Have fun going 8-9.

Chicago -- I've seen meaner Bears at Deep Creek Lake. The Ravens might throw a 50-burger on them this season.

Detroit -- Don't let that late comeback against San Francisco fool you. The Lions are going to get lit up almost every week this season. Week 3 prediction: Ravens 77 - Detroit 10 (and I'm not sure how they're gonna score 10).


NFC East

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys looked good in a narrow loss to the Bucs last Thursday night.

Dallas -- The Cowboys will either win or lose most of their games this season 35-32. Defense isn't their calling card down there in "Big D". But they're going to run away with the NFC East crown.

Philadelphia -- As soon as Jalen Hurts remembers he's Jalen Hurts, the Eagles will come back to life. Last Sunday was more about Atlanta being awful than it was Philadelphia being any good.

New York -- "And with the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select..." When you get throttled at home by Denver on the opening Sunday of the season, it's not getting any better from there.

Washington -- Their defense is pretty legit. Their offense is pretty lousy. Their record will be mediocre. But you'll have to take them seriously every week. They won't lay down.


NFC West

Los Angeles -- If the football gods have an ounce of integrity they'll give Matthew Stafford a healthy, productive 13-4 season and a trip to the Super Bowl to make up for those years of torture in Detroit. I'm liking this Rams team. I think they're legit.

Seattle -- Eh, they beat Indianapolis. No big deal. Any team with Russell Wilson at the helm is a tough out, but Seahawks fans shouldn't be making Super Bowl reservations just yet. They might finish 4th in the division.

Arizona -- Gonna be sneaky good, I'm telling you. The only thing we're not sure of yet; are Murray, Hopkins and Watts "winners"? It's hard to tell. The Magic 8-Ball says "probably not", but let's use this season to find out.

San Francisco -- I'm not sure Jimmy G's really any good and the Mostert injury could hurt them (no pun intended). I'm not sold on them yet. One win over Detroit does not a season make.


NFC South

Atlanta -- Wow, are they bad. I'd like to present to you a strong case for why last Sunday was just one of those opening day flukes. But even I can't do that -- the Falcons are L-O-U-S-Y. They do have great helmets, though.

New Orleans -- All their chakras lined up perfectly on Sunday in Jacksonville when they blistered Rodgers and the Pack. Sadly, that game is probably going to be their 2021 highlight. Don't me misled. New Orleans isn't going to finish above .500.

Carolina -- The only reason they won last Sunday? Because someone had to play the Jets, that's why. I'm not feeling it just yet in Charlotte. Maybe in another couple of years, but for now, they're a dull, mostly non-competitive outfit.

Tampa Bay -- Well, Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. It's getting kind of boring now, if you ask me. I don't think the Bucs are going to repeat, but I also could see Brady directing them to a 14-3 record and another trip to the Super Bowl -- because he is, Tom Brady.


AFC East

It wasn't a great start for Josh Allen or the Bills in their opening Sunday loss to the Steelers.

Buffalo -- Might not average 75 yards per-game rushing this season. Their defense was supposed to be among the league's best but they let Grandpa Ben and his pedestrian offense beat them last Sunday. In Buffalo, no less. Maybe they're the NFL's version of A-Ha. You know: a one-hit wonder.

New York -- I actually think Robert Saleh is going to get the Jets straightened out. Maybe not this year, but soon enough. We know this for sure: The Jets will be .500 again before the Giants are.

Miami -- I'm a skeptic. I don't think the quarterback is any good, honestly. But their defense is really good. They can win 6 games on defense alone, I suspect. How are they gonna win 5 more on offense and make the playoffs? That's the question.

New England -- I think the Mac Jones kid is gonna be better than Tua this season. There, I said it. And despite that season opening loss, I don't see the Patriots being a walk-in-the-park this season. They'll scratch and bite for a .500 mark or thereabouts. If they would go back to those old Pat-the-Patriot helmets with the dude snapping the football, they'd go 13-4 without even trying.


AFC West

Kansas City -- They might score 40 on the Ravens this Sunday night, although odds are a highly-anticipated offensive shootout ends more like 23-17 than 43-37. Mahomes is the man. The Chiefs are going to be really good again. Get used to it.

Las Vegas -- Let's call it like it is: They were lucky to win on Monday night over the Ravens. If that game got played 10 more times and the first 58 minutes of each one was identical to Sunday night, the Raiders would go 1-9 in those ten games. Their defense isn't very good. Their offense could be.

Denver -- They got their one road win out of the way on Sunday in New York. I can't imagine they win another game outside of Denver. I'm not even sure they're going to win many in Denver, either. The Broncos aren't any good.

Los Angeles -- Don't let the close win and escape job in D.C. misguide you. The Chargers are going to be good this season. Hotter-than-hot-take: They'll beat the Chiefs both times in the regular season.


AFC South

Tennessee -- They got the Cleat of Reality worse than any team in the league on opening Sunday. Let's see how they respond. Do they need another three games to get over it or will they bounce back this Sunday?

Houston -- We know this to be true: The Texans are terrible. Yes, yes, yes, they beat the Jaguars last Sunday. That's like you beating your 7-year old niece in putt putt. It sorta-kinda doesn't count. Houston will be a lot of team's homecoming game this season.

Indianapolis -- No good. Maybe even terrible. Got blistered at home by the Seahawks. That says it all. Nice helmets, too, you creeps.

Jacksonville -- They'll win more games than the Texans, I'd bet. Well, actually, maybe I wouldn't bet it. Although I do think Trevor Lawrence will acquit himself fairly well despite the lack of talent. The records of these four teams might be 9-8 (Tennessee), 7-10 (Indianapolis), 3-14 (Jacksonville), 2-15 (Houston). This could be a crazy-bad year in the AFC South.


AFC North

Cleveland -- They earned the distinctive "best loss of the day" on Sunday when they dropped a tight one to the Chiefs in KC. I'm not ready to plunk down big bucks on the Browns just yet, because until proven otherwise, they're always going to find a way to cough up the game. But there's no denying they might be on the verge of something special in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh -- Frauds. Took advantage of a Buffalo team who spent most of August reading their press clippings. Watch how 2021 plays out. Pittsburgh will score a lot of points at home but give up a lot there, too. Ben and the offense will stink on the road but the defense tends to man up when the offense can't score. The way I look at last Sunday? Pittsburgh just got one of their 8 or 9 regular season wins out of the way.

Cincinnati -- Burrow and Chase seems more like a company that makes really nice sweaters. Alas, they're the building blocks for a Bengals offense that has been largely inadequate the last couple of years. If Cincy can run the ball with any effectiveness, they could win more than a few games in 2021.

Baltimore -- They gotta get healthy, or as healthy as they can. They need Jimmy Smith in there this Sunday night or the Chiefs might go haywire. They need Nick Boyle, too. And Derek Wolfe. And while they're getting those three pieces back, they can't afford to lose any other starters to injury. Their offensive line looks to be a major problem. If that can't get fixed, quickly, we might be pining for the Orioles and the start of spring training by mid-November. A win over the Chiefs isn't imperative, but it would be impressive based on the warts we saw forming on Monday night in Las Vegas.

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SUCH
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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.


Let’s begin this week by remembering the career of Ray Lewis as a Baltimore Raven.

From 1996 through 2012, Lewis was the unquestioned leader of the Baltimore Ravens, both on the field and in the locker room. Setting aside everything concerning his life off the field (yes, I’m obviously referring to Atlanta and, later, to his public “preaching” rhetoric), Ray Lewis was one of the most dynamic and impactful football players that Baltimore and the NFL has ever seen. The fact that he influenced games playing middle linebacker, where he rarely had the football in his hands, made watching him play alternately mesmerizing and exhilarating.

He was truly one of a kind, the likes of which we may never see again. Not here in Baltimore, and probably not anywhere else in the NFL.

The greatest linebacker this town's ever seen...and of the most iconic players in Baltimore sports history.

I distinctly remember leaving Memorial Stadium one rainy November night in 1997 after Jake Plummer and the Arizona Cardinals had beaten the Ravens. The weather matched our moods as my friends and I made a soggy walk back to our tailgate spot. I recall saying something to the effect of how disappointing it was to lose to a team like that and a quarterback like Plummer. Then my buddy HB said, “Yeah, but we got to watch Ray Lewis play linebacker.” He was right.

Because even then, just 27 games into his professional career, it was evident that Ray Lewis was someone special on a football field. His combination of speed, power and sure tackling was eye-opening. The prospect of the Ravens building around the then-22-year-old was tantalizing.

I have lots of memories of big plays from Ray Lewis, but here’s one more that I will simply never forget: On a Sunday night in Cleveland in 2002, he shot through the gap on a blitz, then wheeled around when the ball went 8 yards downfield to a receiver who was open over the middle. The receiver made a quick cut, ran towards the sidelines, then took it back towards the middle and began to cut upfield. Lewis had spotted the guy a good 12 yards.

Shedding a few blockers, Lewis simply raced the guy down after giving him such a big head start. It was mind-boggling. Nobody makes that play, certainly no middle linebacker. Lewis’ speed and awareness were uncanny. Unfortunately, this was the game when he would separate his shoulder and be lost for the remainder of the season. Such is life in the National Football League.

Over the course of his career, Lewis would win two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards (2000 & 2003). He led the league in tackles three times (1997, 1999 and 2001). He led the Ravens in tackles ten times. Lewis finished his career with a mind-boggling 2,059 total tackles. He was the MVP of Super Bowl 35 and the leader of a legendary, never-to-be-forgotten defense in 2000. Then he capped off his remarkable career with another championship in Super Bowl 47.

Throughout his entire career, the Ravens built their organization around their defense, captained by Lewis. They allocated their salary cap dollars towards that side of the football, and basically piecemealed an offense together with a variety of free agents, journeymen quarterbacks, and power running backs. But they were never really able to pull it all together consistently throughout the prime of Ray Lewis’ career. To be fair to the Ravens organization, it’s not an easy task, and the NFL’s salary cap is designed to make teams decide where and how they want to spend their money on players.

This isn’t meant as a criticism or a complaint, rather a reflection and an observation. It would never be fair to say the Ravens didn’t do their best to win multiple championships while Ray Lewis roamed the middle of the field. They did. It’s just a very difficult needle to thread.

You probably can see where I’m headed with this by now, can’t you?

Lamar Jackson is one of the most unique and electrifying football players we will ever be so lucky to watch here in Baltimore. His athletic abilities as a runner and a passer are extraordinary. His vision, his quickness, his explosiveness, all of it are unlike anyone who has ever played the position, Baltimore Colts included. No disrespect ever intended to #19 (crosses myself, says a brief prayer of contrition).

Jackson is the embodiment of the 21st Century quarterback and athlete. His skill set is so mind-bending that even now, 38 games into his career, I still struggle to process what I’m watching sometimes. He does things that are so unconventional and eye-popping that it defies definition and tradition and expectation. Simply put, every time he takes the snap, I’m anticipating seeing something I’ve never seen before. He makes me giddy with anticipation.

For anyone who still doubts Jackson as a player and a leader, I’m not sure what to tell you, other than maybe to stop watching the Ravens. Monday night was a classic example of just how valuable Jackson is to the Ravens’ success.

Go back and watch his touchdown pass to Hollywood Brown. Look at the rainbow he dropped on Sammy Watkins 50 yards downfield. Revisit his scramble for 40+ yards to set up what should have been Justin Tucker’s game-winning field goal. Hell, look at the dart he threw to Mark Andrews that should have been a first down in overtime on the play before the fateful sack and fumble.

I’m not exactly sure what our expectations of Lamar Jackson are, or are supposed to be. Is it possible that he’s spoiled us already to the point where we expect him to simply fly past defenses on every possession and win games by 45 points every week? Because this is the NFL, and unfortunately, as great as he is, even Lamar Jackson gets tackled sometimes. He really is only human, after all.

So the challenge for the Ravens over the next few years is the same as it was during the Ray Lewis era: How and where to best allocate their resources around Jackson to maximize their chances of winning championships? Again, it’s a small eye of the needle to thread.

Allow me to put on my Captain Obvious hat for a moment and suggest that it should begin up front. That 2000 Ravens defense was anchored by Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa, who clogged lanes and allowed Ray Lewis to wreak havoc all over the field. I know the current front office is doing their best to build a competent offensive line in front of Jackson, but this season’s early return isn’t very promising. Perhaps those men up front will improve and begin to dominate and protect Lamar better; perhaps they won’t.

But it’s imperative that the Ravens do everything possible to climb championship mountain while Lamar Jackson enters the prime of his career. How many organizations have generational, transformational talents like Ray Lewis and Lamar Jackson come along? We’ve been some lucky football fans here in Baltimore.


Let’s make some 15 Second picks for Week 2 of the NFL season. As usual, I take 15 seconds to look at the matchup and pick a winner. Any longer than that and I might either go blind or mad with statistics.

LAST WEEK: 9-7

SEASON: 9-7

New York Giants (0-1) at Washington Whatevers (0-1): Daniel Jones vs. Tyler Heineken, everybody! What’s that? Heinecke, you say? Okay…this game has the foul stench of a barroom floor the morning after 1,000 Heinekens were spilled. Sort of like that pipe that burst last Sunday at RalJon! Is it still called RalJon? I don’t know and I don’t care. Giants 18, Snyders 17

Cincinnati (1-0) at Chicago (0-1): I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the Ravens are looking up at the Bengals in the AFC North standings, even if it’s only after Week 1. Did anyone else LOL at Andy Dalton’s big bushy red facial hair Sunday night? What. Was. That? If Matt Nagy really wants to remain a head coach in the NFL, he should probably play Justin Fields. Like, yesterday. Bears 23, Bengals 22

Houston (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1): That was a nice win for the Texans last Sunday, but it was only the Jaguars. And even though the Browns are the Browns are the Browns, I’d be stunned beyond stunned to see them drop their home opener to Tyrod Taylor & Co. But I’m pulling like crazy for Mark Ingram to sow doubt in the heart of every Clevelander. Browns 30, Texans 17

Los Angeles Rams (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1): I take back everything mean I said about Matthew Stafford last week. But the Rams still aren’t winning the NFC with him under center. Could it be that the Colts open the season with back-to-back losses at home? Yes, it could. That’s a very good thing. Rams 31, Colts 23

Buffalo (0-1) at Miami (1-0): Rather than dwell on what it would mean for the Bills to open 0-2, consider what it would mean for the Dolphins’ hopes to begin 2-0, with both wins in their division. It would appear that the AFC East is going to be a wild affair all season (excluding the Jets, of course. Let’s take the Fins at home. Dolphins 26, Bills 17

New England (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1): As satisfying as it would be to see the Patriots at 0-2, I just can’t believe the Jets are ready to win this game. But I think the Jets have the makings of a dangerous out come November. I really like Robert Saleh. He just looks like a football coach. Patriots 24, NY Jets 20

San Francisco (1-0) at Philadelphia (1-0): I humbly regret picking the Eagles to lose in Atlanta last week. They appear to have a lot of young speed on offense, and they’re going to be pumped up to make an early statement in the NFC in their home opener. This is a tough spot for the 49ers. One of the most intriguing games on this week’s slate. Let’s take the home cooking. Eagles 34, 49ers 26

Las Vegas (1-0) at Pittsburgh (1-0): Ugh. Steelers 27, Raiders 26

New Orleans (1-0) at Carolina (1-0): A Week 2 battle for the lead in the NFC South! Who’d a thunk it? Not this guy. Please forgive me, Jameis. Saints 38, Panthers 27

Denver (1-0) at Jacksonville (0-1): The Broncos should send a gift basket to the schedule makers on Park Avenue. Maybe something nice from Edible Arrangements. Everybody loves chocolate covered fruit! Broncos 35, Jaguars 19

Minnesota (0-1) at Arizona (1-0): I apologize to Kyler Murray for that snide remark I made about him last week. Please don’t send Chandler Jones looking for me. As for the Vikings, uhhhh…I got nuthin’. Cardinals 32, Vikings 23

Atlanta (0-1) at Tampa Bay (1-0): How can Matt Ryan be younger than Tom Brady yet play like he’s 20 years older? God, the Falcons are dreadful. Buccaneers 37, Falcons 13

Dallas (0-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (1-0): The Chargers are legit. They’re going to be a problem for everyone in the AFC, not just the Chiefs. Mad props to Dak Prescott on his terrific opening night. I will always root for that guy. This should be must-see TV. Chargers 32, Cowboys 30

Tennessee (0-1) at Seattle (1-0): I forget about how good Tyler Lockett is every offseason. I don’t know why I do that. He’s absolutely fantastic. The Titans are going to have to do some serious digging if they fall to 0-2. Get the shovels ready in Nashville. Seahawks 27, Titans 17

Kansas City (1-0) at Baltimore (0-1): In honor of the gone-too-soon actor Michael K. Williams, who played the unforgettable character Omar on The Wire, “You come at the king, you best not miss.” Until further notice, the Chiefs are the kings of the AFC. The Ravens defense does some deep soul-searching after this one Sunday night. Chiefs 39, Ravens 27

Detroit (0-1) at Green Bay (0-1): No team was more shockingly disappointing in defeat in Week 1 than the Packers. They were awful in every phase of the game. But I think the Lions are awfulererer (I know, that’s not a word). By any measure, this is a terrible offering on Monday Night Football. Packers 24, Lions 13

Happy footballing, everyone. Don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables.

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JOHN DARCEY
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Baltimore native John Darcey follows the Ravens on a daily basis and vows to "tell it like it is" here at #DMD in 2021-2022.


Let’s get one thing out of the way first. That was a complete team loss on Monday night to the Raiders.

The Ravens didn’t lose just because Lamar fumbled twice or because no one could stop Darren Waller or the lack of a pass rush or the offense just didn’t seem as crisp as it has over the past two years.

They lost because all those things happened in the same game. Now, I truly believe the pass rush can be fixed and the offense will get back to their old ways and Lamar won’t always fumble twice in one game. But the part that really worries me is the offensive line.

Honestly, that concern starts and ends with Alejandro Villanueva. He will be everyone’s favorite target, but it is justified. He looked like a turnstile in Las Vegas, as Maxx Crosby abused him most of the night.

Lamar Jackson wasn't solely to blame for Monday night's loss in Las Vegas says #DMD's John Darcey.

And I like Maxx, but he is not on the same level as Myles Garrett who the Ravens face twice a year. And this really isn’t a shocker, given that Villanueva didn’t play all that well last season in Pittsburgh. Yet, the Ravens still committed $8 million to him and had him switch positions with hopes it would all work out. They did this without having a viable back-up option in case this plan failed and also after they traded former starting RT Orlando Brown to KC, who by the way was still on his rookie deal in Baltimore.

So how do the Ravens rectify this situation? I am not sure they can. Tyree Phillips, who many thought would be the swing tackle, is probably done for the year after being carted off the field Monday night. The best tackle available is Mitchell Schwartz, who is coming off of back surgery, so who knows his status. Plus, mind you, the Ravens are so tight against the cap, they still have two openings on the 53-man roster, because of not want to guarantee salaries to veterans for the rest of the year. A trade is possible, but what will it cost you to get a quality starting RT? I am thinking at least a two or three, right?

The Ravens painted themselves into a corner on this one. The best case is Villanueva just gets more accustomed to the right side and has a decent year. They could have a tight end on his side to help, but that means you essentially are playing six linemen every play.

Of all the concerns coming out of Monday night’s loss, the right tackle spot should be the one keeping Eric and John up at night.

Other thoughts on the Ravens / Raiders game…

* It was encouraging to see the productivity of Sammy Watkins (4 rec for 96 yards) and Hollywood Brown (6 rec for 69 yards and a TD). These two missed most of training camp and preseason which could have led them both to come out rusty and not in sync with Jackson. Both of them looked good and it was nice to see Lamar trusting Watkins enough to go to him twice on third down in the first half. That is not always the case when a new receiver comes in and the QB has not had much time to develop chemistry with him. Brown also looked good on his TD catch, where he never quit moving and got open in the back of the end zone as Lamar scrambled to keep the play alive.

* Ty’Son Williams had a good first half rushing for 64 yards on eight carries with a touchdown to go along with three catches for 29 yards. But for some reason, he touched the ball just once in the second half, which resulted in a one-yard loss. Now I know he fumbled in the second quarter and that usually leaves people to find John Harbaugh’s doghouse, but I just don’t understand why they gave up on him so early? After a good first half, you bench him, for Latavius Murray who just joined the team! Williams was the only running back that has been with the Ravens all off season and has familiarity with the offense. Additionally, to open the second quarter, the Ravens had second and four, and they handed the ball off to an ice cold Murray, which resulted in a three-yard loss. Later in the second quarter, the Ravens faced a fourth down and it was Murray again, and once again he didn’t convert. It made absolutely no sense. Williams was running effectively and Murray should be eased into the offense. I think long term Murray will be the feature back and Williams will carve out a nice role as a backup, but that shouldn’t have been the case in Week One.

* Another head scratcher and this one really set the tone for the second half to me. The Ravens, up four to start the second half, decide to come out throwing and taking shots down the field. HUH?! Why not run the ball, or if you want to throw it, take some short to intermediate shots? Or how about continue to run the ball to set up the deep passes. This led to two incompletions and ultimately a drive that went five plays and lasted less than two minutes. The Ravens had a chance to kill some clock to start the second half and potentially go up by 11. This is what Ravens football has been the past two years and it has worked. Get a half time lead, come out in the second half, pound the ball, kill clock and score. But for whatever reason, they went away from that Monday night.

* Tavon Young looked suspect, at best, on Monday night. Hunter Renfrow definitely got the best of him. If Derek Carr and Renfrow can do that to Young, what will Mahomes, Burrow, Herbert, Stafford, etc. do to him as the year goes on? It could be a long season for Tavon.

* While all of the talk last week was about losing Gus Edwards, the Marcus Peters injury may be the one that costs the Ravens a real chance at contending. As stated above, Young is suspect. I was not overly impressed with Anthony Averett. Chris Westery flashed but what can you really expect of him and Jimmy Smith can’t stay healthy. Marlon Humphrey cannot cover everyone. This is something to keep an eye on moving forward to see which corner a QB tries to pick on each week. My money is on Mahomes to go at Young early and often on Sunday.

* If Jimmy Smith is still out next week, who is covering Travis Kelce? And let’s set the line at 175 receiving yards as the over/under for Kelce’s next week.

* I want someone to love me as much as Derek Carr loves Darren Waller. Carr targeted Waller 19 times! Yes, 19! And yet, the Ravens still didn’t figure out a way to slow him down. He finished with 10 catches for 105 yards and a score. Maybe jam him at the line, bracket him, something. It was clear that is where Carr wanted to go all night. Yet, no adjustments were made. Why didn’t Chuck Clark stay on him all game? Again, who is covering Kelce on Sunday?!

* Have you ever seen a team run so many blitzes where they send the house, yet get no pressure on the QB?

* While the pass rush was not what we all hoped for, it was encouraging to see Odafe Oweh get his first career sack. I mentioned in the preseason, and I will say it again, he reminds me of Adalius Thomas.

*Gus Bradley really knows how to disrupt the Ravens offensive game plan. First as the Chargers DC and now as the Raiders. If Wink Martindale ever leaves, Bradley should at least get an interview.

* I know it doesn’t always work, but with one timeout left, why didn’t Harbaugh try to ice Daniel Carlson before he kicked the game tying field goal? At least make him hit a 55 yarder twice.

* With the Chiefs coming to town on Sunday, this looks like an 0-2 start to the season for the Ravens.....but at least they have won 20 straight pre-season games!

* And on a non-game note, I would encourage everyone to give the Peyton and Eli Manning broadcast coverage of Monday Night Football a shot. I found myself watching it the whole second half. Very insightful to hear them two breakdown plays and decision making.

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


the model says...


I and my fellow Stat Nerds generally think teams punt and kick field goals entirely too much. Some of this is generational. Older coaches continue to do it the same way it’s always been done. But younger and more analytic savvy coaches and organizations are changing that...FAST.

According to the NextGen Stats Decision Guide, in 2017 teams went for it on fourth down in situations that their modeling strongly favored 31% of the time. By last season (2020) that percent had risen to 53%. That is an incredible 75% increase in a mere 3 years.

So you may ask, “what does their modeling strongly favor even mean”? Basically it’s a tool that measures increases in the team’s chance of winning the game based on decisions made and the outcome distribution. That’s it. There are various models that I typically consult throughout a Sunday but they all generally come to the same conclusions...teams should be punting and kicking field goals considerably less than they are. Sometimes these decisions yield small increases in win percentage but those decisions compounded throughout a game can add up to a significant edge.

Often these 4th down decisions are tough to wrap your head around. The models will recommend going for it early in games, on the team’s own side of the field and even in some seemingly hopeless 4th and long situations. The teams that best understand these situations and are prepared when they present themselves are gaining equity from those teams that don’t.

Why?

Well this one is easy. Teams realize that they simply have to score more points to win games. “Well no S*&*% Stats Nerd” you might say. But bear with me…

In 2005, 1 team averaged over 27 points per game. In 2010, that number was 2. In 2020? 10 teams averaged over 27 points per game.

In 2005, average points scored by a team in a game was 20.4. In 2010, it was 22.1. In 2020?, 24.6.

In 15 years, teams are scoring over 4 points a game more on average. Over the course of a 16 game season that means they are scoring 64+ more points. Unfortunately, those points don’t grow on trees. Teams need to earn them. But how does that happen?

How?

The easiest way to increase a team’s expected points per game is to sustain drives and not trot out the punter every time 4th down comes up. Teams have 4 downs to get a new set of downs, obviously. Why are they wasting 25% of those downs by kicking it back to the other team? From my perspective, there should be compelling evidence TO punt not to avoid punting.

The days of playing for field position and backing up the other team should be gone. Do we think Mahomes, Brady, Prescott, Rodgers, Lamar, etc. are concerned about having to go an extra 30-40 yards? Clearly there are times where a punt makes sense. No question. But the default should not be to auto punt the minute that 4 shows up on the down and distance sticks.

Who?

Which coaches and organizations make the best analytical decisions you might ask. Well historically the Ravens have been amongst the best. Harbaugh relies on an analytics team that teases out these potential situations before a game. Then in-game, Harbs is fed information by an analyst up in the coaches box.

This preparation and commitment to the data driven decision making process is evidenced by the fact that the Ravens correctly matched the above referenced Next Gen Stat a whopping 75% of the time last season.

If the Ravens are considered 1a in their data usage, the Browns are a neck and neck 1b. Some observers think that Kevin Stefanski and the Browns staff are killing it in the analytics department. That’s not surprising given that Paul Depodesta, formerly Billy Beane’s right hand man, is essentially running the Browns ship (Depodesta is basically the guy Jonah Hill played in the movie MoneyBall).

Look, it's fun to laugh at the Browns. I get it and I’m right there with you. But Stefanski consistently makes the right decision in 4th down spots and seems well prepared when those decisions present themselves. (They also do some other analytically friendly things really well which I can address at another time). Of course, if his punter can’t hang on to the ball that mistake can wipe out a game full of great decision making.

Who doesn’t?

Mike Tomlin, for starters, is notoriously bad at in game decision making/adjustments. He has openly dismissed the value of analytics in making in game decisions instead relying on “feel and instinct”. Tomlin is no doubt a great player’s coach. Perhaps a Hall of Famer. But he had the benefit of a Hall of Fame QB, great defenses and a series of offensive weapons. Good players can sometimes overcome poor decision making. But over the long term that should catch up with an organization.

Pete Carroll is another old schooler that gobsmacks me with poor decisions on the regular. He has had a generational QB for nearly 10 years but seems not to have learned a thing from that experience. He is annually at the bottom of the list when it comes to 4th down aggressiveness and has consistently made other head scratching decisions that fail to utilize the greatness he has under center. Frankly, I would be furious if I were a Seahawks fan and they continued to trot Pete out year after year. Great rah-rah guy, terrible decision maker in the modern game of football.

Summary

I have not yet dug into the stats from this past weekend. By the eye test it certainly seems more and more teams are correctly choosing to go for it in appropriate 4th down spots.

Sometimes those decisions will not work out. But those are generally team execution mistake rather than a decision making mistake. Too often fans will determine their approval of a 4th down call based on the results. That is the definition of results oriented thinking.

If it works-GOOD! If it doesn’t-BAD! But the key from my perspective is the decision making process. Are the coaches and teams prepared when these situations show up inevitably in a game? Or are they shocked and tentative, burn timeouts and just generally ill prepared to face these spots?


Last Week --

I didn’t see any egregious decisions last week that jumped out at me. But one coach that did have a “questionable” game is Mike McCarthy of the Cowboys. To his credit the Cowboys generally do have a decent 4th down aggressiveness score. However, he always “seems” surprised when the spots come up and doesn’t consistently seem prepared. And Thursday night was not Mike’s best week analytically. Consider this series of events:

* 6 mins left in 2nd Q, Cowboys down 7. Dallas has 4th and 3 on Tampa 13. Models STRONGLY favor GO FOR IT. McCarthy chooses to kick. Kicker misses but Tampa fumbles on the first play so Dallas gets it back and scores TD.

* Shortly after the above, Dallas gets in position to attempt a half closing field goal. The drive stalls and with under 15 secs left in half, McCarthy trots out his FG kicker to attempt a 60 yarder. Models STRONGLY favor PUNT (sometimes punting is correct!). Kicker has missed a 30 yd field goal and extra point in the last 5 minutes. Kick is not close and Brady gets ball at 50 yard line with under 15 secs left. Luckily for Dallas, Tampa wasn’t able to capitalize.

* With under 10 mins left in Q3 Dallas had 4th and Goal from the 3 down 5 points. Models STRONGLY favor GO FOR IT. McCarthy kicks.

In these examples, McCarthy cost his team 6-8% in burned win probability. When playing a better team with a high scoring offense that may be the difference in a win and a loss. In the end Dallas lost by 2 points. Did these decisions directly impact that result? I believe they did. There can be little question they didn’t help.

OK, #DMD readers: Did you see any examples of coaches making poor decisions surrounding timeouts, 4th down attempts and 2 point conversion attempts last weekend? If so, what were they?

Tuesday
September 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2577


now that...was a terrible loss


As John Harbaugh likes to say, "we don't do comparisons around here."

So comparing last night's loss in Las Vegas to any other "tough" loss is kind of futile for all of us, Harbaugh included. But there's no arguing that it was an awful way to lose a football game.

It was, to me, one of the worst losses of the Lamar Jackson era, if for no other reason than you're now 0-1 and the Chiefs come to town next Sunday night.

The Ravens never trailed in last night's game until they lost in overtime. They led 14-0 at one point, 17-10 later on, and 24-17 in the 4th quarter. But they were never able to put the Raiders away, allowing an amateur-night two play drive at the end of regulation after Justin Tucker put them ahead 27-24 with 37 seconds remaining. Las Vegas tied it on a 55 yard field goal at the buzzer, sending the season opener to a 10-minute overtime session.

Ball on the ground! Lamar Jackson's two late fumbles were critical mistakes in last night's 33-27 OT loss at Las Vegas.

In overtime, Lamar Jackson lost the ball after the Ravens intercepted a Derek Carr pass in the end zone and that was the beginning of the end.

The sports talk shows will be jammed today with people complaining about how things unfolded.

These will be the key points, but there will be others, too.

The primary whipping boy will be Alejandro Villanueva. The offensive lineman was terrible last night. Ronnie Stanley wasn't all that great, either, but the former Steeler, Villanueva, was roasted the entire evening. The Ravens will need to pay particular attention to the right tackle position over the next week or two. If Villanueva doesn't improve, Harbaugh and Greg Roman will have to make a move. Lamar Jackson's health might depend on it.

The Ravens pass rush off the edge and the interior was non-existent last night, save for a nice series late in the 4th quarter that helped squelch a critical Raiders' drive. Patrick Queen had a nice night when Wink Martindale sent him to chase the quarterback on a blitz package and Malik Harrison was also a bother, but the absence of Derek Wolfe was definitely felt.

Martindale will get raked over the coals for the team's lack of defensive pressure. He'll also get blistered for the game-winning throw, where he sent outside pressure that Derek Carr easily sniffed out en-route to the easy TD toss.

Late in the game, the Ravens failed to pick up a first down on 3rd and 4, which led them to having to kick the go-ahead field goal with 42 seconds left. If they get that first down, the Ravens would have been able to milk the clock down to two seconds and Tucker would have hit the game-winner and that would have been that. Instead, when they didn't get the first down, it led to the Raiders getting the ball back for the aforementioned 2-play drive that led to the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation.

Mark Andrews failed to hold on to a ball at midfield late in overtime that would have extended a critical drive and left the Ravens just 15 yards from Justin Tucker's range. I'm sure some people will bring up that play today. It was a big one.

Lamar Jackson had a decent night but his two fumbles were no bueno. Sometimes trying to do it all by yourself isn't a great idea. I'm sure a caller or two will chime in today and bash him for running around too much. The way I see it, if Jackson has a bad game -- any game, any time -- the Ravens lose 30-10. He's the engine. Occasionally he's going to fumble the ball or throw a bad pick. It happens. I'll take him on my team any day.

But there's no denying Lamar's 4th quarter fumble turned the tide and the overtime gaffe was pretty much the game-decider.

And John Harbaugh will have to take a hit or two for his decision to not ice the Raiders' kicker with two seconds left in regulation. Sure it only worked 2.5% of the time last season, but what good is a time out in your pocket at the end of the game? Just call the time out and see if somehow it works.

In the end, this really was a "team loss". The line play was subpar on both sides of the ball, the running game wasn't very Ravens-like, the defense looked vulnerable throughout the second half and overtime, and their all-world quarterback coughed up the ball twice and helped turn what looked to be a sure victory into a painful defeat.

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ryder cup 2021: "what's their secret?"


As we start looking ahead to what promises to be an incredibly interesting Ryder Cup next week, let's go ahead and open up with the biggest topic being talked about within the world of golf.

"Why are the Europeans so good at the Ryder Cup and the Americans aren't?"

Everywhere you look, people are opining on that question.

I don't think the answer is all that obvious or easy.

Ian Poulter has long been a Ryder Cup star, which is why European captain Padraig Harrington added him to the team that will play at Whistling Straits next week.

But before we answer the question -- or attempt to, at least -- let's look real quick at who Padraig Harrington chose on Sunday with his three captain's picks for the European team.

He added Shane Lowry, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter.

Something funky happened in the BMW Championship (on the European Tour) last weekend, as Bernd Wiesberger secured just enough points to qualify on his own merit and knocked Justin Rose out of an automatic spot. Harrington didn't take Rose, so Wiesberger effectively eliminated one of Europe's veteran Ryder Cup performers.

But Garcia and Poulter make up for the loss of Rose, if not in making putts, but in creating energy. And let's not forget, Garcia becomes a perfect possible partner for fellow countryman Jon Rahm and Poulter can link up with another old timer who made the team, fellow Englishman Lee Westwood.

Editor's note: If Poulter and Westwood do team up, they can talk about all the major championships they've won.

Additional Editor's note: It's Ryder Cup time, folks. Snarky comments are allowed, even those in bad taste.

So Padraig Harrington went with two veterans and one guy who is just starting to round into career-form, Shane Lowry.

The European team, or Harrington, at least, puts a priority on "been there, done that". When given the chance to add three players, he went with guys who have played in previous Ryder Cups.

Steve Stricker had six picks and added big names like Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth, but also went "rookie" with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler.

So back to the question: "Why does Europe dominate the Ryder Cup?"

The obvious simple answer is: "they play better golf."

But it feels deeper than that. Sure, Europe plays better golf, but why does it seem like the U.S. doesn't play their best when the Ryder Cup is at stake?

Is it a pairings issue?

Do we have the 12 best players, perhaps, but not the six best 2-man teams? Could it be that?

"Partner golf" is definitely different than singles. Four of the five Ryder Cup events are two-man team matches. Only the Sunday round is singles. Do the Europeans just team up better with one another? Are they able to play hard for one another while the U.S. team just plays best when they're focusing on themselves and not a playing partner?

Do European players feel slighted or undervalued on the PGA Tour and, thus, have something to prove every other September? That's long been a rumor floating around the TOUR. The Europeans feel like all the marketing and promotional campaigns center on the hotshot Americans. And when the Ryder Cup rolls around, they take out their anger on the U.S. team.

Is it as simple as the American players don't care as much about the Ryder Cup as do their European counterparts? You can lead a horse to water, as the saying goes. Could it be that American TOUR players simply don't care enough? Is that possible?

As has been suggested time and time again, could the European secret sauce lie in their putting prowess? Are their top players better putters than the top Americans and, in a match play type format, the best putters generally prevail?

Does Dustin Johnson really care if his Ryder Cup performance next week is poor, good or excellent? I mean, he wants to play well and all, but will he lose any sleep if he goes 0-3-1 and the U.S. loses 16-12?

And, let's be honest. You can put any player's name in there instead of Dustin Johnson and ask the same question of him. Does Justin Thomas really care? Does Brooks Koepka really care? Does Patrick Cantlay?

I don't know how much they care. But it certainly feels like they care. And they sound like they care when they talk about the Ryder Cup. But their performance doesn't always reflect that same level of care.

It always seems like the European team really gets into the Ryder Cup. Maybe that's because they're winning most of the time. But the teams often *look* different on day one, day two and day three, regardless of score.

Is it pressure? The United States always seems to be under the spotlight as favorites and the Europeans skate in quietly and relish the underdog role. Every year the questions are mostly on the Americans and which players need to come through for the sake of their reputation. You don't hear that much about the Europeans. But the American team is always being critiqued in advance of the event.

I don't have the answer, by the way. If I did, I'd sell it to the PGA of America.

I've thrown out a few of the reasons why Europe seems to play better golf when the Ryder Cup rolls around.

I think all of the reasons have some merit. I personally subscribe to the thought that the Ryder Cup just isn't all that important to this crop of American players. We can sit all day and talk about why that is, but the reality -- in my eyes -- is that Dustin, Brooks, Bryson and Justin don't care about the Ryder Cup the way Payne, Paul, Davis and Fred did. I'm not saying our guys don't care at all. But I think the Europeans really care and we just care. I hope that makes sense.

There's one thing to watch next week in terms of actual golf. The team that drives the ball the best is going to win. On the surface, you'd think that would favor the Americans, but the proof will be in the pudding. We might have better drivers of the ball on our side, but they still have to hit it in the fairway over those three days.

We'll break down everything throughout next week, but this is looking more and more like it's going to be a dogfight. A year ago, I would have said there'd be no way the Americans could lose. But a year ago this time, I also suspected the team would have the likes of Tiger, Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson on the roster. Instead, we subbed in Berger, English and Scheffler for those three.

I hope it works out for the best, obviously, but I'm starting to get a little itchy. And I'm not itchy because of Berger, English and Scheffler. I'm nervous "just because". I'm nervous because I know the Americans should win and I think the Americans know they should win and that's where the problems potentially start.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


americans abroad

After an intense three game World Cup qualifying window, players resumed their club seasons this weekend. It was a relatively quiet slate for Americans in Europe, with several key players out with injuries and a few others getting rest after the trip back from the States.

This week was highlighted by multiple young Americans who didn’t receive the call up to the national team in September. The time off allowed them to bring fresh legs to their clubs and start making their case for inclusion in the national team in October. There is also a quick look at the Americans set to play in this season’s Champions League, which kicks off this afternoon.

The top American performance this week came from 19 year old Gianluca Busio, who started at center midfield for Venezia in their Italian Serie A match against Empoli. It was good to see Busio right back in the starting lineup after an uneven performance in his debut with the club. The young North Carolina native delivered a strong defensive effort, making several important tackles in the middle of the field.

Offensively he got the “hockey assist” on the first Venezia goal, delivering the pass that set up the assist. Aside from that moment he mostly did his job efficiently shuttling the ball through midfield but did not produce any spectacular offensive moments. He did have a momentary lapse late in the game where he failed to track a runner into the box that ended up drawing a penalty kick. In the end, Venezia escaped with an important 2-1 road win. The performance from Busio was a positive step for him as he integrates into his new team, but there is still room for him to improve.

In Germany there were two more young Americans making an impact. 18 year old New Yorker, Joe Scally, started at right wing back for Borussia Monchengladbach in their 3-1 win over Arminia Bielefeld. Scally was solid on both sides of the ball. In the first half he consistently got forward up the flank and hit several dangerous crosses into the box. He also did well in his one on one duels with opposing attackers. In the second half he demonstrated his versatility as he shifted to left wing back when the starter there got injured.

Scally is showing maturity beyond his years in a top European league. He is definitely one to watch for the US roster in October. His ability to play both right and left back in a four or five man defense could be an asset in the congested three game qualifying window. With Sergino Dest currently injured and the other top right back option, Reggie Cannon, not getting consistent playing time with his club, it could be time for Scally to get a call.

Chris Richards was the other young American with a solid performance in the Bundesliga this weekend. He started at center back in his first game back with Hoffenheim on loan from Bayern Munich. Richards slotted back into the position he made his own at Hoffenheim last season. He was solid in the backline, performing his job adequately in defense. While he didn’t stand out for his line breaking passing in this game, he was efficient with the ball and avoided costly mistakes. He was not at fault for either goal as Hoffenheim took a tough 2-0 loss to Mainz.

The last European player to note this week was the star midfielder who was dismissed early from the US team during qualifying. Weston McKennie started at center midfield for Juventus in a big Serie A showdown with Napoli. McKennie didn’t really stand out for good or bad in the game. He did a good effort defending in the middle of the field and got himself into a few dangerous spots in attack but couldn’t hit the needed final ball. His start is more notable because it shows he is still in favor with his club despite his team rule violations with the US team. Juventus took a disappointing 2-1 loss in the game and are off to a rough start to the Serie A season. Hopefully McKennie can string together some positive performances and get back in the good graces of Gregg Berhalter before October.

Lastly, we head back across the Atlantic for a highlight from MLS. The newest teenage American sensation continued his hot scoring streak for his club team. The hero from the big US win over Honduras, Ricardo Pepi, returned to FC Dallas and helped them to a 1-1 draw with San Jose. Pepi scored the tying goal early in the second half when he freed himself in the box and powered home a header from a nice cross from fellow teenage US prospect, Justin Che. If Pepi can continue this fine goal scoring form into October it could be a boon for the US in qualifying.

The European schedule gets busier this week, as the Champions League season begins its group stage. Kicking off this afternoon, the 32 group qualifiers will start the six game round robin stage that pares the field down to 16 knockout round contestants. This season there will be a minimum of twelve American players participating in the group stage.

On Tuesday, Brenden Aaronson and Salzburg will kick off the group stage in a road game against Sevilla. At the same time, Jordan Pefok and Young Boys will host Manchester United. Later in the afternoon, Sergino Dest’s Barcelona will host Bayern Munich in a heavyweight battle. Dest is doubtful for that game with his ankle injury. John Brooks’s Wolfsburg travel to Lille, who will likely be missing Tim Weah due to injury. Weston McKennie and Juventus travel to take on Swedish champions Malmo and Christian Pulisic and defending European champions Chelsea host Zenit St. Petersburg. Pulisic is questionable for the game with the injury he picked up against Honduras.

On Wednesday, four more American’s teams play. Gio Reyna will be out for Borussia Dortmund’s game against Turkish side Besiktas. Owen Otasowie may be on the bench for Belgian Club Brugge for their difficult matchup against a loaded Paris St. Germain. Finally, Tyler Adams and Jesse Marsch take RB Leipzig to England for a big test against Manchester City.

With all the Champions League games streaming on Paramount Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to watch these American players test themselves in the club game’s top competition.

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Monday
September 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2576


monday points to ponder


You probably knows this by now, but the NFL stands for "If you bet on this league, you're insane."

San Francisco led the Lions 41-17 with two minutes remaining in yesterday's season opener for both teams. Game over. If you took the 49'ers and gave the Lions 8.5 points, the bet was also over. It was 41-17 with two minutes left. There was no reason at all for the Lions to still be interested.

You know where this is going, of course...

The Lions scored to make it 41-23 with 1:53 remaining. No sense in kicking the extra point. Two points makes it a two-score game. So the Lions went for two and made it. But the 49'ers got the ball back and all they had to do was kill the clock.

Things were fine until the 49'ers fumbled the ball on 3rd down. The Lions recovered. Those who wagered on the 49'ers were now frenzied with the thought that Detroit might still keep trying, even though the game was over.

With 1:02 remaining, the Lions scored another TD. And to make it an 8-point game, they needed a successful two-point conversion. And, they got it.

Thankfully, the 49'ers held on to win the game. I mean, that's really all they care about it, right? But there were thousands of people who cared about the point spread who were miserable in the aftermath of that 4th quarter Detroit uprising. And, yes, there were folks -- this writer included -- who were thrilled with the bizarre turn of events.

One man's trash is another man's treasure. I forget who said that. Shakespeare? Blake? Sartre? Flintstone? No matter the author, it's true.

What a way to kick-off the 2021 NFL season. With one of the all-time bad beats.


The Chiefs pulled out an opening day win over the pesky Cleveland Browns, 33-29, but when it mattered most, in the game's final minute, the Browns did what they usually do.

They became the Browns.

Baker Mayfield almost beat the Chiefs yesterday in Kansas City. Almost...

Now, let's be fair. Cleveland has now lost twice in a row to Kansas City in spirited fashion, falling gamely last January in the AFC playoffs and then taking yesterday's encounter down to the final minute. That Cleveland led at one point 15-3 and 22-10 doesn't mean much, but it certainly gave the impression -- for a while, at least -- that the Chiefs are actually human and potentially vulnerable.

But like 80% of the NFL games, it came down to who got better play from their quarterback. And the verdict, not surprisingly, went to Patrick Mahomes. Baker Mayfield was decent, mind you, but not nearly good enough to beat Mahomes in his own building. When the game was in the balance it was Mayfield who made the critical mistake.

The NFL is most certainly a week-to-week league. Just because Kansas City got lit up by Mayfield and the Cleveland offense does not mean the Ravens will have similar success against the Chiefs' defense next Sunday night. It just doesn't work that way in the NFL. Next Sunday's game might be 20-17.

Cleveland, meanwhile, looks like they're fit to live up to their pre-season billing. Other than their punter inexplicably dropping the ball in the 4th quarter and Kansas City cashing in on that mistake moments later with the game-winning score, there wasn't really much to complain about on Sunday. They went toe-to-toe with the Chiefs and gave them all they could handle for 60 minutes.

But until they prove otherwise -- they're still the Browns.


The Jaguars got throttled in Houston, 37-21. Tyrod Taylor, the erstwhile Raven, got the win at quarterback for Houston. Guess who got the loss? Trevor Lawrence. Get this: It was the first time in his (real) football playing life that Lawrence lost a regular season game.

Trevor Lawrence never lost a high school regular season game. He never lost a regular season game at Clemson, either.

Both of his high school losses were in the state playoffs and both of his college losses were in bowl games.

Let's hope he doesn't have some kind of allergic reaction to losing in the NFL. He's going to lose a lot in Jacksonville.


How would you like to be in Atlanta or New York today? The season is one week old and it's already confirmed: the Falcons and Giants both stink.

Atlanta got shellacked at home by Jalen Hurts and the Eagles, 32-6. It's one thing if you lose your opener 23-20 on a last second field goal or you play hard defensively but don't generate enough points in a 16-6 loss. It's another thing entirely to be awful on both sides of the ball and get torched in your own building to start the season, 32-6.

The Matt Ryan era in Atlanta has to be on the 17th hole, right? At this point, isn't it just time to move on and start new?

In the Meadowlands, the Broncos came in with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and lit up the woeful Giants, 27-13. Daniel Jones just fumbled again, in fact. To make matters worse, New York head coach Joe Judge challenged a Denver touchdown, forgetting that you actually can't do that. All scoring replays are automatically reviewed and Judge, with one of the season's great coaching blunders, lost a time out when he threw the challenge flag.

Man, can you imagine for a second if John Harbaugh ever did that in Baltimore? People. Would. Go. Absolutely. Bonkers.

Alas, when the season's over and the Giants are 4-13, no one's really going to remember the head coach wasting a time out because he forgot the rules on the opening Sunday of the season.

At least the folks in Atlanta and New York might have playoff baseball to get them through some portion of October. The football season in those two cities is going to be long and forgettable.


There's apparently no such thing as home cooking. Not when it comes to NFL gambling, anyway.

A friend invited me to join a Yahoo! Fantasy Pick 'Em League this season. I gave it a whirl last year and was dreadful, eventually allowing my two children to pick games against the spread because I was so bad.

This year, though, I came up with a new theory. This, I figured, would become the new-age way of gambling on football.

I decided last week I would alternate weeks and pick all home teams one week, all road teams the next week, and just keep on switching week-by-week from there.

So in week #1, I just went right down the board and picked every home team to cover the spread, whatever it was. It turned out I should have gone with the road teams in week #1.

4 of the 15 home teams covered the spread yesterday. Just four. They were the Bengals, Saints, Texans and Rams.

Watch and see. Next week when I pick all road teams to cover, it will be the opposite. You just know it's coming.

By the way, in the Yahoo! version, the Lions only got 7.5 points at home yesterday and they lost by eight. So even when I should have earned a home team win, I got ripped off.


So what happens tonight in Las Vegas? You're asking me? I just went 4-11 yesterday picking all home teams. Here at #DMD, I managed to scratch out a 2-3 mark and won the "Best Bet Game" as well. I'm actually happy with a 2-3 record to start the season, truth be told.

The #DMD crystal ball has the Ravens winning tonight in Las Vegas.

Anyway, you're wondering what might happen tonight between the Raiders and Ravens? You've come to the right place.

The Ravens aren't losing to those guys.

I realize the running game is kind of funky right now with who-knows-what-kind-of-combination in the backfield this evening, but the last time I checked, the Ravens still have Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews and they still have a high quality defense.

The Las Vegas offensive line is awful. Their defense isn't all that good, either. They'll win some games this year because a lot of teams in the league aren't any good, but tonight isn't one of those games.

On our Ravens "Confidence Meter", which goes from 0 (no confidence at all) to 10 (it's a guaranteed lock of a win), I'm sitting at a comfortable 6.685 on this one. I don't see Baltimore losing out there.

Let's call it a 26-16 win for the Ravens. Bring on the Chiefs.

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consider this


So, what happened in Week 1 of the NFL season? A lot, I guess, though I’ll ask the question here. If you shouldn’t panic and/or make Super Bowl plans after Week 1 of a 16-game season, what should be your attitude after the first game of a 17-game season?

I suppose the Chiefs should still be considered the team to beat in the AFC. They came from behind to beat Cleveland in a bit of an offensive shootout, though certainly nothing out of the ordinary for either Patrick Mahomes or Baker Mayfield.

Another 4th quarter rally by Patrick Mahomes sparked Kansas City to a thrilling win over Cleveland on Sunday.

The Browns are going to have a good season, assuming they avoid the injury bug; they can run the football and Mayfield should be considered “experienced” by now. If he can avoid a big turnover season — he did throw an interception in the final two minutes trying to lead his team back on Sunday — he’ll win plenty of games even if the run game isn’t there.

Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers spent the offseason doing two things — hosting Jeopardy and publicly complaining about his treatment by the Green Bay Packers. The New Orleans Saints, meanwhile, spent the offseason trying to decide who would play quarterback…and their choices were a guy who isn’t really a quarterback and another guy who once threw 30 interceptions in a season.

It was obvious, then (ok, not at all) that the Saints, behind five touchdowns (and no interceptions) from Jameis Winston, would play well in a 38-3 spanking of the Packers in a game that was forced to Jacksonville by Hurricane Ida. Rodgers was replaced in the fourth quarter by Jordan Love…we’ll see how that plays out.

I’m not sure anyone believed that the team to score the most points on Sunday would be the San Francisco 49ers, who led the Lions 41-17 late in the fourth quarter before two meaningless Detroit touchdowns. I did believe that that the Texans would beat Jacksonville in the debut for Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer, though I couldn’t believe it when I saw that David Culley’s team handed the ball off to former Raven Mark Ingram 26 times!

Oh…one more thing. I don’t like to spend too much time here telling you to read something else, but check out the coverage in the Tennessean after the home team, a Super Bowl contender, got blitzed by the Cardinals in the home opener in Nashville. Apparently, the Titans barely practiced as an offensive unit during the preseason, and apparently it showed; Ryan Tannehill was sacked six times by the Arizona defense.


I don’t care if you like tennis or not. You should give some serious props to a 25-year-old Russian dude named Daniil Medvedev, who beat Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final on Sunday to deny the Serbian a Grand Slam — winning all four tennis majors in a calendar year— which would have been the first since Rod Laver more than 50 years ago.

Remember that the majors are played on three different surfaces — hard courts in Melbourne and New York, grass in London and clay in Paris. Winning a Grand Slam is an awesome feat of skill — to be a good enough player to win on all of them is special.

Medvedev did it in straight sets, and he was quite dominant in the way that Djokovic typically is. Novak was frustrated throughout — even damaging his racket in an unusual outburst — and he was only able to break the Russian’s serve once in the match.

This was Medvedev’s third Grand Slam final. He had previously lost to Djokovic in this year’s Australian Open final and to Rafael Nadal in the 2019 U.S. Open championship match. And speaking of Nadal, and Roger Federer, neither of whom was in New York this year, Djokovic stays tied with both with 20 Grand Slam titles apiece.

Now, it’s not like Medvedev didn’t have a chance coming in. He is now the No. 2 player in the world, and he had been a bit more dominant throughout the tournament than Djokovic, who was forced to win in five sets in his semifinal match against Alexander Zverev.

But, considering the history at stake, and all the celebrities that showed up to watch Djokovic make that history, and the fact that the crowd was on the Serbian’s side this time, it had to have been one of the greatest victories in modern tennis. Surely there have been bigger “upsets” in terms of seeding, but not in terms of importance.

Tennis is in an interesting spot. Federer is 40 years old and will surely retire next year, if not earlier. Nadal is 35 and seems oft-injured these days, and maybe can continue to dominate on clay but nowhere else. At 34, Djokovic seemed destined to dominate the game for at least a couple more years, but now you begin to wonder. It certainly seems like he’ll get that one more major to surpass the other two, no matter what.

As for a great American men’s player, we’re still waiting for that. It has to happen sooner or later, doesn’t it?


Oh right…the Ravens play in Las Vegas tonight. Based on random Facebook posts I’ve been getting, there are a whole lot of Ravens fans that have made the trip. This is, after all, the first time the team has played in Vegas, where there a few other things to do besides go to the game, from what I understand. Hope everyone has stayed safe.

It seems easy to discount the Ravens now. The training camp and preseason of their discontent has left them without a potential star running back, their workhorse “backup” runner, and a cornerback who often gets referred to a “genius.” There are others, of course, including tight end Nick Boyle, defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, rookie receiver Rashod Bateman.

The reason the Ravens have been a good team is because they have good players, right? How many good players can go down before you can no longer say that about John Harbaugh’s team? I suppose we’ll find out a little bit tonight, but it will only be a little bit. It is Week 1, remember, and Lamar Jackson will start the game at quarterback. Let’s hope he finishes it, or gives way thanks to a big lead in 2019 fashion.

Speaking of big leads, that’s the kind of thing that may be different this year, even when the Ravens are playing well. Perhaps there won’t be as many games where the outcome seems evident early, especially because you wonder whether the running game will be there to simply pound the opponent into submission over time.

At the same time, in a short stretch, running backs are somewhat interchangeable in today’s NFL. The Ravens have picked up some experienced ones since the injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards (and Justice Hill), and there is some hope they can be good enough to keep Greg Roman’s offense running.

The Raiders, meanwhile? They are nothing special, though certainly the kind of team that could go 10-7 and make the playoffs. Derek Carr is 30 years old now — a veteran. He is good in the play-action game, assuming his team can run the ball effectively to set that up. The Raiders have a new defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley, the former Jaguars head coach and the defensive coordinator for those great Seattle defenses a decade ago.

I think Harbaugh’s team comes out of Sin City with a loss tonight. It’s a tough spot for a team with lots of new guys trying to learn the offense, and I think that will show.

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Sunday
September 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2575


it's good we don't care...


Can you imagine, for one minute, if the Orioles actually wanted or needed to win those two games yesterday?

Maybe this whole "we don't care if we win or lose" thing is actually the way to go. Otherwise, what happened on Saturday would be tragic.

In the opener of a doubleheader against Toronto -- who are still very much in the playoff race -- the Birds squandered a 10-7 lead in the 7th (and final, remember) inning and lost 11-10. Tyler Wells, who earlier in the week was headed to Cooperstown, gave up four runs in the top of the 7th and the Birds dropped a tough one.

But that defeat paled in comparison to the fiasco in the nightcap.

Vlad Guerrero Jr. hit his 43rd home run of the season in Toronto's 11-10 win over the O's in Saturday's doubleheader opener.

In that game, Keegan Akin took a no-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the top of the 7th inning, but the southpaw ran out of gas after throwing 97 pitches. Four home runs later, Toronto won 11-2.

Somehow the O's snatched defeat from the jaws of victory twice within about four hours on Saturday.

Alas, this is one of those occasions where it's probably good the organization doesn't mind if they lose. Otherwise, some heads would roll this morning.

There was some good news on Saturday and most of it centered on the guy who has been the biggest bright spot on the team in 2021. Cedric Mullins hit his 29th home run of the campaign and is closing in on a rather impressive accomplishment. With another home run and two more stolen bases, Mullins will be the first player in franchise history to hit 30 HR and record 30 stolen bases in a season. In an era when the stolen base is no longer all that prominent, 30/30 is a pretty big deal.

I saw someone on Twitter last night throw out the opinion that perhaps one way for the O's to speed up their rebuilding process would be to deal Mullins in the off-season. Most of the people who weighed in on that subject were against, but the original poster had more than a few folks agree with their assessment.

I couldn't disagree more with the thought of trading Cedric Mullins.

No. No. No.

I realize the whole lead-off-hitter-thing is overblown. I mean, you're actually only guaranteed to lead-off once per-game, so how valuable could it be, exactly? But there's something to having a productive guy at the top of your lineup, where he can help set the stage for the two, three and four guys behind him.

Mullins is, at least this season, one of the best lead-off hitters in all of baseball. And other than an average arm in centerfield, he's a highly competent defensive player. The O's -- much to my chagrin, honestly -- essentially told Adam Jones they had a new centerfielder a few years ago and his name was Cedric Mullins.

A few years later, the O's were right. Mullins is a keeper. The Orioles should continue rebuilding around Mullins, not use him to continue their rebuilding.

And knowing they have someone like Cedric Mullins (and others, like Mountcastle, Hays and Mancini) also helps ease the pain of things like blowing doublheader sweeps because you don't have Major League caliber pitchers.


I realize the words "playoff race" in Baltimore are foreign to us, but the American League wild card chase is really going to be interesting over the next few weeks.

Boston leads the pack at 81-63, but Toronto and New York both have 63 losses as well, just two fewer wins. Out west, the Athletics and Mariners are both at 77-65 and well in it, too.

The Yankees have three games remaining -- all on the road -- against the Red Sox and Blue Jays, as well as three games in Baltimore this coming week. Their schedule is fairly light overall, with six games in New York against Cleveland and Texas.

Toronto was reeling three weeks ago but have stemmed the tide and are now right back in it. They have a light schedule too, with seven games against Minnesota (3 home/4 away) and a season-ending three-game series in Toronto against the Orioles. They also have six games left (3 home/3 away) against Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox are in Seattle for a big 3-game series starting tomorrow, then enjoy an 8-game homestand that includes three games against the Orioles and Yankees and two interleague games with the Mets. They finish the season with three games in Baltimore and three games in D.C. against the Nationals.

If the goal is to get 92 wins (which the stat nerds are saying will be the number to secure a wild card spot), the Red Sox seem to have the inside track based on record and schedule. No matter what, though, these final weeks of the regular season are going to be a thrill if your team is in the hunt.

As for us in Baltimore. We're into football season now.

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start saving for that beach house


With the NFL season beginning today, we'll once again be happy to help you start putting money away for that beach house in Ocean City, Fenwick or, if things go really well, maybe something down in Charleston or even Marco Island.

If you're a longtime #DMD reader, you know the drill. Every Sunday during football season, we pick five games and give you the point-spread-winners so you can start putting money away for the beach house.

So without further adieu, let's get started with today's five picks. There's no better time to start saving than today, right?

PHILADELPHIA AT ATLANTA (-3.0) -- We don't know much about Atlanta, but this feels like a game that reminds them they're not very good. We don't think Philadelphia's going to be all that good either, but they'll be better today. We'll take the Eagles and the three points in a 24-17 win.

Can Matt Ryan and the Falcons win their season opener at home?

MINNESOTA AT CINCINNATI (+3.0) -- This one is a bit scary from a wagering standpoint. Don't the guys in Vegas know that Cincinnati was terrible last season and the Vikings were decent, with one of the best wide receivers in the entire league on their roster? Something smells fishy here, like they're dying for you to take Minnesota so they can laugh for hours after the Bengals pull off an upset win on opening day. We're not falling for it. No, we're not. The Vikings win and cover on the road, 33-17.

SAN FRANCISCO AT DETROIT (+8.5) -- There's an NFL team getting 8.5 points at home in the season opener? And you think we're passing on that tasty morsel? No chance. They might stink, but they're not losing by 9 points at home in their season opener. We'll take the Lions plus the 8.5 in this one, as San Francisco pulls out a 33-27 win.

DENVER AT N.Y. GIANTS (+3.0) -- Neither of these teams are going to be any good. The only reason anyone has any interest in this game at all is because it's the first game of the season. If this was being played in mid-November, it would be a snoozer. Is Denver really coming across the country and winning? We don't see it happening. The Giants won't win many games this season, but we're taking New York to cover and win today in a 20-17 victory.

CLEVELAND AT KANSAS CITY (-5.5) -- Well, here we go. Our annual flirtation with Baker Mayfield and the Browns. For some reason, we take these bums five or six times a year and every week we take them, they let us down. So, we might as well get it started in week one, right? This feels like one of those early season statement games where Cleveland gets to show everyone they're real. Kansas City might not necessarily be looking ahead to next week in Baltimore, but they also might not exactly be taking the Browns super-seriously today, either. We figure the Chiefs will pull this one out late (but wouldn't be surprised if the Browns pull off the upset) and cover on the nose, 30-24.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We're not over the moon in love with any of the five games above, honestly, but we'll go with the Lions to cover 8.5 points at home today. I mean, who can't do that, right?

Three of these picks -- Philly/Atlanta, San Fran/Detroit and Cleveland/K.C. -- were changed at 12:45 pm on Sunday after we consulted with our #DMD betting advisor, Bob Dinero.

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Saturday
September 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2574


saturday nuggets


There's probably no better indicator of attendance "issues" with a baseball team than a weekend evening home game. It's one thing to have, say, 10,000 people in the stadium on a Wednesday night vs. the Twins. It's another, entirely to have 10,000 in the ballpark on a Friday night no matter who the opponent.

My diehard Orioles fan-friend, Matt, was at the ballpark last night. Full disclosure, I'm not even in Baltimore this weekend, so I'm basing anything attendance/stadium related on his and other's observations. I'm just taking their word on the matter.

Cedric Mullins hit his 28th home run of the season last night but a small crowd of just under 12,000 was there to see it.

Earlier this week the Orioles set an all-time Oriole Park (low) attendance record when 4,965 people saw them play a home game against the Royals. That the dubious mark was set on a Tuesday night against the Royals probably matters a little bit. Bad night of the week and bad visiting team combines for -- you guessed it, bad attendance.

But last night was perhaps even more telling. 11,751 jammed their way into the stadium for a 6-3 win over Toronto. The game featured an interesting inning of friction between O's Manager Brandon Hyde and Toronto pitcher Robbie Ray, who believed the O's were stealing signs and was rather deliberate on the mound. It's not like the Blue Jays are a no-name team. They have, in fact, one of the game's brightest starts in Vlad Guerrero Jr.

A few weeks ago my son and I made a trip to OPACY specifically to see Shohei Ohtani pitch and hit for the Angels. The opposing player was the drawing card. The Blue Jays offer the same kind of thing; they have several young MLB players worth paying money to see.

11,751 was the attendance last night which, believe it or not, is about 1,000 people higher than the O's average attendance so far this season. So, while not being able to generate a crowd of 12,000 for a Friday night home game, the Birds did still manage to exceed their per-game-average-attendance number.

I bring all of this up because during our text exchange last night, Matt wrote something interesting.

"You wouldn't see attendance like this in a real sports city."

It's hear I'll tell you Matt is not from Baltimore originally. He came here to go to college at Johns Hopkins in 1993 and never left. So, even though he's a Baltimore sports fan through-and-through, with both an Orioles ticket plan and a slew of Ravens PSL's, Matt had to get his "Baltimore sports DNA" injected in him. He wasn't born with it.

Just for kicks, I looked up a couple of attendance figures from Friday night. The Cubs, who are lousy, drew 30,000 for a game in Chicago against the Giants. The Phillies, on the outskirts of being in a playoff/pennant race, drew 22,000 for a home contest against the Rockies. The Tigers, who stink, drew 18,000 in Detroit.

I classify Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit as "real sports cities". I assume you do as well. I don't know the exact definition of a real sports city, but it's some kind of combination of major league teams and big time college programs. I think we'd all agree Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia meet the requirement.

It was fitting that Baltimore and Pittsburgh both drew just under 12,000 fans last night. The Pirates brought in 11,808 for their game with the Nationals. Both the Orioles and Pirates are in the middle of a rebuilding project that hasn't yet taken hold. I don't know enough about the Pirates to comment on how their effort is going, but I can say, in Baltimore, that it's "starting to take shape."

Anyway, I shot Matt a text back and said, "Comparing Baltimore to anything that happens in New York, Philly or Chicago is stupid. Those three places have tens of millions more people to draw from than we do in Baltimore."

And the same goes for Pittsburgh as well. As I've said here before and many times previously during my radio days, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are so much alike it's crazy. Sure, they have a big time university in Pittsburgh and we don't have one of those in Baltimore (from a sports standpoint), and they have NHL hockey and we don't, but we're very similar in nature, even though Baltimore thinks its better than Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh thinks its better than Baltimore.

So seeing those two once-proud franchises laboring at the gate isn't all that surprising, both because their respective teams are struggling and the two cities themselves are trying to find their way as well.

We all know why attendance is sagging in Baltimore. Some of that has to do with the surroundings, some has to do with Covid-19 and some has to do with the fact that the team just isn't that captivating at the moment. You and I might take some joy in going out to watch guys like Cedric Mullins, Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays, but the majority of the people in town won't care about those guys until the team starts winning again.

Yes, there's been some collateral damage during this five years of losing. There were folks with corporate suites and tickets in 2018 or 2019 who no longer own them. Plenty of people (frankly, me included) who used to attend 12-15 home games a year in 2014, 2015, 2016, etc. now just make it out there 3-5 times a season. There are varying reasons for that, by the way. It's not just connected to the team's poor play on the field.

But the biggest attendance challenge for the Orioles remains mostly tied into how many people are available to actually attend the games. There are just not enough bodies around here to warrant drawing 25,000 per-game. I assume the same goes for the Pirates.

It's a market-size issue. That's always been what held Baltimore back in terms of the NHL and NBA. We just aren't big enough to support one of those franchises for 40 nights a year. And we certainly aren't big enough to support two teams 40 nights a year.

Yes, the O's have, in the past, averaged 25,000 fans per-game. It wasn't all that long ago, in fact. But a lot of things change in 5 or 10 years. Baltimore, for any of us who have lived here and through it, has really changed in the last 10 years. And the perception of Baltimore has changed even more, if that's possible. And neither the perception or the reality is good.

Still, though, I think the attendance numbers in Baltimore will slowly start to show an uptick once the team gets good again. People will come back. Winning doesn't cure everything, but it's a big part of it.

My friend Matt recently sold his business and is talking about moving to Charleston or Savannah to start "the back nine of his life" as he calls it. I can't wait for the day when the O's are 2.5 games up in the A.L. East and they draw 27,000 for a Tuesday night home game in September against the Mariners.

I'll blow up his phone just like he blows mine up now.

The tide will turn in Baltimore. The Orioles will be good again and people will go back. They might not ever go back to the tune of 30,000 or 35,000 a game, but these embarrassing crowds of 5,000 and 10,000 will be a thing of the past.


Patrick Reed continues to make news despite not being added to the Ryder Cup team this week by captain Steve Stricker.

According to Stricker during his Wednesday press conference, Reed "took the news like a true professional" when the captain made the difficult call and informed him he wasn't being added to the team.

Patrick Reed started another controversy late this week...surprising, right?

One day later, Reed "liked" social media messages that criticized Stricker for his decision.

That interaction with the fans -- via social media -- once again painted Reed in a bad light. He told Stricker one thing (according to Stricker's account) and then did pretty much the opposite on social media.

So, Patrick, are you OK with being passed over? Or not OK with it?

I checked the social media accounts of guys like Billy Horschel and Jason Kokrak and Webb Simpson -- three others who also got left off the team despite having a realistic chance at being added -- and didn't see that kind of kind of vitriol from those guys.

The interesting thing that Reed probably isn't considering is this: Brooks Koepka might not play due to an injury and would have to be replaced. With Covid-19 being what it is and all, there's a chance one or two players (from either team) might not be able to play and someone will have to substitute for him/them.

How does Stricker add Reed to the team now if, in fact, circumstances call for a replacement player?

It's pretty obvious that Reed is a lightning rod. He acts as if he isn't or doesn't care if he is, but the reality is that Reed is mostly disliked on TOUR and does little, if anything, to ingratiate himself into the team.

And when he gets left off the team, people are then waiting for his reaction. Will he handle it well? Or will he be a jerk? Stricker's comments on Wednesday seemed to indicate Reed was going to "handle it well". Reed's social media reaction suggested otherwise.

Now, we all know how Patrick can wiggle out of this dilemma if necessary. He'll simply say that someone else runs his social media account and that it wasn't him, specifically, "liking" those critical comments about Stricker and his captain's picks.

But we all know the truth. If Reed had an ounce of integrity, he would have made sure there weren't any disparaging comments (from his camp) posted in the aftermath of not being picked. If he had any integrity, Reed wouldn't "like" a social media message that creates a firestorm between him, the captain and the team.

Remember, by openly approving of someone criticizing Stricker's picks, Reed is essentially saying, "I don't think he added the right players," which is a direct slap at the likes of Schauffele, Final, Spieth, English, Scheffler and Berger.

That Patrick Reed doesn't "get it" shouldn't be all that surprising. He didn't "get it" this past January in La Jolla when he clearly picked his way around a rules violation by trying to pin the whole thing on a volunteer marshal who told him she didn't see his ball bounce some 20 or 30 yards away from her.

Reed's a terrific player. On merit alone, points wise, Stricker probably should have added him to the team.

But does Reed really deserve the honor of being on the team? Yes, it's a competition -- and an important one -- and we should want the 12 best players on the team. That much is true.

Every year at the start of the Calvert Hall golf season, I tell my team. "I'm not looking for the 12 best golfers at Calvert Hall. I'm looking for the 12 "right" golfers at Calvert Hall." There is a distinction, as subtle as it might be.

Reed might be one of the 12 best players, but is he one of the 12 "right" players?

Stricker said all the right things on Wednesday and pointed to Reed's recent bout with double pneumonia as the primary reason why he wasn't added to the squad.

What he didn't say was what we all know to be the truth; Reed wasn't added because he's not a "right" player. No one on the team wants him as his teammate. No one really wants to play with him. And there's also a chance Reed will do something in the matches to somehow light a fire under the European team, either by saying something dumb or doing something controversial during the competition itself.

When given the chance to take the high road on Wednesday, Stricker did just that. When given his opportunity to navigate that same road, Reed just couldn't do it.

It's hard to endorse Patrick Reed as a team player when one day after being left off, he resorts to creating friction with the captain.

And because of that, I assume Stricker isn't adding him no matter what happens with Koepka or anyone else. Captain America will be watching from the sidelines later this month. And that's right where he should be watching it.

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Friday
September 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2573


ummmm...about that ravens pick


So, earlier this week you might recall I authored something here that read like this:

"The Ravens are one-Gus Edwards-injury-away from being in deep doo-doo."

Well, did you happen to see yesterday's Ravens news?

It wasn't good.

Not only did Gus Edwards suffer a season-ending knee injury in Thursday's practice, but so too did cornerback Marcus Peters. You can debate which of the two damage the Ravens more, but the point is pretty obvious: losing Edwards is really bad and losing Peters could be really bad.

After Thursday's season-ending knee injury to Gus Edwards, the Ravens brought in Latavius Murray to beef up their sagging running game.

So, now what?

Well, for the short term the Ravens are going with some combination of Ty'son Williams, Le'Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, who rushed to Baltimore last night after the season-ending injury to Gus Edwards was announced.

The Ravens also signed veteran Latavius Murray overnight, the erstwhile New Orleans Saint who bolted out of there this week in a contract dispute.

I know what you're thinking.

I'm thinking the exact same thing.

"I sure hope Lamar Jackson is ready to run for his life in 2021."

I realize the injury to Williams, on top of the previous season-enders to J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill, puts the Ravens in a serious bind. Baltimore's running game, which was always going to be a strength this season, is now perhaps the team's biggest departmental weakness. For a team already somewhat-offensively-challenged, losing the running attack before week one is quite the crushing blow.

But this is the kind of stuff that either makes or breaks teams. The Ravens either burn-the-candle at both ends and figure out how to get the best they can out of what they have or they aren't able to do it and their season basically wobbles along and they wind up somewhere near .500.

I have no idea how it's going to go.

I'd love to give you a "hot take" on why the Ravens won't be impacted by these injuries and how they'll still finish 12-5 or 13-4 or, 14-3, even. If I had the gumption to make that proclamation, I would.

Alas, I don't know what to expect.

The Ravens could cobble something together for a month or so and hang in there and then fall apart over the last 8-10 games and I'd shrug my shoulders and say, "Yeah, that's about what I figured would happen."

I don't know what's going to happen. What I do know, though, is that the pressure to perform just went up a notch or two on guys like Lamar, Mark Andrews, Sammy Watkins, Hollywood Brown and Rashod Bateman, if he ever winds up playing in 2021.

If those guys don't have big years, the Ravens are in deep doo-doo.

I'm not changing my tune yet. I wrote here yesterday the Ravens will meet the Rams in the Super Bowl next February. I realize the loss of Edwards and Peters hurts them. But let's see what Eric DeCosta pulls out of his hat in the next month or so and we'll go from there.

Let's get ready to win a game in Las Vegas, huh?


Honestly, I'm not even sure this next entry is a "smart" one. Why on earth I would address this issue about Solheim Cup coverage is beyond me.

That said, I'm mostly answering the questions so we can put it to bed. I assume if I answer the questions, the topic will die a quick death.

A reader posed a question this week about #DMD's lack of coverage of the Solheim Cup, which concluded on Monday with the European women defeating the American women. I have no idea what the score was, but I think it was close.

The reader wondered why -- at a site which admittedly focuses on golf -- there was no mention or coverage of the Solheim Cup here.

I've thought about the answer for a few hours and tried to come up with a safe, creative, crafty way of providing full details on why the Solheim Cup wasn't covered here. And the reality is: There's no "creative way" to say it.

I didn't watch the Solheim Cup. I wasn't interested in the Solheim Cup. I didn't have any reason at all to "report" on the Solheim Cup.

I actually did see bits and pieces of it, by the way. It was on at Eagle's Nest throughout the Labor Day weekend and I would occasionally see it on one of the big screen TV's in the bar, but I never really took any time to legitimately watch it or find out who was winning or losing.

The Solheim Cup just didn't appeal to me in the least.

Lexi Thompson and her U.S. teammates lost last weekend's Solheim Cup to the Europeans.

Before you think it has anything to do with "women playing golf", let me remind you that other than the U.S. Senior Open this past July, which I obviously played in and therefore had a distinct interest in -- I've never really written about the Champions (Senior) Tour here, either.

It just doesn't interest me all that much, and they're men...and seniors...and I'm a man and a senior. You'd think it would interest me. But it doesn't. And, therefore, I don't write about it here.

I find the LPGA and the Champions Tour to be incredibly boring. Sorry. But I do. I will casually watch both of them but find myself quickly looking through the TV guide to see if Tin Cup or The Legend of Bagger Vance is on somewhere so I can watch one of those for the 144th time.

If you're one of those people who thinks the LPGA or the Champions Tour is "more interesting" or "easier to identify with" or "more enjoyable" than the PGA Tour, I don't know a nice way to say "you're out of your mind", so I'll just say it: You're out of your mind. The PGA Tour is the best professional golf tour IN THE WORLD and it's not even close. It just is what it is. The European Tour doesn't hold a candle to it, the LPGA Tour doesn't hold a candle to it and the Champions Tour doesn't hold a candle to it. There's the PGA Tour and about 20 lengths back there's everyone else. It's like comparing Aerosmith to Crack the Sky, all due respect to "Hot Razors", "Surf City" and John Palumbo.

I don't have an explanation for why I find the LPGA and Champions Tour boring, but I do. Just like I find women's college basketball incredibly boring. Ironically, though, I've always thought women's tennis is vastly underrated and a real joy to watch. If you gave me a choice between watching women's tennis and men's tennis, I'd watch the women every time. Every. time.

For better or worse -- and your mileage may vary here -- I write about things at #DMD that interest me. All of those things might not interest you, by the way. I get that. But I'm only going to write about things that I sorta-kinda know something about (insert your joke here, if applicable).

I've never written a word here about MMA or UFC, because -- total truth here -- I've never watched one full minute of a fight in my life. I don't like it, don't follow it and wouldn't know the first thing about it. So, I don't write about it.

I don't follow women's college basketball at all. I know all about UConn and Geno Auriemma and, well, that's about it. So I never write anything about women's college hoops here. It's boring to me. That doesn't mean I think the women are bad players. It just doesn't interest me. Heck, I'm not even sure men's college basketball interests me now like it did, say, 15 or 20 years ago.

So I didn't write about the Solheim Cup because I didn't follow it at all. I watch the LPGA these days and I'm ready to mow the grass in about 20 minutes. The same goes for the Champions Tour. It's just not exciting enough to keep my attention. So, you never see me come here on a Monday and write about Fred Couples or Ernie Els or Jim Furyk winning another senior golf event. I don't follow it and don't know who wins or loses. So I don't write about it.

And, yes, the Solheim Cup is women's golf's version of the Ryder Cup, but that doesn't mean it's must-watch TV. Not for me, anyway. It's mainly just really good players hitting 250 yard drives and 150 yard 6-irons -- and that just doesn't float my golfing boat enough to glue myself to the TV.

I'm not sure if that's the answer the reader wanted. I'm guessing it isn't. But that's what happened. I vaguely even knew the Solheim Cup was being played, frankly. If my club wouldn't have had it on one of the big screens, I probably wouldn't have seen one second of it over the weekend. And when I saw it, it did nothing at all for me, personally.

There might be other #DMD readers who find the LPGA interesting. If so, that's great. I was actually a pretty serious LPGA fan circa 2000. I could have named 25 or 30 players back then. I wrote here a few months back about my near brush with caddying in the LPGA event at Bulle Rock in the early 2000's. I remember meeting a young LPGA player at that event named Isabelle Beisiegel that year and thinking how cool it would be if your girlfriend or wife was better than you at golf and she actually had to give you a couple of strokes-a-side and the two of you could actually compete against one another. That was then.

Now, in 2021? I honestly don't know five women who play on the LPGA Tour. There are the Korda sisters. One of them is named Jessica. That much I know. I think one of them is really good and the other one is just pretty good, but I'm not which is which and I have no idea what the other Korda's first name is. I don't follow the LPGA enough to know.

I do know Lexi Thompson. And I guess you can still count Christie Kerr, even though she's 45 and on the 17th hole of her LPGA career. That's it. I think I know four women who play on the LPGA Tour. Women's golf just doesn't interest me.

And the UFC and MMA don't interest me, either. I couldn't name one fighter except Connor McGregor and have I zero idea if I even spelled his name right. It might be Conner MacGregor for all I know. Nothing gets written here about the MMA or UFC because I know zero about either of those entities.

If there's someone out there who wants to write about the LPGA Tour or the MMA or college lacrosse next spring, by all means, please check in. None of those three things interest me enough, personally, to write about them. If that's a character flaw, I'll own it. But I'm not going to try and buffalo you into thinking I know something about the UFC or MMA when I know nothing at all about it. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

So there's your answer. The short version: I didn't write about The Solheim Cup because I had no interest in it. I saw 10 minutes of it and fell asleep at the bar, basically. And I wasn't about to "cover it" and feign interest and knowledge when I possessed neither of those things.


drew and friends returns


Earlier this week I had an awesome sit down with Bill Bolander, the Chief Communications Officer of Jerry's Auto Group. Bill and I chat for a half-hour about the awesome Jerry's Car Show coming up in October, the Jerry's charity golf outing next month, and life in the auto industry in 2021.

Oh, and we mix in a lot of Ravens talk as well, although please note we had our discussion prior to yesterday's news about Gus Edwards.

Thanks to Bill and Jerry's Toyota for their longtime partnership with us here at #DMD.



Bill Bolander


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faith in sports


Today's edition of "Faith in Sports" takes us to the soccer field, where we meet U.S. women's soccer player Lauren Holiday, who takes five minutes to discuss her journey in the word of professional soccer and how her faith has impacted her along the way.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and our "Faith in Sports" segment, which you can find here every Friday.


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and....here we go!


Now that was a comeback worth staying up to watch.

With their World Cup hopes potentially on the line starting the second half last night in Honduras, the U.S. men's national team produced a wild second half rally to post a 4-1 win in the third game of their 14-game qualifying schedule.

It sounds weird to their World Cup hopes were "potentially on the line" just three games in, but a loss last night would have been disastrous for the Americans. They would have played the first three games and recorded just two ties (2 points) against three teams they were expected to defeat.

You can read how it all unfolded in Randy Morgan's game summary below.

I'm just here to say -- wow!

As I noted on Twitter in the aftermath of the comeback, that might have been the best and most important half of soccer I've personally witnessed from a U.S. men's team in my lifetime.

Trailing 1-0 at the half and looking completely out of gas, the Americans somehow gathered themselves and scored four goals in the game's final 45 minutes, including three in the last 15 minutes to put the game away.

Embattled U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter -- with many national soccer talking heads and former U.S. players suggesting he could be fired if the team failed to win last night -- made three key substitutions at halftime, benching three guys who were wildly ineffective in the first half (Brooks, Bello, Sargent) and bringing in three players who would turn out to be critically important in the comeback (Pepi, Aaronson and Antonee Robinson). Each of those three scored a second half goal, as fate would have it.

So from a 1-0 deficit to a 4-1 win, the U.S. might very well have rescued themselves last night in Honduras. It wasn't pretty, particularly in the opening 45 minutes, but in the end they picked up the three points they desperately needed.


It's Dallas vs. Tampa Bay tonight in the season opener of the 2021 NFL season. Can you believe it? Football. Is. Back.

The Ravens don't play until Monday night when they visit the Raiders in Las Vegas. Then it's the Chiefs in Baltimore the following Sunday night. A breather in Detroit awaits after the showdown with Patrick Mahomes. Can the Ravens start the campaign 3-0? I think they can.

Longtime #DMD readers will remember that in this space last year, I predicted the Super Bowl teams would be Kansas City and Tampa Bay. You might recall that the two Super Bowl teams for the 2020 season were, in fact, Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Do with that information what you may when you read my season preview below.

But if you fancy that second home over on Fenwick Island, you might want to pay attention today.

Let's start off with the NFC, shall we?

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to the Super Bowl? They're heavily favored, but #DMD says "no".

NFC East --

This division is wacko every year. The Cowboys seemingly always go into the season as the division favorite, then something goofy happens and they fall short. Last year, obviously, it was the injury to Dak Prescott. The Eagles have also been hot and cold in recent years. The Washington team was competitive last year but got blistered by the Buccaneers at home in the playoffs. The Giants stink.

We're going with Dallas (11-6) to win the division, followed by the Eagles (9-8), who narrowly miss out on the post-season. Washington will collapse down the stretch and finish 8-9. The Giants will go 6-11 and people will wonder how they won six.

You can bet on this: The Dallas at Philadelphia game on the final Sunday of the regular season will decide the division title.


NFC South --

This feels like such a slam-dunk for Tampa Bay that we're almost willing to say someone other than Tampa Bay actually winds up winning the division. But who? It can't be Carolina. And it likely can't be Atlanta, either. New Orleans? It's a new era down there without Drew Brees, but they do still have some offensive talent that will be difficult to stop.

We can't be talked out of it, though. Tampa Bay cruises to an easy division title at 12-5. Next up is New Orleans at 10-7. Losing Brees will have an impact. Atlanta and Carolina both finish at 7-9-1. Yes, their tie game comes against one another.

You can bet on this: The Saints will have a shot at making the playoffs but will lose their regular season finale at Atlanta to get nosed out via a tiebreaker.


NFC North --

Aaron Rodgers is apparently going to play for Green Bay. All season. At least that's what it feels like on September 9. There's not much else going on in the NFC North. Will any of the other teams threaten the Packers for the division crown? Detroit might not win 5 games. Chicago appears to be on the uptick but Andy Dalton's at the helm. Enough said there. And the Vikings have one of the game's best wide receivers and a semi-decent offense, but they're the Vikings.

We'll go with the Packers finishing 13-4. If Rodgers buys in and gives it his all for 17 weeks, they're a tough out. Minnesota is next at 10-7. They'll beat the Bears home on the final Sunday of the season to make the playoffs. Chicago somehow pieces together an 8-9 season. Detroit goes 4-13.

You can bet on this: There will be a Rodgers-related flare-up at some point in the season that will have to be addressed and rectified. He might even sit out a game "in dispute" over something stupid. But even that can't keep Green Bay out of the driver's seat in this lousy division.


NFC West --

This is going to be fun. Seattle? Good. Arizona? Good. San Francisco? Good. L.A. Rams? Good. Seriously, all four teams have a shot at being really solid in 2021. The big question, of course, centers on Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles. Does he have anything left after those years of misery in Detroit? Is the Seahawks window still wide open, or starting to shut? One thing for sure: The NFC's Super Bowl team is likely coming out of this division.

We're going a smidgen against the grain here and taking the Los Angeles Rams to win the division at 11-6. They'll win the division by virtue of beating the 49'ers in the regular season finale. Seattle also finishes 11-6 and makes the playoffs. The Cardinals go 10-7 and they, too, make the post-season. San Francisco is in it until the final couples of weeks and they finish at 9-8.

You can bet on this: The Cardinals will bust out to a 7-2 record and then hang on for dear life just to make the playoffs. Nothing's ever easy for those guys.


NFC playoffs --

Wild card: (2) Tampa Bay defeats Arizona (7)

(3) Los Angeles defeats Minnesota (6)

(5) Seattle defeats Dallas (4)

Division round: Seattle defeats Green Bay (1)

Los Angeles defeats Tampa Bay

NFC Championship: Los Angeles defeats Seattle


AFC East --

After years of everyone just typing in "New England" for their projected division winner, now we're shifting our automatic key tap to B-U-F-F-A-L-O. It's the Bills division in a romp. Miami might be OK. New England has a great coach but not much more than that. And, well, the Jets might be better. Next year.

We'll take Buffalo to cruise to a 13-4 record, helped by a 5-1 division mark. Miami comes in at 10-7 and makes the post-season. New England has a chance but crumbles late to finish 9-8. The Jets actually are better, but they still have work to do as they finish 7-10.

You can bet on this: The Bills will be 3-3 at the 6-game mark and will lose just once the rest of the way. They'll roll into the playoffs on a high.


Can Josh Allen and the Bills take it one step further in 2021? #DMD says they won't.

AFC South --

This feels like a pretty weak division, with Tennessee at the head of the class and the Colts laboring behind. The Texans and Jaguars won't combine for six wins. If the Titans stay healthy, they could be a real threat in the AFC.

We'll go with Tennessee as the division winner at 12-5. It's the Colts (10-7) after that, but Indy fails to make the playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker. Jacksonville goes 3-14 and they're not the worst team in the division. Houston finishes 2-15.

You can bet on this: Trevor Lawrence will show flashes of brilliance in his rookie season but he'll quickly find out the NFL isn't the ACC. Life will be tough for Lawrence in his first year.


AFC West --

Really? Do we have to do this? OK..... Kansas City (13-4) demolishes everyone, again, but a somewhat difficult schedule paves the way for a 4-loss regular season. They're easily the best team in the West, though. The Chargers are improving and make the post season at 10-7, while the Raiders (9-8) and Broncos (6-11) finish off the pace.

You can bet on this: The Chiefs will lose 2 home games in the 2021 regular season. I'm just sayin'.


AFC North --

And here we go. The preview everyone's been waiting for. This is a 2-team race. Baltimore and Cleveland will fight it out, Pittsburgh will hang around just long enough to collapse at the best time, and the Bengals will lose a lot of games.

We see the Ravens going 12-5 and winning the division by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Browns, who also finish 12-5. Baltimore goes 5-1 in the division while the Browns finish at 4-2. A pesky loss to the Steelers does the Browns in, division-title wise. Pittsburgh finishes 9-8 in Big Ben's last season and the Bengals somehow win 4 games but lose 13 others.

You can bet on this: The Ravens will beat the Chiefs in Baltimore on September 19. Done deal.


AFC playoffs --

Wild card round: (7) Los Angeles Chargers defeat Buffalo (2)

(3) Baltimore defeats Miami (6)

(5) Cleveland defeats Tennessee (4)

Division round: Los Angeles defeats Kansas City (1)

Baltimore defeats Cleveland

AFC Championship Game: Baltimore defeats Los Angeles


2021 NFL Super Bowl: Yes, the Ravens beating the Chargers in the AFC title game robbed the league of a Los Angeles vs. Los Angeles Super Bowl match-up -- in Los Angeles. How wild would that have been? Alas, the Rams get there but the Chargers don't, and the Ravens spoil the party with their 3rd Super Bowl title -- and 2nd for John Harbaugh -- with a 23-21 win over the Rams.


Yes, I have the Ravens winning the Super Bowl.

Before you start saying stupid stuff about a Baltimore guy picking a Baltimore team and how boring that is, I don't know that I've ever picked the Ravens to go the Super Bowl before this season.

I just have that feeling, as the saying goes, about Lamar putting together another MVP-kind-of-campaign and the Ravens defense will lead the way most of the season. Eric DeCosta will pry away a decent running back from someone at the deadline and the Baltimore offense will finally figure it out come playoff time. It will also help that the Chargers dispose of two pre-season favorites in the playoffs -- the Bills and Chiefs.

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stricker gets it right


Now all the U.S. Ryder Cup team has to do is play great golf. And the six players added to the team by Steve Stricker on Wednesday need to come through and show everyone why they were the right choice.

If only it were that easy, huh?

Captain Stricker did his part yesterday by making the right six picks. I personally would have preferred Jason Kokrak over Daniel Berger, but I'm not going to argue against Berger; he's a solid match play performer and his track record over the last three years warranted his selection.

In case you missed it, Stricker added the four we all knew he would add; Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Harris English and Tony Finau. The two additional picks were Berger and Scottie Scheffler, whom I campaigned for in this space earlier in the week. I love Scheffler's game and his calm demeanor. I think he'll be a great fit at Whisting Straits.

The biggest story of the day wasn't who got picked, but rather who didn't get selected, as Stricker opted not to add Patrick Reed.

Scottie Scheffler, who hasn't won a PGA Tour event yet, was a surprise captain's pick on Wednesday for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

A significant number of the questions directed at Stricker during the press conference centered on Reed, who missed two FedEx Cup events with double pneumonia.

Stricker said all the right things when asked about Reed.

"He's a terrific competitor and a guy who loves the event." (Yeah, if that was the case, why leave him off?)

"In the end, we just didn't feel like he played enough recently to warrant being added to the team." (Really? Three years of golf came down to tournaments that he missed because of an illness?)

"A lot of guys out there supported Patrick whenever his name was brought up." (I find that hard to believe, Captain.)

The guess here is Stricker and his assistant coaches were thrilled when Reed missed the Northern Trust and BMW Championship because it gave them the most convenient of convenient-outs with him. They used his illness as the main reason why he wasn't selected to the team.

Hogwash.

Reed was left off the team because no one wanted him on the team in the first place. If you think it's difficult finding someone to pair up with Koepka and his surly, abrasive nature or DeChambeau and his mercurial personality, you can't imagine how hard it would be to get someone to sign up with Reed.

When no one in the locker room is a fan of yours, it makes putting the pairings together very difficult. And that's likely what happened in this case. Whether some of the guys are still disgusted with what happened at Torrey Pines last January or if they simply told Stricker "don't take that guy", the bet here is that locker room talk persuaded Stricker and his assistant coaches to pass on Reed this time around.

This U.S. team is loaded. The challenge now will be developing the pairings.

Schauffele and Cantlay -- who were brilliant together at the last Presidents Cup -- are a lock to play together more than once.

Thomas and Spieth seem like a natural duo as well.

DeChambeau and Finau seem logical in the better-ball format and DeChambeau and Berger look good on paper in alternate shot.

If Dustin Johnson gets his driver back on track, I'd love to see D.J. and Scottie Scheffler in the better ball format.

And the sleeper pairing, to me, would be Morikawa and Koepka. Both are outstanding drivers of the golf ball. If their putters behave that week, they could be a very formidable team in either format.

You can pair English, Berger and Finau with anyone and they'll do fine.

Stricker made the right six picks on Wednesday. Now it's up to the players to deliver the kind of performances for him that their pedigree suggests they can.

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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 football season!

The calendar has mercifully reached September, so here in Baltimore we can stop pretending to care about the Orioles and baseball. The kids are back in school (hopefully for the whole year), the days are growing shorter, and the first hint of autumn is in the morning air.

That can mean only one thing: Football has returned for real.

You know what time it is: Game time!

The NFL is back, and that means 18 straight wonderful weeks of ignoring yard work, relatives and responsibilities. It’s time to waste Sundays eating bad foods, making terrible bets and dreading Monday mornings. It’s time for Red Zone binge-watching and listening to Tony Romo call out plays before the snap. It’s time to hate on your least favorite team all over again. It’s time to tailgate and grill meats and see old friends and channel surf. It’s time to be an irresponsible adult and lose all self-control over a bogus pass interference call.

Football is back. God bless America.

Let’s look at Week 1 and make some 15 second picks (meaning that I look at the matchup for 15 seconds and pick a winner). I’m not really into paralysis by over analysis, if you know what I mean.

Dallas at Tampa Bay: Dak Prescott and Tom Brady. The Tampa offense against the Cowboys atrocious but rebuilt defense. Too easy. Tampa Bay 34, Dallas 19

Philadelphia at Atlanta: Something tells me that the Eagles are going to be bad this year. Maybe it’s Jalen Hurts. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Gardner Minshew era is going to begin sooner than anyone thought in Philly, which means every wanna-be Rocky in South Philly will be rocking the Minshew Manchu by October. And I think Atlanta will be less than mediocre this year, but I’m going to go with the old veteran in Matt Ryan in Week 1. Atlanta 26, Philly 22

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers open their 2021 campaign with a tough test -- at Buffalo.

Pittsburgh at Buffalo: Am I allowed to root for a tie here? I loathe the Steelers and after last January I’m not too fond of the Bills. Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs is better than Big Ben to JuJu. The Ravens get a leg up on Pittsburgh early in the division. Buffalo 30, Pittsburgh 23

Minnesota at Cincinnati: The Bengals stink. They took a wide receiver who can’t receive over an offensive lineman to protect Joe Burrow, who’s already down to one good leg after half of his rookie season. Zac Taylor will be fired by Week 7. The Bengals are the Orioles of the AFC North. I’m no big fan of Kirk Cousins, but how could the Vikings lose such a gift opener, even on the road? Minnesota 31, Cincy 16

San Francisco at Detroit: I’ve always liked the Lions’ logo, so I have a soft spot in my heart for them. But I honestly don’t know anyone on their roster besides Jared Goff. I do know they cut both of the placekickers on their roster last week. It’s hard to win in the NFL without a reliable kicker. They’re no good. The 49ers, meanwhile, should bounce back from their Super Bowl hangover season to contend in the rugged NFC West. They kick off their campaign in a romp. San Francisco 34, Detroit 12

Arizona at Tennessee: I have an intense dislike of the Titans, for obvious reasons, but I’m suspicious about the Cardinals. Teams that seem to win the offseason headlines often disappoint. Kyler Murray is the dime store version of Lamar Jackson. I think his floor is lower than his ceiling is high, if that makes any sense. And Derrick Henry is just too much. Tennessee 29, Arizona 23

Seattle at Indianapolis: Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson against the Colts. Ugh. I won’t be watching unless there’s a late game cut-in because of some unforeseen drama. And Carson Wentz is so overrated. Is he even playing? Is Jacoby Brissett still there? Mark Hermann? God, I hate the Irsays. Seattle 27, Indianapolis 25

Los Angeles Chargers at Washington No-Names: I had a great time at the beach in Ocean City this past weekend catching up with one of my oldest friends. He grew up a Redskins fan in Bethesda. His intense hatred for Daniel Snyder made me feel better about being an Orioles fan. I asked him how long it takes to come up with a new nickname, and he said he was kind of partial to Football Team. I reminded him that it’s a really stupid and cheap copout. Pick a freaking name already. Who cares? This team will never win anything with that owner anyway. But man, Chase Young is legit. San Dieg-errrrr Los Angeles 28, Washington 20

New York Jets at Carolina: Do you really care? Honestly? Whatever happened to C.J. Mosely? Carolina 13, New York Jets 11

Jacksonville at Houston: Tyrod Taylor again! Remember when he was a Raven? That was like 18 years ago, wasn’t it? The Texans might be even more screwed up than the Snyders. Trevor Lawrence has some luscious locks. The AFC South is horrific. Thanks again to Paul Tagliabue for gifting a team to America’s city version of a Waffle House. No, I’m not still bitter. Why are you asking? Jacksonville 19, Houston 8

Cleveland at Kansas City: I know we’re all supposed to buy the hype about the Browns being one of the AFC contenders, but I just can’t do it. Baker Mayfield is overhyped, expectations are too high, and something tells me injuries are going to be a big part of their season’s story. Meanwhile, it’s the Chiefs. Are you really going to pick against Patrick Mahomes at home? They’re a track team in shoulder pads. Kansas City 43, Cleveland 24

Miami at New England: I refuse to believe that Mac Jones is Tom Brady 2.0. Last season forever answered the debate about whether it was the quarterback or the coach in New England. Don’t tell anyone, but I think the Dolphins are a dark horse in the AFC this year. Nobody’s talking about them. Miami 24, New England 20

Green Bay at New Orleans: This game has been moved to Jacksonville due to the devastation in the Crescent City from Hurricane Ida. That should relieve the loyal Saints fans of having to watch Jameis Winston throw 4 interceptions in person. There’s an old axiom about picking football games: Look at the quarterbacks first. So yeah, I’m going with Aaron Rodgers here. Shocking, I know. Green Bay 38, New Orleans 17

Denver at New York Giants: These teams played in a Super Bowl a long, long time ago. It snowed here in Baltimore that day, and after the game that night, we decided to go sledding on Suicide Hill at the old Baltimore Country Club in Roland Park. I drove the snow-covered streets of North Baltimore skillfully until the last turn before the parking lot. I zigged when I should have zagged and we wound up bumper-first in a snowbank. I left my car there for two days. That memory is far more interesting than this game will be. New York Giants 23, Denver 13

Chicago at Los Angeles Rams: I will never understand NFL coaches. Why on earth would you draft a guy like Justin Fields and then sit him behind Andy Dalton to start your season? Aren’t you supposed to try to win games? And trading for Matthew Stafford, and throwing in a couple future first-rounders to get him? What. The. F. Thank you to the executives at NBC for giving us this trash pile in prime time. Matt Nagy and Sean McVay deserve the misery they’re both about to endure this season. You get what you pay for. Los Angeles Rams 25, Chicago 16

Baltimore at Las Vegas: Let me take this opportunity to remind everyone that Lamar Jackson is 30-7 in the regular season as a starting quarterback. He’s also one season removed from being the MVP. Yet somehow people who should know better don’t even have him ranked in their Top 10 players in the entire league? He’s 24 years old! I really don’t understand people sometimes…

What’s unusual about the Ravens since Lamar took the reins is that they’re unconventional by being conventional. They just run it at you, then run it at you again, then run it at you some more. Along the way they pile up lots of points. 999 of them over the past two seasons, to be exact. And this year’s defense looks to be faster and more explosive. There’s a lot of talent all over the field.

I think the Ravens run away in the AFC North with a 13-4 record. It starts Monday night against an overmatched Raiders defense that will be crying for help by the start of the 4th quarter.

Ravens 38, Las Vegas 17

Enjoy your Sunday everyone. Remember to get up and stretch a few times, maybe even walk around the yard and let the dog out. And mix a little bit of fruits and vegetables into your snacking.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. 4 - honduras 1


The US men traveled to Honduras last night for the last of their three qualifying matches in September. In a game that tested the nerves of the team, coach and fans, the Americans prevailed 4-1 for a huge win that was more difficult than the scoreline indicated.

Missing multiple key players, Gregg Berhalter made some significant changes to the formation and starting lineup. The US was missing Gio Reyna and Sergino Dest due to injuries and Weston McKennie due to a violation of team rules. The team switched to a three center back formation to start this game with Mark McKenzie starting alongside John Brooks and Miles Robinson. In midfield Berhalter went with James Sands and Kellyn Acosta, moving Tyler Adams out to right back. Youngsters George Bello and Ricardo Pepi got their first starts in qualifying at left back and striker respectively and Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent both started in attack.

The Americans got off to a decent start in a frenetic, end to end first twenty minutes. In the opening stage, neither team had much possession with each pressing high and hard and playing direct in attack. Each side had a few half chances but nothing too dangerous. Around the 15th minute Kellyn Acosta hit a nice cross that went just over an open Christian Pulisic. In the 23rd minute the US had another good chance when a cross found Josh Sargent on the back post and he headed it back for Ricardo Pepi, but the shot went over the goal.

One of three second-half substitutions, 18 year old Ricardo Pepi scored a goal and had a key assist last night in Honduras as the U.S. won, 4-1.

At that point the US seemed comfortable in the game, but the tables quickly turned. Just a few minutes after the Pepi miss, the US was shocked by a Honduras goal. A bad giveaway in midfield by Josh Sargent led to a counter attack that Miles Robinson snuffed out. However, Honduras was able to retain possession and eventually found space down the left wing and hit a good cross to an open runner in the box who headed it past the goalie.

After the goal the US team seemed to completely fall apart. Honduras dominated the game for large stretches for the remainder of the first half as the Americans looked shell shocked and lost. They were lucky to contain the lead to one goal heading into halftime.

The poor showing in the first half prompted Berhalter to make three subs at halftime. Brenden Aaronson, Sebastian Lletget, and Antonee Robinson came on for Josh Sargent, John Brooks and George Bello.

Antonee Robinson had an immediate impact on the game, scoring just three minutes after entering to level the score for the US. Ricardo Pepi made a good play to hold up the ball and lay off to Christian Pulisic who drove through several defenders and passed wide to Lletget for a cross into the box. The cross deflected off a defender and Robinson poked it past the keeper.

The goal energized the US and lifted spirits. From that point on they had the better of the game. Christian Pulisic in particular was improved in the second half, causing Honduras issues every time he got on the ball. He had a good shot a few minutes after the goal and drew several fouls that broke up promising attacks. Then, in what looked like it could be a fatal blow to the US, Pulisic went down after a kick to the leg and was forced to leave the game with an injury in the 60th minute.

Four minutes later Honduras nearly took the lead, hitting a low hard header that forced a tough save from Matt Turner. The US dug deep after that and bounced back with great effort after losing their captain.

Kellyn Acosta and Tyler Adams both had shots from outside the box that forced saves from the Honduran keeper. Then in the 75th minute, the US finally broke through and found the goal they needed. Some good ball movement quickly switched the play from the left to the right and recent substitute Deandre Yedlin got it on the right wing and swung in a nice cross that found Pepi in the box and the 18 year old hit a strong header in for a goal in his debut appearance.

From there on the US was able to take advantage of a Honduras team that was pressing to get back in the game. The Americans added another goal in the 87th minute when Cristian Roldan poked the ball away from a defender and Pepi picked it up and drove into the box then layed it off for Brenden Aaronson who fired a shot past the goalie. Sebastian Lletget added the capper in injury time, putting in a rebound after the keeper saved another Pepi shot.

At the end of the day the US got the win and the three points they needed. The extra goals could prove important down the road if the goal differential tiebreaker comes into play. The impressive score line does not exactly represent the balance of the game in this one. For long periods of the first half Honduras didn’t just contain the US, they were the better team and the US looked out of sorts.

The team showed determination and resolve to bounce back in the second half, especially after losing their most dangerous player. While Berhalter may not have gotten the starting lineup and formation correct, he did make impactful substitutions to get the US back in the game. There will be questions about the tactics and player selections coming out of this window, but it is still clear that the players are playing hard for the coach.

Among the best for the US tonight was 18 year old debutante, Ricardo Pepi. There was much excitement that the US had landed Pepi over Mexico and he justified that sentiment with this performance. He was my man of the match in this one, with a hand in each of the four US goals. With the lack of production from the striker position, Pepi has staked a claim to that job and hopefully can build off this performance.

In addition to Pepi, Antonee Robinson had an impressive performance, lifting the team after his second half substitution. He was good against Canada as well, so it was curious that he didn’t get the start, but it could have just been a case of load management. Miles Robinson and Tyler Adams were both solid again as they have become the cornerstones of this team’s defense. Christian Pulisic had some poor touches in the first half but really carried the US in the second half until leaving with an injury. Hopefully it is nothing serious and he is ready to return in October.

This game ended up as a microcosm of the entire three game window. A poor start and long nervous middle section ended with the result the team needed. The win in Honduras puts the US back on track for qualification. They now sit in third place of the eight team group, tied on points with Canada and Panama and only Mexico having more points. We will cover the larger lessons from this three game window later in the week.

For now the players head back to their clubs having gotten the “cleat of reality” in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying and surviving with their qualification hopes intact. The best case scenario is that this young team takes this as a learning experience and returns in October more prepared for the level of competition, with several of their star players back from injury.

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Wednesday
September 8
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#2571


we welcome new friends


Things are hoppin' here at #DMD.

Just in time for the opening of football season, the Ryder Cup and the start of the baseball playoffs, we welcome a new contributor to these parts starting today.

Please join me in welcoming "The Stats Nerd".

No, he doesn't mind being called a nerd. He kind of likes it, actually. You see, he's the guy next to you in the bar who giggles under his breath when you're screaming at the TV -- "Harbaugh is sooooo stupid. Why would you go for it in this situation?"

He's giggling because he's already computed the numbers in his head -- during the minute and half you were barking at the TV -- and he knows that Harbaugh is actually right for going for it in that situation.

"It's a numbers game," The Stats Nerd will often say.

Starting with today's excellent explanation and analysis of some critical PGA Tour statistics, The Stats Nerd will drop by on a weekly basis and shed some light on the world of sports and explain to you why "this and that" happened the way it did and how it was either the right decision or wrong decision based on -- you guessed it, the numbers.

We're excited to have The Stats Nerd with us. I'm sure you're going to enjoy his work during the upcoming NFL season. And just remember, he's probably right a lot more often you are. Or...the numbers are, at the very least.


You probably know by now the Ravens signed Le'Veon Bell on Tuesday, filling the spot vacated by running back Justice Hill, who suffered a torn achilles tendon last Thursday.

I expect very little out of Bell. I'm not trying to denigrate him or his skill set. Before he sat out in a contract dispute back in 2018, he was a premier running back in the league. But that year away from the game and a subsequent money-grab with the Jets derailed his career. Last year, the Chiefs took a chance on him and wound up barely using his services.

I can't imagine the Ravens will get much out of Bell. His best days are clearly behind him. But if they're able to extract a few decent games out of him and a touchdown or two, he'll serve the Ravens well until Eric DeCosta tries to acquire a real running back at the trade deadline.

You can count on Bell if you want. More power to you. But I suspect he'll be gone by Thanksgiving.


The Orioles picked up a nice win last night at Camden Yards, beating the Royals, 7-3. The crowd was 4,981.

A friend texted me at 7:04 pm with a picture. "There aren't 1,000 people here," he wrote. Indeed, the gathering at OPACY was sparse. In the picture he sent I counted 18 people in one lower deck section near first base. 18...

"What on earth are you doing down there?" I asked him.

It turns out he knew the person singing the national anthem. "I wouldn't be here otherwise," he replied.

Michael Baumann was a 3rd round draft pick in 2017; last night he made his Major League debut for the Orioles at Camden Yards.

After the third inning he sent another picture. There were a handful more people in the section, but not many more than that. "If they announce more than 2,000 people here they're out of their minds," he wrote.

The American League, of course, announces attendance based on tickets sold, not bodies in the seats. So it's entirely possible that 4,981 tickets were sold for the game but only 1,8000 people bothered to enter the ballpark and watch it.

It makes no sense to go on and on about attendance at this point. We all know the truth. The team's averaging 10,000 people per-game this year, although it's fair to note there were Covid-19 restrictions in place for the first two months of the campaign. Interest is down. School's back in session now, so midweek games are going to really suffer, attendance wise.

But someday down the road, if the team ever contends into September again, people will come back. Will they return en masse to the tune of 40,000 per-game? Never. Those days are long gone in the regular season. But when the Birds make the playoffs again, the stands will, of course, be packed.

You'll notice above I wrote "But when the Birds make the playoffs again", not "But if the Birds make the playoffs again."

I know they're in the American League East and I realize it's a tough road in that division. I've watched the Orioles throughout this awful five years of baseball they've produced and I know there are nights when it looks like they'll never be any good again. But they will be good again. I do believe that. It could take an ownership change to completely turn the tide in their favor, but little by little, if you watch closely, they are showing signs of improving.

Cedric Mullins is apparently the cornerstone of the rebuilding project and, while he might not have the flair and personality of Adam Jones, he's certainly putting up better-than-Jones numbers at the plate this season. I tend to use the word "apparently" quite often with young players because you never know what's going to happen with them. This year they have it, next year they don't. But I think Mullins is the real deal. Realer than the real deal, if you will.

Michael Baumann made his MLB debut on the mound last night and picked up the win with 3.2 innings of excellent relief work. He arrived amid great fanfare after a nice run in the minors this summer and was, for one night, a shining light. Whether he turns into anything special remains to be seen. Pitchers are a weird lot. They can come up and be great for a while and then reality hits and they become Brian Matusz.

But if Baumann is the first of several "good arms" to make it to Baltimore, we'll remember that night at Oriole Park in September of 2021 when a couple of thousand people were there for his debut against the Royals. He was really good on Tuesday evening. I understand it was the Royals and all, but they have guys on scholarship too, you know.

As the 9th inning rolled around and the O's were polishing off a 7-3 win, the MASN announcing team of Geoff Arnold and Ben McDonald gushed over the work of pitcher Tyler Wells.

"This is the start of a great career for this young man," Arnold predicted.

"You can just tell he's going to be a great one," McDonald added.

"In his first career-save last week in New York, he stared down Judge and Stanton in the 9th inning of a one-run game," Arnold reminded us.

That's when it hit me.

These guys have been calling games for the Orioles all season long. After last night's win, they've called a grand total of 44 victories out of 127 games. I know they make good money for doing what they do, but 44-93 makes for one long season of "work".

So, while I did snicker a little at their proclamation that Tyler Wells is on the path to a "great career" having earned just one save thus far, I get it. And I respect it. Night after night, guys like Arnold, McDonald, my old radio pal Rob Long, Brett Hollander, Kevin Brown and Melanie Newman have to figure out a way to paint a favorable picture of what's going even when the team is terrible.

I have no idea if Tyler Wells is the next coming of Zach Britton or if he'll be good for a year or two and then flame out, but watching him pitch last night and hearing Arnold and McDonald praise him was good enough for now. I hope they're right.

But even if they turn out to be wrong, I understand why they're doing what they do.

There were times in the past when the O's would lose 11-2 and Rick Dempsey would start the post-game show blaming the umpires for a bad call in the first inning that "set the stage for another loss". Watching that kind of stuff night after night was tough. But hearing Arnold and McDonald talk about a promising young player felt different to me, even though it probably bordered on the same kind of "homerism" I would routinely point out about Dempsey.

I have no idea when the Orioles will actually be good again, but it's on the horizon. It might not happen in 2022 or 2023. It may take until 2024 or 2025 to get everything to percolate efficiently. But it's starting to take shape now.


With the NFL season beginning tomorrow night in Tampa Bay, both Mark Suchy and I will have extensive football coverage here tomorrow at #DMD. Mark will tackle week one of the 2021 season while I'll take a bigger, broader look at the entire regular season and playoffs.

Those of you who like to wager and are in need of a new home on Kiawah Island -- which is where I'll be buying mine -- will serve yourselves well to follow along with what Mark and I provide you tomorrow. Or you can just keep going to work every day and grinding way at that 9-5 job for another 15 years. Your choice...

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JOHN DARCEY
on the Ravens and the NFL


Baltimore native John Darcey follows the Ravens on a daily basis and vows to "tell it like it is" here at #DMD in 2021-2022.


*Author’s note: In my article last week, I misstated that Jamal Lewis torn his ACL in a joint practice against Washington. The injury actually happened when Kelly Gregg hit him during training camp. The injury Lewis suffered against Washington was a dislocated elbow, during a joint practice in 2000. I apologize for the error*

Over the weekend, I sat down and actually took a look at the Ravens 2021 schedule.

This was not the first time I had seen the schedule as I looked at it when it was released in early May. But, outside of planning possible road trips, I am not one to over analyze an NFL schedule in May.

And I am certainly not spending time trying to predict a team’s win-loss record then either. But now, as we sit here in September and have gotten through training camp, preseason and most rosters seem to be finalized, you can now start to take an educated guess as to how your team will do.

I am not going to sit here and go through all 17 games because it is just as pointless to predict games for December in September as it was in May. But what I did do, is evaluate the schedule up until the Ravens week 8 bye.

Of course, one major injury, for the Ravens or their opponent, wipes out this whole exercise, so please keep that in mind. With the season starting this week, and Fall bringing eternal optimism for every team around the league, let’s get you set with where the Ravens could be standing around 4:30pm on October 24.

#DMD's John Darcey sees Derek Carr and the Raiders nipping the Ravens on opening night next Monday.

Week 1 at Vegas -- Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I am calling this a loss. Don’t underestimate the significance of a team opening up a new stadium in Primetime on Week One. Yes, the Raiders new home opened up last year, but there were no fans. The fans will be there and the atmosphere will be electric.

The Raiders are not a good team, but in Week One, they haven’t realized they are supposed to just be a .500 team at best. Additionally, the questions I have about the Ravens offense (more on that below) leads me to be more skeptical. And don’t forget who they play Week Two, which could lead them to peaking ahead.

Week 2 vs. Chiefs -- We’ve seen this story the past three years. The Chiefs are the Ravens kryptonite. Until they can actually beat the Chiefs, I’ll take Kansas City to beat Baltimore every time.

Week 3 at Detroit -- Ravens get their first win of 2021 on the road. The Lions are rebuilding and the Ravens, coming off back to back losses, are hungry. I would not be surprised if the defense pitches a shutout in this game.

Week 4 at Denver -- Back to back road games can be challenging and I am intrigued by Denver. The Broncos are an unknown commodity. I’m not sure what to expect from them. On paper, their offense is promising, with Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant and Javonte Williams. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the question mark. He looked good in New Orleans two years ago and was ok in Carolina last year.

The offensive weapons he has in Denver are a major upgrade over last year so let’s see if he can get back to 2019 Teddy. The defense for the Broncos is stout. But, I just can’t see the Ravens falling to 1-3, so they’ll leave Denver with a win.

Week 5 vs. Indy -- This is a win. Sunday night, home game, the atmosphere will be through the roof. I totally get that Carson Wentz is reunited with his former OC, Frank Reich, who he had tremendous success under in Philadelphia. The Colts offensive line is one of the best in the league and their defense is top 10. For the Colts to leave with a win, Wentz needs to play like he did in 2017 and 2018. We haven’t seen that in 3 years and I don’t have much faith that he can beat Lamar in Baltimore. Ravens by 10.

Week 6 vs. Chargers -- If this game was in L.A. or even here at 4:25pm or later, I am probably taking the Chargers. But at last, this is a 1pm eastern game. I have never been a fan of west coast teams coming east for a 1pm game. The Ravens squeak this one out, in somewhat of a shootout, maybe by 3 or 4 points. Though come 4:30 on October 17, if you told me the Chargers won, I would believe it and not really be all that shocked.

Week 7: Vs. Bengals -- Not much to say here, except “this is a win.” I really like what Cincy is building on offense with Burrow, Mixon, Chase, Higgins and Boyd, but they can’t beat the Ravens. Baltimore heads into the bye with a win.

That puts the Ravens at 5-2 heading into the bye, which is a realistic scenario and probably their ceiling as to where they will be record wise. But circle the Broncos and Chargers games, as they are the two games that could challenge this prediction.

Level of concern for Monday night vs. Las Vegas: As I mentioned above, I don’t have a good feeling at all about Monday night.

Let’s start with the offensive side of the ball. It really all begins with the offensive line and can they keep Lamar clean in the pocket? As always, the Ravens play everything close to the vest, and have yet to name a starting left guard.

My money says Ben Powers gets the start and remains there until rookie Ben Cleveland is ready to move in. With that assumption, or even if Cleveland gets the start, you are looking at trotting out four guys who are new to the team’s offensive line or position.

Bozeman started all last year at left guard, but now slides over to center. Kevin Zeitler and Alejandro Villanueva, two free agents the Ravens signed, will hold down the right side of the line. Zeitler is a proven veteran and really the only one I have no concerns about. Villanueva, also a veteran, comes in and is learning a new position at right tackle after years playing the left side. In all fairness, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire in the preseason or during training camp. Ronnie Stanley, who made a brief appearance in the third preseason game is coming off major surgery.

Apart from all those variables and the fact that injuries affected most of these starters during the summer, how much time has this unit actually worked together? Getting reps together as a unit is key for the cohesiveness of how this group will be able to do their job and do it well.

Even if John Harbaugh and Greg Roman decided who the starting five lineman would be after the Panthers game, that only gave them roughly two weeks to work together. To me, that does not seem like enough time to have them running like a well-oiled machine on September 13.

While we are talking offense, the passing game remains just one big question mark. Here is what we do know: Mark Andrews will catch six balls for about 80 yards and score a touchdown. But outside of that, can anyone really tell me they feel confident with the rest of the skill position players?

Hollywood Brown just returned to practice last week after missing nearly all summer with an injury. Sammy Watkins is pretty much in the same boat. And honestly giving his injury history, if he plays eight games, that would be a win. And those two are the starters! Behind them are Tylan Wallace, James Proche and Devin Duverney; a rookie and two unproven second year guys. They flashed at times in the preseason but that was against backups.

No one is mistaking the Raiders for the 2000 Ravens, but given the questions around this offense, coupled with the lack of running back depth behind Gus Edwards, I have to wonder, where are the points coming from? And please...before you say Justin Tucker...stop.

One concern on the defensive side, is who will cover Darren Waller? This is usually the assignment Jimmy Smith has when facing big, athletic tight ends. With Smith out for the game, who does Wink use? For all the growth Patrick Queen seems to have done over the offseason, I don’t want a linebacker trying to cover him.

So who shadows Waller?

Marcus Peters? Too small.

Marlon Humphrey? Maybe, but he is also the team’s best outside corner.

A safety, say DeShon Elliott? Probably a little too slow. And I don’t think you want a rookie or second year player like Ar’darius Washington or Geno Stone trying to do it, presuming they both dress for the game.

If you were hoping to go to bed early Monday thinking the Ravens had an easy win to start the season, I would pump the breaks and get the coffee ready!

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


Now that the PGA Tour season is over, it’s a good time to look at the season in totality and see if we can identify any trends. The best way to do that is to look at the numbers. Let’s dive into season long Strokes Gained (SG) and see what we can glean.

First, a quick primer on the category of “strokes gained” as a metric.

Essentially SG (in all of its iterations) measures a player’s performance against the field average. If a player performs better than the field, he is considered “plus” in SG and vice versa. SG is a far better measurement than the traditional metrics from the past (Greens In Regulation, Fairways Hit, Total Putts, etc.) because it allows us to compare that player’s performance against his competitors.

If Player A hits his irons better than Player B, SG will tell us that unquestionably. Saying “I hit 11 greens” is fine but doesn’t tell us anything about that player’s RELATIVE performance. Enough on that for now.

Drive For Show and Putt for Dough - NOPE!

When I played golf as a junior, I heard this all the time. It was ubiquitous. It’s also not really true. It’s basically something old guys said because no one knew any better.

Below are the top 10 leaders in Shots Gained Off The Tee for the just completed season (note: all stats are prior to the short field Tour Championship):

Bryson DeChambau (3)

Jon Rahm (1)

Sergio Garcia (40)

Rory McIlroy (20)

Viktor Hovland (16)

Jhonattan Vegas (64)

Brooks Koepka (13)

Corey Conners (25)

Bubba Watson (68)

Cameron Champ (59)


And here are the top 10 leaders in Shots Gained Putting over the same period:

Louis Oosthuizen (7)

JT Poston (77)

Ian Poulter (78)

Jason Kokrak (15)

Patrick Reed (24)

Zach Johnson (105)

Rhein Gibson (197)

Brendan Todd (93)

Cameron Smith (9)

Harris English (8)


As you can probably guess, the number in parentheses is rank on the money list (again from prior to the Tour Championship). Thus the average money rank position of the SG Off The Tee group is under 31. The average rank for the SG Putting group is over 61.

Interestingly, 3 of the top 10 on the money list are on the top 10 SG putting list. However, it is important to note that all 3 of those players are also ranked in the top 50 of at least one of the ball striking categories: SG Off The Tee or SG Approach (Reed and Kokrak fit that bill too). In fact, if we look at ball striking more generally as a predictor of success, the results are even more clear. Top 10 in Shots Gained Tee to Green for the year:

Jon Rahm (1)

Colin Morikawa (4)

Justin Thomas (5)

Bryson DeChambau (3)

Patrick Cantlay (2)

Keegan Bradley (45)

Paul Casey (33)

Rory McIlroy (20)

Brooks Koepka (13)

Corey Conners (25)


The average money rank of this group is 15! Good luck beating that group long term with just a good putting season. (Hint: It ain’t happening).

Now this is certainly not meant to imply that putting is not important. Obviously you have to get the ball in the hole to score well, win tournaments, etc.

But it is not as important over a large sample size as ball striking. It’s simply not close. What generally ends up happening is events are won by the player that putts best amongst the group of the best ball strikers.

At Caves Valley, both Bryson and Cantlay rode epically hot putters into their playoff. Going into Caves Valley they were ranked 36th and 61st respectively in SG Putting. At Caves they were 1st (Cantlay) and 2nd (Bryson) in SG putting picking up an astounding 14.6 and 9.4 strokes on the field.

Neither of those putting performances is remotely sustainable over a large sample size. But in that week, lights out putting coupled with their typical strong ball striking led to two players distancing themselves from the field.

Still not convinced? How about this fact? Since 2011, arguably the two best players in the world have been Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. Throw in Bubba Watson at the beginning of that time frame and you have 3 elite golfers. Over that 10+ year stretch one of them has been ranked 1st or 2nd in SG Off The Tee 15 times (obviously multiple years two of these guys were ranked 1 and 2). Over that same period those three players have ranked in the TOP 10 of SG Putting exactly ZERO times.

So really the appropriate axiom should be Drive for Dough, Putt for More Dough. Ball striking is a far better predictor of long term success than putting. That’s true now and likely was in the past though we don’t have SG statistics to confirm. If you want to improve your game or help a junior develop, focus on ball striking. It is the holy grail to becoming a successful player at any level.


As we move into the NFL season this weekly column will focus on analytical and statistical mistakes made each and every Sunday. These mistakes cost teams increased chances to win games. The errors come in many forms but I will focus on the most egregious errors that materially impact game outcomes. If there are specific issues you would like addressed, feel free to post them in the comments.

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Tuesday
September 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2570


things you probably didn't think you'd hear...


Labor Day has come and gone. Where did the summer go? Of course, we ask ourselves that right about this time every year, don't we?

"Summer" isn't technically over yet, but most of us consider the coming and going of Labor Day as the signal that summer's in the rear view mirror and fall is right around the corner. I love Maryland's autumn weather, so count me in as someone looking forward to September, October and November in these parts.

While hanging out at the Eagle's Nest pool yesterday it got me thinking about "Things you probably didn't think you'd hear in 2021."

I know, personally, I didn't think I'd hear, "This is the 2:51 pm tee time for the first round of the U.S. Senior Open. Will you please welcome, from Parkville, Maryland, Drew Forrester." I hoped I would hear that someday, of course, and entered the qualifier on June 14 even dreaming I might make the event, but hearing the first tee starter say it on July 8 was really special.

Enough about me, though. Here are some other things I assume you and I didn't think we'd hear in 2021.


"The Ravens are one Gus Edwards injury away from being in deep doo-doo this season."

So, I get it, running backs in the NFL are sorta-kinda a dime a dozen. You can add one or two here and there and get by with them for a few weeks or maybe even a month. But the reality is one of the reasons running backs are a dime a dozen is because they wear down so quickly that a handful of them are always available on the open market.

Lamar Jackson might actually "need" t be a running back in 2021 if the injury bug continues to bite the Ravens.

The Ravens are in trouble if Gus Edwards gets hurt. Not "failing to make the playoffs" kind of trouble, but their offense will be under even more pressure if something happens to Edwards. And if Le'Veon Bell or Devonta Freeman or someone else they bring in to back up Gus-the-Bus can't do the job, things are going to get dicey.

Losing J.K. Dobbins was, on a scale of 1-to-10, a "7". He played a big role in the Baltimore offense. Losing Justice Hill was a "5", but only because they already lost Dobbins. Add those up and it's a "12". I don't know what that means, actually. But we both know losing one guy is tolerable and losing two guys really hurts.

The irony of it all, I guess, is that people constantly quip about Lamar Jackson being a "running back". It turns out the Ravens might very well need him in that position if something happens to Gus Edwards.

Let's hope Lamar can just focus on being a quarterback this season.


Another thing we thought we wouldn't hear in 2021.

"The U.S. Ryder Cup team might very well be better off without Patrick Reed."

From the embedded-ball controversy in San Diego last January to his spotty play throughout most of the summer to the double-pneumonia condition in late August, Reed seems like a guy the U.S. might be better off without later this month when the Ryder Cup gets played at Whistling Straits.

There are already enough pairings issues in the U.S. team. Who plays with Bryson? Who plays with Brooks? With Dustin driving the ball so poorly, who do you team him up with? Will Morikawa's game come around or might he be a guy who only plays once before the Sunday singles? So many questions.

Daniel Berger finished 12th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. Is that enough to earn him a captain's pick by Steve Stricker?

But the big question centers on Reed. If he's added by Steve Stricker, that leaves only two other captain's picks, assuming, of course, Stricker's adding Schauffele, Finau and Spieth.

Without Reed, Stricker has some flexibility to add a guy like Jason Kokrak or Scottie Scheffler, two big bombers off the tee who don't have Ryder Cup experience but are among the best drivers of the golf ball on TOUR.

The bet here is that Reed gets by-passed by Stricker. We're thinking the six captain's picks will be: Schauffele, Finau, Spieth, Harris English, Daniel Berger and Webb Simpson.

English won twice in 2021 and really deserves a spot on the team based on his summer of '21 play. Berger is a solid match play performer who finished 12th in the points standings. There's no hard and fast rule that says you have to go "by the numbers", but Berger put together -- albeit quietly -- a nice two-year run leading up to this year's Ryder Cup. And Simpson can play with anyone and serves the team equally in either the four-ball or foursomes format.

Me? Who would I take? I'd obviously go with the three already locked in: Schauffele, Finau and Spieth. And then I'd take English, Jason Kokrak and Scottie Scheffler. I like players with good driving stats who also make a lot of birdies and both Kokrak and Scheffler fit that profile. I realize they'd be rookies and all, but golf is golf. You tee it up, you drive it far, you hit it on the green and you try to make a putt. Kokrak and Scheffler can both do that with great efficiency.

But I suspect Kokrak and Scheffler will both be considered but not taken; Berger and Simpson will get the call from Stricker, as well as the deserving Harris English.

Oh, and no Patrick Reed. Captain America will be watching from home.


Another thing I didn't think we'd hear on Labor Day, 2021.

"And that's the final out of this game from Camden Yards, as the Birds drop a tough one to the Royals, 3-2, and fall to 43-93 on the season."

Yep, the O's lost to the Royals yesterday, 3-2, and are stuck on 43 wins with 26 games remaining. If they go 12-14 in those 26, which seems fairly unlikely given who they play, the O's would finish at 55-107. That's the best case scenario. If they finish 8-18, which is along the lines of what they likely will do, they go 51-111.

If he didn't play for the worst team in baseball, Cedric Mullins would be a MVP candidate in 2021.

I don't see them finishing 6-20 and going 49-113, but that's the record that awaits them if they only win 6 of their last 26.

I knew the Orioles would be bad in 2021, but had no idea they'd be fighting hard just to win 50 games. 70-92 is awful. What, then, is 52-110?

Officially, I think they're going to go 9-17 in those last 26 games and finish at 52-110. That's still terrible, of course, but it's surely better than going 49-113, even if it's only three more wins.

And if you're someone who likes to say, "But, remember," it's fair to bring up the point that they might wind up winning 50-some games having lost 19 straight and 14 straight during the season.

The best thing(s) about 2021? Mullins, Mountcastle and Mancini. John Means was solid for a while and has enjoyed a productive start or two recently, but the biggest bright spots this season are undoubtedly the three guys listed above. Mullins would be a legit MVP candidate if the Orioles were a wild card team or division winner. Mountcastle, despite not really having a true defensive position, is growing into the role of a bonafide Major League hitter. And Mancini looks like he never missed a day of the 2020 season.


Speaking of things we didn't think we'd hear in 2021.

"The United States men's soccer team needs a win at Honduras in the third game of the World Cup qualifying cycle or they might have to consider a coaching change."

I'm definitely not a coach-basher. They're all underrated if you ask me. But tomorrow's game at Honduras is a critical one for U.S. men's coach Gregg Berhalter. If the Americans don't get at least a draw (and one point), would the U.S. Soccer Federation consider a change in the coaching department? It seems unlikely, but two points in three games (assuming a loss at Honduras in this example) would be a semi-disastrous start for the Americans in the 14-game qualifying event.

Changing the coach mid-stream would be drastic, but certainly not unprecedented. In November of 2016, after the U.S. opened World Cup qualifying play by getting clobbered by both Mexico and Costa Rica, the USSF fired Jurgen Klinsmann and brought back Bruce Arena for the remainder of the qualifying schedule. While their play under Arena did improve, the squad still failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after losing their final game at Trinidad and Tobago.

Could Gregg Berhalter's job as U.S. men's soccer coach be in jeopardy tomorrow night at Honduras?

There was some "new news" on Monday concerning the U.S. team in advance of the game at Honduras and it wasn't good. Sergino Dest, who is one of the more talented young players on the roster, will miss tomorrow's game with an ankle sprain. He joins another talented youngster, Gio Reyna, who didn't play in Sunday's 1-1 tie with Canada and will miss tomorrow's game with Honduras due to a hamstring strain.

Add to those absences the removal of Weston McKennie from the roster for the Honduras game and you can see the Americans will really be playing shorthanded on Wednesday. McKennie was first suspended for Sunday's game after violating a team policy relating to Covid-19. Then it was announced yesterday that McKennie has returned to his club team, Juventus, and will not even be with the American squad in Honduras tomorrow.

Could this be the end of the road for McKennie under Berhalter, or is this just a major scare tactic to get him to fall in line with the program's personal conduct policies? Either way, what we do know is he won't play against Honduras in a game that borders on "must win" for Berhalter.

If McKennie's removal from the team continues into October -- that's when the next 3-game qualifying cycle comes around -- the U.S. will have to make some playing style adjustments. He's a critical component for the American squad, which is to say he's both valuable in the position he plays and is equally hard to replace with a back-up. How Berhalter handles McKennie long term is vitally important.

Things were going great for U.S. soccer earlier this summer, what with wins in the Nation's League and Gold Cup tournaments. But those were small potatoes compared to the 14-game World Cup qualifying schedule. You have 7 home and 7 away games to finish in the top three in the CONCACAF region and earn an automatic spot in next summer's World Cup in Qatar. So far, the Americans have nothing to show for two games except a pair of lackluster draws against two teams they should have soundly defeated.


And then there's this, one other thing I'm not sure we thought we'd hear in 2021.

"I'm not going to play (my sport) because my mental health is fragile."

So far this year, we've had two high-profile athletes step away from their respective sports; Simone Biles (gymnastics) and Naomi Osaka (tennis). Biles quit during the middle of the Olympics, citing a fear of getting injured. Osaka lost in the U.S. Open last Friday and then announced she was going to take a break and wasn't sure when she'd play her next tournament.

George brought up an interesting point in his comment here yesterday. Phil brought up a point on Monday that was in such bad taste (along with a word I don't allow to be used here) I removed it, but it certainly is worth pondering, despite its delicate nature.

While she eventually did return to medal in the Tokyo Olympics, Simone Biles' self-removal from this summer's gymastics competition became a hotly discussed topic in the world of sports.

In Osaka's case, she says one of her issues is having to deal with the media and their never-ending quest to discuss the wins and losses with her. Phil's point was that you don't see men quitting in mid-season or mid-career and that this "mental health excuse" (as he called it) is more about female athletes not being stronger than their male counterparts.

Had Phil not resorted to calling female athletes an unprintable name, I likely would have allowed his message to remain up. Alas, he couldn't and, so, it didn't.

Either way, I'm not sure Phil is right on female athletes and their "toughness". In fact, I think he's dead-red wrong. Serena Williams, Carli Lloyd and countless WNBA athletes are tough as nails. Frankly, I'm not even sure mixing "toughness" with mental health is appropriate. And remember, we're talking about two women out of the entire sports world who stepped away to focus on their mental well being. That's a fairly slim sample size.

George's point is, I believe, the more interesting of the two. Osaka's profession does, as George noted, mandate she deal with the media. And it's my general contention the media, particularly in the moments after a game, match, round, etc. are really just looking for "meat and potatoes" kind of stuff.

"Tell us about the 3rd set when you were up 4-1 and couldn't hold serve up 30-0. What happened there? Was there a turning point?"

"You had 5 iron into the par 5 16th hole and couldn't make birdie there. What happened on that second shot?"

There's nothing wrong with those questions, of course. They're part of the narrative of the competition. That Osaka feels like those questions somehow connect with her feeling inadequate is more on her than the folks asking the questions. They're just trying to create their story. She's part of it. They have to ask and she has to answer. It's been part of the routine of sports for a long, long time.

My personal take on it? I think most athletes who use social media for "positivity" have a difficult time adjusting to the balance of the negativity when things don't go their way. People are brutal. Not all people, mind you, but plenty of them. And they have no problem reaching out to an athlete on Twitter and putting him/her on blast after an unsuccessful day on the field, course, court, etc.

For those of us in our 40's, 50's and beyond, you'll remember back to the days when there was no Twitter or Instagram. We had no way of making contact with our favorite player. Today, if you want to pat Marlon Humphrey on the back or berate him for getting beat for two touchdowns, you can just send him a public message on Twitter and he'll see it (most likely). Whether he chooses to respond or not is up in the air, but the point is that athletes like Naomi Osaka not only have to field questions from the media these days, but they also have to read criticism and opinions from regular old people like you and I.

So, while I do understand the pressure the "media" can put on athletes, I think social media is just as damaging. Whether Osaka removes herself from that particular part of her sport is up to her, but that would be my suggestion if I were counseling her.

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Monday
September 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2569


this and that


Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly tried to offer a quick joke after last night's 41-38 overtime win over Florida State but it didn't go over well.

That it wasn't well received is a pretty solid indicator that we're losing our way in this country. No one's allowed to say anything these days for fear it will be interpreted the wrong way.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is in hot water after an attempt at a joke fell flat after Sunday's win over Florida State.

In the post-game interview on the field, ABC reporter Katie George asked the Notre Dame coach about his team holding off a furious Florida State rally. Kelly replied, "I'm in favor of execution. Maybe our entire team needs to be executed after tonight. We just didn't execute very well."

Now, granted, he didn't really weave the "execution line" into the discussion the right way. Kelly was trying to mimic an old coach-quote most famously used by Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay, who was once asked about his offense's execution during their winless 0-14 season. "I'm all for our offense's execution," he replied.

But the overreaction to Kelly's post-game quote last night was laughable. He was asked about it during his post-game press conference and will no doubt have to offer some sort of apology today once the stuffed suits at Notre Dame and the NCAA get nervous about the negative fall-out he'll receive.

That he tried to force the joke into the on-field interview was probably a mistake, only because it didn't come out sounding natural in the least. But in no way was Brian Kelly being serious about his team being executed because of a football game. One they won, no less. He was just trying to be funny.

You can't be funny in our country any longer. Oddly enough, when John McKay said it back in 1976 everyone thought it was hilarious. People in the room actually laughed. That was a long time ago.

We don't laugh at much these days, as you're probably noticing.


What wasn't a laughing matter was last night's lousy U.S. soccer performance in Nashville that resulted in a 1-1 draw with Canada. That tie gives the American squad just two points in the first two games of the 14-game World Cup qualifying series, with the third game of this initial window taking place this Wednesday night at Honduras, a team that also has two ties in their first two games.

Randy Morgan, our excellent soccer writer here at #DMD, goes through the blow-by-blow of the game in his post-match review below. I'll just add a few thoughts here to get you prepped for Randy's thorough analysis.

Last night's game started out bad and got worse. Prior to the contest, head coach Gregg Berhalter revealed that teenage star-in-the-making Gio Reyna would miss the game -- and this Wednesday's as well -- with a hamstring injury. Reyna was the best American player in Tuesday night's 0-0 draw at El Salvador.

Berhalter's lineup also didn't contain midfielder Weston McKennie, who announced on Twitter he was suspended for the contest for violating the team's Covid-19 protocol. Losing those two valuable pieces was just too much handle for an already offensively-challenged U.S. soccer team. Imagine if the Orioles have to finish out the season without Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle. They only have four or five Major League caliber players as it is...how would they ever win a game without those two?

So the U.S. pieced together a lineup and gave it the old college try vs. Canada, but it was mostly lackluster and disjointed for 90 minutes. The Americans did forge a 1-0 lead on a nice piece of soccer and a Brenden Aaronson goal, but Cyle Larin equalized things seven minutes later and then packed it in for the final 30 minutes to earn the road draw.

Saying "Canada packed it in" is an understatement. They had no interest in doing anything except defending the whole game and trying to squeeze one goal out of a counter attack using their speedy winter, Alphonso Davies. And that's exactly what happened. They hardly even tried to go forward unless they could isolate Davies in a one-on-one matchup and the U.S. just didn't have the offensive creativity to break down the visitors.

Here's where you could definitely throw in the "offensive execution" quote about the Americans on Sunday night. Their midfielders and forwards were average and that's being kind. Then again, when the other team just wants to defend for 90 minutes, you have to really have your horses lined up to overcome that kind of defensive philosophy and the Americans were sorta-kinda horseless last night.

The big question looking to Wednesday centers on McKennie. Will he return to the lineup or miss the game at Honduras? And the more pressing issue -- at least to me -- focuses on exactly how it came to pass that he missed the contest vs. Canada. Did he get suspended by Berhalter for being out after hours in Nashville? Or did he get suspended by FIFA or CONCACAF because he was out after hours in Nashville? If Berhalter suspended him, that's a much different story. This wasn't the quarterfinals of the CYO summer league. This was a crucial World Cup qualifying game. There's no use in commenting on it any further until we learn the nuances of the story, but Berhalter has to provide details on why one of his best players didn't play.

After last night's loss, the American coach simply said, "It was a team policy and I'm not going to get into it." We need to know more, Coach. You benched one of your best players for a crucial game because he went to a Nashville bar for a beer? Come on, man.

Wednesday night's game at Honduras is a critical one for Berhalter and his American side. If they don't have 5 points after the first three games, they'll have a lot of work to do over the final 11 games of the qualifying series to make it to Qatar next summer.


Patrick Cantlay hit the best 6 iron of his life on the last hole of the TOUR Championship yesterday, just moments after Jon Rahm hit the best 5-iron of his life, and Cantlay's two putt birdie on the final green gave him the $15 million prize and FedEx Cup title for the 2020-2021 season.

After coaxing in a nervy six foot putt for bogey on the 17th hole, Cantlay held a one-shot lead on Rahm at the par-5 finishing hole. Both players split the fairway and were left with mid-irons into the green. Rahm's 5-iron was outstanding, almost bouncing into the cup before finishing in the collar some 15 feet above away.

Cantlay hit a 6-iron that barely covered the front edge of the green, then rolled out beautifully to 11 feet away from the hole.

When Rahm's eagle chip slid past the hole, all Cantlay needed was a 2-putt birdie to win the tournament and the $15 million check, which is precisely what he did.

And, now, all eyes in golf turn to Steve Stricker. The American captain will make his six picks to fill out the U.S. Ryder Cup team this Wednesday. There's no doubt about three of them; Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth. But who are the other three?

We'll break down our "official" picks on Tuesday here at #DMD, but the list of potential add-ons looks like this, in order of their actual finish in the points standings: Harris English (10), Patrick Reed (11), Daniel Berger (12), Webb Simpson (13), Scottie Scheffler (14) and Jason Kokrak (15). Of those names, Simpson and Scheffler failed to win a tournament in 2021, in case you're the kind of person who thinks winning matters when it comes to selecting someone for a team like the Ryder Cup.

Cantlay earned his spot after winning last week's BMW Championship at Caves Valley, then topped that moment by winning the TOUR Championship yesterday. He should be one of the U.S. team's stalwarts at Whistling Straits in a few weeks. He's one of the longer hitters on the American side and can easily handle the length and difficulty of that "big ballpark". Stricker is no doubt considering length off the tee when contemplating his captain's picks. That research would help the case of someone like Jason Kokrak but potentially hurt Daniel Berger, who "only" ranks 102nd on TOUR in driving distance at 296 yards.

Two nagging matters for Stricker are both health-related. Patrick Reed missed two of the three FedEx Cup events with a double pneumonia and didn't play all that well at East Lake over the weekend. Two months ago, he seemed like a sure-fire member of the team. Now, not so much. And Brooks Koepka withdrew from the TOUR Championship after suffering a wrist injury. Stricker has to be 100% convinced that Koepka will be completely healthy by the end of the month or else he might need to replace Brooks with another player.

It will all come out on Wednesday when the team is finalized.


Speaking of golf, Rory McIlroy offered his own defense of tennis star Naomi Osaka on Sunday, referencing her recent decision to step away from the sport while she continues to battle mental health issues.

Rory McIlroy came to the defense of tennis star Naomi Osaka on Sunday.

"I spoke about this in 2019 about separating who I am as a golfer and who I am as a person and trying to not let that define me, and it seems what Naomi is going through at the minute is that same thing," the four-time major winner said.

"How can I play tennis and enjoy it and not let the results define who I am... I think everyone just needs to let her have time to figure that out."

Osaka was eliminated from the U.S. Open last Friday and in her post-match press conference indicated she was going to step away from tennis to try and get herself back on track.

"I feel like for me, recently, like when I win, I don't feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad," Osaka said in the post-match news conference Friday night, her voice breaking. "I don't think that's normal."

"I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match," she said, apologizing as she wiped away tears. "I think I'm gonna take a break from playing for a while."

Osaka's right. It's probably not normal to have such a volatile emotional level that seemingly ties in to whether she wins or loses. And it's most certainly not normal to have an almost-negative-reaction after winning. Negative reaction after losing? Of course. Negative reaction after winning? Sure seems weird.

The reality is it's hard to understand what's going on with Osaka unless you're her. I don't really "get it", personally. I mean, you're playing tennis for a living, you're one of the best players in the world, you're worth roughly $25 million-plus...what's not to like about that life? I think that's pretty much the standard thought from those of us who don't have those things.

I wrote during the Tokyo Olympics that I didn't "get" Simone Biles just up and quitting like that in the middle of the competition and in the same way, I don't understand how Osaka can essentially do the same thing, except she's not part of a team, per se, like Biles was over the summer. But it's not really for me to understand, which is probably Osaka's ultimate point in the end. The rest of us don't have to get it. We don't have to understand. We don't have to sympathize with her. Only she knows what's going on in her head and only she knows how to handle it moving forward.

McIlroy coming out in her defense on Sunday was a noble gesture from someone who is a critical thinker and one of golf's most well-spoken athletes. He's "been there, done that" just like Osaka and can probably understand better than anyone what she's going through.

It's a shame McIlroy's golf no longer rivals his ability to speak eloquently on matters such as the one Osaka is facing. Rory truly could be "the face of golf" if his game would come around. I'm pulling for Osaka and McIlroy, as it turns out. I'd love to see him get right with the demons he's facing on the course and turn his golf game around...sooner rather than later.

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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


Someone asked here the other day why the NFL wouldn’t start on Labor Day Weekend now — what with the 17th game added — as opposed to pushing one more weekend into January. It’s a good question, and I can see pros and cons to both options. I can tell you that the PGA Tour prefers it this way, since they’ve essentially pared down the FedEx Cup playoffs in order to “finish” the season before the NFL season.

Whatever you think about this weekend, though, I’d like to remind you that the 17-game NFL schedule is inherently unfair…and the league should immediately return to a 16-game one or expand to an 18-game slate, as has been threatened for years now.

There are some vagaries to the schedule that are “unfair” by the luck of the draw. Take last year, when the AFC North was assigned to play the NFC East, by overall record one of the worst divisions in football history. There are other worldly events that can make a big difference; you’ll remember that the last time the Ravens played the Packers, Brett Hundley started for Green Bay. Or, the schedule makers picked your team randomly to play in Buffalo on a lovely September day instead of not-so-lovely lake-effect December day.

The 17-game schedule, however, is unfair before any injuries, bad luck, or bad weather. The NFL’s entire reason-for-being seems to be based on parity, and this decision seems to waver from that. Plus, for the first year, the league had to randomly choose which AFC divisions would played which NFC divisions, adding another “luck of the draw” scenario to the mix.

Look…there are lots of reasons to dislike the 17-game schedule. If you love divisional matchups, adding an extra non-divisional game makes them even less important. An extra game means the potential for extra injuries. And what about the issue of teams resting players once they’ve clinched a certain playoff spot? If you were annoyed about that before, how will you feel when that happens for an extra week?

Meanwhile, there are some folks who won’t like it for the statistical element, but to me that’s just the way it is. There used to be 14 games in the NFL schedule and 154 games in the MLB schedule, and everybody understands that people will gain/throw for more yards and hit more home runs if games are added. There are no reasons for asterisks if people understand that going into the season.

The biggest problem of all? Nobody really wanted a 17th game besides NFL owners. And I guess that’s all that really mattered.


My take on Maryland football and Baltimore? It really doesn’t have to do with marketing. Certainly it has something to do with success, which has been fleeting at best, even in good times. And I’m not sure it’s about the District, which doesn’t really care much either.

We live in an area known as the Megalopolis, or the Northeast Corridor. From the northern suburbs of Boston to the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., on about 3 percent of the nation’s land area, lives 17 percent of the population. This area is not only the economic engine of America, but maybe the most important economic area in the world.

Yet, for whatever reason, college football has never become important to most who live here. In the big cities and their suburbs, professional teams are the passion. If any of those pro fans end up with a collegiate passion, it stems from two things. One has to do with a school being their alma mater; the other is when a college team seems like a pro team. Believe me, plenty of people in New York have jumped on the Alabama bandwagon recently.

Here’s a reminder of the Football Bowl Subdivision (I-A, it was once called) programs in the Northeast Corridor, from north to south: Boston College. Connecticut (barely). Rutgers. Temple. Navy. Maryland. That’s it. Maybe some would include Army, which is almost in the New York metro area. Honestly, I’m not even sure I’d include Army or Navy, both of which could easily be transported to lots of other places. There is little interest, and almost no teams for which to root anyway. It’s kind of a vicious circle, where everybody can blame someone else on the circle. Why improve the program if nobody is going to notice the improvement? Why add seats to a stadium if they’ll just lay fallow, even if your team is doing well?

Basketball is a “small” sport — St. John’s and Villanova and Providence and Georgetown can be among the best. Football is a “big” sport, and there’s simply no reason for any of those type of schools to have big-time football as a goal.

As for Maryland, the Terps always have the ability to be a good team, even playing in a division with Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan. They are now a Big Ten team and can recruit Big Ten players. The right coach, and the right quarterback, could do miracles. At the very least, Maryland should be in a bowl every year even if nobody cares that much.


Since the Ravens don’t play until a week from today, I took a look at some of this week’s matchups to see if anything was striking a fancy.

The opener is in Tampa on Thursday, the typical honor for the previous year’s Super Bowl champion. The opponent is Dallas, where Dak Prescott returns from injury in the hopes of leading the Cowboys back to the playoffs. Frankly, I haven’t seen one season preview written where Tom Brady and the Bucs don’t make it back to the Super Bowl…so clearly they won’t get there.

The Steelers play the Bills up in Buffalo next Sunday, an interesting matchup for Ravens’ fans I’d say. One game (in 17 now, of course) does not make a season, but Big Ben and the Steelers would be better off to at least perform well, even if that doesn’t mean a win. As for the Bills, there’s even more pressure on Josh Allen than before, but he’s got a pretty good team around him.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs (and their opponents, of course) get tested early, facing the Browns in Kansas City before coming to Baltimore the following weekend. The last time the Browns played was also in Kansas City, and they performed well in a playoff loss. I’m not sure whom to root for in that game, even though you’re supposed to root against a divisional team at all costs. In some ways, however, I’d like to see Cleveland show itself to be the contender everyone thinks it is. Again, only one game though…

Justin Herbert and the Chargers have an interesting schedule in 2021, playing every team in both the AFC North and the NFC East. As such, they’ll start the season in Landover Sunday, and then return to Maryland in mid-October to meet the Ravens. A few weeks after that, they’ll travel back to the East Coast to play in Philadelphia.

Speaking of the Eagles, young Jalen Hurts takes over as the starter; his team will visit veteran Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Nobody is quite sure what the 49ers will do at quarterback when they visit Detroit; could it be that both Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Trey Lance see action? This is a big year for third-year pro Kyler Murray; he and the Cardinals go to Nashville to face a Titans team that now has both Derrick Henry and Julio Jones.

Of course, everybody is undefeated, and the possibility is there for every team. That makes Week 1 special, even if it’s just one of 17.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. 1 - canada 1

The US men took on Canada in Nashville last night for the second of three Word Cup qualifying matches of this window. Both teams came into the game with one point from a draw in their first match of qualifying, so a lot was on the line.

Coach Gregg Berhalter kept the US in the 4-3-3 formation they used against El Salvador. The Americans were missing their best attacker from that game as Gio Reyna was out with a hamstring injury. In addition to that, the US was without Weston McKennie due to a violation of team rules and Zack Steffen was unavailable because of a positive Covid test.

Christian Pulisic returned to the lineup after resting against El Salvador. Kellyn Acosta and Sebastian Lletget joined Tyler Adams in the midfield. In defense, Sergino Dest moved back to right back with Antonee Robinson starting at left back and John Brooks returning to his role at center back.

The US team did a much better job possessing the ball and maintaining patience to create chances in this game. Canada was content to sit back in a defensive shape and try to hit the US on counter attacks.

Early on the US put pressure on Canada’s defense. In the fourth minute Pulisic beat his man and drew a foul in a dangerous area just outside the box but his free kick left a lot to be desired. Canada showed their dangerous counter ability soon after when Kyle Larin got in behind the defense but Miles Robinson closed him down and his shot barely troubled Matt Turner.

Matt Turner and the American defense allowed their first goal in six games last night as Canada equalized the Americans 1-1 in Nashville.

Canada created another counter chance in the early minutes when Sergino Dest misplayed a long ball from the keeper and Alphonso Davies got in behind the defense. Davies cut it back for his teammate but the shot was saved by Matt Turner.

Pulisic continued to put the Canadian defense under pressure, consistently beating the first defender and drawing extra men to him. The US got a good look on goal in the 36th minute, when Jordan Pefok fought hard for a ball in the box and then hit a shot just wide of the post. A few minutes later they found the best chance of the half when Sebastian Lletget brought down a long ball from John Brooks and set up Brenden Aaronson for a cross. The cross found Christian Pulisic for a difficult dink shot that beat the keeper but hit the post, denying the US the opening goal.

Despite controlling possession the US headed into half tied 0-0. The second half opened in a similar manner to the first, with the Americans still in charge of the contest.

Finally, in the 55th minute, the US opened the scoring. Brenden Aaronson stole a ball off a Canadian player around midifield and sparked a counter attack that involved a quick series of passes to find Antonee Robinson down the left side. Robinson hit a low hard ball across the box and Aaronson continued his run and got on the end of it for a tap in goal to put the US up 1-0.

It was an outstanding team move that seemed to give the US the lead they deserved for controlling most of the game. However, it would not last long. Just seven minutes later Canada responded when star player Alphonso Davies burned substitute right back Deandre Yedlin down the left sideline and darted into the box, then crossed for a Kyle Larin tap-in.

Despite a large possession advantage and the balance of the chances in the game, the US found themselves even with the Canadians. Down the stretch the American attack seemed to wear down. A few attacking substitutions could not change the tide. Canada found another good counter chance in the 78th minute through right wing substitute Tajon Buchannon, but his shot went well wide of the goal.

The US could only manage a few half chances for the remainder of the game. Christian Pulisic had an opportunity with a dangerous free kick in the closing minutes, but couldn’t get his shot on target as his legs seemed to be going.

In general the US looked better in this game than they did in El Salvador, dominating large stretches of the first half and seeming a good bet to get the three points after the Aaronson goal. However, Canada stayed strong and fought back into the game, showing their talent and ability to create danger on the counter attack.

There were positives and negatives from many of the US players, perhaps most personified by Sergino Dest. The Barcelona right back had a rough game against El Salvador. He moved back to his more natural right back position in this game and, despite his one early defensive mishap, was very effective pushing the ball into attack for the US throughout the first half. Unfortunately he picked up an injury and was forced to leave just before halftime.

The biggest positive standouts were Tyler Adams and Miles Robinson, who showed off their athleticism and ability to cover ground and snuff out counter attacks. Adams consistently covered for teammates when Canada tried to break fast behind the US and was key in winning balls back and maintaining possession.

Matt Turner made a tough save in the first half when called upon and and commanded his box well. He has probably solidified himself as the starting goalie during this window, with Zack Steffen unavailable. There was nothing he could do about the one Canada goal.

Christian Pulisic also showed his quality and his ability to be a game changer, consistently beating his man and putting pressure on the Canadian defense. All that was missing was finishing off a goal, which he just missed off the post in the first half.

At the end of the day, the US has been unlucky not to win one of these games. The advanced stats will show that they were the better team in each game, but they come away with only two points. As the old Bill Parcells saying goes, “You are what your record says you are.”

The US will be desperate for a win as they go on the road to Honduras on Wednesday. As we stated at the beginning of this window, getting five points would keep the team on pace for qualification. So a win could salvage the three game stint and get them back on track when they return in October.

However, an away game in Honduras is a very difficult win to get. The US will now be without injured Gio Reyna, and potentially Sergino Dest, as well as Tyler Adams due to his two yellow cards (I think).

This team will need to dig deep and give everything it has to pull out a win on the road. Otherwise panic will definitely begin to set in amongst the fan base, if not the US soccer infrastructure itself. No doubt a poor result in Honduras will remind everyone of the failure in the last cycle.

After these first two games, one has to question the decision to leave the “A” team home for the Gold Cup despite the success that came from it. While that tournament helped build the depth of the squad, it seems the first choice team may have benefited from some more playing time together to gel as a group.

Coach Berhalter came off a hugely successful summer with the full confidence of the fans and the team. After these first two qualifying games, he is now facing the toughest scrutiny of his head coaching stint. A draw or heaven forbid a loss in Honduras will force the powers that be to reevaluate if he is the man to get the job done in qualifying.

For now, all eyes will turn to the game in Honduras on Wednesday. The result could have huge ramifications on the future of this team.

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Sunday
September 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2568


one sunday away


This is the last Sunday of the football off-season. Hard to believe, isn't it?

Starting next Sunday and running through the middle of January, there will be a NFL game played on each and every Sunday until the AFC and NFL winners are decided. If you're a football junkie (I wouldn't classify myself as one, but you might be), your seven month wait is almost over. Hang in there.

I'll be doing my NFL predictions on Wednesday of this coming week. You might recall that last year, I stumbled and bumbled my way into guessing the two Super Bowl teams correctly in early September; Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Yeah, yeah, "the blind squirrel" and all that stuff.

I won't give away much about my NFL predictions for 2021 other than to say I have two different teams going to the Super Bowl. Yep, Kansas City's mini-run comes to an end in 2021 and the "Tompa Bay" magic wears out for the Buccaneers. No more info until Wednesday, though.


Speaking of predictions, my baseball picks back in the spring included a Chicago White Sox-San Diego Padres World Series call.

The White Sox are cruising into the post-season and are very much a candidate to go to the Fall Classic, but the Padres have been trying to fight their way out of a tailspin for a month now and might not even make the post-season, let alone get in the World Series.

Remember this guy? Kevin Gausman and the San Francisco Giants are playoff bound and could make a trip to the World Series in October.

Right now, the Reds (73-64) lead San Diego by a game (71-64) in the battle for the second wild card winner. I guess the Phillies (69-66) should also be considered "in the race" even though it seems unlikely they'll pass both Cincinnati and San Diego. What awaits the second wild card team is a one-game date with the N.L. West's 2nd place finisher; either Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The American League is filled with really good teams, including the aforementioned White Sox, who just keep piling up wins in the flimsy A.L. Central. But the best of the best, thus far, are the Rays, who are now 86-50 and cruising towards the A.L. East title.

Here's a fun game: Quick, name three players on the Rays. No, you can't use Google or any other website. Just name three players on Tampa Bay's team. Don't feel bad, no one else can do it either.

Boston's pretty good in the A.L. and so, too, are the Yankees, despite losing at home to our hapless O's on Saturday afternoon. And you can't really count out the Astros, either, although it doesn't feel like they have all the parts in working order this year.

These upcoming baseball playoffs are going to be a lot of fun to watch. I'll stick with Chicago and San Diego because that's who I selected before the season started, but I'm willing to concede the Padres are a longshot now after falling so far behind in the N.L. West.


Speaking of naming three players on their team, how about the Maryland football Terps getting a nice opening day win on Saturday over West Virginia?

How about that?

In case you don't follow along -- and let's be honest, most of us don't -- it was a 30-24 Maryland win on Saturday. I realize it's West Virginia and all, but that's still a nice win to start the season.

But because it's Maryland football, I assume their good fortune will end in another week or two.

I wish Maryland football mattered more to us here in Baltimore. They reportedly had 43,000 people in College Park yesterday. I'd be very interested to learn, somehow, how many Baltimore people were in attendance. I have no way of even guessing, so I won't, but rest assured there were just as many folks rooting for West Virginia in the stadium as there were Baltimore-based Terps fans in the house.

It's always been hard to pinpoint why Baltimore loves Maryland basketball so much but doesn't come close to providing the same level of affection for Maryland football. I have my own thoughts on it and most of them tie into marketing, but it definitely also involves something else. I guess the Ravens absorb a lot of our football "energy" in Charm City. That could be part of it. But there's more to it than that. We just don't really give a hoot about Maryland football in Baltimore.

But, still, hats off to Mike Locksley (*checks Google to make sure Locksley's still the coach*) and his staff for having the Terps ready to roll on opening Saturday and earning a nice win over the Mountaineers.

It would be neat to see Maryland football matter in 2021 and for a few years thereafter just to see if Charm City somehow transforms into "Terp Nation" during that time. Winning helps all things, apparently.

Oh, and speaking of winning, Penn State, the school a lot of Maryland seems to support just as much as its own state school, for some weird reason, picked up a nice season-opening win at Wisconsin on Saturday, 16-10. I was out in Western Maryland for a golf tournament a few weeks ago and you would have thought we were in Happy Valley with all the cars and people sporting the Penn State logo. So weird.

Now, about those three Maryland football players you were going to try and name...


Can you see the text exchange between Patrick Cantlay and Jon Rahm late last night? It might have gone something like this:

Cantlay -- "Hey, what do you say we spice things up tomorrow when we play in the final round of the TOUR Championship?"

Patrick Cantlay leads the TOUR Championship by two shots heading into today's final round, where the winner of the event earns $15 million.

Rahm -- "Sure, how about we play for $15 million?"

Cantlay -- "Sounds like a plan. Let's do it."

They're not playing for their own $15 million, of course, but those two -- along with Justin Thomas who still isn't out of it -- are essentially going to play one round of golf for $15 million today at East Lake.

It's not the same as playing for your own money, but 18 holes for $15 million sounds pretty interesting to me.

And let's not forget something else about Cantlay and Rahm; they would provide for a pretty interesting Ryder Cup singles match at the end of the month at Whistling Straits.

Speaking of your own money, I'd like to see the TOUR come up with an event that does just that; have each participating player put up their own money to create a significant cash prize and go after it.

Take, say, the top 50 players in the world and have them each put up $250,000 of their own money. That's $12,500,000.

The winner gets $6.25 million and the rest of the money gets split up among the guys finishing 2nd through 15th. Anyone finishing 16th or worse eats Ramen noodles for a little while.

It's one thing to play for someone else's money each week. It's another thing entirely to pony up $250K of your own cash and have no idea at all whether you're going to be in the black or red at week's end. I don't know if it would make for better golf or worse golf, but the notion of TOUR players playing one event with their own money on the line has always intrigued me.

I'm sure Phil Mickelson would love a piece of the "play for your own money" action. He'd probably say "make the buy-in one million and let's really make it interesting." Either way, the left-hander would gladly take part in that kind of an event. We need those kind of guys to liven things up out there.

Anyway, Rahm and Cantlay will head out today to play for $15 million. It would be really cool if the whole thing went down to a playoff. If you thought last week's BMW was tense, what would it be like if every shot and/or putt could potentially swing $15 million into your bank account?


I'm not sure if you've been following the U.S. Open tennis championship this week/weekend, but Naomi Osaka, the defending champion, lost on Friday and then said in her post-match press conference she was going to step away from the sport for a while.

In case you don't know, she's the best tennis women's player in the world. And, for now at least, she's hanging up her racquet.

Imagine Tiger Woods, circa 2006, saying "I think I'll step away from the sport for a while." She's not quite the Woods of tennis, but Osaka is certainly one of the sport's best hard court players and is, we thought, at the top of her game.

Osaka said on Friday her self-removal from tennis is all about her mental health. “I feel like for me, recently, when I win I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then, when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal.”

"Normal", of course, is a relative term. We might not all consider playing tennis or golf and making $1 million for doing it "normal", as an example. But Osaka's point is that winning and losing doesn't seem to change her emotional level all that much. There's no real joy in either outcome.

Bernhard Langer has openly discussed his 1985 Masters win and how he woke up the next morning and said to his wife, "I thought I was supposed to feel different but I don't. I actually feel more anxious now. Like I have even more to prove." Langer turned to Christianity for his balance, as the story goes. I'm not suggesting that's the next step for Osaka. I was merely pointing out that other great champions have also won and felt "hollow" afterwards, as if there was more to it and they weren't feeling it for some reason.

Osaka's struggles fall under the umbrella of mental health, which is becoming more and more of a hot-button-topic in our country these days. Earlier this summer at the Olympics, gymnast Simone Biles pulled out of some events due to her own mental health concerns. It's not something to be taken lightly, despite the fact we, as the folks watching on TV, can't come to close understanding what's going through the minds of these great athletes.

Tennis will miss Naomi Osaka. Let's hope she returns soon.

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Saturday
September 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2567


all you have to do is ask


This was a particularly busy week for reader-provided questions for our Q&A feature here at #DMD. I don't know what got into you guys and gals, but keep the questions coming.

As always, if you have something you'd like to ask, just e-mail me: 18inarow@gmail.com


Paul Broczek asks: "I'm curious about your opinion of the worst case scenario for the Ravens IF Lamar stays healthy all season. What do you think their worst record could be if Jackson plays all 17 regular season games? Thanks! Go Hall!

DF says: "Go Hall indeed! Yes sir, Paul! Well, let's be realistic. Even with Lamar, they could lose a close one at Las Vegas on opening night and no one would be shocked. The refs get involved, someone fumbles at the worst time, etc. They could definitely lose to K.C. in Baltimore. They could lose several other games as well. Pittsburgh always figures out a way to fluke their way to a decent performance against us. Cleveland appears to be legitimate. The Chargers are probably going to be a challenge. Anyway, that's a long way of saying the worst the Ravens could do with Lamar healthy all season is 10-7. There's no way they could do worse than that."


BJ asks: "What's your all-time U.S. Ryder Cup team from the last 30 years? If you could create one Ryder Cup mega-team since 1990 who would you have on it? Thanks!

DF says: "Interesting question. A few of the guys who are no brainers actually haven't played all that well when they've been on the team, but no one in their right mind would leave them off the team. So, you have the four obvious guys; Tiger, Phil, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth. Let's go back to the 1990's to add a few more; Payne Stewart, Davis Love III and Fred Couples. That's 7 guys right there. I think you have to add Justin Thomas. He's been one of the best American players over the last 8 years or so. Zach Johnson would have to be in the mix even though he doesn't really hit it that far. Despite the fact he's a first-rate jerk, you'd have to put Koepka on the team as well. Two players left, huh? I know he hasn't won a major, but in terms of winning and consistency, Matt Kuchar would be a good addition to the squad. And so, too, would Jim Furyk. There's your 12."


How cool would it be to see Gavin Sheets and the White Sox in the World Series this October?

Lou in Pikesville asks: "If you could pick the 2021 World Series right now based on the probable playoff teams, who would you like to see face off against each other?"

DF says: "For sure I'd want the White Sox to get in, mainly because I'd be able to see my friend Gavin Sheets in the World Series! I think it would be interesting to see a Chicago-Milwaukee match-up since they're so close. And I'm partial to that old Brewers logo, you know, the one with the M and the B that looks like a baseball glove."


Chris Higginbottom asks: "Is there any way possible the Orioles leave Baltimore and move to Nashville or somewhere else?"

DF says: "Well, as we saw with the Colts (and other teams over the years), you can never say "never" to a question like that. So, I won't. But I can't imagine the powers-that-be at MLB would ever allow it to happen. There's just too much history in Baltimore, not to mention the ballpark that changed the way cities thought about baseball stadiums thirty years ago. I assume Nashville will get a baseball team at some point down the road, but I don't think the Orioles will be the team they receive. My guess is it would eventually be either the Marlins or Rays who get shifted to another city. The O's are safe. If you want a percentage, I'd say it's 97% they never leave Baltimore. Those are pretty good odds."


Mark C. asks: "I know you love your underrated and overrated topics and I know you're a big concert goer. What's the most underrated concert you've ever seen and the most overrated?"

DF says: "I guess you mean which one was underrated from the standpoint of not having high expectations for a great show and then getting one? And the opposite for overrated? Underrated is easy: Duran Duran was absolutely phenomenal. I saw them way back in the early 1980's because I was trying to impress a girl from Glen Burnie. The show was great but she turned out to be a dud. I couldn't believe how good they were in concert. Most overrated was definitely Red Hot Chili Peppers. Maybe I caught them on a bad night, but they were really bad. It was a total waste of money and two hours of my time."


Carl in Owings Mills asks: "The Orioles allow you to sign one free agent in the upcoming off-season and money is not a factor. Which of these three guys would you sign? Carlos Correa, Nolan Arenado or Clayton Kershaw."

DF says: "I know Arenado's contract situation is kind of weird because he has already sort of pre-promised the Cardinals he would not opt out, but if I could woo him out of St. Louis and get him to Baltimore, that's the move I'd make. I wouldn't mind having Correa, either. I'm a huge Kershaw fan, but injuries and wear-and-tear make him #3 on the list you provided."


Steve Kelly asks: "If Mike Trout never plays in a World Series in his career, how much will that tarnish his legacy?"

DF says: "I think it would, somewhat. It won't matter to his Cooperstown bid, of course. He's still a first ballot Hall of Famer no matter what happens. But he'll most certainly be one of the greatest players without a ring if it winds up that way. And that would be something people would always mention about him: "Yeah, that Trout was some kind of player. But, you know, he never played in or won a World Series."


Jordan Spieth with one putt from 10 feet to win $1,000 for you? Take that bet!

Connor asks: "You have to bet $1,000 of your own money on one of these three things to happen in golf; Bryson hits a 350 yard drive in the fairway, Jordan Spieth makes a 10-foot putt, Rory McIlroy hits an iron from 150 yards to within 15 feet of the hole. Which bet are you making?"

DF says: "Great question! I assume conditions are benign, wind is down, pin is in the middle of the green and accessible, etc. I have a friend who is into golf statistics who would chew this question up and spit out the right answer! I think I would take Spieth making the putt. 350 yards is a BOMB for anyone, even DeChambeau. McIlroy, from 150 yards, has to put his shot within 5 yards (15 feet) of the pin? That, to me, isn't as easy as making a 10-foot putt. I'll take Spieth."


John Beall asks: "If the Ravens win the Super Bowl this year does that guarantee John Harbaugh a spot in the Hall of Fame?"

DF says: "100 percent, yes. I kind of think John's already in, but it would sure help his case if he got to one more and it would make him a slam dunk if he won another one."


Scott Rasley asks: "What's the best piece of golf coaching advice you'd give a 13 year old who is starting to take the game seriously?"

DF says: "I feel like I answered this exact same question earlier this year and my answer hasn't changed. In fact, having watched three days of the BMW Championship in person last week, I'm even more convinced my answer is the correct one: I'd teach him to hit a fade with his driver and irons. TOUR players take the left side of the course out of play and just hit soft block-fades all day. If you can teach your 13 year old to hit a fade (cut) off the tee, he's going to shoot a lot of good scores."


L.C. asks: "For one of your future Question and Answer columns. What's more likely to happen? The Ravens go 15-2 this season or the Orioles go 72-90 next season?"

DF says: "Has to be the Ravens going 15-2. There's just no way you can reasonably think the O's are going to win 72 games next season. Who is going to pitch for them? Of the guys they have this season, the only one even remotely worth a hoot is John Means. I guess they'll trot Kremer and Akin back out there in '22 but there's no telling how they're going to fare. Matt Harvey again? No thanks. I realize 72 wins isn't all that hard to do, but going from 52 (maybe) to 72 is a pretty big jump. I think the Ravens, if they're healthy, could go 15-2. Not saying it's gonna happen. But if you're asking me to pick one of the two as more likely to occur, it's the Ravens and a 15-2 season."


Ben Brczinski asks: "You can have one of these things happen in 2022. Which would you choose? Tiger comes back and wins his 83rd tournament to set the record. The Orioles finish 81-81 and appear headed back to being a competitive franchise. Maryland men's basketball makes the Final Four. Thanks!"

DF says: "Sorry O's and Terps fans, but I'd take Tiger coming back to win for the 83rd time. I mean, that would be a historic golf victory. One for the ages, as Jim Nantz might say. The O's finishing 81-81 is a nothing-burger and even though it would be cool to see Maryland hoops in the Final Four, just getting that far doesn't really mean a whole lot to me."


Tom asks: "Hey Drew, in one of your Q and A segments could you address the Caps hopes for 2021-2022? How do you think they'll do?

DF says: "I honestly don't follow the NHL off-season all that much so I never know who went where, free agent wise, and what teams improved and what times got worse. But it sure feels to me like the Caps window has closed. Maybe I'm missing something, but they don't seem all that good defensively or in goal. They can still score goals, but overall I just don't see them being an elite team next season. I'd love to be wrong on that one!


Rich asks: "Is there a song you hear that instantly puts you in a good mood?

DF says: "Love this question! And, yes, I do have one. You can hear it below.


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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Friday
September 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2566


no offense, but...


Squandered scoring chances.

No real offense for the better part of 90 minutes.

A pretty lackluster performance on the road against a team who was there for the taking.

Gio Reyna was one of the few American bright spots on Thursday night in the 0-0 draw at El Salvador.

No, no, no, I'm not talking about the Orioles. They were off on Thursday night.

I'm referencing the 0-0 tie the U.S. "earned" at El Salvador in the opening game of World Cup qualifying last night.

Randy Morgan will handle the heavy lifting of the game and how it all unfolded in his game review below. I'm just here to say, "Blah..."

I get it. The U.S. didn't have its best player available and all and without Christian Pulisic, a pedestrian offensive performance shouldn't be all that surprising. But what if, let's say, Pulisic gets hurt in a couple of weeks with his club team and can't play for a month or two or longer? Are we going to see that kind of American offensive output just because he can't go? I sure hope not.

It wasn't that the Americans didn't create some scoring opportunities. They did manage to do that. It's just that they couldn't put a ball into the back of the net when the chance was there in front of them. Miles Robinson, Josh Sargent and Kellyn Acosta all had more-than-reasonable goal-scoring chances that they couldn't convert. Robinson's, in particular, was especially painful, as a Gio Reyna free kick found Robinson perfectly in stride nine minutes into the game but his header sailed well over the bar from 8 yards out.

Fortunately for Gregg Berhalter, the El Salvadorian team was more pedestrian than his American side. They created a goal scoring chance or three, but the U.S. never felt threatened. This was, even without Pulisic, a game the visitor's should have won easily. But the goal in World Cup qualifying is to win at home and tie -- at least -- on the road. That formula will always net you enough points to move on to to the summer tournament. So with that in mind, only, last night was a successful road game for the Americans.

But it wasn't great soccer. Sure, it was a young team and all and it was the first game of the qualifying process, but three points were there for the taking and two of them were left on the table. Things need to improve, and quickly, as the U.S. hosts Canada in Nashville on Sunday night.


The final event of the 2020-2021 PGA Tour season started yesterday in Atlanta, with East Lake GC hosting the TOUR Championship, the culmination of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The scoring format is weird if you haven't been paying attention. The guy who shoots the best 4-day score might not actually win the event. That's because the TOUR uses a staggered scoring system based on a player's FedEx Cup points heading into the event.

Billy Horschel and Jon Rahm both shot 5-under 65 on Thursday but they still trail Patrick Cantlay, who shot 67. That's because Cantlay started the day at 10-under par due to his position at the top of the standings. Rahm was at 6-under when he began play. Weird? Yeah, I think so too.

But staggering the scoring and such is the only way -- the TOUR says -- that players know where they sit heading into the final round and the closing holes on Sunday. They're playing for $15 million this week, so every piece of knowledge helps.

Still feuding? Or cooling off in time for the Ryder Cup?

Back in 2018, Justin Rose needed a birdie on the last hole to win the big prize and the FedEx Cup but, get this, he didn't win the final event or any of the other three FedEx Cup tournaments that year. His birdie on the last hole was good for a 4th place finish in the TOUR Championship, which meant he edged out tournament winner Tiger Woods for the season-long title.

Are you confused? So was everyone else that year, which is why they went to the staggered scoring system in 2019. Now, in 2021, the guy who wins the TOUR Championship is the winner of the FedEx Cup. Whether or not you like it -- and most players on TOUR don't care for it -- at least you'll always know where you stand on the final nine holes this Sunday.

Thursday also brought about a squandered opportunity by Brooks Koepka, who was interviewed about this week's new rule implemented by TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan. In case you missed it, the TOUR will now seek to eject fans in attendance who shout "Brooksie!" at Bryson DeChambeau, a nod to the ongoing 2021 feud between the two American players.

True to his brand, Koepka danced around the topic just enough to give his legion of supporters a morsel of approval for their on-going heckling and taunting of DeChambeau.

What Koepka should have said when asked about fans taunting DeChambeau and other players: "It's just not right, period. No one out here should be heckled while they're trying to play. It needs to stop."

Instead, Koepka said this: “I get it. Try to be as, everybody’s trying to be as respectful as you can. Between me, the fans, everybody, try to live their life like that. So I think we all can do a better job. But at the same time, it’s fine.”

Huh?

What part of it does Koepka "get"? He didn't elaborate, but that catch-all-phrase was left flapping in the breeze.

Everybody's trying to be as respectful as they can? Really, Brooks? You can't possibly imagine that to be true. You're just saying that. Right?

"So I think we can all do a better job." That was a good line. Well done. "But at the same time, it's fine." Huh? What's fine? Your fan base taunting DeChambeau is, at the same time, "fine"? What a flimsy way to present an answer that everyone was waiting for most of the week.

Code word, Koepka said this: "Look, I have to be careful what I say here. I understand that fans can't act like complete imbociles at our tournaments, but if people want to heckle Bryson, I'm pretty much OK with that."

It would have been so much better -- albeit, well "off brand" for him -- if Koepka would have said, "Yeah, look, it's time we put this whole thing to bed. I don't think either of us realized it would bleed over into something like this. I don't want any player on TOUR being heckled while he's at the course and trying to play golf. It's not cool at all and it doesn't have a place in our sport."

But he just couldn't do it...


The #DMD family lost a treasured member on Thursday when longtime Morning Dish marketing partner David Buchanan of Full Circle Tire and Auto passed away after suffering a stroke nearly three weeks ago.

Buchanan came on board with #DMD just two months after our August 25, 2014 publishing "birthday" and was part of our group of advertisers ever since. He was a proud sponsor of most of our road trips and special events over the years.

I was particularly saddened to hear the news on Thursday. Dave was always available to help with our family vehicles and took great care of #DMD readers who used his Harford County business to repair their cars and trucks.

In a June e-mail, Dave wrote, "Thanks for sending (name withheld) my way! We got his Honda Passport back on the road in a few hours and he and his family will be making their trip to Ohio as scheduled! We love Drew's Dish readers!!"

Not many auto repair owners would take the time to do that, I thought to myself. Dave Buchanan was a good, good man, who will be sorely missed in Harford County.

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faith in sports


This is a great 3 minutes and 15 seconds with former University of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.

It's 3 minutes out of your day. You'll sit in the drive-thru longer than it will take you to watch this video. McCoy chats openly about getting to heaven and how he communicates (this video was originally done in 2009) with his teammates at Texas about God and the path to His heavenly pasture.

If you can spare 3 minutes out of 24 hours today, please watch this. Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electric for their continued support of #DMD and our Friday "Faith in Sports" series.


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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. ties el salvador, 0-0


The US men started their World Cup qualifying campaign in El Salvador last night. In a game that was often hectic and disjointed, the US came away with one point in a 0-0 draw. It's hard to draw too many conclusions from one game and the value of the result will largely be determined by the next two games.

It was clear from the initial lineup that Gregg Berhalter is managing the roster with the whole three game window in mind.

Top center back John Brooks was rested with Tim Ream taking his place in the starting eleven. Sergino Dest was deployed as the left back with Deandre Yedlin starting at right back. It seems Berhalter was hoping some veteran players could help this young team with their first experience in the hostile road CONCACAF environment.

Minus Christian Pulisic on Thursday night, the U.S. offense failed to score a goal in the World Cup qualifier at El Salvador.

Ream and Yedlin are among the few players on the roster with previous qualifying experience. The other twist to the lineup was starting Brenden Aaronson in midfield over Sebastian Lletget and Kellyn Acosta.

The US started the game strong, flustering El Salvador with their pressure and bringing much needed intensity. They created a few half chances in the early minutes and then produced the best chance of the whole game in the ninth minute. Gio Reyna hit an outstanding free kick into the box and it found a wide open Miles Robinson. The center back was not able to reproduce the magic from the Gold Cup win over Mexico and instead headed this one over the bar.

To El Salvador’s credit they didn’t cave to the US pressure.

The home side fought back into the game and maintained some possession in the next portion of the opening half, earning a few corners that forced the US to defend. The game got sloppier as the half went on, with El Salvador often fouling to break up any promising US attacks.

Sergino Dest had a decent chance on a cut inside but hit a weak shot that was easily saved by the keeper. El Salvador generally played the ball long into the US defense and did a good job winning the second balls after the US cleared. This kept some pressure on the US defense, but the home side failed to generate many dangerous chances out of it.

The US opened the second half strong once again, pushing the ball into the El Salvador end, but were unable to find the final ball or decisive strike. As the half went on, the US looked like the team more likely to score. They set up several decent headed chances but could not finish them off.

Gio Reyna did a nice job to dribble in the box, cut back and chip a ball to Weston McKennie, but the header went wide of the post. Later, McKennie got on a ball on the right wing and hit a good cross for Kellyn Acosta, whose header forced a diving save from the keeper.

With time winding down a tie looking inevitable, Jordan Pefok had the last good chance with a header over a defender in the last ten minutes, but he nodded it over the goal.

El Salvador never looked likely to create a dangerous chance and didn’t trouble the US or keeper Matt Turner too much in the second half.

In a game with a disappointing result there were not many standout players. Miles Robinson continued to provide lockdown defensive coverage at center back. Despite an early gaffe on the ball, he was one of the better players on the field and regularly snuffed out El Salvador chances before they could materialize.

Tyler Adams was a huge presence in defensive midfield. His energy and stamina are incredible, as he could be seen darting around the field to hound opposing players all the way to the final whistle. While he wasn’t able to break open El Salvador in attack, he was a key to keeping the clean sheet defensively.

In attack the only player that seemed dangerous for most of the night was Gio Reyna. The Borussia Dortmund teenager was the sole US attacker that could consistently get on the ball, turn and take on defenders with any success. His early free kick put a great chance on a platter for Miles Robinson and he created the next best chance with his chip for McKennie. It was clear the team missed Christian Pulisic and his game breaking ability, but Reyna was the closest thing in this one.

The one lineup decision that didn’t work out was the fullback selection. Deandre Yedlin got the start at right back and Sergino Dest was moved to his less comfortable role at left back. This was regrettable as both players had poor games. Yedlin especially looked behind the pace of the game with several moments lacking effort and a few questionable passes to no one in particular.

It was surprising to see Berhalter sub Dest off first and leave Yedlin on to continue to struggle. I would be shocked if Dest didn’t start at right back against Canada with Antonee Robinson or George Bello at left back.

At the end of the day this result could be spun in a positive or negative way. The good news is, this young team went on the road and kept a clean sheet in the first qualifying experience for most of the players. The only team that won in this round of qualifiers was Mexico, and that took a last minute goal to beat Jamaica in Mexico. The bad news is, the US couldn’t find the goal they needed against one of the weaker opponents in this eight team group.

Thursday's draw with El Salvador will all be colored by the context of the remaining two games in this window.

If the team uses this as a learning experience and goes out and gets six points from the next two games, we’ll reflect on this as a building block. However, if they falter in the next two games, doubts will start to creep in and questions will start to be asked of the players and coach.

For now, it’s on to the Canada match back in Nashville on Sunday, where the US will hope Pulisic, their most decorated player, can return and help them get in the win column.

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Thursday
September 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2565


thursday stuff


The Ravens lost someone named Ben Mason on Wednesday and by the reaction from the diehards, you would have thought they placed Mark Andrews on waivers.

In case you don't follow the late stages of the NFL Draft, Mason was a 5th round pick of the Ravens last April, the 184th player selected overall. That he was cut and subsequently picked up the New England Patriots is a nothing-burger to me, but not to a lot of other folks in town.

Ravens GM Eric DeCosta drew the ire of some local fans on Wednesday when one of his 2021 draft picks signed with the Patriots a day after he was released in Baltimore.

The radio shows, message boards and Twitter accounts reacted with unusual anxiety for a guy who was always going to battle for playing time with Patrick Ricard. It's not like the Ravens didn't already have a competent fullback in Ricard to fall back on...which, of course, begs the question: Why did Eric DeCosta draft Mason in the first place?

But his release on Tuesday and his move up the coast to New England on Wednesday was met with entirely too much overreaction in Charm City. He was a 5th round pick. Who cares?

The bet here is Ben Mason doesn't finish the 2021 regular season as a member of the New England Patriots. Don't know what odds I could get on that kind of wager, but I'd take 'em. He was picked in the 5th round. Those guys are a dime a dozen.

The aftermath of "Mason Gate" was also interesting in the way it allowed for varying opinions on DeCosta, the team's outstanding general manager. Some people supported DeCosta while others chastised him. Those reactions weren't all that odd, but it's the amount of criticism people had for DeCosta that was particularly noteworthy.

There's no general manager, anywhere, who throws a perfect game every April. It just doesn't happen. For starters, as is the case with the Ravens, the general manager doesn't actually hand-examine and hand-select every guy that gets drafted by the team. There are area and regional scouts who spend countless hours rendering an opinion on college players. DeCosta and his staff then comb through the names, watch an edited film of the players' highlights and lowlights, and make their assessments based not only on what they see, but what information their scouting department provides as well.

If "Scout A" presents his list of draft-worthy players to DeCosta, is the general manager best suited to follow the advice and research of his staff member or discard all of that and spend the same amount of time scouting and studying the player himself?

DeCosta and his closest staffers at Owings Mills focus mainly on the team's picks in the first three rounds. Thereafter, they lean heavily on what others in the scouting department tell them about 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th round candidates.

So, yes, DeCosta "selected" Ben Mason and it's on his record, but there's a really good chance the push to draft Mason came from someone else at 1 Winning Drive. Either way, no matter if DeCosta himself scouted Mason and made the pick or Mason was suggested (strongly) to the general manager, the Ravens lost a 5th round guy. Why all the outrage?

Tom Brady's 7-3 in his career in the Super Bowl and could be, with a big play for or against him at the right/wrong time, either 10-0 or 5-5 in those games. In other words, no one's perfect. And not all of your plans turn out the way you expect they will.

I'll put Eric DeCosta up against any GM in the league.


Anyone else get the e-mail last week from the Orioles offering 50% off a ticket to the September 16 home game?

I saw it, but being unavailable to attend on that date, gave it little attention.

I received a follow-up e-mail yesterday and for some reason, clicked on it.

I was shocked to see the game they're offering half-price tickets was against the Yankees.

Sure, it's a Thursday and all, with a special game time of 5:05 pm, but it's the Yankees. You know, the best draw in the American League...the NEW YORK YANKEES.

The game also features a concert afterwards by the Avett Brothers. I have no idea who they are, but I suspect they're not doing the show free of charge. So not only do the O's need to fill some seats in an effort to generate their own much-needed revenue, but they have a band to pay as well. I asked someone with 25 years of experience in the Baltimore concert scene what he thought their one-night fee is and he believes it to be somewhere in the $400,000 range. That's a lot of baseball tickets to sell.

Concert aside, though, there's perhaps no other indicator of how far the O's have slipped from the daily routine of Baltimore sports fans than to offer half price tickets to see a visiting team that would, ten years ago, bring 20,000 of their own fans to Baltimore for a 3-game series.

You can get club level seats for $30 on September 16. Really good, lower level seats were $66 last Wednesday night when Shohei Ohtani and the Angels came to town. $30 for a club level seat is a heckuva deal, no matter the opponent or the band.

I'm not beating up on the Orioles for doing this, mind you. I think they have to do it...or else they'll have 13,000 in the building for a baseball game and a concert that could cost them somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000 in additional expenses.

I bring this up to magnify the collateral damage that comes with going through a 5-year period of losing like the O's are currently enduring. Sure, they used to spend $120 million on player payroll and now they're spending $50 million...and that $70 million of "found money" probably comes in handy.

But they're also drawing 10,000 fans per-game now instead of 26,000 fans per-game, which is what they drew the last time they were good (2016). And they're selling half-price tickets (or, trying to) for a home game against a division rival at the same time.

Go ahead and do the math on 16,000 fewer tickets at an average of $30 each. Flyers fans need not reach for their calculator. It's $480,000. Multiply that by 81 home games. You're in the $35 million range once you've deducted the Admission & Amusement tax. And when you sell 16,000 fewer tickets you're also selling less beer, food and souvenirs, not to mention parking a few thousand less cars at $15 a pop. All the sudden, that $70 million of "found money" gets chewed into quite a bit.

You can throw the obligatory Covid-19 excuse in there if you want or point to other attendance numbers around the league to try and soften the blow, but there's no denying the interest level in Orioles baseball in Baltimore -- which is all I care about, I don't know about you -- is at an all-time low in 2021.

Tuesday night after the men's league at Eagle's Nest there were four big screen TV's on in the bar; one was showing tennis, one was showing the Golf Channel, one was showing a truck race of some kind and one had two guys fishing in a stream somewhere. The Orioles were playing the Blue Jays at the same time. Not only did the club's staff not have the game on, but none of the 30 men in the bar bothered to ask to have the Orioles game on, either. Sad, sad, times.

I assume this is what "rock bottom" looks like in terms of the juxtaposition between trying to rebuild your on-field product and not being interesting enough to warrant people following the club or buying tickets to see the team lose 70% of their games. You can't have it both ways. People will come back out and show interest again when the team is good, but your franchise might be broke by then. It's a slippery slope.

I'm sure the powers-that-be have done the math far deeper than I have -- and far more often -- but the notion that rebuilding doesn't come with a hefty price just isn't true.

It turns out that It not only stinks to lose 110 games a year, but it's very expensive to do it, too.


Randy Morgan -- our outstanding soccer correspondent -- will handle all of the heavy lifting here at #DMD over the next 11 months as the U.S. men's soccer team prepares to play in World Cup '22 in Qatar.

You'll see Randy's preview of tonight's road game against El Salvador and the other two September games below. He really knows his stuff.

I'm just here to share my excitement for what lies ahead for U.S. Soccer. I'm not sure we'll see it all come to full bloom in time for next summer, but there's no doubt in my mind the Americans will be in Qatar and I think by the time 2026 rolls around that we might have ourselves a legitimately competitive international "side".

This U.S. team is on the verge of something good. How far they go in Qatar remains to be seen, but their group of young players will benefit greatly from one term of World Cup experience in preparation for the 2026 tournament in North America.

It all starts tonight in El Salvador, which has traditionally been a difficult venue for the Americans.

The aim on the road, as always, is to claim at least a tie and one point in the standings. A win would be extremely gratifying, but a tie would be just fine, particularly in the opening game of the qualifying process.

I'm excited to watch it tonight and read Randy's on-going coverage of our U.S. men's soccer team.


On both a personal and professional note, I encourage you to read David Rosenfeld's outstanding piece below on the life of Jeff Seidel. David has written a lot of great stuff during his time here at #DMD and today's review of Jeff's life and career is up there with his best work.

Like anyone else involved in sports in Baltimore over the last 40 years, I knew Jeff Seidel. He covered a handful of Blast and Spirit games and I saw him often at UMBC and other Charm City college basketball games. Jeff was a good, good man.

I have one quick story about him that will tell you plenty about his kindness for people. A few years back, Jeff was saddled with the task of compiling the "All-Metro High School Boys Golf Team", which meant he had to name six players out of the hundreds who played high school golf both in the fall and spring.

Jeff reached out to me and asked for help.

He rattled off the names of a select group of public school players, none of which I knew anything about. But the dozen or so private school players were all familiar to me, of course.

"How do I split the team to treat the public school players fairly?" he asked. He went on to explain that he had talked a few other coaches in the area who believed the private school players were head-and-shoulders better than the public school players. It impressed me, though, that Jeff wanted to give the public school players their due as well. Being a kid who attended a public high school, I simply told Jeff to split the team 3-3.

He would go on to nominate 4 private school players and 2 public school players for the team, but it was something else he did that reinforced to me how genuine and kind Jeff could be.

During our conversation, we zeroed in on several local MIAA players who I thought were deserving of a spot on the All-Metro team. None were Calvert Hall players as our team that year was mostly inexperienced and not worthy of post-season accolades, but having seen all of the potential candidates play twice a year against my team, Jeff thought I was a good judge of their abilities.

"What are his strengths?" Jeff asked me about one player from Archbishop Spalding. I rattled off several things the player did well and why I thought he deserved to be on the team.

"Does he have any weaknesses?" Jeff asked. "What doesn't he do well?"

In the moment, I thought that was a tad strange to ask. I mean, who cares if the kid doesn't have the putting touch of Ben Crenshaw or the sand game of Gary Player? If he's All-Metro he's All-Metro. But I went ahead and mentioned one part of the young man's game that wasn't "up to par" with the rest of it and mentioned, specifically, "That even with that weakness he's still one of the best high school players I've ever seen."

Later that night, I was still spooked by the weakness question and the answer I gave so I e-mailed Jeff and asked him to call me.

"I hate to ask this," I said, "but could you take out the part about (his) weakness? I don't know that it looks good to have another coach in the conference commenting that specifically about a player I only see twice a year. Maybe I saw him during a time when he was working with a new putter or a new putting grip. I don't know. I would just feel better if you took that out of the article."

"You're 100 percent right," Jeff said. "I don't even know why I asked you that. But it doesn't belong in the story."

Whether Jeff did that for me or for the young player -- or both of us -- wasn't important. It was that he took a suggestion from a coach and didn't flinch when I asked him not to print the quote I gave him about the player's weakness with the putter.

That's my Jeff Seidel story. He was as solid as they come. A real "mensch", as David notes below.

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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.


olev ha’shalom, jeff


Jeff Seidel would call up a few times every year. I had no direct external phone number at Gilman School, so he must have dialed the switchboard and been redirected.

He was calling because we knew each other, starting at some point in the 1980s when I was in middle school—Jewish Baltimore can be a small world. He was calling even though he knew I had little (or nothing) to do with what he was calling about. Typically, what he was calling about were high school all-Metro teams—cross country, track and field, and maybe other sports I’m forgetting. Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less.

The truth is, though, that I loved every second of those calls: his frustration with coaches (who will remain nameless), his serious belief in getting it right, his obvious need to talk it out in front of somebody, all of it combined with sidebars into my life and his life, about my family and his family.

Jeff died last weekend. He had colon cancer, though his death at age 59 at a rehab center came from other complications from the cancer, as it often does. He leaves behind a wife, two children, a mother, and a sister, all of whom spent the last five years or so hoping that his illness wouldn’t do him in while knowing the potential that it could.

I prefer to think about something else that Jeff leaves behind—35 years of writing, the large percentage of which had something to do with Baltimore sports. And that means everything—from the Maccabi Games for the Jewish Times to every high school game imaginable for The Sun, to the local colleges for a variety of publications, to all the big pro sports events for The Post and the AP.

The Sun described him as “a well-known presence in high school and college athletics,” which may be true. The better way to describe it is that Jeff was a full-time freelancer. Over the years, I’m sure he was offered “full-time” gigs, locally and probably elsewhere. Those jobs come with perks, maybe even some notoriety if you want it.

That’s not what Jeff wanted. He liked the freedom to choose. He liked talking to high school kids and coaches at least as much or more as talking to Buck Showalter or Bryce Harper. He appreciated being handed statistics every five minutes in a pro press box but put on no airs about standing on the sideline of a prep game on a cold night doing his own stats.

The managing editor of another local website/publication wrote recently that Jeff “always made the athletes the stars of his stories.” At the high school level, or even younger than that, it was a characteristic that was always appreciated by coaches and parents.

He liked reporting, no matter what he was reporting about. He paid attention to the game and asked great questions. If there was a key moment, or a turning point, he saw it. For three hours, there was nothing more important than where he was.

It’s not an easy life, jobwise. It’s a constant fight to pitch yourself for more work, a consistent need to “network” even if you’d rather not have to do it. It’s 50 bucks here, 100 bucks there, maybe some short-term contracts where you hope you get paid at the end, and that the check clears.

During the pandemic, for instance, the jobs of sports freelancers essentially dried up to completely nothing for months. The job isn’t dependable in the first place, even when it seems like it would be, and then there were no sports. At all. Jeff got in touch with me last year during all of it, asking me if I knew of some spots that could use his help. I hope I gave him some decent places to go.

The sports media has become fodder for big news in this generation. Ink-stained wretches have transformed into television stars, the blogosphere has plenty of space and time to evaluate everyone who ever wrote or said something they didn’t like.

I don’t begrudge the Wilbons and Kornheisers of the world for making their millions. I do think that people like Jeff, who covered the same games those guys do, are the ones we should be talking about well before they’re gone.

So, I will, because it’s never too late…

As my dad (who knew him) would say, Jeff was a “mensch,” in the same way that Kornheiser is an “alter cocker” (look it up). I don’t know if Jeff ever covered the Super Bowl, and I’m only guessing that he was in a few champagne-soaked clubhouses over the years. I do know for sure that he once drove me home from a college basketball game on a snowy night; at the time, my car wasn’t made for such drives. The car came up in conversation after the game as he was finishing his story, and he didn’t hesitate to help even though that was never my intention. He might have even volunteered to drive me back to work the following morning!

I mentioned above that I tried to point him in the right direction last year, but he spent a lifetime pointing writers in those directions. If you told him you were interested in journalism, he always helped you get a foot in the door. If you wrote well, he recognized it and encouraged you to write more. I’d have to imagine that he would have been an excellent editor, if only he’d not enjoyed covering the games as much as he did.

If they assigned the all-Metro team to him, he took it to heart. If he heard one thing about an athlete from a coach and another thing from a second coach, he’d call a third coach in the hope of getting the real answer. He appreciated the fact that Calvert Hall might have deserved more spots on the team without forgetting the kid from Spalding that otherwise would have been overlooked.

He was a Jewish kid from Pikesville, a place with one of the larger Jewish populations in Maryland. That fact never stopped mattering to him; he consistently covered Jewish athletes in a way that few others did. The Jewish community has a reputation for not taking athletics seriously, and for not being taken seriously in athletics. As a person who took sports seriously from early in his life, Jeff wouldn’t have that.

Jeff knew the game. Of course, he was a baseball and football fan growing up in Baltimore, and he even ran track in high school, but he really liked hockey. Who knows how many NHL games he covered for the “wire,” at the Capital Centre/USAir Arena and the MCI/Verizon/Capital One Arena/Center? Talk to anyone, and they’ll tell you he usually had it right about who was good and who wasn’t that night.

Part of Jeff’s choice to work as a freelancer was a family choice, as it allowed him to be with his family for things others might have missed. Maybe his proudest sports moment came a few years ago, during a game at which he was not in attendance. You might remember that the UMBC athletics Twitter account had a moment in the national spotlight during the Retrievers’ epic upset of No. 1 seed Virginia in the NCAA tournament. The person doing the Tweeting was none other than Zach, Jeff’s son, who works in the UMBC athletic department. Needless to say, Jeff kept a copy of every article written about Zach in the ensuing days.

Jeff wrote last year that “Trey Mancini and I don’t share many similarities. He’s 28, and I’m 57. He’s a much better hitter for the Orioles than I was in Little League. Yet we do share one thing—Stage 3 colon cancer.” He was funny, even when he might not have been, and people appreciated him for that. He was a good man, and one who meant more to sports in Baltimore for the last 35 years than you could ever know.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


world cup qualifying preview


This week begins the US men’s qualification process for next November’s World Cup in Qatar. For the next ten days the soccer world’s attention will turn to the international game while countries around the world compete for the coveted 32 places in the World Cup draw.

It has been nearly four years since the disastrous October night in 2017, when the US lost their final qualifying match in Trinidad & Tobago and failed to make the 2018 World Cup. Starting on Thursday, the US will look to earn their way back into that tournament once again with the most talented group of players they have ever assembled.

Covid logistics necessitated a change from the previous CONCACAF qualifying format. Instead of the usual six teams in the final qualifying group there are now eight. The US will play home and away against each team between now and the end of March. The top three teams will qualify automatically for the trip to Qatar, with the fourth place team entering a four team playoff for the final two World Cup spots.

After a successful summer for his U.S. men's national team, Gregg Berhalter now faces his most important ask thus far; getting the U.S. back to the World Cup.

The US will play three games during this initial international window. They start off by traveling to El Salvador on Thursday for a 10pm game which will air on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+. Next up is a home game in Nashville on Sunday at 8pm against Canada on Fox Sports 1 and then they conclude this window with another road game next Wednesday in Honduras at 10pm on Paramount+

The US will be favored in each of these games, with Canada being the toughest of the three opponents. But if we learned anything from the last qualifying cycle it is that none of these games can be taken for granted. It is very tough to go on the road in Central America and play against rabid fans in less than ideal conditions. The US will be hoping to take all nine points from these games, but realistically, getting between five and seven points will keep them comfortably on track for qualification.

The good news for the US is they bring in a mostly full strength roster. Aaron Long and Jordan Morris are both still out with long term injuries and Yunus Musah, Tim Weah, and Gyasi Zardes will miss out with short term injuries. The latter three should be available for the next set of games in October. Chrisitan Pulisic will miss the El Salvador game as he is just getting back up to speed after being out with a positive Covid test. He should be available in some capacity for the Canada and Honduras games.

Coach Berhalter has called in a total of 25 players, with 23 being allowed to be active for any particular game. The roster consists of the following --

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (10): George Bello (Atlanta United), John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Ream (Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), James Sands (New York City FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (RB Salzburg), Konrad de la Fuente (Olympique Marseille), Jordan Pefok (BSC Young Boys), Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (Norwich City)


Most of the roster will look familiar from the Nations League and Gold Cup this summer. The biggest new addition is 18 year FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi. The El Paso native was eligible for both the USA and Mexico but chose to join the US in what could be a huge steal for the future of the program. Pepi enters this window in red hot form with two goals and an assist in his last game. He is the top scoring American in MLS and is on the radar of teams in the top European leagues.

Given the lack of production the US has received from the many candidates at striker, Pepi’s rise offers a glimmer of hope for the future. While he may not start any of these games, he could provide a spark off the bench and could nudge his way into the starting competition with some good performances.

The two biggest “snubs” from this roster are Gold Cup breakout player Matthew Hoppe and promising young center back Chris Richards. While both have shown high potential at either club or country they face stiff competition on the US team, with winger and center back being two of the deeper positions. Hoppe could have been a good addition in the attack when Tim Weah came up with a last minute injury, but reports are that Hoppe is not quite in game shape due to his time off after the Gold Cup and then limited club minutes as he waited to secure a transfer. Berhalter has likely left him off due to the fitness concerns and to give him a chance to join up with his new team, Mallorca, of Spain’s La Liga.

Richards is the biggest disappointment for me, since he is talented enough to challenge for the starting center back spot next to John Brooks. Richards was in a similar position to Hoppe with his club as he has received limited minutes in the early season at Bayern before they loaned him back to Hoffenheim, where he thrived last season. The impressive performance of Miles Robinson at the Gold Cup probably secured the starting spot for now and Berhalter decided that Richards would be better off settling back in at Hoffenheim than being a backup in these games. There is a good chance we will see one or both of them in October.

One interesting note on this roster is the large number of defenders compared to midfielders. This signals the US is likely to line up with a three center back formation in one or more of these games. Berhalter used that formation in the Nations League final against Mexico as well as several of the early Gold Cup games. The team will play a similar style whether the formation is the standard 4-3-3 or the 3-4-3 (or 5-2-3 if you prefer). The only real difference is gaining an extra center back for a midfielder and the full backs playing a little more aggressively in attack.

Most of the starting lineup picks itself based on the standouts from the summer. In defense it will probably be from left to right, Antonee Robinson, John Brooks, Miles Robinson, and Sergino Dest.

In midfield Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie are locks to start with the third spot either going to Kellyn Acosta or Sebastian Lletget. Acosta was the better performer over the summer, but Lletget offers a little more in the attacking area. It's likely that these spots will be rotated a bit over the three games as well. The other possibility that has gained steam recently is playing Gio Reyna as a central midfielder, where he has played to start the season for his club team. This would allow the US to get another one of its talented wingers on the field. It may be more of a possibility in the later games if Pulisic returns to full strength. If the US does play three center backs it will mean just Adams and McKennie in the midfield.

The attack will be Pulisic, Sargent and Reyna once Pulisic is back starting. For the first game we will probably see Brenden Aaronson take his spot on the left wing. Aaronson has been on fire for RB Salzburg in the early season and this could be a chance for him to break out for the US. Konrad de la Fuente has also had a great start to the season. He will be a dangerous late game sub on the wing and could start if Reyna moves to midfield.

Goalie will be the most interesting position to watch. Zack Steffen has long been the locked-in starter for the US, but an incredible summer from Matt Turner has made this an open competition. It's anyone’s guess who Berhalter will go with for the first game, but it would not be surprising to see each of them get a shot during this window.

The first game in El Salvador will be the match where the US has the largest talent advantage. The El Salvador team features mostly players from the El Salvadoran league or from lower division US leagues. A few of their best players are American born MLS players who were nowhere near making the US roster.

In the Gold Cup El Salvador played an attacking style and attempted to control the ball instead of just sitting deep in defense. If they continue with those tactics it could play into the American’s hands and provide opportunities to win the ball high up the field and counter quickly. The US has the athleticism to overwhelm El Salvador with pressing and the skill players to pass through them in attack.

Despite the large talent gap, these CONCACAF away qualifiers are never easy. This will be the first experience many of these young US players have with the poor travel and field conditions in Central America and the high stakes intensity these games bring. It will be critical that they match the intensity and maintain their cool in the early portion of the game. If they can do that, there is a great chance for them to get the win and head home for the Canada match with three points secured.

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Wednesday
September 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2564


a great september ahead?


These next 30 days should be out-of-this-world good for local sports fans.

Well, maybe not so much for baseball supporters, but we haven't been excited about September baseball in Baltimore since 2016. We're used to dreary Septembers around here, you know. (It's here where I should mention the Orioles did pull off a rare win last night in Toronto, 4-2. August included a 19-game losing streak but a win to end the month, so the O's have that going for them...which is nice.)

But there's a lot of other cool stuff going on in September, both here and throughout the land. It's going to be a great month.

The baseball pennant and playoff races are going to be well worth following. Even if the Orioles aren't involved, the A.L. East race will be exciting. Tampa Bay appears destined to win the division, but the Yankees and Red Sox are both fighting like heck for a spot in the post-season.

Can Aaron Judge and the Yankees hang on to one of the two A.L. Wild Card spots in September?

The Yankees looked like they were on the fast track to claiming, at the very least, an A.L. Wild Card berth, but they've hit the skids out west after posting a 13-game winning streak in mid-August. New York sits at 76-56, a full eight games behind the surging Rays, who have won 9 straight now.

A Yankees-Red Sox clash is always intriguing and September will have those two battling it out. The Red Sox are now 75-59 and they've dropped three straight to fall a full 10 games in back of Tampa Bay. Whether Boston can hold on to a wild card spot depends a lot on what they do and a lot on what the Oakland A's do. Oakland (73-59) is right there and Seattle (71-62) can't be discounted, either.

The A.L. Central is pretty much on lockdown by the White Sox (10 game lead) and the Astros are five games up on Oakland in the West, but the A's have a way of pulling off regular season miracles. The A.L. West is far from over.

Even without Ronald Acuna Jr., the Braves have figured out a way to snag the N.L. East lead, although it's only a 2.5 game advantage over the Phillies. That race will go down to the wire, it seems. The Phillies and Braves play three potentially-crucial games in Atlanta in the penultimate series of the season in late September.

The N.L. Central is all but over. Milwaukee is up 10 games on the Reds, who are in a fierce battle with the Padres for the second wild card spot. Cincinnati and San Diego have the same record (71-62), but the Reds have nine games remaining against the lowly Pirates and four against the Nationals.

The Dodgers have finally caught the Giants, basically. San Francisco is 84-48 and the Dodgers are 84-49. Those two don't play again in the regular season but the L.A. schedule in the final month is pretty easy. They do finish the campaign with three home games against San Diego and three home games against Milwaukee, but other than that, there's not much to it. L.A. appears destined for a 100-win season, which is pretty remarkable given how much their starting rotation has been wrecked this season.

So, while the local nine won't be playing any meaningful baseball in September, there's plenty to watch around the country and the final month of the regular season should provide for some exciting action.


The Ravens got their roster down to 53 players on Tuesday and the only two real surprises were the release of Anthony Levine and Pernell McPhee. The guess by most folks who follow the team is that one or both of them will return once the Ravens designate their players on the Injured Reserve List. Tight end Eric Tomlinson was pretty solid in pre-season and was expected to make the team but he was also slashed on Tuesday when the cuts were announced. He's also likely to find his way back to the Ravens once the I.R. list is sorted out.

Before they face Patrick Mahomes, the Ravens have to figure out a way to slow down Derek Carr and a talented Raiders offense on September 13.

The challenge for the Ravens in September will be to not look ahead to the big home showdown with the Chiefs on the 19th. They start the regular season with another highly-anticipated contest -- in Las Vegas next Monday night, September 13th. The other September game (at Detroit on the 26th) is pretty much a lay-up, but those first two loom large in terms of seeing how the Ravens stack up against some of the better teams in the AFC.

There's no meter for things like this, but it seems like the September 19th home game against the Chiefs will be one of the most anticipated regular season contests in Baltimore in franchise history. Let's just hope the Ravens remember they have a game against the Raiders on that opening Monday night. Las Vegas first - Kansas City second.

The only concern for the Ravens is a significant "injury bug" that has raced through the team in pre-season. It seems like Jimmy Smith will miss at least the first game, if not the K.C. contest, as he continues to nurse an ankle sprain that John Harbaugh admitted yesterday "is worse than we first thought". Rashod Bateman (leg surgery) is out for at least the first two games as well and Hollywood Brown -- who returned to practice on Tuesday -- always seems to have something bothering him. Couple those issues with the loss of L.J. Fort and J.K. Dobbins and you have to be a little concerned about the team's health heading into the start of the season.

My "bird in a tree" at Owings Mills pointed out three things to me on Tuesday: Justin Houston has been an impressive addition, Ben Cleveland has been a little slow in picking up necessary pass protection skills and Patrick Queen looks like a Pro Bowl linebacker in the making.

"Queen is literally the best defensive player in practice almost every day," the team associate told me. "It's impressive to watch. His speed is one thing; but it's ability to read the play that is really special. He knows where the offense is going before they do."

"Ben (Cleveland) is going to be a good one. He just needs to get his leverage and his angles straightened out a little more quickly in the play," the team source mentioned. "That kind of stuff mostly comes with experience. Once he figures it out, he'll be fine."

"If you didn't know better you'd think Houston has been here for five years," the source continued. "He fit right in, right away. He spends a lot of his time after practice coaching the young defensive players. If he stays healthy, we'll get a really good year out of him." The Ravens, of course, brought Houston in to pester the likes of Mayfield, Roethlisberger and Burrow, not to mention a certain Kansas City quarterback in mid-September.

"If he makes one or two game-changing plays in a division game, that might be the difference in winning the division and getting a home playoff game," the team associate reminded me. "He's still an impact player in this league. We're lucky we got him."

Just remember, Ravens. In September, it's Las Vegas first and Kansas City second.


Golf's Ryder Cup takes place the last weekend of the month (Sept. 24-26) at Whistling Straits GC in Wisconsin. In case you haven't followed along over the last two decades, the Europeans have owned this event, winning 9 of the last 14 competitions, although the U.S. team has won two of the last three Cups played in America.

Will Dustin Johnson be hitting on all cylinders in September at the Ryder Cup?

This American team appears loaded, which seems like a good thing until you realize the European side often relishes the underdog role. There's no doubt the U.S. will be a fairly healthy betting favorite at the end of the month, but the American squad will be heavy with young players and Ryder Cup rookies depending on which six players Steve Stricker adds with his captain's picks next Wednesday.

Patrick Reed, who missed two weeks with double pneumonia, returned to the TOUR on Tuesday when he practiced at East Lake for this week's FedEx Cup finale in Atlanta. Reed is one of the "bubble boys" who will be an attractive consideration for Stricker. Whether he plays well enough this week to cement himself as a captain's pick remains to be seen, but there's no doubt that the 2018 Masters champion is the team's most polarizing potential addition. While not the most popular guy in the locker room, he's also one of the rare American players who have actually stepped up their game in recent Ryder Cup battles.

The PGA Tour has done a nice job over the last decade in making their regular season "mean something" with the development of the FedEx Cup playoffs and all. Golf is mostly about the four major championships, of course, but the other two events that merit attention are The Players Championship and the Ryder Cup. And while it's true that a handful of European players actually live full time in Florida these days, it's also worth noting that, for example, Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy don't hang out together on their off time despite living in the same neighborhood.

This month's Ryder Cup will have several intriguing story lines. The captain's picks are the biggest looming story, naturally. After that, it's all about Bryson DeChambeau (who plays with him?), Dustin Johnson (can he figure out his driving woes?), Collin Morikawa (will his Cup game match his regular season game?) and Jordan Spieth (will his 2021 resurgence carry over to Whistling Straits?).

Given the home-cooking angle of the event, where the home team usually wins, it's important for the Americans to hold serve in Wisconsin. They can then prepare for the 2023 event in Italy, where there's a rumor that Tiger Woods will captain the team as the Americans search for their first win in Europe since 1993.


Speaking of golf, we couldn't write about it today and not mention the PGA Tour's ruling that came down on Tuesday.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced yesterday that fans yelling "Brooksie!" at/near Bryson DeChambeau would be considered a violation of the TOUR's fan behavior policy and could lead to an ejection of the offending spectator.

The new rule stems in part from a series of incidents at Caves Valley over the weekend, including a reported (by ESPN.com) showdown between DeChambeau and a fan following Sunday's final round and a rumored clash between Bryson and two other spectators after Saturday's round.

Fans have been taunting and heckling DeChambeau throughout the summer. That's a fact. That he helped create the rivalry with Brooks Koepka is true, but that's neither here nor there when it comes to fan behavior at golf tournaments. Koepka himself helped fan the flames back in July when he, via a TOUR sponsor, remember, offered free beer to any of his faithful supporters who were kicked out of a tournament for taunting DeChambeau.

That incident, more than anything else, was really the beginning of Koepka's fan base going overboard with their heckling. At Caves Valley, for example, DeChambeau didn't do anything on the course to warrant getting ridiculed or heckled. He was just there playing golf and trying to win a tournament.

But for Koepka's group of frat-boy-followers in the Baltimore/DC area, it was their first and only opportunity to get out and do their part to support Brooks and make life miserable for DeChambeau. In fairness, at least on Thursday when I witnessed it, some of his own followers heckled Koepka, too. But from what I saw, none of it was done with the same vitriol as it was with DeChambeau.

This is not just a ruling that was made in the wake of what happened at Caves Valley. But it's fair to note that Caves Valley was the tipping point, mainly because of the fact that DeChambeau was face-to-face with his detractors and hecklers as he made his way back to the locker room. The potential for an "ugly incident" was front and center, which the TOUR desperately wants to avoid.

I'm not sure the rule itself was/is a good idea. Legislating what people say at a golf tournament seems like a very delicate objective. But I am 100% behind the concept of reducing or eliminating idiots at golf tournaments. Golf is not a sport where the athletes should be subjected to taunting, heckling or threatening fan behavior. No sport should have that kind of stuff, obviously, but golf should be the trend-setter when it comes to fan behavior.

So, while I'm not certain the rule itself can be enforced or whether it might actually wind up making things worse for DeChambeau, I get the concept Commission Monahan is trying to put in place: Attend the golf tournament, act like a decent human being, and don't interfere with the players who are on the course trying to entertain you. That seems like a pretty standard thing to ask of people, although bravado and booze tend to get in the way of that kind of request no matter the sport.

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Tuesday
August 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2563


putting a bow on the bmw


Baltimore was still buzzing on Monday as the afterglow of the BMW Championship was bright and glistening, both within the local media and the folks who went out to Caves Valley to support the event.

I thought I'd hear a bunch of "new complaints" on Monday once people had a chance to digest their experience. Not because there were things to complain about per se but because it's in people's general nature to process the negative more than the positive.

The majority of complaints I heard were the ones we've addressed here ad nauseum; lack of "public water" and transportation/parking issues. The only other minor gripe I heard and read was lack of player interaction with the fans, but that's like complaining that "so and so" didn't sign autographs before an Orioles game. Some PGA Tour players are good with the fans and enjoy signing and posing for photos and others just aren't into it.

Baltimore loved the BMW Championship...but did they love Bryson DeChambeau as well?

Because of Covid-19 fears, there was a "no autograph" policy at the event but that was pretty much just suggested-protocol. The players who wanted to sign or pose for pictures did it and those that didn't just used the no-autograph-rule to beg out of it. Personally, I don't see that as an issue at all. Some players sign and some don't. No big deal. Next topic.

The powers-that-be will fix the water and transportation issues. If they don't, the PGA Tour won't return to Baltimore. When they do decide to return, they'll need a well-crafted PR campaign to spread the word that those challenges were faced, discussed and improvements will be made. People might not be ready to dive in and buy tickets again unless they know in advance those problems won't be an issue moving forward. The water issue is simple to fix. The transportation and parking, not so much. But it will get fixed.

In putting a bow on the event, here are some points to consider.

Beggars can't be choosers, I know, but the truth is the month of August is probably the worst month of the year to hold a golf tournament in Baltimore. I get it. The BMW slot was open and the Mid-Atlantic area has a robust BMW dealership group that was interested in footing the bill for the tournament to be held at Caves. I understand that and would certainly never say it was a mistake to bring the event to Baltimore in August of 2021. But from a course condition standpoint, August is the worst month of the year for a golf tournament in this area. The ground is too soft from the handful of heavy storms we seem to get throughout the late summer and the Maryland humidity doesn't allow for any natural drying. Absent a $100 million sub-air system, Caves Valley can't "get dry" in August unless there's some sort of bizarre weather occurrence where there's no rain or moisture for a month or two in advance of the August tournament date.

The optimum months for a PGA Tour event in Baltimore are May and October, if you're looking for a dry, speedy golf course that won't yield 27-under-par scores. May, of course, is when they play the PGA Championship, but it's unlikely Caves Valley would snag one of the four major championships. The PGA does venture off to new places occasionally, but they're pretty set in their rotation of 12-16 courses for the most part. And if we're being honest, the 27-under par score total we just saw might scare off PGA officials. Their tournament is already eye-rolled-at enough without going to a course that had two playoff participants shoot a combined 57 under par for 156 holes of golf.

The better option at Caves could be an October event that's part of the "first half of the season", but you wouldn't have the allure of the best 70 players in the FedEx Cup to draw interest and those early season events often contain weak-to-mild fields. You'd also have a potential clash with the Ravens and/or Orioles (well, not in October if it's the Orioles...) with a fall event, but those things can easily be worked out in advance, scheduling wise.

The best-case scenario would be a late-September or early-October Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. The course would play firm and fast and the three finishing holes would provide for dramatic theater. No matter what event or competition is next for Caves Valley, the optimum time of the year to hold the tournament would be May or late-September/early-October. But, again, beggars can't be choosers.

Someone mentioned to me on Friday that Caves Valley could also be a potential site for the Korn Ferry Tour Championship -- a late-August, early-September timeline -- sometime soon but there's no way that event has any sales potential in Baltimore. It would be a good golf tournament and the KFT players would enjoy playing Caves Valley but they wouldn't get 20,000 people out there to watch it...over 4 days.


A source told me on Monday discussions were already had about the par 72 layout and that the first suggestion has already been loosely agreed upon; #2 and #16 will become par 4 holes, played from "up" tee boxes on the first two days and the back box on the final two. As I mentioned here yesterday, that's one way to go from 27-under to something closer to 18-under in the snap of a finger. Players will still be making 4's on those two holes but they'll be pars, not birdies. Personally, I'd leave #16 as a par-five and make #12 a par-four, but that's me.

As I've noted here several times recently, the low scoring at Caves Valley (all 69 players were under par for four days, which really tells you more about the quality of golfers on TOUR) was far, far more about the course set-up and the weather conditions and a lot less about Caves being "too easy".

If the TOUR wants the next event at Caves Valley to have a 16-under par winning score, they can do that.

8 under par? They can do that, too.

August might not be the time for that kind of scoring, but even with an August event the powers-that-be can build the layout to fit any kind of desired scoring. I'll keep saying this in hopes people understand it; the majority of ticket buyers and TV viewers watching golf want the score to be 27-under par. The TOUR knows that. And that's why you saw the generous course set-up this time around.


If you check out the videocast of "Drew and Friends" with Kevin Van Valkenburg (below), you'll hear/see me and the ESPN.com columnist talk about the heckling Bryson DeChambeau endured on Sunday.

The PGA Tour is stepping into a very interesting time these days. They're anxiously trying to cultivate what Kevin calls the "frat boy crowd" because that demographic likes to drink beer, play golf and gamble on sports...three things that interest the TOUR greatly since most of their main advertisers are connected to beer, golf and gambling.

But that flirtation with the 20-something crowd comes with a risk. And it's not just in Baltimore where fan behavior has been a topic of conversation. There are other places around the country where Dechambeau and others have faced hecklers and intoxicated spectators going overboard. It seemed particularly bad late in the day on Sunday at Caves Valley, but, as always, we're talking about a few people spoiling it for everyone else.

Golf is different than any other sport. Baseball people will roll their eyes and say, "Ryan Mountcastle can stand at the plate with 50,000 people screaming but Bryson DeChambeau can't hit a drive with a few knuckleheads yelling, "Go Brooksie!" in his backswing?" That's correct. He can't. And he shouldn't have to do it, either.

If you don't understand that golf is different than basketball, baseball and football, that's on you. The sport shouldn't have to kowtow to a handful of goofs who can't hold their liquor. If you can't attend a golf tournament and be respectful towards the players -- all of them -- in the event, you're the problem and you need to be removed. Period.


DeChambeau is officially the biggest attraction on TOUR and unofficially the biggest lightning rod in golf since Tiger. Whether's it's exactly 50-50 or not isn't for me to answer, but there are clearly a lot of people who like him and a lot who don't. Like Tiger, I'd suggest that more than anything, DeChambeau is simply a difficult person to understand. He's complex in nature to start with, and then you throw in that he's turned the TOUR upside down with his 350 yard drives and dedication to hitting the ball longer and longer and you have a very mercurial personality as the circuit's number one drawing card.

Unlike Tiger, the counterbalance for DeChambeau is he doesn't win all the time, which makes him an inviting target. Tiger was a lightning rod, yes, but he always got the last laugh with his detractors because he could just say "scoreboard" and everyone would have to clam up. Bryson's a great player, obviously, but he's certainly not going to win at anywhere near the clip that Tiger won in his 15 years of dominance. So because DeChambeau loses a lot, despite talking as if he should never lose, it gives his haters the fuel they need.

This much I know for sure: DeChambeau is great for golf and most certainly is a massive sales tool for the TOUR. In any event he plays, there will be more tickets sold and more TV's turned on.

There aren't many players over the last decade who have been out-and-out ticket sellers for the PGA Tour; Tiger, Phil, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and, now, DeChambeau, have all been legitimate needle movers in professional golf. A smattering of people might have bought a ticket to see Dustin or Justin or Brooks, but none of those three have anywhere close to the same popularity as the others listed above. DeChambeau sold more tickets in Baltimore this past week than Dustin, Justin and Brooks combined...times three.

There's no doubt that Bryson is an acquired taste. Guess what? So are you. And so am I. We all have our own quirks and habits that make us unique. DeChambeau just happens to be a public figure and his warts, blemishes and oddities are more well publicized than the great unwashed. Would you want the whole world to know about the "weirdness" in your life? I wouldn't want my personal life on display to the world 30 times a year like DeChambeau and I suspect you wouldn't yours on the front page of the sports section, either.

I've seen a lot of things about DeChambeau I don't particularly care for, but I'm trying hard not to make a total "call" on him because I don't know everything going on in his life. Personally, I don't like the brief, matter-of-fact handshake at the end of the round. I think it's a bad look for him. But there are a lot of guys out there -- including the man who beat him on the 6th playoff hole on Sunday -- who aren't overly "nice" after a round of golf. It's not just DeChambeau who seems chilly, in other words.

But my respect level is through the roof for the way DeChambeau has been willing to move golf in a different direction. I've been "on him" since watching him play at SMU seven years ago. He was always an interesting and compelling figure as an amateur and a college golfer and nothing about his approach has changed all that much since then. He wants to be a pioneer, and, let's not forget, he's doing that even knowing there's a possibility it could all blow up in his face and his career could be seriously altered. Heck, Corey Pavin changed to a different style of Cleveland irons in the mid 1990's and his career was pretty much never the same. DeChambeau has willingly changed the way he plays golf and did it without fear or concern about what might happen in the aftermath.

I can see where he's an easy target and easy to dislike, but if you're paying attention at all, the good about DeChambeau should far outweigh the bad. He's a game changer and a needle mover, in a sport that has very few of those kind of people.

Ask yourself this. How many baseball players are real, honest-to-goodness needle movers that you'll pay money to go see? I forked over money to go watch Shohei Ohtani last Wednesday night and was happy to do so. But I can't think of many more MLB players that would motivate me to change my schedule in an effort to go watch them perform.

Sports needs athletes like DeChambeau, who is far more interested in carving a new path than he is accumulating a bunch of money. I'm not saying Bryson doesn't like the $10 million he makes annually, but I think he'd rather be an impact player than a rich player.

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drew and friends...with kvv


We were able to grab a few minutes with ESPN.com's Kevin Van Valkenburg on Monday to discuss the BMW Championship and his Sunday evening column on Bryson DeChambeau that was talked about throughout the golf community yesterday. Once Kevin finished with #DMD, he moved on to make an appearance on The Golf Channel!

Kevin and I discuss the event, the low scoring and the crowd's treatment of DeChambeau in the aftermath of his loss to Patrick Cantlay.

He's always a great guest...but this time, KVV shot -- 27 under par!


Kevin Van Valkenburg


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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


americans abroad


In the last games before the international break for World Cup qualifying, several vital US national team members delivered big performances for their clubs.

One American helped his team secure a spot in the Champions League group stage. Several were important contributors in this weekend’s Bundesliga slate with two American teammates going head to head. Another teenage American made his debut in Europe and back home in the MLS a new young star continued his hot streak.

Tyler Adams figures to play a key role for the U.S. National Team in their upcoming World Cup qualifying contests.

Brenden Aaronson was one of the headliners this week. The New Jersey native helped lead RB Salzburg past Danish club Brondby to advance to the group stage of the Champions League. Aaronson started as an attacking midfielder and got on the score sheet early on with a tenth minute goal. Salzburg forced a turnover deep in Brondby territory and then found Aaronson in the box. The American attacker did a good job to quickly settle and hit his shot past the keeper to put Salzburg up 2-0 early in the game. The Austrian champions held on for a 2-1 win to advance with a 4-2 aggregate score over the Danish team.

They were drawn into a group that will heavily feature Americans as Salzburg joins Tim Weah’s Lille and John Brooks’s Wolfsburg, along with Sevilla. Aaronson has been red hot to start the season for Salzburg, making a good case for playing time in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. With Christian Pulisic potentially unavailable for the first game, it could be Aaronson’s time to shine for the red, white, and blue.

Another talented young American attacker starred in the Bundesliga this weekend. Gio Reyna continued his strong start to the season for Dortmund, scoring a goal in a 3-2 win over Hoffenheim. Reyna once again played in a central midfield role and looked very comfortable in the position. With his appearance in this game he became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to play in 50 games, beating out previous record holder Kai Havertz.

Reyna scored the game’s first goal a few minutes into the second half when he received a pass from Jude Bellingham and neatly settled and shot in two touches, beating the keeper with a low hard shot to the right corner. Aside from the goal Reyna was solid throughout, doing his part both offensively and defensively in his more all around role. His success at this new position could give Gregg Berhalter the option to start Pulisic and Aaronson on the wings with Reyna in the midfield.

National teammates Tyler Adams and John Brooks went head to head in one of the prominent Bundesliga matchups this weekend when Champions League qualifiers RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg clashed.

Wolfsburg got the better of this game, pulling out their third straight 1-0 victory to keep them in first place in the league. John Brooks anchored the back line, which has picked up right where it left off last season, keeping three straight clean sheets. Brooks was strong in the air and calm on the ball in this game and enters qualifying healthy and on the top of his game.

Despite the loss, Tyler Adams was solid as well in this game. He was a force defensively as usual and impressed passing the ball through the opponent lines as well. He is definitely being given increased responsibility by Jesse Marsch, playing more of a deep lying quarterback role than he did last season. It's the exact type of role that Berhalter will hope he can replicate for the US.

On Friday in Italy, Gianluca Busio made his debut for his new Serie A club, Venezia. Busio got the start as the central defensive midfielder in a tough 3-0 loss for the newly promoted team. The 19 year old North Carolina native slowly grew into the game in a mixed performance. He delivered some impressive tackles in his defensive role but also made a few rookie mistakes and was partially responsible for the second Udinese goal. Some growing pains are to be expected while adjusting to a new team and league and Venezia seems likely to take some lumps in their first season back up in the top division. However, the fact that Busio was already given a start in a key position is encouraging.

This week we wrap up the American highlights by heading back across the Atlantic to MLS, where 18 year old striker Ricardo Pepi had a big game to help FC Dallas to a 5-3 win over Austin FC. Pepi scored two goals and assisted on one to continue his exciting breakout season. The young Texan put heavy pressure on the goalie to force a turnover then dished to Jesus Ferreira for the first Dallas goal. He then fired two more home in the first half, both low hard shots in the box to beat the keeper. With the two goals Pepi now has eleven on the season, making him the highest scoring American in MLS and just a few goals off the top of the leaderboard, despite winning the starting role part way through the season.

With the US struggling with a lack of production from the striker position, the emergence of Pepi is an intriguing development. Pepi, who grew up in El Paso near the border, is eligible to play for both the US and Mexico. He has stated he wants to play for the US and accepted the call up for this week’s World Cup qualifiers. If he plays in any of those it will virtually secure his future with the US team.

Later this week we will take a closer look at how Pepi could fit into the US team in the qualifiers and preview the roster and opponents for the three upcoming games.

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Monday
August 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2562


great golf


The final round of the BMW Championship had everything.

Well, except for drinking water for the 20,000 people who were there. More on that in a minute.

Patrick Cantlay outlasted Bryson DeChambeau to win the title, but it was certainly hard to consider DeChambeau a "loser". He shot 28 under par for 78 holes of golf on a supposedly-hard golf course, after all. But the missed chances at #17 in regulation and then again in the playoff, including failed birdie putts from just outside of six feet on the 2nd playoff hole and 18 feet on the 3rd playoff hole, were his undoing.

Cantlay has long been known as one of the TOUR's best players tee-to-green but an average putter, at best. There was nothing "average" about his putting at Caves Valley for four days and his work on the greens in the final 75 minutes of the final round was borderline spectacular. He played 78 holes and didn't have a three putt in four days. On Sunday, every putt he needed to make in order to stay alive, he made, and when he had the chance to seize the momentum on the 6th playoff hole with a 20-footer for birdie, he rolled that one in like the second coming of Ben Crenshaw.

Sunday's round included some tension between the two leaders to go along with their spectacular play.

Cantlay looked miffed that DeChambeau took too long to mark his ball on the 7th hole. Bryson admonished Cantlay for walking while he was trying to hit his approach shot to the 14th green. There was no apparent chatter or friendly banter between the two, but if you and I were playing for the right to win $15 million, we might not engage in much conversation either.

Patrick Cantlay won his 5th career PGA Tour title on Sunday and moved to #1 in the 2020-2021 FedEx Cup points race.

When it was over, their post-round handshake was perfunctory at best. You would have thought two guys who just slugged it out for 24 holes, featuring brilliant golf from both of them, might have led to a warmer greeting after DeChambeau's miss from 10 feet on the 6th playoff made a winner out of Cantlay. Alas, the two players met for a split second and that was that.

But other than Sunday's post-round handshake and a handful of intoxicated trolls outside the ropes who made life miserable for DeChambeau, almost everything about the Caves Valley-BMW experience was well done.

The TOUR set the course up very easy and the weather accommodated to make the place play like - can we say it? - Mount Pleasant on a Tuesday afternoon.

People were wondering if a 27-under par winning score (-29 if you count the playoff) and none of the 69 players shooting over par for four days might lead the PGA Tour to reconsider Caves Valley for future events, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The TOUR wanted 20-something under par to win the BMW or they wouldn't have made the fairways 40-60 yards wide (depending on the hole) in the first place.

In his post-round interview on Sunday, Cantlay admitted to telling a fellow TOUR member after Tuesday's practice round that "25 under will win the tournament."

There are three ways to make Caves tougher the next time around and none of them have anything to do with building new tees and lengthening the course, which they tried to do in 2021. You can make the course 8,000 yards and those guys will just hit 5 irons to 30 feet instead of 8 irons to 20 feet. An easy remedy to toughen the place: make the fairways 30-40 yards in width, grow the rough to five inches and make #2 and #12 par fours instead of par fives. 27 under would become 16 under in a flash.

There was nothing at all wrong with the way the event played out in 2021. You're talking about the best 69 players on TOUR, for starters, and an easy, benign set-up. Don't blame the course. Blame the conditions. If the TOUR wants pars to be popular and birdies to be scarce, they can make that happen. The reality, though, is they got exactly what they wanted at Caves Valley; drama and theater.

Other than no drinking fountains or water on the golf course for patrons to consume on four hot days, everything else about the event was a huge success. The crowds were good on Thursday and Friday and great on Saturday and Sunday which, I'm guessing, is probably the way it plays out in most PGA Tour events that aren't major championships. Corporate hospitality was a smashing success. Transportation and parking were somewhat problematic but it wasn't like it was a complete zoo getting in and out of the course. Improvements need to be made moving forward, but it was all well-intentioned, if not necessarily well planned out.

Baltimore had one opportunity to showcase itself as a "golf town" and it did that and then some. Caves Valley had one opportunity to prove itself worthy of hosting a significant golf tournament and it checked that box as well. The players loved it, but when you make 20 birdies and 5 bogeys in 72 holes, why wouldn't you love it?

Sunday's drama between Cantlay and DeChambeau had a massive impact on the Ryder Cup team. DeChambeau was "in" already, so he wasn't part of the shuffle, but Cantlay secured an automatic spot with his victory. That knocked Tony Finau out of the 6th and final spot and made him a captain's pick again. There's little doubt that Steve Stricker will use three of his six captain's picks on Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Finau.

That leaves three picks for Stricker.

Will Patrick Reed earn one of Steve Stricker's six captain's picks for the upcoming Ryder Cup?

Patrick Reed seems the most logical guy to add of those in the queue, but Reed hasn't played the first two FedEx Cup events due to an ankle injury and double pneumonia. If he's not able to play in Atlanta (he finished 30th in the standings and is scheduled to play at East Lake this week in the finale), can/will Stricker still add him to the team?

Harris English seems like a guy deserving of a captain's pick. He has two wins this season and was "decent" at Caves Valley, shooting 13-under par for 72 holes. If "new blood" is important to Stricker, it seems like English should get the nod.

That would leave Webb Simpson, Billy Horschel, Sam Burns, Daniel Berger, Jason Kokrak, Scottie Scheffler and Kevin Kisner to scrap for the final captain's pick. Of those seven, Burns, Horschel, Berger, Kokrak and Scheffler are playing next week in Atlanta; Simpson and Kisner did not make the final 30.

You want an off-the-radar screen guy who might make for a great captain's pick? How about Stewart Cink? He had a solid BMW and made the top 30 at East Lake. Cink is pretty far down the points list (29th), but his play, demeanor and ability to be effective in both better ball and alternate shot could make him a surprise contributor at Whistling Straits.

I haven't changed my opinion on who I think Stricker should add since I started piecing together "my" team a month ago.

Schauffele, Spieth, Finau are in; the other three I think he should add? Reed, English and Kokrak. If Reed can't play, it's either Webb Simpson or Sam Burns next. If Burns has a good event in the TOUR Championship, I'd give him the nod.

Despite what looked like some mild friction between DeChambeau and Cantlay on Sunday, I think they'd be a great Ryder Cup pairing. I realize Bryson is an acquired taste and all, but there's no discounting his quality as a player. There's no hole too long for him. And when he's driving it like he did at Caves Valley, he's a huge asset to any team or pairing.

Other natural pairings (of the guys who have made it already) include Morikawa-Schauffele, Thomas-Spieth and Koepka-Finau. Finding someone to partner with Dustin Johnson might be a challenge given his recent issues off the tee, but he has the better part of a month (and one more tournament) to figure out his driving woes.

Caves Valley had everything.

There were birdies galore. Incredible shots. Gut-check putting. And a finish that rivaled anything on TOUR this year with the exception, perhaps, of the U.S. Open.

The PGA Tour will return to Caves someday. You can make book on that.

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consider this


All these low numbers on the board at this past weekend’s BMW Championship in Owings Mills got me thinking about a couple things related to how we keep score, how it wasn’t always that way, and how we should think about that when we play golf.

It was the CBS producer Frank Chirkinian who first displayed scores in relation to par as play progressed, sometime soon after he took over the broadcast duties at The Masters in 1959. Before that, you might have heard that after four holes, Hogan had a score of 15 while Snead had a score of 16.

The change was a bit of genius, especially when it came to stroke play events; the players were not matched up against each other as much as against the course. Showing scores against par also had a bit of a hero element; it showed how good Hogan and Snead really were. When those scores get into the 20s under par, like they were this past weekend, that becomes a story unto itself, one that’s both positive and negative.

As time passed, the United States Golf Association became obsessed with “protecting” par by any means necessary at the U.S. Open, which was typically played at courses that were already hard. If “par” seemed like it was no longer legitimate, like this past weekend at Caves Valley, then the goal became to get it back to being legit. At certain times, on certain courses, that quest has led to some comical moments, like Phil Mickelson hitting a moving ball on the putting green at Shinnecock a few years back.

As for most of us, we’d be better off playing golf without wondering whether we were 5-over on the front nine, or played those last three holes in 1-under. Frankly, “par” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. The point of the endeavor should be to get the ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible. The guy who asks “is this a par 4 or a par 5?” on every tee box should be banished to the clubhouse until he apologizes.

I believe I’ve broken par twice in my life, but I can’t say I’ve ever played a casual round where my score in relation to par was even on my mind.


In the NFL, like anywhere else, change seems to be the only constant. There is one area of the game these days that feels like it’s been pretty consistent for a while now, though—the relative unimportance of the running back position.

So it stinks that J.K. Dobbins was injured early in a preseason game Saturday in Landover, a game in which he didn’t need to play in order to make the team. News came Sunday that this was a torn ACL, meaning Dobbins won’t play this season. When runners injure a knee seriously, you can never be quite sure if they’ll ever return to the form they had the moment before the injury.

At the same time, the Ravens will be fine. Dobbins is an excellent player, and was a super draft pick. Nobody here has any complaints about him. Yet his position has become one that is simply a mashup of interchangeable parts. It’s nice to have someone like Dobbins, yet the game plan can be the same if someone else is forced to take his place.

That someone could be Ty’Son Williams, undrafted out of BYU and a former member of the practice squad who signed a reserve/futures contract after last season so that he’d be ensured a spot in training camp this summer. Now, instead of a shot to make the team, he’s got a good shot at starting Game 1 in Las Vegas.

Here’s an interesting note, and maybe a reason why Williams or Nate McCrary could have success. The Ravens run the ball out the shotgun; in fact, Dobbins had the highest percentage of shotgun runs (out of total runs) of any back in the league. You know who else runs the ball out of the shotgun almost 100 percent of the time? Most tailbacks who just finished playing in college, with the ubiquitous spread offenses everywhere you look.

Here’s another interesting note; at least it is to me. Ravens’ fans not only asked why Dobbins wasn’t used more in the pass game as a rookie, but why the team simply doesn’t run screen passes very often. So, in the last preseason game, the offense ran a screen pass—and it led to a season-ending injury for the guy who caught it. Bummer.

The biggest key to the Ravens’ running game, of course, is the fact that their quarterback is a 1,000-yard runner. The guys who get paid to run the ball all the time, no matter how good they are, will always play second fiddle to him.


I’ve written a few times here about the unbalanced MLB schedule. I dislike it, and always have. A team’s final record is too dependent on results against only four teams, and fans only get the chance to see certain players, like Shohei Ohtani, once a year.

This popped into my mind again Sunday after the Orioles dropped another one to the Rays, giving Tampa the weekend sweep. The season series between the teams is over, and it went to the Rays by the count of 18-1.

If you’re wondering, the Birds beat Tampa by a 6-1 score on July 19 at Tropicana Field. About 9,900 people came to Tropicana Field that Monday night. That was it for the Orioles, who were outscored 150-71 by the Rays. In other words, Tampa averaged almost eight runs per game in the 19 games.

I get it—the Rays are a very good team, having already clinched a winning season with 32 games left. The Yankees recently won 13 games in a row, and are still five games behind Tampa. And the Orioles are a historically-bad team, who have won three of their 26 games in August.

It’s just that the Rays shouldn’t get the chance to beat the Orioles 18 times. The Orioles shouldn’t be playing 22 of their last 33 games against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox. Divisional teams should not be playing 76 games against their division and 66 games against the rest of the league.

Making a schedule for something as large and complicated as Major League Baseball isn’t easy; there are rules, and things negotiated by the Players’ Association, and lots of other things to consider. But I think it’s time to give something else a try.

Assuming interleague games will be kept at 20 per team, that leaves 142 games per team. How about 13 games against each divisional opponent and nine against the other 10 teams, which still adds up to 142. Is 13 games an uneven number, meaning that the Orioles might play seven home games and six road games against the Yankees? Yes…and it used to be that way and nobody cared. I know that nine games is unwieldy when it comes to figuring out travel and number of series, but let’s get it done!

This isn’t about the Orioles, and how they’ve at some point or another in the last 20 years or so had a similar season against all of their AL East opponents. It’s about balance, which doesn’t exist anymore in the Major Leagues.

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ravens not crushed by dobbins' injury


In August 2001, the Ravens and the team known then as the Redskins held a few days of joint practice prior to their upcoming pre-season game. This was nowhere near as common then as it is today.

The Ravens, fresh off the team’s first Super Bowl win, had aspirations of repeating as champs. The record setting defense remained intact and they ‘upgraded’ at QB with the signing of Elvis Grbac, but the offense would run through their stud second year running back, Jamal Lewis. Lewis was coming off an impressive rookie season, rushing for 1300 yards in the regular season and 300 more in the playoffs, including 102 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

With J.K. Dobbins out for the season, the Ravens will give their primary running back duties to veteran Gus Edwards.

Heading into training camp, most in the organization and in the community thought the Ravens had what it took to fulfill that dream of repeating. Then came the joint practices. That’s basically where the dream ended, when, during team drills, Lewis took a hand-off and got popped in the knee by a Washington defender. Lewis would tear his ACL and be done for the year.

And whether anyone at the time wanted to admit it or not, the idea of going back-to-back ended. Lewis would have needed to be the catalyst for the team, to keep the defense off the field, wear down opposing defenses and set up the offense for their best chance of scoring.

Flash forward 20 years to this past Saturday night where the Ravens had another second-year stud running back playing against Washington in the preseason. With 8:54 left in the first quarter, a nightmare scenario played out again. While trying to gain yards after a screen pass from Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins was tackled high and low by two defenders. You could just tell at the moment it was not good, and every Ravens fan, coach and organizational member held their collective breath hoping for a glimpse of good news.

Watching Dobbins getting helped off the field unable to put pressure on his leg dimmed that hope considerably. Out came the cart and a few minutes later the camera panned to Dobbins, completely emotionless. You could tell by his face, body language and the swarm of players coming over to him that this was a significant injury. That to me, signified that the worst-case fear was probably coming to fruition.

And around 3pm on Sunday, it was confirmed Dobbins had torn his ACL and would be out for the year. It was such a gut punch for a promising young player and, of course, brought forth the always asked question, ‘What could have been with a healthy Dobbins in 2021’?

But fortunately for the 2021 Ravens, tha’s where the parallel with the 2001 Ravens ends.

This team is much more equipped to handle the loss of Dobbins than it was with Lewis. Will losing Dobbins for the year hurt this run heavy offense? Of course. Does it just down right stink? Absolutely! But will it kill the season? No.

Unlike the 2001 Ravens, who tried to fill the void left by Jamal with a broken-down Terry Allen and unproven Jason Brookins, this team has very capable players ready to step up and keep the ground game going.

First and foremost, they have Gus Edwards. As I mentioned last week, and now I am wishing I didn’t, this offense won’t drop off much with Gus as the lead back. He is a hard runner who finds the holes and is always fighting for extra yards.

My guess? Gus will be fine as RB1 this year.

Second, this offense is ideal for running backs. The scheme is set up for a running back to succeed and they have guys who know the system. This solidifies Ty’Son Williams’ spot on the roster and he probably slides into the RB2 role. Williams has had a great preseason showing he can do just fine in this offense and can probably handle about 10-12 carries a game.

Justice Hill, when healthy, remains as RB3. Hill is entering year three in this offense and understands the scheme. And while I believe Nate McCrary is destined for the practice squad, he has made good on every opportunity given to him in training camp and showed he could find a spot on an NFL roster.

While the Dobbins injury isn’t the best news, it is not the end of the world. If any team can deal with losing their starting running back just two weeks before opening day, it is the Ravens. I would expect minimal if any drop off in the ground game or offense with Gus as the feature back.

Now onto other Ravens thoughts…….

Two more points on the Dobbins injury. If you are blaming John Harbaugh for this because he played Dobbins in the third preseason game, please stop! As you may come to find out through the season, I am not exactly the biggest Harbs fan. But this injury could have happened in training camp or in practice.

It is not like Harbaugh and Greg Roman sent Dobbins out there with the back-ups and he got injured. This was just an unfortunate injury, and it should be left at that.

Second, I would pump the brakes on the notion that they need to go out and sign a veteran back, i.e. Todd Gurley. As mentioned above, they have guys who have been here all offseason, know the offense and can step up. Now would I call Gurley’s agent and say, ‘Hey start getting him in game shape and if this thing isn’t working after week two, we will give you a call’? Yes.

Tyler Huntley really looked good Saturday. I was not sold on him at first, but he ran that offense efficiently against the WFT. He had some good throws, was mobile when needed and maintained composure in the pocket. He has come far this offseason.

It was nice to see James Proche and Devin Duverney have big games. Duverney especially looked really good. I liked how he worked the middle of the field, and his speed is second to none. I really want to see what he can do in space or on some shallow crossing routes. And how about that touchdown catch Proche had! Loved the body control. He went up over the defender and had the strength to come down with the ball and held onto it.

I called Tylan Wallace out last week for dropping a touchdown. This week he stepped up and held onto it. A great throw by Huntley and this time Wallace delivered. The receivers really stood out in the game. Now was that due to lack of talent on the other side or is it all starting to click? I am not 100% sure, but I am excited to find out.

Cut down day is Tuesday, at 4pm, where all NFL teams must be down to 53 players. Along with how some of the positional groups shake out (more on that below), I am curious to see how the Ravens maneuver players who have been injured and the I.R. designated-to-return slots.

As a reminder, if a player is placed on I.R. before 4pm Tuesday, they are done for the year (ex. Dobbins and Fort). To keep a player on the active roster, they cannot be placed on I.R. until after that time.

That means decisions need to be made on such players as Bateman, Boyle, McSorely and Jimmy Smith, all of whom are injured. They could go on short term I.R. but the Ravens must carry them, and they count against the 53. Which in turns means you lose some guys. It will be interesting to see if there are some handshake agreements with players who get cut Tuesday, only to be re-signed the next day once the rosters are finalized.

Positional groups that I am watching to see how they shake out…..

Offensive Line: I am going with the assumption that the starting line in Week One looks like this from left to right, Stanley, Powers, Bozeman, Zeitler and Villanueva. I am good with that. As for the back-ups, I think Ben Bredson is the odd man out. Tyree Phillips will be the swing tackle, Ben Cleveland is a third-round pick and looks promising, Tristan Colon and Patrick Mekari are the back-ups inside. That is nine right there and I think that is what they keep. Bredson is practice squad eligible and for him to stick with the Ravens, that is his best bet. Not sure he will, given the need for offensive lineman across the league.

Wide Receiver: This comes down to what they do with Miles Boykin and Deon Cain. Boykin has been injured for about three weeks or so now and hasn’t practiced. He also hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first two seasons. My guess would be short term I.R. As for Cain, I liked him coming out of college. He was doing well in camp before he missed two weeks with an injury but played Saturday. He had a drop which should not have happened, but I am intrigued by him. He could be one of those handshake deals who gets cut Tuesday to keep Boykin only to be back on the team Thursday. I think Binjimen Victor came up a little too late.

Defensive Backfield: Remember the days when the Ravens were calling guys off the street to play for them in December? Well, that is not the case anymore. They are loaded on the back end! Chris Westry, to me, has done enough to make the team and that was even more apparent with the trade of Shaun Wade. Nigel Warrior, who I really like, is destined for the practice squad.

As for the safeties, I think time has run out for Anthony Levine in Baltimore. I like Levine, he is a great leader and a core special teams’ guy, but it is time to go younger and cheaper. The Ravens have two of those guys. First there’s Ar’darius Washington, who can play the same role on defense as Levine in that hybrid safety/linebacker role. Also, there is Geno Stone, who the Ravens brought back this offseason. I can’t imagine cutting him last year was easy, let alone bringing him back this year to cut him again. Both young men have had a solid preseason and earned their spot.

I’m still not sure if both Pernell McPhee and Jaylon Ferguson make this team. Sure, they could keep both, but neither has done much to impress. I think their long term future with the team could be tied to if there are some surprise cuts around the league.

Good on the Ravens for making two trades this week to get some late day three picks for two guys who were not going to make the team. I was a little bit sad for Wade, but you could see that coming. They recouped a seventh they lost for Oliver and got an additional pick. Then flipped the seventh and Greg Mancz for a sixth. Now with Wade gone, Ben Mason is officially my pick for a “made up injury” to land on the I.R. all year.

One last point, those mustard color shirts the Ravens players have been wearing on the sidelines are God awful. I mean of all colors, the NFL picks that one for the Ravens?? They must be left over from the mustard color pants they wore five years ago!

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Sunday
August 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2561


now we have a golf tournament


When Bryson DeChambeau strolled to the 12th tee on Saturday, he owned a four-shot lead at the BMW Championship at 24-under par and was, for the second straight day, threatening to shoot 59 if a few things worked out for him over the final 7 holes.

One mud ball and a wrong club later, DeChambeau was at 21 under par and suddenly trailed Patrick Cantlay by a shot.

They say the weather turns quickly in Maryland. The leaderboard followed suit on Saturday, as Cantlay maintained that lead all the way until the final green, where his bogey, coupled with DeChambeau's par, left the two of them tied at the top at 21-under par with 18 holes to go.

Patrick Cantlay turned a 4-shot deficit into a 1-shot lead on Saturday before finally settling for a 54-hole tie with Bryson DeChambeau at the BMW Championship.

It's anyone's golf tournament now, with Sungjae Im just three shots behind and Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer and Sam Burns all sitting at 17 under and still within striking distance at Caves Valley.

For a while on Saturday, it looked like DeChambeau was going to run away with the event. He owned a 4-shot lead on the 11th hole and hit his approach on the short par-4 hole to two feet. But Cantlay, striving for a win and a spot on the Ryder Cup team, also made birdie there to keep the deficit at four shots.

And then the golf tournament changed dramatically.

With Cantlay on the par-5 12th green in two shots, DeChambeau had "only" 249 yards to the hole for his second. But a large clump of mud was positioned perfectly on the top of his golf ball in the middle of the fairway and on Saturday, unlike the first two days of the event, officials did not allow the players to lift-clean-and-place in the fairway. DeChambeau's 4-iron reacted wildly to the right and his ball found the large pond adjacet to the 12th hole. Ten minutes later, Bryson missed a 25-footer for par and Cantlay tapped in a short birdie putt and the lead was two shots.

On the next hole, Cantlay rolled in an improbable 35-foot birdie putt and DeChambeau made a double bogey five after hitting the wrong club off the tee and rinsing his tee-shot in the water that borders the front of the putting surface. The 3-shot swing there meant Cantlay was suddenly in the lead.

DeChambeau would go on to make bogey at the 15th and birdie at the 16th, then finished par-par to end his three days at 21-under par. Cantlay missed the fairway at #18 and left himself with a 30-yard pitch to the final green for his third shot, which he hit to eight feet above the hole. But his par effort slid low and left and Cantlay was deadlocked with DeChambeau with 18 holes remaining.

For those not out there on Saturday -- or Thursday and Friday -- something very interesting happened with the gallery during the 3rd round. Everyone was pro-Bryson. The crowd following him was 6-deep along the ropes on Saturday, a far cry from Thursday when my crew tagged along with DeChambeau, Spieth and English and, perhaps, 150-200 people were in their gallery. On Saturday, DeChambeau was clearly the biggest draw of the day. And he didn't disappoint early on, making eagle at #4 and #5, then rolling in a long birdie putt at #8 after hitting his drive into the trees.

Overall scoring was again low on Saturday, as 14 players shot 6 under or better. Prior to the event, experts and club members thought 16 under par might be the winning score through 72 holes. Eight players were at 16-under after 3 rounds and 21 players in total were 10 under or better heading into Sunday's final round. As we've noted here on several occasions this week, the set-up and weather were both supremely critical to scoring at Caves Valley. That, along with the four par 5 holes playing super-easy, have turned the course into pitch-and putt for the world's best players.

I'll say this as long as anyone wants to hear/read it. Caves Valley is a terrific golf course but unless it is prepped to "play hard" and the weather cooperates, it's just not that difficult. If you give TOUR players -- particularly the top 69 in the world -- 40-45 yard wide fairways and soft greens, they're going to chew it up. And as someone who caddied at Caves for a few years circa 2007, I can also say the greens themselves are not all that tough to figure out. If you give the best players in the world 20-foot putts for four days, they're going to make 10 or 15 of them. Anyone who is shocked that the players are eating Caves up hasn't been paying attention to how good they are and how much they relish soft conditions and four par 5's on an 18-hole layout.

So what's at stake today? Plenty.

Cantlay needs a win today to automatically qualify for the Ryder Cup team, but there's almost no doubt Steve Stricker is going to use a captain's pick on Cantlay if things don't go his way today. Still, why leave it to chance when you can just clinch the spot outright by winning the BMW? Cantlay has been one of the best American players over the last few years, but his putter has always kept him from being a top 5 player. A recent putting lesson from Maryland native Denny McCarthy in Florida -- one of the TOUR's top putters over the last four years -- has sparked Cantlay this week and could be a primary reason why he stands in the winner's circle today if he does, in fact, wind up winning.

Sungjae Im (-18) is one of the best ball strikers on the planet who just needs a "big" win like the BMW Championship to put everyone on notice that he's someone to consider for any major championship in 2022. The South Korean is extraordinarily talented. All he needs now is a hot day with the putter and some help from Cantlay and DeChambeau.

Sam Burns (-17) is making an enthusiastic run at a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup team and a win today would all but sew it up for him. Burns has enjoyed a terrific summer and no doubt remains on Stricker's short list of candidates, but beating DeChambeau, Cantlay and McIlroy head-to-head at Caves Valley -- in addition to the other 65 players -- would almost force Stricker's hand. It might also mean that Webb Simpson or Patrick Reed get bumped out of the team that will play at Whistling Straits late next month. There's a lot on the line for Burns today.

Rory McIlroy (-17) was once the world's best player but his form in recent years has slipped to the point that he's now just "another great player" in the world of golf. McIlroy matched Burns' 65 on Saturday, making 7 birdies, throwing his club on the 12th hole, and generally looking a lot like the Rory of old minus the temper tantrum. Rory is, of course, already on the European Ryder Cup team, but any improvement in his play is a good sign for captain Padraig Harrington.

Abraham Ancer (-17) also shot 65 on Saturday and is close to establishing himself as one of the top players on TOUR. He won the WGC event in Memphis earlier this month and has slowly emerged as one of the TOUR's top ballstrikers over the last two years or so. Ancer owns dual citizenship in Mexico and the U.S., having been born in South Texas but growing up in Mexico. But he claims Mexico as his home and, thus, is only eligible for the International team in the Presidents Cup. It's a shame he doesn't shift his citizenship to the United States. He'd be a Ryder Cup player for sure.

A third round 70 put Jon Rahm at 16-under par and leaves him too far back to make any Sunday noise, but Rahm can still win the FedEx Cup and needs a solid finish today to put himself in good position for next week's finale at East Lake.


BMW Notes

Tickets -- A source told me on Saturday that 20,000 tickets were "distributed" for each of the four tournament rounds and that roughly 90% of those were sold, with the remaining tickets used for local charities, volunteers, etc. Saturday's crowd was, by far, the best of the week so far. Tournament organizers were hoping ticket sales would reach 100,000 for four days but are nonetheless happy with the support the event received, ticket-sales-wise. Corporate hospitality "was a home run" according to the source, with only two on-course locations left unsold. And the Wednesday Pro-Am sold out in 45 minutes.

Transportation woes -- A number of people took to social media on Saturday to complain about traffic and transportation issues getting to Caves Valley. Part of the issue hampering the event is the limited access into/out of Caves Valley and the need for a "private" road to get the players access to the course without delay. The use of the Owings Mills Metro Centre for parking and shuttle service was a good one, but tournament officials were unclear about the $20 parking charge, which has caused long back-ups leading to the garage. Because the shuttles use the "back roads" past Stevenson University, travel time to the course from Owings Mills isn't all that difficult. But for people with parking passes who are navigating Park Heights Avenue and parking directly across the street from the course, the process has been aggravating and lengthy. Next time around, parking and transportation has to be cleaned up.

On course water -- I mentioned this on Thursday but it bears repeating. The lack of water on the course has been perhaps the most significant mistake of the week. Tournament officials were smart to allow patrons to bring in a bottle of water. That was a nice touch. But when it's 95 degrees, one bottle of water goes quickly. And while it's totally understood that bottled water is available for purchase, the lack of on-course water for people to refresh themselves was a critical error. Next time...that faux pas needs to be fixed.

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forget the win, what about dobbins?


The Ravens pounded the Washington Football Team on Saturday night, 37-3, winning their 20th straight pre-season game along the way.

The Ravens will learn more later today about the knee injury suffered by running back J.K. Dobbins on Saturday night.

But they might have lost their starting running back at the same time. J.K. Dobbins suffered a first-half knee injury and was eventually carted off to the locker room, leading to speculation that he might have suffered a season-ending injury. John Harbaugh said after the game Dobbins would have a series of tests completed today and an announcement would come sometime Sunday or Monday.

While most people are expecting the worst, it's worth noting that typically when a player tears his ACL, the team -- and its doctors -- know it right away. Complete ACL tears are usually a routine diagnosis. That certainly doesn't mean Dobbins didn't suffer a torn ACL on Saturday. But if you're holding out hope that the 2nd year running back suffered a different, more "minor" injury, there's reason to believe the additional tests today will show something other than a torn ACL.

Social media experts went ballistic on Saturday night, wondering why Dobbins was even in the game. Lamar Jackson played a series, as did a number of the team's anticipated offensive and defensive starters. The Dobbins injury could have happened to, say, Marcus Peters, just like it happened to Dobbins. It's football. A contact sport. Injuries happen. Sure, it was a pre-season game and all, but players need to play a little bit in August just to get acclimated to the speed of "real action". Jamal Lewis, remember, suffered a season-ending knee injury in training camp back in 2001.

Injuries are part of the sport. That it happened in a meaningless pre-season game is disappointing, just like it would be disappointing if it happened on the opening Monday night game in Las Vegas. John Harbaugh isn't to blame for Dobbins' injury. It's football. Players get hurt.

If Dobbins is out for an extended period of time, the running back duties shift to Gus Edwards, Justice Hill and Ty'son Williams. The bet here is Eric DeCosta will bring in a veteran if, in fact, Dobbins is out for more than a month.

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Saturday
August 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2560


six feet from history...


As soon as NBC color analyst Paul Azinger said it on Friday afternoon, I knew Bryson DeChambeau wasn't making the putt on the 18th green to shoot 59.

"He hasn't missed one putt inside of 12 feet all day," Azinger said as Bryson lined up the final stroke -- hopefully -- of his course-record round at Caves Valley yesterday.

And...DeChambeau missed it. Badly. Well, for PGA Tour standards, he missed it "badly". When you don't hit the hole from 6 feet, that's a bad miss. Alas, the 2020 U.S. Open champ had to settle for a second-round 60.

Baltimore nearly had a historic round to call their own on Friday. DeChambeau could have easily shot 58, not 59. He had 16 feet for birdie at the 17th hole and then the aforementioned 6 footer at 18. If both of those find the bottom of the cup, he becomes only the second player ever to shoot 58 in a TOUR round.

Bryson DeChambeau made 2 eagles and 8 birdies on his way to a course-record 60 at Caves Valley on Friday.

The question now, of course, is can he parlay that magnicifent round of 60 into a win at the BMW? It's hard to follow up that kind of round with another great round, but Caves is playing so easy -- and more importantly, those guys are so freakin' good -- that Bryson or someone else making a run at 59 again today wouldn't shock me in the least. For now, DeChambeau seems well-oiled and firing all cylinders. It's not necessarily his tournament to lose or anything like that, but he's definitely in command of his game.

DeChambeau's run at 59 yesterday seemed to shock people, both those at the event and others in town watching on TV. I get it, 59 is rare air on TOUR. It was certainly enjoyable to watch, but unless you haven't been paying attention, a TOUR player threatening to shoot sub-60 just isn't all that surprising in 2021, particularly when you are playing lift-clean-and-place, which they were on Friday due to the wet conditions at the course.

I don't want to muddy myself with the "Caves Valley vs. Mount Pleasant" discussion, but Bryson -- or anyone -- shooting 60 is far, far more about talent than golf course. Caves Valley is a hard golf course for the great unwashed. That DeChambeau and the rest of the TOUR are making a laughingstock out of it really doesn't have a whole lot to do with the course itself. It has more to do with the set-up.

The fairways are 50 or 60 yards wide. The greens are ultra-soft and receptive. The rough isn't terrible, either. No one's really missing any fairways because they're so generous in width, but even when they do, you can draw a decent lie in the rough.

If there was ever a recipe for a 59, Caves Valley has it this week.

And the dirty little secret, of course, is that the TOUR and the TV folks and the players themselves love the set-up. They want birdies and eagles. They want 63's. They want someone having a putt on the last hole to shoot 59. You, individually, might not prefer that sort of pitch-and-putt golf, but the masses love seeing backspin and 285 yard 3-woods and 10-foot eagle putts on a hole where most "normal people" hit driver, 4-iron, 8-iron.

If they wanted 12 under to win the golf tournament, they could easily set the course up for that sort of scoring. Make the fairways 30-35 yards wide, grow the rough up, particularly in the general landing area of where most players hit it off tee, and make the rough around the greens more difficult. You'd have 12 under. Or thereabouts.

They tried adding length to Caves Valley by building new tees on several holes. It didn't help. It might have helped keep the scores in check for the member-guest, but it's not keeping DeChambeau, Rahm or any of the other top players in the world in check. They built a new tee on #14 (playing as #5 this week) to keep the players from trying to drive the green on the 350 yard hole and, guess what they're all doing? Driving the green or getting it close...

The real skinny about Caves Valley is this: The par 5 holes -- for TOUR players -- are basically long par 4's. Calling them "benign" might be overselling it, but they're pretty easy holes for those guys. The par 4's are very standard, if not easy themselves. They built a new tee at #17 (playing as #8) this week and guys are still hitting 7 iron and 8 iron into it and making birdies like Brooks used to make routine plays at 3rd base. The only real challenge, layout wise, comes from the par 3's at Caves. They're all 200 plus yards with pretty small greens considering the length of the shot coming in. So when you take a "fairy easy" layout (for TOUR players) and then make the set-up even easier, you're looking at red numbers and shockingly low scores.

It seems almost silly to even have a "real" discussion about Mount Pleasant hosting a TOUR event because, as we all know, it would never happen. The course isn't nearly difficult enough/long enough to even consider it and, obviously, the infrastructure of the property wouldn't allow for corporate hospitality and so on. We're just arguing about Mount Pleasant for the sake of arguing about it. But if DeChambeau, Rahm, Cantlay and Garcia took a BMW courtesy car over there today and teed it up at the Mount (assuming the course was in TOUR shape and the greens were cut, etc.), all four of them would shoot 12 under par or better. Sight unseen. All they need is a good local caddie to point them in the right direction on some of the tee boxes (2, 4, 7, 13, 18) and they would annihilate the place.

But, again, four TOUR players shooting 59 (or, probably, 56) at Mount Pleasant doesn't mean Mount Pleasant is a bad golf course or anything like that. They're going to shoot 26 under for four rounds at Caves Valley this week and Caves is one of the top 100 course in the country. When you make the conditions of the course easy and suitable for scoring, those guys are going to light it up. Plain and simple.

I was a little surprised again yesterday at what I thought was a "light" crowd. It wasn't an Orioles home game or anything like that (they packed 7,155 in there last night at OPACY), but I didn't think the crowd was overwhelming on Friday. This weekend will likely be a better indicator, as a lot fewer people have work conflicts on Saturday and Sunday. I haven't seen any attendance figures released, but just my own eyes on Thursday and Friday told me the crowds weren't as a big as I thought they might be. Perhaps they're right in line with what the TOUR expected/wanted/sold, but I thought they would be bigger than I've seen. That said, it was absolutely scorching hot out there for two days.

Back to Bryson -- he's nothing if not interesting. I totally understand he's not everyone's cup of tea. I'm not sure he's my cup of tea, frankly. But he is incredibly gifted and, as we've seen over the last couple of years, he's totally unafraid to go outside the box in an effort to be a world class, champion golfer. Watching him drive the ball up close and personal the last two days has been one of the most impressive things I've ever seen in golf.

Every tee ball he hits is an "event".

And here's the thing most people don't realize. He knows that everyone standing around the tee box is there for one purpose: to watch him launch a 350 yard drive right down the middle of the fairway. It's one thing to be standing there with the pressure of making a good swing and hitting the fairway -- out there, somewhere. It's another thing, entirely, to know that the sole reason those people are standing around the tee with you is to watch you hit a 350 yard drive. And you do it time and time again. His drive at #18 yesterday, knowing he needed a birdie for 59, was one of the best tee shots I've ever seen in golf.

So whether you like him or not, there's no debating how much DeChambeau has changed golf over the last year or so. He's not near Tiger-impact, of course, but Bryson has definitely made people (on TOUR and elsewhere) change the way they play the game. Win or lose this week, he's brought positive attention to the sport, which is a testament to him and his work ethic and, most importantly, the quality of his golf.

Oh, and there are actually other guys playing in the tournament as well. Jon Rahm got it to 15 under before bad weather rolled in on Friday afternoon, then returned and bogeyed the 18th hole on Saturday morning to sit in 3rd place at 14-under. Patrick Cantlay got lost in the Bryson-wave on Friday, but the California native posted 63 and sits at 15-under par, one shot behind DeChambeau after 36 holes. Not that Cantlay needed to do anything to cement his spot on the Ryder Cup team (as a captain's pick), but his play at Caves Valley this week is probably all Steve Stricker needs to see.

Of the Ryder Cup hopefuls, Sam Burns is still hanging around trying to impress the captain. He's 11-under through 17 holes of his second round. Kevin Na is 7-under, but did manage to shoot 65 on Friday, which might have caught Stricker's eye. Harris English, Webb Simpson and Daniel Berger -- all hoping for a captain's pick call -- are each at 5-under par through 2 rounds.

We'll see how Caves Valley stands up today. I suspect, given the rain on Friday evening, we'll see soft conditions again in round three that will yield far more birdies than bogeys. Right now, it looks like something around 26 or 28 under par is going to win.

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#dmd comments








LAMAR     September 19
@ERICK



WGAS about our defense? can't stop me

Erick     September 19
Kc Slapping around Baltimore “defense” at home! Wink Wink?

kj     September 19
Where did I say Bo was wrong? Said he backed up what George said. Fake Cassius is definitely a troll.

Guess Harris stayed away from the "best bet of the day" lol




Harris     September 19
Another winning week for Drew, beating the books like a rented mule.

Cassius King (the original Cash Is King)     September 19
I didn’t make that last comment posted under this fake name. Maybe I found the real Cassius King?



@George

I didn’t assume that at all. In some instances, the sharps (respected bettors) and the squares (everybody else) are on the same side. It happens. And sometimes books lose (not in the long run though). And nobody likes to hear a bookmaker whine.

George     September 19
@Keenan – Of course you’re right that the spread is fluid and not set in stone once published. Don’t think what I wrote states or implies anything different. The goal is to get the wager split as nearly as possible to 50 -50. When I worked in the business 50 years ago, we moved the spread much more frequently than it’s moved today. Perhaps that’s b/c of computers and their number-crunching speed, or maybe it’s metrics!

@Cassius King – An assumption in your statement is that the respected bettor and the public will be on ‘opposite’ sides, and why would this be necessarily true? And in an instance where it is true and a large bet puts the casino at risk, it could lay off the excess above 50-50 with a phone call.

@Bo – Big bettors [at least a long, long time ago] were given the opportunity to bet against the spread before it was published. The pro and college football spreads were set by a guy named Bob Martin, in his office next to the Locals Lounge at the Sands Hotel. For college games, high rollers could call in and get -- and bet into Martin’s first set of spreads on Sundays. Once they were in, Martin would adjust the spreads, if necessary -- and it usually wasn't -- and publish it. So what you describe as taking place in the 72 hours AFTER the spread is published has already taken place, and well before that time. In rare instances, the line is adjusted after it’s published. It’s remarkable when the line moves these days, and as I recall, @Stats Nerd remarked on the shift in the Ravens/Chiefs line.

---------

Additional notes: 1. Football point spreads aren’t made in Vegas anymore. I know the enterprise moved to Florida in the 1980s and have no idea where it’s based now, if anywhere. Seems it could be a work-from-home gig.

2. With 10% vig on losing bets, the bookmaker is financially at risk when his difference from 50/50 is greater than 52.3 / 47.7. Someone mentioned that Vegas starts to get nervous when it’s 54 / 46. At that point the casino manager is apopletic.

Howard     September 19
The Terps’ wide receivers are legit and the QB has the arm to get them the ball. If the O-line can give the QB time, watch out!

CASSIUS KING     September 19
Actually KJ, you're the one with the comprehension issues it seems. Re-read what BO wrote, it's spot on.

kj     September 19
Comprehension seems to be an issue today. I think @Bo just called @George "wrong" by explaining the details behind @George's assertions today which, you know, would mean @George was right, not wrong. Right?


BO     September 19
Not to pile on George, but he's wrong on this one. Vegas can't actually control the amount of money that's bet on a certain team when the line comes out. They usually use the first 72 hours to judge what way the public is going and then they will shift the line a point or two if necessary. If 54% or more of the wagering public is on one side of the bet, Vegas gets nervous. They want it as close to 50-50 as they can get. What they don't want is the 54-46 betting profile and the 54 team covering the spread. So they will tweak the line 48 hours in advance of the game to get people to move it closer to 50-50.

Cassius King     September 19
And don’t forget that sportsbook directors also have “respected players” who can move a line. Why? Because there are a few guys who actually win…and they win consistently. Ultimately, the casino wants to be on the side of the respected bettor and on the opposite side of the public.

PB     September 19
Keenan coming hard and spittin' facts. Nice rebuttal.

Keenan     September 19
"George" is wrong about the wagering angle.

When the KC/BALT line went to -4.5 on Thursday the guys in LV wanted to even things out so they dropped the number to 3.5. You immediately saw a large push towards the Ravens, taking the sides from 54.4-45.6 to 53.3-46.7. That's more in their comfort zone.

So indeed they do change the number to entice people to jump on one side and level the balance sheet. A difference of 1% to those guys could be in the range of $500,000 more in their pocket.

"George" might know gambling but he doesn't know football gambling all that well.

Larry     September 19
@Allan, you and all your hot air seem to be making up for the lack of commenting. Keep up the great work buddy. A post a day keeps Drew living in the high rent district!

allan     September 19
Thank you @George, as always, you seem to be the only one @ #DMD who understands how wagering works lol.

BTW. comments are really down this season, why is that?? Is interest waning? Are people afraid of posting lest they get battered by certain loyal followers? Are they simply commenting to themselves now? Or horrors, commenting on other sites instead? I don't know the answer, just asking the question....

George     September 19
Dear Mr. @DMD -- Vegas is not trying to entice you to bet on a particular team, it's trying to entice you to bet on any team. The reason is, it will profit by 5% of the amount you wager. Vegas doesn't "think," for example, that the Chiefs are 3.5 points better than the Ravens. Vegas "knows" that you and the collective betting universe are split right down the middle, half believing the Chiefs are 3.5 or more points better than the Raven, and half believing that they aren't. When the game is settled, losing bets are used to pay winning bets, and the losers pay 10% vig, which the MBAs now quaintly call 'profit.'

Delray RICK     September 19
That's bout the 4th or 5th time ANDREWS dropped LAMARS pass in crucial situations. He's got to come on big tonight. The RAVENS have no answer for #10. AND we don't have anyone to stay with him. Even when we didn't have injuries like this KC still beat our butts. I think there wil some loud booos tonight. Just don't get embarrassed on national TV. KC wil box the line daring LAMAR to beat them. Hope I'm wrong but I might be hitting the bed early.

unitastoberry     September 19
I watched Auburn at Penn Pedo St last night. I want to vent about hitch plays. Unless you have Jerry Rice and Paul Warfield its 97% a waisted play opens you up for turnovers big time imo(stat geek feel free to give the actual numbers). Auburn threw 3 that I counted last night. The game was close enough for Auburn to pull it out until they threw the 3rd hitch pass late in the 4th qt. The cornerback for Pedo smelled it out and pick six game over. Lets hope the Ravens never hire Auburns OC.

I think the Ravens D shows up tonight. Andrews wakes up from his Brinks truck arriving and Al pays better on the left and they pull the upset. I hope.

allan     September 18
Someone buying what the talking heads on FM are selling. Jones is not MLB competent with the glove. In fact, to me, they rushed him up and should have let him play 2B full time at Norfolk the entire season. He's not played all that much at 2B, and while he makes a good play now and again, he is not MLB ready at all.

And hitting .246 in the minors is hardly proving anything. Think they threw you know what against the wall by bringing him up, and he clearly struggled. Sure, a 115 loss team can absorb that if a guy can at least hold his own, I don't think Jones was.

Now no idea what they play Valaika for, just like when they kept playing Franco. Maybe they think he can be a future utility guy, or maybe he's just a body.

Jones is tough call because he has enough athleticism to be a top draft pick but he needs to prove more than he has. Sure there's no great harm in letting him flounder another 3 weeks, but only if you play him every day and Hyde has clearly chosen not to (which is what his comment clearly indicates). Maybe at Norfolk he can show improvement, enough to convince them to keep him on 40 man roster.

James - Dundak     September 18
Agree Drew, I've seen too many mistakes on routine plays from Valaika and others they trot out to 2nd. The want the guy to play 2nd.let him play it out.

unitastoberry     September 18
The thought of Maryland football being in the Dust Buster, Weed Whacker, or insert funny name here bowl just make me so excited! Bring on the Super Conference and pro college league with 5 yr eligibilitly and full playoffs and I will be watching.

john     September 18
Meant 3 and 0.

John     September 18
Don't look now, but Terps are 3 and. Appear to have a decent team.

sammy     September 17
@Hank is correct, there is no right or wrong about any of this stuff. You want to attend games, you go, and if not, you don't go. But while the reason behind each individual decision is not important in and of itself, collectively the leagues need to figure this stuff out.

What will make that a challenge is here are a myriad of reasons so not sure there is "a" solution, but like MLB, who seems to do one stupid thing after another, somehow revenue just keeps on growing.

And face it, that is all that matters for any pro league. They are business entities, period


Hank     September 17
The mask policy is an issue for me. I only wear one if I absolutely have to. Certainly not putting one on for an optional recreational sporting event. Not producing a vax card either even though I have one. Throughout the events of the last year and a half I have learned I can live without live sports or concerts. Doesn't make me right or wrong.

SS     September 17
One other issue that might be impacting attendance is the explosion of youth travel/club sports. Portions of the 30-50yr demographic are trading the income/time they would spend going to a Ravens game to support youth sports which can cost just as much as season tickets and take up an entire weekend (and many cheer on the kids with the same intensity as the Ravens). This isn't THE issue impacting attendance, but one of the many.

Stats Nerd     September 17
Boy that was a lot of field goals last night. Those are 2 bad teams.

Kenny G     September 17
Two other points to the attendance issue. First and simple, no wait at the bathroom!



Second and bigger issue is the demographics of football fans. The older crowd does not like night games. More importantly the younger fans are not a keen on attending like previous generations for several reasons. FOMO - fear of missing out (they are not going to commit to four hours of football in case the game is a dud or there is something else better), economics (student debt, higher housing costs, and maybe even higher cost of living does not give them the means to attend) and too many other entertainment choices (even DVR the game and watch without commercials!).



The seats of the older generation are not being filled by younger generation, like the good old days!

unitastoberry     September 17
Lets hope KC is thinking this team is a push over. We are playing the JV and nursing home squad. I bet Andy Reid is trying to avoid that mentality. For them to have any chance they need to score first and get the mighty mo behind them.

Delray RICK     September 17
The upcoming RYDER CUP already having problems with KOEPKA @ MY BRAND . STEVE should grow a couple and boot both OFF. But he ain't going to do it. Mark my words....these two jerks WILL cost USA another embarrassing lost. Book it DAN- O

George     September 16
@Stats -- Interesting indeed. The Chiefs opened as 5.5 point favorites [ESPN] on Tuesday. Lots of money coming in on the Ravens.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Just looking at the lines for Sundays games. Chiefs are only -3.5 which implies a roughly 64% win probability. Do Ravens fan really feel like if they line up 100 times Ravens win 36 of those games? Or are we just disillusioned by Monday night's performance?

Chris in Bel Air     September 16
I think @Such hit a good point yesterday and most comments here are leaning the same way. The O-line has to be solidified in order for the offense to have any consistent success and enable the Ravens to get the most from Lamar's extraordinary skills. True you need talent in the ball handling skill positions too. But even if your team had DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Darren Waller, it's not going to be as successful if your QB is running for his life on 50% of the dropbacks.

unitastoberry     September 16
@Allan... I saw with my own eyes Unitas get booed. And not just at the end of his career but in the middle too. It didn't happen often but it did. And many fights in the stands would start when someone would stand up to criticize John with certain foul words. People loved Unitas and took up for him. You had to be there. I was very young but have memories. I wouldn't defend any player today in the stands. Free agency got rid of all that.



@ Jason...Its still early and could change but right now EDC made a mistake in not holding Zeus Jr to his contract here. I thought for sure they would but EDC is trade happy. Brown had a not so great game for KC last week but not like Al.Give it a few more games. Yanda is a 2nd or 3rd ballot HOFer imo. They still miss him and his agressivness. Those kinda players elevate others around them.

Stats Nerd     September 16
Correction: should say before the 2020 season

Stats Nerd     September 16
@George The models use the following to factor in the 4th down decision bots. Distance from opponents goal line (obviously the further away the team is the less likely a field goal will work AND the more penal a missed 4th down attempt could be), length to first down, offensive 4th down success rate, defenses 4th down success rate. I believe that is it. So no accounting for weather conditions. But my suspicion is that those are overstated other than EXTREME example (though I haven't gone down a rabbit hole to support that). If anything I think really poor weather would even more strongly favor going for it vs. a kick due to the issues that weather presents to a kicking game vs. indoors. One thing to note is that these models tend not to perform well late in games when clock management is important and more game theory optimal based decisions can be made (ie kicking a field goal in Las Vegas with 35 seconds left to go up 3 should almost always win the game :) )



I haven't seen any specific stat that measures wins/losses as you presented it. Here was an article I remembered from before the 2000 season that factors in a bunch of analytically "important" factors and ranks the various coaches.



https://www.nbcsportsedge.com/node/189871



As the author notes this doesn't mean these are the best users of analytics per se. Rather some of the coaches scheme might just orient towards better analytic "grades". Perhaps that is ultimately splitting hairs but thought I would throw that out there.

allan     September 16
Oh no, two genius callers are down on Lamar, that will definitely change the Ravens view on their QB for sure. @UTB could probably confirm, but back in the day I am sure you could find "2 or 3" locals who would rag on Johnny U after a mediocre game the Colts lost. Yawn.

Agree 100% with @Jason re: "crime in the city" being an issue for attendance. His points are 100% correct, and also true for O's games. Now if you venture 3-4 blocks out to visit non-game related venues, sure it increases the odds of something happening, but who is gonna do that at midnight on a Sun?

@Idiot Caller brings up some really good points too. Ravens doubled down on wokeness, and as they learned after London, this fan base in particular is not going to share those same viewpoints. Don't recall the Cass interview, but if the team thinks the woke mob will replace all the long time fans, well ok then.

But honestly, that younger crowd way more likely to watch on their phone than physically go to a game. This is an issue across all sports, other than for the big event games. NFL and MLB reaching a tipping point where for just a normal game, they really do not need the current capacity. But do you shrink footprint then forfeit big $ when its a playoff game?

At end of the day, there are unique Baltimore things in play re: attendance, but there's also systemic across the board issues as well. Watch other games, lots of empty seats across the league. The allure of "being there" is just not what it used to be.

unitastoberry     September 16
Lets see what happens with all those tickets by game time. If the secondary sites drop the price the closer to Sunday they could move fast. The games I watched last weekend looked all sold out covid and politics seemed to have no effect. Football in the fall is an American addiction. Lets revisit this after the game if needed.

Jason M     September 16
Agreed @U2B...Oline is the key to this offense, they have to perform better or this is going to be a long season. We lost a very high quality tackle, we'll see him across the turf wearing red on Sunday. Seems like it took as two season to even begin to fill the void left by Yanda, but at least against the Raiders it seemed to me that the interior line held up well. It was the tackles that were both getting abused.



@ Ricky - Yes, Dick Cass in an interview with Mike Preston last week spoke about the season ticket turnover, younger fans and basically said the world has changed since 2006 and their ok with where they were with the fans in the stands.



The talk about Baltimore crime is pretty much a Canard - I've been a PSL holder since 1996, on game day, especially a big Sunday night game, you're more at risk of getting run over by a fellow fan going for a parking space, or puked on by a drunk tailgater than getting robbed by a local. There is a huge police presence on game day, as well as thousands and thousands of fans everywhere. However, there is something to be said about a night game being hard for the working stiffs like me. I far prefer a nice 1PM game, and I know Harbaugh and the players do too.

Hank K     September 16
O's game today. I will be there. Music expert Drew has never heard of the Avett Brother's...they are awesome. Bought a box seat on secondary market for 18 dollars.

Should be a great show. And baseball.

Hampstead Mike     September 16
Prediction: No matter their record, the Ravens will struggle all season with attendance, and they will blame it on Covid.

Ricky     September 16
It's a little surprising to hear that the Ravens Chiefs game isn't sold out. I guess there are many causes for this, including the price of the tickets, the perception of Baltimore being unsafe at night, the city's mask mandates, etc., etc.

I do have a question; Didn't the Baltimore Sun just run an article quoting a Ravens official that they are very pleased with the new younger Ravens fanbase?

Tom J     September 16
It's many things. I've had tickets since 96 and I gave mine to someone as I have not much interest in going especially because it's a night game. You either have to leave early, take the next day off or dog ass tired. After the excitement of one SNF or MNF, don't need to do it again.



The crime in the city of course is another factor. The political stance the NFL has taken is another. But I think the main factor is people realized with not going last year that life goes on and you can survive without going to the games on Sundays. Cheaper, safer and more comfortable to watch from home.

Bob S. (AKA: Idiot Caller)     September 16
"Go woke, Go broke".

Part of the reason there are so many tickets available for the Ravens game(s) this year, is the political stances the Ravens (and the NFL) have taken recently. When the Ravens went all-in on the Anti-Christian, Anti-American, Pro-communist BLM organization last season, me and all of my friends and family gave up our PSL's. (Remember, the Ravens were the ONLY team in the NFL and all of major college football to have BLM signs displayed on their sidelines all last season). I'm sure we're not the only former Ravens fans to do that.

I guess their "new" BLM fans aren't buying the tickets?

Maybe the Ravens are learning are hard lesson that it's probably not a good idea to alienate your core fans.

Delray RICK     September 16
The YANKEES always drew big crowds since 1954 but now 10,000 the other night ( last night might have been 15,000 ) is an embarrassing look for BALTIMORE. And with SUNDAY night coming up and hear those RAVEN hating announcers saying bout the game with over 10,000 empty seats. The telecast wil be for the CHIEFS ONLY.

Hank     September 16
Not many want to go into downtown Baltimore at night for a primetime game. Add to it the mask mandates in the city and that is a part of it. Plenty of other reasons too. I hate night games.

kj     September 15
@Kevin is a plant right? ie a site paid troll. Or just not very bright?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- Agree that the Chiefs will beat the Ravens by about two touchdowns but don't think it will be entirely the fault of the defense.

Such     September 15
@ George

Have you seen the Ravens defense?

George     September 15
@Suchy -- After reading your piece canonizing Lamar, I'm thinking he'll never lose another game. Then you pick the Chiefs over the Ravens by 12 points. Doesn't add up.

Friday
August 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2559


bmw championship - round one


Here's how easy Caves Valley played in Thursday's opening round of the 2021 BMW Championship.

If you shot 3-under par 69, you were on the edge of being out of the golf tournament after just 18 holes of play.

In fact, the course played so soft and simple that 62 of the 69 starters shot even par or better. That's right. Only 7 players shot over par on Thursday and the highest score in the entire field was 3-over par (Branden Grace).

Yes, Caves Valley was ripe for the picking on Thursday. Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Sam Burns torched it for opening round 64's and Rahm and Burns both played the layout without making a bogey, in fact.

Here's #DMD's version of the "Great, Good, Bad and Ugly" from day one of the BMW Championship.

GREAT --

1. The golf course and venue are, in a word, sensational. The course might not be playing difficult -- but most of us knew that going in -- but it looks fabulous and the property is completely conducive to hosting a significant professional golf event like the FedEx Cup playoffs. The natural ampitheater at 17 and 18 is a stunning backdrop and the flow of the course makes for easy viewing from a variety of strategic points.

Caves Valley should be in line to host a significant international competition after this week's success story. Whether that's a Ryder Cup or Walker Cup, the venue is more than appropriate for a "bigger" event than a PGA Tour stop.

After a fairly benign season by his standards, could this be the weekend Rory McIlroy (8 under through 18 holes) returns to the winner's circle?

2. Granted, we're talking about the top 69 players on TOUR, but the play on Thursday was out-of-this-world good. When you mix together the top players in the world, a relatively simple layout, and a lift-clean-and-place rule, you're just begging for someone to shoot 25 under for four days. I'm not sure 25 under will, in fact, be the winning score, but the winning total will start with a "2", for sure.

Now that Tiger's no longer active, the argument about "best player in the world" is filled with reasonable answers. You might argue Morikawa. Someone else might say Bryson. Dustin Johnson might even get a vote or two. With all due respect, those three aren't number one...Jon Rahm is. He's the best driver of the ball right now, his iron game is on point and he makes more than his fair share of putts. Rahm's play on Thursday bordered on "effortless". On a 7,500 yard layout with more than a handful of difficult par 3's, remember. His play off the tee is starting to resemble Greg Norman in both accuracy and consistency. He's going to be tough to beat this week.

GOOD --

1. The attendance was "good" on Thursday. It wasn't overpacked or stuffed to the gills. You could move around quite easily, in fact, and could watch virtually any player you wanted from the first row behind the ropes. There was a point when my small group of walkers accompanied Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth and Harris English for 5 holes (10 through 14) and I'd say there might have been 200 people total walking along with those three guys. I kind of figured 1,000 or more would be packed in on each hole watching them.

I have no idea how many people were there or how many unused tickets there were. The crowd was good. I'd say I thought it would have been more crowded, but I had no idea what to expect. My "guess" on the crowd size on Thursday? Maybe 20,000? 22,000? Somewhere in that neighborhood.

2. Food options and bathrooms on the course were plentiful. If there's one area to nitpick, the TOUR should have considered some "water stations" or sprinklers for heat relief. I realize they're in the market to sell bottled water at $6.00 a pop, but 95 degree temps should kick-start another phase of customer service that includes water stations. If you're going out to Caves over the next three days, you'll have easy access to concession stands and bathrooms.

There are also lots of shady areas to sit and watch the golf. Most of them involve stationing yourself directly in front of the stands, which act as natural sun shields. In particular, along the left side of #18 is a perfect place to sit and earn a reprieve from the scorching temps. The tall oaks that border the 8th hole are also prime "relaxation spots". Most drives from the 8th tee wind up in the fairway almost directly in front of you, giving you a nice view of the uphill approach shot to #8 green. One general rule of thumb for the course: Find the shade. Oh, and if you're going out to Caves, here's one other tip: Take a towel with you. You'll thank me later.

BAD --

1. I didn't see all 69 players on Thursday and I didn't witness every moment of fan interaction. But in my 6 hours there yesterday, guess which player got heckled the most? Nope, not Bryson. Brooks Koepka did. I was, in a word, shocked.

Here's the thing, though. It wasn't "heckling" like you and I know heckling. They weren't trying to disrupt him. They -- or at least the dozen or so guys I witnessed -- were actually trying to encourage Koepka. But they were loud and drunk and obnoxious, even when their hero approached on the 8th tee. To Koepka's credit, he didn't flinch, even when one of them yelled down at him, "Come on Brooksie, we came all this way to see you! Give us a wave, man!"

It dawned on me that this particular group of "energetic" fans are precisely what Koepka has engineered for himself. He wants to appeal to the Barstool crew...so with that he gets Barstool interaction. Loud, raucous, unforgiving...even when it's one of "their" guys, they don't let up. I didn't hear one person heckle DeChambeau on Thursday. I was stunned at the heckling of Koepka, though.

2. TOUR players that have significant apparel deals do not actually pick out their pants/shirt/hat combination. The apparel company does that for them, sending them their "uniform" for each round in a pre-arranged box that has everything included.

That said, who on earth at Under Armour decided black pants and a black shirt would be a comfortable fit for Jordan Spieth on a 95 degree day in Baltimore in late August? I get it, the apparel decision(s) for this event probably took place a month or more ago by the marketing folks at UA, but it's not like Spieth was sporting some sort of new line of golf shirts. It was a standard black golf shirt, period. And black pants. I can't imagine Spieth was thrilled at having to wear it on Thursday. I mean, it "looked" hot from 50 yards away. Couldn't Under Armour have called an audible on Monday when they looked at Thursday's weather? Yikes...such a bad move.


UGLY --

1. OK, there are two parts to this. I heard that entry into the event was "clean and easy" until about 9:15 am on Thursday. After that, it became a fiasco until just after 12 noon. My crew left Towson at 10:05 am. We cruised easily along 695. But once we got off the Beltway and started the trek on Park Heights Avenue, things screeched to a near halt.

We stepped foot on the golf course at 11:45 am. A drive of 25 minutes from Towson turned into 1 hour and 35 minutes. I realize Caves Valley is an isolated spot in Baltimore County that is really only serviced by one main road (Park Heights Avenue) and that getting in and out was always going to be somewhat problematic. But 95 minutes from Towson? Gotta be a better way.

"The better way" might be to get to Caves at 8:45 am and wait 15 minutes until the gates open and then stroll around until the first players tee off at 9:40 am. I think that's the way I'm going to do it today when I go back out with my son and some other friends.

2. When I say scoring was "ugly", I don't really mean that as a negative. I mean, from the standpoint of the course holding its own against the best players in the world, that things got ugly real quick on Thursday. The first 5 holes are a piece of cake. #1 is an iron and a wedge. #2 is a simple par-5. #3 is a downhill par-3. #4 is a par-5 most players will reach in two with a mid-iron or hybrid. #5 is a short hole that some players are trying to drive.

It's not that Caves Valley is "too easy". It's a difficult golf course when regular human beings are playing it. But it's not tough for the 69 players who are in this week's field. It's more about them than the course. The best players in the world are just way, way, way too good. And when they get a course with four par 5's, all of which are relatively short by today's standards, and soft conditions, they're going to chew it up and spit it out. I know the Caves Valley members were hoping to see the course defend itself admirably, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. That doesn't make Caves a "bad course" or anything like that. It's just not nearly difficult enough to do battle with the likes of Rahm, Schauffele, Rory, DJ and so on.

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faith in sports


Today's edition of "Faith in Sports" takes us to Tennessee for a profile of high school football coach Barry Cox, who has gone from the bottom to the top during his sporting life. Take five minutes today to watch Barry's story; it's one we can all identify with in some way. As always, we thank our friends at Freestate Electrical for their support of our regular Friday feature, "Faith in Sports".

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Thursday
August 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2558


baltimore is shining


I hope the marketing powers-that-be in Charm City give me full credit -- and a lifetime downtown parking pass, somehow -- for giving them their newest catch-phrase for 2022 and beyond.

Baltimore is shining.

What? You don't like it. It's not my fault you're not a critical thinker.

Baltimore is shining. This week, in particular, it's shining brighter than ever, as the BMW Championship comes to town for a flirtatious week with area golf fans and corporate sponsors. As David noted below, is there a chance we might somehow get a regular TOUR event in our fair town as a result of this week's awesome show of support? I'll get to that in a minute.

Cedric Mullins contributed both defensively and offensively (3 RBI) on Wednesday night as the O's broke their 19-game losing streak.

Baltimore is also shining this morning because, as I told you would happen here on Tuesday at #DMD, the Orioles got back in the win column last night with a thrilling 10-6 win over the Angels. That 19-game losing streak is now, officially, a thing of the past.

A bunch of us made the trip to Camden Yards last night to see the game. I took my (now) 14-year old son with me and in the top of the 4th, he said to no one in particular, "Well, this is usually right about the time the Orioles fall apart. You can sort of feel it coming."

Alas, the Angels tacked on four runs that inning to forge a 6-2 lead. Smart kid, huh?

But the Birds never gave up. We went mostly to see Shohei Ohtani, the sure-fire 2021 A.L. MVP, who got the start on the mound for Los Angeles. Truth of the matter, his performance was more like that of an Orioles starter. He gave up a first-pitch lead-off home run to Cedric Mullins and surrendered two more long balls (Santander, Stewart) before departing after 5 innings, staked to a 6-4 lead.

It wasn't Ohtani's best night on the mound -- not by a longshot -- but it was still cool to see him pull double duty as the starting pitcher and L.A.'s lead-off hitter. I tried my best to explain to my son on the drive downtown just how incredibly rare it is to see a pitcher be able to hit at the level Ohtani is hitting this year (40 HR, 88 RBI) and how he might go his entire life and not see someone in Major League Baseball pitch and hit like Ohtani has done in his career.

The crowd was nice last night. As I write this, I actually have no clue what the announced attendance was, mostly because I don't recall them announcing it at the game. Did they? I can't recall. I'm guessing the attendance was somewhere in the 15,000 range.

Editor's note: I check the game recap at ESPN.com and --- the crowd was 15,867. Like I said, a pretty nice gathering on a 93 degree night, especially for a team who seemingly hadn't won a baseball game since Trump was President.

The O's rallied in the 8th to earn the win, as the Angels couldn't throw a strike and manager Joe Maddon seemed like a permanent fixture at the mound. With the O's ahead 7-6 after a pair of runs had been walked in, Austin Hays delivered a massive two-run double that put the game out of reach. As he roared into second base, Hays pounded his chest and pointed to the O's dugout, where the guys had moved to the top step and enthusiastically waving towels and high-fiving. If you wouldn't have known better, you might have thought the Birds were in the middle of a pennant race. It was pretty cool to witness, 39 wins and all.

Speaking of the game and the ballpark and all that stuff. Two things about the game presentation that stuck out to me. The volume/quality of the PA announcer "sound" is terrible. It could just be that I was in a quirky spot in the ballpark (lower level, section 14) where it doesn't hit me the right way, but the PA voice was more muffled and inaudible than I previously recall.

And I realize this is a touchy subject and all, so I'll tread gently here. And it's not about the PA announcer being a female. Not at all. It's about the PA announcer -- at least last night, anyway -- not really adding anything at all to the game presentation. I realize it's her first year and I also fully realize it's a PA announcer and, who really cares?, but something seemed "off" with the presentation of the product.

For some reason, when I attended games in May and June, it didn't stand out to me like it did last night. Maybe it was just one of those 0-for-4 nights that everyone has, occasionally. Like the Orioles, I think she'll improve with time. At least I hope so. Slight rant...over.

On the field, the Orioles were shining on Wednesday night. Cedric Mullins couldn't miss at the plate and made a nice throw to second to nail an Angels' runner. His arm strength being the only notable weakness in his game, it was good to see Mullins make that play from his spot in centerfield. There have been plenty of one-year wonders in baseball and it will be incumbent upon Mullins to come back and do it again in 2022, but that kid looks totally legitimate. The O's have themselves a long-term fixture in centerfield, although at some point it might be a consideration to move him to left field if the Birds can locate an equally competent defensive centerfielder with a better arm.

Anthony Santander had another home run last night and went 3-for-4, moving his average to .256 on the season. He also made a couple of nice defensive plays in right field. Santander remains one of the team's bigger mysteries. When healthy, he's a semi-legit Major League player. He can hit with power, drives the ball well to the gaps and can hold his own with the glove. The only thing not to like? He misses a lot of time. He played 93 games in 2019, 37 (of 60) last season, and 84 out of 125 this season. If he can ever not be injury-prone, he could be a somewhat-permanent-fixture in the outfield.

The good news about going over the Orioles and their roster? You can skip right past the pitchers. Nearly all of them are disposable, although Dillon Tate and his 99 MPH fast ball looked good last night, as did Tanner Scott. Those two might be the only guys really worth keeping around for 2022 (relief staff wise). Somehow, someway, the Orioles have to get better pitching -- starting and otherwise -- in 2022. Their offense isn't terrible. Their pitching, though, is.

Any time I go to Camden Yards, my mind shifts back to that ALCS in Baltimore back in 2014. I was sitting in the right field corner, about 50 yards from where Alex Gordon dumped that triple in front of an unsuspecting Nick Markakis. I know that's a bad memory, but the stadium was electric that night. Gordon pulled the plug and the Royals would, of course, go on to a 4-0 series sweep, but the contrast between last night and that ALCS Game 2 in Baltimore was really evident on Wednesday night with the Angels in town. I hope those days of 2014 return again soon. There's nothing better -- including a football game, I'm sorry -- than a meaningful baseball game being played in your city on a beautiful night, be it late August or mid-October.


And now, back to golf. The local golf community is buzzing about this week's BMW Championship at Caves Valley. I'll be heading out there today and tomorrow myself and, based on my e-mail inbox, a lot of you are going out over the next four days as well.

A number of people have reached out to me to ask "what should I do while I'm out there?" That, of course, is a very open-ended question, because we all have different likes and dislikes when it comes to watching sports, especially golf.

Jordan Spieth will be a fan favorite this week at Caves Valley.

You can pick a favorite player and follow him. You can hang out at one hole and watch a bunch of groups come by. You can just go to the practice range and watch players hit balls. Or, you can just stroll around and take it all in.

If you've never had the privilege of playing Caves Valley, I'd suggest trying to walk the golf course just to see it in its entirety. You can probably walk the whole place in less than 90 minutes and you'll be seeing great golf as you do it!

There aren't any second-tier players in the field fo 69, so just hanging out at a hole -- find some shade! -- is a good way to go, too. You'll be treated to an array of great players playing right in front of you. That's also a good way to go, especially if you can find a spot underneath a large oak tree out there.

If this tournament turns out to be a trial for a bigger event down the road, Baltimore will, I think, pass with flying colors.

The Wednesday pro-am sold out in 25 minutes back in March and tickets for the four days are scarce. Corporate hospitality has been well received, too, as Baltimore businesses are showing they're willing to plunk down big bucks if they think the event matches the expense.

Whether the area can support a regular TOUR event remains to be seen. For starters, they'd need a course. And, if we're being honest here, only two courses in the area would be worthy of hosting a PGA Tour stop; Caves Valley and Baltimore Country Club (East). From a golf standpoint, those two courses could do it. But it's highly unlikely either one of the clubs would actually want to host a tournament every summer. You just lose too much of your golf course (2-3 weeks prior, 1 week after) during the peak playing season.

Washington D.C. was a regular TOUR stop for two decades. They played at Congressional and TPC Avenel, both of which were more than capable of hosting a tournament. The D.C. outskirts also have the Robert Trent Jones course -- where they've played a Presidents Cup -- that could host a TOUR event.

Baltimore has two courses worthy of professional golf and the guess here is neither of them would like to be a "regular" visit on the TOUR.

Once this week is in the books and Caves Valley and Baltimore shine brightly, I suspect the PGA of America might look at Caves as a potential site for either the Walker Cup or the Ryder Cup, even. My guess is the USGA might also reward Caves with one of their signature events...either the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Four-Ball or maybe even another U.S. Senior Open.

This won't be the last time professional golf makes a stop at Caves Valley and it also won't be the last time the state of Maryland hosts a significant golf event.

Baltimore is shining brightly this week.

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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.


just my opinion...i could be wrong


I play golf, and wish I could play more, though not too much. I practice some, though probably not enough to make a huge dent in the handicap. I dream about golf, I suppose, though not in some kind of Carl Sandburg-Robert Frost kind of way.

I’m certainly a golf consumer — apparel (I’m going away from UA performance wear these days), balls (TP5, usually), my GPS watch (can’t believe I ever played without one), and even a lot of gloves (my hands sweat way too much).

I’ve always enjoyed reading about golf, whether instruction articles or the true-to-life fiction of the late Dan Jenkins or the great nonfiction from writers like Michael Bamberger or Jaime Diaz. For some reason, golf brings out great writing in a way that football or basketball do not.

Besides ending up with a bogey on a par five after being 30 yards short of the green in two shots, there is only one part of golf in which I’ve ever been disappointed. I’ve thought about it a lot recently, considering all the great players who’ve arrived here in Baltimore this week for the BMW tournament.

Attending a golf tournament in person is not particularly fun, at least not for me. Of all the things I’ve done surrounding golf — which admittedly pale in comparison to some people — my least favorite has been watching professional golf tournaments.

No matter how many grandstands get put up this week at Caves Valley, golf is not a spectator sport. No matter how many roars have echoed through the pines at Augusta National on Masters Sunday, my experiences haven’t made me pine (no pun intended) to be part of that crowd.

Didn’t you go to Augusta just a few years back, you might ask? I did, thanks to #DMD. And it was great! I cherish that day and always will, from some of the people I met to wolfing down a few pimento cheese sandwiches to standing on the side of the highway in South Carolina waiting for a replacement bus.

As I told anyone who would listen that day, however, I mostly went to see the course. I walked it twice, 1 through 18, which is easy to do on a practice day. I took mental images of those places that I’d only seen on television. The Masters practice range (only used during tournament week) is insane, even for the pros who’ve played everywhere.

On the course, however, I don’t remember watching many golf shots. The shots I did watch, I could barely see. Even on greens such as the ones in Augusta, watching people putt is boring. I could only imagine how much harder and less interesting it would be to watch when trying to see over and through thousands of people on Sunday.

I actually can imagine, having attended the second round of the 2005 PGA Championship at Baltusrol in New Jersey. On a 95-degree day, I sat in a grandstand behind a par-3 green for a while. I walked several holes, cutting through fairways on walkways when needed. I even followed Tiger Woods for a few holes. I heard by the roars that he made a birdie on one hole, though I couldn’t actually see it despite standing maybe 20 yards away.

Unless you can get inside the ropes, I just don’t see how you can really follow a high-level pro tournament while attending the tournament. The field of play is massive, and the amount of “stories” happening at one time is more than you can possibly track.

I appreciate the work required to run a FedEx Cup tournament such as this week’s BMW Championship at Caves Valley. I admire the way that the grounds staff takes the instructions of the suits and creates “championship” conditions that don’t exist otherwise. Certainly I wonder at the skill of the best-of-the-best, as I do with any professional sports endeavor.

None of that makes me want to visit that setting unless I get invited to play there. It’s just the nature of the game. I long ago replaced tennis with golf, but attending a match at any of the “show” courts at the U.S. Open or Wimbledon would be much more interesting to me than going back to a golf tournament.

Assuming normal conditions and a mildly competitive team, both of which will return at some point, attending a baseball game remains a semi-intimate affair. As baseball parks get built and rebuilt, they are actually being made smaller. Watching a game on television is fine, and we’re all used to that centerfield camera after all these years. But you’ll never get the sense of what being there is really about.

We hear every year about the end of football in-person attendance, what with 60-inch televisions and surround sound and all the pain-in-the-rear hoops one has to jump through just to make it into the stadium. Once you get into the stadium, however, the whole thing is still pretty great. Unless the weather is bad, the only thing that ever gets in the way is the occasional drunk…and he usually gets shouted down by the other 99% of your section anyway.

My point is not to compare outdoor team sports to golf, not to mention indoor sports like basketball and hockey. That is the point—nothing about golf lends itself to being there unless you’re a player, caddie or work at the course.

Of course, as the comedian Dennis Miller used to say, “that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.”

Here’s what I do know for sure. The main reason Caves Valley was built was for business entertainment, and that continues to be true. A secondary thought was to build a course that would be good enough to host the highest-level amateur and professional tournaments. Needless to say, getting one of the FedEx Cup tournaments here marks a huge milestone, which would be surpassed only if the club could get a U.S. Open or PGA Championship one day.

If you are going to be there this week, I’m sure that the size of the field will make it more enjoyable to watch. There are only 69 players (Patrick Reed had to withdraw), less than half the size of a “full-field” Tour event (156 players) and significantly less than those at invitation events like The Memorial or Arnold Palmer Invitational (120 players). It’s even fewer players than at The Masters (varies, but typically around 90 or so) or any of the World Golf Championship stroke play events, which have 78 players.

No doubt that’s a treat for the players, surpassed only by making the even-smaller 30-player field at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. It’s a boon for fans too, since almost everyone there has played really well to get there and has a legitimate chance to win.

I know that this is first main Tour event to be held in Baltimore since 1962, which is kind of amazing but not surprising. The pro prospects of public courses around here have long since departed, and most of the clubs in an old town like ours may be great but are not the length and size to hold such events. I admire the efforts of the Caves Valley leadership to get the PGA Tour here, but I struggle to see how having the tournament here for four days this year will prove that the area is ripe for lots of big events.

We still need someone’s more public vision for an arena, for instance, not a private and exclusive club’s efforts for a one-time event. I’d like to see Baltimore as a frequent host to NCAA tournament games, for instance, much more than I would for an occasional golf event. An every-year PGA Tour event? Now that would be great.

They even have one in Detroit now, so it’s not like it couldn’t happen here. So if anyone needs my help on that, just give me a ring. I’ll even be sure to come out to the tournament and cheer the players on, though it’s never been my favorite thing to do.

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Wednesday
August 25
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2557


seven years later...


Here's how far we've come at Drew's Morning Dish since August 25, 2014.

When #DMD was born, the Orioles were really good.

In a weird twist of irony, that's actually a true statement for a lot of you reading this now. If, like me, you were born in the 1960's -- or even 1970's -- the Orioles were really good when you were born.

The times have changed, obviously. The Orioles lost their 19th straight game last night and are now in serious jeopardy of not winning 50 games in 2021.

But enough about sad things.

Today is the 7th anniversary of Drew's Morning Dish. Seven years. 2,557 days. When #DMD was first published, Rory McIlroy was still good. Joe Flacco was, too.

McIlroy and Flacco are still around, although both of them are struggling these days to find their 2014 form.

And Drew's Morning Dish is still here. In fact, we've never missed a day of publishing since our debut edition was published on August 25, 2014.


To figure out where you're going, you first need to know where you've been. Most of you here know the story of #DMD. A few might not. So, once a year, it's probably OK to go down memory lane and trace our roots and explain how we got to this point.

It's at this point where I'll issue a friendly "warning" of sorts. If you're not a believer in God's influence on things that happen in your daily life, now might be a good time to skip to the column below about the BMW Championship.

It was on Friday, August 22, 2014 when #DMD was actually conceived, if you will. The birth of the website, if you will, took place on Monday, August 25, but the idea for #DMD was hatched on Friday, August 22.

At 9:55 am on Friday, while I was finishing my on-air shift at a local radio station, my e-mail suddenly stopped working. I didn't find that particularly odd. We often had internet issues at the station and I just assumed this was another one of those episodes.

Ten minutes later, I discovered why my e-mail was no longer working.

"We're parting company today," the station owner told me.

Four others had been sent to the showers before me. Now it was my turn to hand the ball over to the manager. I was out of the game.

"OK, thanks," I said. And that was it. 12 years of work ended with a 20-second encounter.

I got in my car and drove off. To where, I wasn't sure. For some odd reason, I pointed my car in the direction of Calvert Hall High School, where I was in my 3rd year as their head varsity golf coach. I figured I could park there and get my head on straight and call my wife and deliver her the bad news.

I pulled into the parking lot near the football stadium. There were cars scattered throughout. The football team was practicing on the field. The school and fields were full of laughter, vibrance and enthusiasm. I had just been fired. It was an odd dichotomy to say the least.

You've heard -- if you're interested in such things -- about people having real life "encounters" with God or Jesus Christ. There are countless stories of near-death-experiences that include seeing or meeting Jesus.

In the parking lot (I even remember the parking spot I was in and, true story here, if I go to the school for something now and that spot is available, I'll make it a point to park there), I sat there on that blue-sky-Friday and tried to get myself together. The firings of the five of us were totally unexpected. Not a hint of it, in any fashion. So I was rattled, as I'm sure the other four were as well.

And, so, I prayed. Right there in the parking lot of Calvert Hall.

"God, I have no idea what's going on right now but I could sure use your guidance," I said.

"Help me figure out what to do next. Where to go from here. How to support my wife and two children. Just help me, please, God."

And, in the same way some people have near-death-experiences or other unexplained "feelings", something strange happened to me in my car at that point.

An incredible feeling of warmth and peace flushed over me. It was both physical and mental. I felt it. My breathing changed. My brain stopped buzzing. It was, I'm 100% sure, an encounter with God.

Three hours later, I received God's blessing.

My e-mail inbox was flooded with people checking in who had heard the news.

One of them was from someone named Tony Young. The subject line: Your next step

Tony had an idea. He didn't explain much in the e-mail, but suggested that we meet "right away" so he could explain it to me.

At 5:00 pm that day, I met with him at an eatery in White Marsh.

"Here's the deal," he said. "On Monday, you're going to continue on with Drew's Morning Dish. I'll build the website over the weekend and on Monday morning, you're going to roll on with that website and put your radio career behind you. Try and get a few sponsors over the next two days. This is going to be great."

From that eatery, I sent Frank Schilling of Royal Farms an e-mail. I didn't expect an immediate reply. It was 5:45 pm on a Friday evening, after all. Late in the summer, no less. Nearly everyone who works for a living has checked out for the weekend on 5:45 pm on a Friday in late August.

Frank Schilling replied minutes later. Royal Farms, he said, would be happy to be the first official sponsor of Drew's Morning Dish.

Tony worked around the clock on Saturday and Sunday to get the website up and running and, true to his word, I published the first edition on August 25, 2014.

God sent me Tony Young. I'm as convinced of that as you are that your car will start today. Tony's story also involves God's divine intervention. I probably shouldn't divulge much more than that, but Tony's spiritual connection to God was solidified a few years earlier when he ran into some personal issues that he, himself, couldn't handle.

When I asked God for help on that Friday in the Calvert Hall parking lot, he was listening. He sent along someone who could not only help me, but who also sought His help years before. There's no other explanation for Tony Young showing up. Sure, he was a listener of mine, but when he heard the news of my firing, he reached out to me. He, somehow, was moved to contact me and offer his assistance. I didn't seek him out. He sought me out. Who pushed him? God did. It's that simple.


So here we are, seven years later.

We've been blessed with some very talented writers and contributors. Some helped out early and are no longer part of the writing staff here, but they haven't been forgotten. Bo Smolka, Brien Jackson, Matthew Carroll -- all of them were excellent contributors. David Rosenfeld, Dale Williams, Mark Suchy, Randy Morgan, George McDowell and, most recently, John Darcey, comprise our current stable of writers. They're all outstanding. We're fortunate to have them writing for us here at #DMD.

Seven years later, we still have a loyal base of corporate partners who keep the website alive. We'll follow the golden rule here and not mention anyone by name because we'll most certainly brain-fart in that process and leave someone out. But you can glance at the ads on the right side and within the content to see who the current group of corporate partners are and there are plenty of people who have marketed us with in previous years that we're still eternally grateful for and won't ever forget.

Like nearly every other business in America, we've been impacted by Covid-19 here. Our once flourshing sports-travel-business was basically flattened by the coronavirus. We're hoping to get it going again later this year or in 2022 once everything is back to normal, but there's no telling when/if that's going to happen. #DMD is still vibrant, but we're always looking for new corporate partners. In September, we'd like to add another sales representative and our still-developing plans for 2022 include more writers and a bigger social media presence.

Thanks to all of you who come here to read Drew's Morning Dish, whether it's daily, weekly or "every once in a while". I hope your day either starts or ends with a visit to #DMD. I realize you have lots of web-reading-options. The fact that you stop here occasionally isn't overlooked or unappreciated.

And thanks to my longtime good friend, George McDowell. When #DMD outgrew the original website platform, I reached out to George.

"I need help," I said to him.

Five years later, we're still publishing #DMD on the original computer/server George built for me. We've published from, literally, all over the country and all the world. From as far west as San Diego and as far east as London. George, like Tony Young, was a Godsend to me and Drew's Morning Dish.

Without George, there's no #DMD today.

Without Tony, there's no #DMD today.

Without God, there's no #DMD today.

Seven years later, we're blessed to have the corporate partners, readers, writers and support staff who have made it all happen.

I started this whole project having no idea at all what would come of it and what to expect. I'm excited to see what's ahead.

Thank you, again, for stopping by today to read this.


DF

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bmw championship at caves valley


Nearly all of the 69 players who are in the field this week at Caves Valley were on the property on Tuesday to check out the course, play a few holes, and get settled in.

The event typically includes the Top 70 players on the FedEx Cup points list, but Patrick Reed withdrew on Sunday and was not replaced, hence the starting field of 69 players.

Jon Rahm is the pre-tournament favorite at Caves Valley this week.

The golf course will be under great scrutiny over the four-day tournament. Caves Valley has added several new tees to try and lengthen the course to a number that will provide a challenge to the best players in the world. Even still, it's likely that 7,500 yards won't challenge them enough. The four par 5's will all be reachable in two shots, although #16 has been stretched out to play 596 yards and the green complex and bunkers bordering the putting surface will make that one difficult to hit in two, even for the longest and best players on TOUR.

There is an obvious lack of deep rough at the course this week. Whether they intend to keep it short or let it grow over the next few days remains to be seen, but the generous playing conditions and lack of thick rough might level the playing field a bit.

The pre-tournament favorite is Jon Rahm (6-1) and the guess here, purely from a "who wins?" standpoint, is that Rahm winds up holding the trophy on Sunday afternoon. His shots-gained-off-the-tee numbers are really good and the lack of thick rough will help him, along with many others who pound it out there 320 yards but occasionally miss the fairway.

But we do like the look of six others this week, who, from a wagering standpoint, might be better opportunities than Rahm.

I love Scottie Scheffler this week. Like Tony Finau last week in New Jersey, Scheffler could lock up a Ryder Cup spot with a win this week at Caves Valley. His driving stats are solid. He's "due" for a win at some point. If Caves Valley turns in to a long ball course, Scheffler's a great choice at 28-1.

The same goes for Sam Burns, another favorite of mine this week. Burns could also make a great case for a Ryder Cup selection with a win this week. Wagering wise, he's a fantastic investment at 50-1.

If it's a bomber's course and the rough isn't up that high, you have to assume Bryson DeChambeau is a good fit. His golf hasn't been as bad as it has appeared lately. He's just gone through a stretch of bad holes that have made contending nearly impossible. Last week in New Jersey, he made 9 birdies in the first round and shot even par, for example. He's also 28-1. Don't be surprised if he wins.

Shots-gained-off-the-tee is one area where Rory McIlroy excels and we like his chances this week at Caves Valley. He's had a very up-and-down campaign, but Rory should never be completely ignored. It's always about putting for him. If this is the week that his flat stick cooperates, he could rise up. At 28-1, he's too good to pass up.

I have been a fan of Corey Conners for three years now and this could be the week he breaks through with that first significant TOUR victory. There are few players in the sport who drive the golf ball as well as the Canadian. It's always about putting for him. He's at that familiar 28-1 number. You could do a lot worse than Conners. He's one of the most underrated guys on TOUR.

If you're really looking to make big bucks on a longshot, throw some coin on Cameron Champ, who comes in at 100-1. Champ's tee-ball stats are very impressive. He ranks high on most of the important driving stats.

I'm excited to get back out there on Thursday and Friday and watch the golf up-close-and-personal. I was at event last night where four TOUR players appeared (Stewart Cink, Kevin Streelman, Russell Henley and Webb Simpson) and all of them spoke glowingly about Caves Valley and the playability of the course. My guess on the winning score? 18-under par. 20-under was the winning score at Liberty National last week and I have a hunch Caves will play a couple of shots harder.

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Tuesday
August 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2556


finally...finau


Has one round of golf changed a player's fortunes more recently than the final 18 holes of yesterday's Northern Trust?

Tony Finau went from potentially being left off the Ryder Cup team to making it...all within a four hour span.

And he also shed that pesky "can't finish" label, too, as he hung in there long enough to squeeze past leader Jon Rahm and then stared down one of the game's hottest players, Cameron Smith, in a sudden death playoff. It was Finau's second career win, but his first in a full-field event. He previously won a TOUR title five years ago in Puerto Rico, but the "real players" were battling it out in a World Golf Championships event and Finau and the rest of the second-tier guys all gathered for a TOUR event in Puerto Rico...which he won.

Five years later...Tony Finau finally won again yesterday when he captured the Northern Trust.

Finau, of course, isn't chopped liver and hasn't been for quite some time. He's been one of the best players on TOUR for the last few years, but too many top 10's and a handful of squandered final round leads had people starting to wonder if he had the mettle to be one of the game's top players.

The answer, as we found out yesterday, is "yes, he does have the mettle."

And now he'll roll into Baltimore this week as one of the favorites for the FedEx Cup, which has two events remaining; this week at Caves Valley and next week in Atlanta at East Lake. With yesterday's win just outside of New York City, Finau also moves into 6th place in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings. Should he remain at 6th (or better), he'll earn an automatic spot on the team. But if he falls back to 7th or 8th in the final two weeks, captain Steve Stricker will almost assuredly use one of his six captain's picks on Finau.

A lot changed in Tony Finau's life when he beat Cameron Smith in that playoff yesterday. It's weird how golf works like that, but it does. Everyone is judged on wins.

Tiger won 82 times, tied with Sam Snead for the most ever, but he "only" won 15 majors. Not enough...

Phil has 45 career wins, which is 37 fewer than Tiger. That seems almost impossible.

McIlroy, Els and Koepka are all stuck on four major titles. That's good, but not good enough for players of their caliber.

Greg Norman, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bernhard Langer and, currently, Dustin Johnson, all won two major titles. How on earth could four players of their respective talent levels "only" win two?

Everyone's judged on winning.

Sure, the players themselves might consider one thing more important than winning; money. It is, after all, a career to nearly all of them. They could be lawyers or bankers or accountants; instead, they chose golf. About 80% of the guys who try to make a living playing golf wind up becoming lawyers, bankers or accountants. Very few guys who play for a career make a GREAT living. An even smaller number actually wind up being Top 50 players in the world.

Tony Finau is one of those guys who, at one point, was on the verge of giving up the sport and getting a "real job". In 2011, he tried to Monday qualify for what was then the Northern Trust (under a different name and also just a "regular" event as opposed to a FedEx Cup event) and shot 81. Needless to say, "81" in a Monday qualifier doesn't get the job done.

Ten years later, he won the tournament and made the Ryder Cup team.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

They say "good guys finish last", but they were wrong yesterday. One of the nicest guys on the PGA Tour hit the winner's circle on Monday and it was one of the most well deserved victories in professional golf since Tiger won the 2018 TOUR Championship.

Tony Finau is a winner. In more ways than one.


With Finau's move to #6 yesterday, the U.S. Ryder Cup team continues to take shape. Xander Schauffule was the unfortunate guy previously at #6 who got bounced from the automatic spot, but he has two events remaining to get back into the Top 6 and earn the automatic spot.

Could a late-season illness and injury cost Patrick Reed a spot on the Ryder Cup team?

The top five players are seemingly secure, points wise. Collin Morikawa and Dustin Johnson are already "in". They're #1 and #2 and they can't finish outside the top 6. #3 (DeChambeau), #4 (Koepka) and #5 (Thomas) are all really close to securing an automatic spot. Something wacky would have to happen in the last two weeks to bump them out.

Now, it gets fun...

No matter what he does in the last two weeks, Schauffele is in. He's getting a captain's pick at the very least. Finau is also "in", whether he stays at #6 or gets bumped out. There's 7 of the 12 players accounted for in the points race.

Jordan Spieth is also "in". There's just no way Stricker's not picking him. He's 8th in the standings and could actually gain an automatic spot by winning at Caves Valley or East Lake to finish the season.

Four spots remain.

Harris English is probably 95% at this point. He's had far too good of a season overall to be left off the team.

Patrick Cantlay is 90% to get added on by Stricker. He has two wins, like English, but one of his victories comes with an asterisk, because he was the benefactor of Jon Rahm's forced-Covid-withdrawal at The Memorial in June. Still, Cantlay is a sublime ball striker and streaky hot putter who would probably be a great partner for Morikawa at Whistling Straits. It would be very surprising if he doesn't get added to the squad.

Patrick Reed was 100% until he withdrew from the Northern Trust with an ankle injury and then revealed on Monday he's been hospitalized in Houston for double pneumonia for the last 4 days. He will not play at Caves Valley this week and is "questionable" for the TOUR Championship next week. Will Stricker use a pick on a guy who was physically unable to play the three FedEx Cup playoff events?

Reed, of course, isn't just a player you covet and add to the team without thinking about the other stuff that comes along with him. That's where Stricker is at this point. It's no secret that Reed is a great player who relishes the team competition stuff in a way that Tiger and Phil never really did -- but it's also well known that Reed isn't all that popular in the locker room and the January incident at Torrey Pines is still fresh in everyone's minds. Before this foot and health issue, I would have said Reed is 100% to be added to the team. Now, I'd say he's 70%.

If those three guys above -- English, Cantlay and Reed -- all get added, that leaves one spot for Stricker to use.

On the "considered" list would be Daniel Berger, Webb Simpson, Scottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Jason Kokrak and Billy Horschel. If any of those guys somehow win this week in Baltimore, that would just about do it for them, particularly if it's Kokrak, who already has two wins on the season. Simpson has been in the top 12 for two years. If he finishes in the top 12 (he's currently 13th), it would make sense for Stricker to just take him. But Scheffler, Burns and Berger have also had nice campaigns.

The thought here is that Stricker might be best served to leave Reed off the team this time around and go with Kokrak and Simpson, but that could change if Berger, Scheffler, Burns or Horschel wins this week or next.

Oh, and there's also Kevin Kisner, who is currently 18th in the standings but just won two weeks ago and is a presumed favorite of Stricker's due to his competitive spirit and solid tee-to-green game.

That last spot will be very interesting. And it could be two spots if Stricker decides to pass on Reed.


Breaking news: The Orioles didn't lose last night. OK, OK, they didn't actually play. But, hey, they didn't lose. Facts are facts.

Here's the deal. If you like an occasional (reasonable) wager on sports, there's simply no way the Orioles are losing all three games to the Angels this week. They're just not. Sure, they face three decent pitchers (Bundy, Ohtani, Quintana) and the Orioles are sending three stiffs to the mound on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but there's simply no way they don't win at least one game in this series with Los Angeles.

In fact, here's what I would do if I were you and I was betting with your money. I'd bet $50 on the O's to win all three games right now. That way, if they win all three you win three times and even if they win just once, you'll roughly break even.

I'm not dumb (OK, well, maybe a *little* dumb if I'm betting ON the Orioles). I realize the O's could easily lose all three games by scores of 9-4, 10-3 and 11-6. If the Angels have any hitters at all, they should feast on the pitching they see from Brandon Hyde's squad. But they're not losing 21 straight games. They're just not.

Someone asked me this question yesterday and it got me to thinking...

What's worse? Losing one game 30-3 or losing 18 straight games?

I instinctively said "losing 18 straight". It seems like a no-brainer. Right?

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


americans abroad


It was a low key week for Americans in Europe, with several missing games due to injuries or suspensions and another seeing his game cut short by a French version of the “Malice at the Palace”. A few key US players still managed to stand out for their clubs this week as the start of World Cup qualifiers in September draws near.

The biggest US news came off the field when Christian Pulisic received a positive Covid test. He reportedly is vaccinated and has no symptoms, but the test will keep him out of the next couple games for Chelsea. Luckily for the US National Team, it appears he will be available to return just in time for the World Cup qualifiers if all goes well.

The top on field contributor this week was New Jersey native Brenden Aaronson. The Philadelphia Union product subbed on at halftime of RB